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Principality of Nitra

The Principality of Nitra [1][2][3] (Slovak: Nitrianske kniežatstvo, Nitriansko; Hungarian: nyitrai fejedelemség),[4] also known as the Duchy of Nitra, [5][6] was a Slavic polity encompassing a group of settlements that developed in the 9th century around Nitra in present-day Slovakia. Its history remains uncertain[7] because of a lack of contemporary sources. The territory's status is subject to scholarly debate; some modern historians describe it as an independent polity that was annexed either around 833 or 870 by Great Moravia while others say that from its inception it was part of Great Moravia. No final list of the princes or dukes of Nitra has been agreed upon by historians.

The Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin caused the fall of Great Moravia in the early 10th century and the occupation of the lowlands of present-day Slovakia. The local population survived the Hungarian conquest. Although most Slovak historians believe that some noble families continued their landholding after the disintegration of Great Moravia, other historians are less certain.

The history of the wider region of Nitra in the 10th and 11th centuries is also disputed. The region is thought to have formed a separate political unit – the so-called "Nitra appanage duchy"[8] – until 1108. Historian Ján Steinhübel writes that "Nitra was an autonomous duchy, a clear political entity, which laid the territorial and historical foundation of Slovakia".[9] According to a concurrent theory, the Nitra region was fully incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary, although it was sometimes administered as part of the so-called ducatus or "duchy" – which encompassed one-third of the kingdom – by non-ruling members of the royal Árpád dynasty.


  • Background 1
  • Pribina's Nitrava (before c. 833) 2
    • Sources 2.1
    • Scholarly debates: the status and location of Pribina's Nitrava 2.2
  • Within Great Moravia (c. 833–c. 906) 3
  • After Great Moravia and before the Kingdom of Hungary (c. 906–c. 1000) 4
  • Within the Kingdom of Hungary (c. 1000–1108) 5
  • Theoretical list of rulers 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Sources 9
    • Primary sources 9.1
    • Secondary sources 9.2
  • Further reading 10


Modern-day Slovakia was dominated for centuries by Germanic peoples, including the Quadi and the Longobards or Lombards, who were there until the middle of the 6th century.[10] A new material culture characterized by handmade pottery, cremation burials and small, square, sunken huts that typically featured a corner stone oven appeared in the plains along the Middle Danube around that time.[11][6] The new culture, with its "spartan and egalitarian" nature, sharply differed from the earlier archaeological cultures of Central Europe.[12] According to Barford, a report by the Byzantine historian Procopius is the first certain reference to Early Slav groups inhabiting parts of present-day Slovakia.[13] Procopius wrote that an exiled Lombard prince named Hildigis mustered an army, "taking with him not only those of the Lombards who had followed him, but also many of the Sclaveni"[14] in the 540s.[15][13]

The nomadic Avars, who arrived from the Eurasian steppes, invaded the Carpathian Basin and subjected the local inhabitants in the second half of the 6th century.[16][17] Thereafter, Slavic groups inhabiting areas around the core regions of the Avar Khaganate paid tribute to the Avars.[18] The khaganate experienced a series of internal conflicts in the 630s.[19] According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, the "Slavs who are known as Wends" rebelled against the Avars and elected a Frankish trader named Samo as their king in the early 7th century.[20] Samo's realm, which emerged in the northern or northwestern regions of the Carpathian Basin, existed for more than three decades.[18][21][22] It disintegrated soon after its founder's death and Avar control of the region was restored.[21]

The Avar Khaganate collapsed around 803 as a result of several successful military campaigns launched by the Franks against it.[18][23] The fall of the Khaganate contributed to the rise of new polities among the Slavs in the region.[23][24] The shift in political control was accompanied by changes in military strategy and equipment. According to Curta, swords and other items of the "Blatnica-Mikulčice horizon" show "a shift from the mounted combat tactics typical of nomadic warfare to heavy cavalry equipment",[25] and the development of a local elite in the regions to the north of the river Danube and the Great Hungarian Plain in the early 9th century.[24]

Pribina's Nitrava (before c. 833)

Pribina's mondern sculpture
Modern sculpture of Pribina in Nitra


The remains of a 9th-century fortress covering 12 hectares (30 acres), the age of which has not been determined, were unearthed in the centre of Nitra.[26][27][28] Beeby writes that the fortress belongs to the "Great Moravian period".[27] According to Steinhübel, the fortress may have been named after the river Nitra, which flows below the hill upon which it stood.[29] Archaeological research shows that a settlement inhabited by blacksmiths, goldsmiths and other artisans developed at the fortress.[27] An extensive network of settlements emerged around it in the 9th century.[30]

The main source of information about the polity now known as the Principality of Nitra is the Conversion of the Bavarians and Carantanians, a document compiled around 870 to promote the interests of the Archdiocese of Salzburg in Pannonia.[4][31][32] The manuscripts state that "one Pribina", who had been "driven across the Danube by Mojmir, duke of the Moravians",[33] fled to Radbod, Margrave of Pannonia (c. 833–856) in East Francia around 833.[3][34] Radbod introduced him to King Louis the German, who ordered that Pribina should be "instructed in the faith and baptized".[33][35][36][37] According to a sentence in three of the eleven extant manuscripts of the Conversion, Archbishop Adalram of Salzburg (r. 821–836) consecrated a church for Pribina "on his estate at a place over the Danube called Nitrava"[33] at an unspecified date.[35] Modern historians debate whether this sentence was part of the original text or was only a marginal note which was interpolated into the main text in the 12th century.[38][39]

