Magyar tribes

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The appearance of Hungarian tribe names in settlement names. It suggests where arriving Hungarians lived amongst other peoples and helped in reconstructing where arriving tribes settled

The Magyar or Hungarian tribes (/ˈmæɡjɑːr/ MAG-yar, Hungarian: magyar törzsek) or Hungarian clans were the fundamental political units within whose framework the Hungarians (Magyars) lived, before the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin and the subsequent established the Principality of Hungary.[1][2]


The ethnonym of the Hungarian tribal alliance is uncertain. According to one view, following the description in the 13th century chronicle, Gesta Hungarorum, the federation was called "Hetumoger" (modern Hungarian: 'hét magyar' - Seven Magyars) ("VII principales persone qui Hetumoger dicuntur", "seven princely persons who are called Seven Magyars"[3]), though the word "Magyar" possibly comes from the name of the most prominent Hungarian tribe, called Megyer. The tribal name "Megyer" became "Magyar" referring to the Hungarian people as a whole.[4][5][6] Written sources called Magyars "Hungarians" before the conquest of the Carpathian Basin when they still lived on the Pontic-Caspian Steppe (in 837 "Ungri" mentioned by Georgius Monachus, in 862 "Ungri" by Annales Bertiniani, in 881 "Ungari" by the Annales ex Annalibus Iuvavensibus). The English term "Hungarian" is a derivative of the Latin "Ungri" or "Ungari" forms.


The Blood oath in Etelköz.

According to András Róna-Tas the locality in which the Hungarians, the Manicha-Er group, emerged was between the Volga river and the Ural Mountains.[7] Others propose a region of origin which extends to Western Siberia.[8][9][10] Between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, the Magyars embarked upon their independent existence and the early period of the proto-Hungarian language began.[7]

According to genetic study, the proto-Ugric groups were part of the Scytho-Siberian societies in the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age steppe-forest zone in the northern Kazakhstan region, near of the Mezhovskaya culture territory. The ancestors of the Hungarian conquerors lived in the steppe zone during the Bronze Age together with the Mansis. During the Iron Age, the Mansis migrated northward, while the ancestor of Hungarian conquerors remained at the steppe-forest zone and admixed with the Sarmatians. Later the ancestors of the Hungarian conquerors admixed with the Huns, this admixture happened before the arrival of the Huns to the Volga region in 370. The Huns integrated local tribes east of the Urals, among them Sarmatians and the ancestors of the Hungarian conquerors.[11]

Around 830 AD,[12][13] when Álmos, the future Grand Prince of the Hungarians, was about 10 years old, the seven related tribes (Jenő, Kér, Keszi, Kürt-Gyarmat, Megyer [hu], Nyék and Tarján)[14] formed a confederation[12] in Etelköz,[13] called "Hétmagyar" ("Seven Magyars"). Their leaders, the Seven chieftains of the Magyars, besides Álmos, included Előd, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba and Töhötöm, who took a blood oath, swearing eternal loyalty to Álmos.[15] Presumably, the Magyar tribes consisted of 108 clans.[16]

The confederation of the tribes was probably led by two high princes: the kende (their spiritual ruler) and the gyula (their military leader). The high princes were either elected by the leaders of the tribes or appointed by the Khagan of the Khazars who had been exerting influence over the Magyars. Around 862 AD the seven tribes separated from the Khazars.[citation needed]

Before 881 AD three Turkic tribes rebelled against the rule of the Khagan of the Khazars, but they were suppressed. After their defeat they left the Khazar Empire and voluntarily joined the Hétmagyar confederation. The three tribes were organised into one tribe, called Kabar, and later they played the roles of vanguard and rear guard during the joint military actions of the confederation. The joining of the three tribes to the previous seven created the On-ogur (Ten Arrows),[14] one of the possible origins for the name Hungarian.[clarification needed]


Hungarian chroniclers of the 13th century spoke of Magna Hungaria (= modern Bashkortostan) and reported that speakers of Hungarian were located there. It is theorized that the Magyars and Bashkirs had close contacts before the latter's migration west. There are many parallels that can be drawn between old Hungarian and Bashkir tribes.[17] Most of these names do not have such similarities in Central or Inner Asia, i.e. they may be a unique product of a local symbiosis.[18] Neméth and Peter B. Golden have compared the following names:

Hungarian Bashkir Constantine Porphyrogenitus
Nyék Negmen (tribal name) Νέκη
Gyarmat Yurmatı (tribal name) Κουρτουγερμάτου
Jenő Yeney (tribal name) Γενάχ
Keszi Kese (branch name) Καση
Gyula (title) Yulaman (clan name) Γυλᾶς
Tarján Tarxany (tribal name) Ταριάνου
Megyer/ Mišer-Yurmatı (of the Yurmatı) Μεγέρη
Magyar Možeriane, Možarka, etc., (ethnonym, toponym etc.)

