,. ,

Steppe peoples in medieval Hungary

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Editor of the series:

ISTVANB6NA Original title:

BESENY6K, KUNOK,jASZOK CorvinaKiad6, Budapest, 1989

Pechenegs 7

Pechenegs and Magyars 7

The people of "Pecheneg-Iand" 11

The Pechenegs in Hungary 27

Translated by TIMOTHY WILKINSON Series design by jUDIT KALL61 Photographs by

FERENC CSECSETKA: 9, 69,70,74, 76 ANDRAs DABASl: 23,25

ZSUZSANNAD. ER06KORTI: 1, 48, 49 j6ZSEFKARATH: 2,3,4 ANDRAspAL6cZIHORVATH:71, 72, 73 all other Plates are by KALMAN K6NY A Drawings and maps by AGOSTON DEKANY

Cumans and Iasians

From Central Asia to the Danube Basin Cumanian settlement areas in Hungary Iasians: language, origin and settlements Heathen horsemen for Christian kings

Dress 86

Religion and art 96

Nomad camps and permanent villages

On the cover: Entry of the various clans into Hungary (ChroniconP;ctum)

Chronology 121

Abbreviations 123

Selected Bibliography

List of Figures 128

List of Plates 135


C Andras PaI6czi Horvath ISSN 0133-3119

ISBN 963 13 2740 X

Printed in Hungary, 1989

Kner Printing House, Gyomaendr6d CO 2807-h.-8993

39 54 62 68




Pechenegs and Magyars

A knight from one of the leading clans came from the land of the Pechenegs. He was called Thonuzoba, father of Urcund, from whom the Tomaj [Thomoy] clan is descended. Prince Taksony gave him dwelling-lands in the parts of the Kemej up to the River Tisza, where the village of Abad-rev stands.

This is how Anonymus, notary to King Bela ill recorded in the last chapter of his Gesta Hungarcnum the history, based on family tradition, of his Pecheneg ancestor of the Tomaj clan who emigrated to Hungary during the reign of Prince Taksony, between A.D. 955 and 970. The properties and monastery of this particular clan were situated on the left bank of the middle Tisza river but in the Arpadian era extensive Pecheneg settlement territories could also be found farther from the bank of the river, along the streams that ran down from the BUkk Hills.

Thonuzoba (Hungarian Diszn6-apa 'Pig-Father') was not the first contact that the Magyars had had with the Pechenegs. Before their occupation of Hungary, Magyar tribes then living to the east of the Carpathian Basin had suffered two major Pecheneg attacks--both described in detail by Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus, the Byzantine emperor (A.D. 912-959), in his De Administrando Imperio) compiled around A.D. 950. According to tradition, the first of these attacks--the so-called Kangar-Pecheneg war-split the proto-Magyars who were then living near the middle course of the Volga and Don rivers, whereupon part of them then moved into the Etelkoz, west of the Don, whilst the other part migrated to beyond the Caucasus. The next decisive conflict occurred at the end of the










Bokhara 0


1 Migration of the Pechenegsand location ojtheir tribes on the East European steppe in the 1Oth,tntu,),

ninth century. In 895, the Pechenegs, crossing the Volga and Don, irrupted upon the Magyar encampments at a time when their leader's army of two lUmens (approximately 20,000 men) was away attacking Bulgar frontier posts in the eastern half of the Carpathian Basin. Evicted from the Erelkoz, the Magyar tribes fled into Transylvania whilst their previous settlement areas fell into the hands of the Pechenegs.

The dreadful memory of that Pecheneg raid became a mythical element in the pages of the old Hungarian chronicles. The story has it that during their migration the Magyars came to a territory where they saw innumerable eagles. However, they were unable to stay there "since the eagles swarmed down on them from the trees like flies, engorging themselves upon their cattle and horses". This allegorical depiction of the defeat once had a direct significance because the name that the Magyars gave to the Pechenegs-besenyOk---chimed with a loan-word of Turkic origin, bele, meaning 'bird of prey'. (The original ethnic name, Belenek, was, in fact, a diminutive form derived from the Old Turkic personal name Beie. In English-language literature the Byzantine Greek name Patzinak is sometimes encountered.) For decades fear of the Pechenegs influenced the Magyar leaders in their decisions on foreign policy and in their choice of targets for marauding expeditions, to such an extent that even the skilful diplomacy of Byzantium failed to tempt them into an alliance against the Pechenegs whereby they would have been able to re-occupy their old territories.

In the middle of the tenth century, two generations after the memorable defeat, Prince Taksony sought an ally in the formidable eastern neighbour, bringing back a. wife for himself from the land of the Beie, with its hidden perils, and arranging for the settling of his own country by large contingents of Pechenegs in order both to strengthen the armed forces loyal to his command and to secure the defences ofhis western border. It was during this period that the first Pecheneg colonies were established to the south of the River Leitha, in the marshy region around Lake Ferte. Hungarian chronicles relate that at the end of the eleventh century the Pechenegs who had settled here were carrying out duties as frontier guards.


The people of "Pecheneg-land"


Up to 895, the Pecheneg hordes had inhabited the grassy steppes lying to the east of the River Volga and north of the Caspian and Aral Seas. They are first mentioned in an eighthcentury report, written in Tibetan, from an Uighur envoy. They lived on the open and wooded steppes of western Siberia, adjacent to related peoples of similar culture-Kipchaks (Qipchaqs)) or Cumans, and Kimsks, who spoke the same type of Turkic language as themselves-whilst in the south-east, towards the River Syr-Darya, were the Ghuzz, or Uzes, of the Oghuz-Turkic group. In the Aral Sea region the Pechenegs were separated by a barren, uninhabited tract, several days' journey across, from the more highly urbanized civilization of Khwarizm, the population of which had adopted Islam following the Arab conquest of the eighth century. By the lower reaches of the Volga the Pechenegs bordered the Khazar empire and were regularly the target of Khazar raids to obtain slaves. The Pechenegs complained about the Kipchaks too, in exactly the same terms, to the merchants from the cities of Central Asia who passed through their territories, although it is quite clear that incursions of this kind were reciprocal.

The events that precipitated the great westward migrations of steppe peoples at the end of the ninth century took place in Central Asia in A.D. 893. From his capital in Bokhara, Emir Ismail ibn-Ahmed, second ruler of the Samanid dynasty which had recently installed itself in the region of the Amu-Darya and Syr-Darya rivers, began a campaign against his "Turkish" steppe-neighbours (by which he meant the Ghuzz). The emir may have been inspired chiefly by the goal of propagating the true faith, but the results of his expedition suggest that he also had less exalted objectives. He had the katun, wife of the "Turkish" khagan) captured along with a reported 10,000 prisoners, whilst countless horses, sheep and camels were driven away and his forces returned home laden with treasures. The defeated and plundered Ghuzz were also attacked from the north by the Kimaks, after which they made an alliance with the.Khazars and threw their remaining forces against the Pechenegs. This campaign probably took place in the following year, A.D. 894, as some time would have been required to create the Khazar alliance and to co-ordinate the operations.

As a result of the attack the Pechenegs lost their grazing-land


and a great part of their livestock. They were left withjust one way out of their acute predicament: to move further westwards on the steppe and make up their losses at the expense of the Magyars. This is what lay behind the attack on the Magyar encampments in A.D. 895. The Pechenegs found a natural ally in the Bulgars, who were at that time fighting the Magyars. Their successful campaign paved the way to one and a half centuries of dominion over the East European steppe. Here not only were they able to control East-West trade, but also, since they now held the North-South water routes and hence could cut the access of the East Slavs to the sea, they could keep an eye on the developing relations between the Russian Principalities and Byzantium. The route that the Rus-Norse (Varangian) navigators had to take to Constantinople was down the River Dnieper, through the heart of Pecheneg territory. Pecheneg warriors could therefore wait in ambush at rapids and make surprise attacks on travellers who were forced to take to the river bank. The Byzantines penetrated the Pechenegs' land, which they called Patzinacia, sending troop-carrier ships up the larger rivers and dispatching ambassadors bearing gifts from the emperor to try to win over the Pecheneg leaders to the aims of Byzantine diplomacy.

Our sources are unanimously of the view that the Pechenegs' settlement territories extended westwards as far as the Carpathians and the lower Danube. According to the reports of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, their tribal federation in the tenth century comprised eight tribes. with the River Dnieper forming a natural boundary between the western and eastern portions. Constantine also lists the names and domains of the individual tribes, though, understandably, he had more accurate information about the more westerly hordes that lay nearer Byzantium. The Giazichopon were situated by the lower Danube, on the border with Bulgaria; the Chabouxingyla tribe lived near to present-day Hungary, around the Sereth and Prot rivers; the Iabdiertim settled along the Dniester and Bug rivers and were neighbours with various Slav peoples; the Charaboi lived by the Dnieper, in proximity to the Russians. There is no reliable information about areas nomadized by the four tribes to the east of the Dnieper (the KOUtIrtzitzour, SyroukalpeiJ Borotalmat and Boulatzopon), but their grazing-land may have spread from the Khazar Empire in the north, by the middle Don, across to the Volga.


Thus the Pechenegs remained neighbours of the Khazars even after their migration into Europe. By the last years of the ninth century the fortresses on the Don, with their ethnically mixed garrisons-among them Pecheneg warriors who had settled down there in earlier times-were no longer defending the north-western border ofKhazaria from Magyar attacks but against the recently immigrant Pechenegs. Khazar kurgans, or burial mounds, of the tenth and eleventh centuries which have been discovered on the steppe between the lower reaches of the Don and Volga testify to the presence of a substantial nomadic population which may also have been partially Pecheneg in origin. Insofar as any credence can be placed in the late tenth-century Persian geographical treatise, the Hudud al-A lam ('The Boundaries of the World'). as a source, it must have been some-where in this region that the Khazar-Pechenegs, to which it makes reference, lived.

Few contemporary observations are extant concerning the internal relations or social structure of the Pechenegs. Our most important source on these matters is the already cited work of the scholarly Byzantine emperor, Constantine Porphyrogenitus, that inexhaustible store of information on the history of Eastern Europe in the tenth century. Three hordes played a leading role in the confederation, the Chabouxingyla} Iabdiertim and Kouartzitzour, which were known collectively as the Kangar. This word, according to Constantine, meant 'valiant warrior, of noble birth' (Usz16 Rasonyi has suggested a connection with the Central Asian Turkic word kingi.,., meaning 'brave'). The Kangar appear in sources from as early as the sixth. century onwards. The Persians led a campaign against them to the Caucasus region in A.D. 541. We do not know how the two Turkish-speaking peoples, the Pechenegs and the Kangar, came to be amalgamated but it is plausible to speculate that sometime during the sixth. to ninth centuries the Kangar, as conquerors, formed the federation ofPecheneg hordes, placing themselves in the position of the leading hordes. The KangarPecheneg tribal federation began to play an independent political role on the steppe only from the end of the eighth century, ' following the collapse of the Turkic Empire.

A system of central organization of the hordes came into being whilst they were still to the east of the Volga. The eight hordes were divided into forty sections, that is, each horde comprised five clans, each with a 'lesser prince' at its head. (At



2 Bone stick-tip (whip handle?), in the shape of a bird's head,from the grave of a nomadic warrior

3 Silver handle of a riding whip from the nomad cemetery at Sarkel

the time of the conquest of Hungary, the Magyars, too, usually had an average of five clans within the frame of each of their tribes.) These clans were no longer social units based on ties of kinship but the nuclei of a territorial organization directed by a clan aristocracy. Power lay in the hands of noble clans which were separate from the common people and from whose ranks the dignitaries were selected. Referring to the Pecheneg nation, Constantine writes of:

Law and ancient principle ... depriving them of authority to transmit their ranks to their sons or their brothers, it being sufficient for those in power to rule for their own lifetime only, and when they die, either their cousin or sons of their cousins must be appointed, so that the rank may not run exclusively in one branch of the family, but the collaterals also inherit and succeed to the honour.

(De Administrando Imperio, trans!' R. J. H. Jenkins)

This system of inheritance may be regarded, in part, as operating by the principle of genealogical seniority, with rank being inherited by the eldest male relation, bypassing direct lineal descendants, .b~~ _aJs?_i!:J'-~rt:_~ ~~ _e~p~essiog__.'?L a ~~~ve fO_rgl_<:{ 4~-!!lQcra'Y_within _th~cla~ aris_tQcrafY_whiclt .served to stabilizeauthority. As a check on the emergence of dominant clans, and consolidation of their power, another trend that has been observed in analyses of Turkish societies comes into play; namely, other clans with claims to ascendancy and power arise by means of marriage alliances, thereby keeping the leadership system in constant flux.

A unified organization is indicated not only by the regular structure of the horde system but also by the naming of the hordes. The first element of these compound names designates a colour, the second the name of the dignity borne by the chief of the horde in question. Uszl6 Rasonyi has proposed the following translations of the colour-names: Ciazi = steppe-coloured, Chabouxin = cinnamon or bark-coloured, Iabdi = glistening or glittering white, Chara = black, Kouartzi = bluish-grey, Syrow = grey, Born = dark grey, Beula = piebald, spotted. There are two possible ways of interpreting these colours from our knowledge of the customs for naming tribes among steppe peoples. In Gyula Nemeth's opinion ~y_9es_i~!~ __ ~!0r.ations of~oI!~; in other words, the names given to horses of different



colours that were favoured and bred by the various tribes eventually became the horde names. This would mean that the military retinues grouped around the tribal chieftains would have horses selected for their similar coloration. _Gyqrgy . Gy?r£fy:.:n~tains, with reference to nomad practices, that the

. --~oh:)Ur. designations refer to the horsetail ensigns that- ~~~ attached to _~P_~._;1S _~_.JY:lY _ _Q_L4istinguishing_th~ indiyi4ual

_..fighting_units in .b;l,_~e_~ The ensign symbolized the horde and later also the office held by the tribal chief. Among several sources that mention Pecheneg usage of ensigns, Gardezi, a Persian historian of the eleventh century, reported that "they have standards and spears which they raise on high in battle". -

Despite the fact that none of our sources speaks of an overlord in supreme command of all the hordes, we must regard it as certain that the Pecheneg tribal federation had some form of central leadership, at least by the time that they entered into Europe. The various tides that are preserved by the horde names suggest a "court" order or precedence of the tribal chiefs, At the end of the ninth century and in the first half of the tenth century, supremacy among the Pechenegs, following the practice of almost all nomad peoples at this stage in their development, probably lay with the chief of the Iabdiertim horde. Constantine mentions this name first in his lists of both realms (tribes) and tribal chiefs. It is also the only horde whose name does not refer to a dignity but expresses a meaning consonant with the word kangarl for ertim means 'bravery, manliness, virtue'-worthy epithets, indeed, for the leading horde of a nomadic people. The initial element of the name, meaning 'white, glittering', likewise hints at distinction in the thinking of steppe peoples. This Kangar horde is known to have occupied the best-protected position among the Pechenegs to the west of the Dnieper, and its encampments were also defended against possible attack from the Magyars, Bulgars or Byzantines by strongholds on the right bank of the Dniester. The name of the neighbouring Cyla horde, which also had a leading role, may have a parallel in the well-known tide of gyula among the Magyars.

In the tenth century A.D. the bonds of the tribal federation slackened; the hordes, having their own grazing-land, livestock and armies, acquired a substantial degree of autonomy. With population growth, the possible detachment of some clans and the arrival of others from the east, the tribal system described



-j- -

4 Iron spear-head for penetrating annour;from the territory ojthe Pecheneg-tiescended 'Black Caps'

.' '.

above was gradually transformed; by the mid-eleventh century sources make reference to as many as 13 hordes. In this period there was a struggle for leadership of the federation between two of the horde chieftains, Tirek: (Tyrach) and Kegen. In 1048, Kegen, son of Belcer, heading two dissident tribes with previously unrecorded names (Belennanis, Pagumanis), fled to Byzantine territory and accepted Christianity; his pursuer, Tyrach, came to the same end not long afterwards when he suffered a defeat at the hands of the Byzantine emperor. However, not even after these events did a stable, hereditary central authority, capable of unifying all the hordes, emerge.

The rule of the aristocratic class in nomad societies of the Middle Ages, from the Turks to the Mongols.rwas backed by

~.)l_~rm..aI1~!~tm'_J:'~tip.!!~ :whi4~in.!!!!':C? ~f_'!'!~Jo~~ the .¢.1it~"f.on>s. of. the. army .. ;w..4. ~so_.Sl1ppli.edJh~ Il1ili!¥y,.C9m- manders, Representatives of such a military caste among the Pechenegs crop up during the tenth century in the bodyguards and auxiliary forces composed of foreign recruits in Byzantium and the Russian Principalities, amongst the Poles and Magyars, and, as we have seen, at an earlier date amongst the Khazars as well. Warriors of the Talmat horde seem to have been especially enterprising in this respect, as evidenced by the frequent occurrence of their name in a number of countries. Men on lifetime military service were also foremost in pressing for, and participating in, the innumerable marauding raids that were conducted against neighbouring countries. The aim of such campaigns, above and beyond the acquisition of booty and slaves for trading, was to extract tribute and "protection-money", thus most of them must have been. planned actions that were agreed by the horde chieftains in accordance with the political situation of the moment. Bands of such retainers regularly attacked the Russians, the Bulgars, and, across Bulgaria, Byzantium; later on, when the Byzantines extended the Empire's borders up to the Danube in the tenth century, their own garrisons had to bear the brunt ofPecheneg incursions directly.

Pechenegs were continually engaged. first on one side. then the other, in the rerurring wars between the neighbouring powers. For instance, in 962 they besieged Kiev, then in 965 participated on the side of Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev in his campaign against his old foe, the Khazars. Pechenegs also accompanied the prince on the Balkan venture of968, which Svyatos-

5 An-ow heads ]rom the Pecheneg settlement area between the Dniester arul the Danube nvermouth


lav had to break off when he received news that his capital city was under attack from another group ofPechenegs. During his return home from this campaign, in 972, the prince was captured by one of the Pecheneg hordes for failing to seek permission to pass across their territory. The Pecheneg leader, Kuria, had Svyatoslav killed and ordered a drinking-vessel to be made ofhis skull.

