||To comply with Wikipedia's lead section guidelines, the introduction of this article may need to be rewritten. (September 2009)|
|Reign||21 September 1235 – 3 May 1270|
|Coronation||14 October 1235 in Székesfehérvár|
|Kinga of Poland
Margaret of Hungary
Catherine of Hungary
Anna of Hungary
Jolenta of Poland
Elizabeth of Hungary
Constance of Hungary
Stephen V of Hungary
Saint Margaret of Hungary
|House||House of Arpad|
|Father||Andrew II of Hungary|
|Mother||Gertrude of Merania|
|Born||29 November 1206|
|Died||3 May 1270 (aged 63)|
Béla IV (//; 1206–1270), King of Hungary (1235–70) and of Croatia (1235–70), duke of Styria 1254–58. One of the most famous kings of Hungary, he distinguished himself through his policy of strengthening of the royal power following the example of his grandfather Bela III, and by the rebuilding Hungary after the catastrophe of the Mongolian invasion in 1241. For this reason he is called by the Hungarians "the second founder of our country".
Béla was the eldest son of King Andrew II of Hungary and his first wife, Gertrude of Merania. Upon Pope Innocent III's request, the ecclesiastic and temporal dignitaries of the Kingdom of Hungary took an oath before his birth that they would accept him as his father's successor.
The infant Béla was probably present when a group of conspirators murdered his mother on 28 September 1213. Following the murder, his father ordered only the execution of the conspirators' leader and forgave the other members of the group, which resulted in Béla's emerging antipathy against his father.
In the beginning of 1214, Béla was engaged to a daughter of Tzar Boril of Bulgaria. Shortly afterwards, he was crowned junior king. When his father left for a Crusade in August 1217, his maternal uncle, Archbishop Berthold of Kalocsa took Béla to the fortress of Steyr in Styria and he returned to Hungary one year later, following his father's return from the Holy Land.
In 1220, Béla married Maria Laskarina, a daughter of the Emperor Theodore I Laskaris of Nicaea and his father entrusted him with the government of Slavonia. However, King Andrew II, who had arranged Béla's marriage during his return from the Crusade, persuaded Béla to separate from his wife in 1222. Pope Honorius III, however, denied to declare their marriage null and void; therefore Béla took back his wife and escaped to Austria fearing his father's anger. Finally, King Andrew II made an agreement with his son with the mediation of the Pope and Béla took over again the government of Slavonia, Dalmatia and Croatia.
As governor, Béla began, with the authorization of the Pope, to take back the royal domains that King Andrew II had granted to his partisans during the first half of his reign. He laid siege to Klis, the fortress of a turbulent Croatian baron who had to surrender.
In 1226, his father entrusted him with the government of Transylvania where he assisted the missionary work of the Blackfriars among the Cuman tribes who settled down in the territories west of the Dniester River. As a result of their missionary work, two chieftains of the Cumans, Bartz and Membrok were baptized and they acknowledged Béla's overlordship around 1228. In the meantime, Béla began to organise the Banat of Szörény, a march of the kingdom.
In 1228, he began to revise his father's "needless and fruitless" donations in the whole territory of the kingdom with the authorisation of his father. However, his military failure in Halych, when assisting his younger brother, Andrew, weakened his influence and King Andrew II put an end to the revision of his former donations. During the early 1230s, Béla took part in the military expeditions of his father against Halych and Austria.
His relation with his father became even worse when King Andrew II married, on 14 May 1234, Beatrice D'Este, who was thirty years his junior.
When his father died on 21 September 1235, Béla ascended the throne without any opposition and Archbishop Robert of Esztergom crowned him on 14 October in Székesfehérvár. Shortly afterwards, he accused his young stepmother and his father's main advisor, Denis, Apud's son of adultery and ordered their arrest.
Béla's main purpose was to restore the royal power that had weakened during his father's rule; e.g., he ordered the burning of his advisors' seats, because he wanted to force them to stand in the presence of the king. As he also wanted to strengthen the position of the towns, he confirmed the charter of Székesfehérvár and granted new privileges to several key towns in the kingdom (Pest, Nagyszombat(Trnava), Selmecbánya(Banská Štiavnica), Korpona(Krupina), Zólyom(Zvolen), BarsStarý Tekov, and Esztergom).
