Ladislaus I of Hungary

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Ladislaus I
King of the Hungarians and of Moesia (1091)
King St. Ladislaus.jpg
Medieval reliquary of Saint Ladislaus in the cathedral of Győr.
King of Hungary
till 1081 contested by Solomon
Reign 1077–1095
Predecessor Géza I
Successor Coloman
King of Croatia
contested by Petar Svačić
Reign 1091–1095
Predecessor Stephen II
Successor Petar Svačić
Spouse Unnamed first wife (?)
Adelaide of Rheinfelden
Issue Unnamed daughter, wife of Iaroslav Sviatopolchich of Volhinia
Irene, Byzantine Empress
Dynasty Árpád dynasty
Father Béla I of Hungary
Mother Richeza or Adelaide of Poland
Born c. 1040
Kingdom of Poland
Died 29 July 1095 (aged 54–55)
Burial Somogyvár Abbey or Várad Cathedral (Oradea, Romania)
Religion Roman Catholic

Ladislaus I or Ladislas I, also Saint Ladislaus or Saint Ladislas (Hungarian: I or Szent László; Croatian: Ladislav I.; Slovak: Svätý Ladislav I; c. 1040 – 29 July 1095) was King of Hungary from 1077 and King of Croatia from 1091. He was the second son of King Béla I of Hungary who died in 1063. He and his elder brother, Géza concluded a treaty with their cousin, Solomon: they acknowledged Solomon's reign in exchange for receiving their father's former duchy which included one third of the Kingdom of Hungary. Ladislaus was an influential advisor of his brother who was proclaimed king against their cousin in 1074.

Ladislaus succeeded his brother in 1077, but Solomon was able to contest him from two fortresses—Moson and Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia)—in the western regions. For King Henry IV of Germany supported Solomon, Ladislaus made an alliance with the German monarch's opponents during the first phase of the Investiture Controversy. Solomon abdicated and acknowledged Ladislaus's reign in 1081, but he conspired against the king and was imprisoned. Ladislaus set his dethroned cousin free on the occasion of the canonization of the first saints in Hungary—including, his distant relatives, King Stephen I and Duke Emeric—in 1085.

Following a series of civil wars, Ladislaus strengthened public safety by introducing severe legislation. His occupation of Croatia in 1091 marked the beginning of a period of expansion of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. His victories over the Pechenegs and Cumans ensured the security of his kingdom's eastern borders for about 150 years.

He was canonized on 29 June 1192. His legends depict him as a pious knight-king, "the incarnation of the late-medieval Hungarian ideal of chivalry."[1] He is a popular saint in Hungary and in the neighboring countries where many churches are dedicated to him.


Early years (before 1064)[edit]

11th-century Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary in the 11th century

He was the second son of the future King Béla I of Hungary and his wife, named Richeza or Adelhaid, a daughter of King Mieszko II of Poland.[2][3] Ladislaus and his elder brother, Géza were born in Poland, where their father who had been banished from Hungary settled in the 1030s.[4][5] He was born in about 1040.[4] According to his Legend written in the late 12th century, Ladislaus's "physical and spiritual makeup testified to God's gracious will even at his birth".[6] The chronicler Gallus Anonymus narrates that Ladislaus was "raised from childhood in Poland" and almost became "a Pole in his ways and life".[7][5] His name, which was originally Vladislav, is of Slavic origin.[4]

Ladislaus's father returned to Hungary around 1048 and his family followed him.[4] Here Béla received a duchy—which encompassed one-third of the kingdom—from his brother, King Andrew I.[8][9][10] The first record of Ladislaus is connected to the coronation of King Andrew's son, Solomon who "was anointed king with the consent of Duke Bela and his sons Geysa and Ladislaus"[11] in 1057 or 1058, according to the Illuminated Chronicle.[4]

Béla's coronation
Ladislaus's father, Béla I is crowned king after his nephew, Solomon is deprived of the crown (from the Illuminated Chronicle)

Duke Béla who had been his brother's heir before Solomon's coronation left for Poland in 1059.[12] His sons accompanied him.[4] They returned with Polish reinforcements and initiated a rebellion against King Andrew.[8][13] Béla emerged the victor in the ensuing civil war. He was crowned king on 6 December 1060.[13] However, the young Solomon took refugee in the Holy Roman Empire.[14][15]