Scholarly debates: the status and location of Pribina's Nitrava

Map of Moravia and Nitra
A map presenting the theory of the co-existence of two principalities (Moravia and Nitra) before the 830s

According to a widely accepted interpretation of the Conversion, Pribina was initially the ruler of an independent polity which was centered on Nitra.[1][3][23][7][40] For instance, Barford writes that Pribina "was apparently prince of Nitra".[41] Pribina's assumed realm is described as the "first demonstrable Slavic state north of the middle Danube" by Lukačka.[5] Lukačka also says that Pribina had a retinue and that most its members "certainly descended from the former tribal aristocracy" but some of them "could have come from the free strata of the mass of the people".[5] Richard Marsina says that it "can hardly be unambiguously decided whether Pribina was prince of a greater tribe or of two or three smaller joined tribes".[42] He adds that Pribina may have belonged to the second or third generation of the heads of this polity, which emerged in the valleys of the rivers Hron, Nitra, and Váh.[43]

Scholars who write that Pribina was an independent ruler also say that his principality was united with Moravia after he was exiled from his homeland.[1][3][30][23][44][45] Kirschbaum[3] and Steinhübel[23] add that the forced unification of the two principalities – Mojmir's Moravia and Pribina's Nitra – under Mojmir gave rise to the empire of Great Moravia. According to Marsina, the inhabitants of Pribina's principality who "definitely were aware of their difference from the Moravian Slavs" preserved their "specific consciousness" even within Great Moravia, which contributed to the development of the common consciousness of the ancestors of the Slovak people.[43]

Pribina was not an independent ruler, but Duke Mojmir of Moravia's lieutenant in Nitra, according to Vlasto.[46] He says that Pribina's attempts to achieve independence led to his exile.[46] The identification of "Nitra" with "Nitrava" is not universally accepted by scholars.[47] Imre Boba and Charles Bowlus are among the scholars who challenged that identification. Imre Boba is a historian who challenged the traditional view of the location of Great Moravia.[48] His theory was almost unanimously refuted in the 1970s.[49] From the 1990s, a growing number of historians concluded that Great Moravia was located in the southern or eastern regions of the Carpathian Basin.[49][50] Archaeologist Jiří Macháček, who refutes the latter theory, emphasizes that Boba drew all historians' attention to a weakness of the traditional view – "the clear orientation of the Frankish military system towards the south-east" – which have not been addressed.[51]

Imre Boba says, the Humanist historian, Johannes Aventinus, who identified Nitrava (granted along with Brno and Olomouc by Louis the German, according to Aventinus) with Nitra, because Nitrava was in "Hunia or Avaria", to the south of Bavaria.[52] He also says that the Latin term "locus Nitrava" could not refer to a city.[53] According to his view, none of the modern names of Nitra (Slovak Nitra, Hungarian Nyitra and German Neutra) could develop from a "Nitrava" form.[53] Boba's linguistic approach is not compliant with onomastic research which suggests that Nitra was the primary form of the place name and "Nitrava" is only the secondary name; both forms were recorded already in the 9th century.[54][55][56] The Czech historian Dušan Třeštík, who says that the association of Nitra with Nitrava cannot be challenged, writes that the latter form developed from the name of the Nitra River, which fits well into the system of Indo-European toponyms; other rivers with similar names are not known.[57] Charles Bowlus also rejects the identification of Nitrava with Nitra, because the latter town was only annexed by Moravia during the reign of Svatopluk, years after Pribina's expulsion, according to a letter that Archbishop Theotmar of Salzburg and his suffragans wrote around 900.[58] According to Třeštík, the content of the letter can be explained as a reasonable mistake of its compilators who knew that the territory was in the past a separate realm different from Moravia; for it had been ruled by Svatopluk, the Salzburg clerics incorrectly assumed that he had conquered it.[59]

Within Great Moravia (c. 833–c. 906)

Ruins of a fort at Kostolec
The ruins of a Great Moravian fort at Ducové

Bartl,[1] Marsina,[2] Štefan,[60] and Szőke[30] write that after Pribina's expulsion, Nitra became one of the most important centers of administration within Great Moravia. According to them, a young member of the House of Mojmir or the heir to the throne administered Nitra and its region. They identify the regnum or "territory"[61] of Svatopluk, who was a nephew of Duke Rastislav of Moravia, with the Principality of Nitra.[62][63] Svatopluk's regnum is first mentioned in the year 869 in the Annals of Fulda.[64] Marsina writes that it is probable that Svatopluk annexed the Spiš and Gemer regions, which according to him were inhabited by "Slavs closely related to the Nitra Slavs".[43]

Goldberg associates Svatopluk's realm with the region around Staré Město in the present-day Czech Republic,[65] Senga Toru with the lands between the rivers Danube and Tisza in modern Hungary,[66] and Püspöki Nagy with Vojvodina and its wider region in present-day Serbia.[67]

A letter of Pope John VIII reveals that Svatopluk – who in 870 became the sole ruler of Great Moravia – urged the Holy See to ordain a Swabian monk named Wiching as a bishop.[68][69] The pope granted Svatopluk's request and consecrated Wiching as the first bishop of the Diocese of Nitra (sancta ecclesia Nitrensis)[30] in 880.[70][69] The new bishop was subordinated to Archbishop Methodius who with his brother Constantine – the future Saint Cyril the Philosopher – introduced the liturgy officiated in Old Church Slavonic into Great Moravia.[71] Bishop Wiching, who was a staunch supporter of the Latin rite, opposed the use of vernacular in liturgy.[72] He played a pre-eminent role in the ban on the liturgical use of Old Church Slavonic and the persecution of Methodius's disciplines after the latter's death in 885.[73] Although, Methodius's archbishopric was in Pannonia and never controlled areas north of the river Danube, according to Boba.[74] Eggers's hypothesis share similar suggestions with Boba, he says that the Methodius controlled area was first in the "geographical notion" of Pannonia and later its centre relocated to Sirmium.[74]

