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5: Cursed and Blessed Kings

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If Shakespeare had, perchance, been born on Hungarian soil -if we may play with this completely absurd notion- he could have written every one of his historical plays and tragedies about the age of Árpád and his descendants who sat on the throne. What a portrait gallery they would have also formed! Brooding Prince Hamlets, meek Ophelias retiring into nunneries, high officials of gray eminence, loyal captains and unfaithful sweethearts, Richards offering kingdoms for a horse, knights errant from foreign courts, Rosenkrantzes and Guildensterns, Iagos, noblemen of the white and red roses, kings dogged by fate and triumphing over it, spectacular and cathartic chivalry and villainy and thus the very stuff of drama and acting.

But would that magnificent Anglo-Saxon have had the audacity to place on stage such an unreal occurrence as befell King Béla I in 1063 in Hungary? On whom, after three years of rule, the throne toppled, killing him in his summer palace at Dömös? The spectacle of the throne tottering and falling on the king is, of course, inevitably comical, even though bones break and blood flows. Only the consequences make the occurrence tragic. But again, how dramatic -indeed theatrical, if not "corny"-are the scenes that preceded Béla's reign.

Thus Vászoly, made blind and deaf, had three sons who fled to Polish soil and returned from there later. Of them, Andrew wound up on the throne. However, he entrusted one third of the country to his younger brother, Prince Béla, who operated so independently in his territory that he minted his own money, which was the right of a legitimate sovereign. Andrew, though he did not hand his rule over, crowned his son Salomon king in 1057, and betrothed him to a princess of the Holy Roman Empire in 1058. Yet, as if the question were still open, Andrew I placed the crown and the sword before Prince Béla at Várkony along the River Tisza: choose between the throne and the sword. The machination was obvious. But the astounded Béla reached for the sword only at an emphatic sign from one of his councillors. His fate would have been sealed if he had chosen otherwise... Even so, after having placed his stake on the right card at the ordeal called the "Várkony scene" in Hungarian historiography, the prince again fled to Polish soil. Returning with an army, he defeated his enthroned elder brother, who died soon after. Béla I began his reign, which was constantly disturbed by Salomon and his supporters and which ended under the wreckage of the Dömös throne after three years. However, after the childless Salomon, the unfortunate Béla's two sons sat on the throne, and of them, the magnificent Ladislas I became the second but not the last saint in the House of Árpád.

Seeing all the fratricidal wars, insurrections, and disputes that dominated his homeland after Stephen I, the dejected patriot is overcome by a yearning to reach for a surmise even more futile than the literary one: what would have happened if Emeric, like his father, had been granted four decades on the throne, if the enormous central power created by Stephen had not dissipated during the ten-year struggle for the throne waged by Peter and Samuel Aba?

In the meantime, however, the marauding raids had ended for the Hungarians a century ago, although in the vicinity of the Carpathian Basin, there still remained a group of those restless Pechenegs who had driven the Hungarians from Levedia and then from the Etelköz region. Continual internal instability increased the danger of Pecheneg invasions, and so the Hungarians, though, in relation to the incursions, they had changed "from thieves into gendarmes", were forced to defend themselves at the cost of heavy casualties. On the other hand, when Géza I finally reconciled the parties by accepting the Pecheneg group into the country, he did so to boost his military power against the ousted but still unsubdued former King Salomon.

The eighteen-year reign of (Saint) Ladislas I began in 1077 under a lucky star. Salomon fled to a group of Pechenegs -or a newer nomadic people on horses who had already taken their place, the Cumans- and he later perished during one of their incursionary military campaigns. There was no other claimant to the throne "on duty" on the scene. The pope and the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire were tied down by the war of investiture being waged over the right to name church leaders. To Ladislas, the Germans were a more immediate danger than Rome; for this reason, he sided with the pope, though he did not submit to the feudal authority of the papacy in place of the Germans. Actually, he supported Rome in a way that seemed to reject the cause of the conflict between Pope Gregory VII and Emperor Henry IV: the precedence of the Church's power over the secular in earthly matters. (Incidentally, Henry IV was the brother-in-law of Salomon, the former king of Hungary; he was the one who was forced to do penance: during one of the darkest times in his struggles with the pope, he made amends by crawling on his knees before Gregory VII at Canossa.)