We have no evidence that there was any major conflict between the Magyars and Pechenegs in the decades that followed the Magyar conquest of Hungary . The lands of the two peoples were separated by a journey of four days across the eastern Carpathians, which were easily sealed off and had well-guarded passes that offered more formidable obstacles to Pecheneg attack than the plain of the lower Danube. In 934 a Pecheneg detachment even took part, as ally, in a Magyar raiding expedition into Bulgar and Byzantine territory. According to the account of the tenth-century Arab geographer, Masudi, it was the Pechenegs' tactics that brought off victory for the combined armies of the "Turks" in the decisive battle with the Byzantines. With the Magyar forces drawn up in a main body with left and right flanks, the Pechenegs advised that a cavalry regiment of one thousand mounted archers be placed on either wing. This cavalry then assaulted the Byzantine lines from both sides in alternation. constandy firing arrows whilst they swept across the face of the enemy army to the opposite flank. They circled in this manner, like a windmill. until the Byzantines broke ranks and were provoked into the offensive. At this point, the waiting main body of the Magyar army opened its lines to the assault but immediately poured arrows upon them and then pressed home the attack in closed ranks to secure the victory. Masudi provides a vivid description of nomad tactics, though he grossly exaggerated the size of the forces involved: the initial disruptive manoeuvre against the Byzantines was, in reality. executed by much smaller writs.

Princess Anna Comnena (1083-after 1148), daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus (1081-1118), writes that the Pecheneg squadrons of long-range archers mounted their attacks from the cover of a barricade of wagons. In all likelihood this refers to Pecheneg groups that moved into Byzantine territories on the lower Danube along with their entire households andlivestock.

The rapid manceuvring of the alternating "sweeps" called for

6 Iron mace withfour spikes-a light cavalryman j s weapon that became widespread in the Pecheneg era


.. ",.

7 Oriental-type sabre of the 11th-12th centuries

a high degree of practice and discipline. The Pechenegs were also successful in employing other means of nomad warfare such as the feigned flight, the attack from ambush, and rapid withdrawal should their endeavours prove unproductive; they would never engage in fighting at close quarters unless they had managed to break the enemy's ranks. The Pecheneg army was composed entirely of Iighdy armoured troops, whose main weapons were the bone-reinforced, double-curved bow with rhomboid, flat arrows and the spear. They wore a leather cuirass for body protection and also carried a mace, a small axe and a sabre for use ill close combat.

Hand-to-hand fighting was not, in fact, a strong suit of nomad armies of the age, especially when up against closed-formation attacks by the Byzantine armoured cavalry or the more heavily armed Russians. They would not undertake direct assaults on walled towns or strongholds but would rather attempt to starve such places into surrender.

Pastoralism, the basis of the Pechenegs' livelihood, found favourable conditions in the well-watered steppes of South Russia. After the deb£cle suffered at the hands of the Ghuzz at the end of the ninth century, their animal stocks were quickly replenished-with the herds seized from the Magyars no doubt helping in this-and by the middle of the tenth century they were in a position to make regular sales of horses, cattle and sheep to the Russians. At their winter quarters in river valleys they pursued a self-sufficient agriculture. Anna Comnena writes of one Pecheneg group that moved into lands south of the Danube and, having pillaged the district and occupied several of the smaller towns, took care of their own needs during the subsequent lull ill fighting by sowing wheat and millet. In the Don Basin the Pechenegs held sway over settlements of the Saltovo-Mayatskaya culture and their advanced agriculture, which died out in the second half of the tenth century-quite probably around the time of Prince Svyatoslav's campaign against Khazaria-but whose crops supplemented the restricted nomad economy, stimulating the development of the Pechenegs who settled there.

The merchants of the Crimean cities that were under Byzantine suzerainty bought animal hides and beeswax from the Pechenegs, the latter article possibly representing a form of tribute from the forest peoples. In exchange, the Pecheneg elite, with their fondness of splendour and luxury, purchased Byzan-



tine silk fabrics, brocades of gold and silver, gold lace and braid trimmings for their garments, Parthus leather, and also pepper transported by caravan from the Far East. Items like these, ill addition to sackfuls of gold coin, would also have been among the gifts bestowed on them by the Byzantine emperor. The main trading centres, on the evidence of the distribution of tenth to twelfth-century Byzantine coinage in Eastern Europe, were the Crimea, Tamar-tarkan on the Sea of Azov, and Kiev, with the great rivers marking the routes into the north. The Pechenegs were in contact with the Mohammedan world through the merchants of Volga Bulgaria and Khwarizm. The furs they needed for their winter clothing were provided by their northerly neighbours, among them the Burtas who inhabited the Volga region and were famed afar for their rare foxfurs.

The archaeological heritage of the Pecheneg tribes in their main settlement areas--the Don-Donets region, the Sea of Azov littoral and on the Crimean peninsula, the lower Dnieper and Dniester rivers, Moldavia and Wallachia-is represented by relatively few grave finds, despite their presence there for 150-ZOO years. The number of secure finds is extremely small-a circumstance which makes it difficult to differentiate Pecheneg graves from the archaeological remains of other steppe peoples of the same era. Archaeological study of nomad relics of the Early Middle Ages is generally able to establish the historical period to which any given grave find should be assigned on the basis of typological and chronological sequences of artefact types and burial customs, but it has been less successful in bringing ethnic considerations into distinguishing between finds. Nor is research proceeding at the same intensity in all places of interest.

Grave finds from the tenth and eleventh centuries are concentrated in the lower Volga region which had a population of ethnically mixed origin-up to the end of the tenth century still within the confines of the Khazar Empire. Here, outside the areas inhabited by the Pechenegs, are distributed the objects that are regarded as most characteristic of the period: open-work bird-shaped mounts and leaf-shaped ear-picks. These appeared among the nomads as fashionable ornaments and were presumably the products of Alan master craftsmen in Khazaria or the northern Caucasus. In several cases it can be observed that highranking nomad women no longer used them as toilet articles

8 Bird.shaped, open·work dress mountfiom tlte lower Vo~a region

9 Leafshaped pendant with a 'Tree.of-life'design


10 Pecheneg horse burial from the Crimean steppes. The skinned horse-hide, with the skull andforelimb bones still attached, was placed on the left side of the man's body. A snajJle was in the horse's mouth, the dead ItJ4n had aflint and iron knife close, to hand

but, sometimes even in a broken or damaged state, as an article of clothing: from their position in the graves, these open-work bronze picks, with their designs of animals or plants (the latter suggesting a "tree of life"), may well have been worn as braid ornaments.

The destruction of agricultural settlements in the lands to the north of the Black Sea signalled the great migration of peoples at the end of the ninth century: the departure of the Magyars and the appearance of the Pechenegs. This is the period when settlements of the Romni-Borshevo group, identified with the Severians, came to an end in the northern zone of the wooded steppe between the Dnieper and the Don, along with some settlements of the Saltovo culture further to the south, and other East Slavic tribes that had been living to the west of the Dnieper (the Ulichians and Tivertsi) were forced to withdraw northwards. Some settlements of the Balkan-Danube civilization situated between the Dniester and the mouth of the Danube were also abandoned. in the wake of the Pecheneg influx.

Only the graves of the nobles and the warrior class; buried with their horse, harness and weapons, can be identified with certainty among the relics of the Pechenegs who now took over the steppe; it has not yet proved possible to date or determine the ethnic status of graves that have yielded few. non-distinctive objects or are empty. According to S. A. Pletneva, the Pechenegs placed their dead in wooden coffins, which were buried with the head oriented to the west, usually in a grave dug into an earlier kurgan of the Bronze Age or the Sarmatian era, but otherwise with a small mound raised over the grave. The remains of the riding horse sacrificed during the funeral feast -its stripped hide with the skull and lower limb-bones left in situ-together with its harness were either placed on the left side of the body or buried on top of it. The latter practice seems to conform to the Ghuzz custom, known from a description by Ibn Fozlan, of covering the grave-pit with planks on which a horse-side-sometimes stuffed-was placed. All forms of partial horse burial were widespread on the East European steppe long before the appearance of the Pechenegs, whilst the other elements of the burial ritual similarly reflect long-standing beliefs. Hitherto, it has not been possible to discover any burial custom that could be said to be exclusive to the Pechenegs ..

The main implements and weapons that the steppe warrior took with him to the next world attest, not just to their place in









the nomad system of beliefs, but also to the craftsmanship of the Pechenegs. Among the relics of the traditional metal-working skills of the nomads are iron snaffle-bits, stirrups, buckles, daggers, tinder sets, arrow-heads, battle-axes, and spears; scissors are the characteristic find of female Pecheneg graves. It was the Pechenegs who brought from the Volga to the West the unjointed snaffle, with its rigid, straight or curved mouthpiece, which evolved on the wooded steppe of the Urals or West Siberia to make it easier to rein back the horse, as well as a new type of round stirrup that was better suited for use with soft-soled boots. The damascened linear designs on the stirrups (from Vitanesti) resemble the technique used on Magyar ironwork of the Conquest period.

The tribal and clan aristocracies, with their great wealth of animal stocks augmented by the levying of tributes and plundering raids on neighbouring settlers, were described by Gardezi in the following terms; "The Pechenegs are wealthy and have many horses, cattle and sheep as well as vessels of gold and silver." This affluence is most readily appreciated from the silver or gilded silver belt mounts, annular braid ornaments, pendants. bracelets, and finger-rings, but also from the new, Oriental-style decorated horse-trappings.

One of the richest male graves of the late nomadic period that is known to us came to light in 1904 at Gayevka, in the environs

11 Pecheneg horse-trappings: an ulfjoined snaffi e, a pa ir cif oval sliTTUPS, andgirlh buckle (from Vitanefti, Rumania)

12 Axe, tinder set and iron knife from a Pecheneg horsettUln's equipment (Vitanesti, Rumania)





~ ~

13 Gilded saver harness decorationsfrom Gayevk4: leqf shaped mounts with rattle and

a strap distributor

of Voronezh on the middle Don, which was at the northerly margin of the lands occupied by the Pechenegs. Gold coins of the Byzantine Emperor Basil II (A.D. 976-1025) and Ills heir, Constantine, later to become Constantine VIII (1025-1028), date the find to the beginning of the eleventh century. Some of the 215 gilded silver and nielloed mounts and other articles which are catalogued as harness ornaments may have been applied to accoutrements of dress (belt-buckles, sabretachelocks, boot mounts). The central decorations of the harness were the large leaf-shaped mounts with bells which were placed on the forehead and the breast strap; smaller decorative mounts, also with bells, were on the nose-band. Cruciform strap distributors covered up crossing or branching-points of the harness-straps, allowing attachment of a strap end in each direction. The triple strap-distributor mounts were probably used to connect the breast strap and girth-leather. The designs of tendrils and palmettes, intertwined ribbons and palmettes, and double leaf-rows, together with the unusual niello technique, evince an eclectic art nourished equally by Byzantine, Norse and steppe roots. These motifs appeared in Russia in the first half of the eleventh century. The design and ornamentation of the buckle and the heart-shaped mounts are elements that originated from the steppe. Harness ornaments which closely resemble the Gayevka find in design, type and embellishment were discovered around the lower Dnieper river (Kamenk:a, Kotovka, Staro-Shvedskoye, Gorozheno) and in the Crimea (Saraili-Kiyat).