Svatopluk and his sons
Svatopluk and his sons: a painting by Josef Mathauser (1846–1917)

According to Marsina, the establishment of the first suffragan bishopric in Great Moravia with a see in Nitra shows that the Nitra region "was regarded as a distinctive unit almost 50 years after its occupation" around 833.[43] According to a letter that Archbishop Theotmar of Salzburg and his suffragans wrote around 900, the pope sent Wiching "to a newly baptized people" whom Svatopluk "had defeated in war and converted from paganism to Christianity".[70]

Svatopluk died in 894.[75] His empire – which included a number of regions of present-day Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia[76] – soon started to disintegrate.[75] It was divided among his two or three sons.[77][78][73] According to Bartl and Kirschbaum, a younger son Svatopluk II inherited the Principality of Nitra. [73][77] Steinhübel likewise writes that Svatopluk II was "in all probability" prince of Nitra who administered his realm under the suzerainty of his elder brother, Mojmir II.[79] A civil war broke out between the two brothers in 898, during which troops from East Francia invaded Great Moravia at least twice.[79][77] The young Svatopluk was forced to take refugee in East Francia in 899.[77]

[In] the year of the incarnation of the Lord 898 there was a terrible dissension and feud which arose between two brothers of the Moravian people, (Mojmir) and (Svatopluk), and their followers, so that if either had been able to pursue and capture the other with his men he would have put him to death. Then (Emperor Arnulf), knowing about these things, sent his leading Bavarians, that is his margraves Liutpold and Count Arbo together with other faithful men, to the part which looked to him as their hope and refuge to be an aid to their liberation and protection. And they, as far as they could, laid low their enemies with fire and sword, and plundered and slaughtered them. The calumniator, betrayer, and origin of this dissension and breach of the peace turned out to be Count Arbo, at the instigation of his son Isanrich.
— Annals of Fulda[80]

The Hungarians, who by 892 had made raids in Great Moravia, left their lands in the Pontic steppe and invaded the Carpathian Basin around 895.[81][82] They resumed their attacks against the Moravians in 900.[83] Kristó says the Hungarians occupied the region of Nitra in the same year,[83] while Steinhübel writes that they only started to control the lands now forming Slovakia in the early 920s.[79] Great Moravia ceased to exist as a state by July 907, when the Hungarians routed a large Bavarian army at the Brezalauspurc.[84] According to the late 13th-century Gesta Hungarorum, Duke Zobor administered "the land which lies between the Váh and the Hron, from the Danube to the Morava River" – the region of Nitra – "by the grace of the duke of the Czechs"[85] at the time of the Hungarian invasion.[86] The same source adds that the Hungarians defeated "the Czechs and all the Nitra Slavs" and occupied this region.[87][88]

Zovárd, Kadocsa, and Huba with an armed host of armies began bravely to storm the city of Nitra in many ways. And God gave them a great victory and they entered the city fighting and the blood of many foes was shed there by them. Then they, moved by anger, taking Zobor, the duke of that province, whom they had captured two days before, onto a high mountain, hanged him from a noose, whence that mountain is still called Mount Zobor. And on account of that deed, all the men of that country feared them and all the noblemen gave their sons to them as hostages and all the nations of that land, as far as the Váh River, subjected themselves to them. ... When Zovárd, Kadocsa and Huba came safe and sound with all their captives to Prince Árpád, great rejoicing was made in the court of the duke. ... Prince Árpád made Huba ispán of Nitra and of other castles, and he gave him land to own along the Žitava as far as the Turčok wood.

After Great Moravia and before the Kingdom of Hungary (c. 906–c. 1000)

Archaeological finds – graves of nomadic warriors – show that the Hungarians initially settled in the lowlands south of the line which can be drawn between Nitra and Zemplín through Lučenec and Rimavská Sobota.[77][79] After around 950, they appeared to the north of this line.[77] Archaeological finds show that significant territories – for instance the valleys of the rivers Hron, Nitra, and Váh – were continuously inhabited in the 9th and 10th centuries. Place names of Slavic origin also show the survival of the local population.[90][91] In the Early Middle Ages, these Slavic groups – in contrast with the Czechs, Poles and other Slavic peoples – did not have their own ethnonym.[92] Even so, according to Marsina, their Hungarian exonym (tót) shows that the Hungarians regarded them as a united people.[92] The Hungarians applied the same ethnonym to the local Slavs inhabiting Slavonia, Transylvania and other parts of the Carpathian Basin.[92]

Hunt – a Swabian knight, according to medieval chronicles, a "Slovak nobleman", according to Slovak historians – depicted in the Chronicon Pictum

Čaplovič writes that Christianity was "obviously retained in small 'secret' enclaves during the 10th century" in present-day Slovakia.[93] The theory that churches dedicated to saints favored by hermits prove the existence of a "dense network of hermitages" in the territory of present-day Slovakia in the 10th century has not been universally accepted.[93] Daniel Rapant was the first historian to propose that a local Slovak elite survived the fall of Great Moravia.[44] According to Ján Lukačka, archaeological research of the early medieval aristocratic manors at Ducové and Nitrianska Blatnica – which survived until the second half of the 10th century and the 11th century respectively – confirms Rapant's hypothesis.[93][44] Lukačka also says that the noble Poznan family owned both manors during the same period.[94]