The laws of Ladislas I, compared with the first recorded laws of Hungary, those of Stephen I, attest simultaneously to continuity and change in Hungarian society. That legal system slowly solidified which was so unfamiliar to the conquerors, who held entirely different views of private ownership or the value of life and who probably were more steadfast in their morality in the ninth and tenth centuries than their eleventh-century descendants, though they based it on the completely different norms and customs they had brought with them from the Asian steppes. Meanwhile, it is difficult to evaluate every factor correctly. For example, the relationship between slaves and freemen -also changing in time- implies the presence of some form of slavery in Hungarian society in the Middle Ages. With much cause. Namely, this word can conceal several meanings. No doubt, slavery was totally different in ancient African societies from that of modern America; it was different in ancient Rome from that of the nomadic and half-nomadic peoples of the Steppes; and it was different when its remnants still persisted in a Europe becoming feudal. Similarly, when the elements of the feudal system appeared and gained strength in Hungary -among other things, through the laws of Ladislas and his successors- the kind of feudalism that came into being was not the same as the kind found in Western Europe, nor like the kind that was institutionalized farther to the east. At times, even specialists are not capable of adequately discerning or rendering discernible the regional hues or their fine or rough differences; and more than one dispute of historians stems from the fact that they cannot even agree among themselves on the meanings of words.

In 1083, Ladislas began a "campaign" of canonization. First, he had two hermits of Polish descent, Andrew and Benedict, elevated to sainthood, then Emeric's tutor, Bishop Gerard (Gellért), who died a martyr's death during one of the pagan uprisings, next Stephen I, and finally Emeric. By this means he also certified his nation's and his family's integral presence in Christian Europe, meanwhile issuing a warning to the remaining followers of pagan rite. And though his character, like Stephen's, hardly met every requirement of sainthood in the mirror of undistorted sources, legends were quickly woven around him as well. Ladislas, the creator of saints, was not the only one who later gained for himself the glory he obtained for others. His daughter, who became empress of Byzantium -Piroska was her Hungarian and Irene her Greek name- was to become a saint of the Eastern Church.

Were there any remnants of paganism among the Hungarians? Yes, now and for some time to come. We have little direct and all the more indirect evidence that a clandestine paganism lasted for centuries after Stephen. In vain did the Church decree -to the great regret of today's archaeologists- burial without "furniture"; coins and amulets crop up in graves. Sacrificial ceremonies went on in secret groves under pikes bearing the skulls of horses; the sorcerer (táltos in Hungarian), the shaman, lived on as magician, as medicine man, not for centuries but for a thousand years, almost to our own day. Fragments of unmistakably pagan texts were handed down in children's ditties, in the incantations of old women casting spells in secret healing, and even in Christian prayers. Zsuzsanna Erdélyi, an ethnographic researcher, not long ago collected hundreds of apocryphal prayers containing structurally intertwined Christian and pagan elements. This tenacity of the pagan tradition is quite understandable. After all, accommodating the several waves of Pechenegs and then portions of the Cuman and Iazygian (Alan) peoples, this pagan population underwent baptism, but it did not become truly Christian overnight; instead, the remaining paganism of the Hungarians was reinforced.

Ladislas I, who frequently engaged in combat in person -he himself killed a Cuman chief on the battle-field- successfully defended himself diplomatically and militarily against German expansion from the west and Cuman incursions from the east, while in the south he acquired Dalmatia, whose small city-states considered vassalage to the "distant" Hungarians more favorable than to the "nearby" Venetians. The thought of heading for the Holy Land also occurred to him, but fortunately, news about the eruption of a struggle for the Bohemian throne kept him at home. Thus the enormous capital he had amassed was not squandered away in some dubious adventure in the Near East, which vitiated the potency of so many ambitious European rulers. (The record of the Crusades, launched to liberate the Holy Land, hardly changes if we believe their motive was faith, religious zeal, or the desire to control the commerce of the Mediterranean Sea.)

Ladislas I's successor was his nephew, Koloman -who acquired "Bookish" as his sobriquet (Coloman Beauclerc) -whose first wife was Buzilla, a Sicilian Norman princess, and his second Euphemia, the daughter of Vladimir Monomakh, the Suzdal prince; he managed the wealth he inherited with varying success. After the athletic and chivalrous (Saint) Ladislas I, who was also called elegantissimus rex, this physically stunted man, who according to one source, was "dishevelled, hirsute, half-blind, hunchbacked and lame," and if only half of this is true, it is too much -at the same time, buried himself in codices like a bookworm, and he was, not entirely incidentally, a consecrated bishop who could not be crowned until he received dispensation from the Church -this man had to march constantly at the head of his armies.