Social organization[edit]

The Hungarian social structure was of Turkic origin.[19]


Magyars comprised seven clans and later three more clans made of Kabar people. Recent genetic research have shown that the first-generation Magyar core gene pool originated in Central Asia/South Siberia and, as Magyars were moving westward, admixing with additional strata of people of European origin, and people of the Caucasus. Burial samples of the Karos-Eperjesszög Magyars place them genetically closest to Turkic peoples, modern south Caucasian peoples, and modern Western Europeans to a limited degree, while no specific Finno-Ugric markers were found.[20] However, a 2008 study done on 10th-century Magyar skeletons did indeed find a few Uralic samples.[21]

See also[edit]


  • Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon (9-14. század), főszerkesztő: Kristó, Gyula, szerkesztők: Engel, Pál és Makk, Ferenc (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1994)
  • Kristó, Gyula: A Kárpát-medence és a magyarság régmúltja (1301-ig) (Szegedi Középkortörténeti Könyvtár, Szeged, 1993)
  • Magyarország Történeti Kronológiája I. – A kezdetektől 1526-ig, főszerkesztő: Benda Kálmán (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1981)
  • Makkai, László (2001). Transylvania in the medieval Hungarian kingdom (896-1526), In: Béla Köpeczi, HISTORY OF TRANSYLVANIA Volume I. From the Beginnings to 1606, Columbia University Press, New York, 2001, ISBN 0880334797


  1. ^ George H. Hodos, The East-Central European region: an historical outline, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999, p. 19
  2. ^ S. Wise Bauer, The history of the medieval world: from the conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade, W. W. Norton & Company, 2010, p. 586
  3. ^ Gyula Decsy, A. J. Bodrogligeti, Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher, Volume 63, Otto Harrassowitz, 1991, p. 99
  4. ^ György Balázs, Károly Szelényi, The Magyars: the birth of a European nation, Corvina, 1989, p. 8
  5. ^ Alan W. Ertl, Toward an Understanding of Europe: A Political Economic Précis of Continental Integration, Universal-Publishers, 2008, p. 358
  6. ^ Z. J. Kosztolnyik, Hungary under the early Árpáds: 890s to 1063, Eastern European Monographs, 2002, p. 3
  7. ^ a b András Róna-Tas, Hungarians and Europe in the early Middle Ages: an introduction to early Hungarian history, Central European University Press, 1999, p. 319
  8. ^ Zemplényi, Lili (2023-07-08). "The Khanty and the Mansi, the Closest Linguistic Relatives of the Hungarians | Hungarian Conservative". Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  9. ^ "A magyarság nyugat-szibériai gyökerei nyomában". (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  10. ^ "Hungarian | History, Culture & Language | Britannica". 2024-01-31. Retrieved 2024-02-10.
  11. ^ Maróti, Zoltán; Neparáczki, Endre; Schütz, Oszkár; Maár, Kitti; Varga, Gergely I.B.; Kovács, Bence; Kalmár, Tibor; Nyerki, Emil; Nagy, István; Latinovics, Dóra; Tihanyi, Balázs; Marcsik, Antónia; Pálfi, György; Bernert, Zsolt; Gallina, Zsolt; Horváth, Ciprián; Varga, Sándor; Költő, László; Raskó, István; Nagy, Péter L.; Balogh, Csilla; Zink, Albert; Maixner, Frank; Götherström, Anders; George, Robert; Szalontai, Csaba; Szenthe, Gergely; Gáll, Erwin; Kiss, Attila P.; Gulyás, Bence; Kovacsóczy, Bernadett Ny.; Gál, Sándor Szilárd; Tomka, Péter; Török, Tibor (25 May 2022). "The genetic origin of Huns, Avars, and conquering Hungarians". Current Biology. 32 (13): 2858–2870.e7. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2022.04.093. PMID 35617951. S2CID 246191357.
  12. ^ a b Carl Waldman, Catherine Mason, Encyclopedia of European peoples, Volume 1, Infobase Publishing, 2006, p. 508
  13. ^ a b Paul Lendvai, The Hungarians: a thousand years of victory in defeat, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2003, p. 15-29, p. 533
  14. ^ a b Kevin Alan Brook, The Jews of Khazaria, Rowman & Littlefield, 2009, pp. 163-164.
  15. ^ (Hungarian)
  16. ^ John P. C. Matthews, Explosion: the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Hippocrene Books, 2007, p. 69
  17. ^ Peter Benjamin Golden. The Migrations of the Oghuz. pp. 65–67.
  18. ^ Denis Sinor (1990). The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia. Vol. 1. p. 245.
  19. ^ Makkai 2001, pp. 415-416.
  20. ^ Juhász, Pamjav, Fehér, Csányi, Zink, Maixner, Pálfi, Molnár, Pap, Kustár, Révész, Raskó, Török (July 15, 2016). "Genetic structure of the early Hungarian conquerors inferred from mtDNA haplotypes and Y‑chromosome haplogroups in a small cemetery]." (PDF Archived 2018-07-19 at the Wayback Machine) Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. doi:10.1007/s00438-016-1267-z
  21. ^ Csányi, B.; Bogácsi-Szabó, E.; Tömöry, Gy.; Czibula, Á.; Priskin, K.; Csõsz, A.; Mende, B.; Langó, P.; Csete, K.; Zsolnai, A.; Conant, E. K.; Downes, C. S.; Raskó, I. (1 July 2008). "Y-Chromosome Analysis of Ancient Hungarian and Two Modern Hungarian-Speaking Populations from the Carpathian Basin". Annals of Human Genetics. 72 (4): 519–534. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1809.2008.00440.x. ISSN 1469-1809. PMID 18373723.