Hungarian People


Hungarian People

Hungarians, also known as Magyars—Hungarian: magyar (singular); magyarok (plural)—are a nation and ethnic group who speak Hungarian and are primarily associated with Hungary. There are around 14-15 million Hungarians, of whom 10 million live in today's Hungary (as of 2011).[19] About 2.2 million Hungarians live in areas that were part of the Kingdom of Hungary before the 1918-1920 dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Treaty of Trianon, and are now parts of Hungary's seven neighbouring countries, especially Romania, Slovakia, Serbia and Ukraine. Significant groups of people with Hungarian ancestry live in various other parts of the world, most of them in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Canada and Australia. The Hungarians can be classified into several subgroups according to local linguistic and cultural characteristics; subgroups with distinct identities include the Székely, the Csángó, the Palóc, and the Jassic people.


The exonym "Hungarian" is thought to be derived from the Bulgar-Turkic On-Ogur (meaning "ten" Ogurs),[20] which was the name of the Utigur Bulgar tribal confederacy that ruled the eastern parts of Hungary after the Avars, and prior to the arrival of Magyars. The Hungarians must have belonged to the Onogur tribal alliance and it is quite possible they became its ethnic majority.[20] In the Early Middle Ages the Hungarians had many different names, such as "Ungar" or "Hungarus".[21]

The Hungarian people refer to themselves by the denomination "Magyar", and not the term "Hungarian", which is only used by non-Hungarians.[20]

The "H-" prefix is an addition in Medieval Latin. The medieval Kingdom of Hungary was known in Latin as either Regnum Hungariae or as Regnum Ungariae.

The Hungarian endonym is Magyar. There are several theories about the origin and meaning of the word "Magyar".[

Ethnic affiliations and genetic origins

The linguistic heritage of the Hungarians comes from Finno-Ugric peoples. A branch of Uralic speakers migrated from their original homeland near the Ural mountains and settled in various places in eastern Europe, until they conquered the present-day area of Hungary between the 9th and 10th centuries. Genetically, the present-day Hungarian population preserves much of an older European genetic makeup.[22][23] In the Middle Ages, according to genetic and palaeoanthropological studies, the majority of Hungarians showed features of European biological descent.[24][

Pre-fourth century AD

During the fourth millennium BC, the Uralic-speaking peoples who were living in the central and southern regions of the Urals split up. Some dispersed towards the west and northwest and came into contact with Iranian speakers who were spreading northwards.[26] From at least 2000 BC onwards, the Ugrian speakers became distinguished from the rest of the Uralic community. Judging by evidence from burial mounds and settlement sites, they interacted with the Andronovo Culture,[27] furthermore, the type of Hungarians of the Conquest period shows related features to that of the Andronovo people.[28]

Fourth century to c.830 AD

In the fourth and 5th centuries AD, the Magyars moved to the west of the Ural Mountains to the area between the southern Ural Mountains and the Volga River known as Bashkiria (Bashkortostan) and Perm Krai.

In the early 8th century, some of the Magyars moved to the Don River to an area between the Volga, Don and the Seversky Donets rivers.[29] Meanwhile, the descendants of those Magyars who stayed in Bashkiria remained there as late as 1241.

The Magyars around the Don River were subordinates of the Khazar khaganate. Their neighbours were the archaeological Saltov Culture, i.e. Bulgars (Proto-Bulgarians, Onogurs) and the Alans, from whom they learned gardening, elements of cattle breeding and of agriculture. Tradition holds that the Magyars were organized in a confederacy of tribes called hétmagyar (lit. seven Hungarians). The tribes of the hétmagyar were: Jenő, Kér, Keszi, Kürt-Gyarmat, Megyer, Nyék, and Tarján.

The possible homeland of the Hungarians was situated at the regions of Southern Ural.

Location of the Hungarian (Magyar) tribes around 600 AD
Migration to Carpathian Basin, 895-955 (Hungarian: honfoglalás)

c.830 to c.895

Around 830, a civil war broke out in the Khazar khaganate. As a result, three Kabar tribes[30] of the Khazars joined the Magyars and they moved to what the Magyars call the Etelköz, i.e. the territory between the Carpathians and the Dnieper River (today's Ukraine)[citation needed]. Around 854, the Magyars faced a first attack by the Pechenegs.[29] (According to other sources, the reason for the departure of the Magyars to Etelköz was the attack of the Pechenegs.) Both the Kabars and earlier the Bulgars may have taught the Magyars their Turkic languages. The new neighbours of the Magyars were the Varangians and the eastern Slavs. From 862 onwards, the Magyars (already referred to as the Ungri) along with their allies, the Kabars, started a series of looting raids from the Etelköz to the Carpathian Basin–mostly against the Eastern Frankish Empire (Germany) and Great Moravia, but also against the Balaton principality and Bulgaria.[31]

Entering the Carpathian Basin (c.895)

In 895/896, under the leadership of Árpád, some Hungarians crossed the Carpathians and entered the Carpathian Basin. The tribe called Megyer was the leading tribe of the Hungarian alliance that conquered the centre of the basin. At the same time (c.895), due to their involvement in the 894–896 Bulgaro-Byzantine war, Magyars in Etelköz were attacked by Bulgaria and then by their old enemies the Pechenegs. The Bulgarians won the decisive battle of Southern Buh. It is uncertain whether or not those conflicts were the cause of the Hungarian departure from Etelköz.

From the upper Tisza region of the Carpathian Basin, the Hungarians intensified their looting raids across continental Europe. In 900, they moved from the upper Tisza river to Transdanubia (Pannonia)[citation needed], which later became the core of the arising Hungarian state. At the time of the Hungarian migration, the land was inhabited only by a sparse population of Slavs, numbering about 200,000,[29] who were either assimilated or enslaved by the Hungarians.[29]

After the battle of Augsburg (955), the Hungarians stopped their raids against Western Europe.