Béla I died on 11 September 1063, some days before German troops entered Hungary in order to restore Solomon.[12] Ladislaus and his two brothers left for Poland and Solomon was again crowned king in Székesfehérvár.[4][16] They returned after the Germans had left Hungary, but they did not want to start a new civil war and concluded a treaty with their young cousin on 20 January 1064.[17][18] According to their agreement, Géza, Ladislaus and Lampert acknowledged Solomon's right to the crown, and the king granted them their father's one-time duchy.[17][19]

Duke in Hungary (1064–1077)[edit]

St Ladislaus chasing the Cuman
Saint Ladislaus chasing the "Cuman" warrior—a mural in the Unitarian church of Székelyderzs (Dârjiu, Romania)
St Ladislaus's fight with the Cuman
Saint Ladislaus's fight with the "Cuman" warrior—a mural in the Unitarian church of Székelyderzs (Dârjiu, Romania)

Historians Ján Steinhübel,[20] Gyula Kristó[21] and Ferenc Makk[2] write that Ladislaus and Géza divided the administration of the duchy and Ladislaus seem to have received the regions around Bihar (Biharia, Romania). They closely cooperated with King Solomon between 1064 and 1071.[21] Hungarian chronicles narrate the most popular episode of Ladislaus's legends—his fight with a "Cuman" warrior to liberate an abducted Christian maiden—in connection with events which happened in this period.[22][23] According to these chronicles, Ladislaus chased and killed his pagan opponent after the battle of Kerlés (Chiraleş, Romania). In this battle, the united armies of King Solomon and his cousins routed a band of "Cumans"—in fact, Pechenegs or Oghuz Turks—who had been plundering the eastern parts of the kingdom in 1068.[4][24] According to the historian Victor Spinei, a Russian annals' record of a plundering raid by "Cumans and Romanians" against Transylvania in 1068 also refers to the events ending with this battle.[25]

[The] most blessed Duke Ladislaus saw one of the pagans who was carrying off on his horse a beautiful Hungarian girl. The saintly Duke Ladislaus thought that it was the daughter of the Bishop of Warad, and although he was seriously vounded, he swiftly pursued him on his horse, which he called by the name of Zug. When he caught up with him and wished to spear him, he could not do so, for neither could his own horse go any faster nor did the other's horse yield any ground, but there remained the distance of a man's arm between his spear and the Coman's back. So the saintly Duke Ladislaus shouted to the girl and said: "Fair sister, take hold of the Coman by his belt and throw yourself to the ground." Which she did; and the saintly Duke Ladislaus was about to spear him as he lay upon the ground, for he wished to kill him. But the girl strongly pleaded with him not to kill him, but to let him go. Whence it is to be seen that there is no faith in women; for it was probably because of strong carnal love that she wished him to go free. But after having fought for a long time with him and unmanned him, the saintly Duke killed him. But the girl was not the bishop's daughter.

The legend is based on elements of an Oriental epic tale from before the time of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin.[27]

The relationship between the king and his cousins became tense in the early 1070s.[28] For instance, Ladislaus's brother, Géza accompanied Solomon on a military campaign against the Byzantine Empire in 1072, but Ladislaus stayed behind with half of the ducal troops in the Nyírség in order to "avenge his brother with a strong hand"[29] if the king did any harm to Géza during the expedition.[28][30] For both King Solomon and his cousins were aware that an armed conflict between them was inevitable, they started negotiations in order to seek assistance from foreign powers in 1073.[28][30] Upon his brother's request, Ladislaus first visited the Kievan Rus', but he returned without reinforcements.[2][30] Next he departed for Moravia where he persuaded Duke Otto I of Olomouc, who was the husband of a sister of Géza and Ladislaus, to accompany him to Hungary with Czech troops.[2][31] They arrived in Hungary some days after the royal army invaded the domains of Géza and Ladislaus and routed Géza's troops in the battle of Kemej on 26 February 1074.[32][28][33] Ladislaus and Otto of Olomouc encountered Géza, who was fleeing from the battlefield, in Vác where they decided to continue the fight against Solomon.[32]

The siege of Pressburg
Ladislaus besieges the dethroned Solomon in Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia)

The decisive battle was fought at Mogyoród on 14 March 1074.[32][33] According to a legend preserved in the Illuminated Chronicle, the saintly Ladislaus who "saw in broad daylight a vision from heaven"[34] of an angel placing a crown on Géza's head before the battle predicted their victory.[35] Another legendary episode of Ladislaus's life likewise suggested their triumph: an "ermine of purest white"[36] jumped on Ladislaus's lance from a thorny bush and ran on it up to Ladislaus's chest before the battle.[35] In fact, the dukes emerged the victor in the ensuing battle during which Ladislaus commanded "the troops from Byhor"[37] on the left flank.[32][33]

