Ladislaus IV of Hungary

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Ladislaus IV
Ladislaus the Cuman's seal
King of Hungary and Croatia
Reign 1272–1290
Coronation after 6 August 1272
Predecessor Stephen V
Successor Andrew III
Spouse Elizabeth of Sicily
Dynasty Árpád dynasty
Father Stephen V of Hungary
Mother Elizabeth the Cuman
Born 1262
Died 10 July 1290 (aged 27–28)
Körösszeg (Cheresig, Romania)
Burial Cathedral of Csanád (Cenad, Romania)

Ladislaus IV the Cuman (Hungarian: IV. (Kun) László, Croatian: Ladislav IV. Kumanac, Slovak: Ladislav IV. Kumánsky; 1262 – 10 July 1290), also known as Ladislas IV, was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1272 to 1290. His mother, Elizabeth was the daughter of a chieftain of the pagan Cumans who had settled in Hungary. At the age of eight, he married Elisabeth (or Isabella), a daughter of King Charles I of Sicily.

Ladislaus was only ten when a rebellious lord, Joachim Gutkeled kidnapped and imprisoned him. Still a prisoner, Ladislaus succeeded his father, Stephen V who died on 6 August 1272. During Ladislaus's minority, a number of barons—primarily the Abas, Kőszegis, and Gutkeleds—were fighting against each other for supreme power. Ladislaus was declared to be of age at an assembly of the prelates, barons, noblemen and Cumans in 1277. He allied himself with Rudolf I of Germany against Ottokar II of Bohemia. His forces had a preeminent role in Rudolf's victory over Ottokar in the Battle on the Marchfeld on 26 August 1278.

Ladislaus could not restore royal power. A papal legate, who arrived with the task of helping Ladislaus to consolidate his authority, was shocked at the presence of masses of pagan Cumans in Hungary. Ladislaus promised that he would force the Cumans to adopt a Christian lifestyle. However, the King decided to support the Cumans as soon as they denied to obey the legate's demands and the legate excommunicated him. The Cumans imprisoned the legate, and the legate's partisans captured Ladislaus, before their parties concluded an agreement. Ladislaus agreed to persuade the Cumans to submit to the legate, but many Cumans left Hungary.

A Cuman army invaded Hungary in 1282, but Ladislaus vanquished them. Hungary also survived a Mongol invasion in 1285. Ladislaus had by that time become so unpopular that many of his subjects accused him of inciting the Mongols to invade Hungary. He left his wife and lived with his Cuman mistresses in his last years. In this period, royal authority actually vanished and the King was wandering with his Cuman allies throughout the country. Pope Nicholas IV planned to declare a crusade against Ladislaus, but the King was murdered by three Cuman assassins.

Childhood (1262–1272)[edit]

Ladislaus was the elder son of Stephen, son and heir of Béla IV of Hungary and his wife, Elizabeth the Cuman.[1][2] Elizabeth was the daughter of a chieftain of the Cumans, who had settled in Hungary.[3] She was born as a pagan and was only baptized before her marriage to Stephen.[4] Ladislaus was born under the sign of Mars, according to his chaplain, Simon of Kéza in 1262.[5][6]

In 1264 a civil war broke out in Hungary between Ladislaus's father and grandfather.[5][7] Béla IV's troops, which were under the command of Ladislaus's aunt, Anna, captured the castle of Sárospatak, where Ladislaus and his mother were staying, and imprisoned them.[5][8] Ladislaus was initially kept in the Turóc Castle.[8] In two months his grandfather sent him to the court of Boleslaw the Chaste, Duke of Cracow, who was Béla IV's son-in-law.[9] In short he was set free and returned to his family in accordance with the peace treaty his father and grandfather concluded in March.[10]

Ladislaus's father entered into an alliance with Charles I, King of Sicily in September 1269.[11][12] According to the treaty, Charles I's about four-year-old daughter, Elisabeth was engaged to Ladislaus.[5][12] The two children's marriage took place in 1270.[5][12]

