The uncrowned king of Upper Hungary (today’s Slovakia) Matthew Czak was born in about 1260. His father Peter and his uncle Matthews held the office of Marshall Palatine during the reign of the incompetent king Ladislav IV. Cuman, and as a result, they were obtaining large properties in the south-western Slovakia. The young Matthew Czak became their sole heir. In the early 1290s he acted as a loyal courtier of Andrew III who appointed him a Palatine in 1296.
However, shortly after, Matthew seized the King’s castle Trencín under unclear circumstances and he rebuilt it to his residence. At the end of the 13th century, extending of his possessions was beyond control. Many nobles took willingly (but also under pressure) service with him. In the Premysl-Anjou fight for a succession he first supported the Czech crown prince Wenceslas, who in 1302 bestowed him with counties Nitra and Trencín. Toward the end of the following year he changed sides and became a supporter of Charles Robert, but despite his several promises he never recognized him as his king in public. In spite of this, Charles Robert appointed him a palatine in 1309 and at the beginning of the following year also treasurer (the person in charge of royal income).
As Matthew Czak was visibly misusing these positions for his own benefit, the king deposed him from his office. In these times Matthew already acted as an independent ruler, and kept the same dignitaries as the king at his court in Trencín. The bases of his power became a whole system of stone castles. He owned more than 60 stone castles, of which 50 in the area of today’s Slovakia. The status of Matthew was undermined to a certain extent by the loss of a part of his army in the Battle of Rozhanovce in 1312. However, in 1315 he managed to beat back the attack of the Czech king Jan Luxemburg on the castle of Holíc. Later, due to his older age, he was not developing any activities of a greater importance and determined Stephen Czech from the family of Moravian Sternbergs as his heir. He died naturally on March 18th, 1321 in Trencín castle. King’s army took possession of all his castles in stages. His contemporaries called his possessions „Terra Matthei“ (The Land of Matthew). Its territorial scope corresponds almost precisely with the territory belonging to Pribina’s Principate in Nitra.
Title: Matthew Czak of Trencín
Date of Issue: 12 March 2010
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