Born in 1580; died Nov. 25, 1629. Leader of the anti-Hapsburg movement in the kingdom of Hungary. Prince of Transylvania, 1613–29. King of Hungary, 1620–21.
Under Prince Sigismund Báthory (1588–98), he led the anti-Hapsburg opposition of the Transylvanian nobility. He participated in the anti-Hapsburg movement of Mózes Székely (1602–03) and in the movement of I. Bocskay (1604–06). He was expelled from Transylvania by Prince Gábor Báthory (1608–13), who maintained a pro-Austrian orientation. With the aid of the Turks, Bethlen overthrew Gábor Báthory and on Oct. 13, 1613, was elected prince of Transylvania. He carried out a policy of strengthening the princely power. He created a standing army. He participated in the Thirty Years’ War of 1618–48 on the side of the anti-Austrian coalition and scored important successes in the struggle against the Hapsburgs. Acting in concert with the Czechs, from August 1619 to January 1622 he occupied much of the territory of the Hungarian kingdom that had become subject to the Hapsburgs. On Aug. 25, 1620, he was chosen king of Hungary. After the anti-Austrian coalition was defeated at White Mountain, he was deprived of the Hungarian throne. By the Mikulov (Nikolsburg) treaty between Bethlen and Ferdinand II Hapsburg, signed Dec. 31, 1621, Bethlen received a considerable portion of Slovakia (the seven so-called upper Hungarian comitats) for renouncing the Hungarian crown. Bethlen undertook a second campaign against the Hapsburgs from August 1623 to May 1624, in the course of which his forces smashed a detachment of the Austrian general Wallenstein in a battle at Hodonin in Moravia. In Bethlen’s third offensive, which he commenced in August 1626 in support of the anti-Austrian coalition (Holland, England, Denmark), his forces were victorious over Wallenstein at Drégelpalánk on September 30. The Pozsony (Bratislava) peace treaty (Dec. 20,1626) left Bethlen with the lands he had obtained by the Mikulov treaty. Preparing to continue the struggle against the Hapsburgs, he concluded an alliance with the Moldavian hospodar Miron Movila (1628) and sent an embassy to Moscow to conclude a Russian-Transylvanian alliance.
REFERENCESWittmann, T. Bethlen Gábor. [Budapest,] 1952.
Wittmann, T. Bethlen Gábor mint handszervezö. Budapest, 1952.
Wittman, T. “Bethlen Gábor és az 1628–29 évi erdélyiorosz szóvetségertv keletkezése.” In Magyar-orosz történelmi kapcsolatok. Budapest, 1956. Pages 35–51.