5 famous Hungarian kings and monarchs
Monarchs ruled Hungary from the late 9th Century until 1301; starting with Magyar Chief Árpád and many others who ruled after him and ending with King Charles I in the 20th Century. He and his people settled in the Carpathian Basin and developed from there, making changes including conversion of the people from paganism to Christianity.
The kings ruled the European nation, some as tyrants, some as good rulers. Hungary has ended up making major contributions to Europe over time. Here are five of the kings who shaped Hungary’s history!
1. Stephen I of Hungary
Stephen I of Hungary’s year of birth is not known but is suspected to have been around 975 AD. He was the last Grand Prince of Hungarians between 997 and 1000 and the first King of Hungary from around 1001 until he died in 1038. He was the only son of Prince Geza and Sarolt.
His Turkic name was Vajk but was given the name Stephen. H became the Grand Prince of Magyarsain, later during his rule, he became the King of Hungary and the Last Grand Prince when he received a crown from the pope. After defeating several chiefs, he took over and extended his rule to the Carpathian Basin.
As a way of strengthening Christianity among his people, he banned paganism and established ten dioceses in his kingdom. Some of these decrees like organizing Hungary into counties, made him be considered the founding father of Hungary. His descendants ruled Hungary until 1931 and his achievements made Hungary an important player in European affairs.
Because of his contributions to Christianity, he was made a saint; one of the most popular ones in Hungary and his son and some of his relatives were also canonized.
2. Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
This was one of the most charismatic kings that ever ruled Hungary, he was so friendly that he even took part in tournaments in the kingdom. Sigismund was also very well-educated and well-traveled, even speaking several languages among them German, Hungarian, Italian, Latin, and French. Sigismund also held the title of the King of Germany, Bohemia, and Croatia, apart from being the king of Hungary. He ruled Hungry between 1387 and 1437 and was the last emperor of the House of Luxembourg.
Sigismund was also quite controversial; he made unpopular laws and rules especially those that touched on the nobles and defended the poor, and because of this, he was taken hostage many times but was rescued by his allies!
In his reign, he tried to bring sanity and stability back to his kingdom. He is known for his efforts to liberate Bulgaria and save the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople from the Ottoman rule. He ended the Western Schism- a divide in the Catholic Church where more than one claimed to be the real pope- by being behind the House of Constance where a new legitimate Pope Martin IV was elected. The council was held in Constance/ Konstanz in Switzerland.
3. Charles I of Austria
Charles I of Hungary was the last emperor of Russia, the last King of Hungary, the last king of Bohemia, and the last House of Habsburg-Lorraine Monarch before Austria Hungary was dissolved.
He was born in 1887 and died in 1922 in Austria. When his uncle Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and hid children could not be allowed to take the throne because of his morganatic marriage, Charles became heir to the throne. Some highlights from his leadership include his attempts to secretly through secret offers to get Austria-Hungary out of World War I. His plots failed and his reputation was greatly ruined. A lot of his efforts to transform part of his empire into a federal state also failed and when the Austro-Hungarian armies in Italy collapsed, he renounced all participation in state affairs but did not step down. He went into exile in Switzerland and even though he twice tried to take back his Hungarian throne unsuccessfully.
He died of pneumonia in 1922 where he had been living in abject poverty. His widow died in 1989 at the age of 96. She had been wearing black outfits since her husband’s death!
4. Béla IV of Hungary
Béla was the eldest of his father’s children and because of that, he was a group of noblemen from his father King Andrew II in 1214. When his father died, King Béla was not very keen on continuing his father’s improvement of economic initiatives. He waged war against Galicia, a Russian Municipality. He allowed Cumans, who were being harassed by the Mongols to enter his kingdom. The Mongols then followed by the Cumans, meeting the Hungarian Troops in River Sajo where the Hungarian troops were defeated. The Mongol invasion left most of his kingdom in ruins in 1241, and he had to flee after most of his men died.
The Mongols took charge of the Hungarian western side which deteriorated devastatingly, but Batu Khan in 1242 recalled his troops suddenly, and they abandoned Hungary. When the troops left, King Bela took over the reconstruction of the kingdom which he did successfully, earning himself the title of the Second Founder of Hungary.
5. Coloman King of Hungary
King Coloman loved to read and got the name ‘Coloman the Processor of Books’.
Because Coloman and his brother were very young when their father Géza I died, their uncle Ladislaus ascended the throne. His uncle wanted to make him a monk, but he escaped to Poland and returned to Hungary to take the crown after Ladislaus’ death in 1095. Coloman’s mother was King Geza’s concubine and his legitimate brother was not amused when he took the throne, so he plotted against him. King Coloman found out and had his brother and his infant son Béla imprisoned and blinded.
King Coloman was one of the most learned people in Europe in his time; he was also a just and a loved ruler, very diplomatic, which made him even loved the more, not just by his people, but also by other kingdoms and nations. He strove to improve the feudal system, the military situation in Hungary, economic situation, property, the church, the law, and made sure the state was secured.