Stephen II of Hungary

Stephen II of Hungary

Stephen II (Hungarian: "II. István", Croatian: "Stjepan III", Slovak: "Štefan II") (1101 – March 1131), King of Hungary and Croatia (1105-1131). He was crowned as a child during his father's lifetime who wanted to ensure Stephen's succession against his brother, Duke Álmos. Stephen's reign was characterized by frequent struggles with the neighbouring countries. During his reign, the relations of Hungary and the Byzantine Empire became more and more tense.

Early years

Stephen was the elder son of King Coloman and his first wife, Felicia of Sicily. He had a twin brother, Ladislaus who died in childhood.

King Coloman wanted to ensure his son's succession; therefore he had Stephen crowned in 1105. The child's coronation resulted in the rebellion of the king's brother, Duke Álmos, who had been governing "Tercia pars Regni" ("i.e.", one third of the kingdom). Following a decade of internal warfare with his brother, King Coloman ordered to make Duke Álmos and his infant son, Béla blind in order to secure his son's inheritance. The king's cruelty achieved its purpose, and some days after his death on 3 February 1116, the fifteen-year-old Stephen was crowned again, in Székesfehérvár, without any resistance.

King of Hungary

Upon his barons' advice, Stephen initiated a meeting with Duke Vladislaus I of Bohemia in order to improve the two countries relations. However, during the meeting on the banks of the Olšava River, their troops clashed with each other and in the consequent battle the Hungarian army suffered defeat on 13 May. In the next month, the Venetian troops defeated the Hungarian army in Dalmatia at Zára, and the "Signoria" could occupy the province. In 1117, Stephen sent an army to reoccupy Zára, but his attempts failed; therefore he made a truce for five years with the Republic of Venice.

The young king's rule became more and more unpopular among his barons, because he did not want to marry and preferred living with his concubines. Finally, in 1120, his barons obliged him to marry a daughter of Prince Robert I of Capua.

In 1123, Prince Yaroslav of Volhynia, who had been dethroned by his subjects, came to Stephen's court seeking assistance to recover his principality. Stephen lead his armies against Volhynia and laid siege to its capital, Vladimir. However, Prince Yaroslav was slained during the siege, and the Hungarian nobles wanted to give up the struggle. Although, Stephen wanted to continue the war, but his barons threatened him with choosing a new king if they would not return home; therefore Stephen was obliged to leave Volhynia.

In 1124, taking advantage of the abstence of the Venetian fleet, Stephen reoccupied Dalmatia, but the territory was lost again in the next year.

Stephen gave shelter to the Pechenegs (besenyő), who had been defeated totally by the Byzantine Emperor John II Komnenos, and organised them in a troop of bodyguards, which resulted in a conspiracy aimed at the restoration of the king's blinded uncle, Duke Álmos. However, the conspiracy was revealed and Duke Álmos was obliged to escape to the Byzantine Empire. In the autumn of 1126, Stephen had a meeting with Duke Sobeslav I of Bohemia and they made peace.

In 1127, Stephen lead his armies against the Byzantine Empire, because the Emperor John II had denied to extradite his uncle, but the Byzantine Emperor defeated him in the next year and the Byzantine troops occupied the Szerémség.

Following the king's defeat, two parties was formed among the barons of the kingdom and they tried to dethrone Stephen and replace him by Comes Bors and Ivan, but Stephen managed to overcome their conspiracy and save his throne.

In 1129, Stephen called back to his court his cousin, the blinded Béla, the son of Duke Álmos, who had died in 1027. Shortly afterwards, allying himself with Duke Sobeslav I of Bohemia, Stephen made a campaign against the Byzantine Empire and concluded peace with the Emperor John II Komnenos who renounced of his former conquests.

Stephen died of dysentery, and he was buried in Nagyvárad.


"# c. 1120:" Unnamed (? – ?), daughter of prince Robert I of Capua



* 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)

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