1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Stephen I. of Hungary

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STEPHEN I. [St Stephen] (977–1038), king of Hungary, was the son of Geza, duke of Hungary, and of Sarolta, one of the few Magyar Christian ladies, who obtained the best teachers for her infant son. These preceptors included the German priest Bruno, the Czech priest Radla, and an Italian knight, Theodate of San Severino, who taught him arms and letters (a holograph epistle by Stephen existed in the Vatican Library as late as 1513). In 996 Stephen married Gisela, the daughter of Duke Henry II. of Bavaria, and in the following year his father died and the young prince was suddenly confronted by a formidable pagan reaction under Kupa in the districts between the Drave and Lake Balaton. Stephen hastened against the rebels, bearing before him the banner of St Martin of Tours, whom he now chose to be his patron saint, and routed the rebels at Veszprem (998), a victory from which the foundation of the Hungarian monarchy must be dated, for Stephen assumed the royal title immediately afterwards. In 1001 his envoy Asztrik obtained Pope Silvester II.’s confirmation of this act of sovereignty. Silvester at the same time sent Stephen a consecrated crown, and approved of the erection of an independent Hungarian church, divided into the two provinces of Esztergom and Bacs. But the power of pagan Hungary could not be broken in a day. The focus of the movement was the Maros region, where the rebel Ajtony built the fortress of Marosvar. The struggle proceeded for more than twenty-five years, the difficulties of Stephen being materially increased by the assistance rendered to the rebels by the Greek emperors, his neighbours since their reconquest of Bulgaria. As early as 1015 Stephen had appointed the Italian priest Gellert bishop of Maros, but he was unable to establish the missionary in his see till 1030. The necessity of christianizing his heathen kingdom by force of arms engrossed all the energies of Stephen and compelled him to adopt a pacific policy towards the emperors of the East and West. When the emperor Conrad, with the deliberate intention of subjugating Hungary, invaded it in 1030, Stephen not only drove him out, but captured Vienna (now mentioned for the first time and compelled the emperor to cede a large portion of the Ostmark (1031). Of the five sons borne to him by Gisela, only Emerich reached manhood, and this well-educated prince was killed by a wild boar in 1031. Stephen thereupon appointed as his successor his wife’s nephew Peter Orseolo, who settled in Hungary, where his intrigues and foreign ways made him extremely unpopular. Stephen died at his palace at Esztergom in 1038 and was canonized in 1083. For an account of his epoch-making reforms see Hungary: History.

See Gyula Pauler, History of the Hungarian Nation, vol. i. (Hung.; Pest, 1893); Lajos Balics, History of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary, vol. i. (Hung.; Pest, 1885); Antal Pór, Life of St Stephen (Hung.; Pest, 1871); János Karacsonyi, Documents issued by Stephen I. (Hung.; Pest, 1892), idem, Life of St Gellert (Hung. ; Pest, 1887); E. Horn, St Etienne, roi apostolique de Hongrie (Paris, 1899); W. J. Winkler de Kétrszynski, Vita sancti Stephani (Cracow, 1897).  (R. N. B.)