by Richard J. Stendardo


The Magyars, a group of nomadic horseman numbering 250,000, moved to the Carpathian Basin during the ninth century. Previous to this migration, the Magyars lived on the Eastern Urals between the Volga, Kama, and Belaia rivers. Their journey west began in the fifth century and lasted over four hundred years during which they came into contact with Turkish and Slavic peoples. Then, in 896, the Land Seizure began. Led by Arpad, the Magyars quickly established a new country in a land abandoned by the Celts and Romans many centuries before. For almost a century afterward, they lived off the rewards of attacking their European neighbors until Otto I defeated them and forced them to settle.

The Magyar society was made up of over one hundred clans when the Carpathian Basin was settled. These clans made up tribes whose leaders gained their positions from heredity. Soon after their defeat by Otto I, King Stephen moved the country toward western style life. He converted to Catholicism and introduced agriculture as a means of sustenance while instituting feudal taxes and leadership, This attempt to change the heart of the Magyars worked only enough to develop a strong upper class. The result of this revolution in Hungarian society was an economic and social crisis that scarred the nation until a Mongol invasion that almost extinguished the nation in 1241. Today over 96%  of Hungarian citizens are Catholic Magyars. They look fondly on their history which is now embodied in the textiles and dances that originated during this early period.


Works Cited

The Academic American Encyclopedia_ Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier, Inc., 1994.

Domjan, Joseph Hungarian Heroes and Legends Princeton. D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1963.

Heinrich, Hans-Georg Hungary Politics, economics, and Society. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1986.

Macartney. C.A. Hungary. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1962.




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