Arthur Thistlewood - Encyclopedia




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ARTHUR THISTLEWOOD (1770-1820), the principal instigator of the Cato Street conspiracy, a plot formed to murder many British ministers in 1820. A son of William Thistlewood, and born at Tupholme in Lincolnshire, young Thistlewood passed his early years in a desultory fashion; he became a soldier and visited France and America, imbibing republican opinions abroad and running into debt at home. Then taking up his residence in London he joined the Spencean Society, a revolutionary body; associated himself with James Watson (d. 1838) and other agitators; and in December 1816 helped to arrange a meeting in Spa Fields, London, which was to be followed by the seizure of the Tower of London and the Bank of England, and by a general revolution. The proposed rising was a dismal failure, but the Habeas Corpus Act was suspended and Thistlewood and Watson were seized, although upon being tried they were acquitted. Becoming more violent Thistlewood formed other plots, talked of murdering the prince of Wales, and was sentenced to a year's imprisonment for challenging the home secretary, Lord Sidmouth, to a duel. After his release in May 1819, having broken away from Henry Hunt and the more moderate reformers, he prepared a new and comprehensive plot. On the 23rd of February 1820, at a time of great distress and during the unrest caused by the death of George III., the cabinet ministers had arranged to dine at the earl of Harrowby's house in Grosvenor Square. Thistlewood knew of the dinner. With some associates he hired a room in the neighbouring Cato Street, collected arms and made ready to fall upon Harrowby's guests. However the authorities had been informed of the plot, probably by one of the conspirators named George Edwards; officers appeared upon the scene and arrested some of the conspirators; and although Thistlewood escaped in the confusion he was seized on the following day. Tried for high treason, Thistlewood and four others were sentenced to death, and were hanged on the 1st of May 1820.

See Sir S. Walpole, History of England (1890), vol. i.

[[Thokoly, Imre (Emerich), Prince]] (1657-1705), Hungarian statesman, was born at Kesmark on the 25th of September 1657. He lost both parents while still a child. In 1670, fleeing from the dangers of Upper Hungary, where the Protestants and Imperialists were constantly in arms against each other, he took refuge with his kinsman Michael Teleki, the chief minister of Michael Apafy, prince of Transylvania. Here he came into contact with the Magyar refugees, who had great hopes of the high-born, high-gifted youth who was also a fellow sufferer, a large portion of his immense estates having been confiscated by the emperor. The discontent reached its height when Leopold (Feb. 27, 1673) suspended the Hungarian constitution, appointed Johan Gaspar Ampringen dictator, deprived 450 Protestant clergy of their livings and condemned 67 more to the galleys. Encouraged by promises of help from Louis XIV., the Magyars now rose pro libertate et justitia, and chose the youthful ThOkoly as their leader. The war began in 1679. Upper Hungary and the mining towns were soon in Thbkoly's possession. In 1681, reinforced by 10,000 Transylvanians and a Turkish army under the pasha of Nagyvarad, he compelled the emperor to grant an armistice. On the 15th of June 1682 he married Helen Zrinyi, the widow of Prince Francis Rakoczy I. ThbkOly's distrust of the emperor now induced him to turn for help to the sultan, who recognized him as prince of Upper Hungary on condition that he paid an anuual tribute of 40,000 florins. In the course of the same year Thokoly captured fortress after fortress from the emperor and extended his dominions to the Waag. He refused, however, the title of king offered to him by the Turks. At the two Diets held by him, at Kassa and Talya, in 1683, the estates, though not uninfluenced by his personal charm, showed some want of confidence in him, fearing lest he might sacrifice the national independence to the Turkish alliance. They refused therefore to grant him either subsidies or a levee en masse, and he bad to take what he wanted by force. ThOkOly materially assisted the Turks in the Vienna campaign of 1683, and shared the fate of the gigantic Turkish army. The grand vizier nevertheless laid the blame of the failure on Thokbly, who thereupon hastened to Adrianople to defend himself before the sultan. Shortly afterwards, perceiving that the Turkish cause was now lost, he sought the mediation of Sobieski to reconcile him with the emperor, offering to lay down his arms if Leopold would confirm the religious rights of the Magyar Protestants and grant him, ThOkiily, the thirteen north-eastern counties of Hungary with the title of prince. Leopold refused these terms and demanded an unconditional surrender. ThOkoly then renewed the war. But the campaign of 1685 was a series of disasters, and when he sought help from the Turks at Nagyvarad they seized and sent him in chains to Belgrade, possibly because of his previous negotiations with Leopold, whereupon most of his followers made their peace with the emperor. In 1686 Thokoly was released from his dungeon and sent with a small army into Transylvania, but both this expedition and a similar one in 1688 ended in failure. The Turks then again grew suspicious of him and imprisoned him a second time. In 1690, however, the Turks despatched him into Transylvania a third time with 16,000 men, and in September he routed the united forces of General Heister and Michael Teleki at Zernest. After this great victory Thokoly was elected prince of Transylvania by the Keresztenymez Diet, but could only maintain his position against the imperial armies with the utmost difficulty. In 1691 he quitted Transylvania altogether. He led the Turkish cavalry at the battle of Slankamen, and in fact served valiantly but vainly against Austria during the remainder of the war, especially distinguishing himself at Zenta. He was excluded by name from the amnesty promised to the Hungarian rebels by the peace of Karlowitz (Jan. 26, 1699). After one more unsuccessful attempt, in 1700, to recover his principality, he settled down at Galata with his wife. From the sultan he received large estates and the title of count of Widdin. He was buried in the great Armenian cemetery at Nicomedia, but in the course of 1906 his relics were transferred to Hungary.

See Correspondence of Thokoly (Hung.), ed. by Kalman Thaly (Budapest, 1896); V. Fraknoi, Papst Innocenz XI. and Ungarn's Befreiung von de Turkenherrschaft (Freiburg, 1902); Memoirs of Emeric Count Teckely (London, 1693); Correspondence of Michael Teleki (Hung.), ed. by S. Gergely (Budapest, 1905-1906). (R. N. B.)

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