Hungary History – The Era of the Árpád

By | December 27, 2021

Hungary was, as evidenced by the relics unearthed by the excavations, an ancient land of colonization and traffic. The first residents, with certainty identified, were the Illyria or Thracians. New elements of culture were added by the Celts who chose their locations first of all to the west of the Danube and who had to defend their territory at the cost of bloody battles against the attacks of the Dacians of Transylvania. The Roman Empire in 35 a. C. began and in a few decades completed the conquest of the territory limited by the Sava and Danube rivers, where he founded the province of Pannonia, whose Celtic population was fully Romanized during the four centuries of Roman domination. Following the very bloody campaigns of Trajan (101 and 105 AD), however, with which the great emperor managed to occupy the kingdom of the Dacians, this people was largely uprooted. Since Dacia belonged to the empire only until the middle of the century. III and its civilian population, like the legions stationed there, were only minimally of Italic origin, the Romanization of this province is believed to have never been total.

In the centuries of the migration of peoples, Goths, Huns, Gepids, Lombards and other peoples of the Germanic race, the limes was destroyedRoman, and more or less lasting states arose in the Carpazî basin. The headquarters of the Lombards, who immigrated to Italy, were occupied in the second half of the century. VI by the Turkish Avars, whose powerful state was destroyed only by Charlemagne. During the Avar domination, the expansion of the Slavic element took place, but the remains of the Romanized residents of Pannonia managed to save their existence: so that the Magyars who immigrated to Pannonia, at the end of the century. IX, they also found neo-Latin populations there. Indeed, it seems that the first important cities of the Hungarian kingdom (Buda, Esztergom, Győr, Székesféhérvar, etc.), were formed around the ancient Roman cities. In the districts along Lake Balaton, subjected to the empire of the Franks, in the century. IX a Slavic state was beginning to form, while the western districts of the Carpazî were part of the powerful kingdom of the Moravians. A very large part of the Carpathian basin was under the hegemony of the Bulgarians. The vast Hungarian territory was organized into a single state only by the Magyars, new conquerors, at the end of the century. IX.

The era of the Árpád. – The Magyars, due to their language, are part of the Uralic (Finno-Ugric) peoples. The main tribe “Magyar” formed an alliance with six other tribes, mostly Turks, to which it gave its name. For a long time, perhaps for centuries, the Magyars lived on the northern slopes of the Caucasus; towards the middle of the century. IX are found in the great Russian steppe, in the homeland called Levedia, north of Pontus, between the Don and the Dnieper, as rather autonomous subjects of the state of the Chazari. The irresistible attack of a Turkish people, the Besseni (Peceneghi), forced the semi-nomadic Magyars, living from cattle breeding and fishing, as well as from trading with the Byzantine, Arab and Chazari merchants of the Pontus ports, to leave the ancient pastures and to migrate to the west, in the corner of the rivers Dnieper and Danube. In this new homeland, called “Etelköz” (corner of rivers), the tribes chose a common prince in the person of Árpád, chief of the Magyar tribe, thus ensuring greater consistency and creating the Hungarian people. The warrior people could not resist the combined attack of the Bessenians and the Bulgarians (897), and therefore, crossing the Carpathian passes, they descended into the lands that in the campaigns fought against the Moravian state, as allies of the Emperor Arnolfo, the Hungarians had already known.

The conquest of the new homeland, which began in 896, lasted only a few years and did not constitute a very difficult undertaking for that hard and fierce people. Since the Moravian and Frankish states were in unfavorable conditions, serious resistance only arose from the Bulgarians, led by the legendary leader Zalan. By destroying the Slavic states that had formed in the west of the Danube basin and absorbing the Pannonian Slavs, the Magyars separated the North Slavic mass from the South Slavs. They then prevented an excessive infiltration of the Germanic element into Pannonia. Finally, they organized the Carpathian basin in robust unity, inhabited by different races and subjected to several governments, thus blocking the way of the East to any western expansion and vice versa,

The new homeland was not yet fully occupied when the nomadic people, accustomed to raids and plunder, began their attacks on the civilized countries of Christian Europe.