After the battle, Solomon fled to the western territories of the kingdom and Géza was proclaimed king.[32] However, Solomon did not renounce the crown and established himself in Moson and Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia) on the western borders of the kingdom.[38] In his brother's reign, Ladislaus administered their father's whole former duchy.[31] He forced back Solomon's attack on Nyitra (Nitra, Slovakia) in August or September 1074, but he could not take Pressburg from Solomon.[31] Ladislaus also remained his brother's principal advisor.[31] For instance, legend says that Géza decided to built a church dedicated to the Holy Virgin in Vác after Ladislaus explained him the significance of the wondrous appearance of a red deer at a place on the Danube.[39]

As [King Géza and Duke Ladislaus] were standing at a spot near [Vác], where is now the church of the blessed apostle Peter, a stag appeared to them with many candles burning upon his horns, and it began to run swifly before them towards the wood, and at the spot where is now the monastery, it halted and stood still. When the soldiers shot their arrows at it, it leapt into the Danube, and they saw it no more. At this sight the blessed Ladislaus said: "Truly that was no stag, but an angel from God." And King [Géza] said: "Tell me, beloved brother, what may all the candles signify which we saw burning on the stag's horns." The blessed Ladislaus answered: "They are not horns, but wings; they are not burning candles, but shining feathers. It has shown to us that we are to build the church of the Blessed Virgin on the place where it planted its feet, and not elsewhere."

His reign[edit]

Consolidation (1077–1085)[edit]

Ladislaus's coronation
Angels put the crown on Ladislaus's head (from the Illuminated Chronicle)
Ladislaus's denar
King Ladislaus's denar

Géza I died on 25 April 1077.[41] For his sons were still minors, his partisans proclaimed Ladislaus king.[31] According to Gallus Anonymus, King Boleslaus II the Bold of Poland "drove out" Solomon "from Hungary with his forces, and placed" Ladislaus "on the throne"; he even called Ladislaus "his king"[42] thereafter.[5][43] The Illuminated Chronicle emphasizes that Ladislaus "never placed the crown upon his head, for he desired a heavenly crown rather than the earthly crown of a mortal king",[44][45] but all his coins depict him wearing a crown, suggesting that he was crowned.[46] Shortly after his election—around 1078—Ladislaus promulgated two books of laws, which incorporated the decisions of an assembly of the "magnates of the kingdom"[47] held in Pannonhalma.[19] The majority of these laws contain draconian measures in order to defend private property, suggesting that Ladislaus primarily focused on internal consolidation and security in the first years of his reign.[48][49] For instance, those who were caught in theft were to be executed, according to his laws; even minor offenders against property rights were blinded or sold as slaves in Ladislaus's reign.[48] His other laws regulated legal proceedings and economic issues, including the issuing of judicial summons and the royal monopoly on salt trade.[19][48]

If someone, freeman or bondman, should be caught in theft, he shall be hanged. But if he flees to the church to evade the gallows, he shall be led out of the church and blinded. A bondman caught in theft, if he does not flee to the church, shall be hanged; the owner of the stolen goods shall take a loss in the lost goods. The sons and daughters of a freeman caught in theft who fled to the church, was led out and blinded, if they are ten years old or less, shall retain their freedom; but if they are older than ten years they shall be reduced to servitude and lose all their property. A bondman or freeman who steals a goose or a hen shall lose one eye and shall restore what he has stolen.

Laws of King Ladislas I[50]
Piroska of Hungary
Mosaic portrait of the daughter of Ladislaus by Adelhaid, Piroska—Empress Irene—in the Hagia Sophia (Istanbul, Turkey); she is venerated as Saint Irene by the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Illuminated Chronicle states that Ladislaus was planning that "he would restore the kingdom" to Solomon and "himself have the dukedom"[44] after his ascension to the throne.[45][46] However, nearly contemporaneous sources contradict this report.[51] Some days after his election Ladislaus approached Pope Gregory VII, who was the principal opponent of Solomon's main ally, Henry IV of Germany.[51] Upon the pope's request, Ladislaus gave shelter to Bavarian nobles who turned against Henry IV during the first stage of the Investiture Controversy between the Holy See and the German monarch.[52][53] In 1078 or 1079 Ladislaus married Adelhaid, a daughter of Rudolf of Rheinfelden whom the German princes had elected king against Henry IV.[54][53][52] He also supported Margrave Leopold II of Austria who rebelled against Henry IV, but the German monarch compelled the submission of Leopold in May 1078.[55] Taking advantage of the internal conflicts within the Holy Roman Empire, Ladislaus took the fortress of Moson from Solomon in early 1079.[56][54] However, the German king launched a raid against the western lands of Hungary and secured Solomon's position.[56] The German invasion also prevented Ladislaus from assisting Boleslaus the Bold who fled to Hungary after his subjects had expelled him from Poland.[57]

