Early Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin

“There are times that history and legend intertwine.”

Attila the great king called the “Scourge of God,” died in 453.  Afterwards the dreaded Huns became scattered in a few years due to infighting and the attacks of the German Peoples who had previously surrendered.  The memory of the Huns, however, was imprinted on the European mind.  In the next century a new Oriental people speaking an unknown language came to the steppe: the Avars.  They arrived in the Carpathian basin in 568, where they developed the center of their empire.  The Turks succeeded the Avars in the Asian region.

The Magyars migrated southeast from the Ural region about 600 to find a new area of settlement in the region bordered by the Volga, Don and Donets Rivers and the Sea of Azov (Maeotis) near the Alans and the Bulgarians.  They became acquainted

Miniature of the hunt of the White Stag, with ...
Miniature of the hunt of the White Stag, with Hunor and Magor in the foreground (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

with a high standard of agriculture, as shown by words adopted from Turkish.  The Alan-Magyar relationship (a dynastic marriage) was preserved in the Miraculous Deer legend:

two Magyar princes, Hunor and Magor, found themselves in the marshes of the Maeotis after chasing the miraculous deer.  There they kidnapped and married the daughters of Princes Belar (Bulgarian) and Dula (Alan).

The most powerful state of the Caucasian foothills from the seventh century to the 1oth century was the Khazar Empire.  The Khazars defeated the Bulgarians, most of whom withdrew to the Lower Danubian region to form the ancestral state of today’s Bulgaria.  The rest went north along the Volga River, and the Hungarian groups might have gone with them; they might have been the ones whom a Hungarian monk, Friar Julianus, found in 1235 in the Kama and Belaya region.  He named their area Magna Hungaria (that is, Old Hungary).

In alliance with the Khazars, the Magyars probably participated in the war against the Bulgarians and occupied the areas vacated after the Bulgarians withdrew-the region called Etelkoz, stretching from the Lower Danube River to the Dnieper River.

Miniature of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars

Miniature of the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At that time the  Magyars were composed of seven tribes: Nyek, Megyer,Kurtgyarmat (a merger of two previous tribes, Kurt and Gyarmat), Tarjan, Jeno, Ker and Keszi, supplemented by an eighth one in the ninth century, the Khazars, who joined the Magyars after their revolt against their prince.

The first leader of the Magyars under Khazar rule known by name was a certain Levedi, whose successor was duke Almos, followed by Arpad.  According to tradition recorded in the 10th century, the Magyar tribes decided unanimously to elect Almos and to make the princely title inheritable in his family.

After a migration of over 3000 kilometers from the Ural region in the 890s, the Magyars, coming through passes of the eastern Carpathians, occupied the Carpathian Basin.  The well-planned move was probably finished by the end of the century.

“According to Kezai Simon, a medieval Hungarian chronicler, when the Huns proliferated in “Szittyafold” (Scythia), they wandered towards the West until finally they settled down in the Carpathian Basin, in the Great Plains-around 432 AD.”

A few notable and Historical Figures in Early Hungarian History:

  • Chieftain Keve:  On the basis of the Hungarian Chronicles, Arany, Janos (pronounced: Arany Yanosh), one of thee greatest Hungary poets from the 19th century, also commemorates an excellent Hun leader, Keve, about whom the official Hungarian history unfortunately writes very little about.
  • Buda, spiritual King of the Huns-Magyars:  The figure of historical Buda has several mysteries.  According to some theories, he was only his younger brother’s, Atilla’s shadow, as the king of the eastern territories.  But if we look at the mythical Buda – for example the legendary Celtic King Arthur, who also has a mythical side -, Atilla and Buda are two sides of the same coin: While Atilla is the symbol of the active, extrovert, fighting, creative power (yang), Buda is the symbol of meditative, introvert, spiritual power (yin).  Historically it is also possible that Atilla was the warrior-king and Buda was the priest-king.
  • Atilla: the Whip of God, Scourge of the World: (Atilla, flagellum Dei, malleus
    Chronicon Pictum P014 Atilla Aquileiát ostromolja

    Chronicon Pictum P014 Atilla Aquileiát ostromolja (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    orbis”)  Numerous books have been written and several films have been made about the great Emperor of the Huns-Magyars.  The majority of these present the “primitive” leader from the point of view of the “later victors”, so they show the quite prejudiced opinion of Indo-German authors.  The Atilla- although he could have done so – did not plunder Rome like Vandals, did not throw this enemies to beasts like the Romans and did not torture the “unbelievers “aborigines to death like the Spanish conquerors “spreading civilization”.  For Hungarian’s Atilla was national hero for many centuries – King Matthias The Just, one of the greatest Hungarian Kings from the 15th century, considered himself a reincarnation of Atilla, just as important as Genghis Khan for Mongolians or President Roosevelt for North America.  Atilla-mythology commemorates the flaming sword of the war lord. Which was found and brought to Emperor Atilla by a shepherd.  Before this Atilla had a predictive dream, where the War God gave him a sword to create order among the nations. (Known as Atilla’s sword, the slightly curved saber of the Hungarian prince (hilt and part of the scabbard) is safeguarded in Vienna today.  The decoration with trailer and palmette makes it a goldsmith’s masterpiece.)

**More historical figures to come***  If you find any errors please let me know! Kat~

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