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Zrinyi

Zrinyi (zrĭnˈyē) [key], noble Hungarian family of Croatian origin. Nicholas Zrinyi, 1508–66, distinguished himself in the defense of Vienna (1529) against Sultan Sulayman I, took part in the campaign of Ferdinand I of Austria (later Holy Roman emperor) against John Zapolya, who claimed the Hungarian crown as John I, and was appointed (1542) governor of Croatia. He is famous for his defense of Szigetvar against the army of Sulayman I and was killed there while attempting a sortie. His great-grandson Nicholas Zrinyi, 1616–64, was made governor of Croatia in 1647. He campaigned successfully against the Ottomans and was the acknowledged national leader of the Hungarians when he died in a hunting accident. He was a distinguished poet, one of the first to use Hungarian as a literary language. Besides lyric poetry, he also wrote an epic poem on the defense of Szigetvar by his ancestor and several prose works on political subjects, modeled on the style of Machiavelli. His brother, Peter Zrinyi, 1621–71, became governor of Croatia in 1665. Disappointed by the absolutist policy of the Hapsburgs, who owed their success in Hungary largely to the Zrinyi family, he joined (1671) with several other Hungarian magnates in a conspiracy against Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I. The plot, backed by Louis XIV of France, was ill organized and easily suppressed. Zrinyi was executed. His daughter, Helen Zrinyi, d. 1703, married Francis I Rákóczy and, after Rákóczy's death, Imre Thököly. She was the mother of the Hungarian national hero, Francis II Rákóczy.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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