Ladislaus initiated negotiations with Solomon, which ended with the latter's abdication of the crown in exchange for "revenues sufficient to bear the expenses of a king"[58] in 1080 or 1081.[49][54][56] However, Solomon soon began to conspire against Ladislaus who had him imprisoned.[45][56] Ladislaus set his cousin free when Stephen, the first king of Hungary was canonized in August 1083.[49] Legend says that the holy king's grave could not be opened till the dethroned Solomon was held in captivity.[52]

[The] Lord, in order to show how merciful the [King Stephen I] had been while living in a mortal body, demonstrated his approval of [Stephen's revelation as a saint] before all other works when [the king] was already reigning with Christ to the point that though for three days they struggled with all their might to raise his holy body, it was not by any means to be moved from its place. For in that time, because of the sins, a grave discord arose between the said king Ladislas and his cousin Solomon, because of which, Solomon, captured, was held in prison. Therefore when they tried in vain to raise the body, a certain recluse at the church of the Holy Savior in Bökénysomlyó, by the name of Karitas, whose famous life at the time was held in esteem, confided to the king by a revelation made to her from heaven that they exerted themselves in vain; it would be impossible to transfer the relics of the holy king until unconditional pardon was offered to Solomon, setting him free from the confinement of prison. And thus, bringing him forth from the prison, and repeating the three-day fast, when the third day arrived for the transferal of the holy remains, the stone lying over the grave was lifted up with such ease as if it had been of no weight before.

Hartvic, Life of King Stephen of Hungary[59]
St Stephen's intact right hand
The "Holy Dexter": King Saint Stephen's intact right hand, which was kept for centuries in the Benedictine abbey established in Szentjobb (Sâniob, Romania)

The canonization of the first five Hungarian saints—King Stephen I, his son, Emeric, Bishop Gerard, and the hermits Andrew Zorard and Benedict—had been initiated by Ladislaus.[56] The first Hungarian king's canonization demonstrates Ladislaus's magnanimity, because his grandfather, Vazul had in the 1030s been blinded on Stephen I's order.[60][49] On the other hand, the ceremony was also a political act, testifying Ladislaus's "commitment to preserving and strengthening" the Christian state founded by his holy predecessor.[61] Ladislaus also set up a Benedictine monastery—the Szentjobb Abbey—which was dedicated to Stephen's right arm which was miraculously found intact after his canonization and became known as the "Holy Dexter".[49]

After his liberation, Solomon made a last effort to regain his crown from Ladislaus.[62][49] He persuaded Kutesk—a chieftain of the Pechenegs dwelling in the lowlands east of the Carpathian Mountains—to invade Hungary in 1085.[62] However, Ladislaus defeated them in the decisive battle fought along the upper courses of the river Tisza.[62][63]

Expansion (1085–1092)[edit]

The German princes who opposed Henry IV held a conference in Speyer in August 1087.[64][62] Ladislaus sent envoys to their meeting and "promised that he would assist" them "with 20,000 knights, if it became necessary",[65] according to Bernold of St Blasien.[66] This report also proves that Ladislaus recognized Viktor III as legitimate pope against Clement III, who had been elected pope on Henry IV's initiative.[66] However, Ladislaus provided no support to the German anti-king Hermann of Salm after he was informed that Solomon had died during a military action against the Byzantine Empire in 1087.[67] Even so, in 1090 Bishop Jaromír of Prague visited Ladislaus—who was "his old friend",[68] according to Cosmas of Prague—after he had decided to submit a complaint at the Holy See against King Vratislaus II of Bohemia's decision of the division of his diocese.[69]

Zvonimir of Croatia and Helen of Hungary
Betrothal of King Zvonimir, a picture by Mato Celestin Medović

