Ilona Zrínyi

ILONA ZRÍNYI  (1643-1703)
Ilona Zrínyi was born to the Croatian ban Péter Zrínyi and his wife Katalin Frangepán in 1643 in the Castle of Ozalj. She lived and was  grown up with her siblings (Petronella, János, Auróra and Veronika) in a loving aristocratic family.  She spoke many languages (such as Coratian, Hungarian, Latinish, German, Dalmatian, Italian), could make embroyderies, trained her body and rode the horse, in accordance with the expectations of the 17th century.  She often visited her uncle Miklós Zrínyi in his castle in Csáktornya and spend her time reading about in his library. She corresponded with famous personages of the European countries. When she grew marriagable, her mother found her a man worthy of her rank. Ferenc Rákóczi I, who owned huge landed properties in Upper Hungary, was considered to be the most appropriate financé among the aristocrats.  After they had changed their portraits in accordance with the traditions of the age, met personally and got engaged, the wedding ceremony was held on 1st March 1666 in the castle of Makovica. The married couple moved soon to the castle of Patak. They had three children: György (1667) who died at a very young age, Julianna (1672) and Ferenc (1676).
  The father György Rákóczi I. died of an unkown illness some moths later.  The many trials did not make the princess weaker. 'With her extraordinary sense of diplomacy she was able to be appointed the guardian of her children and bear the public dignities of the Rákóczi family.' As the vice-bailiff of the county of Sáros, she runned the farming affairs of the huge landed property. 'She brought up her children with gentle, intimate motherly love'.  As it is known from the records, they spent the winter in the castel of Patak and celebrated the Christmas time and the New Year always there. 'Ilona Zrínyi familiarized the Rákóczi children wit the world around them first in Patak.'
  The widowed princess met Imre Thököly, the leader of the kuruc two years later in her caslte in Szentmiklós. Their relationship turned from sympathy into love. They plighted their troth to each other on 15th June1682 in the chaple of the castle in Munkács.  The Thököly War of Independece failed in three years later, and the leader was taken by the pasha of Várad in irons to Temesvár. Ilona Zrínyi stayed with her two chidren in Munkács. She had been defending the castle of Munkács for nearly three years long and 'was able to hold up the enemy who were superior in number.' The heroic woman took the lead of her army with manly courage, controlled the fights, looked after the wounded soldiers, and defended the lives of the inhabitants of the castle. She was called 'the most courageus woman of Europe', but she received no help from anywhere. In her dispaire she decided to give up the castle. According to the bargain, she had to go to Vienna, where she got separeted from her children.
 "When Ilona Zrínyi learnt that her children would be taken from her, she grew deathly pale and began to wander about her rooms, sobbing loudly with motherly pain like a lioness bereft from her little ones." Her only son was 12 when they saw one another the last time. They met never after!
 She managed to get free about four years later, in return of Heisler and Doria two high-ranked imperial officiers who had been captured by Thököly. She began her journey under imperial escort in 1692, to meet her husband living in exile. This was her last occasion to look around her landed properties in Tokaj and Patak. Ilona Zrínyi and Imre Thököly met in Újpalánka, then they travelled to Pozsarevác and Konstantinápoly. 
Ilona Zrínyi died of a serious illness on 18th of February 1703 in 'The Fields of Flowers' in Nikomedia. She and her son have layn buried since 1906 in the crypt of the dom in Kassa.
 Her life, perosnality, motherhood and courage are examples for the Hungarian women of the 21st century. 'She became more famous through her great deeds in the whole world', they wrote about her.
Her letter to Ferenc Rákóczi II. is not only the last will of a mother but also a moral warning:
  'There is nothing more laudable than the honorable name and good reputiton in this world. These two things will never cease, and they will stay forever. It means nothing, to lose your goods, but the person who loses his honor, loses everything.
Respect your fellow men and contact the foreigner readly, because the one who respects other people respects himself...'