Bethlen Miklós

Bethlenszentmiklós, château
He was a noble Transylvanian chancellor, a writer of memoirs, and he was the son of the famous historiographer, János Bethlen. His masters were Pál Keresztúri (who was a follower of Comenius) in Gyulafehérvár, János Apáczai Csere in Kolozsvár, who had a great influence on him. He started his European peregrination in 1661. He studied in Heidelberg, Utrecht and Leiden. He visited Britain, France and Italy. The flourishing French court had totally changed his views of the world. A French diplomat wrote a book about Bethlen, in which he said that this gentleman wanted to introduce French social life toTransylvania. Returning home he spent some time in Zrínyi's court, but after Zrínyi's hunting accident he travelled to Venice, in all probability with the diplomatic task of preserving the Zrínyis' French connections. He had to perform military assignments on Mihály Apafi's authority. From 1688 he became the principal's counsellor. After independent Transylvania ceased to exist, he led the representatives of Transylvanian people during the negotiations preceding the issuing of the Diploma Leopoldinum. At that time he hoped that Transylvania would be able to preserve its position as a state after driving the Turks out. In 1691 he became a Transylvanian councillor, and received the title of count. In 1704 he published a book under a pen-name (the title was Noah's pigeon holding an olive branch), in which he supported the independence of Transylvania. After he had turned away from Vienna, imperial general, Rabutin, had him captured. He was a prisoner in Eszék, then in Vienna for 12 years. During his captivity in Vienna, between 1708-1710 he wrote his best-known work, called Autobiography, in which - besides the events of his own life - he introduced the history of Transylvania in that age, leaving a valuable source to the coming generations. At the end of his life he was released from prison, but he could not return home. Besides his autobiographical works he had an extensive correspondence and a prayer book, which was of great literary importance. His main works were preserved in manuscripts and were spread in copies.