Principality of Hungary

Grand Principality of Hungary

Magyar Nagyfejedelemség
Europe in the late tenth century, Principality of Hungary (cyan)
Europe in the late tenth century, Principality of Hungary (cyan)
CapitalEsztergom and Székesfehérvár (from the reigns of Taksony and Géza)
Hungarian paganism
Slavic paganism
GovernmentGyula-Kende sacred diarchy (early)
Tribal confederation
Grand Prince
Historical eraMiddle ages
• Established
c. 895 895
• ended at the coronation of
Stephen I

25 December 1000
or 1 January 1001 1000
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Great Moravia
Principality of Lower Pannonia
Duchy of Glad
Duchy of Menumorut
Duchy of Gelou
Duchy of Salan
First Bulgarian Empire
Kingdom of Hungary (1000–1301)
Today part of Hungary

The Principality of Hungary[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] or Duchy of Hungary[8][9] (Hungarian: Magyar Nagyfejedelemség: "Hungarian Grand Principality")[10] was the earliest documented Hungarian state in the Carpathian Basin, established 895 or 896,[11][12][13][14][15] following the 9th century Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin.

The Hungarians, a semi-nomadic people forming a tribal alliance[13][16][17][18] led by Árpád, arrived from Etelköz which was their earlier principality east of the Carpathians.[19]

During the period, the power of the Hungarian Grand Prince seemed to be decreasing irrespective of the success of the Hungarian military raids across Europe. The tribal territories, ruled by Hungarian warlords (chieftains), became semi-independent polities (e.g. domains of Gyula the Younger in Transylvania). These territories were united again only under the rule of St. Stephen. The semi-nomadic Hungarian population adopted settled life. The chiefdom society changed to a state society. From the second half of the 10th century, Christianity started to spread. The principality was succeeded by the Christian Kingdom of Hungary with the coronation of St Stephen I at Esztergom on Christmas Day 1000 (its alternative date is 1 January 1001).[20][21][22]

The Hungarian historiography calls the entire period from 896 to 1000 "the age of principality".[14]


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The ethnonym of the Hungarian tribal alliance is uncertain. According to one view, following Anonymus's description, the federation was called "Hetumoger / Seven Magyars" ("VII principales persone qui Hetumoger dicuntur", "seven princely persons who are called Seven Magyars"[23]), 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.[24][25] 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).

In contemporary Byzantine sources, written in Greek, the country was known as "Western Tourkia"[26][27] in contrast to eastern or Khazar Tourkia. 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.[28]