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ALMOS, Grand Prince of the Magyars

HUSBAND:
ALMOS, Grand Prince of the Magyars. [The Hungarians], [Ancestors]
He was said to have been born about 820 AD, but this may have been the birth of Elod. He was probably born about 840-845 AD. The name of Álmos's father is likewise uncertain because the Hungarian chronicles preserved it in two variants. The Gesta Hungarorum ("The Deeds of the Hungarians") records that his father was Ügyek , while the Chronicon Pictum (the "Vienna Illuminated Chronicle") states that his fatherw was ELOD, himself the son of Ügyek.

w His reign was after 854 AD to about 895 AD.

The medieval chronicle recounts the story of his birth as follows: "his pregnant mother had seen a divine vision in her dream of a Turul bird, as it were flying over her and getting her with child; and a spring seemed to rise from her womb and many great kings originated from her loins, although they would multiply not in their own lands". The legend is often given as an explanation for the name Álmos, which is derived from the Hungarian word for "dream." (S1).

According to the medieval chronicles, Álmos was proclaimed Grand Prince of the Magyars by the leaders of the Hétmagyar, the confederation of the seven Magyar tribes, but the De Administrando Imperio states that the office was created by the Khagan of the Khazars, and that it was not Álmos, but his son Árpád, who became the first Grand Prince. Modern historians usually follow the tradition that Álmos was the first Grand Prince in the second half of the 850s. (S1).

At that time, the Magyar tribes were living under Khazar supremacy. (S1).

Before 862, the seven Magyar tribes, living in the area they called Etelköz, seceded from the Khazars; afterwards, they were exacting tribute from the neighbouring Slavic tribes and they fought occasionally as mercenaries on behalf of King Carloman of Bavaria, King Arnulf I of Germany and King Svatopluk I of Great Moravia. The Hétmagyar confederation was strengthened when three tribes of the Kabars, who had rebelled against the Khazars, joined them before 881.

According to chronicler Anonymus the Hungarians westward migration from Dentumoger started "in the year of Our Lord's incarnation 884 AD. (S1).

In the spring of 895, the Magyar tribes attacked the Bulgarian Empire allied with the Byzantine emperor, Leo VI the Wise and defeated Emperor Simeon I of Bulgaria obliging him to conclude peace with the Byzantine Empire. The Emperor Simeon entered into an alliance with the Pechenegs, who were the eastern neighbours of the Hétmagyar, and he made an attack against the Magyar troops. At the Battle of Southern Buh, the Emperor Simeon defeated the Magyar army; and shortly afterwards, the Pechenegs attacked and pillaged their territories. The Magyar tribes were obliged to leave Etelköz and invade the Carpathian Basin where they settled down (Honfoglalás).

Whether he was the sacred ruler (kende) of the Hungarians, or their military leader (gyula) is subject to scholarly debate :

Álmos, according to Gesta Hungarorum, was freely elected by the heads of the seven Hungarian tribes as their "leader and master". Anonymus adds that to ratify Álmos's election, the seven chiefs "swore an oath, confirmed in pagan manner with their own blood spilled in a single vessel". Anonymus says that they also adopted the basic principles of the government, including the hereditary right of Álmos's offsprings to his office and the right of his electors' descendant to have a seat in the prince's council. According to author Pál Engel, this report of the "treaty by blood" (Hungarian: vérszerzodés), which reflects its authors' political philosophy rather than actual events, was "often presented by Hungarian historians as the very first manifestation of modern parliamentary thinking in Europe" up until 1945. (S1).

In a sharply contrasting narrative from around 950, the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus states that instead of Álmos, his son Árpád was the first supreme head of the Hungarian tribes, and that Árpád's election was initiated by the Khazar khagan. The emperor says the khagan sent an envoy to the "voivodes" (heads of the Hungarian tribes) after they had been forced by the Pechenegs to leave their dwelling places near the Khazar Khaganate and to settle in a new territory called Etelköz. The khagan was planning to appoint one of the voivodes named Levedi to lead the Hungarian tribes to represent the khagan's interests. Although Levedi refused the khagan's offer, he proposed one of his peers, Álmos or Álmos's son Árpád, to the proposed new position. The khagan accepted Levedi's offer. Upon his initiative the Hungarians elected their first prince, but they preferred Árpád to his father. (S1).

