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Matthew III Csák

Matthew (III) Csák
Palatine of Hungary
Reign 1296–1297
Predecessor Nicholas I Kőszegi (1st term)
Stephen Ákos (2nd term)
Successor Amade Aba &
Nicholas I Kőszegi (1st term)
James Borsa (2nd term)
Matthew IV
a daughter
Noble family gens Csák
Father Peter I
Mother unknown
Born between 1260 and 1265
Died 18 March 1321

Máté Csák or Matthew III Csák (between 1260–65 – 18 March 1321;[1] Hungarian: Csák (III) Máté, Slovak: Matúš Čák III), also Máté Csák of Trencsén[1] (Hungarian: trencséni Csák (III) Máté, Slovak: Matúš Čák III Trenčiansky) was a Hungarian[2] oligarch who ruled de facto independently the north-western counties of Medieval Hungary (today roughly the western half of present-day Slovakia and parts of Northern Hungary).[3] He held the offices of master of the horse (főlovászmester) (1293–1296), palatine (nádor) (1296–1297, 1302–1310) and master of the treasury (tárnokmester) (1310–1311).[4] He could maintain his rule over his territories even after his defeat at the Battle of Rozgony against King Charles I of Hungary. In the 19th century, he was often described as a symbol of the struggle for independence in both the Hungarian and Slovak literatures.[3]


  • Early years 1
  • King Andrew's partisan 2
  • The kings' rival 3
  • His last years 4
  • His domain 5
  • Legacy in the Slovak historiography 6
  • See also 7
  • Footnotes 8
  • Sources 9
  • External links 10

Early years

He was a son of the Palatine Peter I Csák, a member of the Hungarian[2] genus ("clan") Csák.[4] Around 1283, Matthew and his brother, Csák, who later served as bearer of the sword (kardhordó) in 1293,[5] inherited their father's possessions, Komárom (Slovak: Komárno) and Szenic (Slovak: Senica).[3] At about that time, they also inherited their uncles' (Matthew II and Stephen I Csák) possessions around Nagytapolcsány (Slovak: Veľké Topoľčany, now Topoľčany), Hrussó (Slovak: Hrušovo) and Tata.[3] Their father had started to expand his influence over the territories that surrounded his possessions.[3]

Matthew was born around 1260s. A diploma recorded his lameness which caused by either birth defect or a result of a war injury. He was presumably first mentioned by a charter issued by the Pozsony County where captured Pozsony Castle for a short time.[3]

King Andrew's partisan

Trenčín (Trencsén) Castle

In 1291, Matthew took part in the campaign of King Andrew III of Hungary against Austria.[4] In the next year, when Nicholas I Kőszegi rebelled against King Andrew III and occupied Pozsony (German: Pressburg, Slovak: Prešporok, today Bratislava) and Detrekő (Slovak Plaveč), Matthew managed to reoccupy the castles on behalf of the king.[4] Henceforward, the Danube became the border between the developing domains of the Kőszegi and Csák families.[3] King Andrew appointed him to master of the horse and he also became the ispán (comes) of Pozsony County (1293–1297).[5] On 28 October 1293, Matthew issued a charter and promised that he would respect the liberties of the burghers of the city of Pozsony that King Andrew had confirmed before.[3]

During this period, Matthew started to augment his possessions not only by the king's donations, but also by using force.[3] In 1296, he bought Vöröskő (Slovak: Červený Kameň) from its former holders for money; however, contemporary documents prove that he enforced several neighboring landowners to transfer their possessions either to him or his partisans.[3] He even was ready to occupy territories; e.g., around 1296, he took possession of the lands of the Archabbot of Pannonhalma north of the Danube and he also trespassed the possessions of the Collegiate Chapter of Pressburg.[3]

Around the end of 1296, Matthew acquired Trencsén (Slovak: Andrew of Gimes from the Hont-Pázmány clan of all responsibility for the damage he had caused to Matthew.[3] The document proves that the relationship of the king and Matthew worsened and the king deprived him of his office of Palatine in 1297.[3] At the same time, the king granted Pozsony County to his queen, Agnes of Austria.[3]