The influence of Norse art on the intricately intertwined ribbons of the latter ornaments is unequivocal. Steppe art in a purer form, with simple palmette designs, beaded border motifs, etc., is seen on mounts from contemporary horse-trappings of a similar type that is known from sites east of the Volga, including the left bank. of the river (Bikovo, Kalinovka, Novonikolskoye), the southern Urals (Nezhenka) and north of the Aral Sea (Chelkar). There can be no doubt that Pecheneg metalcraft of the Don and Dnieper regions had its precedents in the steppe traditions of West Siberia as regards the forms. function and use of these mounts, just as it is no accident that we must reckon with the influences of Byzantine and Rus-Norse art in the Black Sea region. The evident links between the handicrafts of the territories to the west and east of the Volga are explicable--quite apart from the extremely rapid spread of



~~~~G'-jljl~~~~------ ~~~_

14 FindsJrom the Gayevka assemblage

The palmette-ornamented buckle, the snudl round mounts and heartslulped mounts could have served equally well to adorn a belt or harness. The cruciform mount

co vered a Jour-way branching oj the harness straps that were attached to it. The rOW of mounts with decorations of interlaced ribbons and palmettes probably comes from a purse suspender


innovations in equipment and weaponry that took place among equestrian peoples-by the fact that during the tenth century one of the hordes which separated from the main body of Pechenegs carried on its existence in the Ural region within the Ghuzz tribal federation.

Among the archaeological sources of the Pecheneg era, mention must be made of the nomad kurgan cemetery at Sarkel. During the A. D. 830s the Khazars, with Byzantine assistance, built the fortress of Sarkel on the left bank of the River Don. Its garrison, recruited from nomad mercenaries, remained there even after 965, when the campaign of Grand Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev brought an end to Khazar rule. Excavation of the kurgam that lie next to the fortress revealed the graves of predominantly adult males (82-83% of the graves were male)--obviously the warriors who manned the fortress. In one group of kurgans, separated spatially from the rest, artefacts of the

15 Bone stirrup-strap adjustor and stirrup decorated wi th gilded (opper inlays from the settlement area of the 'Black Caps'

(12th century)

I , I I



\ , ! :

\ , r!

I \ ! I

\ \ I I

\ \ I I

\ " .. /

'\. '..... .... .... ~"

............. ::-_------,_----;~~

Pecheneg type were found: snaffles with unjointed mouthpieces, round stirrups, open-work leaf-shaped pendants, fiveringed discs, and scissors. Anthropometric studies of the skulls from this group showed that short-headed Europids of the scr called Pamir type, originating from the Kazakh steppe in West Siberia predominated. The presence of members of the Pecheneg nation among the nomads who lived and died here in the service of first the Khazars and later the Russians may, therefore, reasonably be inferred. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that this was a military garrison of mixed ethnic background whose cemetery does not allow us to characterize any cultural aspects specific to the Pechenegs. The bronze and precious-metal accoutrements yielded by the cemetery are commercial items of diverse origins=-Khazar, Alanic, Khwarizmian, VolgaBulgar, andRussian.

Our information about Pecheneg social organization is, at present, extremely sketchy. We may suspect that the noblemen buried along with decorated horse-trappings (Gayevka, SarailiKiyat) include the chieftains of the tribes and the clan subgroups. Most of our archaeological data relate to the permanent military retinues, whose number at the time they were still in their ancestral homeland of West Siberia was put at 5,000 warriors by a Uigur envoy's report that has survived in a manuscript from Tun Huang (A.D. 750-850). By the tenth century, the Pechenegs, having moved to geographically and economically more favourable surroundings, no doubt considerably augmented this force, though we have no way of knowing its size relative to the population that was engaged in productive work. Taking other nomadic societies as our model, we would include among the latter the non-conscripted herdsmen who formed the middle class of freemen, the servant class, and the prisoner-slaves, among them the foreign craftsmen engaged at the chiefs' headquarters and the inhabitants of the agricultural settlements of subject Slavs, Alans, etc.

At the end of the tenth century and beginning of the eleventh century major shifts in power took place in Eastern Europe. The Khazar Empire succumbed to the onslaughts of the Russians and the Ghuzz, whilst Kievan Russia under Grand Prince Svyatoslav (961-972) and Prince Vladimir I (980-1017), by its unification of the East Slavs, developed into a great power. The Bulgarian Empire fell victim to the expansionism of the Byzantines, who, from the lands lying south of the Danube as far as


eastern Bulgaria, on the opposite bank to the Pechenegs, created the frontier province (theme) of Paris trion. Around the tum of the millennium the Magyars and the Poles founded new states, bringing their nations into the fold of western Christianity. Among the Pechenegs, entrenched in their nomad economy, conditions were not favourable for the formation of a state; their relations with Svyatoslav and the events of 1048-49 demonstrate the complete decentralization of their tribal federation.

When the new migratory wave of nomadic peoples arrived in Europe in the middle of the eleventh century, the Pechenegs were unable to check the pressure that was being exerted on them from the East by the Ghuzz. There was no longer any possibility for the people as a whole to migrate any further and so they were gradually engulfed by the ring of strengthening states of the surrounding sedentary peoples. From 1048 onwards a stream ofPechenegs moved continually into Byzantine territory, most of whom were settled in Paristrion as frontier guards. Rebellions by these military colonists, orJoederati) of the frontier provinces and raids by their Pecbeneg kinsmen who kept appearing in the north of the Empire to join them were the source of decades of trouble to Byzantium, which did not succeed in dealing a decisive blow against them until 1091 at Mount Levunion, near the mouth of the Maritsa river, where a Pecheneg army was almost obliterated with the assistance of the Cumans. The remnants of the Pechenegs, now forced back to the western perimeter of the steppe, mounted their last attack

16 Helmet with tendril and palmette embellishments from

a nomad nobleman's grave in the River Ros region (12th century)


on Byzantium in 1122 but were finally defeated by Emperor John n Comnenus. (It was in memory of this victory that the so-called "Pecheneg feast" was instituted in Constantinople.) The defeated Pechenegs were then re-settled by the Byzantine government in the Sofia-NiS-Skopje region and other parts of the Balkans.

At the end of the eleventh and the early part of the twelfth century. the Russian Principalities began to colonize the River Ros region, south of Kiev, with elements of various nomad peoples as frontier guards, including Pechenegs, Ghuzz, Berends and other ethnic fragments which had been driven ofT the steppe under pressure from the Cumans. Pecheneg traditions are striking in the twelfth-century archaeological relics of this population, who were called Chernye Klobuki ('Black Caps') by the Russians.


The Pechenegs in Hungary



A contemporary traveller in tenth-century Hungary would have been able to observe numerous ethnic groups of Oriental origin. Even before the Magyars entered the country, they had been joined by dissident tribes of Kavars (the word kabar itself means 'rebel') who had broken away from the Khazar Empire and were organized by the Magyars into a single horde functioning as military auxiliaries under their central command. The composition of this force reflected the diverse ethnic picture of the Khazar Empire, including as it did Alms, Volga Bulgars, Khwarizmians, and, in smaller numbers, the Khazars, themselves ofTurkic stock. Our information indicates that the most clearly definable ethnic element among the Kavar tribes was undoubtedly formed by the Khwarizrnians, who were usually known in Hungary under the name kdliz. There were also groups of Mohammedan Alms, Volga Bulgars, and ktiliz who entered the country at later dates (for instance, Khwariz-

J mian traders may have settled in Hungary at the same time as the Pechenegs).

The Khwarizmians fulfilled an important role in the economic life of the Khazar Khaganate and, indeed, even supplied men for the bodyguard of the khagan himself It is therefore no surprise, given these antecedents, that in Hungary, too, the

Jealiz had a special line of duties, providing the country's royal minters from the. eleventh century onwards. Their traders settled at the major crossroads. near market-towns, and in centres of international commerce. With their unrivalled business skills and the wide knowledge of the world gained through their travels, they were eagerly sought by Hungary's rulers for employment in the service of the young state. In this way, and despite their profession ofIslam, the ktiliz were fairly well treated by the Christian state, becoming the administrators of the king's revenues, officials in his treasury and salt "chamber" or exchange. Along with these functions, they also had an important military role as we know that in the twelfth century the ktiliz were in the frontier guard and fought in the king's army. It was thanks to their prominent economic role and the great cohesive strength of the Mohammedan religion that they were able to maintain their ethnic identity for several centuries, whereas the majority of the Kavars had already been assimilated into Ma-


17 Encampment territories granted to the Pechenegs in Arpridian Hungary

1) Groups oj settlements authentiatted by documentary evidence and place-names oj Pe(heneg origin

2) Archaeologicalfinds attributable to the Pechenegs J) Pe,heneg dan (entre



v o



.- • .1 __ .-


~ I


gyardom, both linguistically and culturally, by the end of the tenth century.

The evolution of the Hungarian state and the integration of Hungarian society into Christian Europe were accompanied by changes in the organization of the army. In line with new tactical requirements, Prince Geza (972-997) and King Stephen I (997-1038) transformed what had been a nomadic-style army into a fighting force of the Western type, the nucleus of which was a small but well-equipped armoured cavalry under the command of Western knights. During the era of the Arpad dynasty, the bulk of the army was made up of a transitional type of cavalry, equipped with light armour, close-combat weapons, and bow and arrows. _Nevertheless., the .'OW1~·s [t!l~P~. t.!i~?_~o. X:~~-~. :w:eU:~.t~ .. featur~ .. Qf nomadic

. army organization, ba~e.Qrdel'and.tactics,so_t@tID.~ Hunga. rian army still kept asm. advance guarda corps of light cavalry that. fought in . the nomadic style, which. continued to be

___ .. _.~ recruited from military-colonist .peoples. At the time of the

---occupation of Hungary it was the Magyars' Kavar confederates who had supplied this advance guard; however, by the time of the foundation of the Hungarian state most of the Kavan, along with the military servicemen from other hordes, were dispersed in smaller contingents to points of strategic importance in order to secure the ruling dynasty's authority. This did not mean that the light cavalry was left without a social basis because during the reorganization it was built up around the Szeklers, who mainly carried out frontier-guard duties, and the more recently arrived Pechenegs, The Szeklers, who were among the Magyars' allied subjects during the conquest of Hungary and who continued to live in large groups, even after the various reorganizations and re-settlements, had an officer corps placed in command of them in the eleventh century. One of the dans that supplied such officers was of Pecheneg origin (ramus Bessenijew). The obligation that was placed on the Szeklers to provide the royal army at times of war with both an advance and a rear guard remained up to the end of the Middle Ages.

J I The Pecheneg and Szekler vanguard of the Hungarian army is first recorded in A.D. 1116. In 1146 they successfully

~ employed the strata~em of a feigned flight against the Germans at a battle on the River Leitha-a manceuvre which was evi-

dently incomprehensible to its later chronicler:


The wicked Pechenegs (Bisseni pessimi) and contemptible Szeklers (Siculi viUssimi) all suddenly began to flee, like sheep before wolves, for, as was customary, it was they who proceeded at the front of the Hungarian battle-array.

(Chronicon Pictum [illuminated Chronicle], 14th century)

It seems possible that this force received replacements from the Pechenegs' own lands on a number of occasions up to the beginning of the thirteenth century, as the Magyar tradition also speaks of more than one influx ofPechenegs. Bishop Hartvig's Legend of St. Stephen recalls a group of Pechenegs that arrived in Pannonia from the direction of Bulgaria "on carts laden with much gold and silver and many kinds of jewellery". This account sets the event of a later, post-l050 influx back into the reign of King Stephen, but it is still conceivable that smaller contingents ofPechenegs had already started to appear in HWlgary between 1027 and 1036 as in that period they were carrying out regular marauding expeditions south of the lower Danube. Small, breakaway groups may have reached Hungary at the end of the 1040s as a result of inter-tribal strife among the Pechenegs and then the Pecheneg-Byzantine war. However, the biggest wave of immigrations can be dated to after 1055, when the Pechenegs were displaced from the steppes east of the Dnieper due to the breakthrough made by the Ghuzz. In subsequent decades great Pecheneg pressure was exerted especially on the Danubian frontier of the Byzantine Empire, this being increased still further when the Ghuzz appeared on the western fringes of the steppe. Mter a short period ofGhuzz mastery, the entire East European steppe came under Cuman suzerainty in !1:te 1070s, though remnants of Pecheneg hordes survived for much longer in Moldavia.

The autonomy of the Pechenegs on the lower Danube was effectively brought to an end by their defeat at the hands of a combined Byzantine-Cumanian army inJ991. With the loss of their grazing land, the dispersion of Pecheneg groups towards the Russian Principalities, Hungary and the Balkans also drew to a close around this date. Thus the Pechenegs who inyaded Byzantigm _m_ .1122._were a1ready~lW-~ .. C~an suzerainty and, after suffering an~l:lJ.~ sev~!:.e_9~f~at,~ g~~~f them sought -refuge~mHiii1gai-y ~~ the court Q[KiQg S1~pll_~JI. (1_1 ~6-1131t· The-king- tried -"to make use of his Pecheneg followers in order to consolidate his hold on the country but


the effect was rather to provoke unrest among the Hungarian nobility.

The presence of the Pechenegs in Hungary can be linked to key turning-points in their history and to the sites where they were dispersed. The majority of the Pechenegs who entered the country in the tenth century may well have been active participants in the foundation of the Hungarian state, working for the central power. Giza and Stephen settled them, together with their tribal militias as well as groups of other immigrant peoples, throughout Hungary. Some places where they stayed were given the name Besenyo by the surrounding Magyar populations. This may also be the origin of the toponyms Tolnuicsl Bnem, Csur and Bo], which preserve the names of Pecheneg hordes. The Pecheneg garrisons deployed along the eastern approaches of Hungary's gateway to the West and in Transylvania may be regarded as among the early areas of settlement outside the Tisza region, though it should be noted-in contrast to the fairly prevalent, but inadequately documented view-that only a small fraction of the Pechenegs were assigned to frontier defence.

More or less continuous chains ofPecheneg settlements grew up in the following areas: on the lower Raba river and besides its tributary, the Marcal (Gyor and Veszprem Counties); along the River S:irvlz (Fej6r and Tolna Counties) and probably also the adjacent Danubian marshlands of the Sark6z (Tolna and Bodrog Counties); the middle course of the River Tisza and the BUkk. foothills (Heves and Borsod Counties); the marshlands of the Sarret around the River Koros (Bek6; County); and along the River Harangod, south of the Maros river-mouth (Csansd County). These marshy areas, criss-crossed. by waterways, were of little agricultural value but proved suitable for settlement by the Pechenegs, with their reliance on rearing livestock. The longevity of their settlements is shown by the adoption of words from their own language to name the rivers, lakes, hills and other topographical features of their districts, for instance, Csamul (lamur)} 'muddy, marshy place' (1231: Sar qui vocatur GhamuQ; &lkdny (balqan) 'swampy place'; Tokaj 'river-bend, or forest at a river-bend'; TOpel Tebe 'hill-top, mound'; Bogiir 'hummock, hump'; Gsat (lat) 'spring, well', etc. Pecheneg place-names are also found in many other places, scattered throughout Hungary, outside the areas listed above.

The various groups of settlements were presumably the prod-


uct of several waves of immigration but. for the time being, it is not possible to establish the chronology of their foundation. The first records that we have for most of the settlements are documents from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; until then there had been less necessity to put the Pechenegs' legal affairs down in writing due to their autonomy and the slow pace at which they were feudalized. The Pechenegs, in retum for living on crown lands and enjoying a collective freedom (libertas Bissenorum), were obliged to render military service to the king and came under the direct authority ofhis chief minister, the Palatine (nador).

Their social organization, like that of the Szeklers, still mirrored eleventh-century conditions. They had their own leaders (comes) who had command of a warrior class [miles}, similar to the Hungarian soldiery of jobbtigy serfs, and also the Pecheneg commoner-freemen. In contrast to the Szeklers, they did not have an officer class of foreigners placed above them. From the beginning of the thirteenth century. members of the Pecheneg military class strove to gain titles of nobility and private property; whilst some succeeded, many of the freemen sank to the level of the serf class. We know that during the fourteenth century Pechenegs with a special legal status, u ••• having the duty to bear arms according to ancient custom" (fr ... byssenorum antiquo more exerdtuare debenciumll) lived south of the River Maros, in Csanad County. It was here that they preserved their privileges longest. On the basis of a document issued by King Louis I in 1369 and re-affirmed by King Sigismund, WladisJaw II and others on numerous occasions up unti11495. we know- that the Pecheneg noblemen ofBeseny5 village were excused from the payment of tithes, their properties were protected by the king, and their affairs were settled. directly by the royal judiciary. In 1347, for instance, Gregorius Besseny5, who had settled with his clansmen on hereditary lands in &Jer County and was lord (comesl in Hungarian ispan) of all the Pechenegs, was removed by the king from the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, especiaIlythose ofLipt6 County.

Though we lack reliable information regarding the strength of the Pecheneg light cavalry, we can attempt to estimate this from the size of the Szekler forces. A regular Szekler community would be divided into 6 clans and 24 lineages, with each lineage under obligation to supply 100 horsemen. On top of this was the militia contributed by the commoner-freemen.


18 SnaJfle with rigid, curved mouth-bitfor ajoal. Bajcs (Ba}l, Czechoslovakia)

19 [ron mace with Jour spikes from Szorlnyvar (Tumu Severin, Rumania) in the Magyar-Byzantine-Pecheneg frontierregion cifthe lower Dan ube.

This is a more advanced, 12thcentury version of the Pecheneg type

Judging from the relative sizes of the settlement areas occupied by the two peoples, the Pechenegs were a significantly smaller population and, at most, can have sent only a few thousand horsemen to war, even if allowance is made for an initially higher contribution of simple herdsman-soldiers. Nevertheless, in relation to their slight population-base, this military force was of major importance, most notably in the twelfth century, and it is to this that they owed the perpetuation of their privileged status.

Contemporary sources tell us nothing about the equipment used by the Pechenegs, and the few archaeological finds merely provide evidence that Oriental costume and weaponry reappeared with them in the Carpathian Basin. A Pecheneg-style snaffle with curved mouth-piece was discovered at the site of a tenth-century settlement in the village of Bajcs-Farkasd, Komarom County (now Bajc-Vlkanovo, Czechoslovakia) on the left bank of the River Zsitva (Zl.tva, Czechoslovakia). A few kilometres from there lies Zsitvabeseny6 (now Besenov, Czechoslovakia), a village ofPecheneg court officials for which we have documentary references from 1209 and 1214. The graves of Pecheneg noblemen buried in the heathen manner were discovered at the farmstead ofTin6d, Fejer County, at the end of the last century; the grave-goods included a bridle-bit, a stirrup and two sabres.

The use of nomad-style soft-soled boots may be deduced from the narrow, rounded stirrup, similar examples of which have been unearthed elsewhere along the sarvrz (KolesdItat6hegy). A stirrup of the same type from the thirteenth or fourteenth century was also among the medieval artefacts unearthed at Csabrendek:, in the vicinity of a group of former

. Pecheneg settlements around the Marcal river. It may be conjectured that it was the Pechenegs themselves who introduced the Magyar peasantry to this form of stirrup.

The sight of the silver-inlaid snaffle from Tined, with its finely damascened cheek-pieces unusual even for the bridle-bits favoured by Magyar noblemen of the Conquest period, evokes Gardezi's lines about the splendour of the Pecheneg dignitaries. The design of the cheek-pieces and the way that the components of the bit are joined put this among the later types than the Magyar specimens that were in use up to the end of the tenth century.

The sabre was a weapon of the elite troops of nomad armies


and could only be taken by nobJemen to the other world. The hilt and cross-guard of one of the Tin6d sabres are decorated with bronze inlays. The shape of the sword reflects developments in steppe weaponry during the eleventh century: the more widespread use of helmets and armour and greater emphasis on close combat led to a lengthening, greater curvature and increased weight of the sabre. Several other swords that have been unearthed in Hungary belong to this same developmental stage, but unfortunately their exact provenance is not known.

The star-shaped bronze or iron mace, which originated in Central Asia, appeared on the steppe in the Pecheneg era and was the main close-combat weapon of the common soldier, soon becoming wide-spread in East Europe, above all in the light and transitional types of cavalry. The Hungarian word for mace, buzogany, is a Kipchak-Turkic loan-word (buzgan 'crusher, destroyer') and thus might equally have come from either the Pecheneg or Cumanian dialect. From research by Laszlo Kovacs. however, we know that the implement was present in Hungary before the Cumans, and thus it was rather Pecheneg warriors who were responsible for its dissemination. It seems that steppe peoples of the period seldom placed this weapon in the grave with the body. Most of the quite large number of maces which have come to light in Hungary are sporadic finds. Several examples from areas ofPecheneg settlement (Nagykajdacs, Facinkert-Kajrnadi-sziget, Fiizesabony, etc.) are preserved in museums.

