Prince Ferenc Rákóczi II of Transylvania (1676-1735), who owned most of the vineyards in the Tokaj region at his time, visited the French Royal Court quite often. During his war for independence from the Hapsburgs in the early 18th century, he tried to ally himself with influential European monarchs, amongst them Louis XIV of France. As the House of Hapsburg was on the verge of dying out in Spain, the French Royal Court was looking for allies in its fight against Austrian hegemony.

Consequently, they established contact with Rákóczi and promised support if he took up the cause of Hungarian independence. An Austrian spy seized this correspondence and brought it to the attention of the Austrian Emperor. As a direct result of this, Rákóczi was arrested on 18 April 1700 and imprisoned in Vienna, but managed to escape and flee to Poland, where he was sheltered by the French ambassador. Three years later, the War of the Spanish Succession caused a large part of the Austrian forces in the Kingdom of Hungary to temporarily leave the country. Taking advantage of the situation, Rákóczi headed a new uprising, which finally failed in 1711.

"Sun King" Louis XIV of France

After refusing an amnesty by the Hapsburgs, Louis XIV offered Rákóczi exile in France in 1713 and paid him a pension. On the occasion of a feast in Versailles, when Tokaji wines had been served, the menu card showed His Majesty’s hedonistic quote „C’est le roi des vins, et le vin des rois“ (The king of wines, and the wine of kings). The successor Louis XV used to serve Tokaji to his famous mistress – Madame Pompadour. „Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum“ - this famous line is used to this day in the marketing of Tokaji wines.

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