The Hungarian tribes conquered the Carpathian Basin in 895-896 with the leadership of Árpád. Nevertheless, it took them more than a decade to secure it from Frankish forces. In fact, it is seldom mentioned even in schools in Hungary that the Hungarian Grand Duchy remained independent from the Holy-Roman-Empire (East Francia) only because they managed to defeat the forces of Louis the Child in 907 July 4-6 in the battle of Pressburg.
“The Hungarians must be destroyed!”
Historians debate even today about why precisely Hungarian tribes moved to the Carpathian Basin from Etelköz where they
made their blood oath
symbolizing their unity and shared fate of their people. However, two things are obvious now. Firstly, the Carpathian basin is much easier to protect than anything on the steppe. Secondly, though the territory did not belong to any of the neighbouring great powers (Byzantine or Holy-Roman Empire) people living there did not give themselves so easily. The Hungarian tribes had to fight hard to gain the basin. Moreover, they annexed Transdanubia by trick later. Finally, they
destroyed Svatopluk’s Moravian Empire.
However, the East Frankish monarch did not accept the loss of Pannonia. Consequently, Louis the IV. (who was nicknamed Louis the Child since he was 14 years old then) gathered a huge army to regain their former territories. Though we do not precisely know how significant this force was, it is clear that it outnumbered the Hungarian army. Moreover, the monarch issued a precise order: “Hungarians must be destroyed.”
Hungarian leader Árpád used genius tactics
In fact, the Frankish army was led by the Bavarian Prince Luitpold. The Hungarian army led by Árpád was constantly attacking the Western army in the Vienna basin to hinder their procession. Using genius tactics, Árpád defeated separately the two parts of the hostile army advancing on the two banks of the river Danube. Thus, they could not even unite their forces. Consequently, most of the Frankish army together with its commanders, e.g. Prince Liutpold remained dead on the battlefield.
Moreover, thanks to the victory no Western army tries to invade Hungary again for 120 years.
Here you can see a short video about the battle with interesting scenes and subtitles:
The victory of Pressburg is crucial in the Hungarian history since Árpád and his commanders managed to defeat an enemy having a much bigger army than they. This was because the
Hungarian military superiority
of those days. In fact, this consisted of light armoured, quick moving nomadic horse archers. With them the heavy armoured and slow moving European knights did not stand a chance.
Featured image: Peter Johann Nepomuk Geiger: The Battle of Pressburg (1850)