Gesta Hungarorum

Gesta Hungarorum

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Gesta Hungarorum is a record of early Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 history by an unknown author who describes himself as Anonymi Bele Regis Notarii ('the anonymous notary of king Bela'), but is generally cited as Anonymus
Anonymus (chronicler)
Bele Regis Notarius , most often referred to as Anonymus was the notary and chronicler of a Hungarian King, probably Béla III. Little is known about him, but his latinized name began with P, as he referred to himself as "P...

. Anonymus was schooled at the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

 and was employed at the time of writing as a notarias, presumably in the court of Bela III of Hungary
Béla III of Hungary
Béla III was King of Hungary and Croatia . He was educated in the court of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I who was planning to ensure his succession in the Byzantine Empire till the birth of his own son...

 (1172–1196). The chronicle was written probably between 1196 and 1203, though some scholars claim that its author wrote the Gesta earlier in the 12th century. Gesta Hungarorum is preserved in a manuscript from about 1200 and it was published for the first time in 1746, by J.G. Schwandtner.

History


The chronicle was written as a literary work based on similar western chronicles that were then in fashion. The author describes all the local ruling families of the Kingdom of Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

 as being descended from the ruling Árpáds or at least from their allies, and aims to glorify the merits of the Árpáds with respect to the tenth-century Magyar occupation of the Transylvania part of the Carpathian basin. This chronicle describes the opposition of the local rulers Gelou
Gelou
Gelou or Gelu was a Romanian duke mentioned in Gesta Hungarorum as having opposed the conquest of Transylvania by Tuhutum, one of the “seven dukes” of the Magyars. His story was recorded only by the anonymous writer of the 13th century Gesta...

, Glad
Glad (duke)
Glad was a duke of Bulgarian origin who, according to the 13th-century chronicle Gesta Ungarorum "", ruled in the territory of modern Banat at the time of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin around 896...

 and Menumorut
Menumorut
For the residential district named after him, see Menumorut, Satu MareMenumorut or Menumorout ruled, according to the 13th century Gesta Ungarorum , the land between the rivers Tisa, Mureş and Someş when the Magyars invaded the Carpathian Basin around 895...

 in Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 at the arrival of the Magyars in the 10th century. Though the very existence of these rulers is debated.

Reliability



According to Carlile Aylmer Macartney
Carlile Aylmer Macartney
Carlile Aylmer Macartney was a British academic specializing in the history of central Europe and in particular the history of Hungary....

, the work is the most famous, the most obscure, the most exasperating and most misleading of all the early Hungarian texts.

Though this is a historical manuscript written under the aegis of the Hungarian king, some Hungarian historians have considered it to consist of inventions by the author or his predecessors. Some of the work is recognizably based directly on earlier sources that narrate the history of the Magyar peoples that invaded the Carpathian basin. Paul Robert Magocsi
Paul Robert Magocsi
Paul Robert Magocsi is an American professor of history, political science, and Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Toronto. He has been with the University since 1980, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1996...

 from the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 described the Gesta Hungarorum as an unreliable work. In a more recent work of professor Magocsi and Ivan Pop it is stated that the view of modern historians on the Gesta Hungarorum is mixed: some consider it a reliable source; others (among them historian Aleksei L. Petrov) consider its information doubtful. Magocsi quoted authors referring to the Gesta Hungarorum as a source in one of his recent works also mentioning authors critical of its reliability.

The Gesta does not discuss the 200 years of history between the era of Hunnish king Attila and Hungarian prince Árpád
Árpád
Árpád was the second Grand Prince of the Hungarians . Under his rule the Hungarian people settled in the Carpathian basin. The dynasty descending from him ruled the Hungarian tribes and later the Kingdom of Hungary until 1301...

. The Gesta also states that Árpád is a great grandson of king Attila.

According to Martyn Rady
Martyn Rady
Martyn Rady is Professor of Central European History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies , University College London. He was from 1995 to 2009 Warden of Hughes Parry Hall , an intercollegiate hall of the University of London...

