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History of Hungary Part 1 - Medieval Period

by EasternEuropeans.co.uk
History of Hungary Part 1 - Medieval Period
Hungary is a country rich in culture and history. However, the history of Hungary has been riddled with political strife. Hungary has been absorbed into larger Empires multiple times. Hungary has still maintained its identity and even made had a golden age. Hungary has been through war, plague, territory loss, and complete absorption into other empires and still has managed to maintain ties to its culture and people. Today Hungary is a product of its rich history, a history that deserves to be told.

Hungary during the Medieval Period
Hungary entered the Middle Ages as the Principality of Hungary under the Árpád dynasty. This dynasty in the 970's because of political pressure made Christianity the official religion of Hungary. Chief Prince Géza made this decision and ruled Hungary peacefully during his 25 year rule. He however was not able to create a stable rule. Because Hungary was a Principality the kingdom was divided between his family. In 997 Géza died naming his son as successor to the throne. For three years Hungary was filled with strife and war as different factions, including tribal factions who did not want to embrace Christianity, warred over who would take the throne. King Stephen gain support of many of the nobles and in 1000 AD was crowned the first King of Hungary. It is at this point Hungary became the Kingdom of Hungary.

Stephen set up his rule based on a system of smaller governments that would report to him. However when he died in 1038 AD, Hungary was the stable vision that Chief Prince Géza had dreamed of. Despite many attackers Hungary was able to defend itself from threats. Hungary was even able to push back the armies of the Holy Roman Empire. Hungary was also religiously ahead of its time. During the reign of King Coleman the Book Lover (1095-1116) Witch trials were outlawed. This happened almost 500 years before other countries would institute the same laws. During the reign of King Bela (1172-1192) Hungary amassed great wealth and was trading gold, silver, and copper with Western Europe for luxury goods. However, this good period for Hungary would come to an end King Andrew (1205-1235) gave land grants for royal lands in an attempt to increase the power of the crown. This caused the lesser nobles to present a list of grievances to King Andrew. He responded with the Hungarian diet. After King Andrew died King Bela IV tried to regain the lost crown lands. He was largely unsuccessful. He was successful in creating strife between the crown and the people of Hungary. Because of this strife when King Bela IV ordered the nobles to respond against the coming Mongol invasion few came to his aid. King Bela IV fled to Austria and the Mongols ravaged Hungary and burned all they saw. They quickly left Hungary and King Bela IV was free to return to Hungary. He knew to reestablish himself and repair his kingdom he would need the support of the nobles. He repopulated the country with immigrants and died leaving the Nobles to squabble over what was left.

The Golden Era of Hungary began in 1308 with the coronation of King Charles I. In this era royal power was centralized and the lesser governments under the crown were abolished. Charles I was a child king, but his fiscal policies were largely successful. King Charles I was able to gain power largely because it was backed by gold. He was able to guide the production of gold from mines to 1.5 tons of gold a year. King Charles ruled by decree and only his words would be the ones allowed to be law. He cemented his place as king by marriages that tied him to the royal families in Poland and Naples.

The Kings that succeeded Charles in the Golden era were able to maintain the centralized power. Hungary was able to prosper under their reign. However in 1490 the Jagiellon rose to power. The nobles did not want centralized power and they placed Vladislaus II on the throne. The nobles slowly increased feudal lands for their own and Hungary suffered financially. When he died in 1516 his young son became king but Hungary was ruled by a counsel of nobles. The Ottoman empire took advantage of this unrest. The invaded and absorbed Hungary into their Empire in 1541.


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