Gyula Kristó and many other historians refute Porphyrogenitus's report of the omission of Álmos in favor of his son, saying that the turul legend connected to Álmos's birth proves his role as forefather of his dynasty. These historians say that the emperor's account is based on a report by one of Árpád's descendants named Termacsu, who emphasized by this report of Árpád's election that only those descending from Árpád were suitable to lead the Hungarians; other children of Álmos were excluded. András Róna-Tas says that Constantine Porphyrogenitus preserved the memory of a coup d'état organized against Levedi kende by Álmos gyula, who had his own son Árpád elected as sacred ruler in his opponent's place. A late 9th-century Arabian scholar, al-Jayhani – whose works were partially preserved in Ibn Rusta's and other Muslim authors' books – mentions the existence of these two high offices among the Hungarians. He describes the kende as the Hungarians' sacred ruler and the gyula as their military commander. Historians still debate which of the two offices was held by Álmos. (S1).

The chagan said to [Levedi]: "We have invited you upon this account, in order that, since you are noble and wise and valorous and first among the [Hungarians], we may appoint you prince of your nation, and you may be obedient to our word and our command." But he, in reply, made answer to the chagan: "Your regard and purpose for me I highly esteem and express to you suitable thanks, but since I am not strong enough for this rule, I cannot obey you; on the other hand, however, there is a voivode other than me, called [Álmos], and he has a son called [Árpád]; let one of these, rather, either that [Álmos] or his son [Árpád], be made prince, and be obedient to your word." That chagan was pleased at this saying, and gave some of his men to go with him, and sent them to the [Hungarians], and after they had talked the matter over with the [Hungarians], the [Hungarians] preferred that [Árpád] should be prince rather than [Álmos] his father, for he was of superior parts and greatly admired for wisdom and counsel and valour, and capable of this rule; and so they made him prince according to the custom, or 'zakanon', of the Chazars, by lifting him upon a shield. —Constantine Porphyrogenitus: De Administrando Imperio. (S1).

Kristó says that Álmos stood at the head of the Hungarian tribal confederation from around 850. Porphyrogenitus's narration says that he initially accepted the khagan's suzerainty. The Hungarians apparently achieved their independence around 860, since the earliest reports on their plundering raids in Central Europe were recorded thereafter. The Annals of St. Bertin mentions their incursion into Louis the German's realm in 862. Three tribes seceding from the Khazar Khaganate, together known by Porphyrogenitus as "Kabaroi", also joined with the Hungarians in the 860s or 870s. Spinei says that the memory of their arrival was preserved by Anonymus, who mentions "the seven dukes of the Cumans" who "subjected themselves to Prince Álmos" at Kiev. (S1).

Anonymus writes of a war between the Hungarians and the Kievan Rus', ending with the victory of the Hungarians, who were commanded by Álmos. The Russian Primary Chronicle refers to a "Hungarian hill" at Kiev in connection with the town's occupation by Oleg of Novgorod in 882. The same chronicle mentions "a castle of Ol'ma" (??????? ?????) standing on the same hill. George Vernadsky says that this fortress had been named after Álmos, but this theory has not been widely accepted by historians. (S1).

My personal opinion is that these reports show that he was the kende, the spiritual or secular leader, and that Levedi, or perhaps other tribal leaders, remained the gyula, the military leader, until Arpad was older.

Death

He died about 895 AD, but the time and manner of his death is uncertain.

According to the Gesta Hungarorum, the Hungarians invaded the Carpathian Basin under Álmos, who "appointed his son, Árpád, as leader and master" of the Hungarian tribal federation at Ungvár (Uzhhorod, Ukraine). Thereafter Anonymous does not mention Álmos. In a contrasting report, the Illuminated Chronicle says that Álmos "could not enter Pannonia, for he was killed in Erdelw" (Transylvania). Kristó says that the chronicle preserves the memory of Álmos's sacrifice because of the catastrophic defeat of his people by the Pechenegs. If this is true, his ritual murder proves that Álmos was the sacred leader of the Hungarian tribal federation. Róna-Tas refutes this and says that if the chronicle's report is reliable, Álmos became the victim of a political murder committed or initiated by his own son. Preferring the narration of the Gesta Hungarorum to the report by the Illuminated Chronicle, Victor Spinei states that Álmos was not murdered in Transylvania, since Anonymus writes that the Hungarians bypassed this region when invading the Carpathian Basin. (S1).

WIFE:
No source preserved the name of Álmos's wife. Anonymus writes that she was "the daughter of a certain most noble prince". (S1)


CHILDREN of
  1. Árpád, Grand Prince of the Magyars (c. 845 – c. 907). Álmos's only child known by name was Árpád, who succeeded Álmos after his death.


SOURCES:

HOW ARE WE RELATED:
Almos, Grand Prince of the Magyars. (c. 820–c. 895). Became overlord of the seven Hungarian Etelköz tribes.  
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