Géza II of Hungary
Géza depicted in the Illuminated Chronicle
|King of Hungary and Croatia|
|Reign||1141 – 1162|
|Coronation||16 February 1141|
|Regent||Helena of Rascia|
|Spouse||Euphrosyne of Kiev|
Elisabeth, Duchess of Bohemia
Odola, Duchess of Bohemia
Helena of Hungary
|Father||Béla II of Hungary|
|Mother||Helena of Rascia|
|Died||31 May 1162 (aged 31–32)|
Géza II (Hungarian: II. Géza; Croatian: Gejza II; Slovak: Gejza II; Tolna, 1130 – 31 May 1162) was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1141 to 1162. He was still a child when he succeeded his father, Béla the Blind, such that his mother, Helena of Rascia, and her brother, Beloš, ruled Hungary until he came of age in 1146. Géza was one of the most powerful monarchs of Hungary, and intervened successfully in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries.
Géza was born the eldest son of Béla the Blind and Helena of Raška in 1130. His parents lived in Tolna on the estates that King Stephen II of Hungary had granted them. Géza's father, who had been blinded in the 1110s, succeeded King Stephen in the spring of 1131. Several months later, Queen Helena took Géza and his younger brother Ladislaus to an assembly held at Arad, where she ordered the massacre of sixty-eight noblemen "by whose counsel the King had been blinded", according to the Illuminated Chronicle.
The minor king (1141–1146)
King Béla died on 13 February 1141 and Géza succeeded him without opposition. The eleven-year-old Géza was crowned king on 16 February. During his regency, his mother and her brother, Beloš, ruled the kingdom in the first years of his reign.
One of Géza's first charters, issued in 1141, confirmed the privileges of the citizens of Split in Dalmatia. In the charter, Géza is titled as "By the Grace of God, King of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia and Rama". According to historian Paul Stephenson, the towns of central Dalmatia—including Šibenik and Trogir—accepted Géza's suzerainty after a Hungarian invasion around 1142. Hungarian troops assisted Prince Volodimerko of Halych—who had been the ally of Géza's father against the pretender Boris—when Great Prince Vsevolod II of Kiev invaded Halych in 1144. Although the Hungarian auxiliaries "were of no use whatsoever", according to the Hypatian Codex, the grand prince could not occupy Volodimerko's principality.
Boris was the son of Eufemia of Kiev, King Coloman of Hungary's second wife, whom the king expelled on the charge of adultery before Boris's birth. According to the chronicler Bishop Otto of Freising, Boris approached Conrad III of Germany to seek his assistance against Géza at the end of 1145. Upon the recommendation of Vladislav II of Bohemia, the German monarch authorized Boris to muster an army of mercenaries in Bavaria and Austria. Boris stormed Hungary and took the fortress of Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia). The royal forces soon imposed a blockade on the fortress and convinced Boris's mercenaries to surrender without resistance in exchange for compensation.
The Hungarians blamed Conrad III for Boris's attack and decided to invade the Holy Roman Empire. Before crossing the river Lajta (Leitha, Austria), which marked the western border of Hungary, the sixteen-year-old Géza was girded with a sword in token of his coming of age. In the Battle of the Fischa on 11 September, the Hungarian army under the command of Géza and Beloš routed the German troops led by Henry Jasomirgott, Margrave of Austria.
The Crusaders' march across Hungary (1146–1147)
Géza married Euphrosyne, sister of Grand Prince Iziaslav II of Kiev, in the second half of 1146. German–Hungarian relations remained tense as Boris attempted to take advantage of Conrad III's decision to lead a crusade to the Holy Land through Hungary. However Géza, who knew that "he could conquer more easily by gold than by force, poured out much money among the Germans and thus escaped an attack from them," according to the chronicler Odo of Deuil. The German crusaders marched across Hungary without major incident in June 1147.