In 898, the first nuclei of Magiari appeared in Italy. A larger army followed the following year which completely destroyed King Berengar’s army. Meanwhile, other Hungarian armies repeatedly broke into Germany – often called upon by the rebel princes of Bavaria – and, having won the German resistance in victorious battles (907, 913, etc.), they pushed as far as Burgundy, Lorraine and Alsace. In 921 they returned to Italy again: but, this time, called by the king of Italy himself, and as his auxiliary troops they devastated Pavia in 924. For similar reasons, Tuscia and Spoleto had to suffer the assault of the Hungarians, when the Marquis Pietro, brother of Pope John X, called them for help (928). Later, small nuclei of Magyar knights destroyed and plundered the surroundings of Capua and Benevento, as well as several districts of southern Italy, up to Puglia. Only after hard chess suffered in Italy, and, even more, after the serious routes of Merseburg, by Henry the Bird, and Augusta, by Otto the Great, in 955, did they have to stop their raids in Germany and in Italy; and a few years later, even those directed against the Byzantine Empire.

These exploits of war, which lasted for seven decades, made the Hungarian name both feared and hated in the West; but, if one wanted to avoid, in the face of the probable reaction of the Christian peoples of the West, the disintegration of the Magyar nation of which the symptoms appeared, it was necessary that the Magyar people also strengthen their team and enter the league of civilized, Christian peoples. It was Prince Gésa (972-997) who recognized, with admirable acuity, the demands of the Hungarian evolution. As soon as the princely seat was occupied, with a severe prohibition he put an end to the raids, then he shared with the emperor Otto his intention to convert to the Christian faith together with his people. He solidified the foundations of the central power with an iron energy, breaking the resistance of the chieftains. Under his domination,

However, Géza was only the forerunner of this evolution. To complete this work was the task of his son, Stefano, educated in the Christian faith and married to the very religious daughter of Henry of Bavaria, Princess Gisella.

Stephen’s first task (997-1038, canonized in 1083) was to ensure the monarchical principle in Hungary. Tamed the revolt of his relative, Koppány, he defeated the army, also supported by the Bulgarians, of the powerful master of the eastern districts, Ajtony. With these victories the ancient state organization based on the alliance of the tribes was definitively annihilated. Even before the fall of Ajtony, Stephen had sent the abbot Ascherik to the Roman pontiff to have his royal dignity recognized. Pope Sylvester II sent the young king a crown (the upper part of today’s sacred crown of Hungary) and an apostolic cross, symbol of the ability to create in Hungary an ecclesiastical organization independent from the church of another country and subject only to the Holy See.

Stephen’s educators and early workmates, including St. Adalbert and St. Gerard of Venice, were all followers of the reformist approach set out by Cluny and the first Hungarian king did his work in the sense of this powerful cultural spiritual movement. To fully organize the Hungarian Church, Stephen conceived the erection of 12 bishoprics; but he managed to create only two archbishoprics and eight bishoprics.

Stephen’s dominion was also of fundamental importance in the political life of the Hungarian nation. The Christian monarchy of the Hungarian Middle Ages was his creation.

The basis of this monarchy was formed by the king’s patrimony, consisting of the lands of the “kind” of Árpád, then by the vast lands confiscated to the rebels against his regime or that of his father, finally by the lands that according to the rules of nomadic tactics they were left without a master (mostly between the territories of two tribes) at the time of the conquest of the new homeland. All these lands with their residents belonged to the ruler.

It was Stephen who also created the administrative bodies of the heritage, the committees (ungh. Megye), who formed the first hierarchy, and regulated the social relations of the heritage population, in a word, who built the first internal organization of the country on the Western model, using as the basis of the laws of the Frankish Empire. Stephen was also able to defend the integrity and independence of his kingdom with great success, when in 1030 he was attacked by the emperor Conrad under the pretext of Venetian politics, in which Hungary was also interested, given the kinship of the royal house with the Orseolo family.

