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Stephen Báthory

Multiple members of the Bathory family of Hungary were named Stephen (Báthory István).

The first Stephen Báthory (1477-1534) was a Hungarian noble and loyal adherent of King John Zápolya of Hungary. Thus in 1529 he was made governor of Transylvania.

His youngest son was also called Stephen Báthory (1533-1586). He succeeded John II Zapolya as prince of Transylvania and held this position from 1571-75, giving it to this brother Christopher Bathory (1530-81) afterwards. From 1575-86, he was king of Poland.

Stephen was elected to become king of Poland, after Henry III of Valois returned suddenly to France. He married Anna, daughter of Sigismund II Jagiello.

Not whole Poland recognised Bathory as new king. Gdansk (Danzig) refused to pay homage to him and backed instead another candidate to Polish crown, Maximilian. Stephen Bathory, upon becoming king of Poland, attacked and tried to take Gdansk by military force. Gdansk successfully defended against him and compromise was made: Bathory had to accept Gdansk's continued status as a autonomous city, Gdansk recognised him as ruler and paid enormous sum in gold as "apology". He verified this in 1577. Gdansk was later loyal to king and fund military units when demanded.

Bathory led the Polish army in a brilliant decisive campaign against the Baltic invaders of Ivan " the terrible" Vasleivich. The russians had invaded Livonia and took Dorpat from the Teutonic knights vassal, the Teutonic Brothers of the sword. The Poles under Bathory routed an Russian force at Vilnius and kept pushing the Russians back to their steppes and their forests. The Polish army took back Smolensk and Pleskov. The Russians abandonned Livonia soon after.

Stephen Bathory planned a Christian alliance against the Ottomans. He also tried to make Russia a vassal state of Poland. He considered this a necessary step for his anti-Ottoman crusade.

When Stephen Bathory died, there was a one year interregnum, and he was then succeeded by Sigismund III Vasa of Sweden.

Preceded by:
Henry III of France
List of Polish rulers Succeeded by:
Sigismund III Vasa