He sent Friar Julian to find the Magyar tribes who had remained in their eastern homeland. Friar Julian, after meeting with the eastern Magyars returned to Hungary in 1239 and informed Béla of the planned Mongol invasion of Europe. Béla wanted to take precautions against the Mongols; therefore he granted asylum, in Hungary, to the Cumans who had been defeated by the Mongols. However, the nomadic culture of the Cumans caused tensions between them and the Hungarians which became more and more acute.
Béla tried to reinforce the eastern borders of his kingdom, but the Mongol troops, led by Batu Khan, managed to break through the frontier defenses on 12 March 1241. On hearing of the Mongols' successful attack, the citizens of Pest, who had been accusing the Cumans of cooperating with the Mongols, murdered Köten, the Khan of the Cumans; therefore the enraged Cumans began to plunder the countryside and they left the country.
After the Cumans' departure, Béla could lead only a small army against the Mongols who defeated him in the Battle of Mohi on 11 April 1241. After his disastrous defeat, Béla fled to Pressburg (Bratislava) and then to Hainburg where Duke Frederick II of Austria seized his treasury and forced him to cede three western counties of his kingdom to Austria.
Béla fled from Hainburg to Zagreb and he sent his envoys to the Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX to seek their assistance against the Mongols. He even offered to accept the overlordship of the Holy Roman Emperor in case he sent troops to Hungary, but none of the Western powers provided him any assistance.
In the meantime, the Mongols were plundering the territories of the kingdom west of the Danube River. Moreover, in January, they could cross the frozen Danube and Béla had to flee from the Mongol troops, the khan sent to capture him into Croatia. Tatars under the leadership of Kadan believed that the king was hiding in the Klis Fortress. They attacked it in March 1242, and experienced a major failure. But when they learnt that the king was not there, they abandoned their attack on the fortress, and ascending their mounts rode of in the direction of Trogir. All the same, a number of them turned toward Split.
The Mongols attacked the Dalmatian cities but eventually withdrew without major success, as the mountainous terrain and distance were not suitable for Mongol warfare. After failure against Croatian soldiers, Mongols retreated and Béla IV awarded Croatian towns and nobility. Much of Hungary and Croatia was plundered by the Mongols nonetheless, but without any major military success.
Following the Mongol invasion of Hungary, Béla broke with his former internal policy. Based on the experiences of the occupation, he began to grant estates to his partisans, but simultaneously he also obliged them to build up fortresses there, because only fortresses could resist the conquerors. He also encouraged the towns to protect themselves by erecting walls. He called back the Cumans to Hungary and granted them the deserted territories between the Rivers Danube and Tisza.
Because of his successful internal policy, he is greatly respected in Hungary and commonly known as "the second founder" of the kingdom.
Already in 1242, he could lead his troops against Duke Frederick II of Austria. During his campaign, he managed to reoccupy Sopron and Kőszeg and he compelled the duke to renounce the three counties he had occupied during the Mongol invasion.
On 30 June 1244, Béla made a peace with the Republic of Venice and he surrendered his supremacy over Zadar (then called Zara) but he retained the 1/3 of the Dalmatian city's revenues of customs. In 1245, Béla provided military assistance to his son-in-law, Prince Rostislav against Prince Danylo of Halych, but the latter forced back the pretender's attacks.
Upon his request, Pope Gregory IX absolved Béla of his oath he had taken to the Holy Roman Emperor during the Mongol invasion on 21 August 1245. Shortly afterwards, Duke Frederick II of Austria, who did not give up his claims to the western counties of the Kingdom of Hungary, launched an attack against Hungary. Although, he could defeat the Hungarian troops in a battle by the Leitha River, but he died in the battle. With his death, the male line of the House of Babenberg became extinct, and a struggle commenced for the rule over Austria and Styria.
