Béla I


son of: Vazul
period of reign: 1060-1063
spouse: Richeza of Poland
children: Géza, Ladislaus, Prince Lampert, Sophia, Euphemia, Helena and one further daughter
succesor: Solomon


Béla I – also known as Béla the Champion – was king of the Árpád dynasty between 1060 and 1063. He was Mihály’s grandson, younger brother of Hungarian chiftain Géza. His father most probably was Vazul.

The birth year of Béla is unknown. His name was first mentioned when he fled with his brothers to Bohemia, and then settled down in Poland. Béla did a significant service to the Polish Prince Mieszko II defending him in a battle against the pagan Pomeranians leading the Polish troops. As a reward, the Prince gave his daughter, Richeza in marriage to him.

In 1046 the Hungarians invited Béla’s brother Andrew to the throne. Andrew also invited Béla back to the country and gave him one third of its territory. As Andrew himself had no male heir he also gave Béla hopes for succession. Béla as a warlord performed outstandingly in the wars against the Roman Emperor Henry III. He contributed significantly to preserve the independence of the nation.

Meanwhile, Andrew’s son, Solomon was born. Béla was not against Solomon being crowned by his father already at the age of 7. Béla’s foes convinced Andrew that Béla wanted the crown. Béla, not feeling safe, fled to Poland and came back, already with his troops, to invade Hungary. Andrew was killed in a battle. Béla was crowned king on 6th December 1060. Béla summoned the parliament, where the pagan delegates demanded the restoration of paganism. The king asked 3 days thinking time. Meanwhile, he summoned in Fehérvár the troops of the neighbouring counties and suppressed the uprising. This was the last open uprising of paganism in Hungary.

Béla contributed greatly to Christianity and to the cultural development of the nation. He worked for boosting the industry, trade and finance and for increasing welfare. In 1063 the guardians of Emperor Henry IV started preparations for restoring Solomon to the throne, who earlier had fled to the Holy Roman Empire. As an answer Béla sent his troops to Austria, however, the attempt proved to be unsuccessful. Because of the probable German attack Béla summoned the parliament to Dömös. According to the Illuminated Chronicle Béla’s throne broke and wounded him to death. Béla I was buried in the Benedictine Szekszárd Abbey, which had been founded by him.