A diplomat in the service of the Kings of Hungary: The activity of the Bishop of Nitra Antony of Šankovce at the end of the Middle Ages

A diplomat in the service of the Kings of Hungary: The activity of the Bishop of Nitra Antony of Šankovce at the end of the Middle Ages

By Miriam Hlavačková

HISTORICKÝ ČASOPIS: Historical Journal Volume 59 (2011) Supplement

Abstract: The ecclesiastical dignitary Antony of Šankovce (de Sankfalwa) started his diplomatic career as a canon at Oradea (Magnum Varadinum, Nagyvárad, Veľký Varadín, Gross-Wardein). The king entrusted him with ever more demanding diplomatic tasks. Together with the Archbishop of Esztergom Vitéz, he secured the return of the Crown of St. Stephen to Hungary in 1463. He was also sent to the courts of Italian rulers and to France, Poland and Germany. In 1486, King Matthias Corvinus appointed him Provost of Bratislava, and in 1490 Vladislav II made him Bishop of Nitra. Antony of Šankovce fully applied his education in canon law, gained at the University of Padua, in the field of marriage law. In Rome, he had to prove the invalidity of Vladislav’s marriage, not only with Beatrix of Aragon, but also with Barbara of Brandenburg. Evidence of Antony’s activities survives from the period of his work in Bratislava and Nitra. He was involved in canon law, organizational and pastoral activities. He held a diocesan synod at Nitra in 1494. Its conclusions provide information about the problems of the Catholic Church at the end of the 15th century. He founded an altar of St. Antony in Nitra Cathedral and gave his house in Buda and vineyard on Zobor to support it. Bishop Antony made his last diplomatic journey in 1499 to the Imperial Diet at Worms.

Introduction: At the beginning of the text Ambaxiator brevilogus (1436), its author, the provost and later Archbishop of Toulouse Bernard de Rosier states that the work of a diplomat is varied and the opportunities for diplomatic missions are growing from day to day. According to this medieval handbook, the work of the diplomat includes: “honouring the Church and the Imperial Crown, protecting the rights of the kingdom, strengthening obedience and friendship, agreeing peace, removing the possible causes of future unpleasantness reprimanding tyrants, making rebels obedient” and so on. To put it simply, these missions can be divided into two categories: ceremonial and negotiation, for example, with the aim of concluding peace between warring monarchs. Apart from this, the author divides missions into short-term, in the course of which ambassadors present complements or have discussions at a court and then return, and long-term circular missions to various courts in succession. Both types of mission could be combined and overlapped.

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