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European Kingdoms

Eastern Europe

 

 

 

Hungary

The territory which later came to be called Hungary was generally Roman-occupied from 15 BC to circa AD 378. Prior to that it had provided a home to various groups of barbarians, many of whom used it as a corridor the travel from the Black Sea coast towards the headwaters of the Danube and the Alpine region. This certainly seems to have happened during the ninth to seventh centuries BC as the Thraco-Cimmerian influence on Indo-European migratory groups eventually influenced the Celts to the west. It seems also to have provided a corridor of advance for millennia before that, possibly as far back as the earliest modern humans of the Aurignacian culture, and right down to the great Indo-European migrations of the fourth and third millennia BC.

Once the aforementioned Celts had expanded from their Alpine homeland, areas of Hungary also contained Celtic tribes such as the Hercuniates, Eravisci, and Anarti. Large areas of what is now Hungary formed the Roman province of Pannonia. In the late third and early fourth century AD various other tribes infiltrated it, including the Germanic Rugii. Then the Huns swept through Eastern Europe and dominated this area until AD 427. The Western Roman empire briefly recaptured it until the Huns once more took control circa 445. They were followed by the new power in southern and eastern Europe, the Ostrogoths, around 460, but as they migrated into the Balkans the area became tribal from about 488-558.

Elements of the surviving Huns had settled nearby, and until relatively recently it was generally thought that it was their name that was applied to the region in the form of Hungary (but see the kingdom of Hungary, below, for a more detailed investigation), while Germanic tribes such as the Gepids also occupied northern and eastern areas of it, close to the Carpathians. The Avars swept in from the Steppes to control the region from 558-803, but there was a break in their rule in the seventh century. Eventually they were superseded by another wave of Asiatic horsemen called the Magyars, and their arrival signalled the creation of a state that became modern Hungary.

Slovakia was never a kingdom in its own right. For most of its history (906-1918) it was part of Hungary. Then it was attached to former Bohemia-Moravia to form the republic of Czechoslovakia. In-depth study of Hungarian history is often difficult as the most detailed literature is only available in the Hungarian language and remains practically unknown outside the country's borders.

(Additional information from Journal of World History 4(3), 513-540: The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory, Denis Sinor, from Who were the Cimmerians, and where did they come from? Anne Katrine Gade Kristensen (Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Hist-fil. Medd 57), from Celts and the Classical World, David Rankin (1996), from The Civilisation of the East, Fritz Hommel (Translated by J H Loewe, Elibron Classic Series, 2005), from Europe Before History, Kristian Kristiansen, and from External Link: The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory.)

558

The nomadic Avars assume control of Hungary.

562

The Avars incur into Austrasia, forcing the king to move his capital. This attack is repelled, as is another in about 568.

c.625 - c.660

The local Slavs form a kingdom of their own with the intention of expelling the Avars. The Slav Kingdom achieves its aim, but is short-lived.

c.660 - 803

The Avars resume their control of Hungary.

Magyars (Finno-Ugrics)

MapThe Magyars were horsemen from the Pontic-Caspian steppe, and seemingly served as auxiliaries of the Khazars to whom they deferred in their early days. But they were far from typical Turkic mounted warriors. It is generally accepted that this name, 'magyar', is a compound made up of the indigenous denomination of the Voguls and Ostiaks and a Turkish word meaning 'man', although there may be a Finno-Ugric influence which has yet to be fully explored. The Magyar tribal confederation seems to have comprised eight tribes (the traditional seven is a simplification), out of which at least six have names of Turkish origin (a complex subject, see below).

They spoke a Uralic language which is ultimately related to the Finno-Ugric of Finns, Estonians, and many other Northern European groups. Most of the latter are now scattered in pockets across the central and northern provinces of European Russia, such as the Mari, and north-western areas of Siberia. Therefore it is reasonable to surmise that at some point in time the Magyars inhabited the same regions and that they reached Hungary at the end of a long process of migration. For them to have reached Hungary via their long-accepted steppeland home, they must have spent some time living amongst Turkic-speaking tribes (which for a century or so were certainly under the control, of the Western Göktürk empire), and Hungarian does indeed contain a great number of words that betray a Turkic origin. It has taken a long time for this view of Magyar origins to be accepted thanks to only a late beginning in the study of the Finno-Ugric rather than the Turkic connections in the Hungarian language.

