Stephen III


son of: Géza II
periods of reign: 1162-1172
spouse: Agnes of Austria
child: Béla
succesor: Béla III

 The relatively short reign of Stephen III was characterized by conflicts and hostility. He had to fight for the throne against his two uncles Ladislaus II and Stephen IV.

An interesting detail about his birth is that his godfather was Louis VII of France, who was marching through Hungary leading the French crusaders, when Stephen III was born. His two uncles, who were unhappy about the newborn being heir to the throne, settled in the court of the Byzantine Emperor in Constantinople, waiting for their brother’s death. As king, Stephen III was greatly supported by his mother Euphrosyne and Lucas, Archbishop of Esztergom. Euphrosyne helped him develop good relationship with German territories. In 1168, thanks to her influence Stephen III married Duchess Agnes of Austria, the daughter of Duke Henry II.

The Byzantine Emperor Manuel wanted to conquer Hungary, therefore he supported Stephen IV and Ladislaus II in their fight for the throne. Due to the significant Byzantine overpower Stephen III had to leave the country and flee. During his absence his father’s older brother, Ladislaus was unofficially crowned. He was quite popular, but unfortunately died soon. He was followed by his brother Stephen IV but due to his unsuccessful measures he could not maintain his power, which was regained again by Stephen III. His uncles’ death was not enough for Stephen III to feel secure, since his younger brother grew up in Constantinople and Manuel took it as a good opportunity to use Béla as an excuse. He interfered and occupied the Croatian territories and defeated the king’s troops. In the end Manuel and Stephen III made peace.

As opposed to the continuous battles Stephen III tried to support the Church and to revive the country. He was the first king to grant privileges to citizens – more specifically to the citizens of Székesfehérvár.

He died young in Spring 1172 – possibly due to poisoning. He was the first king to be buried in Esztergom. He was followed on the throne by his brother, Béla III as his son – also named Béla – died as an infant.