According to Kirschbaum[95] and Lukačka,[94] the Poznans and the closely related Hunts emerged in the Principality of Nitra and retained their estates into the 10th century. In contrast with this view, Simon of Kéza's Gesta and other medieval chronicles say that the clan Hunt-Poznan descended from "Hont and Pázmány – two half-brothers, courageous knights of Swabian origin"[96] who arrived in Hungary under Grand Prince Géza (r. early 970s–997).[97] According to Lukačka, the clans Radvan-Bogat or Bogát-Radvány[98] and Miškovec or Miskolc[99] were also aristocratic families which originated in the Principality of Nitra.[100] Medieval chronicles say that the two families were not of Hungarian origin:[100] Simon of Kéza writes that the "family called Bogát-Radvány originate from Bohemia";[101] and Böngér, who settled in "the great land from the Tapolca River to the Sajó River, which is now called Miskolc"[102] is described by the Gesta Hungarorum as having been of "Cuman" stock.[103][104]

Lél's legendary attempt to murder the German king after the Battle of Lechfeld (Chronicon Pictum)

Bartl and Kirschbaum write that three members of the Hungarian Árpád dynasty – Üllő, Tevel and Taksony – succeeded each other in Nitra in the first half of the 10th century.[77][105] According to Lukačka, Nitra was initially administered by Lél, who was not a member of the Árpád family.[97] He adds that the integration of Nitra region into the Árpáds' domains only started after the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, which ended with the Hungarians' catastrophic defeat by the Germans and with Lél's execution.[97] According to Steinhübel, the Árpáds did not conquer the Nitra region before 971.[106]

Lél was the commander of the sixth host. It is stated in many accounts that Lél first dwelt near Hlohovec and afterwards settled in the region around Nitra once the Moravians and Bohemians were eliminated. He was the ancestor of the Zovárd tribe and kindred.

Although no contemporaneous source mentions the event, the Hungarian historian György Györffy says that Grand Prince Géza granted a duchy to his younger brother Michael.[108] He adds that it is uncertain whether Michael's duchy was centered in Biharia (now in Romania) or in Nitra.[109] In contrast with Györffy, Slovak historians – for instance, Kirschbaum,[105] Lukačka[97] and Steinhübel[106] – also say that Michael received the "Nitra appanage duchy" from his brother in the early 970s.[110] They add that this duchy remained an autonomous administrative unit (in Lukačka's word, an údel)[97] even under the Árpáds.[8] Lukačka writes that Michael "clearly had to break the resistance of the native nobles", including the Hunts, but their conflict ended with a compromise, according to which the local noble families accepted Michael's suzerainty but were allowed to retain a significant part of their estates.[97] No source mentions Michael's fate,[111] but it is possible that he was removed or even murdered by his brother around 977[77] or in 995, according to Bart and Steinhübel respectively.[106]

King Saint Stephen
King Stephen I of Hungary sitting on the throne

According to Györffy, the dedication of a chapel in Nitra to Saint Emmeram of Regensburg – who was a popular saint in Bavaria – suggests that Michael's nephew, Stephen – who was Grand Duke Géza's son and heir – and his wife, Gisela of Bavaria settled in this town after marrying around 996.[112] Bartl,[77] Kirschbaum[105] and other Slovak historians[94][106] unanimously write that Stephen administered the Duchy of Nitra in the last years of his father's reign. They add that after Géza's death in 997, the Poznans and other presumably "Slovak magnates" had a pre-eminent role in Stephen's victory over his relative, Koppány.[113][114][94]

Stephen was crowned the first King of Hungary in 1000[115] or 1001. In his reign, administrative units known as counties became the basic units of royal administration in the Kingdom of Hungary.[116][117] Vladimir Segeš writes that it is probable that many of the fortresses which served as county seats in modern-day Slovakia – for instance, Nitra and Zemplín – had once been administrative centers in Great Moravia.[116] According to June G. Alexander, the lands now forming Slovakia, which formed "a culturally distinct area", were not treated "as a separate political entity" within the kingdom.[7] In contrast, Toma and Kováč say that Nitra became the seat of a county, which encompassed "the entire area of western and central Slovakia" under Stephen and "almost all of present-day Slovakia" from the 1050s.[118] A third view is presented by Bartl and Steinhübel, who write that the "Nitra appanage duchy" continued to exist after Stephen's coronation.[8][119]

Within the Kingdom of Hungary (c. 1000–1108)

Poland under the reign of Boleslav the Brave (r. 992–1025), based on the report of the late 13th-century Polish-Hungarian Chronicle, the reliability of which is not universally accepted by specialists (for instance, according to the Hungarian historian, Ferenc Makk,[120] the Poles only occupied some fortresses along the river Morava between about 1015 and 1018).