In the very first year of Koloman's reign, in 1096, the challenges of the Crusaders' armies heading east on their European routes reached Hungary one after the other. His relations were good with the forces led by the French knight Walter the Penniless (Sansavoir), or Godfrey of Bouillon, the prince of Lorraine -it is true that, enlightened by his bad experiences, Koloman and his troops accompanied the latter until he left Hungarian territory; however, he could not prevent the army of Peter the Hermit of Amiens from assaulting and occupying the castle at Zimony (Zemun); he had to defeat the armies of the French Folkmar and the German priest Gottschalk, and he did not permit the armies of William the Carpenter or Guillaume Charpentier, viscount of Melun, and Count Emich of Leiningen to cross the Hungarian border.

In addition, Koloman had a substantial number of domestic difficulties. His younger brother, Prince Álmos, rose against him. At the first opportunity, their armies met where the "Várkony scene" had taken place. At this time not a single one of the chief lords was willing to enter the war on either side; so the two brothers made peace with each other. Later, however, Álmos invaded Hungary time and again with foreign supporters.

When Koloman felt his death approaching and the enthronement of his teen-aged son was at stake, he hunted down and blinded Álmos, and Álmos's son, Béla. To complicate the story further in the manner of Shakespeare, Álmos escaped to Byzantium under the reign of Stephen II (1116-1131), while his son hid in the monastery at Pécsvárad. However, when the chief lords, noting the illness of the childless Stephen II, had already chosen three kings from among themselves, the king swept down bloodily on the insurgents. Meanwhile, he found out where the blind Prince Béla was hiding -Álmos had died in the meantime- and had him brought out of hiding, gave him in marriage, and named him heir to the throne. He was to become King Béla (the Blind) II, his fate showing that gouging out someone's eyes would no longer make him unfit to wear the crown.

The ten-year reign of Béla (the Blind) II (1131-1141) was threatened from Poland by the pretender to the throne, Boris, so extensively that at a national meeting held in Arad in 1132, sixty-eight barons suspected of siding with Boris were slaughtered as a preventive measure at the instigation of the queen. Who was this Boris? Well, the life of King Koloman was already on the wane when his second wife, Euphemia, became pregnant; at the time, her husband also caught her in adultery. We cannot be sure whether this occurred in flagranti or whether the king simply knew that the child could not really be of his loins. Be that as it may, he sent the fallen woman home to her father in Suzdal, where she gave birth to a son, who bore the name Boris.

But are we writing the kings' -sometimes scandalous- chronicles or the life history of a people? We should like to do the latter, though it can hardly be superfluous to provide a sense of the circumstances under which one of Europe's youngest nations came into being and survived under Árpád's descendants. Meanwhile, a sweeping economic and social transformation took place in Hungary resulting in part from the conscious intervention of the rulers and their councillors and in part from the automatism of accommodation in Europe. Amid the new circumstances of ownership and rank and the new differentiation of social strata following the disintegration of the system based on joint families and clans, the new leading classes, the ispáns and other officials, were soon dissatisfied with the privileges attending their commissions; instead, because the separate and. private possession of one's land was so important to royal supremacy, they themselves also aimed at acquiring landed estates that would be under their free and perpetual control. At the same time, the Hungarian serfs were still a privileged group compared to servants, they inherited much from the position they enjoyed as auxiliary troops in the age of the Conquest. During domestic conflicts, they supported an independent kingship, opposing foreign feudal dependency and the foreign knights and the claimants to the throne relying on them.

For a long time, the larger animals -horses and cattle- served as the most valuable resource and even as the standard of value among the Hungarians. The minting of coins instituted at the beginning of (Saint) Stephen I's reign -which was so successful that later the money of the first Hungarian kings was "counterfeited" in many places in Europe- transformed the economy and gave new meaning to precious metals, widening and magnifying their earlier role in hoarding. Though more than one king later increased his income with the endless deterioration of money values, the role of various monopolies became stronger -commerce in salt and horses, mining, the ownership of customs stations, and income from fish ponds. Two cities, Esztergom and Székesfehérvár, developed, though the royal court still traveled from place to place for a long time, to consume produce gathered in at some subcenters in various parts of the country. The export of horses was the sole state monopoly as regards agricultural products -the horse was an important implement of war at this time, too- but the subject of cattle export already turned up in the laws.

