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Kuruc (, plural ''kurucok''), also spelled kurutz, refers to a group of armed anti-
Habsburg The House of Habsburg (; ; alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English; german: Haus Habsburg, es, Casa de Habsburgo, hu, Habsburg-család), also House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich, es, link=no, Casa de Austria), was one of the most ...
insurgents in the
Kingdom of Hungary The Kingdom of Hungary was a monarchy in Central Europe that existed from the Middle Ages into the 20th century (1000–1946 with the exception of 1918–1920). The Principality of Hungary emerged as a Christian kingdom upon the coronation of th ...
between 1671 and 1711. The kuruc army was composed mostly of impoverished lower Hungarian nobility and serfs, including Hungarian Protestant peasants and
Slavs Slavs are a European ethno-linguistic group of people who speak the various Slavic languages of the larger Balto-Slavic linguistic group of the Indo-European languages. They are native to Eurasia, stretching from Central, Eastern and Southeaster ...
. They managed to conquer large parts of Hungary in several uprisings from Transylvania before they were defeated by Habsburg imperial troops.


Name

The word ''kuruc'' was first used in 1514 for the armed peasants led by
György Dózsa György Dózsa (or ''György Székely'',appears as "Georgius Zekel" in old texts ro, Gheorghe Doja; 1470 – 20 July 1514) was a Székely man-at-arms (and by some accounts, a nobleman) from Transylvania, Kingdom of Hungary who led a peasants' ...
. 18th-century scholar
Matthias Bel Matthias Bel or Matthias Bél (german: link=no, Matthias Bel; hu, Bél Mátyás; sk, Matej Bel; la, Matthias Belius; 22–24 March(?), 1684 – 29 August 1749) was a Lutheran pastor and polymath from the Kingdom of Hungary. Bel was active in the f ...
supposed that the word was derived from the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the dominant language ...
word "cruciatus" (crusader), ultimately from "
crux Crux () is a constellation centred on four stars in the southern sky in a bright portion of the Milky Way. It is among the most easily distinguished constellations as its hallmark (asterism) stars each have an apparent visual magnitude brighter ...
" (
cross A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two intersecting lines or bars, usually perpendicular to each other. The lines usually run vertically and horizontally. A cross of oblique lines, in the shape of the Latin letter X, is also termed ...
), and that Dózsa's followers were called "crusaders" because the peasant rebellion started as an official crusade against the
Ottomans The Ottoman Turks (or Osmanlı Turks, tr, Osmanlı Türkleri) were the Turkish-speaking people of the Ottoman Empire ( 1299–1922/1923). Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks remains scarce, but they take their Turkish ...

