News Opinions/Publications Hungary’s great­est leg­end, king Saint Ladislau

Hungary’s great­est leg­end, king Saint Ladislau

Saint Ladis­laus (Szent Lás­zló in Hun­gar­i­an) is and was con­sid­ered through­out Hun­gar­i­an his­to­ry to be the great­est ruler of the King­dom of Hun­gary. He was admired for his brav­ery, strength and hon­est heart, with sev­er­al leg­ends craft­ed about his deeds both dur­ing his life and after his death. 

After the death of Saint Stephen, the state founder, the Hun­gar­i­an king­dom faced years of inter­nal strives, and the sit­u­a­tion only set­tled with the rough suc­ces­sion of Ladis­laus I. Even though he was not the right­ful heir to the throne, because the cus­tom of pri­mo­gen­i­ture that St. Stephen wished to intro­duce was still not respect­ed by Hun­gar­i­an rulers to come, by all means, he was the most adept for the task. 

So after sev­er­al clash­es with his cousin, Solomon, he final­ly took the throne in 1077 (rul­ing until his death as a result of a bat­tle wound in 1095). In some ways, he fol­lowed in St. Stephen’s steps, by respect­ing and fur­ther enforc­ing Chris­tian­i­ty upon Hun­gar­i­ans, for instance. It was St. Ladis­laus who canon­ised the first saints in Hun­gar­i­an his­to­ry, and who even ini­ti­at­ed St. Stephen’s canon­i­sa­tion even though St. Stephen had his grand­fa­ther blinded.

This goes to show how well St. Ladis­laus under­stood Stephen’s motives and respect­ed peace above self-inter­est. The chaos that ensued in Hun­gary because of the severe con­flicts over the suc­ces­sion has man­i­fest­ed in the peak­ing of crime. St. Ladis­laus intro­duced heavy pun­ish­ment for those who were caught steal­ing or rob­bing, rang­ing from maim­ing, blind­ing, hang­ing, all the way to the sell­ing of the criminal’s chil­dren as slaves. 

This was nec­es­sary to strength­en secu­ri­ty in the king­dom and to restore author­i­ty. Anoth­er aspect which St. Ladis­laus found impor­tant in restor­ing secu­ri­ty was to pro­tect the bor­ders from Step­pen tribes. After sev­er­al vic­to­ries over ene­my tribes around the Hun­gar­i­an bor­der, St. Ladis­laus final­ly secured the king­dom: there were no attacks on the out­posts up until 1241 when the Mon­go­lian armies raid­ed East­ern Europe and occu­pied Hungary. 

Ladis­laus was canon­ised in 1192. 

St. Ladis­laus was admired by many already dur­ing his life, thanks to the diplo­mat­ic ways in which he ruled and for his brav­ery along with his phys­i­cal build. He was often described as “God’s ath­lete” for he was thought to be at least a head taller than his sol­diers and quite strong even in old age.

Lat­er kings con­sid­ered him as a role mod­el, and after their coro­na­tion cer­e­mo­ny, they often paid their respects to him at his grave in Nagyvárad (Oradea, Roma­nia). Up to this day, there are some who claim that he was the best ruler that Hun­gary has ever seen. 

The Bur­ial of Saint Ladis­laus Fic­tion Dozens of myth­i­cal sto­ries sur­round St. Ladis­laus, and these are some of the most adven­tur­ous, pop­u­lar and impor­tant ones. 

One sto­ry argues that he was crowned twice: once in 1077 with the Greek roy­al crown and then again in 1081 when the Hun­gar­i­an crown was retrieved from his adver­sary, Solomon. 

Anoth­er about his crown­ing recalls that he was not even crowned, for he wished to be crowned with a heav­en­ly crown only (this might sug­gest that he want­ed to be in God’s ser­vice even as a king) one of his sol­diers claimed that he saw the king lev­i­tat­ing while pray­ing Leg­end claims that dur­ing a bat­tle in Szek­ler­land between the Székelys and the Mon­go­lian Gold­en Horde.

250 years after St. Ladis­laus’ death, the Széke­ly troops prayed to him for help and not much lat­er a tall, valiant sol­dier came to their aid. 

This is called the Patrocini­um wonder. 

Wit­ness­es said that the king’s corpse has dis­ap­peared from his crypt and after the bat­tle was done, the body was found again, but now drenched in sweat, sug­gest­ing that he was out on the bat­tle­field fighting. 

The Hun­gar­i­ans fought a series of bat­tles with the Cumans under the lead­er­ship of St. Ladis­laus, and of course, there are myth­i­cal rec­ol­lec­tions of these events too: 

One time, when the Hun­gar­i­an army was close to star­va­tion, the king prayed to God for help, and with his aid, St. Ladis­laus has sprung water from a rock with his spear just like Moses. 

Not much lat­er, a horde of bison and deer appeared, which the Hun­gar­i­ans hunt­ed and ate. When the Cumans were pur­sued by the Hun­gar­i­ans and were almost caught, the Cuman leader ordered his sol­diers to scat­ter their mon­ey on the ground in the hopes that the Hun­gar­i­an army will stop to pick up the gold.

So it was, but St. Ladis­laus again turned to God for help, who then turned the gold and sil­ver coins into stone*. 

Thus, the diver­sion failed. (this sto­ry has a dif­fer­ent ver­sion, involv­ing the Pech­enegs, from whom the Hun­gar­i­an troops were flee­ing. In this telling, the Hun­gar­i­ans left the coins which soon turned into stone) 

Once the Cumans almost caught the Hun­gar­i­ans, how­ev­er, upon the king’s request for help, God split the Tur­da moun­tain into two behind the Hun­gar­i­an troops, so the Cumans could not fol­low them. 

This is today known as the Tur­da Gorge. *some fos­sils are today called St. Ladis­laus’ mon­ey, which was cen­turies ago believed to have been actu­al coins once fea­tured image: St. Ladis­laus chas­ing the “Cuman” war­rior (in the Uni­tar­i­an church of Széke­ly­derzs in Dâr­jiu, Roma­nia) by Var­ga Tamas – WikiCommons 

Source: Dai­ly News Hungary