By this time, the development of one basis for the envied wealth of medieval Hungary had begun in Transylvania and Upper Hungary: the extensive and highly profitable mining of copper, gold, and silver (and the panning of gold in rivers) which was time and again newly regulated as to ownership and economic rights. Copper did not come to the fore accidentally. At times, our nearly monopolistic position in the production and export of this indispensable metal brought about enormous economic advantages, not only for the nation, the king, and the immediate producers, but even for the miners in their privileged situation.

It was not only the domestic growth that increased the size of the population but also the settlers of high and low rank apparently streaming into Hungary from every direction, who found relative safety and even-handed treatment in this tormented country. For example, we know about a quite large Ishmaelite population with their Mohammedan faith who could practice their religion in comparative freedom and were obligated to serve the king only in case of war and even then only against a non-Mohammedan enemy. Venice and Hungary, though often at war over Dalmatia, concluded an agreement permitting the free movement of each other's merchants. The fact that in Hungary only the king dared collect taxes aroused admiration throughout the world.

In the six decades following the reign of Béla the Blind, certain motifs returned tediously as if on a merry-go-round: disputes around the throne, military campaigns with mixed success, the peaceable and combative marching of the Crusaders across the land, and all the rest. But on balance, everything was largely positive, particularly under Béla III (1172-1196), whose first wife was Anne de Chatillon and the second Margaret Capet. These two women introduced the French style at the court, where Frederick Barbarossa was received in a manner worthy of his rank. With the king as their example, the barons increasingly followed the fashion trends of Europe, which to no small extent contributed to Hungary's participation in world commerce. However, Béla III's son, Andrew II (1205-1235), was, in contrast to his puritanical and staid father, a rollicking, lavish, ambitious, and happy-go-lucky young man. He engaged in an ill-fated war on Russian soil and -the first Hungarian king to do so- he undertook his "own" Crusade. He did so purely on borrowed money, and he gave the long-Hungarian Zára (Zadar) to Venice instead of paying charges for ship rentals. He actually reached the Holy Land through Cyprus, but he ran out of resources before he could fight a real battle with the infidels. Returning in disgrace, he complained as follows in a letter to Pope Honorius III in 1218:

"When we were spending our time in regions across the sea in the service of the pilgrimage we had undertaken, we learned from frequent messengers beyond any shadow of doubt that the seed of dissension had spread inexpressibly in our country. Consequently, shaken by this great danger and so much evil news and unable to bear the destruction of the tender shoot of Christianity in our country, we left the Holy Land out of necessity and not gladly. When we arrived in Hungary after passing through many dangers on the road, we had to experience even viler viciousness than we had heard of, which the members of the Church committed, as did the laity, so many and of such kinds that we do not consider it necessary to bring them to the attention of Your Holiness; after all, the enormity of the vicious deeds perpetrated could hardly have remained concealed from Your keen-sighted eyes. Your Holiness should also be informed that when we arrived in Hungary, we found not Hungary but a country so tormented and bereft of its income from the treasury that we could neither pay the debts in which our pilgrimage had involved us nor restore our country to its previous condition even in fifteen years."

And so things came to pass. Andrew II reigned for seventeen more years. Meanwhile, his renowned Golden Bull came into existence in 1222, which sought to restore the shattered legal system by banning many acts of tyranny and not the least curtailing royal power, and authorized the nobles to oppose the king by force of arms if he or his successors should breach the Bull. And this was done by a ruler whose first wife, Gertrude of Merano, was killed by a conspiracy of chief nobles, who were shocked by the life of luxury she carried on with her foreign companions at the court. (The best known Hungarian historical drama, Bánk bán, by József Katona, relates this episode.) About 1221, Villard de Honnecourt, the French architect from Picardy, prepared Gertrude's tomb at Pilisszentkereszt.

Now it seemed as if the saying that "the apple always falls far from the tree" was not confirmed. Among the children of the pleasure-seeking Gertrude and the happy-go-lucky Andrew II, Elizabeth, whom Louis IV, the Marquis of Thuringia, married, was later added to the line of saints in the House of Árpád; today she is still widely venerated in Hungary and Germany. And Béla IV (1235-1270), succeeding his father, seemed forced to bear duties similar to those (Saint) Stephen had to grapple with.

