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Kingdom of Hungary (10th – 13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The Hungarians permanently settled in the Danube region after the defeat in the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, accepted Christianity and established a kingdom under the Arpad Dynasty. Coronation of Saint Stephen I (977-1038) in 1000 is traditionally regarded as the establishment of the Kingdom of Hungary. Saint Stephen continued the Christianization of Hungary started by his father Duke Geza (c.972 – 997) and expanded Hungarian borders northwards to today’s Slovakia and southwards to today’s Transylvania. He followed a pro-German policy and wanted to organize his kingdom on the German model by dividing Hungary into counties governed by royal officials.

Samuel Aba

Samuel Aba

Saint Stephen was succeeded by his nephew Peter I the Venetian (1038-1041 and 1044-1046) who continued his predecessor’s policy and bitterly suppressed the pagan customs. However, his confiscation of the estates of Saint Stephen’s widow, Queen Giselle and arrest of two bishops resulted in a plot. Peter was forced to escape and Saint Stephen’s brother-in-law Samuel Aba (1041-1044) was proclaimed King of Hungary. Peter I appealed to Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor for military assistance against Samuel Aba in return for accepting the imperial supremacy. Henry’s troops invaded Hungary, decisively defeated Samuel Aba and restored Peter to the Hungarian throne in 1044. Hungary became Henry’s vassal state but Peter I the Venetian failed to assert his authority. He was forced to flee for the second time in 1046 when broke out a major revolt of the pagan Hungarians.

The Hungarian prelates offered the Hungarian crown to Andrew I the White or the Catholic (1047/48-1060). He was son of Saint Stephen’s cousin Vazul and was living in exile after his father’s failed conspiracy against Saint Stephen I in 1031. Andrew I made an agreement with the pagan rebells who recognized him as King of Hungary but he pursued Christianization after his coronation in 1048. Andrew I offered to accept the emperor’s supremacy with an aim to defend his kingdom from the attacks of the Holy Roman Emperor who was an ally of his deposed predecessor. Henry III rejected the offer and launched a campaign against Hungary but the imperial attack was repulsed.

Andrew’s attempt to assure the succession to his son brought him into conflict with his brother Bela I who had been designated as his successor. The struggle over the succession ended with Bela’s victory and his coronation in 1060. Bela was after his death in 1063 succeeded by his nephew Solomon (1057-1087) who lived in exile at that time. He managed to gain his recognition by his cousins Geza, Ladislaus and Lampert but a struggle over the Hungarian throne between the king and his cousins broke out anyway. Solomon’s forces were defeated and Geza was declared King of Hungary in 1073. Solomon refused to give up the Hungarian throne and turned to the Holy Roman Emperor for military assistance in exchange for accepting imperial supremacy. Imperial forces invaded Hungary in 1074 but the Germans were forced to withdraw to deal with the Saxons’ uprising. Geza died in 1077 and his followers have chosen his brother Ladislaus I (1077-1095) as his successor. Realizing he has no chances to restore his power, Solomon abdicated and recognized Ladislaus as Hungarian king in 1081.

Coloman

Coloman

Hungary grew stronger and expanded its territory despite dynastic turmoils. Ladislaus I took advantage of the Investiture Controversy between the Pope and Holy Roman Emperor, rejected the imperial supremacy, conquered Croatia and extended Hungarian borders to Transylvania. However, the Byzantine Emperor Alexis I persuaded the Cumans to invade eastern Hungary forcing Ladislaus to withdraw and leaving over the final conquest of Croatia to his successor Coloman (1095-1116). The latter was crowned King of Croatia in 1102 and expanded the Hungarian territories to Dalmatia. Hungarian expansion in the Balkans resulted in the conquest of Dalmatian cities and isles by Venice in 1115. Hungarian conquests also disturbed the Byzantines who organized a conspiracy against Cooman’s successor Stephen II (1116-1131). However, the Byzantine conspiracy was revealed and Stephen II managed to retain the throne.

Stephen II was succeeded by Bela II the Blind (1131-1141) who recaptured part of Dalmatia from the Republic of Venice and sent an expedition to Bosnia. His successor Geza II (1141-1162) ruled unchallenged but Stephen III (1162-1172) was disputed by two of his uncles, Stephen and Ladislaus who were supported by the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel I Comnenus (Komnenos). Byzantine interference in the Hungarian struggles over the throne resulted in Byzantine seizure of Dalmatia, Croatia and Bosnia from Hungary in 1167. Manuel I Comnenus arranged coronation of the second son of King Geza II and his son-in-law, Bela III (1172-1196) in 1172 and made him promise never to attack the Byzantine Empire.

Bela III broke his promise after the death of Manuel I Comenus in 1180 and recaptured Croatia, Bosnia and Dalmatia from the Byzantine Empire. In 1185, he reconciled with the new Emperor, Isaac II Angelos who married Bela’s daughter Margaret and received the land at the River Morava as her dowry. Bela’s successor Emeric (1196-1204) was forced to cede the government of Croatia and Dalmatia to his brother Andrew II. The latter continued to plot against Emeric which resulted in weakening of the central power. Emeric designated his son Ladislaus II (1204-1205) as his successor and forced his brother Andrew to promise that he will protect and help Ladislaus II to rule. However, Andrew assumed the Hungarian throne himself as Andrew II (1205-1235) shortly after Emeric’s death.

