Matthias I, or Matthias Corvinus, stands as one of Hungary’s most remarkable monarchs, ruling from 1458 to 1490 and leaving an indelible mark on the nation’s history. Born on February 23, 1443, Matthias ascended to the throne at a tender age of 14, guided by his uncle Michael Szilágyi.  

King Matthias Corvinus In His Young Days As Monarch | Source: Wikipedia

Matthias’s early years were marked by conflict, as he waged wars against Czech mercenaries in Upper Hungary and clashed with Frederick III, the Holy Roman Emperor, who sought to claim Hungary for himself. The Ottoman Empire’s expansion into Serbia and Bosnia added to the challenges, prompting Matthias to sign a peace treaty with Frederick III in 1463, acknowledging the Emperor’s right to style himself King of Hungary. 

King Matthias’ arrival in Buda | Henrik Weber | Source: Wikipedia

One of the defining moments of Matthias’s reign was his conflict with George of Poděbrady, the Hussite King of Bohemia. Despite conquering Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia, Matthias faced resistance from the Hussite lords. Matthias’s military prowess extended beyond his borders. He supported Stephen the Great, Prince of Moldavia, against Ottoman invasions, seizing the strategic Šabac in 1476. A peace treaty with Vladislaus Jagiellon in 1478 solidified their respective claims over the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. 

Hungary 1,000 Forint Banknote, 2023 | Source: Banknote World

On the obverse of the new 1,000 Hungarian forint note is a portrait of King Matthias Corvinus. Issued by the National National Bank in 2023, the predominantly blue note is highlighted with yellow and measures 154 mm x 70 mm. Other than the former king’s image, the note’s obverse is also designed with the crowned coat of arms, an Optically Variable Ink feature of a raven with a ring in its beak.  

Legacy of Matthias Corvinus on Banknotes 

Beyond the battlefield, Matthias Corvinus left a lasting legacy. He established the Black Army of Hungary, one of medieval Europe’s earliest professional standing armies. His patronage of art and science, exemplified by the Bibliotheca Corviniana, fostered a cultural renaissance in Hungary, making it the first country outside Italy to embrace the Renaissance. 

Decorative Page of Trapezuntius Corvina Found On 1,000 Forint | Source: Máté Török / Corvina.HU

Buda Castle 

The reverse of the 2023 Hungary 1,000 forint note shows the Hercules Fountain at the Royal Palace or the Buda Castle in Visegrad. Matthias Corvinus was commonly linked with Hercules.  

Royal Castle at Buda Hill in Budapest, Hungary | Source: AS

Visegrád, a town in Hungary located on the right bank of the Danube River, was a country residence of King Matthias Corvinus. After Matthias married Beatrice of Naples in 1476, the king transformed the Buda Castle into an early Renaissance style.  

Hungary 100 Pengo Banknote, 1930 | Source: Banknote World

The front of the edifice was decorated with statues of Matthias Corvinus, his father John Hunyad, and his older brother, László Hunyadi. Due to the early death of the king, the Matthias Palace remained unfinished.  

Matthias Church 

The Matthias Church which is known as the Church of the Assumption of the Buda Castle stands prominently in the Holy Trinity Square, Budapest, Hungary. It is situated at the heart of Buda’s Castle District, facing the iconic Fisherman’s Bastion. The church, reaching its zenith of medieval prosperity, held particular significance during the reign of King Matthias Corvinus.  

Hungary 20 Korona Banknote, 1920 | Source: Banknote World

King Matthias contributed significantly to the church’s architectural legacy by overseeing the construction of the southwest bell tower, recognized as one of Hungary’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. Despite some alterations in the late 19th century due to the replacement of its stone material, the bell tower has maintained its original form, except for its damaged helmet. 

Matthias Church In Budda Castle District | Source: Wikipedia


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