Business and political leaders

King Stephen I of Hungary

Category: Business and political leaders

Stephen I, also known as King Saint Stephen (Hungarian: Szent István király; Latin: Sanctus Stephanus; Slovak: Štefan I. or Štefan Veľký; c. 975 – 15 August 1038 AD), was the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians between 997 and 1000 or 1001, and the first King of Hungary from 1000 or 1001 until his death in 1038.

After succeeding his father in 997, Stephen had to fight for the throne against his relative, Koppány, who was supported by large numbers of pagan warriors. He defeated Koppány mainly with the assistance of foreign knights, including Vecelin, Hont and Pázmány, but also with help from native lords.

In a series of wars against semi-independent tribes and chieftains—including the Black Hungarians and his uncle, Gyula the Younger—he unified the Carpathian Basin. He protected the independence of his kingdom by forcing the invading troops of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor, to withdraw from Hungary in 1030.

Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 14  (1913)  - St. Stephen by Michael Ott

First King of Hungary, b. at Gran, 975; d. 15 August, 1038. He was a son of the Hungarian chief Géza and was baptized, together with his father, by Archbishop St. Adalbert of Prague in 985, on which occasion he changed his heathen name Vaik (Vojk) into Stephen.

 In 995 he married Gisela, a sister of Duke Henry of Bavaria, the future Emperor St. Henry II, and in 997 succeeded to the throne of Hungary.

 In order to make Hungary a Christian nation and to establish himself more firmly as ruler, he sent Abbot Astricus to Rome to petition Pope Sylvester II for the royal dignity and the power to establish episcopal sees. The pope acceded to his wishes and, in addition, presented him with a royal crown with which he was crowned at Gran on 17 August, 1001 .

He founded a monastery in Jerusalem and hospices for pilgrims at Rome, Ravenna, and Constantinople. He was a personal friend of St. Bruno of Querfurt and corresponded with Abbot St. Odilo of Cluny.

Stephen established at least one archbishopric, six bishoprics and three Benedictine monasteries; thus the Church in Hungary developed independently of the archbishops of the Holy Roman Empire. He encouraged the spread of Christianity with severe punishments for ignoring Christian customs. His system of local administration was based on counties organized around fortresses and administered by royal officials. Hungary, which enjoyed a lasting period of peace during his reign, became a preferred route for pilgrims and merchants traveling between Western Europe and the Holy Land or Constantinople.

Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 14  (1913)  - St. Stephen by Michael Ott

The last years of his life were embittered by sickness and family troubles. When on 2 September, 1031, his only son, St. Emeric, lost his life on a bear hunt, his cherished hope of transferring the reins of government into the hands of a pious Christian prince were shattered.

During his lifetime a quarrel arose among his various nephews concerning the right of succession, and some of them even took part in a conspiracy against his life.

He was buried beside his son at Stuhlweissenburg, ..... His feast is on 2 September, but in Hungary his chief festival is observed on 20 August, the day on which his relics were transferred to Buda. His incorrupt right hand is treasured as the most sacred relic in Hungary.

He survived all of his children. He died on 15 August 1038 and was buried in his new basilica, built in Székesfehérvár and dedicated to the Holy Virgin. His death caused civil wars which lasted for decades.

He was canonized by Pope Gregory VII, together with his son, Emeric, and Bishop Gerard of Csanád, in 1083.

 

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