Collecting royalty on stamps:King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary

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18 January 2013
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imports_CCGB_hungarystamp1940_40634.jpg Hungary stamp 1940
King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary ruled during the eventful fifteenth century, and his feats were honoured with a set of semi-postal stamps in 1940, as William Silvester reveals in the latest 'Collecting royalty on stamps' feature. ...
By mid-1940, Hungary had not yet officially joined the Axis Powers. This would not happen until the end of the year when Germany brought pressure to bear and dragged Hungary into the war. 

In July of that year, a set of semi-postal stamps was issued in which the surtax was to go to War Relief. 

The subject of the set of five stamps and a souvenir sheet was King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary.

The stamps depict:
•  6+3 - Arms of the Hunyadi Family
• 10+5 - Hunyadi Castle, boyhood home of Matthias
• 16+8 - King Matthias
• 20+10 - Equestrian statue of Matthias
• 32+16 - Corvin Codex of Matthias

Hungary stamps 1940Matthias was born in 1443, second son of the famed Hungarian general, John Hunyadi and grew up in Hunyadi Castle. He had been elected to the throne of Hungary after the death of King Ladislas V in 1457 at the age of fourteen, the first time this had happened in medieval Hungarian history.

It was only following battles against the Turks, Bohemians, Holy Roman Empire and assorted disgruntled magnates, that he was finally crowned in 1462.

Another war followed when the pope offered him the crown of his father-in-law, King George of Bohemia, which he secured in 1469 which led to war with Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. Matthias successfully ended that conflict when he besieged and captured Vienna in 1485.  Making Vienna his capital, as Duke of Austria, Matthias then proceeded to take possession of a huge part of the rest of Austria.

Hungary stamps 1940In 1480 Matthias drove the Ottomans from northern Serbia and sent his able general Balazs Magyar to recapture Otranto in Naples from the Ottomans at the bequest of the pope. The death of Sultan Mehmet II presented the west with an opportunity to intervene in Ottoman affars but when Matthias did not receive the papal support he had hoped for in a custodial affair he became embittered towards the papacy.

Hungary stamps 1940Due to the patronage of the king, Hungary was the first European country to embrace the ideas coming from Renaissance Italy. He established a new legal system, patronised the arts and science and established educational systems. He considered himself a philosopher-king and endeavoured to follow the ideas set forth in Plato’s Republic.

The Hungarian king spent his final days attempting to secure the succession of his bastard son, John.  Queen Beatrice, though childless herself, opposed the idea and it was still pending when he died in April 1490.

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