Hungarian belongs to the eastern, Ugrian, group of Finno-Ugrian languages and its nearest relatives are Ostiak and Vogul, spoken today by a few thousand individuals in Western Siberia. Ostiaks and Voguls are called, collectively, the Ugrians of the Ob. The close relationship existing between their languages and Hungarian can only be explained at an historic level by admitting an equally close link between the peoples concerned. Carefully compiled linguistic statistics have shown that only about nine percent of Hungarian word roots are of Turkish origin (a figure that only just surpasses the eight percent of Latin words). A proportion of these present phonetic features that are peculiar to the Chuvash language. This is an extraordinary Turkish dialect that is now spoken in the Middle-Volga region and it is thought to be the continuation of the language of the Volga Bulgars, revealing a degree of influence by them on the Magyars.

(Additional information from Journal of World History 4(3), 513-540: The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory, Denis Sinor, A honfoglaló magyarság kialakulása, Gy. Németh (Budapest 1930), and from External Link: The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory.)

886?

The most important single source on Hungarian prehistory is the De Administrando Imperio of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The tenth century work makes free and critical use of earlier sources and of information provided by Hungarians. It relates that the early Magyars, called at this stage Sabartoi asphaloi, live in the neighbourhood of the Khazars in a region called Levedia (named after their most senior chief). They are closely allied to the Khazars with whom they live together for three years, and whose king gives his daughter to their chief, Lebedias. According to Constantine, Levedia is adjacent to the land of the Khazars and has a river called Khidmas or Khingilous. Levedia cannot be located by these names, but is generally believed to be to the north of the Black Sea.

fl 880s?

Lebedias

Magyar senior chieftain before the migration. First chief?

889

In a war waged against the Pechenegs the Magyars are defeated and split into two parts, neither of which remains in its previous dwellings. The fate of Lebedias is unrecorded. One part migrates towards Persia (ie. it heads southwards, probably towards the Caucuses), the other towards the west to a place called Etelköz. Here, on Khazar advice, they decide to elect a ruler, selecting Arpad.

Etelköz has five rivers: Baroukh, Koubou, Troullos, Broutos and Seretos. Three of these can be identified with certainty: the Dniester, Prut and Seret. The name Etelkz in its Hungarian form simply means 'the tract between the river(s)' and is similar in construction and meaning to the name 'Mesopotamia'. Muslim sources are less accurate, which is only natural as the subject is of less immediate concern to them. They describe neither Levedia nor Etelköz, but the whole territory lying between the Don and the lower Danube.

c.890? - 896

Arpad

Led the Magyars into Eastern Europe to found Hungary.

895

The Pechenegs lead another attack against the Magyars who take flight and again migrate westwards. At the end of 895 they invade the Carpathian basin, advancing towards the Danube. In doing so they sweep away Avar control of the region and lay the foundations of a state which maintains approximately the same territory thereafter.

Kingdom of Hungary (Magyars)
AD 896 - 1097

The Magyars were defeated by the Pechenegs (Patzinaks) in 892 and were forced to migrate for the second time in their recent history. Again they headed westwards, this time to reach the Dacian lands that had most recently been controlled by the Avars, sweeping into the Carpathian basin in 895 and founding their kingdom in the following year. For half a century the Magyars plagued Western Europe until defeated by the Germans. Christianity followed soon after, and Magyar-controlled Hungary evolved into an important feudal state.

