Bocskay, Stephen

Bocskay, Stephen bôchˈkī [key], 1557–1606, Hungarian noble, voivode [governor] (1604–6) and prince (1605–6) of Transylvania. Seeking to secure the independence of Transylvania, he supported his nephew, Prince Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania, first against the pro-Ottoman, then against the pro-Hapsburg, faction of nobles. Sigismund having abdicated (1602) in favor of the king of Hungary (Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II), Stephen Bocskay in 1604 led a revolt with Ottoman support against Rudolf's attempt to impose Roman Catholicism on Hungary. Stephen then acknowledged Sultan Ahmed I as his suzerain, but refused his offer of recognition as king of Hungary. In 1606 he negotiated with Archduke (later Holy Roman Emperor) Matthias a treaty at Vienna legalizing the partition of Hungary among the Hapsburgs (as kings), the sultan, and the prince of Transylvania. The old and sacred Hungarian crown of St. Stephen was returned from Vienna to Pressburg (now Bratislava), the capital of Hapsburg-held Hungary. The importance of the treaty, which was soon afterward supplemented by a peace between Austria and Sultan Ahmed, lay in the guarantee of constitutional and religious freedom for Hungary. Stephen was recognized as prince of Transylvania but died soon afterward, perhaps by poisoning.

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