Ottomans
.
Silahdar Findiklili Mehmed Agha Silahdar Fındıklılı Mehmed Ağa (7 December 1658– 1726-27 ) was an Ottoman historian, serving under sultans Mehmed IV, Suleiman II, Ahmed II, Mustafa II and Ahmed III. Early life Silahdar Fındıklılı Mehmed Ağa was born on 7 December ...
, a 17th-century Ottoman chronicler, supposed that the word Kuruc ("Kurs" as it was transliterated into Ottoman Turkish in his chronicle) was a Greek word meaning "polished" or "cilâlı" in Turkish. Today's etymologists do not accept Bel's or Agha's theory and consider that the word was derived from the Turkish word (rebel or insurgent). In 1671, the name was used by Meni, the
beglerbeg ''Beylerbey'' or ''Beylerbeyi'' ( ota, بكلربكی; "Bey of Beys", meaning "the Commander of Commanders" or "the Lord of Lords") was a high rank in the western Islamic world in the late Middle Ages and early modern period, from the Seljuks of R ...
pasha Pasha or Paşa ( ota, پاشا;Persian tr, paşa; sq, Pashë; ar, باشا), in older works sometimes anglicized as bashaw, was a higher rank in the Ottoman political and military system, typically granted to governors, generals, dignitaries, and o ...
of
Eger Eger ( , , see etymology for alternative names) is the county seat of Heves, and the second largest city in Northern Hungary (after Miskolc). Eger is best known for its castle, thermal baths, baroque buildings, the northernmost Ottoman minaret, ...
in what is now
Hungary Hungary ( hu, Magyarország ) is a country in Central Europe. It borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Romania to the east and southeast, Serbia to the south, Croatia and Slovenia to the southwest, and Austria to the west. H ...
, to denote the predominantly-noble refugees from Royal Hungary. The name quickly became popular and was used from 1671 to 1711 in texts written in
HungarianHungarian may refer to: * Hungary, a country in Central Europe * Kingdom of Hungary, state of Hungary, existing between 1000 and 1946 * Hungarians, ethnic groups in Hungary * Hungarian algorithm, a polynomial time algorithm for solving the assignmen ...
, Slovak and
Turkish Turkish may refer to: * of or about Turkey ** Turkish language *** Turkish alphabet ** Turkish people, a Turkic ethnic group and nation *** Turkish citizen, a citizen of Turkey *** Turkish communities and minorities in the former Ottoman Empire * ...
to denote the rebels of Royal Hungary and northern
Transylvania Transylvania is a historical region that is located in central Romania. Bound on the east and south by its natural borders, the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended westward to the Apuseni Mountains. The term sometimes enco ...
, fighting against the
Habsburgs The House of Habsburg (; ; alternatively spelled Hapsburg in English; german: Haus Habsburg, es, Casa de Habsburgo, hu, Habsburg-család), also House of Austria (german: link=no, Haus Österreich, es, link=no, Casa de Austria), was one of the most ...
and their policies. The rebels of the first kuruc uprising called themselves ''bújdosók'' (fugitives), or in long form, "different fugitive orders—barons, nobles, cavalry and infantry soldiers—who fight for the material and spiritual liberty of the Hungarian motherland." The army mustered by the northern Hungarian noble
Emeric Thököly Emeric Thököly de Késmárk ( hu, késmárki Thököly Imre; sk, Imrich Tököli; ; tr, Tököli İmre; 25 September 165713 September 1705) was a Hungarian nobleman, leader of anti-Habsburg uprisings like his father, Count István Thököly, be ...
was also called kuruc. Their uprising forced the Habsburg emperor Leopold I to restore the constitution in 1681 after it was suspended in 1673. The leader of the last of the kuruc rebellions,
Francis II Rákóczi Francis II Rákóczi ( hu, II. Rákóczi Ferenc, ; 27 March 1676 – 8 April 1735) was a Hungarian nobleman and leader of the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs in 1703-11 as the prince ( hu, fejedelem) of the Estates Confederated for Liberty ...
, did not use the term, instead using the French word or to highlighting their purposes. Contemporary sources also preferred the term "malcontents" to denote the rebels. Kuruc was used in Slovakian popular poetry until the 19th century. The opposite term (widespread after 1678) was "labanc" (from the Hungarian word "lobonc," literally "long hair," referring to the wigs worn by the Austrian soldiers), denoting Austrians and their loyalist supporters.


