Francis II Rákóczi was a Hungarian aristocrat and national hero who fought against Habsburg rule during the early 18th century. He was born on March 27, 1676, to a prominent noble family. His father, Francis I Rákóczi, had also been a leader in the Hungarian anti-Habsburg movement.

Portrait of Francis II Rákóczi | Source: Wikipedia

In 1703, Rákóczi led a rebellion against Habsburg rule, gathering support from the Hungarian nobility and peasants alike.  His army, known as the Kuruc, fought numerous battles against the Habsburg forces throughout the early 1700s. Despite some victories, Rákóczi and the Kuruc were ultimately defeated, and he was forced to flee to Poland. He spent the rest of his life in exile, attempting to garner support from other European powers for Hungary’s independence. He died in 1735 in Turkey, still hopeful that Hungary would one day achieve freedom from the Habsburgs.

Histoire des Révolutions de Hongrie, The Hague, by Jean Neaulme, 1739 | Source: Wikipedia

Rákóczi’s legacy is one of bravery and resilience. Despite facing overwhelming odds, he refused to give up on his dream of Hungarian independence. He is remembered as a national hero in Hungary, with numerous monuments and memorials dedicated to him throughout the country. However 1 way that stands out is that his portrait has been featured on various Hungarian banknotes.

Hungary 50 Forint Banknote, 1986 | Source: Banknote World

One early example is the Hungary 50 Forint, 1986. This is part of the first series of banknotes issued by the Hungarian National Bank that featured the socialist coat of arms. It is a brown, blue, and orange banknote. Its obverse side shows the Soviet coat of arms and a portrait of Prince Francis II Rakoczi. Its reverse side illustrates early 18th-century Hungarian rebels called Kuruc battling Austrian soldiers called Labanc on horseback. The note does not have a security thread or a watermark.

Hungary 500 Forint Banknote, 2018 | Source: Banknote World

Some years later his portrait was switched to the 500 Forint. An example is the Hungary 500 Forint, 2018. It’s colored in red and brown. Its obverse side shows the crowned coat of arms, a running horse in a purple-to-green OVI, and a portrait of Prince Francis II Rakoczi from a painting by Adam Manyoki. Its reverse side depicts a view of the Sarospataki Castle (A Sarospataki Var). Security features include a holographic stripe, a solid security thread with a demetalized MAGYAR NEMZETI BANK, and a watermark of Rakoczi Ferenc.

Hungary 500 Forint Banknote, 2006 | Source: Banknote World

His image has also been used on a commemorative banknote like the Hungary 500 Forint, 2006. This is a commemorative banknote issued by the Hungarian National Bank to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian insurrection against Soviet occupation. It’s colored in orange and brown. Its obverse side features the bank monogram in OVI, the crowned coat of arms, and a portrait of Prince Francis II Rakoczi by Adam Manyoki. Its reverse side shows the Orszaghaz (Parliament building) and the flag with a hole. Security features include a solid security thread with demetallized MAGYAR NEMZETI BANK and a watermark of 50.

Sources:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ferenc-Rakoczi-II

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_II_R%C3%A1k%C3%B3czi

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