Ready to Secede to the Ottoman Empire: Habsburg Hungary after the Vasvár Peace Treaty (1664-1674)

Georg B. Michels

Abstract


In the period following the 1664 Vásvár Peace Treaty, which ended four years of warfare between the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires, large segments of the Hungarian noble elite seriously considered switching their allegiance from Vienna to Istanbul. This essay explores some of the reasons for this dramatic but little studied chapter in Hungarian history. At the center of the analysis are the secret instructions to an emissary who was to negotiate with Grand Vezir Ahmed Köpülü the conditions for Royal Hungary’s secession to the Ottomans. This article examines the historical circumstances under which these instructions originated and argues that the initiative came primarily from Hungarian Protestant nobles who sought the sultan’s protection to guarantee the survival of their religion which had come under threat by a brutal Habsburg-sponsored Counter-Reformation campaign. The evidence presented here sheds light on the emergence of close personal relations between Hungarian Protestant nobles and Ottoman powerbrokers, which was a crucial precondition for the Lutheran magnate Imre Thököly’s success in gaining control over large parts of Habsburg Hungary with Ottoman support during the early 1680s.

Keywords


Seventeenth-Century Hungary; Hungarian-Turkish relations; Ottoman Empire in Hungary; Counter-Reformation; Vasvar Peace Treaty (1664); Ferenc Wesselenyi Conspiracy (1664-1671).

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/ahea.2012.69

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