Béla granted the Banat of Szörény to the Knights Hospitaller in 1249, when a rumour was spreading that the Mongols were preparing a new campaign against Europe. In the same year, he assisted again his son-in-law against Halych, but Prince Danylo defeated his troops by the San River. Finally, Béla decided to make an agreement with the Prince of Halych and they had a meeting in Zólyom in 1250 where Béla promised that he would not assist his son-in-law against Prince Danylo.
Béla decided to intervene in the struggle for the inheritance of the House of Babenberg and arranged a marriage between Gertrude of Austria, the niece of the deceased Duke Frederick II of Austria, and Roman Danylovich, a son of Prince Danylo of Halych. In 1252, he led his armies against Austria and occupied the Vienna Basin. However, King Ottokar II of Bohemia, whose wife was Margaret, the sister of Duke Frederick II, also declared his claim to the two duchies. Béla made a campaign against Moravia but he could not occupy Olomouc; therefore he started negotiating with the King of Bohemia with the mediation of the Papal legates. Finally, Béla had a meeting with King Ottokar II in Pressburg and they concluded a peace. Based on the provision of the peace Wiener Neustadt and the Duchy of Styria came under Béla's rule.
Béla had had his eldest son, Stephen crowned junior king already in 1246, but he did not want to share the royal power with his son. However, Stephen recruited an army against his father and persuaded Béla to cede him the government of Transylvania in 1258.
In the same year, the Styrians, who would have preferred the rule of the King of Bohemia, rose against Béla's reign, but his troops suppressed their rebellion. After his victory, Béla appointed his son to Duke of Styria. Nevertheless, the Styrians rebelled against the rule of the King of Hungary again with the support of King Ottokar II. Béla and his son commenced a military campaign against King Ottokar II's lands, but their troops were defeated on 12 July 1260 in the Battle of Kressenbrunn. Following the battle, Béla renounced his claim to the Duchy of Styria on behalf of the King of Bohemia in the Peace of Pressburg.
Shortly after the peace, Stephen took over again the government of Transylvania. Béla and his son jointly led their armies against Bulgaria in 1261. Nevertheless, Béla favoured his younger son, Duke Béla and his daughter, Anna, the mother-in-law of the King of Bohemia; therefore his relationship with his elder son was getting tense. The two kings (father and son) began to harass the other's partisans, and their clash seemed inevitable. Finally, the Archbishops Fülöp of Esztergom and Smaragd of Kalocsa commenced to mediate between them and the two kings signed an agreement in the summer of 1262 in Pozsony. Based on the agreement, Stephen V took over the government of the parts of the Kingdom East of the Danube.
However, their reconciliation was only temporary, because their partisans were continuously inciting them against each other. In 1264, the junior king attached his mother's and sister's estates in his domains. Béla sent troops against his son, whose wife and son were soon captured, while Stephen had to retreat to the Castle of Feketehalom(Codlea). However, the young king managed to repel the siege of his father's troops and to commence a counter-attack. Stephen V won a strategic victory over Béla's troops in the Battle of Isaszeg in March 1265 and in the subsequent peace Béla was obliged to cede the government of the Eastern parts of his kingdom again to his son. On 23 March 1266, they confirmed personally the peace in the Convent of the Blessed Virgin on the Nyulak szigete ('Rabbits' Island').
Béla lost his favourite son in the summer of 1269. Afterwards, his favourite daughter, Anna exercised more and more influence over him. In his last will, Béla entrusted his daughter and his followers to her son-in-law, King Otakar II of Bohemia, because he did not trust his son.
Because of the more and more chaotic internal situation after his death many thought him as the last ruler who brought peace to the realm. The epigram on his tomb refers this idea:
Aspice rem caram: tres cingunt Virginis aram: Rex, Dux, Regina, quibus adsint Gaudia Trina Dum licuit, tua dum viguit rex Bela, potestas, Fraus latuit, pax firma fuit, regnavit honestas.
King of Hungary, Dalmatia, Slavonia, Croatia, Cumania, Galicia and Lodomeria, Duke of Styria (1254–1258)
|Ancestors of Béla IV of Hungary|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Béla IV of Hungary|
Béla IV of HungaryBorn: 1206 Died: 3 May 1270
|King of Hungary
|Duke of Styria
|Titles in pretence|
|— TITULAR —
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