Ladislaus IV of Hungary

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Ladislas IV
Kun L szl Thuroczy.jpg
Ladislas IV the Cuman
King of Hungary and Croatia
Reign 6 August 1272 – 10 July 1290
Coronation after 6 August 1272 in Székesfehérvár
Predecessor Stephen V
Successor Andrew III
Spouse Elizabeth of Anjou
Dynasty Árpád dynasty
Father Stephen V of Hungary
Mother Elizabeth the Cuman
Born 5 August 1262
Died 10 July 1290 (aged 27)
Körösszeg, Hungary

Ladislas IV the Cuman (Hungarian: IV. (Kun) László, Polish: Władysław IV, Croatian: Ladislav IV., Slovak: Ladislav IV) (5 August 1262 – 10 July 1290), also known as László IV, was King of Hungary from 1272 to 1290.[1] His mother was a Cuman princess, and he was known (and disliked) for wearing Cuman dress and having Cuman favorites at court. He succeeded at the age of ten, and his long minority was marked by severe disorders, which continued throughout his reign. For much of his reign, Ladislas had to rely almost entirely on his Cuman kindred for support.

Early years[edit]

Ladislaus was the elder son of Stephen V of Hungary and his wife, Elizabeth the Cuman.[2][3] Elizabeth was the daughter of a chieftain of the Cumans, who had settled in Hungary after Mongol pressure drove them westwards.[4] She was a pagan and had to be baptized before her wedding with the future Stephen V in 1253. Ladislaus was born in 1262.[5]

Just after Ladislaus's birth, a civil war broke out in Hungary between his father, who had been crowned as junior king of Hungary, and his grandfather Béla IV of Hungary. During the struggles, Béla's troops occupied the castle of Sárospatak, where the child Ladislas and his mother were staying, and he was taken to his grandfather's court. The two kings concluded a peace only in 1265 when Ladislas returned to his father's court. In 1269 Béla IV betrothed him to Elisabeth of Anjou, the daughter of King Charles I of Naples.

Child king of Hungary[edit]

Béla died in 1270, and Ladislas' father Steven became the sole ruler of Hungary. Shortly afterwards, Ladislas married his fiancée, who had just arrived in the country. In 1272, when Ladislas was ten years old, he was abducted from his father's court by Joachim Pektar (de genere Gutkeled), the rebellious Ban of Slavonia. Joachim took Ladislas to the castle of Koprivnica. Stephen vainly besieged Koprivnica, then fell ill and died unexpectedly on 6 August 1272. After Steven's death, Joachim took Ladislas to Székesfehérvár, where Archbishop Philip of Esztergom crowned the child with the Crown of Thorns.

His minority, from his accession to the throne until 1277, was an alternation of palace revolutions and civil wars, in which his Cuman mother Elizabeth barely contrived to keep the upper hand. After his coronation the major offices of the court were divided among Joachim and his allies Lorand de genere Gutkeled and Miklós Geregye. They were joined by Henrik Kőszegi, who had been exiled during Steven's reign. Shortly after his return, Henrik murdered Ladislas' cousin, Prince Béla of Macsó, whose extensive estates were divided among the allied barons.

In early 1273, King Ottokar II of Bohemia, the murdered prince's brother-in-law, invaded Hungary and occupied Pozsony, Moson, and Sopron Counties. In 1274 the queen dowager managed to overthrow Ban Joachim and his allies, but he again abducted the child king. Although Peter Csák liberated Ladislas IV shortly thereafter, Ban Joachim abducted Ladislas' brother, Andrew, and demanded the division of the kingdom between Ladislas and Andrew. Afterward, the government of the kingdom changed frequently among the several parties of the barons.

The friend of the Cumans[edit]

On 23 May 1277 the assembly of the "prelates, barons, nobles, and Cumans" in Rákos declared Ladislas of full age and he theoretically began to govern the kingdom. On 11 November 1277, Ladislas met King Rudolph I of Germany in Vienna, and they formed an alliance against Ottokar of Bohemia. In the next year he joined forces with King Rudolph, and they defeated Ottokar on 26 August 1278 in the Battle on the Marchfeld.

