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Vitéz János

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Vitéz János

For the poem by Sándor Petőfi, see János Vitéz.

The native form of this personal name is Vitéz János. This article uses the Western name order.
János Vitéz
Archdiocese Esztergom
Installed May 15, 1465
Term ended August 8, 1472
Predecessor Dénes Szécsi
Successor János Beckensloer
Created Cardinal 1471
Rank Archbishop of Esztergom
Personal details
Born c. 1408
Sredna, Kingdom of Hungary-Croatia
Died August 8, 1472
Esztergom, Kingdom of Hungary
Nationality Hungarian, Croatian
Denomination Catholic
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Coat of arms

János Vitéz (Croatian: Ivan Vitez of Sredne; c. 1408 – 1472) was the Hungarian archbishop of Esztergom and a prominent humanist, diplomat, Latinist, mathematician, astrologist and astronomer.

Vitéz was born in Sredna near Križevci in a Croat-Hungarian family which was already influential at the Hungarian court. Vitéz's mother was originated from the Garázda genus (originally from Bosnia, genus is named after Goražde). On his father's side he derived from Pilis county (his father's surname was originally Csévi).[1] His father was the secretary of the regent John Hunyadi, from 1446 to 1452. Vitéz became a prothonotary in his government.

Vitéz studied in Vienna, where he graduated in law and became knowledgeable in physics, astronomy and alchemy due to frequent contacts with other humanists. In the chancery of King Sigismund, he probably met the excellent Italian humanist Pier Paolo Vergerio. For a while (around 1437) he was the canon in Zagreb. In that period, he helped strengthen the relations between the Croatian capital and the thriving Italian cultural and scientific centers. Then he left for Hungary, where he was to play a major role in the development of cultural and scientific institutions.

He was one of the educators of Hunyadi's son Matthias, who would become the king Matthias Corvinus of Hungary.[2] He became the bishop of Oradea in 1445 and turned it into a humanist centre, where he invited a number of Polish and German humanists, such as Gregory of Sanok. He was a book collector[2] and built a library there. Both his court and the library moved from Oradea to Esztergom in 1465, when he became the primate of Hungary, or the archbishop of Esztergom – one of the two bishoprics in Hungary.

In the government of Matthias Corvinus, he fulfilled many positions. First of all, due to his earlier practice, he was an excellent diplomat to the king. In 1458 he was sent to Prague to George of Poděbrady to redeem the king and then he (according to Bonfini) welcomed the king when he entered the kingdom. He served the king in a few diplomatic missions, especially to the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III. After 1464 he became active in the highest and secret chancellor (together with Stephen Várdai), but did not take many actions in the position. During the late 1460s he became estranged to the king and in 1471 he led a plot against the ruler.

Vitéz, who spoke and wrote in excellent Latin, had a major role in the international circle of humanists at Corvin's court, some of whom were prominent scientists, such as Regiomontanus, Bylica, Peuerbach, Hans Dorn. He was especially interested in natural sciences and promoted their study. He founded the academy and library in Oradea (moved to Esztergom) and the Universitas Istropolitana in today's Bratislava. He promoted astrologic and astronomic research, had astronomic instruments of his own, and founded the observatory in Esztergom. He is sometimes referred to as the Father of Hungarian Humanism.

As the initiator of a rebellion against the king (1471–1472), he lost his privileges and estates. Soon after, he fell ill and died in Esztergom.

His nephew was the great Latin humanist Janus Pannonius.

See also

  • List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics


In Croatian:

  • Ivan Vitez od Sredne in Prominent Scientists and Works in the Middle Ages
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Dénes Szécsi
Archbishop of Esztergom
15 May 1465 – 8 August 1472
Succeeded by
János Beckensloer
Preceded by
Thomas Döbrentei
Commendator of Pannonhalma Archabbey
Succeeded by
Matthias Corvinus
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