In the years that followed the death of St. Stephen, during the domination of the kings Pietro Orseolo and Samuele Aba, serious internal dissensions occurred in the kingdom, indeed its independence itself was jeopardized, having king Pietro offered the country as a fief to the emperor Henry III, in exchange for the help given to him by the Germanic empire. The feeling of humiliation and the xenophobia aroused by the passage of King Peter provoked as a reaction the first rebellion of the pagans, led by Vata. Among the victims of this revolt was also S. Gerardo the Venetian. But the wisdom of the princes of the house of Árpád, who for the conspiracy hatched by them – against the life of St. Stephen – were forced to live in exile, saved the work of the first king. Andrew I (1047-60), recalled to his homeland and supported by his brother Béla, he victoriously repelled the attacks of Emperor Henry, regained the independence of the kingdom and restored the Christian faith. But the dynastic upheavals were to shake the members of the Hungarian state even more than once. Andrew lost the throne and his life in the struggle against his brother Béla (1060-63) and also the son of Andrew, Solomon (1063-74), came into conflict with the sons of Béla, Géza and Ladislao. Such dynastic struggles were all the more dangerous in that they gave the Germanic emperors the pretext of interfering in the affairs of Hungary. But also Henry IV, called by his brother-in-law Solomon, was forced to leave the kingdom without result. But the dynastic upheavals were to shake the members of the Hungarian state even more than once. Andrew lost the throne and his life in the struggle against his brother Béla (1060-63) and also the son of Andrew, Solomon (1063-74), came into conflict with the sons of Béla, Géza and Ladislao. Such dynastic struggles were all the more dangerous in that they gave the Germanic emperors the pretext of interfering in the affairs of Hungary. But also Henry IV, called by his brother-in-law Solomon, was forced to leave the kingdom without result. But the dynastic upheavals were to shake the members of the Hungarian state even more than once. Andrew lost the throne and his life in the struggle against his brother Béla (1060-63) and also the son of Andrew, Solomon (1063-74), came into conflict with the sons of Béla, Géza and Ladislao. Such dynastic struggles were all the more dangerous in that they gave the Germanic emperors the pretext of interfering in the affairs of Hungary. But also Henry IV, called by his brother-in-law Solomon, was forced to leave the kingdom without result. Such dynastic struggles were all the more dangerous in that they gave the Germanic emperors the pretext of interfering in the affairs of Hungary. But also Henry IV, called by his brother-in-law Solomon, was forced to leave the kingdom without result. Such dynastic struggles were all the more dangerous in that they gave the Germanic emperors the pretext of interfering in the affairs of Hungary. But also Henry IV, called by his brother-in-law Solomon, was forced to leave the kingdom without result.

Under the dominion of Solomon the Hungarian kingdom, which had become profoundly Christian and consolidated in the state forms created by St. Stephen, began to assume the function of bulwark of the Christian West and its civilization against eastern barbarism. Solomon and his heroic cousins ​​repelled the savage attacks of the Uzi or Cumani (near Kerlés, 1068) and the Bessene hordes in bloody battles. Ladislao (1077-1095, later a saint), who more than once annihilated the hordes of Cumans bursting into his country, was the ideal of the Magyar warrior of the Middle Ages and became a symbolic figure of the very hard struggles fought by the Magyars against the oriental barbarians. But his greatest work was the beginning of Hungarian imperialist politics. Towards 1089, without shedding blood, he occupied Slavonia (i.e., then, the whole territory between the Drava and the Sava); then, in 1091, he also conquered Croatia immersed in the anarchy of internal struggles, thus accumulating the fate of the Magyars and the Croats. An excellent organizer, Ladislao continued the work of St. Stephen in the field of state life and ecclesiastical organization, and restored order in the kingdom.

The work of St. Ladislao was continued by his successor, Colomanno (1095-1116), who in the fight for the investitures put himself on the side of the pope and in the synod of Guastalla (1106) renounced the right of investiture exercised by the kings of Hungary. The most notable result of Colomanno’s rule was, in the field of internal politics, the revision of the laws and the arrangement of the new juridical relations; he was also very skilled in the field of international politics. Defeated by the Cumans on Russian soil, he instead defended his kingdom with great success against the first undisciplined mobs of crusaders; and, having married the daughter of Ruggiero di Sicilia, Busilla, he found in it an ally against the growing maritime power of Venice. After a skilful diplomatic preparation, Colomanno conquered the Dalmatian cities (1105). The fight that, for the possession of Dalmatia, he then engaged with Venice and lasted three centuries, became one of the determining factors of the policy of Hungary. With the possession of Croatia and Dalmatia, the strong Hungarian kingdom was able to try to extend its hegemony over the northern part of the Balkan Peninsula.

The son and successor of Colomanno, Stephen II (1116-31), wore out the forces of the kingdom in useless fights against the neighboring peoples (Cèchi, Russi, etc.); he did not know how to defend Dalmatia against the attack of Venice and with a senseless provocation began the very long series of wars against Byzantium. Béla II the Blind (1131-41), who together with his rebellious father (Álmos) had been deprived of the light of his eyes by order of Colomanno, tried to bring the Hungarian policy back to the roads marked by Ladislao and Colomanno and with the occupation of the valleys of the rivers Bosna and Rama began the expansion of the Magyar hegemony on the Balkans.

