Ferenc Rákoczi II (1673-1735) led an uprising against the autocratic rule of the Habsburgs that lasted from 1703-1711. It was guerrilla warfare against the military might of a great European power, the Habsburg Empire, and it continued for seven years due to the sheer endurance of Ferenc Rákoczi II and his devoted soldiers, many of them joining from the ranks of the peasantry. To this day, Ferenc Rákoczi II is one of “the most loved and pure and noble figures in Hungarian history.” When the uprising was finally crushed, he went into exile with his entourage and spent the last twelve years of his life in Turkey. To this day, he is remembered as a cosmopolitan, a European with an unshakable love of his country. Ferenc Rákoczi was one of the first members of the aristocracy who devoted his life to improving the lives of the peasantry and serfs. He was the first aristocrat to bring together the nationalities in the Carpathian Basin.

For further reading, see Paul Lendvai, “Ferenc Rákoczi’s Fight for Freedom from the Habsburgs,” The Hungarians: A Thousand Years of Victory in Defeat, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003, p. 145-159.