Béla IV died on 3 May 1270 and Ladislaus's father was crowned king in two weeks.[12][13] However, the new monarch could not stabilize his rule.[14] Béla IV's closest advisors—Duchess Anna, and Béla IV's former Palatine, Henry Kőszegi—left Hungary and sought assistance from Anna's son-in-law, King Ottokar II of Bohemia.[12][15]

Even the newly appointed Ban of Slavonia, Joachim Gutkeled turned against Stephen V and kidnapped the child Ladislaus in the summer of 1272.[16] Ladislaus was imprisoned in the fortress of Koprivnica in Slavonia.[12] Historian Pál Engel writes that Joachim Gutkeled seems to have planned to force Stephen V to divide Hungary with his son.[12] The King besieged Koprivnica, but could not take it.[12] He fell seriously ill and died on 6 August.[13][12]


Minority (1272–1277)[edit]

Having been informed of Stephen V's death, Joachim Gutkeled departed for Székesfehérvár to arrange the boy-king's coronation and took the boy-king with him.[17][18] Ladislaus's mother joined their procession, enfuriating Stephen V's partisans who accused her of taking part in Joachim Gutkeled's conspiracy against her husband.[17][18] The deceased King's Master of the treasury, Egyed Monoszló besieged the Queen Dowager's palace, but Joachim Gutkeled's allies routed him.[17] Egyed Monoszló fled to Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia), captured it, and ceded the town to Ottokar II of Bohemia.[17]

Seal of Elizabeth the Cuman
Seal of Ladislaus's mother, Elizabeth the Cuman

Archbishop Philip of Esztergom crowned Ladislaus king in about 3 September.[13][17] In theory the ten-year-old King ruled under his mother's regency, but in fact baronial parties administered the kingdom.[19][20] Henry Kőszegi, who had returned from Bohemia, was not even afraid to assassinate Ladislaus's cousin, Béla of Macsó in the royal court in November.[21][22] The murdered Duke's extensive domains along the southern borders were divided among Henry Kőszegi and his allies.[17][21]

In retaliation of a Hungarian incursion into Austria and Moravia, Austrian and Moravian troops invaded the northwestern borderlands of Hungary in April 1273.[23] They captured Győr and Szombathely, and plundered the western counties.[23] Although Joachim Gutkeled recaptured the two forts in two months, Ottokar II of Bohemia invaded Hungary and seized a number of fortresses, including Győr and Sopron in the autumn.[24][25]

Joachim Gutkeled and Henry Kőszegi, whom Peter Csák and his allies had removed from power, seized Ladislaus and his mother in June 1274.[26][27] Although Peter Csák liberated the Queen Dowager and her son, his two opponents abducted and took Ladislaus's younger brother, Andrew to Slavonia.[21][26][27] Joachim Gutkeled and Henry Kőszegi demanded Slavonia in the name of the child Andrew, but Peter Csák routed their united forces near Polgárdi at the end of September.[21][26] Kőszegi was killed in the battle.[26] Ladislaus accompanied Peter Csák on a military campaign against Kőszegi's sons.[26]

At the end of 1274, Rudolf I, the new King of Germany and Ladislaus concluded an alliance against Ottokar II of Bohemia.[26][28] Ladislaus had a serious illness, but recovered from it.[29] He attributed this recovery to a miracle by his deceased saintly aunt, Margaret and approached the Holy See to promote her canonization.[29] A civil war broke out between the two baronial parties, headed by Joachim Gutkeled and Peter Csák.[30] Ladislaus took part in Peter Csák's military expedition against the domains of the Kőszegis, who were Joachim Gutkeled's supporters.[30] At an assembly of the barons and noblemen held at Buda around 21 June 1276, Joachim Gutkeled and his partisans succeeded in removing their opponents from power.[30]

