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  • Writer's picturepeter clings

Nicolaus Olahus a great humanist of the 16th century

Nicolaus Olahus was born to Stefan Olahus, first cousin of Matthias Corvinus, and Borbala Hinsar in Hermanstadt (Sibiu) on January 10, 1493. He died at 75 years old age on January 17, 1568. The engraving reproduced next was taken in his old age

According to his own account, he had an older brother called Matei (Mathew), and two sisters, Ursula and Ileana. His parents met and lived in Sibiu. His father side grandmother was a sister of the acclaimed

In his youth, Stefen Olahus experienced the harshness of the infighting between the two rival branches of the Basarab dynasty in that his father (the grandfather of Nicolaus) was killed by Vlad IV Țepeș with his own hand. Stefan fled for his life to Sibiu in his youth to escape from the wrath of Dracula

Stefan Olahus was hired by his cousin, the King of Hungary and served him well. For his merits he was appointed as the Prefect of the Salt mines, and "judex regius" or Royal Judge of mayor of Broos (Orăștie) where he served as such until his death in 1522

Nicolaus Olahus had attended the Chapter School of Várad (now Oradea, Romania) from 1505 to 1512. Among his teachers some remarkable figures were Filip Padocataros, Pietro Paolo Vergerio, and George Peuerbach. Having been an excellent student, Nicolaus was remarked by the Bishop Sigismund Thurzo who introduced him to the Royal court.

After graduation, he served as a page at the court of Ladislaus II, but shortly afterwards chose an ecclesiastical career, and was ordained a priest in 1516 or 1518. He became

During the fateful Battle of Mohács as a personal secretary of the Queen of Hungary, Mary of Hungary he had to rush to Buda to prepare a hasty evacuation of his boss. In a big hurry, he, the Queen and a few companions managed to board some important chancellery documents and a remaining section of the fabled Corvinus Library. The ship would sail first to Esztergom then to Bratislava

Olahus would accompany the Queen during her Governorship of the Lowlands in 1531. He resided at the university city of Leuven where he befriended important characters of the Renaissance in Europe such as the most acclaimed Erasmus and Petrus Nannius with who he corresponded extensively. The collection of letters between them is available for the avid reader

Upon returning to Hungary, he was trying to revive the Catholic establishment receiving strong opposition from the already Protestant upper class. He was the first to arrange for the formal relocation of the Hungarian Metropolitan Seat from Esztergom initially to Trnava (or Nagyszombat), and later to Bratislava. In the new city of Seat, he restored the Cathedral school to help educate new generations of priests and teachers, thus maintaining a semblance of the old Hungarian culture Olahus produced a remarkable literary body of work. Among the best reads, I would recommend Attila, and Hungariae both for an inside look at the workings of the 16th century

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