Ladislaus IV of Hungary

Ladislaus IV of Hungary

Ladislaus IV the Cuman ( _hu. IV. (Kun) László, _hr. Ladislav III., _sk. Ladislav IV) (August 1262 – July 10, 1290, Kőrösszeg, Hungary), also known as László IV, King of Hungary and Croatia (1272–1290).

Early years

He was the elder son of Stephen V of Hungary and his wife, Elizabeth the Cuman. Elizabeth was daughter of a chieftain of the Cumans, which had settled to Hungary after Mongol pressure drove them westwards. She was born as a pagan and she was baptised just before her wedding with the future Stephen V in 1253.

Just after his birth, a civil war broken in Hungary between his father, who had been crowned as junior king of Hungary, and his grandfather Béla IV of Hungary. During the struggles, the senior king's troops occupied the castle of Sárospatak, where the child Ladislaus and his mother were staying, and he was taken to his grandfather's court. The two kings concluded a peace only in 1265 when Ladislaus returned to his father's court. In 1269 Béla IV betrothed him to Elisabeth of Anjou, the daughter of King Charles I of Naples.

Child king of Hungary

After the death of Béla IV of Hungary (May 3, 1270) Ladislaus' father became the sole ruler of the Kingdom of Hungary. Shortly afterwards, Ladislaus married his fiancée who had just arrived to the country. Ladislaus was kidnapped at age ten from his father's court by Joachim "de genere" Gut-Keled, Ban of Slavonia. The rebellious ban took the child king to the castle of Kapronca. Stephen V of Hungary vainly tried to occupy the castle with his troops, and shortly he fell ill and died unexpectedly on August 6, 1272. After the king's death the ban took Ladislaus to Székesfehérvár where Archbishop Philip of Esztergom crowned the child with the Crown of Thorns.

His minority, from his accession to the throne until 1277, was an alternation of palace revolutions and civil wars, in which his Cuman mother Elizabeth barely contrived to keep the upper hand. After his coronation the major offices of the court were divided among Joachim and his allies (Lorand "de genere" Gut-Keled, Miklós Geregye). They were joined by Henrik Kőszegi, who had been living in exile during the reign of Ladislaus' father. Henrik Kőszegi, shortly after his return, stabbed Ladislaus' cousin, Prince Béla of Machva, whose extensive estates were divided among the allied barons.

In the beginning of 1273 King Ottokar II of Bohemia, the murdered prince's brother-in-law, made a campaign against the Kingdom of Hungary, and occupied the Counties of Pozsony, Moson and Sopron. In 1274 the queen dowager managed to overthrow Ban Joachim and his allies, but he again kidnapped the child king. Although Peter Csák managed to liberate Ladislaus IV shortly, but Ban Joachim could kidnap his brother, Andrew and demanded the division of the kingdom between the king and his brother. Afterwards, the government of the kingdom changed frequently among the several parties of the barons.

The friend of the Cumans

On May 23, 1277 the assembly of the 'prelates, barons, nobles and Cumans' in Rákos declared Ladislaus of full age and he theoretically began to govern the kingdom. On November 11, 1277 Ladislaus IV met King Rudolph I of Germany in Vienna and they entered into an alliance against the King of Bohemia. In the next year he sent troops to the German king who defeated Ottokar II of Bohemia on August 26, 1278 in the Battle on the Marchfeld. Meanwhile, Ladislaus IV alienated his Angevin kinsfolk and the Hungarian nobility by favoring the society of the semi-pagan Cumans, from whom he was descended through his mother. He wore Cuman dress as his court wear, surrounded himself with Cuman concubines, and neglected his Angevin consort, Elizabeth of Anjou.

In the beginning of 1279 a papal legate arrived in Hungary to inquire into the conduct of the king, who was accused by his neighbors and many of his own subjects, of undermining Christianity. The papal legate summoned an assembly to Buda, where Ladislaus IV ordered the Cuman tribes to settle down in limited parts of the kingdom. However, he was not able to (or did not want to) enforce the fulfillment of his order; therefore the papal legate excommunicated him. Ladislaus IV managed to escape from the court and joined to the Cuman tribes, and with their help imprisoned the legate. He was shortly captured by the Voivode of Transylvania, Finta "de genere" Aba who enforced him to reconcile with the papal legate.

Afterwards, the royal government, led by Finta and his allies, tried to force the Cuman tribes to settle down, which resulted in the revolt of the Cumans who were planning to leave the country, but Ladislaus IV defeated them in a battle near Stari Slankamen (Szalánkemén). In 1281 Ladislaus IV replaced Finta and his allies with the members of the Kőszegi family; therefore the formers rose against him, but he managed to overcome them. In the next year some Cuman tribes decided again to leave Hungary; Ladislaus IV won a decisive victory over the Cumans, but some of them managed to escape to the Balkans.

Ladislaus IV, however, could not strengthen the royal power; therefore several factions of the barons governed the kingdom in the next years. All Hungary was convulsed by civil war, during which the young king was driven from one end of his kingdom to the other. The magnates and lower nobility were able to establish their power at the expense of the monarchy during the prolonged political unrest.

In February, 1285 troops of the Golden Horde, led by Nogai Khan, invaded and sacked the Eastern part of the country, but they retreated soon. The king's popularity was by now so low that many of his opponents claimed he had invited them. These rumors seemed to be justified when Ladislaus employed some of the Mongol captives as members of his personal guards.

In September, 1286 Ladislaus IV arrested his wife and began to live together with his Cuman mistress, Édua. One year later he broke into the Convent of the Blessed Virgin on the "Nyulak szigete" ('Rabbits' Island'), where his sister Elisabeth had been living as a nun, and married her to a Czech magnate, Zaviś z Rozenberka. Having informed on these events, Archbishop Lodomer of Esztergom excommunicated the king and asked the pope to proclaim a crusade against him.

Afterwards, the anarchy became total in the kingdom, whose parts were practically governed by the great oligarchs, the members of the Babonić (Babonics), Kőszegi, Aba, Kán and Csák families, while Duke Albert I of Germany occupied several Western counties. In June 1289, Ladislaus IV reconciled temporarily with the Archdiocese of Esztergom and his wife, but he did not have enough power to rule over the barons, so he joined his Cuman followers again.

In the beginnings of 1290 he appointed Mizse, a Muslim converted to Christianity, to Palatine. He was shortly slain in his camp at Körösszeg by Cuman assassins.

He died heirless. His successor, Andrew III of Hungary, issued from another branch of the Árpád dynasty.

ee also

Maria of Hungary (1257-1323)

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