Taking advantage of the war between Rudolf I and Ottokar II, Ladislaus made an incursion into Austria in the autumn.[31] Sopron soon accepted Ladislaus's suzerainty and Ottokar II promised to renounce of all towns he had occupied along the western borderlands of Hungary.[31] New armed conflicts began in many regions of Ladislaus's realm in 1277.[32] For instance, the Transylvanian Saxons captured and destroyed Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia, Romania), the see of the Bishops of Transylvania, and the Babonići rose up in rebellion in Slavonia.[32] Joachim Gutkeled launched an expedition against the Babonići, but suffered a defeat and fell in the battle in April.[31]

First years of majority (1277–1278)[edit]

An assembly of the prelates, barons, noblemen and Cumans declared Ladislaus to be of age in May 1277.[21][19] The Estates of the realm authorized the fifteen-year-old monarch to restore internal peace with all possible means.[21] He first invaded the Kőszegis' domains in Transdanubia, but could not defeat them.[33] On 11 November Ladislaus and Rudolf I of Germany had a meeting in Hainburg an der Donau where they confirmed their former alliance against Ottokar II of Bohemia.[33]

Battle on the Marchfeld
The Battle on the Marchfeld (26 August 1278)

After a royal army captured the rebellious Nicholas Geregye's fortress at Adorján (Adrian, Romania), Ladislaus held a "general assembly" for seven counties along the River Tisza in early summer of 1278.[33] The assembly condemned two rebellious local noblemen to death.[33] In Transdanubia, Ivan Kőszegi attempted to play off Ladislaus's distant cousin, Andrew the Venetian against Ladislaus.[33] The latter demanded Slavonia for himself, but returned to Venice in short time.[33]

Ladislaus joined forces with Rudolf I of Germany and launched a campaign against Ottokar II.[21] Ladislaus's forces played a decisive role in the defeat of Ottokar II in the Battle on the Marchfeld on 26 August.[21][34] Ottokar himself was killed in the battlefield.[34] After the battle, King Rudolf I gave Ladislaus "his thanks, declaring that through his help all Austria and Styria had been restored to him",[35] according to Ladislaus's chronicler, Simon of Kéza.[36]

The Cuman question and the Mongol invasion (1278–1285)[edit]

A papal legate, Philip, Bishop of Fermo arrived in Hungary in early 1279.[37][38] Pope Nicholas III assigned him the task of assisting Ladislaus in restoring royal power.[39] With the legate's mediation, Ladislaus concluded a peace treaty with the Kőszegis.[37]

Bishop Philip realized that most Cumans were still pagans in Hungary.[38][39] He extracted a ceremonious promise from the Cuman chieftains of giving up their pagan customs, and persuaded the young monarch to swear an oath to enforce the keeping of their promise.[37] An assembly held at Tétény passed laws which, in accordance with the legate's demand, prescribed that the Cumans should leave their tents and live "in houses attached to the ground".[38]

Ladislaus in Cuman apparel
Ladislaus depicted in apparel favored by the Cumans (from the Illuminated Chronicle)

However, the Cumans did not obey the laws and Ladislaus, himself a half-Cuman, failed to force them.[38][40] In retaliation, Bishop Philip excommunicated him and placed Hungary under interdict in October.[41] Ladislaus joined the Cumans and appealed to the Holy See against the legate's decision, but the Pope refused to absolve him.[41] On Ladislaus's demand, the Cumans seized and imprisoned Bishop Philip in early January 1280.[41][40] In short, Finta Aba, Voivode of Transylvania captured Ladislaus and handed him over to Roland Borsa.[41][40] In less than two months, both the legate and the king were set free and Ladislaus took a new oath to enforce the Cuman laws.[42] However, the Cumans resisted and many of them decided to leave Hungary.[43] Ladislaus attempted to stop them and followed them as far as Szalánkemén (Stari Slankamen, Serbia) in the autumn, but could hinder them from crossing the frontier.[44][45]