Meanwhile, Ladislas alienated his Angevin kinsfolk and the Hungarian nobility by favoring the society of the semi-pagan Cumans, from whom he was descended through his mother. He wore Cuman dress as his court wear, surrounded himself with Cuman concubines and neglected his Angevin consort, Elisabeth.

In early 1279, a papal legate arrived in Hungary to inquire into the conduct of the king, who was accused by his neighbors and many of his own subjects, of undermining Christianity. The legate summoned an assembly to Buda, where Ladislas ordered the Cuman tribes to settle down in limited areas of the kingdom. However, he was not able to (or did not want to) enforce the fulfillment of his order; as a result, the legate excommunicated him. Ladislas managed to escape from the court and joined the Cuman tribes, and with their help imprisoned the legate. But then Ladislas was captured by the Voivode of Transylvania, Finta de genere Aba, who forced him to reconcile with the legate.

Afterwards, the royal government, led by Finta and his allies, tried to force the Cuman tribes to settle down, which resulted in the revolt of the Cumans who were planning to leave the country, but Ladislas defeated them in a battle near Stari Slankamen (Szalánkemén). In 1281 Ladislas replaced Finta and his allies with the members of the Kőszegi family. Finta and his allies rebelled, but Ladislas managed to overcome them. In the next year some Cuman tribes decided again to leave Hungary. Ladislas won a decisive victory over the Cumans, but some of them managed to escape to the Balkans.

Ladislas, however, could not strengthen the royal power. Thus, various factions of the nobility governed the kingdom in the following years. All Hungary was convulsed by civil war, during which the young king was driven from one end of his kingdom to the other. The magnates and lower nobility were able to establish their power at the expense of the monarchy during the prolonged political unrest.

In February, 1285 Tatar troops of the Golden Horde, led by Nogai Khan, invaded and ravaged eastern Hungary, but they soon withdrew. This episode was connected to the establishment of the Principality of Moldavia, which was sponsored by Ladislas and his successors as a buffer against the Tatars. The king's popularity was by now so low that many of his opponents claimed he had invited the Tatars. These rumors seemed to be justified when Ladislas employed some of the Mongol captives as members of his personal guards.

In September 1286, Ladislas imprisoned his wife and openly consorted with his Cuman mistress, Édua. One year later he abducted his sister Elisabeth, a nun in the Convent of the Blessed Virgin on Nyulak szigete ('Rabbits' Island'), and married her to a Czech magnate, Zaviś z Rozenberka. When informed of this, Archbishop Lodomer of Esztergom excommunicated Ladislas and asked the Pope to proclaim a crusade against him.

Hungary now fell into total anarchy, with various regions controlled by the great oligarchs: the Babonić (Babonics), Kőszegi, Aba, Kán, and Csák families. Duke Albert I of Germany occupied several western Counties. On 26 May 1289, Ladislas issued a writ claiming he had suppressed these revolts.[6] In June 1289, Ladislas reconciled temporarily with Archbishop Lodomer and his wife Elisabeth, but he did not have enough power to control the barons, so he joined his Cuman followers again.

In 1290, he appointed Mizse, a Muslim convert to Christianity, as Palatine of Hungary. Later in 1290, he was slain in his camp at Körösszeg by Cuman assassins.

He died heirless. His successor, Andrew III of Hungary, issued from another branch of the Árpád dynasty.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ladislas IV. (2009). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 19 April 2009, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online:
  2. ^ Kristó 1994, p. 396.
  3. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 274, Appendix 5.
  4. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 268.
  5. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 274.
  6. ^ Z. J. Kosztolnyik, Hungary in the thirteenth century, Volume 439 of American Historical Association Monograph Series, 1996, page 299.


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Ladislaus IV of Hungary
Born: August 1262 Died: 10 July 1290
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Stephen V & VI
King of Hungary
Succeeded by
Andrew III
King of Croatia
Succeeded by
Charles Martel
Titles in pretence
Preceded by
Stephen V
King of Serbia
Succeeded by
Andrew III