The chronicler Gallus Anonymus wrote that Boleslav the Brave, Duke of Poland (r. 992–1025), "defeated the Hungarians in battle and made himself master of all their lands as far as the Danube".[121][106] The late 13th-century[122] Polish-Hungarian Chronicle says that three months after the former's coronation, Stephen and Boleslav the Brave concluded a peace treaty which determined the border between Hungary and Poland as a line running along the Danube to Esztergom, from there to Eger and along the Tisza up to Solivar.[123][124] According to the British historian Carlile Aylmer Macartney, this text is an interpolation based on Gallus Anonymus's report of Poland's western border reaching as far as the river Saale (ad Solavam flumen) in Saxony.[124] Györffy likewise says that the Polish-Hungarian Chronicle is an unreliable source which "is in sharp contradiction with the evidence of the 11th-century sources".[122]

Alternatively, a number of historians – for instance, Steinhübel and Kirschbaum – write that the Polish chronicle's report shows that the lands now forming Slovakia were under Boleslaus the Brave's suzerainty for a period lasting until around 1018 or 1030.[106][125][115] According to Steinhübel, the Polish-Hungarian Chronicle describes the southern borders of the Duchy of Nitra.[106] The Wielkopolska Chronicle and other Polish chronicles say that one Wladislaus, whose land were bordered by the rivers Tisza, Danube and Morava, acknowledged Duke Boleslaus the Brave's sovereignty.[106] Steinhübel writes that this report suggests that Ladislaus the Bald – King Stephen's cousin and the late Michael's son – became the duke of Nitra when the Poles occupied the Nitra region.[106] In contrast with these views, Györffy, who does not accept the reliability of these late Polish chronicles, writes that in the same period Nitra was administered by Hunt under King Stephen's suzerainty.[126] Hunt was styled as duke in the deed of the foundation of the Tihany Abbey, which was issued around 1002.[126]

Duchy of Nitra
Suggested borders of the Duchy of Nitra, proposed by Ján Steinhübel based on the description of the southern frontiers of Poland under Duke Boleslav the Brave (r. 992–1025) in the late 13th-century Polish-Hungarian Chronicle

Györffy writes that Ladislaus the Bald's brother, Vazul "apparently possessed" the Duchy of Nitra because Nitra is the only settlement which is mentioned in connection with him in the chronicles.[127] According to the Illuminated Chronicle, Vazul was held in the "prison of Nitra"[128] upon King Stephen's order because of "his youthful frivolity and folly".[129] Steinhübel and Kirschbaum also list Vazul among the dukes of Nitra.[105][130] Around 1031, Vazul was blinded and his sons Levente, Andrew and Béla were forced to leave the Kingdom of Hungary.[131]

King Stephen, who died on August 15, 1038, was succeeded on the Hungarian throne by his nephew Peter Orseolo.[115] Peter, a Venetian, remained unpopular among his subjects, who deposed him and elected Samuel Aba king in 1041.[132] Peter fled to the court of Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor who decided to help him to return to Hungary.[132] The emperor invaded the lands to the north of the Danube as far as the Hron in 1042 and occupied nine fortresses.[131] The region's inhabitants were ready to accept the emperor's suzerainty but refused to restore the dethroned Peter.[131] Thereafter, accepting Duke Bretislav I of Bohemia's proposal, the emperor appointed an unnamed kinsman of King Stephen – who had up to that time lived in Bohemia – to administer the occupied territories.[133] According to Steinhübel, this unnamed duke was Domoslav, a son of Ladislaus the Bald, who thus restored his father to the Duchy of Nitra.[134] A late source – the chronicle of the 16th-century Bavarian historian Johannes Aventinus – adds that the emperor and the Bohemian duke left 2,000 soldiers in the occupied lands.[135] However, soon after the withdrawal of the main army, King Samuel reoccupied these territories and forced the unnamed duke to take refugee in Bohemia.[135]

In the autumn King Henry ... invaded Hungary, destroyed Hainburg and Pressburg and either laid waste or received the surrender of the northern region of the Danube as far as the [Hron], because rivers and marshes protected the southern region. Part of the army twice encountered attacking Hungarians and wrought great slaughter. After the subjection of the Hungarians of that territory, since they refused to accept Peter, he installed for them as duke one of their number who was at that time in exile among the Bohemians. Immediately after the king's departure, however, [Samuel Aba] drove the duke back into Bohemia and the latter was unable to put up any resistance.
— Hermann of Reichenau: Chronicle[136]
King Andrew I and his brother, Béla
King Andrew I and his brother, Duke Béla

Emperor Henry returned to the Kingdom of Hungary in the summer of 1044 and restored King Peter to the throne.[132] Peter was again dethroned and Andrew, one of the sons of Vazul, was elected king in 1046.[132] Steinhübel writes that King Andrew first granted the Duchy of Nitra to Domoslav, who he says must have died by 1048.[137] Around this year,[132] according to medieval chronicles, King Andrew granted one third of the kingdom to his younger brother Béla.[138] The territory of Béla's duchy cannot be exactly determined. For example, Engel[139] writes that it encompassed the eastern parts of the Kingdom of Hungary, Bartl[132] refers to it as the "Nitra appanage duchy", and Steinhübel writes that Béla's duchy has two centers, Nitra and Biharia (now in Romania).[140] Steinhübel also says that coins bearing the inscription BELA DUX ("Duke Béla") show that Béla was the "sovereign lord" of his duchy, and adds that these coins were probably minted in Nitra.[140]

Béla rebelled against his brother and dethroned him in 1060.[141] His duchy ceased to exist when he was crowned king on 6 December 1060.[140] Béla died during an invasion by the Germans, who installed his nephew Solomon as king in 1063.[140] Béla's sons Géza, Ladislaus, and Lampert sought assistance from Duke Boleslaus the Bold of Poland.[141][142]

King Solomon and Duke Géza
King Solomon of Hungary and his cousin, Duke Géza (in the background)