Ladislaus launched an campaign against Finta Aba and seized his castles in the summer of 1281.[44] Bishop Philip of Fermo left Hungary around the same time, stating that he would never come back "not for the sake of the Holy Father", according to the Austrian Rhymed Chronicle.[46] A Cuman army invaded the southern parts of Hungary in 1282.[47] The Illuminated Chronicle writes that Ladislaus, "like the brave Joshua, went out against" the Cumans "to fight for his people and his realm".[47][48] He vanquished the invaders' army in a battle fought at the Lake Hód (near Hódmezővásárhely).[38]

At the end of the next year, Ladislaus laid siege to Borostyánkő (Bernstein im Burgenland, Austria), the fortress of the Kőszegi brothers.[47][49] However, he could not capture the fortress and lifted the siege in early 1284.[49] Ladislaus was even reconciled with Ivan Kőszegi and appointed him Palatine before 6 July.[49] He left his wife, Isabella and settled among the Cumans by the end of the year.[38]

The Mongols of the Golden Horde invaded Hungary under the command of Khans Talabuga and Nogai In January 1285.[50] They "spread a terrible devastation of fire throughout the whole country" to the east of the Danube, according to the Illuminated Chronicle.[51] Local forces resisted the invaders at many places, for instance at Regéc.[49] The invasion lasted for two months before the Mongols withdrew.[51]

Last years (1285–1290)[edit]

Ladislaus's favoritism towards the Cumans had made him so unpopular that many of his subjects accused him of inciting the Mongols to invade Hungary.[38] In fact, Ladislaus employed Mongol prisoners of war, known as nyögérs, when subjugated a rebellion in the Szepesség in September 1285.[52] The King preferred the Cumans' way of life, including their costums and hairstyle, and took Cuman girls as his mistresses.[38][53] According to Lodomer, Archbishop of Esztergom, he copulated with his favorite concubine, Aydua—whom the Archbishop described as a "poisonous viper"—in public.[53]

In September 1286, Ladislaus imprisoned his wife and granted all her revenues to his mistress.[53][52] Archbishop Lodomer liberated Queen Isabella in next September.[52] The Archbishop summoned the prelates, the barons and the noblemen to an assembly in Buda and excommunicated Ladislaus.[52] In response, the infuriated King stated that "beginning with the archbishop of Esztergom and his suffragans I shall exterminated the whole lot right up to Rome with the aid of Tartar swords", according to Archbishop Lodomer.[38][53]

The barons captured Ladislaus in the Szepesség in January 1288.[54] Although his partisans soon liberated him, he acquiesced in concluding an agreement with Archbishop Lodomer.[54] The Archbishop absolved Ladislaus on condition that the King would live in accordance with Christian morals.[54] However, Ladislaus broke his promise.[54] He abducted his sister, Elizabeth, Prioress of the Dominican Monastery of the Blessed Virgin on Rabbits' Island and gave her in marriage to a Czech aristocrat, Zavis of Falkenstein.[55] He even stated that "If I had fifteen or more sisters in as many cloistered communities as you like, I would snatch them from there to marry them off licitly or illicitly; in order to procure through them a kin-group who will support me by all their power in the fulfilment of my will", according to Archbishop Lodomer.[56]

Ladislaus spent the last years of his life wandering from place to place.[57] Central government actually disappeared, because the prelates and the barons ruled the kingdom independently of the monarch.[38][58] For instance, Ivan Kőszegi and his brothers waged wars against Albert I, Duke of Austria, but Ladislaus did not intervene, although the Austrians captured at least 30 fortresses along the western borders.[59][60]

Assassination of Ladislaus
Cuman assassins murder Ladislaus in Körösszeg (Cheresig, Romania) on 10 July 1290

