King Matthias and the Beggar Boy

I often upload books to Project Gutenberg, and I make a special effort to work on Hungarian literature in translation. King Matthias and the Beggar Boy by Miklós Jósika is the latest of these.

King Matthias is quite literally a legendary figure in Hungarian history. Like Haroun al-Rashid, he’s supposed to have wandered the kingdom in disguise, punishing wicked nobles and rewarding virtuous commoners, and he’s still known in Hungary as igazságos Mátyás király (Just King Mátyás). In real life, he was more just and more learned than his predecessors or his successors, but far from the paragon that was destined to inhabit folklore. Jósika’s portrayal is firmly in the folkloric mode. For a more historic approach, I recommend Marcus Tanner’s The Raven King: Matthias Corvinus and the Fate of His Lost Library. It’s worth comparing the two.

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