Stephen IV of Hungary

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Stephen IV
Stephen IV of Hungary.jpg
Stephen IV depicted in the Illuminated Chronicle
King of Hungary and Croatia
contested by Stephen III
Reign 1163
Coronation 27 January 1162
Predecessor Ladislaus II
Successor Stephen III
Spouse Maria Komnene
House Árpád dynasty
Father Béla II of Hungary
Mother Helena of Rascia
Born c. 1133
Died 11 April 1165 (aged 31–32)
Zimony (now Zemun in Serbia)
Religion Roman Catholic

Stephen IV (Hungarian: IV. István, Croatian: Stjepan IV, Slovak: Štefan IV; c. 1133 – 11 April 1165) was King of Hungary and Croatia in 1163, usurping the crown against his nephew, Stephen III. He was the third son of Béla II of Hungary. He conspired against his brother, Géza II, but failed and was forced to leave Hungary in summer 1157. He first sought refuge in the Holy Roman Empire, but received no support from Emperor Frederick I. In short he moved to the Byzantine Empire where he married a niece of Emperor Manuel I Komnenos, Maria Komnene, and converted to the Orthodox Church.

After Géza II died on 31 May 1162, Emperor Manuel attempted to assist Stephen against his nephew and namesake, Stephen III, in seizing the crown. Although the Hungarian lords were willing to leave their young monarch, they sharply opposed Stephen and elected his brother, Ladislaus II, king. Ladislaus II granted the ducatus, or duchy, which included one-third of the kingdom, to Stephen. Ladislaus II died on 14 January 1163 and Stephen succeeded him. Lucas, Archbishop of Esztergom, who remained a staunch supporter of the expelled young Stephen III, denied to crown him and excommunicated him. Stephen IV remained unpopular among the Hungarian lords, enabling his nephew to muster an army. In the decisive battle, which was fought at Székesfehérvár on 19 June 1163, the younger Stephen routed his uncle, forcing him to leave again Hungary.

Stephen attempted to regain his crown with the assistance of Manuel I and Frederick I, but both emperors abandoned him. Emperor Manuel settled him in Syrmium, a province acquired from Hungary. He died of poisoning during the siege of Zimony (now Zemun in Serbia) by his nephew.

Childhood and youth (c. 1133–1157)[edit]

Béla's seal
The seal of Stephen's father, King Béla II of Hungary

Stephen was the third son of King Béla the Blind and his wife, Helena of Rascia.[1] He was born in about 1133, according to historians Ferenc Makk and Gyula Kristó.[1][2] The earliest event of Stephen's life, which was recorded, occurred during the reign of his oldest brother, Géza II, who succeeded their father on 13 February 1141.[2][3] King Géza "granted ducal revenues to his brothers",[4] Ladislaus and Stephen, according to the Illuminated Chronicle.[2] The chronicle does not specify the date of this event. Historian Bálint Hóman writes that it happened in 1146; scholars Ferenc Makk and Gyula Kristó say that Géza II only made this grant to his brothers in about 1152, when he officially appointed his son, Stephen, his heir.[5]

Stephen was "accused before the king of aspiring to royal power",[6] according to the contemporaneous Rahewin.[7] Rahewin also wrote that Géza II initially accused Stephen's friends, and especially their uncle, Beloš, of inciting Stephen against him.[7] However, in fear of being seized and executed on his brother's order, Stephen sought refuge in the Holy Roman Empire in summer 1157.[8]

[Emperor Frederick I] held a diet at Regensburg, with a great attendance of princes, on the octave of Epiphany. Among the many present there were ambassadors of [King Géza II of Hungary]. For his brother, [Stephen] by name, had by certain men been accused before the king of aspiring to royal power. In this he was thought to have been instigated by Duke [Beloš], an uncle of them both, a very shrewd and scheming man, who seemed to be feeding the pride of a young man already accustomed to too much honor. But the king, suspicious of the great attention paid to his brother, and fearing worse things from him than was needful, now openly accused not the man himself so much as his friends and those of his household, and turned all that they said or did against him. After many accusations had been aired and many persons induced to bear false witness, the king was said to be planning to have his brother killed. The latter, having learned the the [sic?] Roman empire is an asylum for the whole world, escaped by fleeing to the emperor and tearfully bewailed his fate and his brother's bitter cruelty toward him.