King Demetrius Zvonimir of Croatia, whose wife, Helen was Ladislaus's sister, died in 1089 or 1090.[70][71] His successor, Stephen II died childless in 1091.[72] Upon the request of the Dowager Queen Helen, Ladislaus decided to intervene in the conflicts emerging among the different parties of Croatian noblemen.[73] He informed Abbot Oderizius of Monte Cassino of the conquest of "Sclavonia" in a letter of 1091.[72][71] According to the chronicler Thomas the Archdeacon, Ladislaus "occupied the entire land from the River Drava to the mountains called the Iron Alps without encountering opposition"[74] in Croatia.[75][76] However, a local nobleman Petar Svačić whom Ladislaus's opponents proclaimed king resisted in the Gvozd Mountains and the neighboring regions.[77][71] Ladislaus appointed his younger nephew, Álmos to administer the occupied territory.[77][71] Around the same time, Ladislaus also set up a separate diocese for these regions with its see in Zagreb.[77] The bishop of the new see became the suffragan to the archbishop of Esztergom in Hungary.[71]

Ladislaus admitted that he could not "promote the cause of earthly dignities without committing grave sins" in his letter of 1091 to Abbot Oderizius.[78] According to Bálint Hóman, these words of the king referred to a conflict between Ladislaus and Pope Urban II.[78] Florin Curta,[79] Gyula Kristó[80] and other historians[78][81] write that the conflict emerged after the occupation of Croatian territories, because the king refused to acknowledge the Holy See's suzerainty over his new realm. Ladislaus styled himself as "king of the Hungarians and of Moesia" in his letter to Abbot Oderizius.[67][82] The historian Ferenc Makk writes that the latter title implies that the king had occupied the regions between the rivers Great Morava and Drina from the Byzantine Empire.[67] No other documents refer to Ladislaus's rule in Moesia, suggesting that even if he occupied this region, the Byzantines reoccupied it in short time.[82]

Cumans invaded and plundered the eastern territories of the kingdom in 1091 or 1092.[67] According to Ferenc Makk, the Byzantines persuaded them to attack Hungary.[83] On the other hand, the Illuminated Chronicle writes that the Cumans were incited to "come into Hungary" by "Ruthenians".[84][85][86] The chronicler adds that Ladislaus invaded the neighboring Rus' principalities, forcing the "Ruthenians" to ask "for mercy" and to promise "that they would be faithful to him in all things."[84][87] No Russian chronicle refers to Ladislaus's military action across the Carpathian Mountains.[69]

Bernold of St Blasien narrates that Duke Welf of Bavaria prevented "a conference that" Emperor Henry IV "had arranged with the king of the Hungarians"[88] in December 1092.[78] A letter of the emperor clearly refers to "the alliance into which" he "once entered with"[89] Ladislaus.[85] Pope Urban II also mentioned in one of his letters that the Hungarians "left the shepherds of their salvation",[90] implying that Ladislaus joined the antipope's camp.[91]

The deed of the foundation of the Benedictine Somogyvár Abbey likewise suggests, that Ladislaus opposed the ideas of the Gregorian Reform of the independence of the Church.[92] In this document, he prescribed that its abbot should be obedient to the king.[92] Ladislaus even presided over an assembly of the Hungarian prelates which met in Szabolcs on 21 May 1091.[93] In contrast to the requirements of canon law, the synod recognized the legitimacy of the first marriage of clergymen.[94] Whether the sees of the dioceses of Kalocsa and Bihar were transferred to Bács (Bač, Serbia) and Nagyvárad (Oradea, Romania) respectively under Ladislaus is debated by historians.[95][96] According to Ferenc Makk, the reorganization of the archbishopric of Kalocsa was connected to the arrival of English refugees in the Byzantine Empire who sought clergymen from the Kingdom of Hungary.[95]

Last years (1092–1095)[edit]

Anjou Legendarium
Anjou Legendarium (1320/1340): 1. St. Ladislaus's burial 2. People pray at his tomb 3. A rich man cannot lift a silver tray from his tomb 4. A poor man lifts the silver tray

Ladislaus intervened in the conflict between Duke Wladislaw I Herman of Poland and his illegitimate son, Zbigniew on the latter's behalf.[97] He broke in Wladislaw I Herman's camp, seized his younger son, Boleslav and forced the duke to declare Zbigniew his legitimate son in 1093.[98] According to the Illuminated Chronicle, the Hungarian troops also took Cracow, but the credibility of this report is dubious.[83]

The Illuminated Chronicle narrates that "messengers from France and from Spain, from England and Britain, and especially from Willermus, the brother of the King of the Franks" visited Ladislaus when "he was celebrating Easter at Bodrog"[99] in 1095 in order to ask him to join their crusade and to lead them to the Holy Land.[100] Likewise, Ladislaus' Life says that the king decided "to go to Jerusalem, and to die there for Christ" before his death.[101] According to modern historians, including Gábor Klaniczay, the story of Ladislaus' crusade was invented in the reign of King Béla III of Hungary who was planning to lead a campaign to the Holy Land at the end of the 12th century.[102]