As for Pannonia, the new land of the Magyars, becoming Hungary, the traditional view is that the people of this region simply inherited the word from the Huns who had previously controlled it. With the Magyars being linked to Turks themselves, this may be seen as a reasonable move, but it ignores complexities which are too extensive to cover here anything more than briefly. In Western languages the Magyars went by names such as Hungarians, Hongrois, Ungar, etc, all of which could be traced back to the Latin plural 'Ungri' which was first attested in AD 862, and the Greek 'Ungroi' in use by the Byzantine empire from the tenth century onwards. It is generally thought that all these forms derive from the name of a Turkish tribe, the Onogur, known since the middle of the fifth century and linked with the early Bulgars and also, tentatively, to the Venedi.

The general theory is that the Onogur name passed through Slavic to reach European ears where it was applied to the Magyars simply because they came from roughly the same region as the Onogur. However, the name 'Ugria' was also applied by the Russians of the eleventh century to all Finno-Ugric peoples, and this seems much more to be the most likely source of the name given to the Magyars and their newly settled lands. If Pannonia had been renamed after the Huns it would be called Hunia, not Hungaria. It's quite possible that there is some influence from the Huns in this, despite no direct responsibility, in that the 'h' and 'n' were added either side of the 'u' in Ugaria either as some form of respect to the Huns or, more likely, ignorance of history and confusion created thanks to that lack of knowledge. Generally, though, the core name is an adaptation of Ugrian, the ethnic origin of the Magyars themselves.

(Additional information from Journal of World History 4(3), 513-540: The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory, Denis Sinor, and from External Link: The Outlines of Hungarian Prehistory.)

896 - 907

Arpad

Dynasty founder. Led Magyars into Eastern Europe.

899 - 900

As part of their initial invasion of Europe, the Magyars invade Italy, possibly at the prompting of Arnulf, king of Germany. Berengar refuses a request by them for an armistice but his army is surprised and routed at the Battle of the Brenta on 24 September 899. The Magyar invasion is subsequently blocked by the Venetians at Pellestrina in 900.

Berengar of Friuli
The determined Berengar of Friuli not only controlled the march territory between Italy proper and the Avars and Magyars to the east, but also claimed the Italian throne no less than three times during his eventful life

906

Urged on by the Eastern Franconian emperor, Arnulf, the Magyars destroy the kingdom of Great Moravia. They then turn on Western Europe, and for half a century add to the misery of the so-called Second Dark Age.

907 - 946

Zoltan

907 - 955

Hungary controls the territory of Austria.

933

The Magyars suffer a setback when the Saxon king, Henry I, defeats them at Riade.

946 - 952

Val

Non-dynastic.

952 - 972

Tacsony

955

The Magyars are defeated at Lechfield by the Germans, under the Saxon Otto I. They also effectively lose control of the March of Austria.

962

With the accession of the Saxon king, Otto I, the power of the Germanic Roman empire is confirmed. Otto is quite vigorous in establishing new counties and border areas within and without the empire's borders. The county of Ardennes under Sigfried gains the stronghold of Lucilinburhuc (the later Luxemburg), Arnulf I the Elder is restored in Flanders, and the March of Austria is formed from territory already captured from Hungary.

Map of Germany AD 962
Germany in AD 962 may have had its new emperor to govern the territories shown within the dark black line, but it was still a patchwork of competing interests and power bases, most notably in the five great stem duchies, many of which were attempting to expand their own territories outside the empire, creating the various march or border regions to the east and south (click on map to show full sized)

At the same time, Saxony gains Hermann Billung as its duke, charged with maintaining the duchy's eastern borders and expanding them further to the east, alongside the recently-created North March. Perhaps as a reaction to this or as the culmination of a process that is already heading that way, the duchy of Poland is formed around the same time.

972 - 997

Geza I

Christianised (975).

982

References to Vnnd.r and N.nd.r. in 982 and 1094 respectively remark upon a Christian 'nation' of Rum that is located between the lands of the 'Madjgharî' and the MIRV (M.rdât). The Pechenegs lie to the east (around the north-west corner of the Black Sea coast), while above them and leading north-eastwards are the Kievan Rus and the Bulgars of the Volga respectively.

