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The native form of this personal name is Werbőczy István. This article uses the Western name order.

István Werbőczy or Stephen Werbőcz (also spelled Verbőczy; c. 1465 – 1541) was a Hungarian jurist and statesman who first became known as a scholar and theologian of such eminence that he was appointed to accompany the emperor Charles V to Worms, to take up the cudgels against Martin Luther.

He began his political career as the deputy of the county of Ugocsa to the diet of 1498, where his eloquence and scholarship had a great effect in procuring the extension of the privileges of the gentry and the exclusion of all foreign competitors for the Hungarian throne in future elections. He was the spokesman and leader of the gentry against the magnates and prelates at the diets of 1500, 1501 and 1505. At the last diet he insisted, in his petition to the king, that the law should be binding upon all the gentry alike, and firmly established in the minds of the people the principle of a national monarchy.

The most striking proof of his popularity at this time is the fact that the diet voted him two denarii per hearth for his services in 1505, a circumstance unexampled in Hungarian history. In 1517 Verboczy was appointed the guardian of the infant Louis II, and was sent on a foreign mission to solicit the aid of Christendom against the Turks. On his return he found the strife of parties fiercer than ever and the whole country in a state of anarchy.

At the diet of Hatvan, on the 25th of June 1525, he delivered a reconciliatory oration which so affected the assembly that it elected him palatine. During the brief time he held that office, he unselfishly and courageously endeavoured to serve both king and people by humbling the pride of the magnates who were primarily responsible for the dilapidation of the realm. But he was deposed at the following diet, and retired from public life until the election of Janos Zápolya, who realized his theory of a national king and from whom he accepted the chancellorship. He now devoted himself entirely to the study of jurisprudence, and the result of his labors was the famous Opus tripartitum juris consuetudinarii inclyti regni hungariae (short form: Tripartitum), which was the de facto law-book of Hungary until 1848.

The full Latin text (with English translation) of Werboczy's Tripartitum (as printed by Singrenius in 1517) is now published as The customary law of the renowned Kingdom of Hungary: a work in three parts, the "Tripartitum" = Tripartitum opus iuris consuetudinarii inclyti regni Hungariæ; edited and translated by János M. Bak, Péter Banyó, and Martyn Rady; with an introductory study by László Péter; Schlacks and CEU Press, Idyllwild, CA, and Budapest, 2005.

Please note that the Márkus edition of the Tripartitum (1897 and subsequent reprints) is defective as it records the 'customary' as opposed to 'historical' version of the text -- that is, it includes later errors and additions that had by use acquired a customary and therefore legally full character.

References

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