In his last months, Ladislaus was planning to invade Bohemia in order to assist his sister's sons, Svatopluk and Otto.[85] However, he became seriously ill even before reaching Moravia.[85][103] According to the Illuminated Chronicle, Ladislaus "called together his chief men" and "ordained that" his brother's younger son Álmos "should reign after him",[104] because he had no sons.[85][103] The king died near the border between the Kingdom of Hungary and Bohemia on 29 July 1095.[85] A bull of 1106 by Pope Paschal II states that Ladislaus's "venerable body rests" in Somogyvár Abbey, implying that the king was buried in this Benedictine monastery.[105] On the other hand, Ladislaus's late 12th-century Legend narrates that his retinue decided to bury him in Székesfehérvár, but the cart carrying his body "set out to Várad on its own, unassisted by any draft animal", suggesting that Ladislaus was never buried in Somogyvár.[105] According to the historian Gábor Klaniczay, the latter version is more likely, because the newly established Somogyvár Abbey could not be standing at the time of Ladislaus's death.[105]


The historian Gyula Kristó writes that Ladislaus presumably had a first wife, but her name and family are unknown.[53] She seems to have given birth to an unnamed daughter who was given in marriage to Prince Iaroslav Sviatopolchich of Volhinia around 1090.[53] Ladislaus married, in 1078, Adelaide, a daughter of the German antiking Rudolf of Swabia[53] and his wife, Adelaide of Savoy. Their only known child, Piroska, became the wife of the Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos in 1105 or 1106.[108]

The following family tree presents Ladislaus's ancestors and some of his relatives who are mentioned in the article.[106]

a lady of
the Tátony clan
Andrew I
Béla I
Richeza or Adelaide
Géza I
Adelaide of Rheinfelden
Kings of Hungary
(from 1095)
Iaroslav of Volhinia
Piroska (Saint Irene)
John II Komnenos

*According to Kristó, Ladislaus had a first wife whose name and family are unknown.


Consolidation of Christian monarchy[edit]

Ladislaus's reliquary in the Nagyvárad Cathedral
Saint Ladislaus's late 19th-century reliquary in the cathedral of Nagyvárad (Oradea, Romania)

Ladislaus's preeminent role in the consolidation of the Christian monarchy in Hungary has for centuries been emphasized by chroniclers, hagiographers and historians.[109] His idoneitas or personal suitability to reign was also stressed in the chronicles, because the legitimacy of his rule was questionable.[109] For instance, the Illuminated Chronicle clearly states that Ladislaus knew that "the right of law between him and Salomon was not on his side but only the force of fact".[58][109]

Following Ladislaus's victories over the Pechenegs and the Cumans, Hungary ceased to be subject to incursions by nomadic peoples up until the Mongol invasion of 1241.[110] According to Kristó, the settlement of the Székely people—a community of Hungarian-speaking free warriors—in the easternmost borderlands started under Ladislaus.[63][111] Ladislaus's conquest of Croatia marked the beginning of an expansionist period in the Kingdom of Hungary's foreign policy, which ensured that it turned into a leading power in Central Europe in the next centuries.[110]

Hungary had never had as great as king, so they repute
And the land thereafter never bore that much and splendid fruit.

The Holy King[edit]

King Saint Ladislaus
Gothic Miniature of the Saint-King from the Chronicon Pictum, 1360.
King and Confessor
Born c. 1040
Kingdom of Poland
Died 29 July 1095
Honored in
Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 27 June 1192
Feast 27 June
Attributes Crown
Long sword
Two angels
Patronage Patron saint of Hungary
Patron saint of the Székelys
Protector against pestilence

British historian C.A. Macartney, in his Hungary: A Short History, also eulogizes Ladislaus: "a true paladin and gentle knight, a protector of his faith and his people, and of the poor and defenceless."[page needed] According to Gábor Klaniczay, Ladislaus "seemed expressly designed to personify the knight-king ideal" of his age.[109] That Ladislaus's "character was distinguished by the respectability of morals and remarkable for the splendor of his virtues"[112] was already emphasized in the reign of his successor, Coloman by Bishop Hartvik.[85] The part of the late medieval Hungarian chronicles which relates Ladislaus's life and reign—the so-called Gesta Ladislai regis ("The Deeds of King Ladislaus")—is consensually also dated to this period.[109] This Gesta even narrates five wondrous events in connection with his life—for instance, his fight with the "Cuman" warrior—which were not included in his official legend.[113] His shrine at the cathedral of Várad became a preferred venue for trials by ordeal under King Stephen II of Hungary (r. 1116–1131).[114]

