Charles I
Charles I
King of Hungary
Reign 1310 - 2nd February, 1339
Predecessor Otto
Successor John I
Born September 1274
Naples, Naples
Died 2nd February, 1339
Buda, Hungary
Spouse Beatrix of Luxembourg

Elizabeth of Poland

Issue Mary

John I

House Bezier
Father Charles I
Mother Mary of Hungary

Charles I, Károly I, was the first King of Hungary from the Bezier dynasty and would strive to reunite the country after its long painful recovery from the Mongol invasions.

Charles was born in 1274 to Charles I of Naples and Mary of Hungary; their first son. Charles Bezier had married Isabella of Naples then with Papal connivance forged his father-in-law's will and usurped his wife's kingdom to secure Naples. Mary of Hungary was the daughter of Stephen V and after her brother Ladislaus IV's death would claim the Hungarian crown. The Hungarian nobles however supported a distant cousin, Andrew III.

When Andrew III died in 1301 his kingdom was immediately thrown into a succession crisis. Charles was invited to cross the Adriatic and was proclaimed king by several prominent lords. Most however bowed to Andrew's wishes; his only child, Anna, was married to Wenceslaus of Bohemia (Wenceslaus III) and elected him king. To protect the young couple his father Wenceslaus II took regency of the Hungarian throne to add to the Bohemian and Polish ones he already controlled. Of course to an ambitious prince like Charles this was not the end of his campaign. By 1303 he had secured the pro-Bezier Papacy's support. He already had the support of his half-brother John I, by that time king of Naples, and then his nephew Charles II.

Charles threw himself into a full-blooded campaign to seize the throne, not only to get the powerful regional nobles to accept him but also drive off his competitors. Wenceslaus would quit Hungary in 1304 handing the claim (and the royal crown) to Otto III of Bavaria, who was Bela IV's grandson. Charles wore Otto slowly down too, eventually forcing him out in 1308. It would take another two years of papal diplomacy before the remaining nobles accepted Charles as their king and he would be finally crowned properly in 1310.

In 1311 the Luxembourg Emperor Henry VII blundered into a feud with the Beziers over Charles II's activities in Italia. Charles instantly came to the assistance of his nephew and began preparations to invade Bohemia. Henry would split Charles from his nephew however; offering his daughter Beatrix's hand in marriage. Eager to secure his own dynasty in Hungary Charles accepted.

Foreign matters momentarily solved Charles turned his efforts to curbing the power of the regional magnates, many of whom had barely accepted him as king. Charles' rush to accept peace with Bohemia was partially a reaction to the news Buda was now under siege from Matthew Czak, the virtually independent ruler of the Slovak lands. Charles had honed his military skill in the civil war and even though many other lords refused to lend their assistance, Czak and the other magnates were slowly out-maneouvered though Czak himself would cling on to power until his death in 1321.

By 1323 Charles had consolidated his power, had made large scale land grabs during the wars against the nobles and refused to reissue the Golden Bull of 1212 which had placed a limit on the king's power. He even attempted to integrate Croatia into the kingdom but it stubbornly repelled his liege's invasions and remained a vassal only. An invasion of Wallachia in the summer of 1332 would also fail, Charles barely escaping with his life. Even with these failures Hungary was recovering rapidly. Charles reformed the currency and the bureaucracy, placing his own men in positions of power rather than bowing to the old structures. While this did nothing for his reputation in church circles it left Hungary one of the richest kingdoms in Europe. His stature was enough that John I of Bohemia effectively handed him succession to the Polish throne (via his second wife Elizabeth of Poland) in the event of Casimir III's death.

Charles would die in 1339 and was succeeded by his son John who would take Hungary to even greater heights.

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