Kingdom of Hungary in The Middle Ages

Kingdom Of Hungary In The Middle Ages

The medieval Kingdom of Hungary, a multi-ethnic monarchy in Central Europe came into being when Stephen I, grand prince of the Hungarians was crowned king in 1000 or 1001. He reinforced central authority and forced his subject to accept Christianity. Although written sources emphasize the role played by German and Italian knights and clerics in the process, a significant part of the Hungarian vocabulary for agriculture, religion and state was taken from Slavic languages. Civil wars, pagan uprisings and the Holy Roman Emperors' attempt to expand their authority jeopardized the new monarchy. Its position stabilized under Ladislaus I (1077–1095) and Coloman (1095–1116). They occupied Croatia and Dalmatia, but both realms reserved their autonomous position.

Rich in uncultivated lands and in silver, gold, and salt deposits, the kingdom became a preferred target of mainly Western European colonists. Their arrival contributed to the development of Esztergom, Székesfehérvár and many other settlements. Situated at the crossroads of international trade routes, Hungary was affected by several cultural trends. Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance buildings, and literary works written in Latin prove the predominantly Roman Catholic character of her culture, but Orthodox, and even non-Christian communities also existed. Latin was the language of legislation, administration and judiciary, but "linguistic pluralism" (János M. Bak) contributed to the survival of a number of tongues, including a great variety of Slavic dialects.

The predominance of royal estates initially ensured the sovereign's preeminent position, but the alienation of royal lands gave rise to the emergence of a self-conscious group of lesser landholders. They forced Andrew II to issue his Golden Bull of 1222, "one of first examples of constitutional limits being placed on the powers of a European monarch" (Francis Fukuyama). The kingdom received a major blow from the Mongol invasion of 1241-42. Thereafter Cuman and Jassic groups were settled in the central lowlands and colonists arrived from Moravia, Poland and other nearby countries. Following a period of anarchy, royal power was restored under Charles I (1308–1342), a scion of the Capetian House of Anjou. Golden and silver mines opened in his reign produced about one third of the world's total production up until the 1490s. The kingdom reached the peak of its power under Louis the Great (1342–1382) who led military campaigns against Lithuania, Southern Italy and other faraway territories.

The expansion of the Ottoman Empire reached the kingdom under Sigismund of Luxemburg (1387–1437). In the next decades, a talented military commander, John Hunyadi directed the fight against the Ottomans. His victory at Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade, Serbia) in 1456 stabilized the kingdom's southern frontiers for more than half a century. The first king of Hungary without dynastic ancestry was Matthias Corvinus (reign: 1458–1490), who led several successful military campaigns and also became the King of Bohemia and the Duke of Austria. With his patronage Hungary became the first European country which adopted the Renaissance from Italy. The territories of the kingdom strongly decreased as a result of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The country was split into two parts in 1538 according to Treaty of Nagyvárad and due to the Ottoman occupation in 1541 the country fell apart into three parts: a central portion controlled by the Ottoman Empire as Budin Province, a western part, called Royal Hungary, whose nobles elected Ferdinand as the king, in hope he would help expelling the Turks, and the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom, out of which later the Principality of Transylvania emerged.

Read more about Kingdom Of Hungary In The Middle Ages:  Background, King St Stephen I (1000–1038), Disintegration (1526–1541)

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