A glimpse into the settlement history of the Pechenegs is afforded by investigations that have been conducted in the Sarviz region, where the largest group of setdements was located.

20 Pecheneg $tirrnps (from sketch-book ojGeza Nagy);

a) TinOd, b) Kolesd-Itat6hegy


21 Sabre 1from Tin6d

A total of 34 Pecheneg sites can be documented from written sources. The Sarvlz, which flows into the Danube, cuts across the plain of the Mezof6ld from north to south; its marshy valley, dotted with oak. trees, is flanked on both sides by bluffs of loess beyond which extends a dry plateau-plain. Neither valley nor plain was more densely afforested in historical times. The region was occupied by the Magyars during the Conquest period, around A.D. 900, when it became part of the lands of the ruling clan. Burial grounds for leading clansmen and commoner-freemen. in roughly equal proportion, have been uncovered in large numbers. Most scholars date the arrival of the Pechenegs in the region, which lies near to Szekesfehervar, the seat of the Magyars' princes and subsequendy their kings, to the end of the tenth century. However, some observations on the settlement history indicate a date closer to the middle of the eleventh century. The chain of Pecheneg encampments was interspersed with Magyar villages, and a mixed population is also suggested by theplace-names,

Some of the former Pecheneg villages preserve a KipchakTurkic landowner's personal name (Tooorcsok, Alap, Cece, Vajta. Taba, Kajdacs, etc.), whereas another large group were probably sites of early Magyar settlement and in existence before they came into Pecheneg possession (Ors. Beseny~Sag,

~ Kald, Szered, etc.). This, too, is evidence that the Pechenegs ~ only entered Hungary in large numbers after the Magyar vil, lage-system had been already established. The names for water-

I courses and pathways were taken over from the Magyar population; none of these is of Pecheneg origin. Csaba Csorba has shown that the sites of these small villages from the Arpadian era, most of them only one or two hectares in area, arepacked

together very densely on the ground. From this he has conjectured that. at least in some instances, we are dealing not so much with temporally coexisting settlements but rather with a precess of the shift of villages to new sites after a fairly brief existence. From this we may deduce a semi-sedentary mode of life with an emphasis on animal husbandry, although on domains that were surrounded by Magyars, permanent settlements of Pechenegs had already begun to arise in the twelfth century. By the thirteenth century, when large numbers ofPecheneg settlements are mentioned in our sources, it is likely that their populations had been more or less fully assimilated, also linguistically.



22 Sabre 2 from TiIJ6d. The cross-guard and hilt bear traces of copper overlays


for a while during the eleventh century Hungarians were still able to witness the pagan burial rites of the Pechenegs who had settled amongst them. The deed of foundation for the abbey at Sz1zd, dated 1067, mentions a road leading to the graves of the Pechenegs (ad sepulturas Bissenorum} at the boundary of Szihalom (Borsod County). At the time that this document was drawn up, twenty Hungarian and ten Pecheneg equestrian servants lived on the property in question. Why would a Pecheneg cemetery have been mentioned as a landmark? On the eastern steppes the Pechenegs, like other nomadic peoples in the Middle Ages, had raised tumuli over their graves, or else buried their dead into the sides of an existing kurgan. Thus their cemeteries consisted of clusters of mounds, covering quite extensive areas, that would be visible from a considerable distance. The Turkic word kurgan, meaning burial mound. which is discernible in the toponym Korhany, especially common on the Hungarian Plain (Alf6Id). was transmitted to Hungary via one of the Kipchak- Turkic languages (pecheneg or Cumanian).

Geza Nagy, an outstanding scholar of the tum of this century, perspicaciously recognized that several horse burials. with Oriental weapons and harness, which date from after the period when the Magyars had settled and converted to Christianity could be regarded as relics of the nomads-mainly Pechenegs and Cumans-who entered Hungary in medieval times. Since then there have been many attempts, largely in vain, to identify the archaeological heritage of the Pechenegs. It has not proved possible, as yet, to demonstrate any significant group of finds in the archaeological material of the tenth to twelfth centuries, whether based on cultural aspects (artefact types, burial customs) or on setdement patterns, that is attributable to the Pechenegs.

Certain scholars have speculated that Pecheneg contingents were among the Oriental ethnic groups that entered Hungary together with the Magyars at the end of the ninth century. However, integration of these postulated groups into Magyar society would surely have been complete by the time that mass setdement of the Pechenegs began, so there is no way by which they can be linked with the privileged Pechenegs of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. According to Istvan B6na, a treasuretrove which was buried around the middle of the eleventh century and unearthed in 1902 at Darufalva (Drassburg, Austria) may have belonged to a chieftain's wife from a Pecheneg or


Russian ethnic group that was carrying out frontier-guard duties at Hungary's western gateway. The treasure contains jewellery that was made in the Kievan region and Volhynia at the tum of the tenth and eleventh centuries and thus did not originate from the steppes.

In Hungary, then, there are very few archaeological traces indeed of the Pechenegs' original steppe culture. The relatively small number of settlers provides only a partial explanation for this; a further factor which militated against the survival of more artefacts of their culture was the historical situation. The first Pecheneg groups to arrive settled into an environment that ' was still pagan, but it was as a subject people and as the military retained; of the Hungarian prince; the time soon came, therefore, when they were obliged to accept Christianity along with the Magyar nobility and warrior class. This happened in the Tomaj clan as well. Thonuzoba and his wife still remained pagan but their son, Urcund, was baptized and "he lives with Christ for eternity", as Anonymus recorded. The later settlers arrived during the period when Christianity was becoming finnly rooted in Hungary, when the practice of pagan customs, including the ancient burial rituals, at their camps-interspersed as they were among the Hungarians-was increasingly inopportune. Despite the constant re-affirmation of their privileges, the Pechenegs, like the other early immigrant peoples of the Kingdom of Hungary, quickly set off down the road to assimilation.


Cumans and Iasians

Ahead unto the rising sun, To the right unto the noon-day sun, Behind unto the setting sun, To the north unto the middle of night, Every people looks upon me.

(part of inscription on memorial stele to the Turki, prince Kiil-tegin)

From Central Asia to the Danube Basin

The Armenian chronicler, Matthew of Edessa, makes the following remark for the year A.D. 1050-51:

The Snake-people marched into the land of the Yellowmen, and they smashed and routed them; whereupon the Yellow-men fell upon the Ghuzz and the Pechenegs; and all these peoples, united, irrupted with blood-curdling anger upon the Romans.

This intelligence, encapsulating as it does the events of several decades, admirably brings out the interconnectedness of the movements of nations that took place on the Eurasian steppe during the eleventh century. The Pechenegs who' swooped down upon the "Romans"-that is to say, the Byzantines -were pressurized westwards by the Ghuzz, whose ephemeral rule on the steppe was brought to an end by the "Yellow-men", or Cumans, behind whom yet other, previously unknown peoples were on the ascendancy in the Far East.

Where did these Cumans come from? How did their mighty tribal confederation come into being? For the answers to these questions we must tum to Sharaf al-Zarnan Tahir Marvazi, court physician to the Seljuk sultan, whose treatise The nature of anitnals, written around A.D. 1120, also deals with the races of mankind and with certain nations. He wrote in detail about the great steppe migration that had happened just a few generations earlier:


23 Bastem Europe in the early 13th century:

1) Bastem and sout~em frontiers of the RussIan Principalities in 1055.

2) Location of the Chemye , Klobuki 'Black Cap/federatIOn 3) The central settlement area oj the Cumans and main site of distribution for their stone ancestor figures

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To them [to the Turks] belong the QUn; these came from the land of Qitay, fearing the Qita-khan, They [were] Nestorian Christians, and had migrated from their habitat, being pressed for pastures. Of their numbers [is? or was] Alcinji b. Qochqar the Khwarzmshah, The QUn were followed [or pursued] by a people called the Qiiy) who being numerous and stronger than they were drove them out of these [new] pasture-lands. They then moved on to the territory of the Shari) and the Shari migrated to the land of the Tiirkmiins who in their tum shifted to the eastern parts of the Ghuzz territory. The Ghuzz Turks then moved to the territory of the Bajanak near the shores of the Armenian Sea.

(Taba'r al-hayawan) IX 3. transl. by V. Minorsky)

~ome of Marvazi's information was certainly gained from Akinji ibn Qochqar, who was ofCurnan descent and from 1094 until his death in 1097 governed Khwarizm within the Seljuk Turkic Empire. Another source may have been the account of an ambassador from Qitay (Khitay or Ch'itan) who had visited the Seljuk court almost a century earlier and had been minutely interrogated by Islamic scholars.

It is clear from the quoted passage that the series of movements was set off by the Mongolian-speaking Ch'itans, who founded their empire in North China at the beginning of the tenth century and around 986 conquered the region lying to the north-west of Peking. It was then that the Cumans began the westward trek out of their ancestral homeland in the great eastern bend of the Huang-ho (Yellow) river. In the region of the N an-shan mountains they were joined by another Turkicspeaking nation, the Shari, who were of Indo-European origin (they are the same as the peoples known as the Yellow or White Uighurs and may have received their name with reference to their light hair-colour). They proceeded together around the northern fringes of the Tien-shan mountains and around 1012 passed through the Dzungarian Gate into the territory of the Mohammedan Karluks and Oghuz. In the succeeding years, a strong tribal confederation was formed in the region to the north-west of the Syr-Darya river, the Cumans and Shari being joined by a third ethnic group, the Kipchaks of West Siberia.

In the tenth century the Kipchak: tribes had inhabited the grassy steppe between the ToboI and Ishim rivers as part of the


Kirnik State that spread westwards from the Altai mountains. The Cuman-Shari-Kipchak federation soon extended its authority to the European side of the Urals, then around 1050 it pushed the Ghuzz still further westwards. In 1054, following the Ghuzz, the Cumans, too, made their first appearance on the southern frontier of the Russian Principalities. Seven years later they turned up again, though Prince Vsevolod of Pereiaslavl managed to conclude a peace treaty with them. The military might of the Ghuzz was sapped by an abortive campaign in the Balkans, which finally left the way open to the Cumans. In 1068 they overcame three Russian princes and during the next few years took over the entire region from west of the Dnieper to the lower Danube.

Arabic and Persian writers named the enormous territory that the Cumans now held under their sway the Kipchak Desert. This control extended as far as the West Siberian steppes, which were inhabited by related Turkic-speaking tribes. It seems likely that there was a rapid linguistic and cultural equalization among the populations of diverse origins. The Cumans' dialect is known to have been Kipchak-Turkish, presumably due to the numerical superiority ofKipchak tribes within the federation. However, the federation was most often referred to by the collective name of the Cuman-Shari hordes -kuman, meaning 'light yellow, pallid', or its equivalents in various foreign languages (Byzantine Komanoi, Kumanoi; Latin Cumanl, Comani; Russian Polovec [polovtsy]; German Falben; Armenian Khardes, etc.). The Hungarian language has preserved the name of the ethnic group that originally set out from the Far East: kun (Latin Cum). Gyula Nemeth derives both this and the name kutnan, or koman) from the root qu-'pale', which can be found in eastern Turkic languages.

We do not know the names and dispositions of all the Cuman-Kipchak tribes that settled on the grassy steppe to the north of the Black Sea. The sites of some of the tribal centres can be determined from information provided by the Russian chronicles, and by comparing these with the distribution of archaeological finds, a rough picture of the areas of settlement emerges. At the end of the eleventh century and the beginning of the twelfth century. political leadership was in the hands of the tribes living to the west of the Dnieper. Written sources mention the names of a number of Cuman chieftains, amongst whom Bonek (or Boniak) Khan was the most significant per-


24 Statue of a Cuman noblewoman

sonality. It was he who, together with Tugorkan, in 10911ed the army which gave the Byzantines assistance against the Pechenegs and of which a part, after the victory at Mount Levunion, turned towards Hungary, laying waste Transylvania and the Tisza region. King (St.) Ladislas routed them near Temesvar (now Timisoara, Rumania) and again, at the lower Danube, triumphed over the fresh Cuman force that was thrown against Hungary in retaliation. In 1099, still with Bonek at its head, a Cumanian army appeared at Przemysl on the invitation of the Russians and, by the successful application of nomadic tactics, managed to ambush and annihilate a Hungarian force commanded by King Coloman Beauclerc. The military activities of the western Cumans during this period were of great importance, their marauding expeditions into the territories of Byzantium, Hungary, Russia and Poland causing considerable disturbance.

Breakaway attempts by individual tribes and the growth of the tribal chieftains' power at the expense of their Khan explain why, during the first half of the twelfth century, the Cuman federation split into western and eastern branches between which the Russian Principalities succeeded in driving a wedge at the line of the Dnieper. The territories referred to as 'White' and 'Black' Cumania by the Arabic geographer Idris in the middle of the twelfth century can probably be identified with these two tribal groupings.

The eastern Cumanian federation had a much larger territory for itself, and the evidence of archaeological finds also suggests that it was the more densely populated by Cumans. Groups of settlements have been identified by the lower reaches of the Dnieper, on the northern shore of the Sea of Azov, in the Donets Basin, by the lower Don, and in the region of the River Kuban. In the south, the steppes of the Crimean peninsula and the rich trading ports of the Black Sea that had formerly been under Byzantine suzerainty fell to Cuman domination. Towards the north, in the Volga region, Cumanian domains stretched as far as the lands of the Burtas and Volga Bulgaria. Their khans, residing at a site on the left bank of the Donets that was well protected against Russian attack. sought to increase their wealth not just by plundering raids but also by systematic collection of tributes from the cities and sedentary peoples that had come under their sway, by supervising the trade that passed along the steppe routes-with guarantees of freedom of move-


ment for merchants even in times of war-and by employing a large body of craftsmen at their headquarters. Both the contemporary written sources and the archaeological evidence point to huge differences in the distribution of wealth and sharp social divisions. The power of the tribal and clan aristocracies was backed by retinues of the warrior-class, called nogers or ne"kiirs by the Cumans, members of which also turned up as mercenaries in foreign lands, including the courts of Georgia, Serbia. Bulgaria and, later on, Hungary itself

By the end of the twelfth century, when Konchek Khan, at the head of the eastern tribes, re-united the two branches, Cuman society seemed ripe for the creation of a central authority. K6nchek broke with the principle of succession by seniority (after his death the khanate passed to his son) and strove to reinforce his dynastic position, among other ways, by matrimonial ties with the Russian Principalities. As subsequent events showed, however, Konchek and his successors did not take the decisive step towards a state organization since they did nothing to break the power of the tribal and clan chieftains or eliminate the tribal structure and thus were never able to concentrate sufficient military strength with which they might establish a system of personal vassalage. The continued independent development of Cumanian society was, moreover, interrupted by the Mongol invasion; thus, not only did a state organization fail to emerge. but the very survival of the Cumanian nation hung in the balance for several decades.

After his victorious campaign in northern China, Genghis Khan turned westwards. His attack began in 1219 and within the space of a few years he had overrun the vast Khwarizmian Empire that had united the Islamic world and thereby brought the high civilizations of Central Asia under his control. Although the conquest was brought to a temporary halt at the Caspian Sea, Mongol horsemen soon made their appearance on the steppes of the Black Sea region. At the end ofhis campaign in Turkestan, Genghis dispatched his two most trusted warlords, Jebe and Siibedei, to reconnoitre the Cumans' lands. A Mongol army of about two tiimms (approximately 20,000 men) crossed the Caucasus. With neither the Georgians, nor the Cherkes (Circassians), nor the Cumans' allies, the Alans, managing to obstruct them, they annihilated the .lar~er C~an force that was ranged against them. Thus wmrung possessIOn of the lands of the eastern Cumanian tribes, the Mongols pro-

25 Statue of a Cuman nobleman TIle drawing shows a leather cuirass worn over a caftan and buckled atthe sh au lders; the metal breast-plate gave additiotJiJl protection

. 45

26 Ear-rings of12th and 13thcentury steppe costume

27 Bronze CI1uldron with suspending chain

of a massive army into Europe. 'The ranks of these troops were swelled even further by formations of slaves who were captured in the course of the campaign. Having obtained the submission of Volga Bulgaria and Bashkiria ('Magna Hungaria'), , homeland of the eastern Magyar tribes, Batu and Siibedei began 1 their great campaign in the West in 1237. After taking and sack- i ing a chain of Russian cities (Ryazan, Moscow, Vladimir, Suzdal, Yaroslavl, etc.) before swinging southwards, in 1238 they, once more advanced against the Cumans. I

On this occasion Katen Khan was no longer able to raise an adequate army as the steppe inhabitants had fled en masse to the West, and so, without even any pretence at serious resistance, he and his kindred sought asylum in Hungary from King Bela IV. Katen offered to embrace the Catholic faith but the Hungarian king vouchsafed their freedom and, after terms had been agreed between their envoys, the Cumans entered Hungary through the Radna Pass at Easter 1239. The welcoming ceremony that was befitting to such a prince was described by Rogerius, Canon of'Nagyvarad in Transylvania (now Oradea;' Rumania), an eye-witness and chronicler of the Mongol invasion of Hungary, as follows:

28 Sdssors,partojawoman's accessories

29 Bronze mirror

On the evidence of the stone .fUnerary statues J Cuman women CI1rried objects like this suspended from their belt



ceeded to sack the town of Saksin on the Volga and the wealthy Genoese trading post ofSudak. (Soldaia) on the Crimean peninsula. With his people now driven back into the Dnieper region, Koren Khan put together a new Cuman army and, through the mediation of his son-in-law, Prince Mstislav ofGalich, entered into an alliance with the Russian Principalities. The decisive encounter took place on the 16thJune 1223 at the River Kalka, near the Sea of Azov. Due to the absence of tactical co-ordination, the badly disordered Russian anti Cuman troops suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the iron-disciplined Mongol army. The Mongols did not immediately follow up this operation, which was exploratory and preparatory in nature, by subjugation of the Cumans but instead withdrew to their headquarters in Central Asia. After they had departed, according to the Arab chronicler Ibn al-Athir, those inhabitants who were still alive returned to their lands and it was not long before pelts from the fox, grey squirrel and beaver were again reaching the centres of commerce in the Crimea to be bartered for textiles and clothing brought by sea from the Islamic world.

The Mongols, of course, had not the slightest intention of abandoning their conquests. In 1229, after the death of Genghis, an army that was again led by Siibedei reappeared with the aim of bringing the Cumans, Volga Bulgars and other Westem peoples under their yoke. The Mongols inflicted a defeat on the Cumans who were mobilized against them at the River Ural (Yaik), but Koten Khan triumphed over them near the Black:

Sea, forcing them to retreat to behind the Ural river, the then frontier of the Mongolian Empire. The new great Khan, Ogedei, nominated Batu, one of Gengbis Khan's grandsons, as lord of the western parts of the Empire and sent him at the head

The king set out in truly marvellous pomp to the very . frontier ofhis country to meet him [Koren] and bestowed upon him and his people so many privileges and honours that the country's inhabitants could not recall the like being done or seen within living memory. Then, since they [the Cumans] could not stay in comfort at that place because of their great multitude, and because their people were hard and crude and did not know subordination, so that they should not offend the Hungarians, nor they themselves take offence from them, he [King Bela IV] nominated one ofhis ()wn 1~4<:~ to ~~~~!-!1jnto _tb.5=' c.entre ofhis country ...



(Rogerius: Carmen Miserabile)

Flight was, indeed, the only realistic option available to Koren Khan. Since the battle of the River Kalka, the Mongols already regarded Cumania as their rightful possession and the Cumans as their subjects. After a decade and a half of combatting the aggressors, the Cumanian chieftain's fate would have been hopeless even if he had surrendered. The Mongols were invari-


30 Arrow-heads and stirrup from a Cuman grave in the Don region (Ostrogozhsk)

ably merciless in exacting retribution for opposition against them and would pursue rulers to the bitter end, using any means to capture them, to prevent their person serving as a focus for resurgence of resistance by a subjugated people. Mongol intentions towards Katen would have been no different, for only a part of the Cuman population had fled with him. Those inhabitants who had remained and survived the devastation would have been numerous enough that, when combined with the other Kipchak-speaking elements of the Golden Horde. the new state that the Mongols had formed from the territories of West Siberia and Eastern Europe, they would soon have gained ascendancy over other ethnic groups, including the thinly spread stratum of the conquerors themselves.

