Scorched-earth tactics are as old as warfare itself. Throughout Europe military commanders of the Early Modern Age used them, as the Persians did against the attacking Ottomans. Accordingly, along with his fellow-generals, Lazarus Freiherr von Schwendi, one of the best-known German military theorists and commanders of the 16th century, repeatedly urged that scorched-earth tactics be introduced in the Habsburg Monarchy’s Hungarian theatre of war against the Ottomans, and that territories lost after the fall of Buda in 1541 be laid waste. Despite this, the systematic and widespread use of these tactics was rather rare in the areas of Hungary in which the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire faced each other during the 16th and 17th centuries. When they were chosen, they were employed only to a limited extent. While most of the pay of the soldiers serving in the border-defence system protecting Central Europe was provided by the Austrian, Bohemian and German provinces of the Habsburg Monarchy, a significant proportion of their food came from regions of Hungary that were under Ottoman sway. At the same time, these regions were not just a source of foodstuffs for those serving in the chain of fortresses built against the Ottomans, but also an area which offered economic opportunities to broad social strata in the Kingdom of Hungary (nobles, border-fortress soldiers and market town peasants), primarily in the spheres of cattle-breeding and trade. As a result of all this, the systematic laying waste of these territories conflicted with the fundamental interests of Hungarian society and Estates. The serious political conflicts that would have accompanied the use of scorched-earth tactics (whose consequences would in any event have been uncertain) were never invited by the Habsburg military and political leadership.
The study examines the series of coats of arms of the Hungarian and Bohemian Lands on the late Gothic Royal Oratory of the Cathedral of Saint Vitus in Prague in a Central European context. The analysis of the history of coats of arms of the Lands of the Hungarian Crown, principally that of Bosnia resulted in three new findings. On the one hand, contrary to previous concepts the creation of the series of coats of arms and along with this the completion of the oratory did not took place in the first half of the 1490’s, that is, at the beginning of the reign of Wladislaw, king of Hungary and Bohemia (1490–1516), but presumably in the 1510–1520’s. The occasion must have offered itself during the Bohemian sojourn of Louis II, king of Hungary and Bohemia (1516–1526) and his wife in 1522–1523, and presumably the coronation of Mary of Hungary in the Cathedral of Saint Vitus on June 6, 1522. On the other hand, the Bosnian coat of arms proves that the coats of arms of the Lands of the Hungarian Crown on the Royal Oratory were taken over from the heraldic representation of Emperor Maximilian I in Innsbruck instead of those of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Prague or Buda, where those were present on several such memorials from the late 1490s on (Wappenturm, Triumphzug, Ehrenpforte, etc.). Namely, at this time it was only in Habsburg heraldic representations that Bosnia was represented by the armored arm holding a sword, while in Hungarian practice the south Slavic kingdom’s coat of arms included two crowns. Thirdly, based on new research it can be stated that the coat of arms of Upper Lusatia, situated on the balustrade, could have been placed among the coats of arms of the Lands of the Hungarian Crown only during an erroneous restoration attempt at the end of the 19th century. Originally the coat of arms standing between those of the kingdoms of Dalmatia and Bosnia must have been that of Croatia whose checkered coat of arms was probably confused with the similar one of Upper Lusatia depicting a castle wall.
In the past 35 years or so, scores of theories, some bordering on legend, have emerged about the origin of the earliest known authentic representation of the Holy Crown of Hungary. Systematic historical and art historical research, however, has reconstructed convincingly the circumstances of its creation. Contrary to the majority of assumptions proposed until now, it can now be safely declared that the earliest representation of the Hungarian crown jewel has nothing to do with the – actually fictitious – possession of the crown by the Fugger family in the mid-15th century. The handwritten work namely, in which the image survived, is not a Fuggerchronik of Munich but the history of the Habsburg dynasty (Ehrenspiegel des Hauses Österreich) written for the family of the great merchant banker, Johann Jakob Fugger (1516–1575) by the self-taught town historian, genealogist and heraldist Clemens Jäger from Augsburg (c. 1500–1561).