Many of the Hungarians, however, remained to the north of the Carpathians after 895/896, as archaeological findings suggest (e.g. Polish Przemyśl). They seem to have joined the other Hungarians in 900. There is also a consistent Hungarian population in Transylvania, the Székelys, comprise 40% of the Hungarians in Romania.[32][33] The Székely people's origin, and in particular the time of their settlement in Transylvania, is a matter of historical controversy.

History after 900

Medieval Hungary controlled more territory than medieval France, and the population of medieval Hungary was the third largest of any country in Europe. The Hungarian leader Árpád is believed to have led the Hungarians into the Carpathian Basin in 896. In 907, the Hungarians destroyed a Bavarian army in the Battle of Pressburg and laid the territories of present-day Germany, France and Italy open to Hungarian raids. These raids were fast and devastating. The Hungarians defeated Louis the Child's Imperial Army near Augsburg in 910. From 917 to 925, Hungarians raided through Basle, Alsace, Burgundy, Saxony, and Provence.[34] Magyar expansion was checked at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955. Although the battle at Lechfeld stopped the Hungarian raids against Western Europe, the raids on the Balkan Peninsula continued until 970.[35] Hungarian settlement in the area was approved by the Pope when their leaders accepted Christianity, and Stephen I the Saint (Szent István) was crowned King of Hungary in 1001. The century between the Magyars' arrival from the eastern European plains and the consolidation of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1001 was dominated by pillaging campaigns across Europe, from Dania (Denmark) to the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal).[36] After the country's acceptance into Christian Europe under Stephen I, Hungary served as a bulwark against further invasions from the east and south, especially against the Turks.

At this time, the Hungarian nation numbered between 25,000[37] and 1,000,000 people.[29][38]

The name "Hungarian" has also a wider meaning, as it once referred to all inhabitants of the Kingdom of Hungary irrespective of their ethnicity.[39]

The first accurate measurements of the population of the Kingdom of Hungary including ethnic composition were carried out in 1850–51. There is a debate among Hungarian and non-Hungarian (especially Slovak and Romanian) historians about the possible changes in the ethnic structure throughout history.

Some historians support the theory that the Magyars' proportion in the Carpathian Basin was at an almost constant 80% during the Middle Ages[40][41][42][43][44] – non Magyars numbered hardly more than 20% to 25% of the total population[40] and began to decrease only at the time of the Ottoman conquest,[40][41][44] – reaching as low as around 39% in the end of the 18th century. The decline of the Magyars was due to the constant wars, Ottoman raids, famines and plagues during the 150 years of Ottoman rule.[40][41][44] The main zones of war were the territories inhabited by the Magyars, so the death toll attrited them at a much higher rate than among other nationalities.[40][44] In the 18th century their proportion declined further because of the influx of new settlers from Europe, especially Slovaks, Serbs, Croats[citation needed], and Germans.[40][41][44][45] Droves of Romanians entered Transylvania during the same period.[41][45][46] As a consequence of the Turkish occupation and the Habsburg colonization policies, the country underwent a great change[citation needed] in ethnic composition.[44] Hungary's population more than tripled to 8 million between 1720 and 1787, however, only 39% of its people were Magyars, who lived primarily in the centre of the country.[40][41][42]

Other historians, particularly Slovak and Romanian ones, tend to argue that the drastic change in the ethnic structure hypothesized by Hungarian historians in fact did not occur. Therefore, the Magyars are supposed to have accounted only for about 30–40%[citation needed] of the Kingdom's population since its establishment. In particular, there is a fierce debate among Magyar and Romanian historians about the ethnic composition of Transylvania through the times; see Origin of the Romanians.

In the 19th century, the proportion of Magyars in the Kingdom of Hungary rose gradually, reaching over 50% by 1900 due to higher natural growth and magyarization. Between 1787 and 1910 number of ethnic Hungarians rose from 2.3 million to 10.2 million due to population explosion, generated by the resettlement of the Great Hungarian Plain and Voivodina by mainly Roman Catholic Hungarian settlers from the northern and western counties of the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1715 (after the Ottoman occupation) the Southern Great Plain was near uninhabited, now has 1.3 million inhabitants, and it's homogeneous with ethnic Hungarians.

Spontaneous assimilation was an important factor, especially among the German and Jewish minorities and the citizens of the bigger towns. On the other hand, about 1.5 million people (of whom about two-thirds were non-Hungarian) left the Kingdom of Hungary between 1890–1910 to escape from poverty.[47]

The years 1918 to 1920 were a turning point in the Magyars' history. By the Treaty of Trianon, the Kingdom had been cut into several parts, leaving only a quarter of its original size. One third of the Magyars became minorities in the neighbouring countries.[48] During the remainder of the 20th century, the Magyar population of Hungary grew from 7.1 million (1920) to around 10.4 million (1980), despite losses during the Second World War and the wave of emigration after the attempted revolution in 1956. The number of Hungarians in the neighbouring countries tended to remain the same or slightly decreased, mostly due to assimilation (sometimes forced; see Slovakization and Romanianization)[49][50][51] and emigration to Hungary (in the 1990s, especially from Transylvania and Vojvodina).

After the "baby boom" of the 1950s (Ratkó era), a serious demographic crisis began to develop in Hungary and its neighbours.[52] The Magyar population reached its maximum in 1980, after which it began to decline. This decline is expected to continue at least until 2050, at which time the population will probably be between 8 and 9 million.[52]

Today, the Magyars represent around 35% of the population of the Carpathian Basin, their number is around 12–13 million. For historical reasons (see Treaty of Trianon), significant Hungarian minority populations can be found in the surrounding countries, most of them in Romania (in Transylvania), Slovakia, Serbia (in Vojvodina). Sizable minorities live also in Ukraine (in Transcarpathia), Croatia (primarily Slavonia) and Austria (in Burgenland). Slovenia is also host to a number of ethnic Hungarians, and Hungarian language has an official status in parts of the Prekmurje region. Today, more than two million ethnic Hungarians live in nearby countries.[53]

There was a referendum in Hungary in December 2004 on whether to grant Hungarian citizenship to Magyars living outside Hungary's borders (i.e. without requiring a permanent residence in Hungary). The referendum failed due to insufficient voter turnout. On May 26, 2010, Hungary's Parliament passed a bill granting dual citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living outside of Hungary. The neighboring countries with sizable Hungarian minority expressed concerns over the legislation[54].


