hungarian conquest
Bertalan Székely: Vérszerződés (Blood Oath) photo: Wikicommons

They chose Álmos to lead them to Pannonia and take what Attila, the fearsome ruler of the Huns, left for them. They took an oath and remained faithful to what they said until their death – or at least this is what Hungarian chroniclers wrote in the Middle Ages.

Out of them, chose Anonymus who was probably the notary and chronicler of a Hungarian King, probably Béla III in the late 12th and the early 13th century. He is famous for his work ‘Gesta Hungarorum’ (‘The deeds of the Hungarians’) which he wrote around 1200. In this work, the unknown master tries to explain how Hungarians arrived in the Carpathian Basin, but without any critical attitude, just based on what he heard and read in other chronicles. Furthermore, from settlement names, he created non-existent antagonists the Hungarian tribes had to defeat in order to support the idea of a bloody war in which the Hungarians heroically conquered their new land. 

However, let us leave history there and see what Anonymus wrote about what he thought happened before the conquest of the Carpathian Basin, and therefore, what people in those days thought about their history.

According to Anonymus, the birth of Álmos, the first head of the Hungarian tribes, was foretold by a dream. Emese, the ancestress of the Árpád dynasty, the dynasty which founded the Hungarian Kingdom, had a dream in which a Turul, a mythological bird of prey, mostly depicted as a hawk or falcon in Hungarian tradition, appeared protecting the little baby already growing in her uterus. Others say that the Turul inseminated Emese in her dream.

Anyway, according to Anonymus, Álmos was the heir of Magog, King of the Skythians, and among his ancestors, there was Attila, the ruler of the Huns. Álmos was good-looking, his skin and eyes were brown, he was tall and slightly built while his hand was huge and his fingers were fubsy. He was wise, benevolent, happy,  nice to brethren and a good soldier as well. 

Anonymus says that there was not enough land for the people living in Skythia, so the seven leaders of the Hungarian tribes – stemming from the Scythian nation – decided to conquer new lands. Therefore, they rode to Pannonia which was Attila’s land whose descendant was Almos. To do so, they elected Almos as their leader who was the most experienced in fighting and the noblest among them. 

From this day on, we choose you for our leader and commander, and wherever you go, we will follow” – they told him. Then, according to pagan tradition, they poured their blood in a vessel with which they sanctified their oath, and they kept it until their death.

The oath of the leaders contained 5 points and, according to Anonymus, these were the following:  

  • their leader will always be from the family of Almos;
  • everybody will get a share from anything they acquire;
  • the descendants of the leaders will always be in the leading positions of the country;
  • anybody becoming disloyal or provoking a rebellion against Almos or his descendants should be exterminated;
  • eternal curse on all those descendants of the leaders or Almos who broke their oath.

The seven leaders taking the oath were: Álmos, Előd, Kend, Ond, Tas, Huba, Tétény.

Featured image: Bertalan Székely: Blood oath (Vérszerződés); 1895-1897.


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