(born 1407?, Hunyad, Transylvania—died Aug. 11, 1456, Belgrade) Hungarian general. Son of a knight, he saw military service under King Sigismund. While in Italy he learned new military techniques from Francesco Sforza; returning to southern Hungary, he repelled Turkish attacks (1437–38) and was made governor of Transylvania. With aid from Venice and the pope, he mounted a campaign against the Turks (1441–43) that broke the Ottoman Empire's hold on the Balkan states, though he was defeated in a Turkish counterattack at the Battle of Varna (1444). In 1446 he was elected regent for the young king, Laszlo V, and he served as governor of the kingdom of Hungary 1446–52. In 1456 he raised the Turkish siege of Belgrade before dying of disease. For stopping the supposedly invincible Turkish armies, he is considered a Hungarian national hero.
Learn more about Hunyadi János with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Their Vlach ancestry is the subject of much heated debate, but unquestionable sources say at least their paternal lineage was wallachian but they became Roman Catholic and embraced their Hungarian side because Hungarians had a much higher status in Transylvania at the time.
This was not uncommon in the days of the Hunyadis, and many Hungarian noble families had some Vlach ancestry for this reason. Intermarriage between the two did not even become controversial until after the Ottoman wars.
The first recorded member of the family was Serbe (also called Serb, Serban or Sorb) who settled in Hunyad county in Transylvania from Wallachia. His son Vojk (alternatively spelled as Voyk or Vajk in English, Voicu in Romanian, Vajk in Hungarian), who had adopted Catholicism and the name László, became ennobled in 1409 and received the estate of Hunyad Castle (now Hunedoara in Romania, then Hunyadvár, now Vajdahunyad in Hungarian) which was to become the hereditary seat of the family.
The origins of the name Corvin are still unclear. There exist a number of theories on the etymology of the Corvin name. The most widely accepted theory is that Corvin refers to the Corvus which appears on their coat of arms, however a connection to the Kovin/(Kubin, Keve in Hungarian; Covinum in Latin) town - "in Corvino vico, as Bonfini wrote" - is also possible.
The origins of the Coat of Arms of the Hunyadi family, which depicts a raven holding a golden ring in its beak, are unclear. The Silesian Annals state that when a raven carried off a ring King Matthias had removed from his finger, Matthias chased the bird down and slew him, retrieving the ring, and in commemoration of this event he took the raven as a symbol for his signet sign.
Others think that the Coat of Arms was derived from another property of the family, Raven’s Rock (Hollókő in Hungarian). Another legend says that when young Matthias was in prison in Prague his mother was able to send him a letter with a raven (that is why the Hungarian Postal Service had a raven as its symbol for more than a century).
Other theories say the raven is an ancient Turkic totem bird, like turul (a kind of falcon) for the Arpads. This coat of arms was used by Matthias's ancestors far earlier than he did. So this interpretation could also explain the family's possibly Cuman origin.
They have four kids - Mrs. Kimberly Harris, Mr. Kirk Hunyadi, Mrs. Kristen Warrick and Mr. Keith Hunyadi.
The grandchildren, who would also become royal in such a case, include:
(Hunyadi Family Tree Last Updated 09/12/00)