Byzantium and the Magyars by Gyula Moravcsik

By Gyula Moravcsik

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As a result of these talks, the emperor offered the hand of his daughter Mary to B61a, the younger son of Geza II. His intention was to connect Hungary by marriage with the empire, for by this time he had realized that an occupation of that country by armed force seemed at least unlikely. The Hungarian court, on the other hand, made a promise to let the emperor have Bela’s paternal inheritance, the Dalmato-Croatian princedom. Manuel toqk prince B61a with him to Constantinople, where he assumed the name Alexius and the rank of despotes, a dignity created especially for this purpose.

According to a Byzantine source, the reasons for the war that broke out between Byzantium and Hungary during the life of the empress Irene was the violence done to Hungarian merchants who arrived at Barancs. In 1127 the Hungarian king Istvan II made a raid into Byzantine territory, occupied Belgrade, ransacked Barancs, Nish, and Sofia. His troops got as far as Philippopolis. In the next year emperor Joannes Comnenus led a military expedition to take vengeance, defeated the army of Istvan II near the fortress Haram, and occupied Syrmia.

Another Byzan­ tine source gives a different interpretation of the origin of this war; according to this source, Istvan II demanded the expulsion of the Hungarian prince Almos from Byzantium. He started the war because he had received a refusal from the Byzantine court. It is a fact that in the 12th century Byzantium granted political asylum to those Magyars who had to leave their country, owing to their involvement in internal conflicts, and were hoping for Byzantine help. Thus, in 1116 the yoimger brother of king Kalman, prince Almos, whose eyes had been put out, fled to Byzantium, assumed the name Constantine, and founded a city in Macedonia called Constantinia.

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