Hungary Early History

By | November 11, 2021

Migration and conquest of the Magyars (5th – 10th centuries)

The middle Danube valley (Pannonia) had served the Huns as a residential area after the Roman retreat until the death of Attila (453), after which Germanic vandals and Lombards as well as permanent Gepids had come into the country, followed by arable Slavs. The rule of the Avars established in 567 continued Charlemagne between 791 and 803 an end. In the 9th century, Pannonia belonged to the Eastern Franconian Empire as a border province, the western districts (Little Hungarian Lowlands) were controlled by the Great Moravian Empire, while the land east of the Danube and Tisza (Great Hungarian Lowlands, Transylvania) paid tribute to Bulgarian princes. From 895/896 occupied the semi-nomadic tribal union of theMagyars under the leadership of Prince (Gyula) Árpád, who from the advancing steppe people of the Pechenegs the sparsely populated Pannonian basin was displaced from the intermediate current land “Etelköz” north of the Black Sea and secured the conquest through military victories over the Moravians (end of the Great Moravian Empire 906) and Bavaria (Battle of Pressburg 907). From the Carpathian Basin the Magyars undertook repeated raids that terrified all of Europe (“Hungarian invasions”). The devastating defeat that King Otto I, the Great, inflicted on them on the Lechfeld in 955, accelerated the settling of the Magyars and the assimilation of the previous population and immigrants.

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The medieval kingdom (until 1526)

Grand Duke Géza (around 970–997) broke the resistance of rival tribal princes, built up a strong central power and operated Christianization, which his son Vajk with the baptismal name Stephan I, the Holy, (997–1038) after the agreement with Emperor Otto III. and Pope Silvester II were crowned king (1000) with the establishment of the castle county system under the leadership of the Gespane (Hungarian Ispan, Latin Comes) and supported by their own church organization (Archbishopric Esztergom and Kalocsa and Benedictine Abbey Pannonhalma) continued. His successors, often involved in inheritance disputes, had to temporarily accept a vassal relationship to the Holy Roman Empire in the middle of the 11th century and, in the course of the 11th century, subjugated Slovakia; In 1091, by agreement with the Croatian nobility (so-called Pacta conventa of 1102), Croatia – with Slavonia and Dalmatia – was linked in personal union with Hungary (“Lands of St. Stephen’s Crown”; Dalmatia was lost to Venice in 1202). Under King Géza II (1141–62), Germans began to settle in Transylvania (Transylvanian Saxony) around 1150, and also in the Spiš at the end of the 12th century. The King Béla III. (1172–96) promoted urban development was by Andreas II. (1205–35) purposefully promoted by settlers recruited abroad, whereby the Transylvanian Saxons obtained extensive rights of self-administration in the »Privilegium Andreanum« in 1224; from 1239 the Cumans were accepted. The self-confident aristocracy, who acquired large estates at the expense of the crown, forced the confirmation of the privileges and the right of resistance in the Golden Bull of Hungaryin 1222. After the catastrophe of the Mongol storm in 1241 and during the wars with Bohemia, the rulers had to grant the high nobility further rights of co-determination. Hungary fell into feudal anarchy after the male line of Arpads died out (1301) and the neighbors tried to secure the St. Stephen’s crown.

It took King Charles I Robert of Anjou-Naples (1308–42) a long time to restore royal power and to revive the economy through a coin reform and the promotion of trade. His son Ludwig I, the Great, (1342–82) was able to secure rule over Dalmatia and in 1370 also acquire the Polish royal crown. His son-in-law, King Siegmund of Luxembourg (1387–1437; Roman King since 1410, King of Bohemia since 1419/36 and Roman Emperor since 1433), paid little attention to the advance of the Turks (defeat at Nikopol in 1396), so that imperial administrator János Hunyadi (1445–52) defeated them, but could no longer stop them. His son Matthias I. Corvinus (1458-90) subjugated in the fight against his father-in-law, the Bohemian King George of Podiebrad and Kunštát, Emperor Friedrich III. and King Wladislaw II of Poland (Jagiełło) also Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia, Lower Austria, Carinthia, Carniola and Styria under his rule; under him Hungary experienced a cultural heyday (renaissance, famous collections of the Bibliotheca Corviniana), but at the same time also a high point of aristocratic arbitrariness. The central power disintegrated under the Jagiellonian dynasty (1490–1526). Already Vladislav II. (1490–1516; King of Bohemia since 1471) had to accept a systematic circumcision of royal power. After the suppression of the peasant uprising (1514) under G. Dózsa, the peasants’ “eternal bondage” was decreed (“Tripartitum”, 1514, by István Werböczi [* 1458, † 1541, from 1526 Chancellor]). Since the magnates were not ready to resolutely repel the Turks, the decisive battle ended on August 29, 1526 at Mohács with a devastating defeat; King Ludwig II found death while fleeing.

Hungary divided into three parts (1526–1699)

In the struggle for Ludwig’s inheritance, there was a double election in 1526; the succession was finally regulated in 1538 in the Treaty of Oradea. Nevertheless, Johann I. Zápolya, voivode of Transylvania (1511-40), with Ottoman support, was able to control the sphere of influence of his Habsburg counter-king Ferdinand I (1526 / 27-64; since 1531 also Roman king) on ​​Upper Hungary (Slovakia and Carpathian-Ukraine) as well limit a narrow part of western Hungary; this royal Hungary with the capital Pressburg sank into an Austrian province. Da Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent after his 5th Hungarian campaign in 1541, however, central Hungary – with Slavonia – incorporated into the Ottoman Empire as “Paschalik Ofen” (henceforth also called Turkish-Hungary) and transferred to Transylvania (Eastern Hungary) as a tributary independent principality Johann Sigismund Zápolya (1540 / 59-71), the country was divided into three. The plundering of Turkish-Hungary by Turkish officials and warriors led to great population losses and desertification, e.g. B. in Vojvodina; but the residents of the Habsburg royal Hungary suffered almost as badly from constant campaigns (1591–1606 “long” Turkish war) and high taxes.

Prince Stephan IV. Báthory (1571–86), also King of Poland since 1575/76, laid the foundations of a strong Transylvanian state, whose independence and religious freedom (Reformation, Calvinism, anti-Trinitarianism) after an uprising of the Hungarian estates under I. Bocskay (1604 –06) were recognized by King Rudolf (1576–1608) in the Peace of Vienna (1606). G. Bethlen von Iktár (1613–29) made Transylvania the starting point for new attempts at independence.

The religious split in Hungary also provoked serious conflicts, because the majority of the Hungarian nobility professed Calvinism, most Germans professed Lutheranism, while the Counter-Reformation triumphed in the Habsburg part. Because of his unconstitutional government and violent recatholic measures, King Leopold I (1655 / 57–1705; emperor from 1658) had to defend himself against the high nobility, the Wesselény conspiracy (1666–71) and the Kuruci (1672–82). When the Turks started the uprising under Count I. Tököly (1678–82; Prince of Upper Hungary 1682–85) supported the “Great Turkish War” (1683–99). After the unsuccessful siege of Vienna (1683) and the rapid conquest of Hungary by imperial troops (1686 fall of Budas, 1697 victory at Zenta), the Ottomans in the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 gave Hungary (with the exception of the Banat of Temesvár), Croatia and Slavonia to the Habsburgs away. The emperor used the reconquest of Hungary in 1687 to revoke the noble right of resistance, to establish a hereditary kingdom of the Habsburgs and to organize Transylvania as crown land (Diploma Leopoldianum, 1691).

Hungary Early History