Hungarian History in a Nutshell


Hungarian events; international references

So you are planning a trip to Hungary. Surely you would like to know: how this mysterious country had arisen here at the heart of Europe? or are the Hungarians related to any Europeans? and who are the Magyars?

Choose our exciting Budapest Discovery Game to get to know Budapest’s sights and history. But now read about the Hungarian-story below:

Let’s be honest, history is interesting, your teacher might have ruined this experience of yours but surely you will find some fascinating parts if you read this short Hungarian history lesson:

  • c. 100 AD – Romans lived in lower Pannonia (a province of the Roman Empire, bordered by the River Danube, with Aquincum the centre, which is still part of Budapest)
  • 5th century AD – powerful empire of the Huns under Attila the Hun the “Scourge of God” (c. 434–453) during the time of the great Migration of Peoples (c. 375-910 AD).
  • 6-8th century – an Asiatic people called the Avars then the Germanic Franks conquered Hungary.
  • 896 – Árpád led the 7 nomadic tribes of Magyars (Hungarians) in the Carpathian Basin (Central Europe) from the East (from the Ural Mountains, bringing their special Finnish-Ugrian language with them). He became their real first leader, founded the country before France, Germany or England were founded (and about 400 years after Attila and his Huns, so it’s mainly the given name, “Hungarian”  has anything to do with the Huns!).
  • 10th century – for decades the Hungarian tribes raided other parts of Europe.
    A common early medieval prayer: “A sagittis Hungarorum libera nos Domine!” (Modena, 924 A.D.) – “Lord, save us from the arrows of the Hungarians”.
  • 997 – Stephen I started to convert the pagan Hungarians to Catholicism and was declared saint in the 11th century. His mummified right hand is in a shrine displayed in the Saint Stephen Basilica in Budapest.
  • 1000 – Stephen was crowned 1st king of Hungary. (More than fifty kings were crowned with the same Holy Crown up to the last one, Charles IV of Habsburg, in 1916.)
  • 1057 – King St. Stephen’s daughter married Edward, son of Edmund Ironside of Britain, who stayed in the Hungarian court until that year. His daughter, Margaret, became the wife of King Malcolm of Scotland. Several Scottish families, like the Leslies and Drummonds, trace their ancestry from the Hungarians who followed the royal family to Scotland.
  • 1222 – The Golden Bull was the first constitution in Continental Europe, the Hungarian equivalent of England’s Magna Carta.
  • 1241 – The Tartars from Mongolia invaded the country.
  • 1361 – Buda became the capital of Hungary.
  • 1456 – The Battle of Belgrade (Hungarian name then: Nándorfehérvár). Christian forces led by János Hunyadi defeated the Ottoman Turks. The pope ordered all Catholic kingdoms to the noon bell ritual that is done in Catholic and old Protestant churches to this day.
  • 1458-1490 – King Matthias Corvinus (János Hunyadi’s son) reigned, bringing Renaissance influence into the country and making Hungary the biggest country in Europe at the time (Russian/Ukrainian territories excluded).
  • 1526 – The Ottoman Turks defeated the Hungarians at Mohács. Turkish occupation started and lasted for about 150 years.
  • 1541-1686 – Hungary was divided into three parts. The Turks ruled central Hungary, the Austrian Habsburgs ruled west Hungary, and the Hungarians had only the south-east of Hungary. (The Turks left lots of baths behind, they are still in use today, pretty much as authentic as it can only get thus great tourist attractions.)
  • 1686 – with the help of the Habsburgs the Turks were defeated and left Hungary, and the Austrians ruled the whole country for more than 230 years thereafter (until the end of World War I).
  • 1703-1711 – Rákóczi, Ferenc II, Prince of Transylvania led a war against the Habsburgs, but was defeated.
  • 1848-49 – Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence against the Habsburgs, emperor (Franz-Joseph) was dethroned as a result, but gained his throne back with the assistance of the Russians.
  • 1867 – The Austro-Hungarian Compromise established the Austria-Hungary dual monarchy.
  • 1873 – Pest, Buda, and Óbuda (old Buda) were unified into one town making Budapest a major city within Europe.
  • 1896 ­– Hungary celebrated its millennium (one thousand years in the area) with lots of new constructions, like the Building of the Parliament, which is the 3rd largest in the world (after the Argentine and Romanian ones) and currently still the largest building in Hungary and the tallest building in Budapest.

List of invasions / foreign rules of Hungary:

  1. Tartars-Mongols (c. 1241-42)
  2. Turks for about 150 years (from c. 1526-1686)
  3. Austrians for about 230 years (c. 1686-1916)
  4. Nazi Germans (1944-45)
  5. Soviets for 44 years (1945-1989)

They used to say Hungarians were grumpy, but no surprise as (you can see) the Hungarian history is pretty heavy and full of invasions.
Things have changed.

  • Hungary has been an EU member country since 1 May 2004

Our super friendly local team is waiting to show you the best parts of Hungary, the smiling Budapest and you will love our country so much that you wouldn’t want to leave (heard that many times from our groups).