The two-tome manuscript of nearly 800 folios with thousands of coats of arms and hundreds of illuminations is preserved in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. The earliest known depiction of the crown was made replicas of which were unknown until recently but were identified by the authors in three richly illuminated handwritten copies of the Ehrenspiegel. All were made in Innsbruck as the outcome of the court art and art patronage of the archdukes Ferdinand and Maximilian of Tyrol in the late 16th and early 17th century. By dating the manuscripts kept today in Munich, Vienna and Dresden more accurately and analysing the crown depictions in them, the – until recently – controversial chronology of the Ehrenspiegel copies could be clarified reassuringly. A revised version commissioned by Emperor Leopold I was completed by 1668 and was also released in print by the Endter press in Nuremberg with “updated” text by the German poet Sigmund von Birken. This version also included the image of the Hungarian crown, but the publisher replaced the 16th century depiction with a more up-to-date one. It adopted the crown representation on the title-page of Mausoleum (printed in Nuremberg 1664), a series of Hungarian ruler portraits completed a little earlier upon commission from a Hungarian aristocrat and art patron, Chief Justice of Hungary (1655–1671), Count Ferenc Nádasdy. It must be attributed to the publisher’s demand for authenticity that added to the crown from the Mausoleum, which in basic forms emulated the crown image illustrating the famous tract of guardian of the crown Péter Révay published in Augsburg 1613 (De Sacrae Coronae regni Hungariae ortu... Commentarius) and reformulated several times later, he also enclosed the title-page of the politics historical work by Martin Schödel (Respublica et status Regni Hungariae, Leiden 1634) for the purpose of providing more accurate material details.
A German handwritten petition by Clemens Jäger, the author of the Habsburg family history, for a coat of arms and crown representation has been recovered in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. In it he was inquiring about the Holy Crown with reference to the work (Rerum Ungaricarum decades) of the Italian historiographer of Matthias Corvinus, the noted humanist Antonio Bonfini. This source permits us to declare: the earliest authentic representation of the Hungarian crown was made in Augsburg between April 1553 (the terminus post quem for the sending of the petition from Augsburg to Vienna) and November 1561 (the death of Jäger). Confuting earlier presumptions we can contend that instead of some mid-15th or early 16th century model, Jäger used a wholly contemporary reproduction. It showed the crown kept in the Habsburg court in Vienna from the beginning of September 1551 depicted – if we are not mistaken – by the copperplate engraver and draughtsman of antiquities (Antiquitetabconterfetter) Hans Sebald Lautensack served in Vienna from August 1554, who was in close contact with the famous Vienna court historiographer who also knew Jäger, Wolfgang Lazius. Lautensack also engraved a portrait of Lazius in 1554. Some data suggest that our safe dating (1553–1561) can be reduced to the interval between the late summer of 1554 and 1556, between the beginning of Lautensack’s service in Vienna and the publication of the historian Lazius’s great map of Hungary (1556), the latter adorned with a Holy Crown with pendants. To conclude, the earliest detailed and authentic representation of the Hungarian crown was the outcome of the collaboration of Central European historiographers, first of all historians of Augsburg and Vienna, genealogists, heraldists and engravers, without the involvement of Hungarians, as far as we know. Not that this fact would reduce in any way its outstanding significance or peculiar value.
The parish church of Turócszentmárton (Martin, Slovakia) was the main burial place of the Szklabinya and Blatnica lines of the Révay family in the 16–17th centuries. The members of the Hungarian aristocratic family who were buried here were the hereditary holders of the ispán's and chief ispán's offices in Turóc county (lat. perpetuus et supremus comes comitatus Turociensis). Few original funerary monuments survive in the church: there is a single figural tombstone (Ferenc Révay I, †1553) and a painted and gilded funeral coat of arms (Pál Révay I, †1635). The funeral arms of crown guard Péter Révay (†1622) is only known from archive photos, and the only information about the funeral banners is gleaned from collections of inscriptions especially from a collection discovered in the last time in the manuscriptcollection of the University Library in Bratislava. Ferenc Révay's effigy in relief shown in secular attire is rare in the sepulchral art of the Hungarian Kingdom (two analogies are propalatine i.e. a chief justice of the Hungarian Kingdom, Imre Czobor of Czoborszentmihály's tombstone [†1581] in Sasvár [Šaštín] and László Kubinyi's [†1598] in Galánta [Galanta]), but the funeral coats of arms fit in well with pieces found in Nagyszombat (Trnava), Lőcse (Levoča), Csetnek (Štítnik), etc.