Traditionally Hungarian house from Transdanubia, Hungary

The Hungarian Puszta

The Turul, the mythical bird of the origin myth of the Hungarian people

Later influences

Besides the various peoples mentioned above, the Magyars assimilated or were influenced by subsequent peoples arriving in the Carpathian Basin. Among these are the Cumans, Pechenegs, Jazones, Germans and other Western European settlers in the Middle Ages. Vlachs (Romanians) and Slavs have lived together and blended with Magyars since early medieval times. Ottomans, who occupied the central part of Hungary from c.1526 until c.1699, inevitably exerted an influence, as did the various nations (Germans, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats and others) that resettled depopulated territories after their departure. Similar to other European countries, Jewish, Armenians, and Roma (Gypsy) minorities have been living in Hungary since the Middle Ages.

Hungarians in Greater Hungary
(census 1890)

Traditional costumes (17th and 18th century)

Traditional costumes (17th and 18th century)

Traditional costumes (17th and 18th century)


Kingdom of Hungary

The Kingdom of Hungary was a multilingual, multiethnic and (as the meaning from the 19th century) multinational[4] country in Central Europe covering what is today Hungary, Slovakia, Transylvania (now part of Romania), Carpathian Ruthenia (now part of Ukraine), Vojvodina (now part of Serbia), Burgenland (now part of Austria), and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders. From 1102 it also included Croatia (except Istria), being in personal union with it, united under the Hungarian king. The kingdom existed for almost one thousand years (1000–1918 and 1920–1946) and at various points was regarded as one of the cultural centers of the Western world.


The Latin Regnum Hungariae/Vngarie (Regnum meaning kingdom); Regnum Marianum (Kingdom of St. Mary); or simply Hungaria was the form used in official Latin documents from the beginning of the kingdom to the 1840s. The German name (Königreich Ungarn) was used from 1849 to the 1860s, and the Hungarian name (Magyar Királyság) was used in the 1840s, and again from the 1860s to 1918. The names in other languages of the kingdom were: Polish: Królestwo Węgier, Romanian: Regatul Ungariei, Croatian: Kraljevina Ugarska, Slovene: Kraljevina Ogrska, Czech: Uherské království, Slovak: Uhorské kráľovstvo, Italian (for the city of Fiume), Regno d'Ungheria.

In Austria-Hungary (1867–1918), the unofficial name Transleithania was sometimes used to denote the regions covered by the Kingdom of Hungary. Officially, the term Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen was included for the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, although this term was also in use prior to that time.


From 9 BC to the end of the 4th century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire on a part of later Hungary's area. Among the first to arrive were the Huns, who built up a powerful empire under Attila the Hun. After Hunnish rule faded away, the Germanic Ostrogoths and then the Lombards came to Pannonia, and the Gepids had a presence in the eastern part of the Carpathian Basin for about 100 years. In the 560s the Avars founded the Avar Khaganate,[5] a state which maintained supremacy in the region for more than two centuries and had the military power to launch attacks against all its neighbours. The Avar rule ended when the Khaganate was conquered by the Franks under Charlemagne in the West and the Bulgarians under Krum in the East. The Hungarians led by Árpád conquered the Carpathian Basin in 895. They led several successful incursions to Western Europe, until they were was stopped by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor in Battle of Lechfeld. In the Carpathian Basin the Hungarians conquered an existing Slavonic state of Great Moravia weakened after the death of king Svatopluk I. The force led by Árpád is estimated to have consisted of from about 400,000 to about 600,000 people,[6] consisting of seven Hungarian tribes, one Kabar tribe, and other smaller tribes.[7] Their newly founded Principality of Hungary (896–1000) was the first documented Hungarian state in the Carpathian Basin.[8]

The Medieval Kingdom (1000–1538)

Árpád dynasty

The first kings of the kingdom were from the Árpád dynasty, and the first Christian King was Stephen I of Hungary who was canonized as a Catholic saint. He fought against Koppány and in 998, with Bavarian help, defeated him near Veszprém.

The Roman Catholic Church received powerful support from Stephen I, who with Christian Hungarians and German knights wanted a Christian kingdom established in Central Europe. It was he who created the Hungarian heavy cavalry[clarification needed] as an example for Western European powers.

After his death, a period of revolts and conflict for supremacy ensued between the royalty and the nobles. In 1051 armies of the Holy Roman Empire tried to conquer Hungary, but they were defeated at Vértes mountain. The armies of the Holy Roman Empire continued to suffer defeats; the second greatest battle was at the town now called Bratislava, in 1052. Before 1052 Peter Orseolo, a supporter of the Holy Roman Empire, was overthrown by king Samuel Aba of Hungary.[9][10] This period of revolts ended during the reign of Béla I. Hungarian chroniclers praised Béla I for introducing new currency, such as the silver denarius, and for his benevolence to the former followers of his nephew, Solomon. The terms Nobilissimus (most noble) and nobilissima familia (most noble family) have been used since the 11th century for the King of Hungary and his family, but it were then only a few that were mentioned in official documents as such.

