Aba, Samuel

King of Hungary (1041-1044) from the Árpád dynasty. The nobility revolted against his rule and turned to Emperor Henry I for help. The army of Samuel Aba was defeated in the battle of Ménfő and the king himself he was killed sometime later.


Hungarian chief, ancestor of the Ajtony clan. His tribal lordship in the Maros region was suppressed by King Stephen I around 1027/28 (?).

Albert I of Habsburg (1397-1439)

Duke of Austria (1404-1439), king of Hungary and Germany (1438-39). Married Elisabeth, daughter of Sigismund of Luxemburg, in 1421. Participated in Sigismund's wars against the Hussites. In 1439 he marched against the attaching Ottomans but withdrew without taking battle and soon died of dysentery.

Álmos (819?-895?)

Prince of the Hungarians, father of Árpád, the leader of the Hungarian Conquest. Presumably the victim of a ritual murder in the wake of the disastrous attack of the Pechenegs against the Hungarians.

Álmos (1075?-1127)

Hungarian prince, son of Géza I. He revolted several times against his brother, King Coloman, who had him and his son Béla blinded. The latter later became king of Hungary.

Andrew I (1015?-1060)

King of Hungary (1046-1060), the second son of blinded Vazul. Called back from exile by the leading Hungarians in {1-808.} 1046. Followed the work of St. Stephen and successfully defended Hungary against the Holy Roman Empire. Defeated by his own brother, Béla in 1060.

Andrew II (1177?-1235)

King of Hungary (1205-1235), second son of Béla III. Began the generous distribution of the royal demesne. His baronial opposition, supported by the movement of the nascent nobility, forced him to issue the famous Golden Bull. Granted privileges to the Saxons of Transylvania (Andreanum). Settled and then expelled the Hospitallers from Transylvania. Leader of the only Hungarian crusading army.

Andrew III (1265-1301)

Last king of Hungary from the Árpád dynasty (1290-1301). Born from a Venetian mother, he was brought up in the Republic. After his return to Hungary he fought with varying success against the oligarchs with the support of the Church.


Notary in the court of presumably Béla III (1172-1196), author of the Latin Gesta Hungarorum ("The deeds of the Hungarians"). Narrates the history of the Hungarians before and after the Conquest, justifying the latter by linking the Hungarians with the Huns. Although containing a great number of purely ficitve elements, the Gesta is important not only historically but also linguistically.

Árpád (850/855-907?)

Prince of the Hungarians, son of Álmos, ancestor of the Árpád dynasty. Leader of the Hungarians at the time of the Conquest.

Balassa, Menyhárt (1510?-1568)

Hungarian aristocrat, count (ispán) of Hont (1535-42) and Bars (1542-61) counties. He was the follower of King John, Ferdinand I, John Sigismund and Isabella alternately. In 1552 he was appointed as captain-in-chief of the army of Ferdinand I. He fought valiantly against the Transylvanians and the {1-809.} Ottomans. He protected the Protestant Church and the schools but changed his allegiance frequently.

Balassi, Bálint (1554-1594)

The most renowned Hungarian poet of his time, remaining unrivalled until the end of the 18th century. He came from one of the richest Protestant families of the country. He lived an adventurous life, fighting constantly against the Ottomans and his own relatives, who sought to deprive him of his inheritance. He died of wounds received during the siege of Esztergom.

Báthori, Sigismund (1572-1613)

Prince of Transylvania (1588-99, 1600-02). Upon the advice of his foreign counsellor, Alfonso Carillo, he gave up the traditional Transylvanian policy of playing off the two empires against each other and adopted an anti-Ottoman position. He conquered Wallachia for his ally Michael the Brave. He supporte the Counter-Reformation, thereby offending the Protestant nobility. He offered his throne to Emperor Rudolf II in return for the Silesian duchy of Oppeln. With the support of Rudolf II Michael the Brave defeated Báthori's son, Andrew, and declared himself prince of Transylvania. Although Báthori tried to recover his throne but was expelled by Michael and died in obscurity.

Báthori, Stephen (1533-1586)

Prince of Transylvania (1571-76), king of Poland (1575-86). Successfully opposed the Habsburg candidate for the Polish throne and attempted to form a powefulstate from Poland, Muscov, and Transylvania. He was elected prince of Transylvania after the death of John Sigismund. Before going to Poland he secured the Transylvanian throne for his brother, Christopher. He was planning to launch a crusade against the Ottoman Empire at the time of his death in 1586.

