His parents were
Ladislaus of Ilok, Ban of Macsó, and Anna Stiboriczi, daughter of Stibor of Stiboricz, Voivode of Transylvania. His father died shortly after his birth. He had four brothers: John,
Stephen, Peter and Paul. His great-grandfather, Nicholas Kont, served as palatine to King Louis I of Hungary. Nicholas was the best known lord of the city of Ilok. While he was in power, the city experienced its golden age. In 1430, Nicholas' brother Stephen died and Nicholas succeeded him as Ban of Macsó.
When King Albert died in 1439, Nicholas supported his widow, Elizabeth of Luxembourg, in her struggle to secure the Holy Crown of Hungary for her son, Ladislaus the Posthumous. As a reward, Queen Elizabeth had him knighted. However, Nicholas soon took the side of Vladislaus III of Poland and allied himself with John Hunyadi. Upon becoming King of Hungary, Vladislaus gave Nicholas and Hunyadi extraordinary powers, appointing them as joint Voivodes of Transylvania.