The second greatest Hungarian king, also from the Árpád dynasty, was Ladislaus I of Hungary, who stabilized and strengthened the kingdom. He was also canonized as a saint. Under his rule Hungarians successfully fought against the Cumans and conquered Croatia in 1091, due to a dynastic crisis in Croatia, he managed to swiftly seize power in the kingdom, he also was a claimant to the throne due to the fact that his sister was married to the late Croatian king Zvonimir. Although it is still debated among historians, it is believed that Ladislaus created a kind of personal union between the two kingdoms. However kingship over all of Croatia would not be achieved until the reign of his successor Coloman.[11][12][13][14][15] The provinces of Croatia and Slavonia, and after 1868 the autonomous province of Croatia-Slavonia had autonomy within the Kingdom of Hungary from 1091–1918.[11][12][16][17][18] Also, one of the greatest Hungarian jurists and statesmen of the 16th century, István Werbőczy in his work Tripartitum treats Croatia as a kingdom separate to Hungary. In 1222 Andrew II of Hungary issued the Golden Bull which laid down the principles of law.

Mongol invasion

In 1241, Hungary was invaded by the Mongols and while the first minor battles with Subutai's vanguard probes ended in seeming Hungarian victories, the Mongols finally destroyed the combined Hungarian and Cuman armies at the Battle of Mohi.

The Mongols attacked Hungary with three armies, one of them through Poland in order to withhold possible Polish auxiliaries, and defeated the army of Duke Henry II the Pious of Silesia at the Legnica. A southern army attacked Transylvania defeating the voivod and crushing the Transylvanian Hungarian[citation needed] army. The main army led by Batu Khan and Subutai attacked Hungary through the fortified Verecke Pass and annihilated the army led by the count Palatine on 12 March 1241.[19]

Despite the appearance of the Mongol invasion having been a surprise attack, the Hungarians had known, from various sources, that the Mongols were coming. Notable heralds of the oncoming invasion include the Friar Julian group, which warned the king about impending invasion it had established contact with Magna Hungaria and saw the aftermath of the destruction of both the Magna Hungaria and Volga Bulgaria earlier in the 13th century.

In 1242, after the end of the Mongol invasion, numerous fortresses to defend against future invasion were erected by Béla IV of Hungary. In gratitude, the Hungarians acclaimed him as the "Second Founder of the Homeland", and the Hungarian Kingdom again became a considerable force in Europe. In 1260 Béla IV lost the War of Babenberg Succession, his army was defeated at Battle of Kressenbrunn by the united Czech troops, however after in 1278, Ladislaus IV of Hungary and Austrian troops fully destroyed the Czech army at Battle on the Marchfeld.

In 1301, with the death of Andrew III of Hungary, the Árpád dynasty died out. The dynasty was replaced by the Angevins, followed by the Jagiellonians, and then by several non-dynastic rulers, notably Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and Matthias Corvinus.

The Anjou Age

When Ladislaus IV of Hungary died before Andrew III, another nobleman reclaimed the throne for himself: Charles Martel of Anjou, the son of the King Charles II of Naples and Mary of Hungary (the daughter of the king Stephen V of Hungary). However Andrew III assured the power for himself, and ruled without inconvenience after the death of Charles Martel in 1295. When Andrew III died in 1301 the queen Mary of Hungary, who raised Charles Martel's children, reclaimed the throne of Hungary for her grandson Charles Robert of Anjou who was 13 years old. Taking control after a chaotic period, he was finally crowned as the king Charles I of Hungary. He implemented considerable economic reforms, and defeated the remaining nobility who were in opposition to royal rule, led by Máté Csák. The kingdom of Hungary reached an Age of prosperity and stability under the rule of the king who had already learned the language from his grandmother, and also knew Italian, Latin, and French. The gold mines of the Kingdom were extensively worked and soon Hungary reached a prominent place in European gold production. The Hungarian forint currency was introduced to replace the denars, and soon after the reforms introduced by the King, the economy of the Kingdom was placed again in a correct direction after its disastrous state in the 13th century.

Charles I exalted the cult to the King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary, and used him as a symbol of bravery, justice, purity (actually this monarch was Knight, King and Saint, everything at the same time, something unusual), being the ideal to follow. Charles I also venerated his uncle Saint Louis of Toulouse, and on the other hand he gave importance to the cult of the princess Saint Margaret of Hungary and Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, which became an instrument for the new king, added relevance to the lineage inheritance through the feminine branches, legitimizing himself with it.[20] Charles I restored the royal power which had fallen into feudal lords' hands, and then he made them swear loyalty to himself, the new nobility that stood by his side. For this he founded in 1326 the Order of Saint George, which was the first secular chivalric order in the world, and included the most important noblemen of the Kingdom.

After marrying three times and losing all his wives one after the other, he took as his fourth wife the daughter of the Polish King Władysław I the Elbow-high: Elisabeth of Poland. She gave him many children, most of them boys, which assured the continuity of the family in the power. When Charles I died in 1342, his eldest son succeeded him and was crowned as Louis I of Hungary. The new King followed his father's steps, being advised closely by his mother, making the widow queen one of the most influential personalities in the Kingdom.

Before Charles I's death, he had also arranged the marriage of his other sons, Andrew, Duke of Calabria with the queen Joan I of Naples. However, the Queen, fearing that a stranger might take control over his throne (actually both belonged to the same royal family), started conspiring and ordered Andrew's murder. The prince was killed in 1345, and almost immediately the King Louis declared war on Naples and conduced a first campaign in 1347-48. However, the war was interrupted by the rage of the very contagious Black Death, and the Hungarian armies went back home. Surprisingly the Italians suffered many deaths and the Hungarians were barely affected (the wife of Louis I died of it). Without giving himself up, the Hungarian King resumed the war in 1349-50, conquering the Kingdom of Naples. Seeing that keeping rule in both far states, he signed a treaty with the Queen Joan I and left them independent. Decades later, Louis I met with success on the battlefield when he defended the Hungarian Kingdom from new attacks by lesser Mongol forces in the latter half of the 14th century.