History


Background

After the Magnate conspiracy and rebellion of
Francis I Rákóczi Francis I Rákóczi (February 24, 1645, Gyulafehérvár, Transylvania – July 8, 1676, Zboró, Royal Hungary) was a Hungarian aristocrat, elected prince of Transylvania and father of Hungarian national hero Francis Rákóczi II. Francis Rák ...
, Leopold I introduced an absolutistic government system in
Royal Hungary Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name), a list of people with either the surname or given name * A member of a royal family Places United States * Royal, Arkansas, an unincorporated community * Royal, Illinois, a village * Royal, Iowa, a city ...
(which was not occupied by the Ottomans and was not part of the Transylvanian Principality). The creators of this system were Wenzel Eusebius Lobkowitz (President of the Imperial Privy Council 1669-1674), Johann von Hocher, Christoph Ignaz Abele, Ignaz Abele, :de:Leopold Wilhelm von K%C3%B6nigsegg-Rothenfels, Leopold Königsegg-Rothenfels, Johann Kinsky (Johann Oktavian, Graf Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau 1604-1679) and Raimondo Montecuccoli. They also invented the Verwirkungstheorie. Hungarian Estates forfeited their rights because of this conspiracy. The emperor then had the right to govern without asking the Diet (parliament of the Estates). Königsegg said the Hungarian Kingdom was "armis subjecti." They enforced local inhabitants to maintain the army supplies (portio [food], quarters [accommodation] and forspont [delivery]) collected by the local military officers (repartitio). They neglected traditional government officials such as nádor and created a governing council in March 1673 (which consisted of four German and four Hungarian members and one leader, :hu:Johann Caspar von Ampringen, Johann Gaspar Ampringen, but he was only a puppet and the real power was held by the local military leaders). The court tried again to suppress the Protestants. In 1671, :hu:Szelepcs%C3%A9nyi Gy%C3%B6rgy, György Szepelcsenyi, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Leopold Karl von Kollonitsch, Leopold Kollonics, bishop of Weiner-Neustadt and the President of the Hungarian Chamber, Ferenc Szegedy, Bishop of Eger, and István Bársony visited the free and important towns one by one with military escorts and took back former (more than 100 years earlier) Catholic churches and schools from Protestants. Citizens of Pozsony, including both men and women, guarded their church for weeks Szelepcsényi was not able to fight against them until, in 1672, Kollonics took matters into his own hands. He brought 1,200 soldiers from Vienna, arresting the nobler citizens for a few weeks and forcing them to hand over their church and school. After that, they built conceptual lawsuits against Protestant pastors. Between 1673 and 1674, they twice made "judicum delegatum" against Protestant priests. The jury members were high priests and secular lords including the judge and other legislatures. The subject of the coup was political crimes — the connection of the Lutheran and Reformed pastors with the pasha of Buda and the plan of an open rebellion, the main evidence of which was the indictment of István Vitnyédy's letters to Miklós Bethlen and Ambrus Keczer. In the end, whoever signed a reversal (a document to resign work as a Protestant priest and leave Hungary) were pardoned. 200 signed, but 40 resisted. Those who refused were sold as galley slaves to Naples (to be saved by Admiral Ruttler's fleet in 1676). Officials were often corrupt and greedy. For example, :de:Georg Ludwig von Sinzendorf, von Sinzendorf, who handled military finances, confiscated many noble people's properties. During one negotiation, he confiscated 11 castles, 70 noble curia and 367 villages (mostly embezzled for himself). Leopold I dismissed 11,000 Hungarian fortress soldiers because he did not trust them, tried to concentrate the military into some main fortress and started to explode the nobility's enstrengthed castles. The government levied a new kind of tax (Accisa) which raised taxation rates 10 times higher. This caused taxpayers to suffer. The members of the Magnate conspiracy, Wesselényi conspiracy, mostly nobles who lost their estates and the ex-soldiers who were dismissed without severance pay, fled east. The oppressed Hungarians sought refuge in Transylvania, but the Prince Apafi didn't have permission from the Ottoman Turks, Ottomans to let them in, so they started to gather by the Tisza river. Although many of them escaped to Poland, those left were ready to start a new uprising and then became the kurucs.


