Volume 8 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Dynasty as a Patchwork House, or the (Evil) Stepmother: The Example of Zofia Jagiellonka

Almut Bues
German Historical Institute Warsaw
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The significant age difference between Princess Zofia Jagiellonka and her husband had as one advantage for the princess that she had no competitors within her age group (e.g. a stepmother). Moreover, her stepdaughters were approximately the same age and, after her husband’s death, she found herself in similar circumstances to the as a widow. Zofia Jagiellonka eventually resolved the long-standing relationship between her husband and his mistress, knowing in this regard how to defend her social position. She consciously took up the role of mediator among the relatives, and she had a mitigating effect on the tensions between father and son. Her social consciousness included providing for the welfare of the new family by meeting the expectations placed on her with regards to her stepchildren. Her life was not that of the stereotypical “evil stepmother.” Rather, she was someone from whom her stepchildren and others repeatedly sought counsel. Through her royal birth, she was (with regard to her social status) superior to her Guelph relatives, and she had the king—her brother—as her protector. In terms of her relationship to her stepchildren, it was perhaps a great advantage that she herself bore no children, and thus there was no competitive milieu at the court in Wolfenbüttel.

Keywords: aristocratic stepfamily, stepmother, stepchildren, widowhood, court in Wolfen­büttel

Volume 8 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Notevole larghezza, notizie così gravi e gelose and un uomo che amava spacciarsi: Human Resources of Diplomatic Exchange of King Alfonso V of Aragon in the Balkans (1442–1458)*

Nada Zečević
Royal Holloway, University of London

During his reign in Naples, between 1442 and 1458, King Alfonso V of Aragon exchanged a series of diplomatic communications with the Christian East, namely with Byzantine Emperors John VIII (1425–1448) and Constantine XI Dragases (1449–1453) and their close kin, but also with the most prominent feudal lords of the Balkan peninsula (Herzeg Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, George Castrioti Skanderbey, etc.). The basic historical details of these missions are largely known to modern scholarship, which usually regards them as part of the king’s attempt to secure individual allies in his planned anti-Ottoman crusade and expansion towards the imperial throne in Constantinople. Scholarship, however, is limited on the details of these relations, partly due to the fragmentary nature of the sources and partly because of the missions’ secret character. In this paper, I am attempting to learn more about King Alfonso’s attention to the Balkans by observing the human resources which sustained not just his missions, but also other forms of the kingdom’s exchange across the Adriatic. The inquiry, which is based on the study of the available prosopographic data concerning individuals who appear to have been prominent in this, indicates that the basic circle which sustained this process consisted of Catalan bankers and highly ranked notaries, all resident in Naples since Alfonso’s access to the throne of the kingdom in 1442, but this circle also received several local commoners loyal to the king, with Simone Caccetta as their leading figure. His networks show that the king’s diplomatic exchange with the Balkans was largely characterized by a specific form of corruption, by which the bankers who invested their money in the king’s diplomatic activities in the Balkans received lucrative positions in the royal customs and local administration of Puglia, which they further used to enhance their access to the kingdom’s economic exchange with the Balkans and, consequently, to augment their wealth. This process was heavily scrutinized by Simone Caccetta, who involved in it an entire circle of small traders and soldiers directly loyal to him, thus affirming their positions but also his own position in the Aragon service and Aragon courtly society.

Keywords: Alfonso V of Aragon, Aragon Naples, diplomacy, Medieval Balkans, feudal lords in the medieval Balkans, prosopograph


Volume 8 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Militarization of the Serbian State under Ottoman Pressure*

Miloš Ivanović
Institute of History Belgrade

After the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, Serbian territories were under strong Ottoman pressure. Turkish vassals soon became their rulers. Under these circumstances, they endeavored to fulfill their obligations to the Sultan and to strengthen the defense of their states. For these purposes, the ruling families, the Lazarevićs and Brankovićs, introduced new taxes during the last decade of the fourteenth century. Also, Despot Stefan Lazarević (1389–1427) established a different type of military service, placing emphasis on the defense of the country’s borders. Based on archaeological material and written sources, one can conclude that Serbian rulers paid great attention to the construction and restoration of fortresses. In the first decade of the fifteenth century, Despot Stefan began to reform the local government system. The new administrative units were organized according to the model of former marches (krajišta), which were headed by voivodes. Finally, the fresco painting of Serbian monasteries also offers evidence of the militarization of Serbian society during the period of the Ottoman threat.