According to the Wielkopolska Chronicle, the Polish monarch "invaded Hungary, wanting to renew the frontier of the Kingdom of Poland on the Danube," Tisza "and Morava rivers".[142] The same source adds that the Polish duke defeated Solomon and forced him to renounce all the lands to the north of these rivers.[142] According to a contrasting report preserved by the Illuminated Chronicle, King Solomon – who was afraid that Duke Géza "would perhaps attack him with a Polish army"[143] after his German allies had retreated from Hungary – made an agreement with his cousin who had returned from Poland.[141][144] In their treaty, which was signed on 20 January 1064, Géza acknowledged Solomon as lawful king and the king granted Béla's one-time duchy to Géza.[144] According to Steinhübel, the concurrent reports show that Boleslaus the Bald took advantage of the internal conflicts in Hungary, occupied the Duchy of Nitra and ceded it to Géza after he had concluded a treaty with the Hungarian monarch.[142] Steinhübel also writes that coins with the inscription DUX MAGNUS ("Duke Magnus") after Géza's baptismal name were "probably struck at Nitra" for Géza.[142] These coins, the reverse of which bore the inscription PANONAI ("Kingdom of Hungary"), had a higher silver content than contemporaneous coins minted for King Solomon.[145]

Duke Géza and King Solomon closely cooperated in the next years in fighting the Cumans and other enemies of the Kingdom of Hungary.[146] For example, after the Czechs plundered the region of Trenčín, the King and the Duke invaded Bohemia and "laid waste with fire and sword almost the whole of Bohemia",[147] according to the Illuminated Chronicle.[146] Relations between the king and his cousins deteriorated in the early 1070s.[141] Solomon invaded the territories east of the Tisza and defeated Géza at Kemej in February 1074.[148] However, in the decisive battle at Mogyoród on 14 March 1074, Duke Géza defeated the king, who was forced to seek shelter in the kingdom's westernmost regions.[148] The Illuminated Chronicle says that during the battle, Duke Géza "with the troops from Nitria was stationed in the centre", while his brother Ladislaus "stood on the left flank"[149] with the troops from Bihar (in present-day Romania) during the battle.[148] Géza was crowned king of Hungary, but Solomon continued to oppose him in the castles of Moson and Pressburg (Bratislava, Slovakia).[150][151] Géza granted his former duchy to his brother, Ladislaus.[152][148]

King Géza, who died on 25 April 1077, was succeeded by Ladislaus.[150] According to Bartl, the new king transferred the ducatus to his younger brother, Lampert.[150] Steihnübel rejects this theory, stating that the king preserved the whole kingdom for himself.[148] King Ladislaus persuaded Solomon to surrender all the fortresses that he was still holding.[153] The ducatus was revived by Ladislaus's nephew and successor Coloman the Learned, who granted it to his brother Álmos in 1095.[9] After a series of conflicts, the king deprived his brother from the duchy, which thus ceased to exist, in 1108.[9]