The first kuruc uprising

The first kuruc uprising occurred in 1672. The kuruc army gathered in the Partium where many refugees of different origins took shelter from religious and political persecution in
Royal Hungary Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name), a list of people with either the surname or given name * A member of a royal family Places United States * Royal, Arkansas, an unincorporated community * Royal, Illinois, a village * Royal, Iowa, a city ...
. They called themselves ''bújdosók'' (fugitives). Their weapons were mostly pistols, light sabres and Shepherd's axe, fokos (battle-axes). Their war tactics were typical of light cavalry. The main subgroups were Protestants, who were disgruntled by the Habsburg ambitions of the Counter-Reformation; impoverished minor nobles (holding on to their privileges while the Habsburg Court attempted to deprive them of their nobility) and soldiers from the ''végvár''s (frontier castles) who were sacked by Habsburg generals. Later, when the Turks lost ground to the imperial armies and Austrian despotism intensified, the Habsburg oppression of Hungarians played an increasingly important role in the motivation of the kuruc. Initially, in August 1672, the kuruc army invaded Upper Hungary, where they conquered the castles of Diósgyőr, Ónod, Szendrő and Tokaj. After they defeated the Habsburg army of Paris von Spankau near Košice, Kassa, the towns of Upper Hungary surrendered and many disaffected people joined them from the Slovak and Ruthenian population of the northern counties. The two leaders of the army of "fugitives" were Pál Szepesi and Mátyás Szuhay, members of the minor nobility who previously took part in other anti-Habsburg movements. According to the recollections of Pál Szepesi, the "fugitives" began looting in the northern countries: "In the guise of persecuting the Papists they pillaged whole counties. We began killing the plunderers but to no avail—they didn't respect any officers." The ''Hofkriegsrat'' of Vienna immediately took measures: they strengthened the Habsburg troops, called more soldiers from Lower Hungary and made peace with the Hajduks. On 26 October 1672, the Habsburg army defeated the "fugitives" at Ďurkov, Gyurke (later Hungarian ''Györke'', Slovak ''Ďurkov''). The rebels retreated across the line of the Tisza. After this initial success, the Habsburg government began systematic religious and political persecution in Kingdom of Hungary (1526–1867), Royal Hungary. The most infamous case was the trial of 300 Protestant pastors who were sentenced to death in 1674, and who were later sold as galley slaves in Naples, causing public outcry across Europe.


''Universitas'' of the "fugitives"

In 1675, the "fugitives" occupied Debrecen. Later that year, the town was sacked again by three different armies. This was not uncommon in troubled Upper Hungary. The fugitives tried to organise themselves as an independent community called "''universitas''" or "''communitas''." They issued decrees, sent envoys to foreign powers, made a seal and held Diets (assemblies). At the time, they were already called kuruc, though they never called themselves such. Between 1674 and 1678, their leader was Count Paul Wesselényi, the cousin of the late Palatine Ferenc Wesselényi. The "fugitives" established diplomatic connections with Poland in 1674 and with France in 1675. In May 1677, France, Poland, the Principality of Transylvania and the ''universitas'' of the "Fugitives" signed a treaty in Warsaw by which King Louis XIV of France guaranteed 100,000 tallers aid and assistance. The "fugitives" were obliged to attack the Habsburgs with an army of at least 15,000 men. Michael I Apafi, the Prince of Transylvania, gave military and financial support to the ''universitas''. In the autumn of 1677, 2,000 French, Polish and Tatar soldiers arrived in Upper Hungary. This small army, led by colonel Beaumont, wasn't able to seriously threaten Habsburg supremacy. Royal Hungary became one theatre of the Franco-Dutch War, European war between Emperor Leopold I and Louis XIV. The president of the Viennese ''Hofkriegsrat'', Raimondo Montecuccoli, drew a plan of "pacification" under the title "''L'Ungheria nell'anno 1677''." According to the plan, Royal Hungary would be occupied by three Austrian armies, the remnants of the Hungarian constitution abolished and a grand-scale program of German colonisation implemented. Chancellor Paul Hocher, one of the most influential men in the Habsburg government, agreed with Montecuccoli's plan. In the Privy Council he declared, "All Hungarians are traitors."


