Top: Cassianus Codex; Mátyás Chalice; throne drapery of King Mátyás; Center: A red marble fountain at Visegrad palace, with seperate spouts for red and white wine; glazed stove tile from Buda palace, with image of King Mátyás; Bottom:Golden seal of King Mátyás; majolica dish decorated with coat of arms of King Mátyás and Queen Beatrice
”(King Mátyás) began to beautify the palace of Buda, in which there was nothing noteworthy apart from the grandiose buildings of (King) Zsigmond. He had the inner palace of the fortress decorated beyond all measure. He had a chapel built on the Danube side, which he furnished with an organ and a baptismal font of two types of marble, silver and gold; next to this chapel, he had a very beautiful residence built for the pastors. Next to the chapel, he installed his library, which is amazingly rich in Greek and Latin works; the books are exceedingly luxuriously presented. In front of the library, facing south is a domed hall, on the ceiling of which the entire starry sky may be seen.
”He built palaces which, as far as their pomp is concerned, are barely less luxurious than those of the Romans. In them may be found spacious dining rooms, gorgeously decorated bedrooms with variously adorned and gilded ceilings, which are differentiated from each other by the variation of their decoration; the doorframes are embellished with inlay work; and there are showy fireplaces, on which are placed wagons with four-in-hand and other decorations in antique style. Below are the treasury, the various warehouses and the arsenal.
”In the eastern wing, one also finds various dining rooms and bedrooms, which may be reached only by means of many stairs and covered hallways. This is also where the conference hall and counsel chambers are located. Going on further, one comes to many halls with high vaulted ceilings: these are furnished for winter and summer use, rooms into which the sun shines, and richly gilded drawing rooms with hidden places and deep niches. Silver objects and silver furniture are the furnishings.
”In one of the courtyards, one notices a threefold memorial with weapons. Matyás stands in the middle, with a helmet, leaning on shield and lance, deep in thought; to his right stands his father, to his left his brother László, both very sad.
”In the middle of another courtyard stands a metal fountain, surrounded by a marble basin; on it rises the statue of helmeted and girded Pallas Athene.
”The considerably wider entrance to the inner courtyard is decorated with naked metal statues, one on the right and one on the left, carrying a shield, an ax and a sword; on the pedestal are etched the victor’s insignia.
”On the square which had formed Zsigmond’s courtyard, Mátyás began with the renovation of the old palace located at the side. Had he been able to complete his plan, this building would have been a reminder of proud antiquity.
”A double staircase leads upward, made of red marble, adorned with metal candelabra. The frame of the double-leaved gate is made of the same stone; the leaves of the gate are made of metal, worked with amazing skill, inside and out, with a representation of the twelve labors of Hercules.
”He had the ceilings made for a lot of money, representing the planets of the starry sky and their orbits with wonderful precision. Under the gable fronts, he had triglyphs installed for decoration, so that his work might be embellished with as much artistry as possible.
”Water for the fountains of the royal palace he (Mátyás király) had brought through seven miles of pipes and lead conduits.
”Below the fortress, in the next valley, lie pleasant gardens in which stands a marble villa. Its entryway is a real triumphal arch. The dining room and the bedroom, on the other hand, are so wonderful with their ceilings and windows that they almost attain to the glories of antiquity. Along the side of the garden, there is a covered walk. In the gardens there is a labyrinth formed by trees planted close to each other. There is also a collection of birds, of foreign and native birds, kept in a house made of wire netting. Bushes, fruit trees, groves, arbors and trees of the most different type are found in the gardens. In addition, there are avenues and porticos, great stretches of lawn, pebbled pathways and fish ponds. Towers rise above the floors in which the dining rooms have glass walls that serve as mirrors and are so pleasant, that one cannot imagine anything more beautiful. The roof of the villa is covered with sheets of silver.
”(King Mátyás) enlarged the old royal fortress at Visegrád and the palace belonging to it – and furnished it so splendidly with gardens, game preserves and fish ponds, that the splendor of these buildings exceeds that of the others. Attalic furnishings, spacious dining rooms, splendid, covered corridors and magnificent windows may be seen here. In addition, one finds in the gardens fountains with carved basins of red marble or brass...”
translated from the German
by Erika Papp Faber
Antonio Bonfini (1427? or 1434? – 1503) was an Italian humanist and poet of medium talent. He studied in Florence, Padua and Ferrari, and became a schoolmaster in Ascoli and Recanati. In 1486, Mátyás király invited him to his court, and commissioned him to chronicle the history of the Hungarians. He drew on existing earlier chronicles as well as other sources. By the time of King Mátyás’ death, he had completed the first eleven volumes, approximately a quarter of the entire work. It was known as Historia Pannonica: Sive Hungaricum IV et Dimidia Rerum Decades (The Four and a Half Books of Hungarian History).