King Matthias – Weddings in the Matthias Church

King Matthias’ royal weddings took place in the Church of Our Lady, now commonly known as the Matthias Church on top of the Castle Hill , Budapest, next to the Fisherman’s Bastion.

The first wedding of King Matthias

Catherine leaving her father and stepmother to live in Hungary - Venceslav Cerny

Catherine leaving her father and stepmother to live in Hungary – Venceslav Cerny

The first wedding of King Matthias was with a Bohemian (Czech) princess, Katalin Podjebrad (Kateřina z Poděbrad) in 1463. In medieval times this comes no surprise that the King was a widower from the age of 12. What is a bit less common is that he married the daughter of the Bohemian king, who kept Matthias hostage, and let him loose only on one condition, namely that he should marry his daughter, Katherine (Katalin in Hungarian or Katerina in Czech). The royal couple was very young: the princess was 15 years old, King Matthias was 20 (and has been for 5 years on the throne and for 8 years in real life bloody battles with the Ottoman Turkish armies). After the wedding Katherine soon got pregnant, but unfortunately, she died in childbed fever in 1464 (the baby boy was stillborn).

The second wedding of King Matthias

King Matthias didn’t hurry to get married again. 12 years after his first wedding, at the age of 31 he married the daughter of Ferrante I, the king of Naples. Officially Beatrice was already a Hungarian queen when he entered the Hungarian kingdom on Dec 12, 1476 as the envoys of the king were sent to pop the question to Naples.

Historical Reenactment of the Wedding of King Matthias and Beatrice of Naples

Historical Reenactment of the Wedding of King Matthias and Beatrice of Naples – by

When his fiancée wife arrived, King Matthias left the town (Szekesfehervar) and hurried to welcome her in a specially set up welcome camp (included fights between knights – jousts –  and the presentation of cannons – the high-tech new weapon in the 15th century). He gave a bouquet to Beatrice of Naples – of course a beautiful ring was pulled on the bouquet. Gabor Rangoni, the bishop of Eger town (born in Verona) welcomed the new queen on behalf of the Hungarian King. Beatrice thanked for the welcoming ceremony in person to the king.

The duches of Bavaria, Legnica and Saxony personally welcomed the new Hungarian queen, who was also greeted by the envoys of the duches of Silesia, Bohemia and the Italian cities. And in turn, this time it was the lady-in-waiting of Beatrice who replied to the duches and the envoys. Who greeted whom and who talked to whom in personally was a reflection of power and customs – the communication protocols of Renaissance.

Then the couple and their companies left the camp for the town (at that time the royal town being Szekesfehervar – we are still not in Buda) and the Church welcomed the royal couple. After that, they went to the Basilica to a mass. When the mass was over, Beatrice excused herself and went to take a rest after the long journey from Naples to Hungary. So did the king.

The next wintry day there were two ceremonies, the wedding and the coronation of the new queen. Further, there were several young noblemen who were knighted on this special day, including the brother of Beatrice of Naples.

The royal wedding at (what we know today as) the Matthias Church took place on Dec 15, 1476. It was a Sunday, and all those who took part in the welcoming and coronation of the new Hungarian queen (‘Aragoniai Beatrix’ as known in Hungary), travelled with the royal couple from Szekesfehervar to the Buda Castle, up to the gothic church. The bishop of Eger married King Matthias and Beatrice of Naples. And the royal feast was also in Buda.

Regiomontanus (German mathematician and astronomer) made a huge firework for the wedding, the first biggest fireworks in Hungary.

After the wedding

His second marriage to Beatrice of Naples in 1476 was a marriage of Renaissance. Beatrice helped King Matthias to bring about changes in the royal palace and spread more Renaissance in the Hungarian kingdom (new buildings, new customs, more books for the library, etc.)

The marriage was fruitful but childless, and he decided to leave the throne to Janos Corvin, his illegitimate son. Not only did he award his son with a fief but he also invited John’s mother to the royal court. The conflict between Beatrice and King Matthias (Matthew) was inevitable. Beatrice thought that it was she who should be the rightful successor.

In the end, when King Matthias died in 1490, it was the Bohemian (Czech) king, Vladislas II (originally Polish and the son of Elisabeth of Austria, Hungarian princess) who successfully advanced his claims to the Hungarian throne – supported by Beatrice of Naples, his new spouse…