The kings' rival

Matthew continued to style himself Palatine even after 1297.[1] He managed to overcome Andrew of Gimes and his family and thus expanded his influence along the Zsitva River (Žitava River).[3]

Domain of Matthew Csák

In 1298, King Andrew III allied himself with King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia; the alliance was probably directed against Matthew whose possessions lay between the two monarchs' territories.[3] In the next year, King Andrew sent his troops against him, but he could resist the attack;[1] only Pozsony County was reoccupied by the king's partisans.[3]

Before 1300, Matthew entered into negotiations with the representatives of King Charles II of Naples and reassured him that he would assist the claim of his grandson, Charles for the throne against King Andrew III.[3] However, in the summer of 1300, Matthew visited Andrew's court, but the king, the last male member of the Árpád dynasty, died on 14 January 1301, and following his death a struggle commenced among the several claimants for the throne.[3] At that time, Matthew's brother, Csák died childless and therefore Matthew inherited his possessions.[3]

Following the death of King Andrew III, he became the Neapolitan prince's follower, but shortly afterwards, he joined the party that offered the crown to Wenceslaus, the son of King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia.[3] He was present at the coronation of the young Bohemian prince (27 August 1301) who granted him Trencsén and Nyitra counties;[4] therefore he became the lawful holder of all the royal castles and possessions in the two counties.[3] In the following years, Matthew Csák occupied the possessions of the Balassa family in the two counties and he also took several castles in Nógrád and Hont counties.[3]

Battle of Rozgony in 1312, Chronicon Pictum from 1360

King Wenceslaus could not strengthen his rule against his opponent and he had to leave the kingdom (August 1304).[3] By that time Matthew Csák had already left King Wenceslaus' party,[4] and shortly afterwards he made an alliance with Duke Rudolph III of Austria against the king of Bohemia.[3] Although he did not join to King Charles' partisans, but his troops took part in the campaign King Charles and Duke Rudolph lead against the Kingdom of Bohemia (September–October 1304).[3] The internal struggles, however, did not end, because on 6 December 1305 a new claimant, Otto III, Duke of Bavaria was crowned King of Hungary.[3] Matthew Csák did not accept King Otto's rule, and his troops struggled together with King Charles' armies who occupied some castles on the northern part of the kingdom.[3]

On 10 October 1307, an assembly confirmed King Charles' rule, but Matthew Csák and some other oligarchs (Ladislaus Kán, Ivan and Henry II Kőszegi) absented themselves from the assembly.[3] In 1308, Pope Clement V sent a legate to the kingdom in order to strengthen King Charles' position.[3] The legate, Cardinal Gentilis de Montefiori managed to persuade Matthew to accept King Charles' rule at their meeting in the Pauline Monastery of Kékes (10 November 1307).[3] Although Matthew himself was not present at the following assembly (27 November) in Pest where King Charles' reign was again confirmed, he sent his envoy to attend at the meeting.[3] Shortly afterwards, King Charles appointed Matthew Palatine of the kingdom.[4] However, at the new coronation of King Charles (15 June 1309), he was only represented by one of his followers.[3] In the next year, King Charles appointed him to the office of master of the treasury,[1] which then was the first high-ranking political position during the first regnal years of Charles as the position of palatine was "devaluated".