, Anonymus’s "account pretends to give a historically-grounded account of early Hungarian history... but does in fact nothing of the sort. Anonymus’s account is essentially a ‘toponymic romance’ that seeks to explain place-names by reference to imagined events and persons. Although he gets the names of the earliest Hungarian rulers right, as well as some of the early tribal chieftains, he has the Hungarians beating Slavonic and Romanian leaders whose names are not attested to anywhere else, as well as fighting the Cumans (who appeared in Europe only in the late 11th century) and even the Romans". Clearly, there is a bit of correct history in Anonymus's work, and at least a few of his heroes can be 'cross-checked' against information given by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Liudprand of Cremona and the Annals of St Gall.
Gesta Hungarorums main subject of controversy concerns the mentioning of the existence of the local rulers Gelou
Gelou
Gelou or Gelu was a Romanian duke mentioned in Gesta Hungarorum as having opposed the conquest of Transylvania by Tuhutum, one of the “seven dukes” of the Magyars. His story was recorded only by the anonymous writer of the 13th century Gesta...

, Glad
Glad (duke)
Glad was a duke of Bulgarian origin who, according to the 13th-century chronicle Gesta Ungarorum "", ruled in the territory of modern Banat at the time of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin around 896...

 and Menumorut
Menumorut
For the residential district named after him, see Menumorut, Satu MareMenumorut or Menumorout ruled, according to the 13th century Gesta Ungarorum , the land between the rivers Tisa, Mureş and Someş when the Magyars invaded the Carpathian Basin around 895...

 in Transylvania
Transylvania
Transylvania is a historical region in the central part of Romania. Bounded on the east and south by the Carpathian mountain range, historical Transylvania extended in the west to the Apuseni Mountains; however, the term sometimes encompasses not only Transylvania proper, but also the historical...

 at the arrival of the Magyars in the 10th century. The very existence of these three dukedoms mainly inhabited by Vlachs
Vlachs
Vlach is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. English variations on the name include: Walla, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs...

 and Slavs is disputed.

Arguments for


Romanian historians who accept the credibility of the gesta point out that it is the earliest preserved Hungarian chronicle and thus it must have based on earlier Hungarian gestas, and therefore its factual accuracy is likely high. They also point out that the gesta was written at least 130 years before the Chronicon Pictum
Chronicon Pictum
The Chronicon Pictum Pictum, Chronica Picta or Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum) is a medieval illustrated chronicle from the Kingdom of Hungary from the fourteenth century...

. They emphasize that Anonymous uses many Greek sayings which suggest that he was one of the few Hungarian authors who knew Greek, and thus he could base much of his work on earlier Byzantine sources. They also claim that the author of the gesta simply confused the Cumans with the Pechenegs or possibly the Khazars Furthermore, passages from the Gesta are repeated in later chronicles, such as Simon de Keza's works. Most of the sites mentioned by Anonymous in his work have been archaeologically attested. The Gesta Hungarorum is also properly portrayed the path of conquest taken by the Magyars, entering first into Pannonia, then in Transylvania.

Arguments against


The main arguments against their existence is the presence of provably wrong information in some other parts of the Gesta, and the fact that Gesta Hungarorum mentions Cumans
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

 among the peoples who lived in Transylvania at that time, whereas the Cumans actually arrived there 150 years after the Hungarians. There is opposing opinion which claims that the author of the Gesta actually confuses Cumans with Pechenegs, who spoke a similar language to that of the Cumanians and lived in approximately the same territory before Hungarians.

Authors who dispute the credibility of the Gesta point out that the author probably had no information (apart from some familial and tribal legends) regarding the actual circumstances of the conquest. Thus he invented enemies and rivals for his heroes to vanquish; he casually borrowed the names of rivers (Laborc), mountains (Tarcal
Tarcal
Tarcal is a village on the eastern edge of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county, northern Hungary, in the famous Tokaj-Hegyalja wine district, from Miskolc.- Geography :...

 and Zobor), and castles (Gyalu
Gilau, Cluj
Gilău is a commune in Cluj County, Romania. It is composed of three villages: Gilău, Someşu Cald and Someşu Rece.- Demographics :According to the census from 2002 there was a total population of 7,861 people living in this town. Of this population, 83.43% are ethnic Romanians, 9.45% are ethnic...