Links between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Cumans had already become closer as a result of the Mongol attack. in 1223. It was in this period that friars of the Dominican Order commenced an evangelizing mission on Cuman soil. After initial set-backs and persecution by the heathens. they made a great breakthrough when, in 1227, Bortz (borl'debt'), Khan of the Cumans who lived to the west of the Dnieper, decided to have himself and his people baptized and to give allegiance to the Hungarian king. In all probability what happened is that one of the Cuman tribes broke away from the crumbling confederation under the Mongol threat. R6bert, Archbishop of Esztergorn, personally performed the mass baptism in Moldavia ~ne source having it that he thereby won 15,000 souls for the Christian faith-with King Andrew II (120~1235) being represented at the ceremony by his eldest son, Duke Bela, who, as rex junior, or 'Younger King', was the governor of Hungary's eastern territories and the newly ceded part of Cumania. Not long after this, rex Cumaniae was added to the list of other titles of the Hungarian crown. The Hungarian Church, too, enlarged its jurisdiction with the formation, in 1229, of the new bishopric of Cumania covering the trans-Carpathian territory between the Olt, the Danube and the Sereth. Its seat was at Milk6, beside the river of the same name that flows into the Sereth. From a letter sent by Batu Khan to Beta N, we know that the Mongols were aware of these events, and for them the very fact that the Hungarian king had placed these Cumans under his protection was sufficient pretext to attack. Hungary; his harbouring of Katen's people served merely to increase still further their desire


31 Fleeinggroup ofCumans. The womenfolk are being carried in a waggon covered with a felt canopy or tent

32 Frontsaddle-bow with palmette cut-out and carved bone decorations of interlaced ribbons and 'dot-and-circle' designs, and

a strip from the edge of the rear saddle-bow, also with 'dot-andcircle' motif (12th or 13th-century grave in the River Rosregion)

A reconstruction based on the survi vingJragments would suggest that the saddle had a hi'gh, straight, front bow like those of the Khitayan-Mongol type


for revenge. The Cumans, with their nomadic way of life, were not able to accommodate to the conventions of feudal Hungary from one day to the next; inevitably, conflicts between Hungarians and Cumans were commonplace:

But when the king of the Cumans, with his nobles and commoners, began to roam about Hungary, since they had innumerable herds of cattle, caused serious damage to the pastures, sown lands, gardens, orchards, vineyards and other property of the Hungarians.

(Rogerius: Carmen Miserabile)

Already by the first half of the thirteenth century a dense network of villages had developed within Hungary and the interior of the country no longer contained any single stretch of uninhabited but usable land, where room might have been found for the Cumans en bloc. A Great Council, or general assembly of Hungary's dignitaries, that was convoked at K6monostor. in Szerem County, therefore decided that, in order to bring an end to the complaints, the Cumans should be dispersed to various parts of the country, Nothing is known about the pattern of this dispersal of settlements except that the Khan's own clan received properties in Pest County, close to the royal court. Bela IV (123~ 1270) saw the Cumans as military allies to strengthen his central authority and bestowed on

r, ,

U Russian-style helmet and leaf,Iulped arrow-tipsfrom a Cuman grave in Molda via

them the privileges and respect that were proper to guests so that they would become an armed support loyal to the crown. The Hungarian aristocracy, whose own rights had recently been curtailed, looked on jealously at the growth of Cumanian influence--ea situation that was to have catastrophic consequences.

In March 1241, the Mongols, having taken Galich, were poised at the gateway to Hungary. The main body of their army, led by Batu and Siibedei, tore down the frontier barriers at the Verecke Pass, obliterating the Palatine's forces that were garrisoned there, and poured into the country. Whilst the Icing conferred day and night with his councillors to seek methods of defence, the public mood swung sharply against the Cumans, whose presence in the country was viewed as the source of all their troubles. The Cumans had earlier been suspected of entering into a secret alliance with the Russians to destroy Hungary; now they were seen as spies since the scout patrols that the


Mongols had sent ahead as far as the city of Pest were said to include Cumans in their ranks.

In response to this suspicion, King Bela was compelled to bring Koten and his family under the protection of his court, housing him at one of the royal palaces in Pest, where he himself was quartered together with his assembled army. In an atmosphere that was by now strained to fever pitch, a group of Hungarian and German soldiers, probably instigated by Duke Frederick Babenberg of Austria, mounted an assault on the palace and massacred the Cuman royal guests, who were left haplessly to defend themselves with bows and arrows since Bela could not send them assistance in time.

On hearing this news, the Cumans who had been called to arms against the Mongols, held a council and decided to leave Hungary. They rode out southwards, through the Danube- Tisza Interfluve, ravaging the countryside that fell in their path and exacting cruel revenge on the Hungarians for the murder of their chieftain. The Hungarian kingdom thereby lost, at the worst possible moment, a major portion of its light cavalry forces.

The Hungarian army was almost completely annihilated by the Mongols on 12 April 1241 near the village of Muhi on the River Saj6; the king himself managed to escape only with the greatest difficulty. Eastern Hungary fell to the Mongol invasion. On 1 February 1242 the Mongols crossed over the

34 Miniature from the Chronicon Picturn [nluminated Chronicle 1 showing a aT arlM" warriorin Cumanian attire


frozen Danube to set about the destruction of the country's western part, whilst a rumen was sent off to Dalmatia in pursuit of Bela. Hungary was only saved from total devastation because the Mongol forces, on hearing news of the death of their Great Khan, Ogedei, turned back and abandoned the country, so that Batu Khan and the dukes who were taking part in the campaign could travel to Karakorum to be present at the election of the new supreme Khan.

In the years that followed, Bela IV's policies were dictated principally by the need to bolster his country's defensive capabilities in the face of an expected resumption of the Mongol attack. He embarked on an extensive programme of castlebuilding and initiated a whole series of measures to assist both baronial and ecclesiastica11andowners to construct stone fortresses that would withstand the Mongols. He pushed ahead

J--4 with the fortification of towns and also settlements that were situated in well-protected places. The army was re-organized and decrees were issued to increase the proportion of soldiers equipped with modem armour. The barons were also given more latitude to build up their private garrisons. Defence of the southern marches along the Danube was entrusted to the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem. Closer links were forged with the Russian Principalities; under an alliance with Galich a courier service was instituted to ensure that timely warning of Mongol military preparations would be received.

In order to augment his own forces, Bela in 1246 made a renewed appeal to the Cumans who, since leaving Hungary, had been encamped somewhere on the lower Danubian plain in Bulgaria. Events in that country may have been a further factor influencing the Cumans to return, for their position in Bulgaria had become uncertain in the confusion that followed the death of Tsar Coloman Asen I (1241-1246), who had been paying annual tribute to the Mongols and was murdered by his conspiring borars.

In 1247 Bela IV's ambassadors to the court of the recently elected Mongol Khan returned with the information that Giiyiik. immediately after his accession to the title. had announced a resumption of the campaign against the peoples of the West, though it seems likely that the king had already learnt this alarming news through the couriers from Galich. In order to win the Cumans over to himself and his country's side, Bela

5 arranged a marriage between his eldest son, Stephen V. and the


new Cuman Khan's daughter, who received the name Elizabeth on her baptism:

At this wedding-feast, ten of the Cumans came together and made an oath according to their custom, with their swords on a dog that had been sundered in two, that they would defend the lands of the Magyars as would the king's own supporters against the Tartars and barbarian peoples.

aohn of Plano Carpini:

Itinerarium et Historia Mongolorum I Appendix to Luxemburg MS.)

Cumanian settlement areas in Hungary

Bela IV designated the most desolate flatland areas of Hungary, in the vicinity of the Danube, Tisza, Koros, Maros and Temes rivers, as areas for settlement by the Cumans on their return to the country. Gyorgy Gyorffy has estimated that 50-80 per cent of the villages in this region were totally abandoned during the Mongol invasion, even though in the first half of the thirteenth century it had been as densely populated as other areas in Hun-

6 gary. In the law of 1279 which definitively set out the localities for settlement, based on the de facto situation, the Cumans were permitted to camp on crown properties and lands that had been left vacant by noblemen or castle retainers, but lands with usufructuary rights-those with fishing places or woods-and inhabited villages remained in the possession of the private landowner, whilst any interspersed church lands also had to be respected. The Hungarian state did not intervene in the distribution of these territories, the Cumans being allowed to look after their own internal affairs for a long time. From the beginning they were placed under the Palatine's jurisdiction, though, in accordance with their autonomy, civil law-suits between Cumans were settled before a judge of the defendant's clan. If litigant Cumanian noblemen were unable to reach agreement, they had the right of appeal to the king, who would in tum also have to pass down judgement in the presence of a judge from the defendant's clan.

The social segmentation of the Cumans, whose dan structure was already breaking up by the time of their entry into Hungary, is described in some detail by our written sources. The noble class (principales) were the Cumans' 'masters', which is to say the clan chieftains who represented the tribal aristocracy and who were called beg, or bey, in the Cumanian tongue. It was they who served as the military commanders (capitaneus) and elected judges (iudex) of each clan. This politically active ruling class represented the interests of the Cumanian people in matters relating to their nation's affairs, and it was they who were the earliest to benefit from grants of land outside the clan territories; we also find them as participants in other major historical events of the latter half of the thirteenth century.

The Cumanian duke Zeyhan (Zeyhanus), who is mentioned in 1255 and whose domains may have lain near the Tisza, and


Arbuz (arbus 'water-melon') who, together with the chiefs Turtel (Tiirt-oyul 'Five-sons') and Kemenche (kiinui'nle 'little bow'), is said by the chronicles to have been the murderer of King Ladislas IV in 1290, may have been related to the House of Arpad through the Cuman-born queen, Elizabeth. The Cuman troops that Bela IV sent in 1264 to fight his own son, Duke Stephen, were led by a chieftain by the name of MenTe (miifJ 'birth-mark'). The supreme commander of the Cumans during the 1260s and 12705 was Alpra (Al-bura 'tawny-coloured camel'), who with Uzur took part in the Great Council at Teteny which worked out the provisions of the law of 1279 regarding the settlement of the Cumans. In the preparatory discussions for this, Cuman interests were represented by Uzur and Tolan (tolun 'full moon').

The aristocrats and the more or less wealthy middle nobility (nobiles) enjoyed exactly the same rights as their Hungarian counterparts and were also under the same obligation of knightservice to the king. Collective freedom and liability to military service also applied initially to the middle class of freemen who comprised the greater part of Cuman society (universitaJ Cumanotum), but as feudalism became more firmly established this class slowly sank to the status of villeins and serfs {rurales}. There was also a numerous servant class comprising, among others, those freemen who had lost their livestock and wealth as well as captives--most of them Christians=-who had been taken during Cuman raids and were needed as a workforce for the nomadic pastoral economy or to boost the ranks of serfs able to cultivate the land in the Coman settlement areas. This social structure was similar to that amongst the other two military colonist peoples of the Arpadian era, the Pechenegs and Szeklers, and more archaic than that prevailing elsewhere in thirteenth-century Hungary.

The Cumans' leaders, following ancient Turkic practice, organized their refugee people into seven units called kindreds or clans (generatio, genus) by the Hungarian sources. The settlement area of each of these clans has been determined by Gyorgy Gyorffy in part with the knowledge that among the Cumans, as among other peoples, the dans evolved socially from kinshipbased into territorially-based organizations. Thus, although our sources provide no direct information about where the clans were located and the extent of the areas that were settled by them, we know from fifteenth-century documents about


the sites of the units of public administration, the 5zek "seats" (sedes), that were to emerge 1ater on. By tracing back to the time of the original Cumanian immigration, we can define with some certainty the areas that were settled by four named clans, three of which also figure among the earlier eastern CurnanKipchak tribes that had stayed in the Golden Horde under Mongol rule. .

The Borchol clan, which settled in Ternes County between the Maros and Ternes rivers, was formed from the remnants of a tribe which had originally inhabited the Donets region, where it was known in the Russian chronicles from the eleventh century under the name Burcevili 'pepper-people'. and whose remaining representatives in the East (the Burc..qylu) were among the Kipchak tribes of the Golden Horde. One of the sultans of the Egyptian Marnluks at the end of the thirteenth century was by descent a Cuman of this tribe. An independent administrative unit was not established in the territories granted to this clan because this was one of the localities that was abandoned by the Cumans after the battle ofH6d-t6 (LakeH6d).

The Cherthan clan, whose name means 'pike fish' and who occupied an area on the sandy plateau of the Danube- Tisza Interfluve that was carved out of parts of the Counties of Pest, Fejer, Szolnok, Csongrad and Bodrog, had their counterparts, the Curtan, on a list ofKipchak: tribes in the fourteenth century. Their extensive settlement area in the fifteenth century developed into the seat of Halas (Halas-szek) , having as its centre the originally Magyar-popu1ated market-town of Halas, which already was serving as headquarters for the clan's head (the equivalent of the Hungarian ;span), Konchek, by the midfourteenth century.

The Olas clan (ulal 'achieve, unite'), which settled between the Rivers Tisza and Karas on lands belonging to Heves-Ujvar and Outer Szo1nok Counties, are identifiable with the Ulafwili of the Russian chronicles, splinter groups from which were to tum up in the sixteenth century among the Tiirkmen tribes and in Anatolia. From the middle of the fifteenth century the Olas clan's territory became the seat ofKolbaz, with its centre at Kolbazszanas. We can regard as the immediate forerunner of this seat the network of estates, covering practically the whole of the Greater Cumania district (Nagykunsag), which belonged to the Cumanian noble family of Csunegyhiz and their kindred and which by the end of the fourteenth century also included Kol-


• 3

V' 4 ~~~~_~1~ 0 5

35 CUfMn and las settlement areas in Hungary:

1) The Kingdom oj'Hungary in the middle oj the 13th century

2) Settlement areas ojCuman clans and lasians in the 14th century

3) Cuman and las centres (lseatsl) in the 15th century

4) Buri41s

Cuman: 1 K£gyospuszta, 2 Cs61yos, 3 FelsOszentkiraly, 4 Balotapuszta,

5 Kiskunhalas-Inoka, 6 Kunszentmdrton.

7 Hornok, 8Bankut, 9 Erdotelek. las: 10Jaszdozsa

5) Othermedievalfinds of Oriental origin: 11 Art4nd-Zomlinpuszta, 12 Demecser

bazszallas itself From this collective ownership of properties in many villages and the degrees of relationship involved it seems reasonable to surmise that these estates did not represent recent acquisitions but hereditary domains. belonging to the clan by right, which had been in the hands of this one family for at least three or four generations.

The Koor, or Kool clan (quyur 'few, slight'), which chose for settlement an area south of the Maros river in Csanad County, had no counterpart in the East. Their territory was later to become the seat of Szentelt.

The members of the Cuman "clans" in Hungary were drawn from fragments of the tribal structure that had existed in the East, the memory of which-in the fonn of the tribal names -could well have been maintained by the warrior class. We may guess that genuine blood links within a clan were probably restricted to the aristocratic class, which thus formed "noble clans" rather like those known from other early feudal societies, including the Magyars of the Conquest era and the Mongols in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

The "seat" organization by itself does not provide enough data to identify three further clans that continued in existence. According to the Second Cumanian Law of 1279, the lands between the Rivers Koros and Maros also belonged to the Cumans' settlement area. This region, at the meeting-point of Bekes, Csanad and Zarand Counties, is where we may locate a clan of unknown name which in 1280 sided with the Cuman rebels who, after the severe defeat inflicted on them at the battle of Lake H6d, fled to Wallachia to join their eastern kinsmen under Mongol domination. The Borchol clan also left Hungary at this time and thus in neither region could a "seat" organization develop; subsequently only a few scattered families that stayed behind preserved the memory of the Cumans' presence in these districts.

The Cumans who settled in Fejer County, on lands between the Danube and the River S:irviz which at the beginning of the fifteenth century formed the basis for the independent seat of Hontos, can be regarded as a separate elan. The 16 colonies which made up the seat formed a unitary body of land in this period, but we have no documentary evidence relating to an earlier Cumanian presence in the area. During the fifteenth century there were a number oflaw-suits between related Cuman noblemen Over some of these estates. From their degrees of kin-


ship it can be deduced that division of the lands occurred sometime around the middle of the fourteenth century; in other words, until then the whole territory must have been in the tenure of a single aristocratic family. This clan probably had originally settled between the Danube and the Tisza, since they still retained properties there at a later date, but in the first half of the fourteenth century their settlements were moved further west, to the other bank: of the Danube, which is where the feudal seat organization was to arise.

A number of possibilities have to be considered in determining the seventh Cuman clan. Apart from those already mentioned several other clan-names occur in documents (llun-


chuck, Buthemer, Kumcheg); however, these are not the names of the larger social units of which we are speaking but rather ancestral names that indicate the pedigree of specific Cuman noble families, the ancestors being historical persons. The ispan (comes) Buthemer, for example. was a typical representative of the upwardly mobile, wealthy middle class. In 1343, he declared himself to be of the Ilonchuk (flunchuck 'little snake') clan, emphasizing that this descent had nothing to do with his "official" elan designation; he managed to obtain privileges for his family, extricating himself from the jurisdiction of the Cuman clan chieftains, and already by the generation ofhis great-grandchildren was being cited as the clan (family) ancestor.

The lipan Kumcheg (kiinliik 'trousers'), who in 1347 was head of the Chertan clan, was one of the most powerful Cuman leaders of the period, his family probably being related to the Hungarian crown through Princess Elizabeth, wife of Stephen V. He strove to convert the extensive domains that were under his jurisdiction into a feudallatifundium and thus, understandably, his descendants regarded him as the founder of a new elan. Feudal Iand-owning families such as these cannot, therefore, be the clan that we are seeking.

One area that can be considered a prime candidate for this postulated thirteenth-century Cuman clan of unknown name is the land between the Danube and the Tisza as this was the most extensive of the territories available to the Cumans up to the time of the conquest by the Ottoman Turks. Two small administrative units, the seats of Kecskemet and Mizse, suddenly appeared in the northern part of this region during the fifteenth century. However, after investigating the history of


property-ownership and settlement in these districts, we have had to conclude that these cannot have developed out of the Cumans' clan organization.

There are grounds for supposing that it was the lasians who formed the missing "seventh" Cuman clan. True, we do not know the date of their arrival in Hungary. The sources say nothing about the Iasians until the beginning of the fourteenth century, but thereafter they figure as another pagan immigrant people with the same rank and privileges and the same duty of bearing military service to the king as the Cumans. This has led to. the suggestion that they may have entered the country along WIth ~e Cumans and the Mongol conquest would obviously have displaced the las, too, from their earlier homelands. To explain the long silence- of the Hungarian sources about their existence, it may be supposed that the las immigrants came from a population that was already living under Cuman suzerainty on the Eastern European steppes. Thus they arrived in Hungary as military colonists who were included among the Cumans and for a long time did not merit special treatment with regard to their status in common law. In what follows we shall proceed on this hypothesis whilst acknowledging that, for lack of documentary evidence, the matter of when the las appeared in the country cannot be regarded as closed and the identity of the seventh Cuman clan must likewise remain undecided.

In judging the weight and historical importance to attach to any ethnic group, a knowledge of their population statistics is indispensable. The size of the Curnan group that moved into Hungary in 1239 was recorded by just one contemporary writer=-Rogerius, Canon of N agyvarad, The figure of 40, OCIO families that he supplies, however, is greatly exaggerated and, although use has been made of it in some scholarly works, it must be treated with circumspection. The number of Cumans who returned to Hungary from Bulgaria in 1246, after the Mongol invasion, must be estimated by other means.