The Kőszegis offered the crown to Andrew the Venetian, who arrived in Hungary in early 1290.[61] However, one of their opponents captured the pretender and surrendered him to Duke Albert.[61][62] Ladislaus appointed Mizse, who had recently converted from Islam to Christianity, Palatine.[61][63] Pope Nicholas IV was even planning to proclaim a crusade against Ladislaus.[64][65] However, Ladislaus, who had always been partial towards his Cuman subjects, was assassinated by three Cumans, named Árbóc, Törtel and Kemence, at the castle of Körösszeg (Cheresig, Romania) on 10 July 1290.[38][60] Mizse and the brother of Aydua, Nicholas took vengeance for his death, slaughtering the murderers.[60]

Upon Pope Nicholas IV's orders, an enquiry was carried out to find out "whether the king died as a Catholic Christian".[66] The results of the investigation are unknown, but the Chronicon Budense writes that Ladislaus was buried in the cathedral of Csanád (Cenad, Romania).[66][60] His successor, Andrew the Venetian and Pope Benedict VIII mentioned Ladislaus as "of renowned memory".[66]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kristó 1994, p. 396.
  2. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 274, Appendix 5.
  3. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 268.
  4. ^ Berend 2001, p. 261.
  5. ^ a b c d e Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 274.
  6. ^ Berend 2001, p. 179.
  7. ^ Fine 1994, p. 178.
  8. ^ a b Zsoldos 2007, p. 141.
  9. ^ Zsoldos 2007, pp. 79-80, 82, 141.
  10. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 160.
  11. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 163.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Engel 2001, p. 107.
  13. ^ a b c Bartl et al. 2002, p. 33.
  14. ^ Kontler 1999, p. 99.
  15. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 164.
  16. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, pp. 164, 166.
  17. ^ a b c d e f Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 166.
  18. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 275.
  19. ^ a b Kontler 1999, p. 83.
  20. ^ Fine 1994, p. 181.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h Engel 2001, p. 108.
  22. ^ Zsoldos 2007, p. 132.
  23. ^ a b Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 168.
  24. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, pp. 168-169.
  25. ^ Kristó 2003, p. 186.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 170.
  27. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 276.
  28. ^ Žemlička 2011, p. 110.
  29. ^ a b Klaniczay 2002, p. 225.
  30. ^ a b c Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 171.
  31. ^ a b c Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 172.
  32. ^ a b Kristó 2003, p. 188.
  33. ^ a b c d e f Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 173.
  34. ^ a b Žemlička 2011, p. 111.
  35. ^ Simon of Kéza: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 2.74), p. 155.
  36. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 277.
  37. ^ a b c Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 174.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Engel 2001, p. 109.
  39. ^ a b Berend 2001, p. 277.
  40. ^ a b c Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 278.
  41. ^ a b c d Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 175.
  42. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, pp. 175-176.
  43. ^ Kristó 2003, p. 193.
  44. ^ a b Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 176.
  45. ^ Kristó 2003, pp. 193-194.
  46. ^ Engel 2001, pp. 109, 390.
  47. ^ a b c Kristó 2003, p. 194.
  48. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle: (ch. 181.128), p. 141.
  49. ^ a b c d Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 177.
  50. ^ Sălăgean 2005, p. 238.
  51. ^ a b Bárány 2012, p. 357.
  52. ^ a b c d Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 178.
  53. ^ a b c d Berend 2001, p. 174.
  54. ^ a b c d Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 179.
  55. ^ Klaniczay 2002, p. 262.
  56. ^ Berend 2001, p. 176.
  57. ^ Sălăgean 2005, p. 239.
  58. ^ Kontler 1999, p. 84.
  59. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 180.
  60. ^ a b c d Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 281.
  61. ^ a b c Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 181.
  62. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, p. 34.
  63. ^ Berend 2001, p. 128.
  64. ^ Berend 2001, pp. 174-175.
  65. ^ Kontler 1999, pp. 83-84.
  66. ^ a b c Berend 2001, p. 177.


Primary sources[edit]

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Ladislaus IV of Hungary
Born: 1262 Died: 10 July 1290
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Stephen V
King of Hungary
Succeeded by
Andrew III
King of Croatia