You probably heard about the Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895-896 and it might happen that you even know that the Heroes Square, Andrássy Street or the building of the Parliament were inaugurated in the year of 1896 in which Hungary celebrated the millennium of that event. However, have you ever seen how Hungarians lived in the time of the Conquest and how an authentic Hungarian village looked like those days? Now you have a chance to do so.
Wealthy and handsome people of the steppe
According to historical sources, the Hungarians were nomadic people those days wandering together with their animals in search of pasturage. Furthermore, they lived in tents that were easy to pack together and move. According to Ibn Rusta, a 10th-century Persian explorer and geographer, Magyars settled along the nearest river during winters where they lived by fishing. He also wrote then that their “land is well watered and harvests abundant“. However, it is still unclear whether they or their slaves cultivated the land. Most Hungarian Historians today say that the latter is true.
According to Ibn Rusta, plundering raids, taxes collected from the neighbouring communities and slave trade made Hungarians wealthy. In fact, they sold their slaves to Byzantine traders and in return, they bought luxury products. According to Gardezi, a Persian Muslim Geographer and Historian of the early 11th century, the Hungarians were “handsome people and of good appearance and their clothes are of silk brocade and their weapons are of silver and are encrusted with pearls.”
Here is the video showing the life of a 9th-century Hungarian village:
Interestingly, there were no legal differences between the Hungarians; they were all equals and free even though differences in their wealth were striking thanks to the plunders and the raids. Hungarians of the 9th and 10th centuries were fine craftsmen, too. Blacksmiths had a pre-eminent role in the militarized society but even gold- and silversmiths reached a high level of professionalism.
An army of 20 thousand strong
Provided that a man wanted to marry a woman he had to pay for her the bride price. The Hungarian word “vőlegény” (vevő legény = purchasing man) and “eladó leány” (bride for sale) refer to this custom even today. In fact, Hungarians were religious people in those days. However, even though they got in touch with many kinds of “modern” religions like Judaism (Khazar Khaganate), Islam (Turkic people), or Christianity (Bulgarian Empire), they worshipped the forces of nature.
According to the contemporary sources, the Hungarians were brave soldiers fighting with fine weapons of which the bone-reinforced reflex bows were the most fearsome ones being able to shoot at a specific target within 60-70 metres. Their tactics were similar to other people of the Steppe. The main components of Magyar warfare were the surprise attack, feigned retreat and long-distance arrow-fire. According to Hungarian Historians, the Hungarian army consisted of 20,000 strong because all adult men were soldiers.
You can watch here how the Hungarian army defeated the Holy-Roman-Empire (East Francia) at the Battle of Pressburg in 907 here:
Featured image: Árpád Feszty’s The Arrival of the Hungarians. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Arpadfeszty.jpg