However, it is still subject to scholarly debate whether he became subject to veneration soon after his death or his cult only emerged after his canonization.[6] His canonization was initiated by Béla III of Hungary.[115] Béla had lived many years in the Byzantine court where Ladislaus's daughter, Empress Irene was object of popular veneration for her piety.[115]

Ladislaus's solemn canonization took place on 27 June 1192.[115] Thomas the Archdeacon writes, in his History of the Bishops of Salona and Split of 1266, that it was Pope Innocent III who had declared that Ladislaus "should be enrolled in the catalogue of saints".[116][117] However, this report is obviously unreliable, because Celestine III was the pope at that time.[116] On the other hand, the latter pope's registers make no reference to Ladislaus's elevation; thus the king's canonization, as it is proposed by Gábor Klaniczay, may have occurred without the Holy See's authorization.[118] According to the nearly contemporaneous Registrum Varadinense, the holy king's tomb was opened by one "Tekus, son of the craftsman Dénes" who was granted freedom on this occasion.[101] During the ceremony, parts of Ladislaus's body (his head and right hand) were severed in order to be distributed as relics.[101]

St Ladislaus's herb
Gentiana cruciata (Star Gentian)—"the herb of Saint Ladislaus" (Hungarian: Szent László füve)

His official Life was compelled after 1204.[101] It attributes a number of miracles to the king.[119] On the occasion of some pestilence in the country, he is said to have prayed for the cure before shooting an arrow into the air at random; the arrow then hit the herb—"the herb of Saint Ladislaus" (Gentiana cruciata)—which would cure the illness.[119] At another time, he was pursuing a Pecheneg force raiding the realm.[citation needed] According to the story, the king was catching up to the raiders, who decided to scatter the money they had looted before the pursuing Hungarians.[citation needed] The ruse worked as the soldiers stopped to gather the money.[citation needed] The king is then reputed to have turned all the gold to stone through a prayer, allowing him to put his army on the march again, defeat the raiders and free their captives.[citation needed]

Ladislaus is a patron of Hungary.[119] He is especially venerated by soldiers and among the Székelys.[114] According to a late medieval legend, Saint Ladislaus appeared at the head of a Székely army fighting against and routing a plundering band of Tatars in 1345.[114] He is also invoked in time of pestilence.[119] He is often depicted as a mature, bearded man wearing a royal crown and holding a long sword or a banner.[119] He is also shown on his knees before a deer or in the company of two angels.[119]

