A Distant Memory

 A train advances through the royal meadow toward Kiralyret

A train advances through the royal meadow toward Királyrét

Királyrét, in the Börszöny Hills, is home to the “royal meadow.” This was a former hunting ground of the last truly great Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490). It is said that he would come here with his wife Queen Beatrice of Naples to venture out on hunts into the surrounding forests.

We do not know if King Matthias was keeping an eye on his back, while he was also keeping an eye out for animals on these hunts. Perhaps he should have been. Whether it is just legend or the truth many believe that Beatrice helped lead Matthias to his doom by having him poisoned in 1490.

This would be ironic, since Beatrice helped bring the Renaissance to King Matthias and in turn he brought it to Hungary. A little known, but nonetheless intriguing historical footnote is that together they made Hungary the first European country outside of Italy to welcome the Renaissance.

Like many legends the cause of Matthias death does have some basis in fact. Beatrice was certainly smitten with power. On occasion, she accompanied Matthias on campaign and was known to insert herself into policymaking.

Maybe she was trying to compensate for failing in one of her most important duties, providing Matthias with offspring. She never had any children. In 1479, only the third year of their marriage, the relationship became strained as a result of Matthias naming his illegitimate son as heir to the throne. An even greater insult ensued when Matthias invited the boy’s mother (his mistress!) to the royal court as well.

King Matthias Corvinus

King Matthias Corvinus

If Beatrice needed a reason to plot against her husband, she now certainly had one. Matthias like many a king was fond of hunting. A hunt would seem to be a good place to take out the king.

On the other hand, Matthias was a formidable warrior who would have been a tough mark for any would be conspirators. Whether there was even a whisper of a plot to assassinate Matthias on a hunt is pure speculation.

The serene nature of Királyrét stayed just that. Nonetheless, Beatrice had a motive. Perhaps this is why the legend arose that she had Matthias poisoned when he died in 1490.Medical experts have considered this claim dubious since Matthias showed no symptoms of poisoning.

Instead, he is most likely to have had a stroke. The myth of poisoning has survived for over five hundred years, but there is no historical evidence to support such a legend.Beatrice’s lust for power survived Matthias death. She contrived to marry the next king, Vladislaus II. The marriage occurred, but it was claimed that Vladislaus had failed to divorce his first wife.

Furthermore, Vladislaus later stated he had been forced to marry Beatrice.The upshot of all this, was that the pope declared the marriage illegal and Beatrice was sent back to Naples. Beatrice would never see Hungary again. As for the “royal meadow” at Királyrét it was like the throne she had once held, a distant memory.

Queen Beatrice of Naples

Queen Beatrice of Naples

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About the Author: Leuko

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