The Illuminated Chronicle relates that some Hungarian noblemen promised Boris "if he could make his way into the kingdom, many would take him for their lord and, deserting the King, would cleave to him." Boris convinced two French noblemen to assist him by hiding among the French crusaders who followed the Germans towards the Holy Land. King Louis VII of France and his crusaders arrived in Hungary in August. Géza learnt that his opponent was the French and demanded his extradition. Although Louis VII rejected this demand, he held Boris in custody and "took him out of Hungary," according to Odo of Deuil. Having left Hungary, Boris settled in the Byzantine Empire.
Active foreign policy (1147–1155)
Disputes among European powers led to the formation of two coalitions in the late 1140s. One alliance was formed by the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos and Conrad III against Roger II of Sicily who had invaded Byzantine territories. Géza sided with Roger II and his allies, including the rebellious German prince, Welf VI and Uroš II of Rascia.
Géza sent reinforcements to his brother-in-law, Grand Prince Iziaslav II, against Prince Vladimir of Chernigov in the spring of 1148. Iziaslav II, whom Yuri Dolgorukiy, Prince of Suzdal, expelled from Kiev in August 1149, again sought assistance from Géza. However, according to the Hypatian Codex, Géza "excused himself" because he was "engaged in war" with Emperor Manuel. The emperor's panegyrist Theodore Prodromus writes of an alliance between the Hungarians and the Serbs of Rascia, suggesting that Géza supported the Serbs who rose up in revolt against the Byzantines.
Hungarian auxiliaries assisted Iziaslav II in reoccupying Kiev in the early spring of 1150, but he was in short expelled by Yuri Dolgorukiy. Géza led his army against Volodimirko of Halych, a close ally of Yuri Dolgorukiy, in autumn of 1150. He took Sanok, but his commanders, bribed by Volodimirko, induced him to return from Halych before November.
In the same period, Géza sent "a countless ... force of Hungarian cavalry" to assist the Serbs, but the Byzantine army routed the allied Serbian and Hungarian troops on the river Tara in September 1150. The Byzantine victory forced Uroš II of Rascia to acknowledge Emperor Manuel's suzerainty. The emperor launched a retaliatory campaign against Hungary and ravaged the lands between the rivers Sava and Danube. Assisted by Byzantine troops, the pretender Boris also broke into Hungary and devastated the valley of the river Temes. Géza—who had just returned from Halych—did not want to "involve the remaining Hungarian force in destruction" and sued for peace. The peace treaty was signed at the turn of 1150 and 1151.
In 1152, Géza and Iziaslav II joined together against Halych, and defeated Volodymyrko's armies at the San River. Géza had to return to his kingdom because, during his campaign, Boris had attacked the southern territories of Hungary supported by Byzantine troops. However, Géza would defeat the pretender and made a truce with the Byzantine Empire.
In 1157, Géza's younger brother Stephen conspired against him supported by their uncle, Beloš. After Géza defeated their conspiracy, Stephen fled to the court of Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor. Géza sent envoys to the emperor and promised to assist him with troops against Milan, prompting Frederick to refuse any support from Stephen, who then fled to Constantinople. Stephen was followed, in 1159, by Géza's other brother, Ladislaus, who had also conspired against Géza.
In 1161, inspired by the new Archbishop of Esztergom, Lukács, Géza not only acknowledged the legitimacy of Pope Alexander III instead of Antipope Victor IV, who had been supported by Emperor Frederick I, but he also renounced the right of investiture.
He was buried in Székesfehérvár.
Marriage and children
Géza and Euphrosyne had the following children:
- King Stephen III of Hungary (1147 – 4 March 1172).
- King Béla III of Hungary (1148 – 23 April 1196).
- Elisabeth (c. 1149 – after 1189), wife of Duke Frederick of Bohemia.
- Duke Géza (c. 1150 – before 1210).
- Arpad, died young.
- Odola (1156 – 1199), wife of Duke Sviatopluk of Bohemia.
- Helena (c. 1158 – 25 May 1199), wife of Duke Leopold V of Austria.
- Margaret (Margit) (1162 – ?), born posthumously; wife firstly of Isaac Macrodukas and secondly of András, Obergespan of Somogy.
|Ancestors of Géza II of Hungary|
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Géza II of HungaryBorn: 1130 Died: 31 May 1162
|King of Hungary and Croatia