Julianus, the Dominican monk, has already been mentioned. He deserves credit for two matters. First, he verified the existence of Hungarians who had remained in the distant Magna Hungaria, and second, he brought word about the approach of the "Tatars", who would swiftly sweep them away as well. Or did Julianus actually head directly for the Bashkirian Hungarians -the reason the king dispatched him- because he knew about the approaching danger from the east and, for this reason, wanted to unite the two branches of Hungarians that had parted company centuries ago? This much is certain: the leaders of the Mongol tribes, assembling in Karakorum, decided upon a general attack against Europe and entrusted its leadership to Genghis Khan's grandson, Batu Khan, in the very same year, 1235, when the holy crown of the Hungarian kings was placed on the head of Béla IV. The Mongols knew where they were going. Their threatening letter, addressed to Béla IV, already reached Julianus through Russian hands in 1237; in it they called upon the Hungarian king well in advance, apparently from their starting positions, to surrender.

In the meantime, the pope urged Béla IV to eradicate the heresy of the Bogomils in the Balkans. However, he tried to prepare for the Mongol attack. If he sent word to the Bashkirian Hungarians late, he did offer shelter to the remaining people of the distant kindred Cumans who, defeated and pursued by Batu, were traveling the very same road the Hungarians had followed in times past during the age of the Conquest. However, when Batu Khan's army did, in fact, pour through the Verecke Pass into the Carpathian Basin, adequate forces could not be raised to oppose it. In addition, the half-pagan Cumans, who stood at a stage of social development and morality similar to that of Árpád's Hungarians about 895, were, at this time, viewed with alarm in Hungary and looked upon as the advanced column of the "Tatars". Their prince, Kötöny, was murdered in Buda, whereupon the Cumans, instead of helping, departed to the south of the country and even routed the forces of the Bishop of Csanád marching north against Batu Khan.

The country remained the easy prey of the Tatars -let us call them this now; after all, it is the notion of the Tatar invasion that is ineradicable from Hungarian memory. Even if some cities did not fall, and some of the population escaped into the depths of the marshes and forests, the devastation was enormous. After the battle at Muhi, where the Tatars' arrows killed most of the Hungarians retiring to the protection of their baggage wagons before hand-to-hand combat could occur, Béla IV himself fled to Dalmatia with his entire family. The Tatar horsemen even pursued him there, and he finally had to sail from the city of Trau (Trogir) on the Adriatic coast to the Island of Ciovo simply to save his life. Now we were at the receiving end of the lessons we ourselves had handed to a Europe farther west during the age of the marauding raids.

It is customary to say repeatedly that this was the first massive pagan attack on Europe against which the Hungarians cast their own bodies. Thus the western "investment" which converted the eastern Hungarians to Christianity began to bear fruit... Undoubtedly, the Carpathian Basin (and the Balkans) was the most western area the Tatars reached during their military campaign of several years. But the fact that their attack broke off here was not attributable to the scattered and weak opposition of the Hungarians. Then to what? At news of the death of Great Khan Ogedei, Batu, interested in the succession, turned his armies around and headed home.

Although word of new threats from the Tatars frequently arrived, a military campaign as extensive as that of 1241-1242 never occurred again. At the same time, the Tatar danger did not vanish for centuries. It was particularly Transylvania and its Hungarian (Székely) inhabitants that were to suffer greatly from the raids of greater or smaller Tatar forces which later invaded the country, often as allies of the Turks.

Béla IV built on the ruins. After the Tatar invasion, he promoted urbanization; he urged the nobles to build castles, which was a gamble on his part: someone who governed a castle would be readily inclined to oppose him. He recalled Kötöny's Cumans, who had not found peace in the south either, and, in general, he advanced the resettlement of the depopulated provinces; thus the vigorous mingling of ethnic groups continued in the Carpathian Basin. The rebuilding prompted the firm establishment of the classical feudal system.

