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The Hungarians' Early Ages


Who were they?

The Hungarians were equestrian nomadic people, which means, they migrated all the time. Their ancestors got into the area of the steppe. Between 500 BC and 500 AD, Magna Hungaria was formed. This was the territory between the rivers Volga and Ural. The Hungarian people were pushed to this area by another nomadic migration,

The new home

However some Hungarians remained in the Magna Hungaria's area and they were found by Friar Julianus in the 13th century. The equestrian Hungarians lived in yurtas because of migrating, they needed a kind of dwelling that could be taken apart and built up. The frame was made of lath and it was covered with animal skins. Building it was the women's job.

Later they moved to Etelköz, after becoming independent of the Khazars. The Hungarians led spoil-getting raids from this territory against the Slavs. The main part of the Hungarians led another raid, when the Pechenegs attacked the rest of their people, who stayed in Etelköz. Árpád, Álmos' son led the people into the Carpathian Basin.

It took part in the 10th century with the beginning of Prince Géza's rule. He was Árpád's great-grandson and his main aim was to establish a centralized state. His peaceful foreign policy resulted in good relationship with the neighboring countries and let hi deal with inner affairs.

Stephen I

Prince Géza was followed by Stephen I. However he was not supposed to be king. With the help of foreign knights, he could defeat Koppány (the wannabe prince) at Veszprém. After Stephen's victory, he asked the pope, Silvester II for a crown and with the German Kingdom's approval, he became the king.

He established the independent Hungarian Church system: created 10 bishoprics, among them two archbishoprics. He also helped to keep the fast etc. He made 50 royal counties. The governor of the counties were the ispáns, who were appointed by the king: they were the judges, led the army of the counties and collected the taxes. Stephen followed his father's foreign policy, it was quite peaceful.

He wrote a book for his son, Imre, a guide for how to rule a kingdom perfectly. Unfortunately, his son died in a wild boar hunt, so he couldn't be the next successor.

The Tatar invasion in Hungary

Béla IV was crowned in 1235 and immediately started his new policies. His aim was to restore the royal estates of Béla III's reign and royal authority. He started taking back estates across the country and as an interesting fact, he didn't let the nobles sit down in his presence. Of course, his greed led to several problems, for instance the growing opposition by the barons.

In 1240, the Tatars occupied Kiev, their neighbors. They expected the war, only wouldn't have thought an invasion to be that big. In 1240, the Tatars invaded the country from 3 directions: from the north, through Poland, across Transylvania and through Verecke Pass.

The main battle took place at Muhi between 11th and 12th April, 1241. It was a total defeat for the defenders. Fortunately the king could escape to Trau (Croatia) with his family. In 1242's spring, the Tatars suddenly departed from the country. The reason is still unknown, there are hypothesises though. For example, they say it was because the Tatar's Khan election or strategy to come back later.

The king's policies roughly changed after the wars, for instance he stopped taking back estates. He turned for donations for military service and building castles. Town development was started, they had to be surrounded by walls.

The political portrait of Charles I

An interregnum occurred from 1301-1308 in Hungary, which meant that the country had more than 1 king during this period. European dynasties claimed the throne, they descended from the Árpád dynasty from the female line. Charles Robert, from the Anjou of Naples was one of them. He was supported by the clergy and the barons from Dalmatia, later he was accepted as king of Hungary in 1307.

He had lots of fights with the barons and soon was crowned while the whole country got under Charles 's rule. After that the barons were controlled strictly: their income depended on the king. Charles I had to pay the nobles in an offensive war, therefore he needed to increase the income.

At that tie, Hungary was the first in the production of gold, thus the king made the landowners interested in mining, from that time, they got 1/3 of the income. More miner towns were established and Charles I got miners from Western Europe too. A new monetary system was introduced, high valuable coins were established: the so-called golden Forint

He also introduced Gate tax, the thirtieth tax, special tax for towns, all of these resulted in regale. Charles I lead Hungary to prosperity.

The consequences of leading an active foreign policy were successful territorial gains. HE also organised a summit in Visegrád with John of Luxembourg and Casmir III of Poland.