Theoretical list of rulers

Ruler Reign Notes
Kirschbaum proposed that one or two princes preceded Pribina (before c. 820).[154]
c. 820–833 Vlasto writes that he was an official representing the Moravian monarch in Nitra. Bowlus and Püspöki Nagy refuse his identification as prince of Nitra. ([46][155][156][154])
Mojmir I
Mojmir I
833–after 833 He is the first known duke of Moravia. According to Bowlus and Püspöki Nagy, Great Moravia only annexed Nitra in the 870s. ([155][156][157])
after 833–before 869 There is no contemporaneous record of his life before 846. He was duke of Moravia from 846 till 870.[158][159]
Svatopluk I
Svatopluk I
before 869–894 Nearly contemporaneous source, a letter of Archbishop Theotmar of Salzburg from around 900, suggests that he occupied Nitra only in the 870s. [156][160][161]
Svatopluk I and his three sons
Svatopluk II
894–899 It is uncertain that Nitra was his seat. Under the suzerainty of his brother, Mojmir II. The context of his death is unknown but Kirschbaum writes that he died fighting against the invading Hungarians with his brother in 905 or 906. ([162][163][164])
Svatopluk I and his three sons
Mojmir II
899–c. 906 Great Moravia disintegrated in his reign. The context of his death is unknown, but Kirschbaum writes that he died fighting against the invading Hungarians in 905 or 906. [163][164]
Üllő (Jelek)
? His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted; for instance, according to Lukačka, Lél ruled the Nitra region till 955. ([165][105][97])
before c. 931 His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted; for instance, according to Lukačka, Lél ruled the Nitra region till 955. ([165][105][97])
until 955 His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted. He was executed after the Battle of Lechfeld. ([165][105][97])
c. 931 or 955–c. 970 His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted. He was Grand Prince of the Hungarians. According to Lukačka, the Árpáds only ruled the Nitra region from the 970s. ([165][105][97])
? His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted; for instance, Steinhübel writes that Géza appointed his brother Michael to administer Nitra). He was Grand Prince of the Hungarians from around 970. ([166][106])
early 970s–c. 977 or 995 His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted. If he actually ruled in Nitra, he accepted the suzerainty of his brother, Grand Prince Géza. ([106][108])
c. 995–997 His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted. If he actually ruled in Nitra, he accepted the suzerainty of his father, Grand Prince Géza. ([106][108])
Ladislaus the Bald
Ladislaus the Bald
997–c. 1018 or before 1030 His rule as duke of the "Nitra appanage duchy" is not universally accepted; for instance, Györffy writes that Hont was the duke of Nitra. According to Bartl and Steinhübel, he administered Nitra under Polish suzerainty until around 1018 or 1030. ([106][115][126])
? According to Györffy, he administered Nitra under King Stephen of Hungary's suzerainty.[126]
c. 1018 or before 1030–1031 He was held in captivity in the prison in Nitra, which is his only documented connection with Nitra. ([106][115][127])
c. 1048–1060 He administered the ducatus, which encompassed one-third of the entire kingdom, in the reign of his brother, King Andrew I of Hungary. ([132][141])
1064–1074 He administered the ducatus, which encompassed one-third of the entire kingdom, in the reign of his cousin, King Solomon of Hungary. ([132][142])
Ladislaus I
1074–1077 He administered the ducatus, which encompassed one-third of the entire kingdom, in the reign of his brother, King Géza I of Hungary.
1077–c. 1095 He administered the ducatus, which encompassed one-third of the entire kingdom, in the reign of his brother, King Ladislaus I of Hungary.
King Colomand and Duke Álmos
1095–1108 He administered the ducatus, which encompassed one-third of the entire kingdom, in the reign of his brother, King Coloman of Hungary.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Bartl et al. 2002, p. 279.
  2. ^ a b Marsina 1997, p. 15.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kirschbaum 1996, p. 25.
  4. ^ a b Angi 1997, p. 360.
  5. ^ a b c Lukačka 2011, p. 30.
  6. ^ a b Steinhübel 2011, p. 15.
  7. ^ a b c Alexander 2005, p. 288.
  8. ^ a b c Bartl et al. 2002, p. 278.
  9. ^ a b c d Steinhübel 2011, p. 29.
  10. ^ Steinhübel 2011, pp. 16–18.
  11. ^ Barford 2001, pp. 38–39, 63–64.
  12. ^ Barford 2001, pp. 44, 63–64.
  13. ^ a b Barford 2001, p. 56.
  14. ^ Procopius: History of the Wars (7.35.19.), pp. 461–463.
  15. ^ Curta 2006, p. 55.
  16. ^ Barford 2001, pp. 56–57.
  17. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, p. 18.
  18. ^ a b c Urbańczyk 2005, p. 144.
  19. ^ Curta 2006, p. 76.
  20. ^ Curta 2006, p. 77.
  21. ^ a b Kirschbaum 1996, p. 19.
  22. ^ Barford 2001, p. 79.
  23. ^ a b c d e Steinhübel 2011, p. 16.
  24. ^ a b Urbańczyk 2005, p. 145.
  25. ^ Curta 2006, p. 130.
  26. ^ Goldberg 2006, p. 84.
  27. ^ a b c Beeby, Buckton & Klanica 1982, p. 18.
  28. ^ Bowlus 2009, pp. 327–328.
  29. ^ Steinhübel 2011, p. 17.
  30. ^ a b c d Szőke 1994, p. 559.
  31. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, p. 319.
  32. ^ Betti 2013, pp. 49, 142-143.
  33. ^ a b c Wolfram 1979, p. 50.
  34. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, p. 19.
  35. ^ a b Bowlus 2009, p. 318.
  36. ^ Curta 2006, p. 133.
  37. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, pp. 25–26.
  38. ^ Bowlus 2009, p. 327.
  39. ^ Třeštík 2010, pp. 113–114.
  40. ^ Lukačka 2011, pp. 30–31.
  41. ^ Barford 2001, p. 298.
  42. ^ Marsina 1997, p. 18.
  43. ^ a b c d Marsina 1997, p. 19.
  44. ^ a b c Lukačka 2011, p. 31.
  45. ^ Barford 2001, p. 218.
  46. ^ a b c Vlasto 1970, p. 24.
  47. ^ Berend, Urbańczyk & Wiszewski 2013, pp. 56-57.
  48. ^ Macháček 2009, p. 261.
  49. ^ a b Macháček 2009, pp. 261-262.
  50. ^ McCornick 2001, p. 189.
  51. ^ Macháček 2009, p. 265.
  52. ^ Boba 1993, p. 134.
  53. ^ a b Boba 1993, p. 26.
  54. ^ Krajčovič 2005, p. 20.