Louis I's uncle died in 1370, and after this the King of Hungary also inherited the Kingdom of Poland, because the monarch had no children that could succeed him in the throne. In the beginning Louis was not widely accepted as Polish king, and the nobility protested. Even the Widow Queen Elisabeth of Poland was threatened, and his committee was executed when she visited Poland, because she was not considered as Polish by his people. However, pacting with the nobility, Louis became the new king of the two states. A tragic event occurred a decade later. In 1382 Louis died, leaving no male heirs for both kingdoms, only two daughters: Mary of Hungary and Saint Jadwiga of Poland.

The Sigismund Age

Louis I of Hungary always kept good and close relationships with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg. Louis considered Charles's son Sigismund of Luxembourg to succeed him as King of Hungary. He named him his heir and arranged the marriage with his daughter Mary of Hungary. Sigismund lived in the court of Louis, and soon learned the language and Hungarian way of life. However, the queen consort Elizabeth of Bosnia, mother of Mary and Jadwiga disliked the very young prince's presence. After the death of Louis, the widowed Queen made her best effort for Sigismund not to be crowned as King of Hungary. This generated a chaotic period during which the little Mary became queen of Hungary as her mother and the nobility decided for her. Sigismund and Mary were married in 1385, but soon he was sent away.

The Hungarian noblemen brought forth the King of Naples, Charles of Anjou-Durazzo, who was the only living male relative to Louis I of Hungary, and crowned him as Charles II of Hungary in 1385. However, the Widow Queen and her advisors soon conspired to regain power and Charles II was murdered in 1386. The enraged people created disturbances, and the Widow Queen and Mary lost a lot of adepts, They were eventually were captured and locked up in a tower. The Widow Queen was strangled in 1387, and soon Mary was released by Sigismund, who was crowned king of Hungary, having the full support of the nobility.

Sigismund became a strong king who created many improvements in the Hungarian law system and who rebuilt the palaces of Buda and Visegrád. He brought materials from Austria and Bohemia and ordered the creation of the most luxurious building in all central Europe. In his laws can be seen the traces of the early mercantilism. He worked hard to keep the nobility under his control.

A great part of his reign was dedicated to the fight with the Ottoman empire, which started to extend its frontiers and influence to Europe. In 1396 was fought the Battle of Nicopolis against the Ottomans, which resulted in a defeat for the Hungarian-French forces led by Sigismund and Philip of Artois, Count of Eu. However, Sigismund continued to successfully contain the Ottoman forces outside of the Kingdom for the rest of his life.

Losing popularity among the Hungarian nobility, Sigismund soon became victim of an attempt against his rule, and Ladislaus of Anjou-Durazzo (the son of the murdered King of Naples Charles II of Hungary) was called in and crowned. Since the ceremony was not performed with the Hungarian Holy Crown, and in the city of Székesfehérvár, it was considered illegitimate. Ladislaus stayed only few days in Hungarian territory and soon left it, no longer an inconvenience for Sigismund.

In 1408 he founded the Order of the Dragon, which included the most of the relevant monarchs and noblemen of that region of Europe in that time. This was just a first step for what was coming. In 1410 he was elected King of the Romans, making him the supreme monarch over the German territories. He had to deal with the Hussite movement, a religious reformist group that was born in Bohemia, and he presided at the Council of Constance, where the theologist founder Jan Hus, was judged. In 1419 Sigismund inherited the Crown of Bohemia after the death of his brother Wenceslaus of Luxembourg, obtaining the formal control of three medieval states, but he struggled for control of Bohemia until the peace agreement with the Hussites and his coronation in 1436. In 1433 was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope and ruled until his death in 1437, leaving as his only heir his daughter Elizabeth of Luxembourg and her husband. The marriage of Elizabeth was arranged with the Duke Albert V of Austria, who was later crowned as King Albert of Hungary in 1437.

Hunyadi family

The Hungarian kingdom's golden age was during the reign of Matthias Corvinus, the son of John Hunyadi. His nickname was "Matthias the Just". He further improved the Hungarian economy and practised astute diplomacy in place of military action whenever possible. Matthias did undertake campaigning when necessary. In 1485, aiming to limit the influence and meddling of the Holy Roman Empire in Hungary's affairs, he occupied Vienna for 5 years. After his death, Vladislaus II of Hungary of the Jagiellonians was placed on the Hungarian throne.

At the time of the initial Ottoman encroachment, the Hungarians successfully resisted conquest. John Hunyadi was leader of the Long Campaign in which the Hungarians tried to expel the Turks from the Balkans. Initially, it was successful, but finally they had to withdraw. In 1456 John Hunyadi, the father of Matthias Corvinus, delivered a crushing defeat on the Ottomans at the Siege of Belgrade. The Noon bell commemorates the fallen Christian warriors. In the 15th century, the Black Army of Hungary was a formidable modern mercenary army with the Hussars the most skilled troops of the Hungarian cavalry. In 1479, under the leadership of Pál Kinizsi, the Hungarian army destroyed the Ottoman and Wallachian troops at the Battle of Breadfield. The Army of Hungary destroyed its enemies almost every time when Matthias was the king.

In 1526, at the Battle of Mohács, the forces of the Ottoman Empire annihilated the Hungarian army. In trying to escape Louis II of Hungary drowned in the Csele Creek. The leader of the Hungarian army, Pál Tomori, also died in the battle.

Kingdom of Hungary between 1538 and 1867

The divided kingdom

Due to Ottoman pressure, central authority collapsed and a struggle for power broke out. The majority of Hungary's ruling elite elected János Szapolyai (10 November 1526). A small minority of aristocrats sided with Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, who was Archduke of Austria, and was related to Louis by marriage. Due to previous agreements that the Habsburgs would take the Hungarian throne if Louis died without heirs, Ferdinand was elected king by a rump diet in December 1526. The kingdom was divided between Szapolyai and Ferninand I in 1538, according to the secret agreement of Nagyvárad.[21]

Although the borders shifted frequently during this period, the three parts can be identified, more or less, as follows:

  • Royal Hungary, which consisted of northern and western territories where Ferdinand I was recognized as king of Hungary. This part is viewed as defining the continuity of the Kingdom of Hungary. The territory along with Ottoman Hungary suffered greatly from the nearly constant wars taking place.
  • Ottoman Hungary The Great Alföld (i.e. most of present-day Hungary, including south-eastern Transdanubia and the Banat), partly without north-eastern present-day Hungary.
  • Eastern Hungarian Kingdom under the Szapolyai. Note that this territory, often under Ottoman influence, was different from Transylvania proper and included various other territories sometimes referred to as Partium. Later the entity was called Principality of Transylvania.

