Catalog: APAFI MICHAEL 1661-1690

APAFI MIHALY 1661-1690

Apafi Michael (1661-1690) was imposed prince of Transylvania by the Ottoman Porta. He was a weak ruler, and his wife Bornemissza Anna was the one to take care of most of the country’s business, together with chancellor Teleki Mihaly. By nature, Apafi was more disposed to contemplate than to rule, and his true pleasures lay in reading and the study of clocks.

His realm consisted of small enclaves scattered among the strongholds of Turkish and imperial troops who numbered in the thousands. Apafi’s attempts to consolidate a power base were hindered by the Turkish and Habsburg emperors as well as by competitors for the princely throne. He was fully aware that his rule extended over only part of Transylvania, but he intended to exploit the country’s peculiar situation between two powerful nations to serve its best interests.

In the Battle of Nagyszőllős, January 23, 1662 (now Vynohradiv, Ucraine) János Kemény was defeated and killed by the Ottoman army allied with Prince Apafi. Several of Kemény’s supporters after the battle rallied to Apafi’s side, and were rewarded with high office: János Bethlen became chancellor, and Gábor Haller first councilor.

At the end of 1661 the grand vizier, Mehmed Köprülü died, and a struggle for the succession started. Emperor Leopold believed he could exploit the turmoil in the Ottoman leadership to reannex Transylvania to the Hungarian Kingdom, and thus to his Empire.

On February 13, 1662, the Emperor issued a proclamation, according to which the situation in Transylvania is very ‘dangerous’, and insisted that a large armed force to be stationed in Upper Hungary. Six thousand troops were dispatched to reinforce the Transylvanian garrisons, with orders to hold out to the last man.

In the end, the Hungarian diet was convoked so that it could turn imperial policy into law. Leopold’s covert objective was to have the diet confirm by law what János Kemény had committed himself to, placing Transylvania under the suzerainty of the king of Hungary, i.e. the Habsburg Emperor. Concurrently, Vienna’s resident envoy at Constantinople was instructed to negotiate an understanding with the new grand vizier, Ahmed Köprülü.

Paradoxically, the Leopold’s Transylvanian policy turned out to be of use to Apafi. Ahmed Köprülü concluded that Apafi needed stronger support, and confirmed the prince’s authority both in a letter from the grand vizier and in a firman, dated 2 March 1662, from the sultan.

They gave Apafi a free hand in domestic affairs, and the tribute was reduced. Meanwhile, Ali, the pasha of Temesvár, and the new pasha of Várad (Oradea), Mehmed Küchük, were instructed to seize the Habsburg-held fortresses in Transylvania, and the imperial garrisons surrendered Görgény (Gurghiu), then Fogaras (Fagaras). The support of the turks came at a price: in late April Apafi and his troops had to join Mehmed Küchük for the siege of Kolozsvar (Cluj Napoca).

Members of the Transylvanian estates, encamped near Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca), wrote to Palatine Wesselényi, asking him to persuade the emperor to withdraw the garrisons from Transylvania: “If the Turks siege the fortresses, the Christians will never get these back and our country will perish, and so will Hungary too.”

The Kemény party delegated Mihály Teleki to convey an alternative proposal to Leopold, asking the Emperor to either provide the military assistance necessary to drive the Turks from Transylvania, or, if he preferred to make peace with the Porte, to obtain that the Kemény party return to power.

The palatine and other Hungarian nobles also urged Viena to make a choice: negotiate a peace and obtain the return of Várad (Oradea) in exchange for the withdrawal of garrisons, or to commit all necessary resources for a successful war against the Turks.

With Count Ferenc Wesselényi’s mediation Apafi reached an understanding with the Kemény party, and on September 5, 1663, Dénes Bánffy wrote to Teleki that Apafi is the best guarantee that ‘Transylvania would stand by Christendom’.

In the meantime, the Porcia government redoubled its efforts to obtain from the grand vizier a confirmation of peaceful relations, who set tough preconditions to negotiation: the emperor must definitively give up Várad (Oradea) and promise not to support a claim to the Transylvanian throne by any descendant of Rákóczi or Kemény.

Ahmed Köprülü and his troops set off from Hadrianopolis planning to convoke a diet at Pozsony and put Apafi on the Hungarian throne. The grand vizier dispatched a new proposal to Leopold, with obviously unacceptable terms, and without waiting for an answer, he marched on Buda. Although Apafi received specific instructions from the grand vizier to go to Hungary, he put off for months complying with the order, until Ahmed Köprülü sent a pasha to fetch the prince.

Apafi left to Köprülü‘s camp on 20 September, and left a triumvirate, consisting of István Petki, Pál Béldi, and András Fleischer, in charge of the country. After two days of meetings, Apafi, at the grand vizier’s orders, sent off a manifesto to the towns and counties, promising personal freedom and security of property to all Hungarians who submitted to the Turkish sultan. In the end, Köprülü‘s scheme did not worked.