{1-810.} Béla III (1148-1196)

King of Hungary. Lived in Constantinople as the designated heir to the Byzantine emperor until 1170. In 1172 he returned to Hungary and became one of the strongest rulers of his dynasty. Developed the use of written administration. Consolidated the kingdom internally and established wide-ranging dynastic relationships.

Béla IV (1206-1270)

King of Hungary (1235-70), son of Andrew II. Rebuilt and reorganised the kingdom after the disastrous attack of the Mongolians (1241). Supported the construction of stone castles and favoured the urban development with privileges. Two of his daughters were canonised.

Bethlen, Gabriel (1580-1629)

Calvinist prince of Transylvania (1613-29). He began his careerin the court of Prince Sigismund Báthori, then supported Stephen Bocskai. Later he took refuge with the Ottomans who proclaimed him as prince of Transylvania. He reorganised the financial and military administration of the principality and joined the Thirty Years' War. His aim was to unite Transylvania, Hungary and parts of Austria under his rule. He was elected king of Hungary but refused to be crowned and contented himself with seven north-eastern counties of royal Hungary. He made great efforts to promote the arts and sciences in his principality.

Bocskai, Stephen (1557-1606)

Prince of Transylvania (1605-06). He was brought up in the court of the Báthoris and later advised Sigismund Báthori to enter an alliance with Emperor Rudolf. Being a Protestant, he later helped the Ottomans to drive out the Habsburg troops from Transylvania. In 1605 he was elected as prince of Transylvania and recognised as such by the Ottomans. In the same year he was also elected prince of Hungary. Therefore {1-811.} his aim was to preserve the independence of Transylvania. The peace of Vienna (1606) secured freedom for the Protestants, while the treaty of Zsitvatorok, mediated by Bocskai, put an end to the Habsburg-Ottoman wars.

Charles Robert of Anjou (1288-1342)

King of Hungary (1301-1342), founder of the dynasty of the Hungarian Angevins. Defeated the oligarchs in a series of wars from 1311 to 1323 with the support of the Hungarian church. Created a new aristocracy from his most faithful followers. Reorganised the system of financial administration and issued high-quality golden coins (florins).

Constantine VII (Porphyrogenetos) (905-959)

Byzantine Emperor (913-959), writer. His most important work, De administrando imperio [On the governance of the Empire] is an invaluable yet hotly discussed source of information on the early history of the Hungarians.

Decebalus (?-106)

King of the Dacians. United the various Dacian tribes and fought successfully against the expanding Romans. He was defeated by Emperor Traianus and Dacia became a Roman province in 107.

Ferdinand I of Habsburg (1503-1564)

King of Hungary and Bohemia (1526-64), King of Romans (1531-64), Holy Roman Emperor (1556-64). He was elected king of Hungary after the death of Louis II at Mohács. He fought a long war with John I for the rule over Hungary, which ended with the treaty of Várad (1538). He made great efforts to centralise the Habsburg provinces. He laid the foundations of Habsburg administration in Hungary.

Fráter, György (Martinuzzi, originally Utiešenović) (1482-1551)

Transylvanian statesman, cardinal. He sought to unite royal Hungary and Transylvania. Yet the failure of the Habsburg troops compelled him to comply with Ottoman demands. His {1-812.} aim was to maintain Transylvania as an independent state under Ottoman suzerainty. In 1549 he offered once again Transylvania to Ferdinand I, but the Habsburg troops were unable to give effective support. The cardinal's gestures towards the Ottomans made him suspect and Ferdinand had him murdered in 1551.

Hunyadi, János (1407?-1456)

Hungarian aristocrat, voivode of Transylvania (1441-46), governor of Hungary (1446-52), captain-in-chief (1453-56). His family came to Hungary from the Romanian principality of Wallachia. Young Hunyadi served a number of lords from Filippo Scolari to Francesco Sforza. From 1441 he coordinated the defense against the Ottomans. He led a number of large-scale campaigns against the Ottoman Empire (1443-44, 1444, 1448) with the aim of breaking its power in Europe, but suffered serious defeats. His greatest victory was the relief of Belgrade in 1456.

Isabella (1519-1559)

Queen of Hungary, wife of John Szapolyai. After the death of King John in 1540 governor of Hungary with György Fráter and other barons. After the fall of Buda (1541) she moved to Transylvania and tried to secure her rule with Ottoman help. In 1551 she was forced by György Fráter to resign in favour of Ferdinand I and to leave Transylvania. In 1556 she was called back from Poland and ruled the principality until her death in 1559.