The Madjgharî are the Magyars, the former Asiatic horsemen who now control the Dacian lands and early Hungary. Rum is Rome, although the people are not specifically being labelled as Romans - they are simply more civilised than their neighbours in terms of being settled farmers with an element of presumed sophistication. The MIRV are Moravians, living to the north, but seemingly not yet having fully migrated far enough to settle next to the more westerly Bohemians, although their territory has already been annexed to Bohemia. The Vnnd.r are tentatively linked to the Venedi.

997 - 1038

St Stephen I

First king of Hungary (1001-1038).

1038 - 1041

Peter Urseolo

Non-dynastic.

1041 - 1044

Samuel Aba

Non-dynastic. d.1046.

1044 - 1046

Peter Urseolo

Restored.

1046 - 1061

Andrew I

Arpads Restored.

1056

Edward the Exile, the son of Saxon King Edmund Ironsides, an atheling (a noble of royal descent) with the best claim to the throne after Edward, has been living in Hungary. The childless Edward the Confessor sees him as a possible heir to the throne, so in 1056 he is persuaded to return, along with his two sons, but dies on the way in 1057, in the hall of a Saxon thegn. One of those sons, Edgar, presses his own claim to the English throne in 1066.

Some texts claim that Edward the Exile has been enjoying the hospitality of Malesclot, king of the Rugians, based on this Germanic tribe's settlement in Lower Austria in the fifth century. However, this tribe has long since been absorbed into the Bavarii confederation of the sixth century, making this either an invention, or perhaps confusing a minor Hungarian lord with his regional antecedents.

1061 - 1063

Bela I

His dau. married king of Croatia.

1063 - 1074

Solomon

1074 - 1077

Geza II

1077 - 1095

St Ladislas I

Son of Bela. Conceded the Croatian crown.

1095 - 1097

Coloman / Kalman the Learned

King of Hungary, & Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia (1097).

1097

Kalman defeats Croatian opposition and secures the Croatian crown. The title is confirmed in 1102 when Kalman is crowned in Biograd, on the Dalmatian coast. In principle, Croatia is always governed as a separate kingdom, rather than a territory belonging to Hungary.

Kingdom of Hungary & Croatia
AD 1097 - 1564

Rather than taking over Croatia as a dominion, the two crowns were seen as being separate. Croatia maintained its own autonomy.

1097 - 1114

Coloman / Kalman the Learned

1114 - 1131

Stephen II

1118

War against the Hungarians sees the Venetian doge, Ordelaf Falier, killed at the Battle of Zara.

1131 - 1141

Bela II

1141 - 1161

Geza III

1161 - 1162

Stephen III

1162 - 1163

Ladislas II

1163

Stephen IV

1163 - 1172

Stephen III

Restored.

1170 - 1171

Zara rebels and switches allegiance to the Hungarians, but is re-conquered by Venice the following year.

1172 - 1196

Bela III

Controlled Bosnia (1180).

1196 - 1204

Emeric

1204 - 1205

Ladislas III

1205 - 1235

Andrew II

1205 - 1214

Andrew II defeats Roman Mstislavich the Great and claims the title king of Galicia and Lodomeria.

1235 - 1270

Bela IV

1241 - 1242

The Mongols of Batu Khan's Golden Horde, aided by Subedei, turn their attention to Poland and Hungary, primarily because, during the Mongol invasion of the Rus lands, Cumans, Kipchaks, and other nomadic groups fled to Hungary to seek refuge there. Both Poland and Hungary are conquered, with European defeats at Liegnitz and the River Sajo (the Battle of Mohi). Austria, Dalmatia, and Moravia also fall under Mongol domination, and the tide seems unstoppable. However, the death of Ogedei Khan causes the Mongols to withdraw, with Batu Khan intent on securing his conquests in the lands of the Rus.

1244

Peace is agreed with Venice, and Bela IV releases the city of Zara back to them.

1270 - 1272

Stephen V

1271

Ottokar of Bohemia and King Stephen sign the First Peace of Pressburg (Pozny to the Hungarians, modern Bratislava in Slovakia). This follows another battle between the two over Hungarian claims to areas of Austria and Slovakia (to the east of Moravia, sandwiched between that and Hungary), and Bohemian-captured territory in Hungary itself. Each claim is dropped so that Bohemia unquestionably rules Austria and Slovakia, and Hungary is fully restored to its rulers.

