Kingdom of Hungary Early Medieval

Reign of Béla IV
Béla IV of Hungary ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1235 Sep 21

Reign of Béla IV

Esztergom, Hungary

Béla IV supported Christian missions among the pagan Cumans who dwelled in the plains to the east of his province. Some Cuman chieftains acknowledged his suzerainty and he adopted the title of King of Cumania in 1233. He attempted to restore royal authority, which had diminished under his father. For this purpose, he revised his predecessors' land grants and reclaimed former royal estates, causing discontent among the noblemen and the prelates.


The Mongols invaded Hungary and annihilated Béla's army in the Battle of Mohi on 11 April 1241. He escaped from the battlefield, but a Mongol detachment chased him from town to town as far as Trogir on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. Although he survived the invasion, the Mongols devastated the country before their unexpected withdrawal in March 1242. Béla introduced radical reforms in order to prepare his kingdom for a second Mongol invasion. He allowed the barons and the prelates to erect stone fortresses and to set up their private armed forces. He promoted the development of fortified towns. During his reign, thousands of colonists arrived from the Holy Roman Empire, Poland and other neighboring regions to settle in the depopulated lands. Béla's efforts to rebuild his devastated country won him the epithet of "second founder of the state". He set up a defensive alliance against the Mongols. During Béla's reign, a wide buffer zone—which included Bosnia, Barancs and other newly conquered regions—was established along the southern frontier of Hungary in the 1250s.


Béla's relationship with his oldest son and heir, Stephen, became tense in the early 1260s, because the elderly king favored his daughter Anna and his youngest child, Béla, Duke of Slavonia. He was forced to cede the territories of the Kingdom of Hungary east of the river Danube to Stephen, which caused a civil war lasting until 1266. 


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Last Updated: : Fri Nov 04 2022