We know of ten children of Béla IV (by Maria Laskaris, princess of Nicaea). Blessed Kinga married Polish prince Boleslaw, Elizabeth Bavarian Prince Henry I, Anna Russian Prince Rastislav, Constance King Leo of Halicz, Blessed Yolande Polish Prince (Pious) Boleslaw. The elder Margaret -who was, perhaps, betrothed to a prince of Macva -and Catherine died in Klis (Clissa) castle during the escape to Dalmatia. Taking a vow during the Tatar peril, the parents of the younger Margaret, promised her, in turn, as a bride of Christ and put her in a monastery. Later, however, out of dynastic interest, Béla, having no other maiden daughter, wanted her to marry the Bohemian king, Otakar II. The chosen fiancé was bewitched by the beauty of the young nun. However, Margaret turned down her parents' request; she was not willing to leave the virgins of the monastery on the Island of Hares above Buda and Pest, where she lived in servanthood performing the most menial tasks; she did not exchange her barren cell for the royal throne and the marriage bed. She also increased the number of saints in the House of Árpád, and Margaret Island in Budapest obtained its present name from her.

Of the two sons of Béla IV, Béla took the daughter of the Margrave of Brandenburg as his wife. Stephen, who was strong in military virtues, and rose repeatedly against his father as heir apparent and eventually occupied the throne as Stephen V for two years, took Elizabeth as his wife, a half-pagan Cuman woman, who accustomed her husband to the boisterous lifestyle of nomads on the steppes, perhaps embellishing his daily existence with women slaves and concubines. He was succeeded by his son, the minor Ladislas (the Cuman) IV (1272-1290), in whose name his mother and various factions of the nobility exercised supreme power for a long time. His wife, Isabella, was a princess of Naples, from the House of Anjou, a fact which foreshadowed no slight change in the history of Hungary.

The logic with which the wise Béla IV strengthened the nobles' holdings and power in the interest of defending the nation flipped onto its wrong side: years, actually decades of feudal anarchy followed, a period of weak kings and powerful magnates. During this time, the Csák clan and then Máté Csák himself became so notorious that even at the beginning of our century, when the poet Endre Ady cried out against lordly "liberty" and despotism, he called the nation "the land of Máté Csák".

With the death of Andrew III (1290-1301), the male line of the House of Árpád died out without progeny. Nevertheless, the nation was still capable of greatness even in the state of disorder. A new dynasty was to make the remaining legacy flourish. It harvested another's planting.

However, before turning to this matter, let us say at this point -even at the cost of disrupting chronology somewhat- that the first canards of Hungarian history reach back to the distant past. These include the tales about the Hungarians' origin, for example, the emphasis laid on the Hun-Hungarian relation, which was not absolutely without reason but was very overdrawn. Later, the age of the princes and kings of the House of Árpád passed on two new exaggerated sources to posterity. One continued the predecessors directly; it raised the clan of Árpád to mythical heights, extending the tremendous merits of the most noted figures of the Conquest and the establishment and construction of the state to undeserving descendants, the squanderers of the rich inheritance of Árpád, Géza, Stephen, Ladislas, Béla IV, and other outstanding rulers. But the creation of such canards is quite natural with young nations; we can encounter similar or greater ones in the history of many peoples.

The other canard, one that arose later, is "the doctrine of the Holy Crown". To the Hungarian royal crown which today, after its return from the United States of America, where it wound up in the wake of World War II, can be seen in a ceremonial hall of the Hungarian National Museum and which originates in its every detail undoubtedly in the Age of the Árpáds, even though its origin and age are highly debated, was linked during the course of later centuries to the notion that this crown is not simply an embodiment of royal power but also of general political authority, of the legitimacy of rule.

It is an irony of fate that today the coronation regalia, among them the royal crown itself, are on public display in a mystical half-light in their place of honor. It is as if even today someone wanted to underline their sacral character through the setting given them. But the half-light is not even a decorative trick; the reason for it is strictly practical. Among the coronation emblems, the only one definitely from the age of Stephen I, the coronation robe, embroidered by Queen Gisela and her nuns, is in such poor condition that only a minimal amount of light must be allowed to reach it.

As for the House of Árpád, whose male line ceased in 1301, the facts about its marriage and dynastic relations are so numerous in this chapter not because we wanted to narrow down to the dimension of a family chronicle the history of a nation ruled by cursed and blessed kings in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. The consistently exogamic matrimonial arrangements which prevailed in the House of Árpád before the appearance of its eponym, and remained so throughout, also meant that, in the end, not only did Árpád's blood not flow in the veins of the kings of the House of Árpád but hardly any Hungarian blood did so at all. As a result, the first ruling house of Hungary was engaged not only in constant political and power rivalries and alliances, but also in the closest physical and blood ties with the families of practically every neighboring country, with the ruling and leading families of all Europe (See listings in the Appendix.).

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