Anonymus, Kézai

Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century
Carpathian Basin according to Anonymus
Coming of the Huns to Pannonia
Attila, the Hun king
Coming of the Hungarians to Pannonia
Anonymus's Gesta Hungarorum

The first Latin historical relic from Hungary, the subject of which is the detailed description of the history of the Conquest. In the prologue the author called himself "Master P", or "the honourable late King Béla's clerk". He offers his work to his one-time school-mate, whom he calls "N", to inform him about the origin of Hungarian kings and noblemen. The prologue and the text suggests that the author was educated abroad, presumably in France. The mysterious identification in the prologue is debated by historians and literary historians, attempting to verify the author, the age of the work and its value as a source-material. Today it is accepted that Anonymus was King Béla III's clerk, and he compiled his work at the turn of the 12-13th centuries, but the historical value (concerning the Conquest) of his work as a source-material is very low (for example, he did not know any of the historical persons from the turn of the 9-10th centuries). In contrast his work is priceless from the point of view of the history of his own age. The conjectures around his identity brought no results. The only certainty is that his name started with the letter "P". His sources were the following: an early version of the Hungarian chronicle, an early Scitia-description, Regino's (abbot of Prum) work from the beginning of the 10th century, the traditions of the Árpád dynasty and those of some Hungarian clans from the upper-Tisza region, and some jesker songs. His literary samples were the "Troyan novel" (Excidium Troiae) and a version of Alexander the Great's novel, but he also knew Hugo Bononiensis's "Ars dictaminis". His method was that when he did not have any information about a given topic, he projected the conditions of his own age to the age of the Conquest; he gave place names to heroes with the help of etymology, and he populated the country, Árpád's environment and army with these heroes, who were put into similar situations repeatedly. Basically this work is not a historical one, but a narrative gesta, which is reminiscent of romances, and its main aim might have been to entartain people. Simon Kézai had read Anonymus's work, he may have taken the idea of Hun-Hungarain kinship from this. Afterwards the codex was taken abroad; it appeared in the library of the Viennese court in the first half of the 17th century, and finally it appeared in print in 1746.


Simon Kézai: Gesta Hungarorum

Simon Kézai was King Ladislaus IV's loyal court priest, who wrote the first Hungarian historical work, which survived unbroken, between 1282-1285. It involves Hungarian history from the beginnings till the 1280s. The author, who came from a poor family, studied in Italy, and visited France, Germany and Sicily as a a member of diplomatic delegations. The Hun-story at the beginning of Hungarian chronicles was his independent work, which he probably borrowed from Anonymus. Following his model the traditional structure of later Hungarian chronicles includes two parts: the history of Huns (the first coming) and the history of Hungarians (the second coming). The author was especially interested in contemporary modern political ideas. In his view, the ruler inherited his power from the Hun noble communitas and this has the right to take it back in particular situations (this was first time that the idea of the sovereignity of the people was declared). The nobility's national consciousness based on the idea of common origin also first appeared in Kézai's work, and in two chapters of this work - as an appendix - he deals with the origin of newcomer and servant peoples. For Kézai the aim of history is to answer the questions of his own age. The one-time manuscript of the work was lost in 1782, its text is known from 18th century copies.