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Portrayal of Stephen I on the Hungarian coronation pall from 1031

Stephen I (c. 975 – 15 August 1038) was the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians and the first King of Hungary (from 1000 or 1001 until his death). The first member of his family to become a devout Christian, he married Gisela of Bavaria, a scion of the imperial Ottonian dynasty. After succeeding his father in 997, Stephen had to defend the throne, with aid from foreign knights, against his relative Koppány. In a series of wars against semi-independent tribes and chieftains—including the Black Hungarians and his uncle, Gyula the Younger—Stephen unified the Carpathian Basin. He established at least one archbishopric, six bishoprics and three Benedictine monasteries, all independent of the archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire. Hungary enjoyed lasting peace during his reign, and became a preferred route for pilgrims and merchants traveling between Western Europe and the Holy Land or Constantinople. Stephen was canonized by Pope Gregory VII in 1083. In Hungary, his feast day (celebrated on 20 August) is a public holiday commemorating the foundation of the state. (Full article...)