With the aid of later documentary material it is possible to reconstruct the limits of the Cuman and las areas of settlement in the early fourteenth century with a fairly high degree of precision: after subtracting the interspersed Hungarian-inhabited domains, this was a territory of approximately 8,500 square kilometres. What size of population, then, would such an area have been able to support under the conditions of the Middle


Ages? It must be borne in mind that the lands granted to the Cumans for settlement were mostly relatively barren dunes, meadows and wet or marshy areas, suitable enough for grazing animals, but indicating that we should assume a population density below the average for the country. The las, by contrast, received land in the Zagyva and Tarna valleys that was much better suited to cultivation. Before the Mongol invasion, the density of population in the Great Plain (Alf'6Id) as a whole certainly reached, and probably exceeded, the country's average of nine persons to the square kilometre. Taking the Cumans and las together, and with due regard to their circumstances, it seems realistic to suggest a lower figure of six to seven persons per square kilometre for their density. Thus we may estimate a population of 50-60,000 for the area in question at the end of the thirteenth century, which, reckoning with an average family size of five, means 10-12,000 families. A similar estimate of the number of permanently settled Cuman and las families can also be derived from a fifteenth-century listing of the sources of royal income. From a demographic point of view, however, we must also take into account that in 1280 the greater part of the two Cuman clans that had inhabited the domains south of the Koros fled the country following their rebellion and defeat at the battle of Lake H6d, whilst those who were captured were stripped of their privileges and reduced to serfs, This loss can reasonably be put at 30 per cent, so that the total number that had originally entered Hungary could have been between 70 and SO, OCIO.

What then would have been the number of families that migrated to Hungary? The war conditions that had led up to this event, the years without a fixed domicile, must have resulted in a demographically atypical population, with a preponderance of fragmented families, so that we should not take as the average family size a figure any higher than four. In my opinion, therefore, we can reckon with about 17-20,000 families, which would include the slave class that was pardy of foreign origin. This calculated figure is far below that given by Rogerius but we are nevertheless still talking about a group of people which was substantial by medieval standards and in the second half of the thirteenth century represented 7-8 per cent of the total population of a Hungary that had recently lost nearly half its inhabitants through the ravages of the Mongol invasion and the subsequent famines and plagues.


36 Cowrie shells from a necklace, shank buttons,Jittger-bands and

a buckle from the graveJind at jaszd6zsa

Iasians: language, origin and settlements

The las ethnic name first appears in Hungarian sources in the year 1318, in the form of the Latin adjectivejazonicf, denoting the clan of a captured slave-girl. A document from 1323 provides the first evidence of the presence of significant numbers of this people in the country. This specifies the names of 18 jazones---evidendy leading representatives of the middle class of the settlers, since they were approaching King Charles Robert, on behalf of themselves, their clan-kindred and confederates, with a request that he remove them from the authority and jurisdiction of "the sons of Keverge and others" and accept them as lasians serving him directly as soldiers. The king, with due regard to their martial skills, granted the request and also permitted the named applicants and their entire clan thenceforth to elect their own leader or judge. It can be inferred from the text of this document that these lasians must have been living in Hungary for some time, serving in the king's standing-army, and that in this instance they were trying to free themselves from the control of their own leaders, the elan aristocracy. The identity of Keverge and his sons who had previously had the right of clan jurisdiction remains obscure, though linguistic studies suggest that the name itselfis of Turkic origin.

A decade later, around 1333-1334, we learn of the first las leader to be known by name: Sandur (Sandrini capitanei jazinorum). We know that his servant (serviens), Paul the Szekler, had lodged a complaint with the ispan of Outer Szolnok County against a Cuman named Stephen. who had stolen some ofhis belongings. A lasian Sandur (Sandur jazonem--jaz Sandur) is also mentioned in documents from 1335, when he was staying with his armed attendant at Visegcid, in the king's entourage.

None of these documents specifies where the lasians to whom they refer resided. There were early las colonies to the north-west of Buda, on the boundaries of Pills and Esztergom counties. In 1325, lasians living around Piliscsaba aazones area Chabam commorantes) were cited in a law-suit against the nuns of Buda Island that was heard before the king. When the bounds of the village of Kesztolc were being surveyed in 1333, it was found that lasians were ploughing the land at two particular points. The las settlement that grew up here Q'aszfalu) is known to have been in existence by 1414, and its inhabitants' language


was used in the preparation of an important Latin-las glossary in 1422. Other colonies of lasians have been traced in districts lying further to the north, in Komarorn, Nograd and Bars Counties=-also due, in all likelihood, to their relative proximity to the royal court. Gyorgy Gyorffy has speculated that the region between the River Temes and the lower Danube may also have been among the early locations ofIas settlement, one piece of evidence for this being that the place-name Makszond (1370:

Moxond), which is found in the area, corresponds with the name of a las individual, Mokzun, who was granted privileges in 1323.

The first mention of lasians in connection with the area which is nowadays called the Jaszsag (las-lands) occurs in 1366. The lasians in question were the inhabitants of a village later to be called Aroksz3llas who were using territory on the boundaries of communities at the foot of the Matra hills for pastures. Apati-szaIlas and Negyszillas are other places in the same region which are among the earliest mentioned las settlements (1391). By the fifteenth century the las colonies along the Zagyva and Tama rivers already formed the linked cluster of communities which were to become an independent "seat" of public administration with its centre at Berenyszallas, The lands on which these communities developed can be verified as having earlier belonged to the church or to Hungarian nobles, and in most cases the las settlements also took over the Magyar place-names that were already in use.

The movement of large numbers of Iasians into this area is regarded by Gyorgy Gyorffy as the result of a deliberate resettlement which he dates to the middle of the fourteenth century. Nevertheless, we may suppose, though there is no documentary testimony to support it, that lasians had already been dwelling there before that date. The most important evidence for this is provided by the excavations carried out by Uszl6 Selmeczi at Negyszillas. A cemetery, in which characteristic remains of Oriental costume and pagan rites have been preserved, was established here in the thirteenth century. A single-naved Gothic church, with an apsidal ending forming three sides of an octagon, was constructed within the burial ground in the fifteenth century.

Despite the many still obscure and debatable aspects of the settlement history of the Jaszsag, it seems likely that the Iasians who settled permanently in the region, giving it its name, were





37 Gilded silver disc~bu,kle from Jdszd6zsa

This is one of a pair of such buckles that would have been sewn to

a costume or cloth belt


the descendants of the group that was granted royal privileges in 1323. The older privileges that had been enjoyed by all the las of Hungary=namely, the rights to have only their own leaders sitting in judgement over them and to travel anywhere in the country without hindrance as well as exemption from paying ferry and road tolls-were reconfirmed by King Sigismund in 1407 and by his successors on several subsequent occasions.

In sources of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the las are regularly referred to as Philistines (philistei). The use of this archaic biblical name may have been connected with their pagan religion, or at least some of its specific traits. Study of the extant linguistic vestiges (personal names, common nouns, etc.) has shown unequivocally that the las spoke a Persian dialect very similar to that of the old Alanic race of the Caucasus (modern-day Ossetian). The ethnic namejdsz which is given to them by the Hungarians has in the past erroneously been identified with the Sarmatian jazyges, also Persian in origin, who inhabited the Hungarian Plain during the era of Roman imperial rule over Pannonia. Certain scholars have also attempted, rather pedantically, to explain it as derived from the Hungarian word fjdsz 'archer'; however, Janos Melich has demonstrated that the word jtisz entered the Hungarian language as a loan word from Russian or southern Slav, being derived from the same ethnic name, As, as that of the Ossetians.

Concerning the origin of the Asian people the findings of Karoly Czegledy can be cited. In the second century B. c. tribes of Asians, or Asi, belonging to the northern branch of the Iranian peoples, founded a nomadic empire to the north of the middle Syr-Darya (Jaxartes) river which is known as the K'angchu empire in Chinese sources and as the Kangha in the Persian Avesta. During the first century A.D. the region extending northwards from the Caucasus, which was inhabited by tribes of Alans, another Persian-speaking people, fell under the suzerainty ofK'ang-chu. In subsequent periods tribes of Asians may have migrated to this Alanic territory and the two related peoples slowly amalgamated. In the ninth-century Book of Roads and Kingdoms by al-Dzaihani, four large Alan tribes are mentioned, two of which (Duqs-as, Tuval-as) contain the ethnicname of the As.

An alliance of the ancestors of the las with the Cumans can be envisaged in a number of ways. To begin with, at the time when Cuman tribes first migrated into Europe they may have

swept out of Khwarizm and along with themselves population fragments that were closely related to the As, although these cannot have been large in numbers. Of much greater significance for the history of the East European steppe during the Middle Ages was the Alanic-As population, with its advanced agriculture, animal husbandry and handicrafts, which .6.nally settled in the northern foothills of the Caucasus and which in the eighth and tenth centuries fell within the sphere of the Khazar Khaganate. A population of Alanic origin also settled on the wooded steppe of the Don-Donets region, in the northern part of the Khazar Empire, contributing appreciably with their agriculture to the economic development of the area. The life of settlements of the Saltovo-Mayatskaya culture in this part of the world was interrupted in the tenth century by the military campaigning of Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev and the subsequent fate of the population cannot be traced archaeologically. At the end of the eleventh century AIania came under the control of the Cuman tribal confederation and mutual economic interest drew the nomads and the sedentary Alans into renewed closer contacts.

We know that already by the beginning of the twelfth century a substantial las population was dwelling in the nomads' towns in the Donets region, where they no doubt fonned a class that was engaged in agriculture, craft industries and commerce. The las of Hungary may well have been a similar group of settlers who had been living among the Cumans for some time, or else they may have been amongst the refugees who left the Caucasus region after the first great Mongolian campaign in the West. Bands of las mercenaries served both Bulgaria and Byzantium during the power struggles that took place in the Balkans during the first half of the thirteenth century. Considerable populations of lasians also inhabited Moldavia and Wallachia after the Mongol invasion and in 1283 were resettled from there by the Byzantine emperor to assist in the defence of the empire. lasians were among the prisoners taken by the Hungarian Palatine (naJorJ, Mikl6s Kont, when he captured the Bulgarian city of Vi din; however they were settled on his own estates as bondmen and thus should not be seen as forbears of thelasians who were later to enjoy royal privileges.

The most valuable linguistic relic of the las in Hungary is a glossary that was jotted down on the back of a document in the village ofJaszfalu in the Pills hills. This glossary, which has



8 been analysed by Gyula Nemeth. lists 40 everyday words -mostly the names of animals, crops and foodstuffs-with their Latin and, in some cases, Hungarian equivalents. Officials had gone to the village in connection with a law-suit over property rights, and the hastily assembled glossary was no doubt intended as an aid in their dealings with the villagers. A form of greeting (daban horz nachechsa. .. 'good day, master ... ') is followed by a list of foodstuffs (e.g. kheveJ,fit, bax« 'bread, meat, broth'), beverages (jana 'wine', dan 'water', oras 'fermented millet drink, the Cumanian boza'), and grain-crops (e.g. karbach 'barley', huvar 'millet'). There are also the names of utensils (tabak 'plate', chugan 'pot') and of animals (bah 'horse', JUs 'sheep', saca 'goat', vas 'calf, dicega 'cow', etc.). The compiler of the glossary was in all probability a native Ias-speaker with a good knowledge of Hungarian. Those words which are interpretable are closely related to the Iranian dialects of the Caucasus, notably modem Ossetian. The las tongue was thus still alive, even in a fairly isolated colony like this, during the first half of the fifteenth century.

A no less important body of linguistic evidence is provided by personal names. Of those listed in the 1323 petition for privileges, referred to earlier, are 14 with Christian names, the remainder being heathen personal names and patronyms. Some of the pagan personal names can be interpreted with reference to anthroponyms in Iranian languages, and their meanings have also been shown to correspond with the Alanic-Osseti.an system of personal names. Thus there are words that denote relationship. such as Furduh from Ossetianfort 'son of; names referring to physical or intellectual attributes, e.g. Gubul 'puppydog'; names that denote valour or power; and eudemonistic names, intended to bring the newborn baby good fortune, e.g. Hurz 'good, virtuous' or 'prosperity, happiness, bliss', Kunnan 'sacrifice' (i.e. born at the time of a sacrificial feast), Amhultan 'I won'. Several of the names are Turkic, perhaps Cumanian, in origin: Chamaz, Chakan, Keverge. The Iasians living in the vicinity of Piliscsaba who are mentioned in the 1325 document likewise bore pagan personal names: Chatharch, Zudak, BykJ Karachin (Byk's servant), and Chywach--some of which may also be ofTurkic origin.

The categories of meaning of those las names which are interpretable from the Iranian languages are testimony to ancient dualistic concepts about the world. From his ethnographic


studies, Laszlo Szabo has suggested that the acceptance of these concepts explains why the shamanistic beliefs and a number of related magical practices which are demonstrable among surrounding Hungarian populations are absent, or present only sketchily in the folk: beliefs of the ]iszsag. In other words, the las, despite their prolonged historical contact with steppe peoples, never adopted Shamanism.

Some traces of the original las language and culture survived even their move to the Zagyva and Tama valleys, their conversion to Christianity, and their gradual linguistic assimilation into Magyardom. Differences in the naming of las and other nearby communities were still apparent, even in the mid-sixteenth century, in areas that came under Ottoman Turkish government. In a tax-roll for the sanjak of Hatvan for 1550 Lajos Fekete has been able to distinguish a group of family names from the ]iszsag which have links with the las ethnikon and, in part, also with the las dialect. These show the use of appellations that were originally pagan personal names as family names, e.g. Bagdasa, Bosonga, Bakszan, Bodon, Foton, Gargan, Gerise, Graban, Kaskan, Mehser, Szabucin, etc. Names of this type occur almost exclusively in districts inhabited by lasians and are evidence of the continuity of this population during the Middle Ages.

Heathen horsemen for Christian kings

Here spears break in two, Here sabres are blunted.

On the helmets of the Polovtsi.

(Lay oJtbe Raid of Igor )

Units of Cuman mercenaries were to be found in the Hungarian army directly after their entry into the country when, in 1246, they formed part of the force that marched against Frederick. II, Duke of Austria and Styria, and suffered defeat at his hands near Wiener Neustadt. Frederick himself was amongst those who perished in the battle-reputedly hit by a Cumanian arrow-and, since the male line of the Babenberg dynasty expired with him, there resulted a long series of struggles for the fiefs of Austria and Styria and with them, in essence, for the hegemony over Central Europe. Beta IV's troops tried, with varying degrees of success, to gain a foothold in the provinces during the 1250s, but the barons of Austria and Styria preferred to elect as their leader the Czech Prince Ottokar Pfemysl who, after his father's death, also succeeded to the throne of Bohemia.

In the course of the campaigns that took place nearly every year the Cuman mercenaries were used mainly for intimidatory purposes; they ravaged in Austria and Styria or in Moldavia, pillaging and destroying churches and monasteries, carrying off part of the population into captivity. Ottokar, however, succeeded in gradually forcing the Hungarians out of the duchy and eventually, in 1260, won a decisive victory at the battle of Kroissenbrunn, near the Morava (March) river, which meant that Bela IV had to renounce his claims to Styria. During the brief period of Hungarian government over this province Cumans were among those who gained lands there for their military services: we know, for instance, of a Cuman living in the vicinity of Graz with his wife, probably a Styrian (Lube der Volbe von Rakerspurch und seine Hausftowe Pethta], who in 1300 sold his vineyard to the Benedictine priory at Admont.

In the face of demands by his son, Prince Stephen, Bela IV was obliged in 1262 to divide the Kingdom of Hungary. The part of the country lying east of the Danube, which included the area settled by the Cumans, was transferred as an autonomous duchy to Stephen, who adopted the tides of "Younger King" (rexjunior) and "Lord of the Cumans" (dominus Cumanorum). In


38 The double seal cif Stephen as "Younger King". The obverse shows the enthroned ruler wilh seep"r and orb; the reverse, an arnwllred knight with the lion rampant of the Slyrian anns on his shield and pennant


spite of several renewals of peace treaties, relations between father and son continued to be strained and eventually, in 1264, civil war erupted, ending with Stephen's victory in the following year and restoration of the status quo. During this struggle the Cumans did not fight on the side of their immediate overlord but on that of the king; we know that even as early as 1262 their leaders had advised Stephen to reach an accord with his father. Their stance is explained by the fact that their oath of loyalty bound them primarily to Bela, thus they might have faced loss of their settlement territories and expulsion from Hungary as direct consequences of dishonouring that pledge. Stephen, being aware of the Cumans' intentions even before the outbreak of hostilities, attempted to win them over to himself with precious gifts. From surviving accounts for 1264, which concern the provision of goods and loans by the royal moneylender, Syr Wullamus (who, Lasz16 Zolnay has suggested, was a Jewish lessee of rights to the revenues from certain royal prerogatives), it transpires that of the total moneys set aside to secure the continuing loyalty of his own followers Or to entice Bela IV's men over to his side, 11 per cent was expended on the purchase of gifts for the Cumans. The Cumans preceded even baronial families and ecclesiastics on the list of beneficiaries, having received textiles to the value of 134 silver marks; only Stephen's wife, Elizabeth, acquired a greater share. These relativities give some idea of the military strength that the Cumans had to ofTer.

Hostilities between the Hungarian and Czech kingdoms were rekindled after the death of Bela IV (1270). One of the crucial turns in the chain of events was the decision by the princes of the Holy Roman Empire in 1273 to elect to the imperial throne, not the overweeningly powerful Ottokar II, whom


they stripped of his Austrian domains, hut the relatively humble Swiss Duke Rudolf ofHabsburg. The two rulers began to prepare for a showdown, with the balance between them depending largely on the position that the Hungarian king adopted. After some wavering, Ladislas N (1272-1290) came down on the side of Rudolf I, and to strengthen this alliance a marriage was mooted between Ladislas's younger brother and Rudolf's daughter. In 1276, Rudolf, with the backing of Hungarian-Cuman contingents, commenced a successful campaign to enforce his legal claims as a result of which Ottokar was compelled to give allegiance to Rudolf and to relinquish his possessions in Austria, Sryria, Carinthia and Camiola. Scheming to retaliate, the king of Bohemia did everything in his power to win Hungary over as an ally; however, Ladislas IV did not break his pledges-indeed, the Hungarian aristocracy also recognized the implicit threat in the great-power status that Ottokar had built up for himself-and in 1278 despatched a large army to assist Rudolf

The decisive clash for mastery of the eastern provinces of the Holy Roman Empire occurred on 28 August 1278 by the village ofDiimkrut, near the River Morava (March), from which it is sometimes known as the Battle of the Marchfeld. This ended in a sweeping victory for Rudolf and in Ottokar's death, thus paving the way to six and a half centuries of rule by the Habsburg dynasty. The battle's significance for world history justifies our taking a closer look at its course and, in particular, at the part played by the Hungarian and Cuman troops. The sequence of events, as reconstructed by the Austrian scholar Andreas Kustemig from a critical analysis of the available written sources --chronicles, annals, documents=seems to have been as follows.

Both rulers arrayed their forces in three battalions with the lines drawn up in wedge formation. The Bohemian king's divisions were assembled on the flat, right bank of the Morava, in the northern comer of the battlefield. In the vanguard was an army of Bohemians and Moravians, led by Milota, and behind this knights .from Brandenburg, Meissen, Thuringia and Bavaria under Ottokar's personal command. It was principally in this second battalion that the one thousand or so heavy cavalry, who with their armoured horses constituted the main striking-force, were concentrated. Ottokar had imagined that the great strength of these forward troops would be able to