Matthew Csák did not want to accept the king's rule; therefore, he did not attend King Charles' third coronation, when he was crowned with the Holy Crown of Hungary (27 August).[3] Moreover, Matthew Csák still continued to expand the borders of his domains and occupied several castles in the northern part of the kingdom.[3] On 25 June 1311, he led his troops towards Buda and pillaged the surrounding territories and on this account the Cardinal Gentilis excommunicated him[1] on 6 July 1311.[3] However, he did not accept the punishment and persuaded some priests to continue their services on his territories.[3]

The indignant oligarch pillaged the possessions of the Archdiocese of Esztergom.[3] When the citizens of Kassa (Slovak: Košice) killed Amade Aba, the powerful oligarch of the north-eastern parts of the kingdom (5 September 1311) Matthew made an alliance with his sons against the king who sided with Kassa.[3] His troops liberated Sáros Castle (Slovak: Šarišský hrad), besieged by the king, and then marched against Kassa.[3] At the Battle of Rozgony, the king's armies defeated Matthew's and his allies' troops (15 June 1312).[1] Following the battle, the king occupied the territories of Amade Aba's sons.[3] Although Matthew's domain stayed undisturbed, the occupation of the neighboring territories by the king hindered his expansion.[3]

His last years

In 1314, the king's armies invaded Matthew Csák's domain, but they could not occupy it.[3] In the meantime, Matthew occupied some fortresses in the March of Moravia and therefore King John of Bohemia also invaded his territories (May 1315).[3] The Czech armies defeated his troops (whom he encouraged in Hungarian language) at Holics but they could not occupy the fortress.[3] King Charles also invaded Matthew's domain and occupied Visegrád.[3]

Charles I launched small campaigns against the Csák dominion during 1314 and 1315. When Matthew invaded Szepes and his troops plundered the region, he was narrowly defeated by Philip Drugeth, the king's loyal soldier.[3] During this time Thomas Szécsényi received Hollókő from Charles, who confiscated the land from the Kacsics clan, the disloyal relatives of Thomas. Charles gradually encircled the Csák dominion, when appointed loyal castellans to head of the nearby forts.[3]

The king attempted to weaken the unity among Matthew's partisans through diplomatic means. According to a royal charter issued in September 1315, Charles I deprived three of the oligarch's servients of all their possessions and gave those to Palatine Dominic Rátót, because they absolutely supported Matthew Csák's all efforts and did not ask for the king's grace. One of these sanctioned nobles was Felician Záh, who later unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate the entire royal family in 1330.[3]

In 1316, some of his former followers rebelled against Matthew, and although he occupied their castle at Jókő, but some of them left his domain.[3] In 1317, he invaded the possessions of the Diocese of Nyitra, and his troops occupied and pillaged its see.[3] As a consequence, the Bishop of Nitra excommunicated him and his followers again.[3]

The king's armies continued to invade his territories and occupied Sirok and Fülek (Fiľakovo), but Matthew could maintain his rule over his territories until his death.[3]

His domain

Matthew Csák's domain had been developing gradually before the Battle of Rozgony, and it reached its greatest territorial extent around 1311.[3] By that time, 14 counties of the kingdom, and about 50 castles were under his and his followers' rule.[1]

Around 1297, he organized his own court, similar to the king's court and he usurped royal prerogatives on his domains, similarly to other oligarchs (e.g., Amade Aba, Nicholas Kőszegi) of the beginning of the 14th century.[3] Thus he became the de facto ruler of his domain and he made alliances independently of the king.[3] He refused to accept appeals against his decisions to the king and he denied to put claimants in possession of lands the king had granted them on his territories.[3] Although some of the local landowners did not want to accept Matthew's supremacy, but sooner or later, they had to leave their possessions.[3]

Following his death, his cousin Stephen Sternberg (or Stephen the Bohemian) became the lord of his domain,[1] because his son (Matthew IV) had died and his grandsons (Matthew V and James) were still minors at the time of his death in 1321.[3] However, Stephen Sternberg could not resist the king's invasion and Matthew Csák's former domain was occupied by the king's armies in some months.[3]

