From this period dates the castle, and also the buildings of the university, founded by Gabriel Bethlen, and now used as barracks.
GABRIEL BETHLEN (GABOR) (1580-1629), prince of Transylvania, the most famous representative of the Iktari branch of a very ancient Hungarian family, was born at Illye, and educated at Szarhegy, at the castle of his uncle Andras Lazar.
Bethlen also supported Bocskay's successor Gabriel Bathory (1608-1613), but the prince became jealous of Bethlen's superior abilities, and he was obliged to take refuge with the Turks.
In 1613 he led a large army against his persecutor, on whose murder by two of his officers that year Bethlen was placed on the throne by the Porte, in opposition to the wishes of the emperor, who preferred a prince who would incline more towards Vienna than towards Constantinople.
Bethlen no sooner felt firmly seated on his throne than he seized the opportunity presented to him by the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War to take up arms in defence of the liberties and the constitution of the extra-Transylvanian Hungarian provinces, with the view of more effectually assuring his own position.
While Ferdinand was occupied with the Bohemian rebels, Bethlen led his armies into Hungary (1619), and soon won over the whole of the northern counties, even securing Pressburg and the Holy Crown.
Nevertheless he was not averse to a peace, nor to a preliminary suspension of hostilities, and negotiations were opened at Pressburg, Kassa and Beszterczebanya successively, but came to nothing because Bethlen insisted on including the Bohemians in the peace, whereupon (20th of August 1620) the estates of North Hungary elected him king.
Bethlen accepted the title but refused to be crowned, and war was resumed, till the defeat of the Czechs at the battle of the White Hill gave a new turn to affairs.
Took a fearful revenge upon the vanquished; - and Bethlen, regarding a continuation of the war as unprofitable, concluded the peace of Nikolsburg (31st of December 1621), renouncing the royal title on condition that Ferdinand confirmed the peace of Vienna (which had granted full liberty of worship to the Protestants) and engaged to summon a general diet within six months.
For himself Bethlen secured the title of prince of the Empire, the seven counties of the Upper Theiss, and the fortresses of Tokaj, Munkacs and Ecsed.
Subsequently Bethlen twice (1623 and 1626) took up arms against Ferdinand as the ally of the anti-Habsburg Protestant powers.
After the second of these insurrections, Bethlen attempted a rapprochement with the court of Vienna on the basis of an alliance against the Turks and his own marriage with one of the Austrian archduchesses; but Ferdinand had no confidence in him and rejected his overtures.
Bethlen was obliged to renounce his anti-Turkish projects, which he had hitherto cherished as the great aim and object of his life, and continue in the old beaten paths.
Gabriel Bethlen was certainly one of the most striking and original personages of his century.
This work has been largely utilized by Ignae-Acsady in his excellent Gabriel Bethlen and his Court (Hung., Budapest, 1890).
Gabriel Bethlen and George I.
Yet both Bethlen and Rakoczy owed far more to favourable circumstances than to their own cunning.
The first and most famous of these rulers was Gabriel Bethlen (q.v.), who reigned from 1613 to 1629, perpetually thwarted all the efforts of the emperor to oppress or circumvent his Hungarian subjects, and won some reputation abroad by adroitly pretending to champion the Protestant cause.
Among the Protestants who exerted themselves in theological and controversial writings were Nemeti, Alvinczy, Alexander Felvinczy, Martonfalvi and Melotai, who was attached to the court of Bethlen Gabor.
It was not the contingent but the actual deposition of the king that they demanded, and they had their candidate for the throne ready in the person of Gabriel Bethlen, the new prince of Transylvania.
He wrote a history of Bethlen Gabor in Hungarian, and edited the Monumenta historiae Bohemica.
He also repeatedly thwarted the martial ambitions of Gabriel Bethlen, and prevented George Rakoczy I., over whom he had a great influence, from combining with the Turks and the Protestants.
Other noteworthy buildings are the Reformed church, built by Matthias Corvinus in 1486 and ceded to the Calvinists by Bethlen Gabor in 1622; the house in which Matthias Corvinus was born (1443), which contains an ethnographical museum; the county and town halls, a museum, and the university buildings.
His parents were Protestants, and he himself, at first, followed the Protestant persuasion; but he subsequently went over to Catholicism and, along with Cardinal Pazmany, his most serious rival at court, became a pillar of Catholicism, both religiously and politically, and a worthy opponent of the two great Protestant champions of the period, Gabriel Bethlen and George I.Rakoczy.
In 1619 the town was taken by Bethlen Gabor, but it was recovered by the Imperialists in 1621.