Bohemia (9th – 13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Bohemia retained its independence after the destruction of Great Moravia by the Hungarians at the end of the 9th century and emerged as independent principality under the rule of the Premyslid dynasty. St. Wenceslaus (920-929) successfully defended his lands from German invasion but Bohemia was forced to recognize the overlordship of the Holy Roman Empire after his death in 929. Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor backed Jaromir against his brother Boleslaus III of Bohemia in 1004 but Jaromir had to promise to hold Bohemia as vassal state of the Holy Roman Empire. Thus Bohemia became an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire.

Vratislav II

Vratislav II

Bohemia retained wide autonomy within the Holy Roman Empire and captured Moravia from Hungary in 1020. The growing power of Bohemian Dukes of the Premyslid dynasty became obvious in 1086 when Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor crowned the Premyslid duke Vratislav II (1086-1092) King of Bohemia. However, the title was not hereditary and despite the rise of its political influence Bohemia was even more integrated into the Holy Roman Empire. The Bohemian kings and dukes participated the Reichstag (the parliament of the Holy Roman Empire) and the Councils of Electors responsible for the election of the Holy Roman Emperor.

The establishment of seniorate in the first half of the 12th century resulted in bitter rivalry for the throne. The Premyslid dynasty managed to retain itself and Vladislav II, Duke of Bohemia (1140-1172) was crowned King of Bohemia by Frederick I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor in 1158. The royal title did not became hereditary until 1198 when the Holy Roman Emperor elevated Bohemia into an independent kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire.

Balaton Principality or Lower Pannonia

27 Jul
July 27, 2012
Pribina

Pribina

The Balaton Principality also known as Lower Pannonia was established by the Franks as a frontier march when they destroyed the Avar state in the western part of the Pannonian plain. About 840, Louis the German gave part of the Balaton Principality at Zala River as a fief to the Slavic Prince Pribina who escaped from Moravia during its struggle for independence with the Carolingian Empire. Pribina established himself as prince with the capital in Blatnograd but he ruled the rest of the Balaton Principality from the Raba river to the rivers Drava and Danube including Syrmia as a frontier count.

Pribina was killed as a Frankish vassal in the battle against Great Moravia in 861 and was succeeded by his son Prince Kocel. Like his father, Kocel was initially also a loyal Frankish vassal but he allied himself with Great Moravian Prince, Rastislav against the Carolingians in 869. Pope Hadrian II named Methodius bishop of Sirmium on Kocel’s request and the Balaton Principality became the center of Slavic liturgical and cultural movement. The reaction of the Carolingian authorities and Frankish-Bavarian clergy on the events in the Balaton Principality was bitter. The Balaton Principality returned under Carolingian rule on Kocel’s death in 876, while Archbishopric of Salzburg suppressed the followers of Methodius. However, the Carolingian rule in the Balaton Principality was very short. The territory of the Balaton Principality was invaded and captured by the Hungarians at the end of the 9th century.

Kingdom of Germany

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

The establishment of the Kingdom of Germany is traditionally dated to year 919 when Henry I the Fowler was crowned King of East Francia and Carolingian Dynasty finally lost the throne of East Francia. Henry I the Fowler united the stem duchies Swabia, Bavaria, Saxony and Franconia, and later also recaptured Lotharingia. In contrary to Conrad I who tried to subjugate the stem duchies, Henry I strengthened his position by allowing the dukes of Swabia, Bavaria, Saxony and Franconia a relatively wide authonomy. Henry I also did not follow the Carolingian principle of territorial division among all legal heirs and proclaimed his eldest son from his second marriage, Otto I his only heir.

Otto I the Great

Otto I the Great

Otto I was elected king by the assembly of the nobles in Aachen in 936. His election completed the formation of the Medieval German state which was started with the Treaty of Verdun in 843. Otto I conquered the Slavic lands between the Elbe and Oder rivers and tried to establish his influence in Burgundy and Northern Italy. He invaded Italy in 951, captured Pavia without any resistance and freed Adelaide of Italy who was imprisoned by a local noble Berengar of Ivrea. Afterwards he married with Adelaide and proclaimed himself King of Italy but Berengar established himself as king as soon as he left Italy. In addition, his campaign in Italy caused domestic problems.

Otto’s son from the first marriage Liutdolf feared for his inheritance, while the territorial expansion of Bavaria caused jealousy among other duchies. However, the threat of the Hungarian invasion in 954/955 forced the rebells to surrender. Otto I decisively defeated the Hungarians in the Battle of Lechfeld in 955 and proclaimed his six year old son Otto II (Liutdolf died meanwhile) King of Germany in 961. He returned to Italy on a call of Pope John XII. The Pope crowned him emperor at his arrival in Rome in 962, while Otto confirmed the Donation of Pepin but he retained the right to confirm the papal elections. Otto I assumed the title Holy Roman Emperor after the coronation in Rome in 962 and is traditionally regarded as the founder of the Holy Roman Empire.

Medieval Europe (9th to 13th c.)

27 Jul
July 27, 2012

Medieval Europe saw further changes on the political map of Europe from the 9th to the 13th century. The period was marked by the rise of states which evolved into the leading European powers: England, France, Germany, the Christian Kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and Scandinavian Kingdoms. Slavic states emerged in Eastern and Southeastern Europe and developed into powerful medieval kingdoms. The period from the 9th to the 13th century was also characterized by the first territorial expansion of European states out of Europe, while Europe itself was invaded by the Hungarians, a Finno-Ugric people from beyond the Ural Mountains who established their kingdom in the Pannonian Plain.

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