Bethlen, Prince Gábor (Gabriel) (Marosillye, now Ilia, Romania, 1580 - Gyulafehérvár, now Alba Iulia, Romania, 15 November 1629) – Reigning Prince of Transylvania (Erdély, now in Romania). He was one of the greatest statesmen in 17th century Hungarian history. He was educated at the court of Reigning Prince Zsigmond (Sigismund) Báthory (1581-1598). At the tender age of 15, he participated in the war against the Turks in Havasalföld (Wallachia), fought against Voivode Mihael, then against Basta’s terror; joined the political party of Mózes Székely, and later escaped into Turkish territory following the Battle of Tövis (now Teius, Romania) in 1602. His military and diplomatic skills soon became apparent and he worked for a Turkish alliance against the Habsburgs. In late 1604 he joined István (Stephen) Bocskai and acquired the assent of the Ottoman Porte to Bocskai’s appointment. Bethlen was elected Ruling Prince by the Diet at Kolozsvár (now Cluj-Napoca, Romania). He secured the independence of his territory from King Mátyás II (Matthias, 1608-1619) and the Porta by seceding the city of Lippa (now Lipova, Romania). He turned his court at Gyulafehérvár into a political and cultural center and established a center of learning in a high school. He sponsored the education of Hungarian students in foreign countries, like Holland and England. He founded an up-to-date army comprised of mercenaries, freedom fighters and Szeklers resulting in Hungary’s first permanent army since the days of King Mátyás I (Matthias Corvinus) (1458-1490). His goal was the restoration of the unity of the Hungarian Kingdom. In 1619 he occupied the Habsburg territories in Hungary with the help of the Bohemian nobles. However, as his troops approached Vienna, György (George) Homonnai Drugeth attacked him from behind and forced him to retreat. On 25 August 1620 the district of Besztercebánya (now Baia Bistrita, Slovakia) elected Bethlen as King of Hungary, but he refused the honor. Following the Bohemians’ defeat at Fehérhegy (Weisser Berg, Bilá Hora) near Prague on 8 November 1620, he was compelled to make peace with the Emperor. He was also unsuccessful in establishing an international coalition against the Habsburgs. He married the daughter of the Prince Elector of Brandenburg in 1626, and joined the Westminster Alliance of the Protestant powers. He drove out Ferdinand’s Wallenstein troops, but was forced to make peace when the promised foreign relief did not arrive. He succeeded in gaining recognition of Transylvania’s independence from both the Habsburg and Turkish realms. His economic and cultural policies made Transylvania the frontier fortress of Western Christianity with the capital city of Gyulafehérvár, as progressive as any European city of that time. He planned to establish alliances with Sweden and Russia to gain the Polish crown; but his death, after only 16 years of rule, prevented it. – B: 0883, 1031, 1122, T: 3312.→Báthory, Prince Zsigmond; Bocskai, Prince István; Mátyás I, King; Rákóczi I, Prince György; Homonna, Battle of; Székely, Mózes (1).