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Emigré or Exile? Francis Rákóczi II and His Exile in France and Turkey

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Abstract

The most recent international conferences1 on the Hungarian War of Independence led by Francis Rákóczi II (1703–11) encouraged more research on one of the most important events in European diplomacy during the War of Spanish Succession. There has indeed been a revival of studies on this topic. The importance of the Hungarian War of Independence was its ability to force the Habsburg Empire to open a secondary campaign in Hungary and, thus, improve France’s military dispositions. Prince Francis Rákóczi II, who is by far the best known member of his family, is one of Hungary’s most popular national heroes. His exile in France and Turkey constitutes a notable subject for romantic national history as well as causing a robust debate about the facts which has divided Hungarian historians.

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This article examines how rulers of early modern small states attempted to survive and increase their status in the ever-shifting political world of early eighteenth-century Europe. To do so it takes the example of Duke Leopold of Lorraine and his connections with the exiled James Francis Edward Stuart and his court. Like many other small state princes, Leopold was politically dependent upon the decisions of his larger neighbours and his policies were designed to ensure his continued survival and to increase his own prestige. Historians have long acknowledged the relationship between Leopold and James in 1713–15 but they have done little to explore their interactions between 1716 and 1729. In drawing attention to this neglected sequence of encounters, the article highlights their connection to broader and more well-known political affairs in the 1710s and 1720s. It demonstrates how Leopold utilized his connection with the Stuarts as he reacted to a changing political situation in Europe in the years following the Peace of Utrecht. In return, the Stuarts, seeking to achieve their political goals, could rely upon ducal advice and aid. This dynamic suggests that these small but well-connected princes and their diplomatic activities require further consideration when examining international relations.
Manon Lescaut (Teddington: Echo Library
  • Prévost
Agents Hongrois au Service de la France dans la Première Moitié du XVIIIe Siècle
  • Tóth Ferenc
  • T Ferenc
Gábor Bethlen and Transylvania under the Rákóczis at the European Peace Negotiations 1648-1714
  • Agnes R Várkonyi
  • AR Várkonyi