1272 - 1290

Ladislas IV

1290 - 1301

Andrew III

Last Arpad.

1301 - 1305

Wenceslas

Wenceslas II of Bohemia.

1305 - 1307

Otto

Otto III of Bavaria.

1308 - 1342

Charles I of Anjou

Senator of Rome (1263-1284). King of Sicily (1266-1285).

1342 - 1382

Louis / Ludwik I the Great

King of Poland (1370-1382).

1345

Another war is fought against Venice for the rebel city of Zara.

1370 - 1382

King Kasimierz dies leaving only female issue and a grandson - Louis the Great. The succession of Poland has already been agreed in advance, so Louis is able to claim the throne. On his death, his daughter Jadwiga succeeds him in Poland while Mary does the same in Hungary.

1382 - 1385

Mary / Maria of Anjou

Married Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.

1385 - 1386

Charles II of Anjou

Charles III of Naples (1382-1386).

1386 - 1395

Mary / Maria of Anjou

Restored. Ruled jointly with her husband.

1386 - 1437

Sigismund of Luxembourg

Holy Roman Emperor. King of Bohemia (1419-1437).

1415

At least from this time onwards, the Hungarian territory of Transylvania is ruled by local princes under Hungarian overlordship.

1437 - 1439

Albert of Austria

Archduke of Austria & king of Bohemia (1437-1439).

1439 - 1440

Interregnum. The title is claimed by Ladislas of Bohemia, but contested by Vladislav of Poland.

1440 - 1444

Vladislav I Jagiello

Wladyslav VI King of Poland (1434-1444).

1444 - 1457

Ladislas V

Lasislas I Posthumus, king of Bohemia (1439-1457).

1458 - 1490

Matthais Corvinus

Non-dynastic.

1490

The Lithuanian Jagiello dynasty, which already rules in Poland and Bohemia, expands its influence even further when Ladislas II of Bohemia gains the Hungarian throne. His successor is a member of the same dynasty.

1490 - 1516

Ladislas VI

Ladislas II Vladimir Jagiello, king of Bohemia (1471-1516).

1509

The League of Cambrai is formed with France, Castile, Hungary, the Papal States, the Holy Roman empire, and Ferrara against Venice. Venice is defeated at Agnadello.

1516 - 1526

Louis II

Louis, king of Bohemia (1516-1526). Killed by Turks.

1526

Following devastating defeat by the Ottomans at the Battle of Mohács and the death of Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia, Hungary loses the principality of Transylvania to the kingdom of John Zápolya. The Habsburgs inherit Hungary itself from the Lithuanian Jagiellos, but are opposed by the Zápolyas. It is unclear how much power the latter actually hold.

1526 - 1540

John I Zápolya

1540 - 1571

John II Zápolya

1526 - 1564

Ferdinand of Austria

King of Bohemia (1526-1564).

1564 - 1918

Control of Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary and Croatia is taken fully by the Habsburgs as Holy Roman emperors. In 1711, the principality of Transylvania is added to Hungary.

Modern Hungary
AD 1918 - Present Day

On 1 November 1918, Hungary extracted itself as an independent kingdom from the collapse of the former Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of the First World War.

1918 - 1920

Hungary is recreated as an independent state by the First World War victors. It loses its Slovak territory to the new state of Czechoslovakia. Transylvania and several counties along the north bank of the Danube which include Krassó-Szörény and much of the Banat are reassigned to Rumania in 1920.

1920 - 1945

A fascist regency is established.

1945 - 1989

The Second Republic is a Soviet-controlled one.

1955

The USSR forms the Warsaw Pact in direct response to the admission of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) into NATO whilst itself being barred from joining. The states involved in the founding of this eastern alliance are Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Russia.

Warsaw Pact meeting
The Warsaw Pact allies signed the treat of establishment in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on 14 May 1955

1989

Soviet influence on Eastern Europe collapses. A new democratic republic is established.