B bábi, Tibor

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Black Army (Fekete Sereg, Legio Nigra) – The standing army of King Mátyás I (Matthias Corvinus, 1458-1490) of Hungary. It was an imitation of Charles VII’s and Louis XI’s experiments with free-musketeer regiments to establish a standing army in France. In 1459 King Mátyás brought into his service three Czech captains, commanders of various infantry contingents. In 1462 he made a service contract with Jan Giskra, who commanded his troops in a campaign in Northern Hungary (Upland, Felvidék, now Slovakia). During the same year he made a similar contract with Czech leader Komorovszki and his associates at Nagysalló (now Tekovské Luzany, Slovakia). In 1465 his standing army consisted of 20,000 Hussars (light cavalry), 8,000 footsoldiers, 9,000 horse carriages, 200 riverboats and an artillery brigade with about 100 cannons. Its central core was the 6-8000 Czech and Serb (Rác) force. During the reign of King Mátyás, the Black Army proved to be an excellent force in time of war. He occupied Vienna, extended his rule over Lower Austria, Silezia and, with their help, defended Hungary’s southern border against the invading Turks. The army was well paid and discipline was maintained. The army earned its “Black” name only after the death of the King, when it came under the command of Jan Haugwitz, whose nickname was “Black”. During the reign of King Ulászló II (Wladislas, 1490-1516) the depleted treasury failed to pay the army, the power base of the king’s authority. The unpaid mercenaries became a menace to the people in and around the city of Szeged. The looting started in 1492 and various atrocities were committed against the population. To subdue the disorganized mercenaries, Pál Kinizsi, Commander of the Black Army, surprised their camp near the city of Halas and subdued them in a fierce battle. 500 of the Czech mercenaries were killed, the rest captured. Their leaders were hanged on Kinizsi’s orders, or were broken on the wheel. On 23 January 1493 the Black Army was officially disbanded by a royal decree. The best soldiers entered the service of the King, the Palatine, or the Reigning Prince of Transylvania. The others were expelled from the country but continued their campaign of plunder in Austria and Moravia, where they were also dispersed. The survivors took service with the French King, and Francis I embarked on his Italian campaign with an army largely composed of the remnants of the former Black Army. In the battle near Pavia on 24 February 1525, they were annihilated to the last man. – B: 1078, 1020,T: 3233.→Mátyás I, King; Kinizsi, Pál; Ulászló II, King.

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