On 29 February 1528, King John I of Hungary received the support of the Ottoman Sultan. A three-sided conflict ensued as Ferdinand moved to assert his rule over as much of the Hungarian kingdom as he could. By 1529 the kingdom had been split into two parts: Habsburg Hungary and the "eastern-Kingdom of Hungary". At this time there were no Ottomans on Hungarian territories, except Srem's important castles. In 1532, Nikola Jurišić defended Kőszeg and stopped a powerful Ottoman army. By 1541, the fall of Buda marked a further division of Hungary into three areas. In the year 1542 Petar Keglević the ban of Croatia and Slavonia from 1537 to 1542 was sentenced as an infidel by the Parliament in Bratislava, because of his special agreement with the Ottoman Empire. Even with a decisive 1552 victory over the Ottomans at the Siege of Eger, which raised the hopes of the Hungarians, the country remained divided until the end of the 17th century. The heroes' memory continues to live in a famous poem written by Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos, Summáját írom Eger várának ("I am writing the history of Eger's castle"). Transylvania evolved during the following centuries into a distinctive autonomous unit within the Hungarian kingdom, with its special voivode (or governor), its united, although heterogeneous, leadership (descended from Szekler, Saxon, and Magyar colonists), and its own constitution[22] until 1526 when it effectively became independent[22]

In the following centuries there were numerous attempts to push back the Ottoman forces, such as the Long War or Thirteen Years' War (29 July 1593 - 1604/11 November 1606) led by a coalition of Christian forces. In 1644 the Winter Campaign by Miklós Zrínyi burnt the crucial Suleiman Bridge of Osijek in eastern Slavonia, interrupting a Turkish supply line in Hungary. At the Battle of Saint Gotthard (1664), Austrians and Hungarians defeated the Turkish army.

After the Ottoman invasion of Austria failed in 1683, the Habsburgs went on the offensive against the Turks. By the end of the 17th century, they managed to conquer the remainder of the historical Kingdom of Hungary and the principality of Transylvania. For a while in 1686, the capital Buda was again free, with European help.

The Kuruc age

Rákóczi's War for Independence (1703–1711) was the first significant freedom fight in Hungary against absolutist Habsburg rule. It was fought by a group of noblemen, wealthy and high-ranking progressives who wanted to put an end to the inequality of power relations, led by Francis II Rákóczi (II. Rákóczi Ferenc in Hungarian). Its main aims were to protect the rights of the different social orders, and to ensure the economic and social development of the country. Due to the adverse balance of forces, the political situation in Europe and internal conflicts the freedom fight was eventually suppressed, but it succeeded in keeping Hungary from becoming an integral part of the Habsburg Empire, and its constitution was kept, even though it was only a formality.

After the departure of the Ottomans, the Habsburgs dominated the Hungarian Kingdom. The Hungarians' renewed desire for freedom led to Rákóczi's War for Independence. The most important reasons of the war were the new and higher taxes and a renewed Protestant movement. Rákóczi was a Hungarian nobleman, son of the legendary heroine Ilona Zrínyi. He spent a part of his youth in Austrian captivity. The Kurucs were troops of Rákóczi. Initially, the Kuruc army attained several important victories due to their superior light cavalry. Their weapons were mostly pistols, light sabre and fokos. At the Battle of Saint Gotthard (1705), János Bottyán decisively defeated the Austrian army. The famous Hungarian colonel Ádám Balogh nearly captured Joseph I, the King of Hungary and Emperor of Austria.

In 1708, the Habsburgs finally defeated the main Hungarian army at Battle of Trencsén, and this diminished the further effectiveness of the Kuruc army. While the Hungarians were exhausted by the fights, the Austrians defeated the French army in the War of the Spanish Succession. They could send more troops to Hungary against the rebels. Transylvania became part of Hungary again starting at the end of the 17th century, and was led by governors.[23][24]

Age of Enlightenment

In 1711, Austrian Emperor Charles VI became the next ruler of Hungary. From this time on, the designation Royal Hungary was abandoned, and the area was once again referred to as the Kingdom of Hungary.[citation needed] Throughout the 18th century, the Kingdom of Hungary had its own Diet (parliament) and constitution, but the members of the Governor's Council (Helytartótanács, the office of the palatine) were appointed by the Habsburg monarch, and the superior economic institution, the Hungarian Chamber, was directly subordinated to the Court Chamber in Vienna. The Hungarian Language reform started under reign of Joseph II. The reform age of Hungary was started by István Széchenyi a Hungarian noble, who built one of the greatest bridges of Hungary, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The official language remained Latin until 1844. Then, between 1844 and 1849, and from 1867, Hungarian became the official language.

Hungarian Revolution of 1848

The European revolutions of 1848 swept Hungary, as well. The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 sought to redress the long suppressed desire for political change, namely independence. The Hungarian National Guard was created by young Hungarian patriots in 1848. In literature, this was best expressed by the greatest poet of the revolution, Sándor Petőfi.

As war broke out with Austria, Hungarian military successes, which included the brilliant campaigns of the great Hungarian general, Artúr Görgey, forced the Austrians on the defensive. One of the most famous battles of the revolution, the Battle of Pákozd, was fought on the 29 September 1848, when the Hungarian revolutionary army led by Lieutenant-General János Móga defeated the troops of the Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić. Fearing defeat, the Austrians pleaded for Russian help, which, combined with Austrian forces, quelled the revolution. The desired political changes of 1848 were again suppressed until Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.