In the second half of the century. XII, Hungary fought for decades against the strong Byzantine empire of John and Manuel Comnenus, not only for the possession of Serbia and Dalmatia, but also for its own independence. It was first of all the emperor Manuel who knew how to profit from the dynastic disorders in Hungary. At the end of the long struggle, heroically fought by kings Géza II (1141-62) and Stephen III (1162-72), Hungary managed to save its position and under Béla III (1172-96) it became the main power in the Central-Eastern Europe. Massive groups of German, Walloon and Flemish settlers, immigrated in the middle of the century and followed by Italian and French settlers, increased the strength of the country. Béla III reconquered Dalmatia, fought victoriously in the Balkans, securing you an eminent place in the Hungarian influence, and began to attract the neighboring Russian principalities into the sphere of Magyar interests. In Béla’s political conception, therefore, the idea of ​​expansion in the Balkans and towards the north of the kingdom, an expansion based on friendship with the Latin powers, was asserted with full awareness. This conception was then successfully taken up by the Anjou dynasty.

The policy of great power, initiated by Béla III, was continued by King Imre (Emeric, 1196-1204), who tried to eradicate the Patarin (bogomili) heresy from the Balkans, and worked to strengthen relations with the Serbian and Bulgarian peoples. His brother Andrew II (1202-35) was influenced by other ideas. By dint of the repeated campaigns attempted to entrench the Hungarian hegemony in Galicia, then, after the crusade of 1217 which had only very little result, it was most influenced by the mirage of the Latin Empire throne. These projects aborted; the significance of its domination in domestic politics, in the social and economic fields, was however very important.

After making a donation of almost all the royal patrimony to private individuals, Andrea replaced the patrimonial system with the financial management system and yielding to the pressure of different social classes, in the Golden Bull of 1222 he established among other things the main privileges of the class of nobles (more precisely of the servientes class, which later merged with the ancient nobles), thus establishing the foundations of a social system that lasted over six centuries. For Hungary history, please check

At the beginning of his domination Béla IV (1235-70) made an energetic attempt to regain the heritage, the ancient basis of the royal power, but his work was thwarted by the invasion of the Tatars (1241). In the Muhi camp the fierce and disciplined troops of khān Batu defeated the Hungarian army and reduced the flourishing country to a desert, exterminating the population. But Béla with iron energy re-established normal living conditions in the kingdom, also attacked by the Duke of Austria, Frederick.

In a short time the army, the central power and the administration were reorganized. Since the Tatar attack could only resist the places surrounded by stone walls, Béla favored by all means, with commercial exemptions, privileges and autonomy, the development of the cities and called new settlers, above all many Cumans, in the depopulated country. Later Béla made an attempt to conquer the provinces of the extinct dynasty of Austria, but his rival, Ottokar of Bohemia, also snatched from him (1260) Styria, which had been subjected for some time to Hungarian rule. Successes in foreign policy only had them the Crown Prince Stephen (1270-72), who repeatedly entered Bulgaria and Serbia victorious. I still live Béla,

The end of the century The thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth were the epoch of the decline of the internal organization of the kingdom, a decline caused by the usurpations of the high nobility (Matthew Csák, the Köszegy, the Subich, etc.). The mass immigration of the pagan Cumans caused the decay of the moral and religious life under the domination of the senseless Ladislao IV the Cumano (1272-90). The internal struggles were repeated in the country, there were the first hints of the formation of autonomous territories and at the end of the century the weakened central power was placed under the control of the nobility. In the provinces subjected to Hungarian hegemony (Bosnia, Serbia, Galicia) there were aspirations for independence, crowned more than once by success. The only action of world importance of the Hungarian politics was to have lent support to Rudolf of Habsburg in his fight against Ottokar of Bohemia (1278) and to have contributed decisively to the ascension of the Habsburg dynasty. The internal anarchy of the country induced the Holy See to carry out an energetic action and to force Ladislao to tame the wantonness of the Cumans with arms (1280).

At the death of Ladislao (1290) there lived only one descendant of the Árpád: Andrea, nephew of King Andrew II and the adulterous Beatrice d’Este, son of Prince Stefano and of the Venetian patrician Tommasina Morosini. Although the papacy strongly supported the claims of Charles Martel of Anjou, the nation recognized King Andrew III (1290-1301). Andrea fought successfully against the great feudatars and partisans of the Anjou, as well as against Albert of Habsburg, who, availing himself of an alleged right of the empire over Hungary, was not long in presenting his candidacy for the Hungarian throne.

Hungary History - The Era of the Árpád