) to conjure up knights and chieftains (e.g., the Bulgarian Laborcy, the Cuman
Cumans
The Cumans were Turkic nomadic people comprising the western branch of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. After Mongol invasion , they decided to seek asylum in Hungary, and subsequently to Bulgaria...

 Turzol, the Czech Zobur, and the Vlach Gelou) who are not mentioned in other primary sources. They also emphasize that Anonymus obviously had no knowledge of the settlers' real enemies (e.g., Svatopluk II
Svatopluk II
Svatopluk II ruled the Principality of Nitra from 894 to 906 and strove to control all of Great Moravia.Svatopluk II was a younger son of Svatopluk I. As Prince of Nitra, Svatopluk II was subordinated to his older brother Mojmír II, the King of Great Moravia which contained the principality as its...

, Emperor Arnulf I, the Bulgar Tzar Simeon); of the settlers' actual adversaries, which included the Moravians, Slovenes, Karantans, Franks, and Bavarians, he knew only of the Bulgarians. Thus he arbitrarily counted among the Hungarians' opponents the Czechs, who at the time lived exclusively in the Czech Basin; the Cumanians, who moved to Europe only in the 11th century; and the Vlachs
Vlachs
Vlach is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. English variations on the name include: Walla, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs...

 which suggest that his choices reflect the ethnic and political realities of the 12th century. The author thought Kende had been the father of Kurszán
Kurszán
Kurszán , the Magyar sacral prince, was a partner ruler besides Árpád till his death. He had a crucial role in the Hungarian Conquest . In 892/893 together with Arnulf of Carinthia he attacked Great Moravia to secure the eastern borders of the Frankish Empire. Arnulf gave him all the captured...

. In fact "kende" was a title of a Hungarian dignitary, probably the sacral ruler.

Author



Hypotheses as to the identity of the author, Magister P include:
  • The notary
    Civil law notary
    Civil-law notaries, or Latin notaries, are lawyers of noncontentious private civil law who draft, take, and record legal instruments for private parties, provide legal advice and give attendance in person, and are vested as public officers with the authentication power of the State...

     (chancellor) to Hungary's King Béla III (1172–96)
  • The chancellor to King Béla II of Hungary
    Béla II of Hungary
    Béla II the Blind , King of Hungary and Croatia . Still as a child, Béla was blinded by his uncle, King Coloman who wanted to ensure the succession of his own son, the future King Stephen II...

     (1131–41)—a certain Petrus who in 1124 was chancellor to the previous King Stephen II
    Stephen II of Hungary
    Stephen II , King of Hungary and Croatia, ruled from 1116 until 1131. He was crowned as a child during his father's lifetime who wanted to ensure Stephen's succession against his brother, Duke Álmos. Stephen's reign was characterized by frequent struggles with neighbouring countries...

    .
  • Péter Pósa
    Peter Posa
    Peter Posa is a New Zealand guitarist, and is most famous for his instrumental "The White Rabbit" which made it to the top of the New Zealand and Australian charts in 1964.-External links:**...

    , Bishop of Bosnia.
  • Gallus Anonymus
    Gallus Anonymus
    Gallus Anonymus is the name traditionally given to the anonymous author of Gesta principum Polonorum , composed in Latin about 1115....

    , a historian of Poland, possibly of French or Italian origin, who came through Hungary.

See also


  • Chronicon Pictum
    Chronicon Pictum
    The Chronicon Pictum Pictum, Chronica Picta or Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum) is a medieval illustrated chronicle from the Kingdom of Hungary from the fourteenth century...

     (Viennese Illuminated Chronicle)
  • Gallus Anonymus
    Gallus Anonymus
    Gallus Anonymus is the name traditionally given to the anonymous author of Gesta principum Polonorum , composed in Latin about 1115....

  • Hungarian prehistory
    Hungarian prehistory
    Hungarian prehistory refers to the prehistoric Magyars, from the time when they separated from Common Ugric until their invasion of the Carpathian basin in the late 9th century...

  • Origin of the Romanians

External links