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ARPAD, King of Hungary

ARPAD, King of Hungary. (Árpád). Grand Prince of the Magyars. [Familytree]
Born about 840 AD or 845 AD; son of ALMOS, Grand Prince of the Magyars.

Reign c. 895 – c. 907

Árpád was the second Grand Prince of the Hungarians (Magyars) (c. 895 – c. 907 or 907). 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. His clan was Kurt//Kubrat (means "Wolf" in ancient Turkic language) a branch of the descendants of Attila, ruler of the Huns.

Árpád was the son of Grand Prince Álmos (Grand Prince of the Magyars), leader of the Hungarian tribal federation; his mother's name and descent is unknown. According to a hungarian legends, he was a son of a Émésé and Turul (Sacred Hawk), following the old concept of "son of heaven", "Tanyu" or "Shanyu", same title of his supposed ancestor Attila.

The leaders of the seven Hungarian tribes proclaimed Árpád to Grand Prince of the Magyars. According to Koestler the Onogurs (Hungarians) were led by Prince Árpad, breaking away from the Khazars empire. Árpad led 10 tribes (Onogurs) doing what was known as the second hun invasion in Europe. The ten tribes were 3 Bulgarian tribes (Ság, Ladány, Berény-Tárkány) settled in Hungarian Transilvania plus 7 Hungarian tribes (Megyer/Magyar/Madar/Madjar/Muageris, Jeno, Keszi, Nyék, Kér, Tarján e Kürt/Kubat/Kubrat) settled in Panonia. (S1).

In 894, Árpád and Kurszán negotiated together with the representatives of the Byzantine emperor, Leo VI the Wise the terms under which the confederation of the Magyar tribes was willing to assist the Byzantine Empire against Emperor Simeon I of Bulgaria. (S1).

The Battle of Southern Buh

The Battle of Southern Buh occurred near the banks of the Buh River, in modern Ukraine. In the spring of next year (895), the Magyar tribes attacked the Bulgarian Empire and defeated Emperor Simeon I, requiring him to conclude peace with the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Simeon, however, entered into an alliance with the Pechenegs, who were the eastern neighbours of the Hungarian tribal federation, and he made an attack against the Magyar armies. In the Battle of Southern Buh, Emperor Simeon I defeated their army. (S1).

In 894 a war broke out between Bulgaria and Byzantium due to the Emperor moving the marketplace for Bulgarian goods from Constantinople to Thessaloniki, which meant higher taxes on Bulgarian trade. In the same year Simeon I defeated the Byzantines near Adrianople and they turned to their old method for such situations: they bribed the Magyars to attack Bulgaria from the northeast. In 895 they crossed the Danube and were victorious over the Bulgarians twice. Simeon withdrew to Drastar, which he successfully defended. In 896 he persuaded the Pechenegs to help him and while the Magyars were fighting with them to the east he and his father Boris I who left the monastery for this occasion gathered an enormous army and marched to the north eastern borders of the country. (S1).

Simeon ordered three days of fasting, saying that the soldiers should repent for their sins and seek help in God. When this was done, the battle began. It was long and unusually fierce but in the end the Bulgarians were victorious. (S1).

The result was a great Bulgarian victory. Shortly afterwards the battle, the Pechenegs attacked and pillaged their territories. The Magyar tribes were required to leave forever the steppes of southern Ukraine. The destruction of their dwelling places by the Pechenegs forced the Hungarians to leave for a new homeland across the Carpathian Mountains towards the Pannonian Plain. (S1).

In 896 the Hungarian tribes occupied the Upper Tisza river, from there they undertook numerous looting raids in central and western Europe. The Illuminated Chronicle says that Árpád's father Álmos "could not enter Pannonia, for he was killed in Erdelw" or Transylvania. It must have been at that time that Arpad took full command of the Magyar tribes; though the chronicle Gesta Hungarorum states that Almos appointed Arpad as leader and master following the Hungarians siege of Ungvár (Uzhhorod, Ukraine) , which indicates an earlier change of leadership. (S1).

In 900/901 they moved to Pannonia. It is estimated that the Magyars entering the Pannonian fields may have represented about 200,000–250,000 people. (S1).

East Francia, or the Kingdom of the East Franks, was one of the main powers of the Carpathian Basin at the turn of the 9th and 10th centuries. Árpád's name is said to be "completely unknown" to all sources written in East Francia, which including the Annales Alamannici and the Annales Eisnidlenses, only mention another Hungarian leader, Kurszán. According to Kristó (S1) and other historians, these sources suggest that Kurszán must have been the gyula commanding the Hungarian forces, while Árpád succeeded his father as the sacred kende. Proposing a contrasting theory, the Romanian historian Curta wrote that Kurszán was the kende and Árpád gyula only succeeded him when Kurszán was murdered by Bavarians in 902 or 904. (S1).

In contrast to nearly contemporaneous sources, Hungarian chronicles written centuries after the events—for instance, the Gesta Hungarorum and the Illuminated Chronicle emphasize Árpád's pre-eminent role in the conquest of the Carpathian Basin. The Gesta Hungarorum also highlights Árpád's military skills and his generosity. This chronicle also emphasizes that Tétény, one of the heads of the seven Hungarian tribes, acquired the land of Transylvania for himself and his posterity only after Árpád had authorized him to conquer it. (S1).

Having crossed the Danube, they encamped beside the Danube as far as Budafelhévíz. Hearing this, all the Romans living throughout the land of Pannonia, saved their lives by flight. Next day, Prince Árpád and all his leading men with all the warriors of Hungary entered the city of King Attila and they saw all the royal palaces, some ruined to the foundations, others not, and they admired beyond measure the stone buildings and were happier than can be told that they had deserved to take without fighting the city of King Attila, of whose line Prince Árpád descended. They feasted every day with great joy in the palace of King Attila, sitting alongside one another, and all the melodies and sweet sounds of zithers and pipes along with all the songs of minstrels were presented to them ... Prince Árpád gave great lands and properties to the guests staying with them, and, when they heard this, many guests thronged to him and gladly stayed with him. —Anonymous: Gesta Hungarorum (S1).

The Gesta Hungarorum says that Árpád took an oath of the leading men and warriors of Hungary, and had his son, Prince Zoltán elevated to prince in his life. (S1).

The Hungarians settled in what is now Hungary in about 900, though the Hungarians continued to ravage western Europe until their defeat by Emperor Otto I in 955 AD. (S1).


The date of Árpád's death is debated. The Gesta Hungarorum states that he died in 907 AD. However, Kristó wrote that he actually died in 900 or later because the Gesta says 903 is the starting date of the Hungarian "land-taking" instead of its actual date around 895. If the Gesta's report on his funeral is reliable, Árpád was buried "at the head of a small river that flows through a stone culvert to the city of King Attila" where a village, Fehéregyháza, developed near Buda a century later. (S1).

Árpád is still famed among the Hungarians as honalapító or the founder of our country. (S1).


  1. Liüntika. (Levente)(Liuntikas). Prince of Hungary. living 895. Kristó (S1) wrote that Liuntikas (Liüntika) was an alternative name of Tarkatzous (Tarhos).
  2. Tarkatzus (Tarhos)(Tarkatzous).
  3. Jelek (Üllo)(Ielech). "the Epicure."
  4. Jutotzas (Jutas)(Ioutotzas).
  5. Zoltan, Grand Prince of the Magyars. (Hungarians). (Zaltas). (? – c. 947)