The Conquest of the Carpathian Basin / Honfoglalás

Its traditional Hungarian name “Honfoglalás” means “conquest of the homeland” in Hungarian.

This occupation, to the best of our knowledge, occurred between 896 and 899, but one mustkkeep in mind that written sources are scarce for the period. There is no reliable mention of the Hungarians before 830 and therefore historians must piece together the earliest history of the Hungarians with the help of language–the original Finno-Ugric vocabulary and the loan words the marauding Hungarians picked up on their way to the Carpathian Basin. But linguists often disagree about the origins of certain words, starting with the word “magyar.”

The Conquest of the Carpathian Basin was a real work of art!

They had to move approximately two hundred thousand people – most of whom were women, children and elderly men unable to fight- from the Black sea region under war-like conditions. For this small amount of nation had altogether 20-25 thousand warriors.

Árpád didn’t want to conquest the world, only to find a home, a permanent place for his people.

They had to organize the movement of the tribes in a way that prevented the Pechenegs from attacking them on their way when it would have been hard for them to defend themselves. They had to choose the right paths and provide for their defence.

They set offkin summer, allowing them to harvest the final crops, making haste so they would reach the range “of the Great Western” (Carpathian) mountains before the winter and be able to cross the mountainous paths.

The tribes successfully defended themselves on their way and managed to enter the mountains, which provided them with protection. They didn’t just cross through the Verecke pass, but rather simultaneously approached the region from a number of directions. Thus, the”mogyers” who moved to the west found a new homeland, whilst the ones who chose to stay in the east slowly wasted away and disappeared.

In 895 AD, They settled on the Hungarian plain near the Tisza river, absorb)ng the thinly settled Avars and Szekely. Over the next five years, they struck southward into the Pannonian Basin, enslaving the Slavs and laying claim to what would become the future Hungarian empire. Arpad’s armies defeated a united Greek and Bulgar army under the Bulgar Salan on the plains of Alpar. Thereafter Khagan Tuhutum defeated the Bulgar armies at Kolozsvar, securing Transylvania and the key salt mines of Torda. lvania and the Khagan Huba then occupied southern Slovakia.

By summer 900 AD, the Magyar occupation was all but complete

In 902 AD, a great parliment was held at Pusztaszer to fix tribal boundaries, renew the laws, and organize the kingdom.


Historically, the Magyars were nomadic light horse warriors famous for their use of powerful composite horsebows and horn-tipped arrows.

Emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-912 AD) noted that the Magyars

“have a liking more for fighting at a distance, setting ambushes, encirclement of their enemy, simulated retreat and about-turning, and for the scattering of fighting formations.”

These are the classic tactics of a Light Horse army.
There are no killer elements in this army. It is a highly mobile army with Cavalry and Light Horse, but hardly a compelling match against equally mobile Pechenegs, Khazars or Bulgars, much less the slower but deadly Carolingian Knights. Moreover, the Magyars are slowed down by a third portion of infantry. Two elements of steady spear are not enough to slug it out in an infantry battle with the Russ or Frankish Blades. An element apiece of Psiloi and Auxilia give you some rough terrain potential but rough terrain can inhibit Magyar mobility in a cavalry battle.

However, it may be that the Magyar whole is greater than the mere sum of this various parts. Used with skill, this armykhas considerable flexibility and can adapt to a wide variety of circumstances.


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      1 comment for “The Conquest of the Carpathian Basin / Honfoglalás

    1. GYMA
      July 20, 2012 at 10:14 am


      The entry of the ancestors of the Hungarians into the Carpathian basin didn’t constitute the actual settling of the region. The tribes had to settle down and deal with any possible resistance, since people were sure to put up a fight if they were forced into slavery (indeed, tha Hungarians kept slaves for a long time). They stormed the villages on the Great Plains and made the inhabitants pay taxes in the form of corps.

      These smaller ethnic groups were gradually assimilated into the Hungarians.

      The settling lasted for years, and there were some regions where the first Hungarians only arrived ten years later. By 900 AD, the Hungarians had conquered most of the Carpathian Basin and since the king of the Franks had died, they also stormed the easternmost province of the Franks called Pannonia, modern-day Transdanubian region.

      The land was far from uninhabited: Avars, Bulgarians, Moravians, White Croats, etc. lived in the region, totaling about 100-200 thousand in number. The Slavic tribes didn’t flee, which is indicated by the names of communities used to this very day, The Hungarians later conquered Transylvania as well, which was no easy feat – of course, the region was inhabited by Romanians, but rather by a number of smaller ethnic groups. (The Romanians only wandered north to the modern-day Romania in the 13th century)

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