Austria-Hungary (1867–1918)

Following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Habsburg Empire became the "dual monarchy" of Austria-Hungary.

The Austro-Hungarian economy changed dramatically during the existence of the Dual Monarchy. Technological change accelerated industrialization and urbanization. The capitalist way of production spread throughout the Empire during its fifty-year existence and obsolete medieval institutions continued to disappear. By the early 20th century, most of the Empire began to experience rapid economic growth. The GNP per capita grew roughly 1.45% per year from 1870 to 1913. That level of growth compared very favorably to that of other European nations such as Britain (1.00%), France (1.06%), and Germany (1.51%).

Treaty of Trianon set in 1920

The new borders set in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon ceded 72% of the historically Hungarian territory of the Kingdom of Hungary to the neighbouring states. The beneficiaries were Romania, the newly formed states of Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. This left more than 3.5 million ethnic Hungarians outside the new borders. Many view this as contrary to the terms laid out by US President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which were intended to honour the ethnic makeup of the territories.

See also Web Links

Kingdom of Hungary ("Ungarn") within Austria-Hungary, 1899.

Hungary (including Croatia) in 1190, during the rule of Béla III (orange)

Hungary in 1490

Ethnographic map of Hungary without Croatia and Slavonia (1910). The population of areas under 20 persons/km2 is represented in the nearest area above that level, and the area is left blank.

The Treaty of Trianon: Hungary lost 72% of its territory, and lost its sea ports in Croatia. 3,425,000 ethnic Hungarians found themselves separated from their motherland. Hungary lost half of its 10 biggest cities and all of its precious metal mines



The Magyars

A Thousand Years of Hungary

Magyar Origins

When the Magyar people entered the land of Europe, they seemed a part of the Turkic hordes roaming between South-Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Greater evidence points to Asia as the Magyar's original homeland. Exactly what part of Asia has been a matter of dispute for generations, but it is clear that the Magyars came from the East. The horse was the most important animal to the Magyars. They both traveled and fought on horseback during their long migrations from the east and eventually into what is present day Hungary. Their weapons and style of fighting were identical with those of the Huns, Avars and other mounted nomadic peoples. But the Magyars were a distinct group separate from the Huns, Avars and Turks.

Finno-Ugrian Theory
The most widely accepted theory of the Magyar's origin is the Finno-Ugrian concept. Advocates of this theory believe the linguistic and ethnic kinship between the Hungarians and the Finns, Esthonians, Ostyaks and Voguls provide evidence for the origin of the Magyars. This relation of the Magyars with the Finns places the ancient homeland of the Finno-Ugrians on both sides of the southern Ural Mountains. The advocates of this theory insist that Magyars came from this group in the Urals, and as the theory explains, it was about 2000 B.C. that the Finnish branch broke away to settle in the Baltic area. The Magyars remained on the West Siberian steppes with the other Ugrian peoples until 500 B.C. It was then that the Magyars crossed the Urals westward to settle in what is present day Soviet Bashkiria, north of the Black Sea and the Caucasus. The Magyars remained here for centuries with the various Ural-Altaic peoples such as the Huns, Turkic Bulgars, Alans and Onogurs. The Magyars soon adopted many cultural traits and customs of these people and it was from the region of Soviet Bashkiria that the Magyars started their migration westward toward the Carpathians.

After World War II, the Finno-Ugrian theory was challenged by scholars who argued that the Finno-Ugrian theory was based on linguistics alone, without support in anthropology, archeology or written records.

Orientalist Theory
Scholars known as orientalists believe that the origin of Magyars and their language is not found in the Urals, but in Central Asia known as the Turanian Plain or Soviet Turkestan which stretches from the Caspian Sea eastward to Lake Balchas. Ancient history has traditionally called this region Scythia. Folklore holds that the Magyars are related to the Scythians who built the great empire of the 5th century B.C. After the Scythian empire dissolved, the Turanian Plain witnessed the rise and fall of empires built between the first and ninth centuries A.D. by the Huns, Avars, Khazars and various Turkic peoples, including the Uygurs. The Magyars subsequently absorbed much of the culture and tradition of these peoples and many Onogur, Sabir, Turkic, and Ugrian people were assimilated with the Magyars, resulting in the Magyar amalgam, which entered the Carpathian Basin in the later half of the ninth century A.D.

Scholars of Far Eastern history believe that the Magyars were also exposed to the Sumerian culture in the Turanian Plain. Linguists of the 19th century, including Henry C. Rawlinson, Jules Oppert, Eduard Sayous and Francois Lenormant found that knowledge of the Ural-Altaic languages such as Magyar, helps to decipher Sumerian writings. Cunei form writing was found to be used by the Magyars long before they entered the Carpathian Basin. The similarity of the two languages has led orientalists to form a Sumerian-Hungarian connection. The orientalists speculate that a reverse of the Finno-Ugrian theory may be possible. The theory holds that if the proto-Magyars were neighbors of the proto-Sumerians in the Turanian Plain, then the evolution of the Hungarian language must have been a result of Sumerian rather than Finno-Ugrian influences. The theory in turn holds that rather than being the recipients of a Finno-Ugrian language, it was the Magyars who imparted their language to the Finns and Estonians without being ethnically related to them. What scholars site for added evidence for this theory is the fact that the Magyars have always been numerically stronger than their Finno-Ugrian neighbors combined. The theory believes that the Finns and Ugors received linguistic strains from a Magyar branch who had broken away from the main body on the Turanian Plan, and migrated to West Siberia.

