Name of Hungary

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Iuhra, "the place of origin of Hungarians" (inde ungaroru origo) on Sigismund von Herberstein's 1549 map of Moscovia, located east of the Ob River.

The English name Hungary is from Medieval Latin Hungaria, built from the ethnonyms (H)ungarī, Ungrī, Ugrī. The name was used by medieval writers' for the Hungarians (who call themselves Magyars and their land Magyarország).

Name of the Hungarians[edit]

The primary sources use several names when referring to the Magyars (Hungarians).[1] However, their own ethnonym in the Early Middle Ages is uncertain. In sources written in Arabic, the Magyars are mentioned as Madjfarīyah or Madjgharīyah (e.g., by Ahmad ibn Rustah), Badjghird or Bazkirda (e.g., by al-Mas’udi), Unkalī (e.g., by al-Tartushi), and Turk (e.g., by Ibn Hayyan).[1][2] In Byzantine sources, the Magyars are referred to as Οΰγγροι /Ungroi/, Τουρκοι /Turkoi/ (e.g., by the Emperor Leo the Wise), and Σάβαρτοι άσφαλοι /Sawartoi asfaloi/ (e.g., by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogennetos).[3] When mentioning the Magyars, the medieval sources written in the Latin language usually use the terms Ungri, Hungri, Ungari, and Hungari, but some of the sources refer to the Magyars as Avari or Huni.[4]

The Hungarian endonym is magyar, from Old Hungarian mogyër. The name is taken from magyeri (9th/10th century; now known as Mëgyër), one of the seven major semi-nomadic Hungarian tribes (the others being: Tarján, Jenő, Kér, Keszi, Kürt-Gyarmat, and Nyék) which became dominant after the ascension of one its members—Árpád—and his subsequent dynasty. The tribal name "Megyer" became "Magyar" referring to the Hungarian people as a whole.[5][6][7] The first element "Magy" is likely from a Proto-Ugric *mäńć- "man, person", also found in the name of the Mansi (mäńćī, mańśi, måńś). The second element eri, "man, men, lineage", survives in Hungarian férj "husband", and is cognate with Mari erge "son", Finnish archaic yrkä "young man".[8] A common folk etymology holds that Magyar was derived from the name of (prince) Muageris.[9]

Written sources called Magyars "Hungarians" prior to the conquest of the Carpathian Basin when they still lived on the steppes of Eastern Europe (in 837 "Ungri" mentioned by Georgius Monachus, in 862 "Ungri" by Annales Bertiniani, in 881 "Ungari" by the Annales ex Annalibus Iuvavensibus). The Latin variant Ungarii, applied to the Magyars even in the 10th century by Widukind of Corvey in his Res gestae saxonicae, is most likely patterned after Middle High German Ungarn.

The ethnonym "Ungri" is the Latinized form of Byzantine Greek Oungroi (Οὔγγροι). According to an explanation, the Greek name was borrowed from Old Bulgarian ągrinŭ which was in turn borrowed from Oghur-Turkic On-Ogur (meaning "ten [tribes of the] Ogurs"), the collective name for the tribes who later joined the Bulgar tribal confederacy that ruled the eastern parts of Hungary after the Avars. The Hungarians likely belonged to the Onogur tribal alliance and it is quite possible they became its ethnic majority.[4][10]

Another explanation comes from the Old Russian word Yugra (Югра). In early medieval sources, beside the Hungarians, the exonym Ungri, Ugri was applied to the Mansi and Khanty peoples too.[11] It may refer to the Hungarians at a time when they dwelt east of the Ural Mountains along the natural borders of Europe and Asia before their settlement of Hungary.[12] The name Yugra (or Iuhra) was applied to that territory from about the 12th century. Herodotus in the 5th century BC probably depicted the ancestors of Hungarians when mentioning the Yugra people living west of the Urals.[13]

The addition of an unetymological h- in Medieval Latin is most likely due to early pseudo-historical associations with the Huns who had settled Hungary prior to the Avars, as in Theophylactus Simocatta where he states, "Hunnougour, descendants of the Hun hords".

