Beatrice of Naples or Beatrice of Aragon (Aragoniai Beatrix in Hungarian), was the second wife of King Matthias Corvinus, the Just. She was a true Renaissance lady. Although King Matthias was also an ardent Renaissance ruler (‘a friend of the Muses’ as contemporaries called him), his wife contributed to the enhancement of the Renaissance splendour of the royal court.
On the very first day of their marriage, i.e. on the wedding day of King Matthias and Beatrice of Naples, the new queen has changed the strict ceremonial order (who was allowed to sit with the royal couple and who wasn’t). Great start for a striving woman. She also had some limited influence in the policy of Hungary.
She wanted to succeed King Matthias to the throne, but her husband decided to support his illegitimate son and brought him and his son’s mother, a commoner woman to the court in 1479. Beatrice, however, thought otherwise. After King Matthias’ death in 1490, he married the new king, Vladislav II in spite of the fact that Vladislav II did not want to marry her (officially he did not even divorce his first wife). But the Hungarian noblemen insisted on the marriage, and it did take place. Three years later a commission was set up to investigate the legality of the marriage. In 1500 Pope Alexander VI declared the marriage illegal, and Beatrice had to pay the legal costs. What a shambles!
Based on written records, Beatrice of Naples may have been the first Hungarian woman chess player (well before the successful Polgar girls). Chess has definitely been played in the 14th century in the Hungarian kingdom.
Szamos marzipan is on the high quality Hungarian sweets you may wish to take home as a gift. It was Beatrice of Naples, wife of King Matthias, whose Italian cooks brought the marzipan recipes with themselves to Hungary.
If you go to a traditional (and touristy) restaurant in Budapest, you may listen to Gypsy musicians who ‘play in your ear’ (go up to your table and play the violin just for you, close to you). Now it was in 1489 at a horse show for Beatrice of Naples that Gypsy musicians were playing: that’s the first official written recording of Gypsy musicians. So it seems that musical Gypsies have been in Hungary for centuries.
Thanks to Beatrice’s Italian Renaissance background, the new queen of Buda made changes in the music of the royal court. In addition to the customary violin music, she also had a small choir (13 member choir in 1483).