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© 2003 David Koeller.  All rights reserved.


The Magyars

 

To other people, the Magyars, were just another horde of Asiatic strangers, like the others before them, the Huns, the Avars and etc. They were described as race of Turks which was completely incorrect. The evidence of their origins, through language, has been traced back to their ancestors, the Finno-Ugrian family of peoples who once lived between the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains. Their original homes were densely forested , and the people lived a primitive existence as hunters and fishers. They barely even knew about agriculture, and had a primitive organization.

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During the early Christian era, due to unknown causes, the people began to move across the Urals, and then turned Southward toward the steppes. Here, because of the geography of the area, and their contact with the Turki and Iranian peoples, they exchanged their former way of life for that of a herder's life, in order to adapt to their new environment.

In the beginning of the fifth century AD the Magyars began to move west. Their movements through the region for the next four centuries are somewhat unclear and are resumed again at around 830 AD They had become a newly established government above the Maeotis. This body of Magyars consisted of seven hordes (tribes). By this time they were living on the plain, at the steppes of the Urals and even it the Caucasus. This is when they were most assuredly regarded as "a race of Turks", in appearance to anyone else in the world. They pastured their herds in the summer over the grasslands. They now practiced a little bit of primitive agriculture, but their chief substance was still meat, mares, milk and fish. They spent most of their lives, and conducted their raids and campaigns on horseback. Their weapon of choice was bow and arrow.

The Magyars were all "free-men", and social differentiation between them was unnecessary because they supplied themselves with a good number of slaves by raiding the neighboring Slavs. They made their incomes by selling surplus in the Crimean markets. The basic social unit for them was the clan, and there was a varying number of clans in each tribe. The order and picking of the chiefs was mainly hereditary, but no one person had supreme authority.

At one point the Magyars were in alliance with the Khazars (the powerful Turkic nation, famous for its conversion to the Israelite faith, which at the time, held the mouths of the Volga), which may or may not have been equal. The alliance eventually failed though. After another attempt to gain an alliance, the Khagan were successful, and decided to go on the move again. The seven chieftains elected the most powerful man known to them, Arpad, son of Almus, lead them on the migration. They elected their head according to Magyarian tradition, and so therefore, Arpad had to be sworn with the ritual of drinking mingled blood. The decision to migrate had also come from recently suffered defeat from a newly arrived nation of the East, the Patchenegs, who had evicted the Magyars from their "feeding grounds". (All this took place in 889 AD). And so Arpad led his people westward in order to find a new home. They were accompanied with the Kavars as did a couple of small hordes of Turki or Ugrian origin. They ended up at the outer slopes of Carpathians, and settled there.

For the next half-century the Magyars were the scourge of Europe. They had raided many areas of the continent and ferociously attacked anyone that they came in contact with. They inflicted dreadful damage on Europe, but the life that they lived was not perfect either. They had suffered numerous defeats throughout Europe by many different tribes. By now, the nation of Hungary was also changing.

The Magyars were also under the influence of Christianity. Many churches however rejected the Magyars (or now the Hungarians) into their fellowship, so finally the they were taken by the Eastern church. In 970 AD Arpad's grandson (Taksony or Toxun) died and was succeeded by his son Geza who established friendly relationships with Otto. Fifteen years before this event, the Magyars were defeated near Augsburg by the German Emperor Otto, and thus ending their raiding campaigns. The raids in the west ceased.

Geza's son Vejak (St. Stephen) applied to Rome for recognition as a king in 1000 AD. Stephen is probably the most important and best-loved figure in Hungarian history. He fought against Bavaria and gained victory for the first time in the history of existence of Magyars. When he was crowned by the pope in Esztergom he was granted the title of an Apostle, by the pope. This meant that Hungary was now converted into Christianity. Christmas day, 1000 AD, is called "renewing of the empire", and is the most important day in Hungary and its history.

 

Text copyright 1996-9 by David W. Koeller. All rights reserved.

 

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