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BELA I, King of Hungary

BELA I, King of Hungary. [The Hungarians]
Born in 1016; son of VAZUL, Duke of Hungary.

Reign 1060–1063

Béla I the Champion or the Bison (Hungarian: I. (Bajnok/Bölény) Béla; Slovak: Belo I., c. 1016–1063) was King of Hungary from 1060 until his death. He spent seventeen years in exile, probably in the court of the Kings of Poland. He came back to Hungary, in 1043, at the request of his brother, King Andrew I who assigned him the government of one third of the kingdom and proclaimed Béla his heir. When Solomon was born in 1053, his father Andrew designated him heir to the throne; Béla refused to accept this and rebelled against his brother. Although he managed to ascend to the throne after defeating King Andrew, he could not subdue his opposition and ensure his sons' succession.

Early years: Béla was the second son of Duke Vazul, a cousin of Stephen I, the first King of Hungary. His mother was probably the concubine (a daughter of a member of the Hungarian gens Tátony) of his father, who still followed pagan customs.

In exile: After their father's death, the three brothers were obliged to leave the country. Fleeing first to Bohemia, they continued to Poland where Béla settled down, while his brothers, Levente and Andre continued on, settling in Kiev. In Poland, Béla served King Mieszko II Lambert of Poland and took part in the king's campaigns against the pagan Pomeran tribes. He gained the epithet "the Champion" in these campaigns. Some chronicles even claim that when a Pomeranian chief challenged Mieszko to single combat, Béla took up the challenge in the king's name. He became a successful military leader, and the king gave his daughter[3] in marriage to him. He may have been baptized just before his marriage, and his Christian name was Adalbert. After his marriage, he probably lived in Poland during the time of the interregnum when his brother-in-law, King Casimir I of Poland was obliged to leave the country.

Some authors claim that during the interregnum in Poland, Béla fled to Bohemia and they identify Béla with "King Stephen's cousin", mentioned in medieval chronicles, whom the Emperor Henry III, in 1043, assigned to govern the parts of Hungary he had occupied from King Samuel Aba, when the Hungarians refused to accept King Peter's rule.

Duke of Tercia: In the meantime, after a bloody pagan revolt which ended the rule of King Peter, Béla's brother ascended the throne in Hungary as King Andrew I. However, his relations with the Holy Roman Empire remained tense, because King Peter had been not only a close ally of the Emperor Henry III, but he also had become a vassal of the Holy Roman Empire. Andrew refused to accept the suzerainty of the Emperor, ruled Hungary independently and prepared for the approaching war. For this reason why he invited his younger brother, the successful military leader, Béla to his court, and Béla accepted his offer.

In 1048, Andrew conceded one third of Hungary (Tercia pars regni) in appanage to Béla. The two brothers shared power without incident until 1053, when King Andrew fathered a son, Solomon. Thereafter, Andrew became determined to secure the throne for his son and to displace his brother. Andrew, therefore, had his son (Béla's nephew) crowned "junior king" (rex iunior) in 1057, despite an earlier agreement between the brothers according to which Béla was the heir to Andrew. Hungarian custom would also dictate that the senior male member of the family inherit the kingdom. Following the coronation, Béla left his brother's court.

Two years later, according to legend, King Andrew called Béla back to his court, and placed before him a crown and a sword, representing royal and ducal power, respectively, and asked Béla to take his choice. Having been forewarned by a court official that choosing the crown would mean his death, Béla instead selected the sword. Shortly afterwards, Béla fled to Poland where he was received by King Boleslaw II the Generous, nephew of his wife.

King of Hungary. In 1060, Béla returned to Hungary and defeated King Andrew I to become the new king. After his brother's death and Béla's victory at the Theben Pass, Béla was crowned king on 6 December 1060. During his brief reign he concerned himself with crushing pagan revolts in his kingdom.

Hungarian chroniclers praised Béla for introducing new currency, such as the silver denarius, and for his benevolence to the former followers of his nephew, Solomon. The terms Nobilissimus (most noble) and nobilissima familia (most noble family) have been used since the 11th century for the King of Hungary and his family, but at that time only a few, among them Béla I, which were mentioned in official documents as such.

Died 11 September 1063 (aged 46–47). Béla died when his throne's canopy collapsed (contemporaries suspected that the collapse may not have been an accident). After Béla's death, King Henry IV of Germany installed Solomon as the new king and Béla's sons had to flee to Poland again.

Richesa. (Richeza) (Adelaide of Poland)(Adelheid).
Daughter of Mieszko II Lambert, King of Poland, and his wife, Richeza of Lotharingia.

She is traditionally called Richeza, but contemporary sources do not confirm this name. Nowadays it is supposed that she was called Adelaide.

She married Bela between 1039 and 1043.

She died (after 1052)(on 21 May 1075).

CHILDREN of BELA I, King of Hungary
  1. GEZA I, King of Hungary (c. 1044 – 25 April 1077). became king of Hungary in 1074.
  2. King Ladislaus I of Hungary (c. 1048 – 29 July 1095). became king of Hungary in 1077.
  3. Duke Lampert of Hungary (after 1050 – c. 1095). born after Béla's return to Hungary.
  4. Sophia (after 1050 – 18 June 1095), wife firstly of Markgraf Ulrich I of Carniola, and secondly of Duke Magnus I of Saxony
  5. Euphemia (after 1050 – 2 April 1111), wife of Prince Otto I of Moravia
  6. Ilona (after 1050 – c. 1091), wife of King Demetrius Zvonimir of Croatia
  7. Anna Lanke (? – 1095), wife of Rostislav of Tmutarakan


CHILD of BELA I, King of Hungary and (unknown mistress):
  1. Sophia (after 1050 – after 1116), wife of Comes (count) Lampert de genere Hont-Pázmány


BELA I, King of Hungary
GEZA I, King of Hungary.
ALAMOS, Duke of Hungary.
Béla II, King of Hungary. 
GEZA II, King of Hungary.
Béla III (Béla)(Belo), King of Hungary.
Andrew II, King of Hungary.
Béla IV, King of Hungary. 
Stephen V,  King of Hungary.
Marie of Hungary. Born about 1257. She married Charles II, King of Naples.  
Margaret (Marguerite) of Naples. She married Charles, Count of Valois.
Jeanne of Valois. She married William III, The Good, Count of Holland and Haunault.
Philippa of Hainault. She married Edward III Plantagenet, King Of England.
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