The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa[9]

In exile (1157–1162)[edit]

A bearded man wearing a crown
Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, who did not provide assistance to Stephen
A bearded man wearing a crown
Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos who was willing to support Stephen in seizing the crown

Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor was willing to arbitrate in the conflict between Géza II and Stephen, and dispatched his envoys to Hungary.[8][10] In response, Géza sent delegates to the Emperor.[8] Frederick I initially contemplated that "the dispute must be terminated either by a division of the realm or by the condemnation of one or the other", but finally "he decided to defer to a more suitable time the settlement of this quarrel",[11] because he was planning to invade Italy.[8] In short, with Frederick I's consent, Stephen left for Constantinople.[2][12] The contemporaneous Niketas Choniates wrote that Stephen fled "from the murderous clutches of his brother",[13] Géza II.[14]

The Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Komnenos welcomed him and arranged Stephen's marriage with his niece Maria Komnene.[2][15] According to the contemporaneous Gerhoh of Reichersberg, Stephen even converted to the Orthodox Church on this occasion.[16] Stephen's brother, Ladislaus, also arrived in Constantinople in about 1160, but he refused to marry a relative of the Emperor.[17]

Manuel I, whose main concern was the insecurity of his empire's eastern frontier at that time, did not assisted Stephen.[12] Therefore Stephen again set out and visited Emperor Frederick I in Parma at the turn of 1160 and 1161.[18] He promised Frederick I "to pay him 3,000 marks every year" if the Emperor assisted him to obtain Hungary, according to the Royal Chronicle of Cologne.[18] Emperor Frederick, who was making preparation for the siege of Milan, did not promise any assistance to Stephen, who soon returned to Constantinople.[2] (According to historian Paul Stephenson this episode only happened in March 1164.)[19]

Géza II died on 31 May 1162.[20] Within days, his 15-year-old son—Stephen's nephew and namesake—Stephen III was crowned king by Lucas, Archbishop of Esztergom.[20] Emperor Manuel I sent envoys to Hungary to promote the elder Stephen's claim to the crown against the young King.[21] However, the Hungarian lords opposed him, because "they deemed it disadvantageous to join with a man who was related to the emperor by marriage and feared that as Hungarians they would be governed by him as king while he was ruled"[22] by Emperor Manuel, according to Niketas Choniates.[23][24] Stephen returned to Hungary accompanied by a Byzantine army which was under the command of Alexios Kontostephanos.[25] The Byzantine army marched as far as Haram (now Ram, Serbia) where new negotiations were opened between the Byzantine envoys and the Hungarian lords.[25] They worked out a compromise agreement: the Hungarian lords acknowledged the claim of Stephen's elder brother, Ladislaus, to the crown against the young Stephen III who thus was forced to flee to Austria six weeks after his coronation.[25]

Duke and King (1162–1163)[edit]

A man with moustache and wearing a ducal cap sits on the throne and a horseman carries a royal crown
Stephen's brother, Ladislaus II, steals the crown from their nephew, Stephen III (from the Illuminated Chronicle)

Ladislaus was crowned king in the middle of July 1162 by Mikó, Archbishop of Kalocsa, because Archbishop Lucas of Esztergom remained loyal to the expelled young King and considered Ladislaus as a usurper.[25] From his brother, Stephen received "the rank of urum" ("Mylord"), because "among the Hungarians, this name means he who will succeed to the royal authority",[26] according to John Kinnamos.[27][28] The chronicle of Henry of Mügeln narrates that the newly crowned King granted one-third of the Kingdom of Hungary to Stephen with the title of duke.[27][28] Historian Florin Curta writes that Stephen's duchy included the southern regions of the kingdom.[29]

Ladislaus II died on 14 January 1163.[30][31] Stephen was crowned king thirteen days later.[32][28] Mikó of Kalocsa performed again the ceremony, because Lucas of Esztergom refused to crown him.[31][28] Archbishop Lucas even excommunicated Stephen, declaring his rule unlawful.[31] According to the Gerhoh of Reichersberg, Stephen forbade the Hungarian prelates to sent envoys to Pope Alexander III or to meet papal legates.[33][34]

Stephen, who styled himself as Stephen III in his only preserved charter, "seemed grievous and was excessively oppressive to the principal personages"[35] in Hungary, according to Kinnamos.[31][36] A group of Hungarian lords started conspiring against Stephen in favor of his expelled nephew.[36] Upon his demand, Emperor Manuel sent an army to Hungary in March.[34] The news of an approaching imperial army was enough to seemingly strengthen Stephen's position, so he sent the Byzantines back.[34] However, a rebellion broke out as soon as the Byzantine troops left Hungary.[34]