Legacy in the Slovak historiography

During the period of Slovak national revival in the 18th and 19th centuries, Matthew Csák and his "realm" became the symbols of Slovak independence with the purpose to expropriate his historical heritage for the expectant national state of Slovakia.[3] According to Slovak historian Peter Macho, the national myth that a separate and independent Slovak state existed within Hungary during the age of "feudal anarchy" is very impressive.[6] It was Alexander Boleslavín Vrchovský, a Slovak lawyer from Pest, Hungary, who first proposed in 1836–37 at the Evangelical Lyceum in Pressburg that Matthew Csák was a "Slovak king".[7] Later numerous Slovak poets and writers claimed the Hungarian oligarch for the Slovak national history.[7] Ľudovít Štúr, the most prominent personality in the period of the Slovak national revival presented Matthew Csák in his poem Matúš z Trenčína ("Matúš of Trenčín") as champion of Slovak interests, predicting that the Slovak nation "will be free one day".[8] Ján Nepomuk Bobula, a Slovak journalist in Pest, described Matthew Csák as an invincible patriot who fought for the Slovak nation's freedom until he had been betrayed by which his fate was sealed.[6] In 1881 Czech archeologist Josef Ladislav Píč identified the magnate's Upper Hungarian "realm" as "the first Slovakia independent of the Hungarian King".[7] Slovak historian and linguist Jozef Škultéty elevated Matthew Csák into the Slovak national pantheon in 1938 with his work titled Matúš Čák Trenčiansky a jeho vláda na Slovensku ("Matúš Čák of Trenčín and His Rule in Slovakia").[7] The view of the older Slovak histography is that under the decades of Matthew Csák's rule "Slovakia was an independent country" but after being defeated "Slovakia became part of Hungary again".[9] According to a new generation of Slovak scholars:[10]
Matúš Čák was hardly a Slovak patriot as some 19th century historians have claimed. He pursued the ordinary goals of a Hungarian magnate and never did establish a sufficiently well-defined territory or political organization to support any Slovak claims to a heritage.
— Anton Špiesz, Dušan Čaplovič, Ladislaus J. Bolchazy; Illustrated Slovak history: a struggle for sovereignty in Central Europe (2006); p. 51.

See also

  • Beckov Castle – owned and fortified by Matthew Csák
  • Amade Aba – oligarch who ruled de facto independently the northern and north-eastern counties of the Kingdom of Hungary[1]
  • Ladislaus Kán – oligarch who governed de facto independently the Transylvanian parts of the Kingdom of Hungary[1]


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  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b c d
  8. ^
  9. ^
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  • Engel, Pál: Magyarország világi archontológiája (1301–1457) (The Temporal Archontology of Hungary (1301–1457)); História – MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1996, Budapest; ISBN 963-8312-43-2.
  • Kristó, Gyula: Csák Máté (Máté Csák); Gondolat, 1986, Budapest; ISBN 963-281-736-2.
  • Kristó, Gyula (General Editor) – Engel, Pál (Editor) – Makk, Ferenc (Editor): Korai magyar történeti lexikon (9–14. század) (Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History /9th-14th centuries/); Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994, Budapest; ISBN 963-05-6722-9.
  • Markó, László: A magyar állam főméltóságai Szent Istvántól napjainkig – Életrajzi Lexikon (The High Officers of the Hungarian State from Saint Stephen to the Present Days – A Biographical Encyclopedia); Magyar Könyvklub, 2000, Budapest; ISBN 963-547-085-1.
  • Zsoldos, Attila: Magyarország világi archontológiája, 1000–1301 (Secular Archontology of Hungary, 1000–1301). MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 2011, Budapest; ISBN 978-963-9627-38-3

External links

  • Map – Lands ruled by Matthew Csák
  • Map – The oligarchs' domains in the early 14th century
Matthew III
Born: between 1260 and 1265 Died: 18 March 1321
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Hont-Pázmány
Master of the horse
Succeeded by
John Csák
Preceded by
Apor Péc
Ispán of Pozsony
Succeeded by
Demetrius Balassa
Preceded by
Nicholas I Kőszegi
Palatine of Hungary
alongside Amade Aba in 1296

Succeeded by
Amade Aba
Nicholas I Kőszegi
Preceded by
Stephen Ákos
Palatine of Hungary
alongside others

Succeeded by
James Borsa
Preceded by
Ugrin Csák
Master of the treasury
Succeeded by
Nicholas II Kőszegi
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