  55. ^ Závodný 2008, pp. 49-51.
  56. ^ Hladký 2008, pp. 76-79.
  57. ^ Třeštík 2010, p. 123.
  58. ^ Bowlus 2009, p. 194.
  59. ^ Třeštík 2010, p. 116.
  60. ^ Štefan 2011, p. 334.
  61. ^ The Annals of Fulda (year 869), p. 60.
  62. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, p. 20.
  63. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, p. 28.
  64. ^ Bowlus 2009, p. 324.
  65. ^ Goldberg 2006, p. 284.
  66. ^ Toru 1983, p. 321.
  67. ^ Püspöki Nagy 1978, p. 11.
  68. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, p. 21.
  69. ^ a b Vlasto 1970, p. 74.
  70. ^ a b Bowlus 2009, p. 325.
  71. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, pp. 87, 192, 308.
  72. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, p. 308.
  73. ^ a b c Kirschbaum 1996, p. 33.
  74. ^ a b Betti 2013, pp. 27-34.
  75. ^ a b Kirschbaum 1996, p. 30.
  76. ^ Barford 2001, p. 110.
  77. ^ a b c d e f g h i Bartl et al. 2002, p. 23.
  78. ^ Barford 2001, p. 111.
  79. ^ a b c d Steinhübel 2011, p. 18.
  80. ^ The Annals of Fulda (year 899), p. 138.
  81. ^ Kristó 1996, pp. 175–176, 187–190.
  82. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, pp. 29, 34.
  83. ^ a b Kristó 1996, p. 200.
  84. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, p. 34.
  85. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 35.), p. 77.
  86. ^ Bowlus 2009, p. 257.
  87. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 37.), p. 79.
  88. ^ Bowlus 2009, p. 258.
  89. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 37), pp. 79–81.
  90. ^ Čaplovič 2000, p. 152.
  91. ^ Marsina 1997, p. 17.
  92. ^ a b c Marsina 1997, p. 20.
  93. ^ a b c Čaplovič 2000, p. 149.
  94. ^ a b c d Lukačka 2011, p. 33.
  95. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, pp. 144, 229.
  96. ^ Simon of Kéza: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 2.78), p. 163.
  97. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lukačka 2011, p. 32.
  98. ^ Engel 1994, p. 116.
  99. ^ Engel 1994, p. 458.
  100. ^ a b Lukačka 2011, pp. 35–36.
  101. ^ Simon of Kéza: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 2.89), p. 169.
  102. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 31.), p. 69.
  103. ^ Anonymus, Notary of King Béla: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 10.), p. 29.
  104. ^ Engel 1994, pp. 116, 458.
  105. ^ a b c d e f g h Kirschbaum 2007, p. 347.
  106. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Steinhübel 2011, p. 19.
  107. ^ Simon of Kéza: The Deeds of the Hungarians (ch. 2.31), p. 85.
  108. ^ a b c Györffy 1994, pp. 76–77.
  109. ^ Györffy 1994, p. 76.
  110. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, pp. 23, 278.
  111. ^ Györffy 1994, p. 79.
  112. ^ Györffy 1994, pp. 80–81.
  113. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, pp. 23–24.
  114. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, p. 41.
  115. ^ a b c d e Bartl et al. 2002, p. 25.
  116. ^ a b Bartl et al. 2002, p. 200.
  117. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, p. 43.
  118. ^ Toma & Kováč 2001, p. 9.
  119. ^ Steinhübel 2011, pp. 19–29.
  120. ^ Makk 1993, pp. 48–49.
  121. ^ The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles (ch. 6.), pp. 31–33.
  122. ^ a b Györffy 1994, p. 142.
  123. ^ Steinhübel 2011, pp. 19, 21.
  124. ^ a b Macartney 1953, p. 180.
  125. ^ Kirschbaum 1996, p. 42.
  126. ^ a b c d Györffy 1994, p. 85.
  127. ^ a b Györffy 1994, p. 169.
  128. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 45.69), p. 107.
  129. ^ Györffy 1994, p. 377.
  130. ^ Steinhübel 2011, p. 21.
  131. ^ a b c Steinhübel 2011, p. 23.
  132. ^ a b c d e f g h Bartl et al. 2002, p. 26.
  133. ^ Steinhübel 2011, p. 24.
  134. ^ Steinhübel 2011, pp. 24–25.
  135. ^ a b Steinhübel 2011, p. 25.
  136. ^ Herman of Reichenau: Chronicle (year 1042), pp. 73–74.
  137. ^ Steinhübel 2011, pp. 25–26.
  138. ^ Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 74.
  139. ^ Engel 2001, p. 30.
  140. ^ a b c d Steinhübel 2011, p. 26.
  141. ^ a b c d e Engel 2001, p. 31.
  142. ^ a b c d e f Steinhübel 2011, p. 27.
  143. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 69.97), p. 117.
  144. ^ a b Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 81.
  145. ^ Steinhübel 2011, pp. 27–28.
  146. ^ a b Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 82.
  147. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 71.101), p. 118.
  148. ^ a b c d e Steinhübel 2011, p. 28.
  149. ^ The Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle (ch. 84.121), p. 124.
  150. ^ a b c Bartl et al. 2002, p. 27.
  151. ^ Engel 2001, pp. 32–33.
  152. ^ Engel 2001, p. 32.
  153. ^ Kosztolnyik 1981, p. 93.
  154. ^ a b Kirschbaum 2007, p. 232, 347.
  155. ^ a b Bowlus 2009, pp. 322–325.
  156. ^ a b c Püspöki Nagy 1978, pp. 20–21.
  157. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, pp. 194, 347.
  158. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, p. 238.
  159. ^ Goldberg 2006, p. 140.
  160. ^ Bowlus 2009, pp. 325–327.
  161. ^ Kirschbaum 2007, p. 28.
  162. ^ Lukačka 2011, p. 18.
  163. ^ a b Kirschbaum 2007, pp. xxv, 278.
  164. ^ a b Kmietowicz 1976, p. 210.
  165. ^ a b c d Bartl et al. 2002, p. 333.
  166. ^ Bartl et al. 2002, pp. 23, 333.


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  • Wolfram, Herwig (1979). Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum: Das Weissbuch der Salzburger Kirche über die erfolgreiche Mission in Karantanien und Pannonien [ Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum: The White Paper of the Church of Salzburg on the Successful Mission in Carinthia and Pannonia] (in Deutsch). Böhlau Quellenbücher.  

Further reading

  • Boba, Imre (1971). Moravia's History Reconsidered: A Reinterpretation of Medieval Sources. Martinus Nijhoff.  
  • Bowlus, Charles R. (1995). Franks, Moravians, and Magyars: the struggle for the Middle Danube, 788–907. University of Pennsylvania Press.  
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