snatch a rapid victory; the more poorly armed third battalion of Silesian and Polish auxiliaries was merely a reserve.

Facing them in the south, Emperor Rudolf was only able to deploy 300 heavy cavalry alongside which he had mustered some 2,000 knights from his own Alsatian and Swiss realms and a number of smaller allies. Thus he must have been only too glad to welcome Ladislas IV with his large army of Hungarians and Cuman auxiliaries. Kustemig estimates that this Hungarian force numbered about 2,000 mounted warriors-approximately equivalent to one of Ottokar's battalions-but although this was partly equipped in the Western manner, it included few fully armoured heavy cavalry. (It should be noted that the total forces of all three kings were much larger than is indicated above since, under medieval conditions of war, each armoured knight went on campaign with a personal retinue of at least four or five armed retainers, squires, and pages.) The Hungarians formed the first of the battalions on Rudolf's side, with the somewhat better equipped Austrians-around 1,150 knights -in the second, whilst Rudolf commanded the third battalion of another 1,150 men, which was also the best supplied with heavy cavalry. The army's vanguard was provided by the Cumans, who already early in the morning began attacking the Bohemian and Moravian troops that were drawn up, motionless, in front of their camp. Approaching them from the flank in small detachments, but keeping outside their adversaries' firing-range. the Cumans harried the enemy with a continual shower of arrows until they at last managed to disrupt his lines. At this moment the Hungarian army advanced under the command of the Palatine Mate Cs:ik and Chief Justice Istvan Gutkeled and, with their young king viewing the battle from a nearby hill, they broke through the approximately equal frontline force of Bohemians and Moravians, throwing them

. first into disarray and then to rout. According to the Austrian chronicler, the Hungarian heavy cavalry, despite its smaller numbers and relatively light armour, gave an outstanding account of itself in the battle.

The second battalions on both sides were now deployed. The mighty German heavy cavalry, led by Ottokar, drove the Austrians back several kilometres to the south, onto the defensive line that was drawn up along a stream called the Waidenbach. (Meanwhile the Hungarians were pursuing the enemy back to their encampment, which the Cumans had set about pillaging.)


39 CUl1UInian warrior with bowcase.from a wall-painting at Szekelyderzs (Drrjiu, Rumania)

40 Carved strips oJbone for decorating the edge oj a bow-case and attachment oJthe suspending string (from the Crimean steppe)

'-' .r>

I " , I I ,


This was when Rudolf entered the battle, personally leading the most powerful part of his army, which included knights from Styria, Carinthia, Camiola, Switzerland. Alsace and Swabia, as well as squadrons from the Archbishop of Salzburg and the Burgrave of Nuremberg. They gradually beat back their by now exhausted opponents, who had been fighting for hours encased in helmet and body-armour, Before Ottokar was able to engage the Silesian and Polish troops, a squadron of some 250 to 300 knights grouped around 50 to 60 horses of heavy cavalry, that Rudolfhas held in reserve to join the struggle at its critical moment, suddenly rode out from the hills in the west and, executing a charge in closed formation, struck into the flank of Ottokar's armoured troops. This unexpected attack: threw the enemy into complete disorder, precipitating a panicstricken retreat in which the undeployed third battalion was swept along by the fleeing heavy cavalry. (The Silesian and Polish troops were in the meantime under pressure from attacks by the Hungarians and Cumans, who had worked round to their flanks and rear.) Ottokar was among those who perished fighting to the last; his stripped and looted body was later found abandoned on the battlefield. The Cumanian light cavalry maintained pursuit for several miles, mercilessly cutting down the ranks of the fleeing.

Rudolf could thank his fine sense of tactics for the victory, which was manifested primarily in his grouping of the limited forces at his disposal to meet the circumstances, deploying them in sufficient depth within the battle-order that he was able to influence the outcome of the fight right up to the last moment. He superbly combined the movements ofhis knights with the nomadic tactics of the Cumans, whose main tasks lay in the pre-liminaries (sowing disorder and confusion) and at the culmination (pursuit) of the battle and whose readiness to fight would have been excited still more by the opportunities for taking booty and prisoners. The ambuscade, which was the determining factor at Diimkrut, was a tactic that was already known in knightly warfare in the thirteenth century, though it remained alien to the then prevailing ethos of man-to-man combat; it is possible that its employment on this occasion was due to the Hungaria.n---and perhaps Cuman--nobles who took part in the war-council.

Although we have no information about the size of the Cuman force that fought on Rudolf's side, it seems likely that it


was of the same order of magnitude as the cavalry divisions. As for the overall strength of Cuman military forces in Hungary, an approximate idea can be gained from their total population. Given the usual expectancy of life in the Middle Ages, the pre-viously estimated population ofBO,OOO would comprise some 20 to 24,000 adult males. If we take the proportion ofCumanian society that comprised the "noble" class on permanent military service as 20 per cent, based on what we know of other nations at the same stage of development, this gives 4,000 to 8,000 men. The number who actually set off to fight would have been less than that-say, around 3,OOO-as we should discount both the older and youngest age-groups. This figure might have been doubled or trebled, when necessary, by conscription among the free commoners, though on a foreign campaign-and thus in battles like that on the Marchfeld--the Cumans would obviously not have taken the entire force that they could mobilize.

What weaponry was used by the Cumans who played such

a great role in Central European warfare during the latter half of

the thirteenth century? Apart from the weapons buried with their noble warriors, visual records of the battle-attire of the Cumans have been preserved in the form of funerary statues 9 that were set up in southern Russia to commemorate ancestors

of the tribal and clan aristocracies and mural paintings and miniatures in Hungary itself. When the Cumans arrived in Europe they brought with them a new model of the reflex composite bow, that gready feared weapon of the steppe nomads. This was smaller than the bow of the preceding era, that had been

used by, among others, the Magyars and Pechenegs, but its pull 10 and range had been increased by a number of structural modifications: the rigid central part of the bow was lengthened whilst

the flexible outer curves were made stronger. This type of bow

was normally carried about unstrung in a specially constructed leather case, and it was this ease of use that led to improvements

in the speed, mobility and manceuvrability of nomadic cavalry

in this period. (A still more flexible version of this same bowtype, refined on the Central Asian steppes in the meantime, was

used by the Mongols and spread by them throughout the territories that came under the rule of the Golden Horde.) The shape of the arrow-heads also changed during the Cumanian 17 era on the steppe. With improvements in protective armour came increasing use of "needle-tipped" or lanceolate, tempered, armour-piercing arrows which, when fired with sufficient


41 Drawing r.if a Cuman quiver with lidfrom Kakaslomnic (Vel'ka Lomnica, Czechoslovakia). Strips of can/ed bone omaments and a six-pronged Gothic clasp to dose the case can be seen

force and at the right angle. were able to penetrate even the toughest armour plates or chain mail. The multiplicity of other types of arrow must also not be forgotten, for the medieval nomadic warrior employed arrows of various shapes and sizes to meet the differing needs of battle, hunting and target-shooting, for close and long range. The variety of hunting arrows would have been particularly great, since different arrow-heads were required to shoot big game, fur animals or various birds. Mongol tactics placed equal weight on the use of heavy arrows for short-range and lighter arrows for longer-range shooting, so that warriors going into battle had to carry equal quantities of both types. When Ghengis was elected Great Khan, he is said to have addressed the following words to the men whom he had picked for ambassadorial office:

Be my koochak-arrows soaring afar, he my odor a-arrows darting near.

Well-authenticated depictions in wall-paintings in the territory of Transylvania and Upper Hungary (now Slovakia)-which belonged to Hungary until 1918-led Gyula Laszlo to conclude that a new variant of quiver made its appearance in the Carpathian Basin with the advent of the Cumans, differing from the roughly cylindrical, lidded type, widening towards its base, which had originated from Central Asia and is known from Avar and Magyar archaeology. The innovations consisted in placing an aperture down the length of the quiver to allow it to be filled with arrows head-upwards, the aperture then being closed with leather thongs, and in having the quiver-lid open on the side, rather than downwards. The quiver case was constructed from birch or willow-bark covered with a wrapping of leather or cloth, sometimes decorated with plaques of carved bone. The developmental stages in the history of the "Cuman quiver" are now well known in outline. One and the same type is seen both in stone figures of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries from the East European steppe and in Central Asian paintings of the tenth and eleventh centuries. Clearly, the introduction of this innovation in weaponry from beyond the Volga to the West can likewise be credited to the Cumans, from whom it was adopted by, among others, the Russian Privcipalities, whilst it may have been Cumanian mercenary bands that brought it into the Byzantine Empire. Medieval wall-


pamtmgs at Zsigra and Karaszk6 (Zehra and. Kras~ovo, czechoslovakia), show a strange type of conically-lidded quiver, covered with long hair, which was presumably made from the pelts of fur animals; a corresponding type has been found by Katalin U. Kohalmi among the eleventh-century relics of the Khitayans at the easternmost end of the steppe belt.

The Cumans were also familiar with the leather armour that was general amongst nomadic peoples. Western writers who described Hungarian soldiers of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century as wearing leather clothing had probably been informed about Cumanian troops. One result of the growing striking-power of attack weapons was the reappearance on the East European steppe, after a prolonged absence, of the helmet and mail shirt as part of the equipment found in graves of aristocratic warriors, not just Cumans, but also Pechenegs who had settled on the southern frontier of the Russian Principalities, Ghuzz and Berends. Hungarian finds of mail shirts of eleventh to thirteenth-century Oriental type (at Cs6lyos, Demecser and Arcind) unfortunately have not survived intact; however, from the shape, size and method of joining the links these specimens can be classified with the shortlength, short-sleeved East European type of the. eleventh to twelfth centuries. This was constructed from WU"e that was roughly circular in section, 0.8-2 mm thick, and formed into links 6-8 mrn or 10-13 mm in diameter, usually with alternating rows oflinks closed by rivets and by butt-joints. From the thirteenth century, in Russia and in territories controlled by the Golden Horde, they began to make these mail vests from wider, flatter wire that was formed into larger links using a different construction method; the shirts became longer in body and sleeve like those of Western Europe. The earlier, shorter version with its lighter weight (5.5-6 kg) and easier arm-movement was of course better suited to the more mobile nomadic style 'of fighting. It is difficult to determine where individual pieces of this mail-armour might have been ma~e since the Cumans, though mainly moving around the territory to the north of the Black Sea, had a lively intercourse with various states outside the Russian Principalities where the crafts of armoury were highly developed (persia, Khwa?zm, Geort??a, Volga Bulgaria), whilst a number of the domams over which they themselves had control. notably the Crimean cities and the lands of Alania in the N orthem Caucasus, and the headquarters

42 Reconstrnction of a Cuman quiver, based on wall-paintings. The quiver was loaded with arrows through the larger aperture down the side


43 Round-apertured quivers made from the pelts offuranimals, as depicted in the legend o1S,. Ladislas


44 Stnlcture ofthe Cs61yos mtJil vest. Rows oftiueted and buttjoined links alternate

45 Iron helmet with palmette decorations; there was agilded sphere on the peak

of. their 0v:n khans in the Donets region had groups of appropnately skilled craftsmen. The Flemish Franciscan monk Wil~ liam of Rubruck, who in 1252 was sent by King (Saint) Louis IX of France as an ambassador to the Mongols wrote in his account of'his j~umey that in the Caucasus mountains his party was accomparued by twenty Mongol warriors, two of whom were wearing mail shirts:

I asked how th~y had come by this; and they said that they had plundered It from the Alms, who were skilled in the construction of these kinds of things and excellent smiths.

(Rubruck: Itinerarium ad Partes Orientales)

In frescoes of the first half of the fourteenth century that show the legend of Saint Ladislas, the painters frequently depicted the Cumans in Oriental-style helmets and mail shirts. which indicates that this fonn of battle-dress must have been quite widespread among Cuman aristocrats. The Russian chronicles and the Lay of Igor's Raid also makes mention of the helmets, breastplat~ and shields of the Cumans. A helmet was also among the equipment found buried. with a Cumanian nobleman at Csolyos, Possibly the work of a nomadic annourer, it is hemispherical, its crown wrought from a single piece of iron, and fit~ed with a brow:-band and a spike on its crown, showing the influence of Persian and Central Asian craftsmanship. It is similar to the type of helmet that is usually portrayed on steppe burial figures.

The Cs6lyos grave also yielded two armour plates of curved section, which were used to protect the shoulders or knees. The use of anno~ plates to cover the most vulnerable parts of the body began in the Far East. among the Khitayans, as early as the tenth century. in contrast to Western Europe where they only began to employ armour shaped to the shoulders, knees and arms from the late thirteenth century. Thus the Cumanian aristocrats brought with them from the East a modem armour which provided no less protection than that available to their Western contemporaries and, in addition, did not obstruct archery or free movement by the horseman. In the latter half of the thirteenth century only the wealthiest European knights wore tougher armour, in the form of mail covering the whole body. arms and legs and a casque enclosing the entire head. Tlie knight's armour of that period is illustrated by the ornament on


46 Armour plates used as knee or shoulder protectors ,from a Cuman warrior's equipmentfound at Csolyos




a belt-buckle that was found in the grave of a Cuman nobleman (Ki'gyospuszta) .

Among the nomads of the Middle Ages horsemen equipped with armour did not form special fighting units. Only very rich nobles were able to afford to provide themselves and their retinues with such items; it would be they who became the commanders of regiments and divisions in the anny. The battles that took place between Cumans and European heavy cavalries gradually influenced the type of annaments employed. The traditional close-combat weapons of the nomadic light cavalry, the sabre and mace, remained in use but the aristocratic classes began to equip themselves with weapons that were better suited to the needs of knighdy warfare. This would explain the pr~ enee of a battle-axe with the horse-trappings in a grave at Erd6telek and a double-edged sword of the Western type in a grave at Kunszentmarton, The latter was probably made in the third quarter of the thirteenth century and was of Hungarian manufacture since one face of the blade bears an inlaid copper heraldic device with the bars of the House of Arpad; presumably. the Cuman nobleman who was put to rest in the grave received it as a royal gift.

The Curnans reached the zenith of their political influence in Hungary during the reign of King Ladislas IV the Cuman. Ladislas himself was half-Cuman through his mother, Elizabeth, whose seal declared her to be daughter of the Prince



47 Double seal of Queen Elizabeth, wife of Stephen Vand daughter if the Cuman Khan The obverse shows the queen sitting on a wolfs head throne

The feudal oligarchy and the Church colluded to frustrate the alliance between the king and the Cumans, and an excellent opportunity to do this was afforded in 1279 by the arrival in Hungary of the papal legate, Philip. Bishop ofFermo. He had been sent by Pope Nicholas III to settle dissensions that had arisen over the election of the Archbishop of Esztergom and also to restore the rights of the Church and internal harmony of the country, for the general unrest had not bypassed ecclesiasticallands, churches and monasteries and the payment of tithes was fitful. Influenced by Lodomer, the newly nominated Archbishop of Esztergom, the papal legate decided that his prime tasks lay in winning Ladislas away from the Cumans and in exhorting the Cumans to Christian ways.

On 23 June 1279, Ladislas in the presence of seignors of the Church and state, signed a solemn undertaking to safeguard the freedom of the Catholic Church, to abide by the laws of his predecessors, to persecute heretics, and to compel the Cumans-by armed force if needs be-to abandon their heathen customs, accept permanent settlement, and relinquish those Church and baronial properties which they had illegally occupied. The articles of this charter that relate to the Cwnans have become known as the First Cumanian Law. The final pr~ visions which emerged from the Great Council of nobles held at Teteny in July, were set down in a further charter on 10 August-:-th.e Second Cumanian Law. At this Great Council, Alpar (Alpra), Uzur and leaders of the other Cuman clans managed to win certain compromises as the latter document speaks not only of their obligations but also of their privileges.

In confonnity with the promises he had made in June, the king undertook to make arrangements for the Cumans to be settled permanently in areas to be designated by himself; he would also adjudicate on disputed property rights and bring the administration of justice under control. The charter declares that the Cuman lords and nobles eqjoyed a position similar to that of the king's servitors (servientes) and thus were under obligation of military service but exempted from any demands to provide billeting. In line with the demands of the papal legate and the Church, all Cumans would break. with their heathen ways and embrace the Christian faith, living according to Christian morals and forbearing from all violence and spillage of Christian blood; they were also bound to release any Christian slaves who had been captured in Hungary, although those


of the Cumans (filia imperatoris Cumanorum}, this being the equivalent Latin tide to that of Khan, according to the Codex Cumanicus. We do not know the actual name of Elizabeth's father; no doubt he was elected as khan by the Cumans who fled to Bulgaria after the murder of'Koten and his family, but all we know about his subsequent fate is that at some point he was in Hungary, being baptized at the Dominican monastery in Buda in 1254. (Gyorgy Gyorffy has identified him with a Cumanian nobleman, Zeyhanus dux, who was active around this period.) As Ladislas IV was only ten years of age when he acceded to the throne; his mother ruled as regent for almost a decade, although actual power lay in the hands of a series of baronial factions, which succeeded one another more or less every year, or even more frequently, The constant struggles between rival barons and the weakening of central authority led to a deterioration in general conditions within Hungary, betokened by arbitrary measures, violent seizures of property, robbery and destruction. When he came of age in 1m, Ladislas made strenuous efforts to bring an end to this feudal anarchy. He realized that outside a small band of steadily loyal followers he had to rely primarily on the military strength of the Cumans as a counter to the barons. He regularly frequented the company of the Cumans, and the prospect of freeing himself from the irksome constraints of the Church which this offered must have been highly seductive to the barely adult young man, who even began to adopt the style of clothing and pagan customs of this people. He repudiated his wife, Isabella of Anjou, daughter of the king of Sicily, taking a Cuman mistress, Edua (Aydua 'rising moon'). It was more because of such behaviour than because of

48 Sabre from Ftlsoszentkiraly his descent that Ladislas received the epithet "the Cuman",


49 DoublNdged sword from Kunszentmarton with bronze inlays ofheraldicdevices in the fuller

The inclusion cifthe bars of the House of Arpad suggests th is may have been a royal gift


50 Depiction oj an annoured warrior on a denarius from the reign oflAdislas IV (1272-1290)

captured abroad could be kept. The legate was empowered to detail to each dan trustworthy investigators whose function was to supervise its observance of the law. whilst the king would hold seven hostages from the clans as a surety.

Implementation of the law was delayed, and when Bishop Philip found out that Ladislas was making no effort to observe the provisions he excommunicated the king and laid the country under interdict. In spite ofhis pledges, Ladislas was already to be found again amongst the Cumans by the middle of October 1279. At the beginning of January 1280 he had the papal legate apprehended and handed him over to the Cumans. In response, the barons seized the king and would only set him free after the Cumans had released Bishop Philip. Ladislas again made a pledge to carry out his promises and was even reconciled to his wife; the baronial faction, led by the Aba family, which happened to be in authority at this time was able to retain control of the situation for a while and prevented Ladislas from returning to the Cumans. Both secular and Church leaders wanted to give effect to the Cumanian Law. Much as in 1241, they again placed the blame for the troubled times and internal difficulties of their society, directly or indirectly, on the pagan newcomers. Now isolated even from the king, the Cumans were unwilling to submit to the pressure that was being exerted on them and rebelled. At their request, their kinsmen in Moldavia invaded Hungary under the command of Oldamur, Ladislas was compelled, however reluctant he might have been, to initiate a campaign to suppress them, in the course of which the Cumanian forces were shattered near Lake H6d, to the east of the River Tisza, in the autumn of 1280 (some historians date this battle to 1282). According to its chronicler, the turningpoint in the battle was a sudden shower of rain which drenched the Cumans, slackening their bow-strings and making them useless. After this debacle the Cumans determined to leave Hungary en masse, and although Ladislas managed to force some of them back, the people of the two clans which had been dwelling to the north and south of the battle area-and had probably been the prime instigators of the rebellion---left the country for good.

