Béla II of Hungary


Béla II of Hungary

Béla II the Blind (Hungarian: "II. (Vak) Béla", Croatian: "Bela I.", Slovak: "Belo II"), (c. 1110 – 13 February 1141), King of Hungary and Croatia (1131-1141). Still as a child, Béla was blinded by his uncle, King Coloman who wanted to ensure the succession of his own son, the future King Stephen II. During his childhood, Béla lived in different monasteries of the kingdom till the childless King Stephen II invited him to his court. Following King Stephen's death, Béla ascended the throne, but during his reign he had continously struggle with King Coloman's alleged son, Boris who tried to acquire the crown with the military assistance of the neighbouring countries.

Early years

Béla was the only son of Duke Álmos, the younger brother of King Coloman of Hungary. His mother was Predslava of Kiev. Duke Álmos led several rebellions against his brother, but finally, he and Béla were blinded in 1115. Father and son were living together in the Premonstratensian Monastery of Dömös till 1126, when Duke Álmos tried to organise a conspiracy against King Stephen II, King Coloman's son and heir, but he failed and had to escape to the Byzantine Empire. Following his father's escape, Béla was taken secretly to the Monastery of Pécsvárad by his father's partisans.

In 1128, after the death of Duke Álmos, King Stephen was informed that his blind cousin was still living in Hungary, and he invited Béla to his court. Upon the king's request, Béla married Jelena, a daughter of Serbian Duke Uroš I of Raška, and the king granted the couple estates near Tolna.

On 1 March 1131, the childless king died, and on 28 April, Béla was crowned in Székesfehérvár, although King Stephen II had designated his sister's son, Saul his successor in 1126, but Saul had died before his uncle, or Béla's partisans managed to defeat him.

truggles with Boris

As Béla was blind, his wife played a decisive role in governing his kingdom. Shortly after ascending the throne, Queen Helena ordered the massacre of the people she considered responsible for her husband's blinding at an assembly in Arad. She implaced her brother, Beloš, as the count palatine, giving him supreme command over the Hungarian Army and a commendable place in the Hungarian Royal Court.

Béla's entire reign was overshadowed by a conflict with Boris, a son of King Coloman of doubtful legitimacy, in which Boris was supported by Poland and Rus'. In 1132, King Boleslaus III of Poland led a campaign with Rus' and Polish troops on Boris' behalf. When Béla were informed that the Polish and Rus' armies entered to Hungary, he assembled a meeting of the barons where all the participants were killed who did not want to declare Boris bastard. King Boleslaus and Boris were defeated near the Sajó River on 22 July, but Boris was to prove a persistent claimant for a number of years to come.

His policy

Béla's reign was notable for his foreign policy - his sister Hedwig was married to a son of Margrave Leopold III of Austria and another sister to Duke Sobeslav I of Bohemia, thereby allying Hungary with two previously inimical states. His brothers-in-law convinced Emperor Lothair III, who had been struggling against Poland, to include into the terms of the Peace of Merseburg with Boleslaw III that the Polish king would not support Boris against Béla any more.

In 1136, Béla managed to recover parts of Dalmatia from the control of the Republic of Venice, and sent an expedition into Bosnia. In 1137, he gave the title of Duke of Bosnia, with acceptance from the entire country, to his younger son Ladislaus.

Béla died from the effects of an overindulgence of alcohol.

Marriage and children

"# c. 1129:" Helena of Raška (after 1109 – after 1146), daughter of duke Uroš I of Raška and his wife, Anna
* Elisabeth (c. 1129 – before 1155), wife of duke Mieszko III of Poland
* King Géza II of Hungary (c. 1130 – 3 May 1162)
* King Ladislaus II of Hungary (1131 – 14 January 1163)
* King Stephen IV of Hungary (c. 1133 – 11 April 1165)
* Sophia (c. 1136 – ?), nun at Admont

Ancestors

Sources

* Engel, Pat. "Realm of St. Stephen : A History of Medieval Hungary", 2001
* Kristó Gyula - Makk Ferenc: "Az Árpád-ház uralkodói" (IPC Könyvek, 1996)
* "Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon (9-14. század)", főszerkesztő: Kristó Gyula, szerkesztők: Engel Pál és Makk Ferenc (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1994)
* "Magyarország Történeti Kronológiája I. – A kezdetektől 1526-ig", főszerkesztő: Benda Kálmán (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1981)

Succession|preceded=Stephen II|office=King of Hungary
years=1131–1141
succeeded=Géza IIsuccession box
title=King of Croatia
before=Stephen III
after=Géza
years=1131–1141


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