John I (Szapolyai) (1487-1540)

King of Hungary (1526-40). As voivode of Transylvania he suppressed the peasant revolt of 1514. He was elected as king of Hungary in 1526. He was expelled from Hungary by Ferdinand but swiftly returned with Ottoman help. In 1538 he recognised Ferdinand I as his heir, but changed his plans shortly before his death when a son was born to him, the future John Sigismund.

{1-813.} John Sigismund (John II) (1540-1571)

Elected king of Hungary (1540), prince of Transylvania (1556-71). Son of John I, he was under the wardship of his mother, Isabella. His personal rule in Transylvania began after the death of his mother in 1559. He suppressed the revolt with the Székelys and was acknowledged by the Sultan in 1566. In the treaty of Speyer he resigned his title of elected king of Hungary and began to call himself prince of Transylvania. Secured the freedom of the four accepted confessions. Died childless in 1571.

Ladislas I (Saint) (1040?-1095)

King of Hungary (1077-95), son of Béla I. Consolidated the work of Saint Stephen with his laws whose basic aim was the protection of private property. In 1091 he occupied Croatia and founded the bishopric of Zagreb. He was canonised in 1192 and later came to embody the ideal Hungarian knightly king.

Ladislas IV (the Cumanian) (1262-1290)

King of Hungary (1272-90). He was unable to halt the expansion of the baronial oligarchs to the detriment of royal power. He supported Rudolf of Habsburg against Otakar of Bohemia in the battle of Dürnkrut in 1278. His predilection for the Cumanians (his mother was a Cumanian) led to a number of conflicts with the church. Yet he was finally murdered by the Cumanians themselves.

Louis I of Anjou (the Great) (1326-1382)

King of Hungary (1342-82) and of Poland (1370-82), son of Charles Robert (Charles I). Led a number of expensive campaigns to Italy with the aim of securing the throne of Naples. Waged constant wars against Venice and the neighbours of Hungary on the Balkans. He was the first king of Hungary to confirm the Golden Bull (1351). The first Ottoman incursion into Hungary took place under his rule (1375).

{1-814.} Louis II (1506-1526)

King of Hungary and Bohemia (1516-26). He was crowned king of both kingdoms in the life of his father, Wladislas II. He was declared of age in 1521. Marched against the Ottomans in 1526 and died in the battle of Mohács at the age of 20.

Matthias I (Hunyadi) (1443-1490)

Son of János Hunyadi, king of Hungary (1458-90). Reorganised the financial and military administration of Hungary. Successfully defended the country against the Ottomans and waged expensive wars against Bohemia and Austria. He was the first monarch beyond the Alps to implant the new ideas of Italian humanism in his kingdom. He tried in vain to secure the succession of his illegitimate son, János Corvin. His rule marked the apogee of medieval Hungary.

Maximilian I (1527-1576)

King of Bohemia (1562), and of Hungary (1563), Holy Roman Emperor (1564). Supported religious toleration in the Empire and the hereditary provinces. After the great Ottoman campaign in 1566 he concluded the peace of Adrianopolis and engaged himself to pay an annual tribute to the Sultan. Tried to secure the Polish throne against Stephen Báthori but died without achieving his aim.

Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul) (1558-1601)

Romanian prince of Wallachia. He submitted himself to Sigismund Báthori to secure his help against the Ottomans, against whom he fought successfully. In 1599 he defeated Andrew Báthori and proclaimed himself prince of Transylvania. He also conquered Moldavia, thereby temporarily uniting the two Romanian principalities and Transylvania. He was murdered in 1601 upon the order of the Habsburg general Giorgio Basta.

Sigismund of Luxemburg (1368-1437)

King of Hungary (1387-) and of Bohemia (1419-), Holy Roman Emperor (1433-). Married Mary, daughter of Louis I of {1-815.} Anjou. He was defeated by the Ottomans in the battle of Nicopolis in 1396 but consequently established an effective defensive system in the South. Played an active role in the international diplomacy and helped to settle the Great Schism. His long rule was a period of internal stability and economic prosperity in Hungary.

Stephan I (Saint) (c. 970-1038)

First king of Hungary (1000-1038), founder of the Christian Hungarian monarchy. Son of prince Géza, he was born a pagan and then baptised and brought up as a Christian. In 1000/01 he was crowned king of Hungary. Laid the foundation of the kingdom's secular and ecclesiastical organisation. He was canonised in 1038.

Werbőczy, István (1458-1542)

Hungarian statesman and jurist. He was appointed as palatine for a short period under Louis II. After the battle of Mohács he supported John I and played an unglorious role in the occupation of Buda by the Ottomans in 1541. He is most famous for his codification of Hungarian customary role under Wladislas II. His great work called Tripartitum remained the basic legal text for 400 years.