The Magyar-Uygur Theory
The connection between the Magyars and the Uygurs tie Hungarians even closer to Asia. The Uygurs are people who live in the Xinjiang province of China. The Uygurs are Caucasian in appearance and maintain a Turkic language. To the north of the Uygar's border stretches the Dzungarian Basin which has a striking similarity to the word Hungarian. Northeast of the Dzungaria lies the Altai Mountain Range, a name used by linguists to define the Ural-Altaic language group to which the Magyar language belongs. Further up to the north stretches the Lake Baykal region where first the Scythians, then the Huns emerged to conquer the Turanian Plain. The Magyars, Uygurs and the Turks may also have started their migrations from the northeastern part of the Baykal area.

Further anthropological, archeological and linguistic research must be conducted on this theory, but is limited by the little access the Chinese government grants foreigners to the region. There are, however, many Asiatic influences seen among Hungarians today. Hungarian legends and folk tales are strikingly similar to those of Asian peoples. The structure of Magyar folk music, which uses the pentatonic scale, also points to Asian origins. The beautiful gates of the Székely people in Transylvania bear a strong resemblance to those in the pagodas of China. The ornate tombstones carved from wood are also similar to those seen in Chinese cemeteries. The Hungarian cuisine shows traces of Asia in its use of strong spices such as paprika, pepper, saffron, and ginger.

The Hun-Avar Theory
Much of this theory has been perpetuated by folk tale. Most Hungarians today can tell the story of the Legend of the White Stag. The story describes how two sons of Nimrod, Hunor and Magor, were lured for days into a new land by a fleeing white stag. The stag suddenly vanishes without trace. But the disappointed young hunters hear laughing and singing. The two dismount and follow the laughing until they come across a lake in which two beautiful maidens are splashing. The two hunters take the maidens as wives. The Huns are Hunor's descendent, and the Magyars are Magor's descendents. There are variations on the folk tale including Simon Kézai's version in his 1283 chronicle, Gesta Hungarorum. The same mythical tale takes on a slightly somber and more realistic approach. Hunor and Magor are Chief Ménrót's grown up sons who had reached maturity and had moved into a separate tent. "One day it happened that, as they were going out to hunt, a hind suddenly appeared in front of them on the plains, and as they undertook to pursue her, she fled from them into the Maeotian marshes. Since she completely disappeared there from their eyes, they searched for her a long time but could not chance upon her traces. After having traversed the said marshes, they decided the marshes were suitable for raising livestock. They returned to their father, and securing his consent, they moved into the Maeotian marshes with all their animals to settle down there. The region of Maeotis is a neighbor of Persia. Apart from a very narrow wading place, it is enclosed by the sea everywhere. It has absolutely no streams, but it teems with grass, trees, fish, fowl, and game. Access to and exit from it is difficult. Thus settling in the Maeotian marshes, Hunor and Magor did not move from there for five years. In the sixth year they wandered out, and by chance they came upon the wives and children of Belárs sons, who stayed at home without their men folk. Quickly galloping off with them and their belongings, they carried them off into the Maeotian marshes. It so happened that among the children they also seized the two daughters of Dula, the Prince of the Alans. Hunor married one and Magor the other. All the Huns descend from these women."

From Hunor came the great and dreaded leader Attila. After the kingdom of Attila fell apart shortly after his death, further waves of people moved in to the Carpathian Basin but all were crushed by the Avars, a quickly emerging branch of the Ural-Altaic group. The Avars founded and empire on top of what used to be Attila's-the region between the Danube and the Tisza rivers. The Avars even used a weapon perfected by the Huns, the curved sabre gladicus hunnicus. The Avars downfall, however, was hastened by the development of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire. The Avars and Charlemagne's army went to battle from 796 to 803 A.D. The Avars were finally defeated by the Frankish troops and most Avar tribes returned to the slopes of the Caucasian Mountains. Others stayed and mingled with the Slavs of the area and later with the Magyars. When the Magyar tribes arrived under Árpád, they found a sparse population including many Avars. According to the Teri-i-Üngürüsz chronicle, "When they arrived in the land, they saw its many rivers teeming with fish, the land rich in fruits and vegetables, and members of other tribes, some of whom understood their language."

This theory of Hun-Avar-Magyar progression into the Carpathian Basin, however, is only part of the story.

Black and White Magyars
The Chinese believed that there were five cardinal directions, the fifth being "the center of the universe", China itself. Each of the five directions was symbolized by a color. The central point, China, was indicated by yellow, for the gold that befit His Imperial Highness. The North, shrouded in dark Arctic nights, was black. The West was designated as white, a color that reflected the blinding white sands of the vast deserts on the western horizon. Red represented the sun of the South, and the East was symbolized by blue, the color of the ocean eternally washing China's eastern shores.

Based on these color symbols, the White Magyars (or White Ugurs) represented the Western branch of their race. According to ancient Russian chronicles, the White Magyars appeared in the Carpathian Basin as early as 670-680 A.D., first with the Bulgars, and later with the Avars. The second branch of Magyar tribes-called Black Magyars in ancient Russian chronicles-took a different route. The directions of that route are still debated by Finno-Ugrian and orientalist theorists, but the end result was that the Black Magyars became connected with peoples belonging to the Ural-Altaic groups. These included a range of peoples from Manchuria to Turkey.

Among these groups the Finno-Ugrian/Magyars drew closest to the Turks, who were warriors with a talent for statecraft. This association with the Turks created a new blend of Magyar: Finno-Ugrian in language but Ural-Altaic in culture. This was the strain of Magyars that in 895 A.D. would ride into the Carpathian Basin under Árpád-following the footsteps of the White Magyars who appeared in the Carpathian Basin in the 670s A.D. Árpád's Magyars has been termed by some modern historians as the second wave in a two-phased conquest of the Hungarian homeland. Whether this theory is correct or not, it seems fairly certain that the Szeklers (székelyek) had been long-time inhabitants of Transylvania before the Magyars arrived.

Sources: István Lázár, "Hungary: A Brief History" Corvina Books, Budapest: 1990, pp. 11-35.
Stephen Sisa, "The Spirit of Hungary" Vista Books, New Jersey: 1995, pp 1-6.




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