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Born Sept. 25, 1657, in Késmárk, now Kežmarok, Slovakia; died Sept. 13, 1705, in Izmit, Turkey. Leader of the anti-Hapsburg war of liberation of 1678–85 in the Kingdom of Hungary. Count.
In 1678, Thököly united and led separate detachments of kurucok (peasants who struggled against feudalism) that by 1681 had liberated the northeastern regions of Hungary, including ethnically Slovak and Ukrainian territories. In 1682, Thököly, whose troops controlled 13 comitats in the northeastern part of the kingdom, declared himself prince of the territory captured from the Hapsburgs. In that year he became a vassal of the Turkish sultan, who recognized him as the king of Hungary. With the sultan’s aid, he undertook military operations against the Hapsburgs.
Thököly’s rapprochement with Turkey decreased his popularity with the masses and the nobility. The defeat of the Turkish army near Vienna in 1683 also weakened the position of Thököly’s army. In 1685, Thököly’s principality was overthrown. Suspected of treason by the Turks, Thököly was seized and incarcerated in a Turkish prison, where he remained until 1690.