With Emperor Frederick I's approval, the expelled young Stephen mustered an army of German mercenaries and disontented Hungarian lords, and launched a campaign against his uncle.[37] The decisive battle was fought at Székesfehérvár on 19 June 1163, and the elder Stephen was routed by his nephew.[37][16] He was captured in the battlefield, but his nephew soon released him upon Archbishop Lucas's advice.[38]

Last years (1163–1165)[edit]

Having been expelled, Stephen either visited Emperor Frederick before leaving for the Byzantine Empire, as historian Paul Stephenson writes,[16] or hastened to Sardica (now Sofia in Bulgaria) to meet Emperor Manuel, as it is said by historian Ferenc Makk.[34] In Sardica, he proposed to accept Manuel I's suzerainty if the Emperor assist him to regain his crown.[37][38] Emperor Manuel "presented him with money"[39] and mobilized his army to invade Hungary.[16][37] However, the Emperor soon "realized that it was then impossible for Stephen to rule the Hungarians' land",[40] and concluded a peace treaty with Stephen's nephew in Belgrade.[37] According to their treaty, the young King agreed to allow the Byzantines to take possession of Syrmium and other part of his kingdom in exhange for Manuel's renouncing any further support for his uncle.[24][16] Abandoned by his protector, Stephen IV sent his envoys to Emperor Frederick I at the turn of 1163 and 1164, but he also refused to assist him.[41]

Stephen's nephew soon broke his treaty with Manuel I.[42] Stephen, who was staying in Anchialus on the Black Sea (now Pomorie in Bulgaria), storm into Syrmium in summer of 1164.[42] He win over many inhabitants while he was marching through the region.[43] In short, Emperor Manuel also invaded Hungary and Stephen joined him.[42] The young Stephen III received military assistance from abroad, forcing Emperor Manuel to conclude a peace treaty with him, and to promise not to support Stephen IV in the future.[44][45] In an attempt to convince his protege that he did not enjoy popularity with the Hungarians any more, Manuel I dispatched Stephen IV's cousin and namesake, who even resembled the dethroned King, to Hungary at the head of Hungarian soldiers, who seized this (third) Stephen and handed him over to King Stephen III as soon as they arrived in Hungary, because they thought that they had captured Stephen IV.[46] Nevertheless, Manuel ordered the dethroned Stephen to stay in Syrmium and dispatched sebastos Michael Gabras to defend the province at the head of a Byzantine army.[44][19]

Breaking again the peace treaty, Stephen III of Hungary invaded Syrmium in spring 1165.[47] Stephen withdrew to the fort of Zimony from his nephew's approaching army.[47] Stephen III laid siege to the fort.[44] According to Kinnamos, the besiegers bribed "some of the Hungarians who served Stephen"[48] into poisoning him with slow poison, causing the dethroned King's death on 11 April.[45][47] The fort soon fell, and Stephen's corpse was "cast out before the city's gates"[48] without a funeral.[49] The corpse lied unburied for a while before it was enterred in the church dedicated to Saint Stephen the Protomartyr in Zimony.[49] At an unspecified date, Stephen's body was transferred to the Székesfehérvár Basilica.[49]

[The] "Hungarians decided to get rid of the depicable [Stephen] by resorting to treachery. Agreed that poison was the best way of putting him to death, they searched for the right person to place the death-bringing cup in his hands. A certain attendant of [Stephen] named Thomas agreed to help them if they paid his price. This man who held out his hand for evil gain, was so sharp and quick in taking a man's life and severing the body from the soul found another method to send [Stephen] more speedily on his way to Hades. In bleeding [Stephen's] vein, he smeared with poison the bandage which covered the wound; from there it spread and diffused throughout the body and penetrated into the most vital parts and removed the man from life, thereby clearly confirming the uncertain and cowardly devices of men."

Niketas Choniates: O City of Byzantium[50]


Stephen's wife, Maria was the daughter of sebastocrator Isaac Komnenos, who was Emperor Manuel I's youngest brother.[2][52] Her mother was Isaac Komnenos's first wife, Theodora, whose family is unknown.[52] Their marriage did not produce any children whose birth was recorded.[53]