Saint Ladislaus is also the patron saint of an architecturally significant church in Chicago's Portage Park area, St. Ladislaus, and a Church of the same name in Hempstead, New York in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Klaniczay 2002, p. 187.
  2. ^ a b c d Makk 1994, p. 394.
  3. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, pp. 78, 107.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 107.
  5. ^ a b c Bárány 2012, p. 338.
  6. ^ a b Klaniczay 2002, p. 174.
  7. ^ a b The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles (ch. 27.), p. 97.
  8. ^ a b Kontler 1999, p. 60.
  9. ^ Engel 2001, p. 30.
  10. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 79.
  11. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 65.92), p. 115.
  12. ^ a b Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 88.
  13. ^ a b Engel 2001, p. 31.
  14. ^ Kontler 1999, p. 61.
  15. ^ Robinson 1999, p. 53.
  16. ^ Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, pp. 88–89.
  17. ^ a b Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 89.
  18. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, pp. 26–27.
  19. ^ a b c Bartl et al. 2002, p. 27.
  20. ^ Steinhübel 2011, p. 27.
  21. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 106.
  22. ^ Klaniczay 2002, pp. 176–177.
  23. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, pp. 107–108.
  24. ^ Bárány 2012, pp. 339–340.
  25. ^ Spinei 2009, p. 118.
  26. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 73–74.103), p. 119.
  27. ^ András Páloczi Horváth, Pechenegs, Cumans, Iasians, Hereditas, Corvina, 1989. p. 87. ISBN 963-13-2740-X
  28. ^ a b c d Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 109.
  29. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 79.111), p. 119.
  30. ^ a b c Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 85.
  31. ^ a b c d e Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 110.
  32. ^ a b c d e Steinhübel 2011, p. 28.
  33. ^ a b c Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 90.
  34. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 83.120), p. 123.
  35. ^ a b Klaniczay 2002, p. 177.
  36. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 85.121), p. 124.
  37. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 84.121), p. 124.
  38. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 94.
  39. ^ Klaniczay 2002, pp. 177-178.
  40. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 87–88.124), p. 125.
  41. ^ Engel 2001, p. 32.
  42. ^ The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles (ch. 27-28.), pp. 97–99.
  43. ^ Manteuffel 1982, p. 97.
  44. ^ a b The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 93.131), p. 127.
  45. ^ a b c Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 93.
  46. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 114.
  47. ^ Laws of King Ladislas I (Ladislas II:Preamble), p. 12.
  48. ^ a b c Kontler 1999, p. 62.
  49. ^ a b c d e f Engel 2001, p. 33.
  50. ^ Laws of King Ladislas I (Ladislas II:12), pp. 14–16.
  51. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 117-118.
  52. ^ a b c Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 94.
  53. ^ a b c d e Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 118.
  54. ^ a b c Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 92.
  55. ^ Robinson 1999, p. 191.
  56. ^ a b c d e Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 119.
  57. ^ Manteuffel 1982, p. 98.
  58. ^ a b The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 94.133), p. 128.
  59. ^ Hartvic, Life of King Stephen of Hungary (ch. 24.), p. 393.
  60. ^ Kontler 1999, p. 63.
  61. ^ Kontler 1999, p. 64.
  62. ^ a b c d Érszegi & Solymosi 1981, p. 93.
  63. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 121.
  64. ^ Robinson 1999, p. 263.
  65. ^ Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle (year 1087), p. 290.
  66. ^ a b Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 100.
  67. ^ a b c d Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 120.
  68. ^ Cosmas of Prague: The Chronicle of the Czechs (ch. 2.41., years 1089–1090), p. 169.
  69. ^ a b Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 103.
  70. ^ Fine 1991, p. 283.
  71. ^ a b c d e Curta 2006, p. 265.
  72. ^ a b Magaš 2007, p. 48.
  73. ^ Fine 1991, pp. 282, 284.
  74. ^ Archdeacon Thomas of Split: History of the Bishops of Salona and Split (ch. 17.), p. 93.
  75. ^ Bárány 2012, p. 345.
  76. ^ Magaš 2007, pp. 48-49.
  77. ^ a b c Fine 1991, p. 284.
  78. ^ a b c d Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 101.
  79. ^ Curta 2006, p. 266.
  80. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, pp. 121-122.
  81. ^ Engel 2001, p. 34.
  82. ^ a b Makk & Thoroczkay 2006, p. 143.
  83. ^ a b Bárány 2012, p. 340.
  84. ^ a b The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 98.138), p. 129.
  85. ^ a b c d e f g Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 122.
  86. ^ Bárány 2012, p. 339.
  87. ^ Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 102.
  88. ^ Bernold of St Blasien, Chronicle (year 1092), p. 307.
  89. ^ The letters of Henry IV: Henry thanks Duke Almus for his support and promises him a reward, p. 171.
  90. ^ Makk & Thoroczkay 2006, p. 163.
  91. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, pp. 122, 133.
  92. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 116.
  93. ^ Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 105.
  94. ^ Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 108.
  95. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 117.
  96. ^ Engel 2001, p. 43.
  97. ^ Manteuffel 1982, p. 101.
  98. ^ Manteuffel 1982, pp. 101-102.
  99. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 100.139), p. 130.
  100. ^ Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 104.
  101. ^ a b c d Klaniczay 2002, p. 186.
  102. ^ Klaniczay 2002, p. 418.
  103. ^ a b Font 2001, p. 15.
  104. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 101.139), p. 130.
  105. ^ a b c Klaniczay 2002, p. 175.
  106. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, pp. Appendices 1-2.
  107. ^ Wiszewski 2010, pp. 29-30, 60, 376.
  108. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. Appendix 2.
  109. ^ a b c d e Klaniczay 2002, p. 173.
  110. ^ a b Engel 2001, p. 37.
  111. ^ Engel 2001, p. 115.
  112. ^ Hartvic, Life of King Stephen of Hungary (ch. 24.), p. 394.
  113. ^ Klaniczay 2002, pp. 176-177.
  114. ^ a b c Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 123.
  115. ^ a b c Klaniczay 2002, p. 182.
  116. ^ a b Klaniczay 2002, p. 185.
  117. ^ Archdeacon Thomas of Split: History of the Bishops of Salona and Split (ch. 23.), p. 133.
  118. ^ Klaniczay 2002, pp. 185-186.
  119. ^ a b c d e f Lanzi & Lanzi 2004, p. 142.


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Ladislaus I of Hungary
Born: c. 1040 Died: 29 July 1095
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Géza I
King of Hungary
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Stephen II
King of Croatia
Succeeded by
Petar Svačić