The last native monarch to reign over all Hungary. A patron of Renaissance art and learning, he was for a time the most powerful ruler in central Europe. Matthias was born in Kolozsvar, the son of Janos Hunyadi, who was regent of Hungary. Matthias was elected king as successor to the childless Ladislas V in 1458. Matthias intervened in Bohemia in an attempt to win control of that country. Although ultimately unsuccessful, he did acquire the provinces of Moravia, Lusatia, and Silesia.
Matthias’s court at Buda became a great center of learning, and his library was famous for its collection of rare manuscripts. He introduced printing into Hungary, he brought Italian scholars to Buda, sent Hungarian students to Italian universities, and reduced his dependence on the aristocracy by creating an independent army of mercenaries, which he used against both internal and external enemies. He waged a successful war against emperor Frederick, became the ruler of Austria, and moved his capital to Vienna. Because he had no legitimate heir, Matthias’s empire disintegrated after he died.