The Beginnings of the Cooperation of Free Royal Towns in the Kingdom of Hungary in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries
Copyright (c) 2021 István H. Németh
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The study presents the possibilities and framework for cooperation between towns in Hungary through the operation of the Town League of Upper Hungary. The cooperation of towns in the Kingdom of Hungary happened primarily through regional relations. At first, the basis for cooperation was provided by common economic interests, but this area broadened considerably in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. After the battle of Mohács (1526), the towns of Hungary became full members of the Hungarian Estates. The Kingdom of Hungary, which was part of the Habsburg Monarchy, gained considerable autonomy in internal politics. This was based on a compromise with the Habsburg rulers to ensure protection against the Ottoman Empire. The free royal towns were the least influential members of this country that had strong Estates. Nevertheless, cooperation between the towns became nationwide. The diets provided the forum for all free royal towns in the country to represent their common interests in a coordinated way. There are traces of this nationwide cooperation as early as the mid-sixteenth century, but it was from the early seventeenth century that it was the strongest. The reason was that in those decades state taxes were becoming heavier and more burdensome for towns. This nationwide cooperation was not only manifested in the field of taxation, but from the first quarter of the seventeenth century onwards, it increasingly extended to religious matters. In the background, there was the increasing recatholization of the Habsburg Monarchy. In this special matter, close links were forged also with the otherwise strongly anti-urban lower nobility.