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On the 29th of September 1528, in the castle in Tarnów, John, the King of Hungary, Dalmatia, and Croatia, Margrave of Moravia and Lusatia, Duke of Silesia, granted the town of Tarnów, in return for the hospitality provided by Jan, Count of Tarnów, Voivode of Rus, 500 florins of annual income derived from the Košice tricesima, which was a fee charged from merchants entering the Kingdom of Hungary.

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On the 29th of September 1528, in the castle in Tarnów, John, the King of Hungary, Dalmatia, and Croatia, Margrave of Moravia and Lusatia, Duke of Silesia, granted the town of Tarnów, in return for the hospitality provided by Jan, Count of Tarnów, Voivode of Rus, 500 florins of annual income derived from the Košice tricesima, which was a fee charged from merchants entering the Kingdom of Hungary.
The document, measuring 57.5 x 32.08 centimetres, was drawn up in Latin. A red, wax, round seal hangs from a red silk cord, with the image of the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hungary; the coat of arms of John Zapolya is to be found on the heart shield; unfortunately, the wording has been erased. Despite the fact that Tarnów – thanks to the powerful Tarnowski family – was clearly present on the political map of 16th century Poland, it was certainly not the place from which the royal power in Hungary could and should be exercised. How John Zapolya turned up in Tarnów has thus become an interesting question.
In 1526, after the death of Louis II of Hungary in the Battle of Mohacs, John Zapolya was elected King of Hungary by the noble assembly. Meanwhile, the Hungarian parliament, by virtue of the Treaty of Vienna of 1515, appointed Ferdinand Habsburg – the younger brother of Emperor Charles V – to the throne. A civil war began. John Zapolya, fearing for his life, escaped to Poland, where he initially stayed at the castle of Marcin Kamieniecki in Odrzykoń near Krosno, but, eventually, he made use of the invitation from Hetman Jan Tarnowski.
John Zapolya’s stay in Tarnów lasted five months, from April to September 1528. This time was spent in an effort to regain the Hungarian crown by summoning help from magnates in Poland and France, and even from Pope Clement VII of the mighty House of Medici. At the same time, George Martinuzzi, the abbot of Czestochowa, promoted his cause in Hungary. Eventually, with the help of Jarosław Łaski – provincial governor of Sieradz – he began talks with the Turkish Sultan Suleiman. After signing an agreement with him at the end of September, he went to Hungary with the army he had assembled. The victorious march was stopped at Vienna, but, eventually, in 1538, John Zapolya and Ferdinand signed a secret agreement in Varadyn, in which they divided the country into two parts: the south-west, where the Habsburg king was supposed to reign; and the north-east, where John Zapolya maintained his power.

Elaborated by Janusz Kozioł (District Museum in Tarnów), © all rights reserved

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Manuscript “The privilege of Jan Zapolya for citizens of Tarnów” with a seal

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