Keywords: Militarization, Serbia, Ottomans, Hungary, taxes, warriors, fortresses, marches

Volume 8 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Colluding with the Infidel: The Alliance between Ladislaus of Naples and the Turks*

Emir O. Filipović
University of Sarajevo

In October 1392, King Ladislaus of Naples (1386–1414) sent letters and an embassy to the court of the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid (1389–1402) offering to establish a pact against their common enemy, King Sigismund of Luxembourg (1387–1437). According to the “indecent proposal,” this “unholy alliance” was supposed to be sealed and strengthened by a marriage between King Ladislaus and an unnamed daughter of the sultan. Though the wedding never took place, messengers were exchanged and a tactical pact did materialize. It was manifested through military cooperation between Ladislaus’ Balkan supporters and the Ottoman marcher lords, who undertook joint attacks against the subjects of King Sigismund and their territories. Although mentioned briefly in passing, this incredible episode and the resulting alliance have never before been analyzed in depth by historians. Attempting to shed some light on the topic in general, this article proposes to examine the available narrative and diplomatic sources, assess the marriage policy of the Ottoman sultans as a diplomatic tool in the achievement of their strategic goals, and the perceived outrage that news of the potential marriage caused among the adversaries of King Ladislaus. In addition to studying the language of the letters, which extended beyond subtle courtesy, the essay will also explore the practical effects and consequences of the collusion between Ladislaus and the Turks for the overall political situation in the Balkans during the last decade of the fourteenth century and first decade of the fifteenth.

Keywords: King Ladislaus of Naples, King Sigismund of Luxembourg, Sultan Bayezid, Stephen Lackfi, John Horváti, Hrvoje Vukčić, Kingdom of Hungary, Kingdom of Naples, Ottoman Empire, Kingdom of Bosni


Volume 8 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Border by the River – But Where is the River? Hydrological Changes and Borders in Medieval Hungary*

András Vadas
Eötvös Loránd University / Central European University

Medieval estate borders were mostly formed by natural borders, such as hills, ditches, forests, meadows, etc. Of course, in many cases trees were marked in some form, or small mounds were built to clarify the running of estate borders. Almost none of these would seem at a first sight as firm as a border along rivers and streams. However, a closer look at law codes, customary law collections, and legal disputes that arose in connection with estate borders makes clear that, as borders of estates, bodies of water could be a basis for conflict. In this essay, I discuss sources from the medieval Kingdom of Hungary from the thirteenth to the sixteenth centuries that concern the problem of the change of land ownership as a consequence of changes in riverbeds.
In the late medieval compilation of the customary law of Hungary by Stephen Werbőczy, the Tripartitum, a surprisingly long section is dedicated to this problem. He clearly suggests that landownership does not change if a piece of land is attached to another person’s land by changes in the course of a river. Historians have drawn attention to this section of the Tripartitum and have suggested that this is one of the few parts in which Werbőczy does not apply Hungarian customary law, but rather uses Roman law. In my paper, which is based on a collection of similar lawsuits, I aim to demonstrate that there are a number of examples of cases in which Roman law prevailed before Werbőczy’s work, and, thus, the land in question was left in the hands of the previous owners as well as decisions according to which the shifting riverbed went with a change in ownership.

Keywords: Legal history, water history, customary law, rivers, boundaries

Volume 8 Issue 2 CONTENTS

Debates Concerning the Regulation of Border Rivers in the Late Middle Ages: The Case of the Mura River*

Bence Péterfi
Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences

It has been well known for ages that atypical elements of a border line, such as ditches, large trees etc., may have served as points for orientation. Literate societies, however, have had the privilege of conserving the knowledge not only by oral tradition but also by various kinds of written word. In the following, I present an especially well-documented conflict between Styrian and Hungarian families regarding the riverbed of the River Mura, which was the border of the two polities for some 20 kilometers. The debate emerged in the beginning of the sixteenth century and lasted until 1546. The Mura-question was one of the most permanent ones in the political discourse of the first third of the sixteenth century. Although we can grasp hardly any of it, the conflict involved a fear on the part of the estates of both countries that they might lose lands. First, my goal is to show the dynamics of such phenomena as an archetype of border conflicts in a nutshell. Second, I seek to identify the main reason why the conflict was so protracted and explain how eventually the issue was addressed in order to put an end to the conflict in 1546.

Keywords: Austria, Styria, Hungary, River Mur(a), river regulation, border dispute


The Work Ethic in Humanist Biographies: The Case of Willem Canter

Gábor Almási
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Neo-Latin Studies
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This article is a case study of the work ethic as represented in biographies of humanists. It draws first and foremost on Melchior Adam’s anthology of biographies of learned “German” men of 1615–1620. The analysis of some of the longer biographies reveals that Adam was more dependent on his sources than previous research supposed. Moreover, the stress on the education and diligence of the individuals in several of the biographies follows not from Adam’s interests, but rather from the logic of humanist biographies, a primary function of which was to legitimate social rise, redefine social values according to meritocratic principles, and promote the Renaissance ideology of virtue. The vita of William Canter, which I analyze in considerable detail, illustrates how early modern biographies tended to construct the self on the basis of ancient and more recent clichés and to present ideal types. The work ethic represented by Canter’s scholarly persona reveals that hard work in the Renaissance was intrinsically linked to disciplined time-management.