Hungary in written sources[edit]

According to one view, following Anonymus's description, the Hungarian federation in the 9th century was called "Hetumoger / Seven Magyars" ("VII principales persone qui Hetumoger dicuntur", "seven princely persons who are called Seven Magyars"[14]), though the chronicler refers to "seven leading persons"[15] instead of a political organization.[16]

In Byzantine sources, written in Greek, the country was known as "Western Tourkia".[17][18] The Jewish Hasdai ibn Shaprut around 960 called the polity "the land of the Hungrin" (the land of the Hungarians) in a letter to Joseph of the Khazars.[19]

Natio Hungarica[edit]

The Latin term Natio Hungarica ("Hungarian nation") in the late medieval period referred to the members of the Hungarian Diet, viz. the Hungarian nobility, the Catholic clergy, and a limited number of enfranchised burghers (regardless of their ethnicity and language). The same term came to refer to the elite with corporate political rights of parliamentary representation, i.e. the prelates, the magnates and the nobles, in the early modern period. This conception was accepted in Szatmar Treaty of 1711 and in the Pragmatic Sanction of 1722; it remained valid until 1848, when the Hungarian nobility was abolished, and began to acquire a sense of ethnic nationalism.[20][21][22]


In medieval Latin, the territory of the kingdom Hungary was still known as Pannonia, after the Roman province. The king of Hungary was also given the title of rex Pannoniae "king of Pannonia", or rex Pannonicorum "king of the Pannonians".

The name of Pannonia is named for the Pannonii (Παννόνιοι), a group of tribes inhabiting the Drava basin in the 2nd century BC. They were presumably Illyrian tribes who had been Celticized during the 3rd century BC. Julius Pokorny suggested an Illyrian etymology for this name, derived from a PIE root *pen- "swamp, marsh" (cognate with English fen).

Modern era[edit]

The Latin Regnum Hungariae/Vngarie (Regnum meaning kingdom); Regnum Marianum (Kingdom of St. Mary); or simply Hungaria was the form used in official Latin documents from the beginning of the kingdom to the 1840s (documents in Hungarian used the term "Magyarország" – used most by Protestant Transylvanian Princes in their correspondence and official documents during the period they controlled not only the Parts of Hungary but the Upper Hungary sometimes up to Pressburg (Pozsony, now Bratislava), German ones the term Ungarn, Königreich Ungarn - many diplomas produced in German or mixed German - Latin for the towns/civitas' mostly established and resided by German speaking "Hungarians": Transylvanian Saxons, Zipsers, Hiänzs, etc. from the 14th century).

The German name (Königreich Ungarn) was used from 1849 to the 1860s, and the Hungarian name (Magyar Királyság) was used in the 1840s, and again from the 1860s to 1918. The names in other languages of the kingdom were: Polish: Królestwo Węgier, Romanian: Regatul Ungariei, Croatian: Kraljevina Ugarska, Slovene: Kraljevina Ogrska, Czech: Uherské království, Slovak: Uhorské kráľovstvo, Italian (for the city of Fiume), Regno d'Ungheria.

In Austria-Hungary (1867–1918), the unofficial name Transleithania was sometimes used to denote the regions covered by the Kingdom of Hungary. Officially, the term Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen was included for the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, although this term was also in use prior to that time.

Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen[edit]

The historical term Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen was used to denote a group of territories connected to the Kingdom of Hungary within Austria-Hungary.[23][24] This system of states is sometimes named Archiregnum Hungaricum ("High Kingdom of Hungary") using a medieval terminology.

Regnum Marianum[edit]

Regnum Marianum is an old Catholic name of Hungary. It means Kingdom (Country) of Mary. The name comes from the tradition that the first Hungarian king, Saint Stephen, dying without an heir, has offered the Holy Crown (the Hungarian crown) and the country to the Virgin Mary.

The name Regnum Marianum was often used for emphasizing a strong connection between Hungary and Catholicism. Some communities also use this name for themselves to express their intention to make their life worthy to Mary. The best known of these is the Regnum Marianum Community.