Under Mihály Teleki

In 1678, the fugitives accepted Mihály Teleki, the Chancellor of Transylvania, as their leader. Prince Apafi proclaimed war against the Habsburgs. Previously, he had begged the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman Sultan (his overlord) to leave. The Sultan had demanded an unacceptable condition: in the case of success, all Royal Hungary should join the Ottoman Empire. On 5 April 1678, Prince Apafi issued an ambiguous declaration to the people of Hungary. He announced that he, along with the Polish and French kings, took up the arms against "the heavy yoke of oppression" and recommended "the submission to the mighty Turkish Emperor with a reasonable mind and sharp eye." The kuruc army of Teleki, together with the Polish and French troops, advanced well into Upper Hungary but immediately retreated into Transylvania at the sight of the first Habsburg regiments. The failure wrecked Teleki's image as a competent leader. On the other hand, a small kuruc cavalry troop (about 8,000 people) briefly occupied the most important mining towns and castles of Lower Hungary.


The great kuruc uprisings

In 1678, one of the most influential young noblemans of Upper Hungary and Transylvania,
Emeric Thököly Emeric Thököly de Késmárk ( hu, késmárki Thököly Imre; sk, Imrich Tököli; ; tr, Tököli İmre; 25 September 165713 September 1705) was a Hungarian nobleman, leader of anti-Habsburg uprisings like his father, Count István Thököly, be ...
, declared war against the Habsburgs. In August 1678, Thököly's army occupied almost all of Lower and Upper Hungary. Habsburg rule in
Royal Hungary Royal may refer to: People * Royal (name), a list of people with either the surname or given name * A member of a royal family Places United States * Royal, Arkansas, an unincorporated community * Royal, Illinois, a village * Royal, Iowa, a city ...
quickly collapsed. The fugitives joined the Thököly Uprising and officially elected him as their leader in Hajdúszoboszló, Szoboszló in January 1680. The kuruc troops merged with Thököly's own army. That time onwards, the history of the kurucs is synonymous with that of the two great anti-Habsburg uprisings in the Kingdom of Hungary between 1680 and 1711, i.e. the Emeric Thököly#Uprising, Thököly Uprising (1680–85) and Rákóczi's War of Independence (1703–1711). Although they are generally called kuruc wars, these anti-Habsburg uprisings had a much wider social base and more complex political aims than the original kuruc movements. See the history of the great kuruc uprisings under their respective leaders,
Emeric Thököly Emeric Thököly de Késmárk ( hu, késmárki Thököly Imre; sk, Imrich Tököli; ; tr, Tököli İmre; 25 September 165713 September 1705) was a Hungarian nobleman, leader of anti-Habsburg uprisings like his father, Count István Thököly, be ...
and
Francis II Rákóczi Francis II Rákóczi ( hu, II. Rákóczi Ferenc, ; 27 March 1676 – 8 April 1735) was a Hungarian nobleman and leader of the Hungarian uprising against the Habsburgs in 1703-11 as the prince ( hu, fejedelem) of the Estates Confederated for Liberty ...
.


Later usage

In the first half of the 18th century, "kuruc" was generally used to denote Hungarian cavalry soldiers (hussars) serving in the Habsburg army, especially in the time of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748). Many former kuruc soldiers of Rákóczi's War of Independence joined the Habsburg army after 1711. The Prussians were also called kurucs in Hungarian literature, including by Joseph Gvadányi in 1790. The reason behind this strange usage was that the enemies of the ''labanc'' Habsburgs were considered synonymous with the kurucs. At the end of the 18th century, the word went out of usage in common parlance and became an exclusively historical term for the rebels of Rákóczi and Thököly. In present-day South German language, ''Kruzitürken'' is a swear word, combining ''Kuruzen'' (Kuruc) and ''Türken'' (Turks), meaning "curse it." In present-day Hungarian language, ''kuruc'' is sometimes used to denote Hungarian national radicals. "Kuruc.info" is also the name of a far-right, nationalist Hungarian webpage.kuruc.info
/ref>


Notes


References

{{Reflist


External links



17th century in Hungary 18th century in Hungary Rebel militia groups Military history of Hungary Habsburg period in the history of Slovakia