THE TIMES AND CAREER OF MICHAEL THE BRAVE.
Shortly after this, however, the Transylvanian nobles, as faithless to Rudolph, to whom they had sworn fealty, as they had been to Michael, recalled Sigismund Bathori, and, without the sanction of the Emperor, placed him on the throne of Siebenbürgen. Then it was that Rudolph found it convenient to allow Michael to approach his person. The latter, on his arrival, presented a petition embodying his defence which might have been drawn by a special pleader, and which was accepted by the Emperor as a justification of his proceedings. A complete reconciliation took place between them, and Michael was formally re-appointed vicegerent of Transylvania. A sufficiently well-appointed army and a large sum of money were placed at his disposal, and he was requested to join with his old enemy, General Basta, in dethroning Sigismund. An apparent reconciliation took place between the two chiefs, Michael and Basta, and they marched as allies into Siebenbürgen. Sigismund, finding that his case with the Emperor was hopeless, and after, it is said, vainly endeavouring by foul means to prevent the junction of Michael and Basta, sought and obtained the aid of the Turks and Moldavians. That is to say, the former would have sent him a contingent of troops had not Michael, by means of forged letters, purporting to be signed by Sigismund, kept them at a distance. The opposing forces met at Goroszlo near Klausenburg, and after a hotly contested battle the Transylvanians were defeated with terrible slaughter. Hardly, however, was the victory won when jealousies and recriminations between the two generals followed.
Michael considered himself, as viceroy of Siebenbürgen, called upon to manage the affairs of the country. Basta, smarting under the disappointment of having failed to secure the viceroyalty, continued to assume the position of commander-in-chief of the forces, and not only interfered with the orders and wishes of Michael, but charged him with various offences, the chief one being that he was again usurping the supreme power. Believing that he would be safe in using this charge as a justification for his acts, and that his removal would pave the way for his own accession to the viceroyalty, Basta then determined to have Michael assassinated. Knowing that it was his intention to proceed to the Carpathians and liberate his family which had been kept there in confinement, Basta sent a captain with three hundred Walloons to effect his purpose. This man applied at Michael's tent for permission to accompany him on his journey, and asked him to obtain the necessary permission from Basta. Michael assented, whereupon the officer entered the tent hastily, and, approaching the prince who was reposing, addressed him as his prisoner. Michael exclaimed that he would not yield himself alive, but before he could obtain possession of his sword to defend himself, the officer had ran him through the body with his halberd. This foul deed was perpetrated between August 17 and September 1, 1601, and it is said that the assassins struck off his head and sword-hand with Michael's own sword. Afterwards they tortured and assassinated his minister, a veteran of eighty years of age, and spread such terror amongst the troops who had remained faithful to their murdered prince, that his boyards and their followers took to flight and sought refuge in Wallachia.
Thus fell Michael the Brave, rash, courageous, false, ambitious, patriotic, the central figure in the past history of Roumania. Basta sought to justify his act of treachery in a letter to the Emperor; but whilst on the one hand the German court dared not quarrel with him in the then condition of Transylvania, on the other hand they refused to reward him for a deed of blood which has sent down his name with execration to posterity.