  1. ^ a b Kristó 1996a, p. 229.
  2. ^ Elter, István (1997). A magyarok elnevezései arab forrásokban (The Names of the Magyars in Arabic Sources) /In: Honfoglalás és nyelvészet ("The Occupation of Our county" and Linguistics)/. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó. p. 266. ISBN 963-506-108-0. 
  3. ^ Harmatta, János (1997). A magyarok nevei görög nyelvű forrásokban (The Names of the Magyars in Sources Written in Greek) /In: Honfoglalás és nyelvészet ("The Occupation of Our county" and Linguistics)/. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó. p. 266. ISBN 963-506-108-0. 
  4. ^ a b Király, Péter (1997). A magyarok elnevezése a korai európai forrásokban(The Names of the Magyars in Early European Sources) /In: Honfoglalás és nyelvészet ("The Occupation of Our county" and Linguistics)/. Budapest: Balassi Kiadó. p. 266. ISBN 963-506-108-0. 
  5. ^ György Balázs, Károly Szelényi, The Magyars: the birth of a European nation, Corvina, 1989, p. 8
  6. ^ Alan W. Ertl, Toward an Understanding of Europe: A Political Economic Précis of Continental Integration, Universal-Publishers, 2008, p. 358
  7. ^ Z. J. Kosztolnyik, Hungary under the early Árpáds: 890s to 1063, Eastern European Monographs, 2002, p. 3
  8. ^ Sergei Starostin, Uralic etymology
  9. ^ Kosztolnyik, Z. J., Hungary under the early Árpáds, 890s to 1063, page 29, Distributed by Columbia University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-88033-503-3, Library of congress control number 2002112276
  10. ^ Peter F. Sugar, ed. (1990-11-22). A History of Hungary. Indiana University Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-253-20867-5. Retrieved 2011-07-06. 
  11. ^ The Linguist: Journal of the Institute of Linguists, Volumes 36-37, The Institute, 1997, p. 116
  12. ^ OED (s.v. "Ugrian"): "Ugri, the name given by early Russian writers to an Asiatic race dwelling east of the Ural Mountains"
  13. ^ Iván Boldizsár, The New Hungarian Quarterly, Issues 121-123, Lapkiadó Publishing House, 1991, p. 90
  14. ^ Gyula Decsy, A. J. Bodrogligeti, Ural-Altaische Jahrbücher, Volume 63, Otto Harrassowitz, 1991, p. 99
  15. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians 2010, (chapter 1), p. 11.
  16. ^ Kristó 1996a, pp. 116–117.
  17. ^ Peter B. Golden, Nomads and their neighbours in the Russian steppe: Turks, Khazars and Qipchaqs, Ashgate/Variorum, 2003. "Tenth-century Byzantine sources, speaking in cultural more than ethnic terms, acknowledged a wide zone of diffusion by referring to the Khazar lands as 'Eastern Tourkia' and Hungary as 'Western Tourkia.'" Carter Vaughn Findley, The Turks in the World History, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 51, citing Peter B. Golden, 'Imperial Ideology and the Sources of Political Unity Amongst the Pre-Činggisid Nomads of Western Eurasia,' Archivum Eurasiae Medii Aevi 2 (1982), 37–76.
  18. ^ Carter V. Findley, The Turks in world history, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 51
  19. ^ Raphael Patai, The Jews of Hungary: History, Culture, Psychology, Wayne State University Press, 1996, p. 29, ISBN 978-0814325612
  20. ^ John M. Merriman, J. M. Winter, Europe 1789 to 1914: encyclopedia of the age of industry and empire, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006, p. 140, ISBN 978-0-684-31359-7
  21. ^ Tadayuki Hayashi, Hiroshi Fukuda, Regions in Central and Eastern Europe: past and present, Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, 2007, p. 158, ISBN 978-4-938637-43-9
  22. ^ Katerina Zacharia, Hellenisms: culture, identity, and ethnicity from antiquity to modernity, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 237 ISBN 978-0-7546-6525-0
  23. ^ Hungary in Britannica 1911
  24. ^ introduction to Constitution of Union between Hungary and Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia

Secondary sources[edit]

  • Kristó, Gyula (1996a). Hungarian History in the Ninth Century. Szegedi Középkorász Muhely. ISBN 963-482-113-8. 
  • Marcantonio, Angela (2002). The Uralic Language Family: Facts, Myths and Statistics. Oxford ; Malden, MA: Blackwell. 

See also[edit]