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Stephen: First King of Austria

This paper is a biography of Stephen, crowned as the first king of Hungary on Christmas Day, 1000 AD. His coronation consolidated a collection of battling tribes into a recognized kingdom, aligned with the Roman pope. His monarchy lasted more than 900 years. Stephen, known as Istvan to his countrymen, established a series of reforms that set the pattern for Hungary's government. He also aggressively turned the nation into a Catholic country, wiping out the vestiges of paganism into which he himself was born. After his death, he was canonized as a Catholic saint, cementing recognition of his lasting influence in establishing Hungary as an important European power.

During the period at the end of the 10th century, Christianity had begun to take root throughout Europe. Though paganism was still strong, "the world around the Hungarians either had embraced or was embracing the Christian creed" (Lengyel 23). The territories of the tribes that were to become known as Hungary rested roughly halfway between the great centers of Catholicism in Constantinople and Rome. They had once been the Roman provinces of Dacia and Pannonia but had been conquered by Germanic tribes at the end of the 2nd century. Their advantageous geographical position made the area important to both branches of the Catholic church, separated as they were between two different views of both dogma and ritual. Each struggled with the other for an upper hand, and adding the Hungarian territories would strengthen the power of whichever pope could claim them.

Leaders of the pagan tribes were being pressured by the growing power of the Catholic movement to convert to Christianity. The most powerful Hungarian tribe was the Magyar, a Finno-Ugric tribe descended from Arpad, a semi-legendary warrior who had conquered much of the region late in the 9th century. A local joke runs, "'Who was the stupidest Magyar ever?' 'Our Founding Father, Arpad. Had he gone three...

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Stephen: First King of Austria. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:56, June 15, 2019, from