In autumn 1663, the Confederation of the Rhine held a conference at Regensburg, and in drawing up their plans, the participants were counting not only on Venice, Poland, France, the Papal state, and Russia, but on Transylvania and the Romanian principalities as well. And since Apafi had confirmed Transylvania’s alliance with the Romanian principalities, it is almost certain that he was instrumental in associating Voivode Ghica with the anti-Turk coalition.

Apafi played an exhausting double game. Ostensibly, he was preparing to oppose the coalition and support the grand vizir, who counted on Apafi’s army as well as on those of the Romanian voivodes. In fact, he was coordinating his preparations with Hungary’s politicians. In late May 1664, after lengthy preparations, the imperial and Hungarian armies launched their joint attack along a broad front near Várad (Oradea). After some successes on the battlefield, on October 2 Apafi received the surprising news: “The two emperors had made peace”.

The Turkish-Habsburg treaty represented a severe setback for Apafi’s government. Hoping that the terms for Transylvania could be eased before the treaties were ratified, Apafi’s government made approaches to both Emperor Leopold and the Ottoman Porte. After seven long years of warfare, a semblance of calm returned to Transylvania at the end of 1664.

After almost 20 years Apafi is again on the turks’ side, at the siege of Viena in 1683.

In the last eighteen months of his long reign, the Prince fought a deepening depression by escaping to his library and his collection of elaborate clocks. He died in April 15, 1690, at Fogaras (Fagaras).

Apafi Mihaly a fost instalat ca principe de catre Poarta Otomana. A fost un conducator slab, sotia lui, Bornemissza Anna fiind cea care se ocupa de majoritatea problemelor interne, impreuna cu cancelarul Teleki Mihaly. In timpul lui, din cauza sutelor de mii de ducati de aur care trebuiau platite Imperialilor si Portii Otomane, Principatul a pornit pe calea declinului economic. Apafi a murit in 1690 la Fagaras.

Coins minted:

166210 ducat gold coin, 5 ducat gold coin; 2 ducat gold coin; ducat; 1/2 taler
1663 – 10 ducat gold coin; 5 ducat gold coin; 3 ducat gold coin; 2 ducat gold coin; klippe of one and a half talers; hexagonal taler klippe, 1/2 taler
1664 – 10 ducat gold coin; 5 ducat gold coin; 3 ducat gold coin; double taler; taler; 1/2 taler
1665 – 10 ducat gold coin; 5 ducat gold coin; 4 ducat gold coin; double taler; taler; 1/2 taler
1666 – 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; taler; 1/2 taler
1667 – 10 ducat gold coin; 4 ducat gold coin; ducat; 2 taler klippe; taler
1668 – 10 ducat gold coin; 4 and half ducat gold coin; double ducat gold coin; ducat; double taler; taler
1669 – 10 ducat gold coin; taler
167010 ducat gold coin; double taler; taler; 1/2 taler
1671 – 10 ducat gold coin; taler; 1/2 taler
1672 – 10 ducat gold coin; double taler klippe; taler; 1/2 taler, silver 12 kreuzer
1673 – 10 ducat gold coin; 5 ducat gold coin; ducat; double taler klippe; taler; taler klippe; 1/2 taler; silver 12 kreuzer; silver 6 kreuzer
1674 – 100 ducat gold coin; 10 ducat gold coin; taler; 1/2 taler; silver 12 kreuzer, silver 6 kreuzer
1675 – 100 ducat gold coin; 10 ducat gold coin; klippe of 10 gold ducats; ducat; taler; silver 6 kreuzer
1676 – 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; taler
1677 – 100 ducat gold coin; 50 ducat gold coin; 25 ducat gold coin; 10 ducat gold coin; klippe of 10 gold ducats; 5 ducat gold coin; 4 ducat gold coin; ducat; taler
1678 – 10 ducat gold coin; 5 ducat gold coin; 4 ducat gold coin; ducat; ducat klippe; taler
1679 – 10 ducat gold coin; klippe of 10 gold ducats; taler
1680 – 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; taler
1681 – 25 ducat gold coin; 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; taler
1682 – 10 ducat gold coin; ducat
1683 – 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; taler; taler klippe
1684 – 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; ducat klippe; taler; taler klippe
1685 – 10 ducat gold klippe; ducat; ducat klippe
1686 – 10 ducat gold klippe; klippe of 6 ducats; ducat; taler; taler klippe
1687 – 25 ducat gold coin; 10 ducat gold coin; ducat; ducat klippe; taler
1688 – 10 ducat gold coin; double ducat gold klippe; ducat; ducat klippe
1689 – 10 ducat gold klippe; klippe of 5 gold ducats; 4 ducat gold coin; klippe of 3 gold ducats; ducat; ducat klippe, klippe of 1/2 taler
1690 – 10 ducat gold klippe, ducat

Apafi family coat of arms