  1. ^ a b Makk 1994, p. 293.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 200.
  3. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, p. 28.
  4. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 167.121), p. 139.
  5. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 197.
  6. ^ The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa (3.13.), p. 187.
  7. ^ a b Makk 1989, p. 68.
  8. ^ a b c d Makk 1989, p. 69.
  9. ^ The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa (3.13.), pp. 187-188.
  10. ^ Engel 2001, p. 51.
  11. ^ The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa (3.13.), p. 188.
  12. ^ a b Makk 1989, p. 70.
  13. ^ O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates (4.126) , p. 72.
  14. ^ Makk 1989, p. 66.
  15. ^ Stephenson 2000, p. 247.
  16. ^ a b c d e Stephenson 2000, p. 250.
  17. ^ Makk 1989, p. 76.
  18. ^ a b Makk 1989, p. 74.
  19. ^ a b Stephenson 2000, p. 252.
  20. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 191.
  21. ^ Makk 1989, p. 81.
  22. ^ O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates (4.127) , p. 72.
  23. ^ Makk 1989, pp. 81-82.
  24. ^ a b Magdalino 1993, p. 79.
  25. ^ a b c d Makk 1989, p. 82.
  26. ^ Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos (5.1), p. 155.
  27. ^ a b Makk 1989, p. 87.
  28. ^ a b c d Stephenson 2000, p. 249.
  29. ^ Curta 2006, p. 332.
  30. ^ Engel 2001, p. 52.
  31. ^ a b c d Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 201.
  32. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, p. 29.
  33. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, pp. 201-202.
  34. ^ a b c d e Makk 1989, p. 84.
  35. ^ Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos (5.5), p. 160.
  36. ^ a b Makk 1989, p. 83.
  37. ^ a b c d e Makk 1989, p. 85.
  38. ^ a b Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 202.
  39. ^ Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos (5.5), p. 161.
  40. ^ Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos (5.5), p. 163.
  41. ^ Makk 1989, p. 89.
  42. ^ a b c Makk 1989, p. 90.
  43. ^ Curta 2006, p. 333.
  44. ^ a b c Makk 1989, p. 91.
  45. ^ a b Magdalino 1993, p. 80.
  46. ^ Stephenson 2000, p. 253.
  47. ^ a b c Stephenson 2000, p. 255.
  48. ^ a b Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos (5.13), p. 180.
  49. ^ a b c Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 203.
  50. ^ O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniates (4.127) , p. 73.
  51. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 197, Appendices 2-3.
  52. ^ a b Magdalino 1993, p. xxv.
  53. ^ Kristó & Makk 1996, p. 200, Appendix 3.


Primary sources[edit]

  • Deeds of John and Manuel Comnenus by John Kinnamos (Translated by Charles M. Brand) (1976). Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04080-6.
  • O City of Byzantium, Annals of Niketas Choniatēs (Translated by Harry J. Magoulias) (1984). Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-1764-8.
  • The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa by Otto of Freising and his Continuator, Rahewin (Translated and annotated with an itroduction by Charles Christopher Mierow with the collaboration of Richard Emery) (2004). Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-13419-3.
  • The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle: Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum (Edited by Dezső Dercsényi) (1970). Corvina, Taplinger Publishing. ISBN 0-8008-4015-1.

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Bartl, Július; Čičaj, Viliam; Kohútova, Mária; Letz, Róbert; Segeš, Vladimír; Škvarna, Dušan (2002). Slovak History: Chronology & Lexicon. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Slovenské Pedegogické Nakladatel'stvo. ISBN 0-86516-444-4. 
  • Curta, Florin (2006). Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500–1250. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-89452-4. 
  • Engel, Pál (2001). The Realm of St Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary, 895–1526. I.B. Tauris Publishers. ISBN 1-86064-061-3. 
  • (Hungarian) Kristó, Gyula; Makk, Ferenc (1996). Az Árpád-ház uralkodói [Rulers of the House of Árpád]. I.P.C. Könyvek. ISBN 963-7930-97-3. 
  • Magdalino, Paul (1993). The Empire of Manuel Komnenos, 1143–1180. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52653-1. 
  • Makk, Ferenc (1989). The Árpáds and the Comneni: Political Relations between Hungary and Byzantium in the 12th century (Translated by György Novák). Akadémiai Kiadó. ISBN 963-05-5268-X. 
  • (Hungarian) Makk, Ferenc (1994). "IV. István". In Kristó, Gyula; Engel, Pál; Makk, Ferenc. Korai magyar történeti lexikon (9–14. század) [Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History (9th–14th centuries)]. Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 293–294. ISBN 963-05-6722-9. 
  • Stephenson, Paul (2000). Byzantium's Balkan Frontier: A Political Study of the Northern Balkans, 900–1204. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-02756-4. 
Stephen IV of Hungary
Born: c. 1133 Died: 11 April 1165
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ladislaus II
King of Hungary
Succeeded by
Stephen III