Mary of Hungary

Portrait of Mary in the Chronica Hungarorum. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Katia Wright

Mary of Hungary, born in 1371, was the middle daughter of Elizabeth of Bosnia and Louis, King of Hungary and Croatia. After the death of her elder sister Catherine in 1378, Mary was intended to inherit the kingdom of Poland, and was formally betrothed to Sigismund of Luxembourg, son of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1379.

With Louis’s death in 1382, Mary’s mother Elizabeth seized the throne and had Mary crowned ‘king’ of Hungary. In 1383, rebellion broke out against Elizabeth’s attempts to marry Mary to Louis of Orleans, and in response the Hungarian nobles invited Charles, king of Naples to Hungary. Mary eventually married Sigismund in October 1385, who had brought an army to support her, but ultimately rescinded the crown to Charles of Naples who claimed the Hungarian throne in December 1385. Elizabeth and Mary continued to live in the Hungarian palace and were involved in the assassination of Charles of Naples less than 2 months after his coronation. In February 1386 Mary was restored to the Hungarian throne, though her mother ruled in her name. Sigismund returned to Hungary and reunited with Mary and her mother, who sought allies against the Hungarian nobles plotting with Ladislaus, son of the deceased Charles of Naples.

Portrait of Elizabeth and Mary mourning at the tomb of Louis I by Sándor Liezen-Mayer (1864). Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Whilst Mary and Elizabeth toured the south of Hungary, they were kidnapped by Neapolitan supporters who sought to remove Mary from the throne. Sigismund negotiated with their captors, but discussions did not go well for Mary. Elizabeth was murdered in front of her daughter and Sigismund was made regent and later crowned king in March 1387. Mary was finally reunited with her husband in July and though they co-ruled together in truth Mary had no actual power.

Photo of Mary’s royal seal. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

On 17th May 1395, whilst pregnant, Mary fell from her horse causing an early labour that resulted in the death of both Mary and her unborn child.

Recommended Reading

János M. Bak, “Queens as Scapegoats in Medieval Hungary,” in Queens and Queenship in Medieval Europe, ed., Anne Duggan, 223-234 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1997).

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