The aftermath of the battle of Lake H6d was thus a reduction in the Cuman population in Hungary, and with this their economic and military strength was also greatly diminished. Those Cumans who had been defeated in the battle and taken

captive were enslaved. whilst the Magyars divided among themselves the possessions stripped from the rebels. Immediate effect was given to enforcing the stipulation that the Cumanian clans were to release their Christian captives. Since they were not permitted, even later on, to take any further prisoners of war, this source of replacement labour to work on the land was cut off; the one occasion which gave some mitigation of this situation was the exceptional opportunity that arose in 1282 to purchase Czechs and Poles who, due to famine in their own countries, had taken refuge in Hungary. All these factors contributed to a widening of differences in Cumanian society, with the poorest among the free commoners gradually falling into servitude.

Bringing the Cumans to heel, of course, did nothing to solve the problems of Hungarian society. Power struggles continued during the 1280s and internal strife became a chronic feature of the country's life. The king tried as before to give his support to

the Cumans, and it was they who supplied the bodyguard, the 54 nogers, with which he surrounded. himself Nevertheless, Ladis-

las was not strong enough to be able to curb the barons and restore the crown's authority. One factor which contributed to I

. this was that Lodomer, the Archbishop of Esztergom, proved I an extremely StUbbOrn opponent. He accused the king of riding; roughshod over Church laws and entering into alliance with the l Mongols, indeed even of encouraging them to invade Hungary in 1285, and he did not shrink from excommunicating Ladislas in retaliation. In 1288 the king was taken captive by the barons and compelled to appear before the Archbishop in a public display of repentance. One ofLodomer's terms was that the king would no longer tolerate any pagan, whether Tartar. Cuman, Noger Saracen (i. e. Mohammedan), or Jewish, in either his household service or the offices of state; furthermore, Ladislas was to mend his heathen ways and return to "decent models of Catholic conduct ... especially in matters of eating, dress, and style ofbeard and hair" .

When it became clear that Ladislas IV had no intention of abandoning his own ideas and becoming a pliant tool of the Archbishop and barons, Lodomer appealed to the Pope to proclaim a crusade against the Mongols and the Hungarian king! Once more Ladislas made his peace with the Archbishop and took back his wife. From March 1290 it seems that Ladislas sojourned in the Great Plain, doubtless amongst his faithful



Cumans. On the night 0[10 July, whilst encamped in the vicinity of Korosszeg Castle in Bihar County. the king was murdered in his tent. According to one chronicler sympathetic to the anti-Ladislas faction, the Cumans had decided, after lengthy deliberations, that the. king must die, and three of their chiefs -Arbuz, Turtel and Kemenche-carried this out. Other sources suggest, however, that certain barons had a hand in the murder

55 and thus that Ladislas fell victim to his political enemies.

Between 1279 and 1290 Cuman society passed through a period of deep crisis. Whereas in the years up to the end of the 1270s they had managed to hold on to their accustomed way of life virtually undisturbed. albeit under changing circumstances, after 1279 the issues of their conversion to the Christian faith and adoption of a settled existence were to preoccupy them constantly. The new Curnanian Laws and their abortive rebellion merely signalled the beginning of this critical period. The Cumans' leaders were probably well aware that the role in which they had been cast in Hungary's power struggle boded no good for them, that they might easily lose out in the conflict between Ladislas and his enemies since it was quite possible that Hungarian Christendom would write bodily against them. Preservation of their own social status may have been a further factor that spurred the Cuman nobles towards an attempt at accommodating to their hosts. Whatever may have been the case, the Cumanian problem disappeared as a burning issue after the death of Ladislas-e-a sign of the failure of his policy of alliance with pagan ethnic groups or classes which remained outside Christendom and, perhaps; also of the beginnings of the process of Curnan assimilation. Under Ladislas's successors the Cumans continued as before to provide soldiers for the Hungarian light cavalry but they no longer represented the main pillar of support for the throne. They accompanied Andrew III (1290-1301) as hired mercenaries on his military adventures -fighting, for instance, at the battle ofGOllheirn in 1298 as part of the Hungarian expeditionary force sent to the aid of Duke Albrecht I of Habsburg-for the Curnans, too, were included in the provisions of a law of 1290 which obliged the nobility to render military service outside Hungary's frontiers only on payment by the king.

The Angevin King Charles Robert (1~1342) who, with support from the Pope and the Hungarian clergy, succeeded to the country's throne after the death of Andrew III, last ruler in


51 Silver groat ~King Charles Robert (1308-1342)

the Arpad line, engaged in a prolonged campaign to pick off, one by one. the opposing magnates who had set themselves up as autonomous rulers of domains covering entire regions of the country. Especially in the early years of this struggle to eliminate feudal anarchy and restore order to Hungary, when the king could still not count on many supporters in his camp, the Cumans represented a considerable armed force on the side of the central authority. Charles Robert gained the backing of the lesser nobility and urban burghers and with each success a growing stream of vassal noblemen and former cronies of the feudal oligarchs began to come across to the king. The period of internal calm which had been ushered in by the 1320s brought with it a great surge in economic activity and this in tum was the stimulus for, among other things, a late blossoming of knightly culture,

The presence in the king's army not only of retinues ofheavily armoured noble knights but also ofCumanian units, receiving regular pay instead of the promise of booty, is constantly mentioned in fourteenth-century sources. Cumans took part in the campaign of 1330 against Basaraba, the Voivode of Wallachia, which ended ignominiously for them and the army of shining knights when a feigned retreat by Basaraba's Curnan-Kipchak and Vlach warriors, following the unwritten rules of this old nomadic stratagem, succeeded in luring the Hungarian army into a rocky pass where it was ambushed and destroyed. The king managed to extricate himself only through the self-sacrifice ofhis best soldiers.

Cuman and las mounted archers were in the large armies that marched into Italy, Dalmatia, Poland, Galicia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and elsewhere under the expansionist policy that was continued by Charles Robert's son, King Louis I the Great (1342-1382),


52 Mace with twelve-spikes-a weapon of the type developed by the western CUmdns and in Kievan Russia


but we also find Hungarians in the light cavalry. employing the techniques of nomadic warfare. The Italians in particular were among the adversaries who were struck by the large numbers of the Hungarian light cavalry, equipped with bow and arrows as well as sword, which Louis used not just as an auxiliary division but in some battles as a self-sufficient army in its own right. The continual 'state of war also hastened the improvement of armaments in Hungary. Hungarian troops, above all those in Italy, came into contact with mercenaries equipped with the best weapons that the technology of the day could make available. With these experiences, modernization of the Hungarian army's equipment was begun in the 1350s and was also extended to the Cumanian light cavalry. Through wall-paintings and miniatures, we can trace during the mid-fourteenth century the gradual eclipse of the star-shaped mace--the closecombat weapon introduced by the Pechenegs and Cumans -and its replacement by the spiked mace of western origin, which was better designed to crack open the stronger and thicker helmets and armour-plating that were being employed. In the very first miniature of the Illuminated Chronicle King Louis's illuminator, Nicolaus, son ofHertul, recorded the spectacle, unusual for European courts in those times, of the Hungarian king receiving his subjects and foreign guests on some ceremonial occasion. The puzzling aspect for many scholars is not the armoured knights-e-Hungarian noblemen and court dignitaries-placed to the right of the Icing's throne, but the identity of the aristocrats in colourful Oriental attire who are standing to his left. Are they the leaders of the eastern peoples who had thrown in their lot with the Magyars in earlier centuries, or the commanders of the king's bodyguard, or ambassadors from Oriental states? It seems obvious that we should see them as courtiers, more particularly as leaders of the Cumans, lasians and "Tartars" (i, e. Kipchaks who had entered Hungary from the domains of the Golden Horde), who at that time still preserved their Eastern culture and who would have stood on the king's left in accordance with a court protocol that followed ancient Magyar tradition-itselfhaving origins in the East. The three men in the front row each carry a weapon in their hand-a bow, a mace (or arrow, in the view of some scholars) and a sabre -and these have a symbolic significance that relates to the individual's rank and office. Katalin Kohalmi has verified that the symbolic system which these miniatures reflect has its roots in

the court customs of the nomadic states of Central Asia: the weapons are the badges of office of court dignitaries or the emblems of various detachments in the bodyguard. There can be no doubt that the Cumans brought with them to the Carpathian Basin a symbolism that had its home in the Far East among the Khitayans and Mongols. The physiognomies of the three noblemen in question also betray their Oriental origin whilst their attire is in the steppe fashion of that time. The two men standing behind them may be representatives of the Balkan vassal states (Wallachia. Bosnia, North Bulgaria), whose proper place would likewise be on the king's left.

Towards the end of Louis the Great's reign mentions of Cuman and las mounted squadrons operating as independent tactical units vanish from the sources. The reason for this may be sought in a dramatic decline in numbers of recruits for the anny as feudalization of the Cumans and lasians proceeded and their middle-class freemen sank into serfdom. For the same social reasons, it may also be supposed that the skills of nomad tactics, requiring as they did constant drilling, closely coordinated squad manoeuvres and, not least, equipment of the highest quality, were gradually forgotten during the passage of a few decades. By the end of the fourteenth century, when Hungary had to face the army of the Ottoman Turks, a new great power more terrible than all those that had gone before, it became apparent that its forces of feudal knights were inadequate both in numbers and tactical grasp, whilst the battlereadiness of the Hungarian light cavalry was abysmal. Some new recruits were unable even to handle a bow. King Sigismund (1387-1437) attempted to reorganize the army and insti-

. tuted the militia pottalis, that is to say, peasant units of light cavalry mustered according to the size of the tenanted lands held. In the fifteenth century this was the army in which the Cumans and las would have had to serve, though the estateowning families, distant descendants of the clan aristocracies, would have been able to commute their own military service by payment of the so-called "quiver money" (provenIUs plutretralis).




-- ---- --- ----

53 Cuman mounted archer shooting to the rear, as depicted in the Supesmindszent (Bijacouce, Czechoslovaki4) wall-painting of the legend ojSaint Ladislas. He is wearing a pointed Jelt cap over

a chain-mail coif and a long caftan with embroidered hems thatfastens at the side; a lidded quiver is suspended from his belt


The heathen Cuman, depicted in a high-peaked felt cap and long caftan fastened at the side, is a familiar figure in Hungarian medieval art. For almost two centuries from the end of the thirteenth century the story of the fight between St. Ladislas and the Cuman girl-abductor was a favourite subject of church frescoes, kept alive purely by the oral tradition since it was not included in the official ecclesiastical "Life" {Vita}. According to legend, as recorded in fourteenth-century chronicles, groups of pagan Cumans intruded into Hungary in 1068 (we know now that these were, in fact, raiding parties of Ghuzz or mixed Pecheneg-Ghuzz forces) but were dispersed by the Magyars at Kerles (Cserhalom) in northern Transylvania. Duke Ladislas


set off in pursuit of one of the heathens who was carrying off a pretty Magyar maiden, caught up with them but was unable to spear the abductor with his lance. At this, he called out to the girl to grab the Cuman by his belt and throw him with herself to the ground. She did so and St. Ladislas then wrestled with the Cuman for a long time until the girl severed the heathen's Achilles tendon, allowing Ladislas to kill him.

The legend is based on elements of an Oriental epic tale from before the rime of the Magyar Conquest; some time during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, mixed with Western elements, it became attached to the figure of King Ladislas (1077-1095). Paintings of the subject began to appear in churches in the northem and south-eastem marches of Hungary, and also in a few more central places, at a time when the country was facing the renewed threat of a Mongol attack and the struggle against paganism was a topical issue. The anti-Cuman sentiment of the period, the latter half of the thirteenth century, comes across in the depictions. The mural paintings of the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries and the miniatures in the imposing fourteenth-century codices are of special interest in that their faithful representations of the epoch provide a valuable record of the cultural history of the Cumans. Most of the pictures bear the imprint of first-hand acquaintance with the Cumans, even in cases where the painter obviously worked from a pattern-book; the depictions of weaponry are accurate down to the last detail, indicating their reliability as an outstanding source also for the history of dress. The high-peaked felt cap, a characteristic article of Cumanian dress over the centuries, appears in the pictures in numerous forms, with different shapes and a wide range of col-

. ours. The miniatures include details of embellishment such as appliqued pearls or buttons; in certain pictures the cap is shown as having a swept-back peak, with the brim turned up at the back, or as a fur cap with a rounded crown. This variety. we surmise, may be a reflection of the well known custom among nomadic peoples for the menfolk of each different tribe or clan to wear their own distinctive headgear.

Cumanian styles of beard and hair did not conform with Christian fashions and thus also met with Church disapproval. The Cumans shaved off their beards but wore long, thinly twirled moustaches, whilst they shaved their head at the front and braided the remaining hair in pigtails. The funerary statues made by the steppe Cumans show that they had one to three

5~S5 50-52 57

50,52 57






such pigtails reaching down to the mid-back or even the waist, with multiple braids being knotted together at the nape of the neck.

The Cumans brought with them to the Carpathian Basin not just the modem weapons of the steppe but also a new type of dress---the long, side-fastening caftan, which originated from Central Asia. The wide flap of the caftan was wrapped over the chest and fastened below the armpit; garments folded to the left or right occur equally in the illustrations. In some instances the material from which the caftan was made is silk. The textiles are most often monochrome but occasionally the artists depicted materials with patterns of stripes, checks or circles, as in the wall-paintings at Bogoz, Maksa, Kily6n, Erdofiile in Transylvania (now Mugeni, Maqa, Chileni and Filea, Rumania). The Cuman shown shooting an arrow to the rear in a wall-painting .at Szepesmindszent (now Bijacovce, Czechoslovakia) is wearing a caftan with a hem pattern of concentric circles that probably represents an embroidered moti£ The two Oriental figures seen in the frontispiece of the Illuminated Chronicle are dressed in caftans of fine silk with floral designs, possibly from some Mohammedan territory. Up until the 1280s, the Cumans had direct access to Oriental silks through their contacts with the steppes. but there were two ways by which these reached the Hungarian markets in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. "Tartar" fabrics from Turkestan or China were transported by land along the Silk Road to the shores of the Black: Sea. Here they might either be purchased by Italian merchants and taken by sea to Italy, and thence relayed to Hungary by Venetian and Genoese traders; alternatively they might be carried overland from the Genoese colonies in the Crimea, either by the northerly route via Lvov or along the southerly track across Wallachia.

Before the spread of the Far Eastern style of garment, the predominant fashion on the steppe, from Central Asia to the Danubian valley, for several centuries was a shorter, front-fastening tunic that was tightly fitted at the back. This was the type of clothing wom by Magyars of the Conquest period and probably also by Pechenegs, and it remained in use for a considerable time among several East European peoples, e. g. the medieval Bulgar aristocracy. On the evidence of Cumanian funerary statues, the dress of steppe aristocrats of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries was similar in style; the hems of the flaps

---- .- ... ---~-.- .. ------

carried a wide band of geometric ornamentation whilst those on the upper arm were adorned with appliqued cloth or felt. A garment of this kind, or at least showing some of these elements, can be seen on a number of the figures in Oriental dress, based on Cuman models, that appear in the illuminated Chronicle, including the two Cuman-Tartar-Ias nobles of the frontispiece. The Cumans shown in the Legendarium of the Hungarian Angevins also bear appliqued squares of decoration. However, the breast or back-protector discs seen in some South Russian grave finds, which were made of leather or felt mounted between plates of iron or silver, and held in place by shoulder straps over a caftan or leather cuirass, do not occur in Hungary. The forerunners of these too lie in Central Asia, where they are seen in the wall-paintings discovered in. the ruined towns of the Tarim Basin and in cave drawings of the Altai region.

Like other equestrian peoples, Cuman men wore the customary narrow-legged, soft-soled boots of fine leather. The uppers of the boots were higher at the front and suspended by strap and buckle from the belt, as is visible on the burial figures. The curved foot-bar of the steppe stirrup was designed for use with such soft-soled footwear. Thirteenth-century Cuman stirrups (Kunszentmdrton, Erdotelek, Cs6lyos) had a wide footbar. This allowed greater security of movement when riding, as in battle the horseman would often have both hands occupied and could only bear on the stirrups-e-for instance, in executing the feats that were so marvelled at, and feared by, other peoples, like shooting an arrow to the rear whilst riding at a gallop. Stirrups of similar design were made for women (B3nk.6.t, Homok)

. since they rode in the same manner as the men.

The construction of the bridle-bit was likewise closely connected with riding style. The equipment of the aristocratic class and womenfolk included a symmetrical snafile with a thick, "gentle" mouthpiece (Kunszennnarton, Bankrit, Homok); these were otherwise fitted on horses with sensitive mouths, in contrast to the asymmetric snaflles with thin, "harsh" mouthpieces normally used by warriors (Erdotelek), which enabled the rider to obtain more rapid changes in direction from the horse. The strong asymmetry permitted left-sided control so that a whip, scourge or weapon could be wielded in the right hand.

The nomadic horseman's most important article of clothing

55 Gilded iron stimlp, studded with silver rivets ,from Cs61yos





54 SWljJlr,pairojstifTUps, iron buckle and iron knife from Kunszentmdmm


was his weapon-belt. Tightly budded around the waist of the caftan, this leather belt and the weapons or weapon-holders that were suspended from it became for steppe people, their imagination always anchored in practicality, a symbol of the truly free man. In certain eras and among certain peoples, such as the Turks, A vars, Bulgars and Magyars, the number and quality of the gold. silver or bronze mounts that were used as belt ornaments disclosed their wearer's rank. The belts on the Cuman funerary statues that were made to honour the memory of dead noblemen are shown without ornaments, and steppe kurgans of the period contain only simple buckles as marks of the belt, from which it would seem that the splendid, richly studded weapon belts of earlier epochs had passed out of fashion by then. The Cumans' belts, as is also depicted in the Hungarian

illustrations, were generally narrow, smooth straps or sometimes textile belts made from similar material to the clothing. It is therefore all the more surprising that, on the evidence of grave goods from the thirteenth century (Kigy6spuszta, Cs6lyos, Fels6szentkidly). members of clan aristocracies, normally so strong in upholding tradition, should have worn belts adorned with gold and gilded silver fittings and belt ends that hung down freely to the knee or shins like those of knights and wealthy burghesses in the West or the Byzantine aristocrats of the Balkans in those days. Presumably Europe owed this belt

design, which is certainly Eastern-influenced, to the earlier steppe fashion of dress of the Bulgars, Magyars or Pechenegs, probably transmitted via Byzantium and the Cuman nobility adopted the style in the mid-thirteenth century under the impact of Western chivalric culture.

Evidence for this is provided by the motifs of the belt ornaments themselves, which are closely linked to those of the West. The nielloed belt-buckle from Kigyospuszta, one of the marvels of European goldsmith's art, bears on its plate a battle

scene, probably modelled on a miniaturist's tableau, in which the knights are fighting with weapons typical of the mid-thirteenth century. The style of the depiction betrays an influence of French court art. The Latin inscriptions on the circular mounts are supplications to the patron saints of knights--St. Margaret

of Antioch, St. Bartholomew, St. Stephen the Protomartyr, and St. James-whose cults spread throughout western Christendom in the thirteenth century. The Fels6szentkir3ly

27 belt carried mounts of "double-crescent" design which were

S6 A Cuman weimer's horse, as depicted in the wall-painting of the legend of Saint Ladislas elt Karaszk6 (Kraskovo, Czechoslovelkia)

Large round mounts cover the crossing points of the bridle strelps and reins, which are embellished with small studs


18-20 26,34-35




alternated with 14 escutcheons bearing engraved geometrical ~JJ armorial devices that are consistent with the stage to which

heraldry had evolved by the thirteenth century.

Where and in what sorts of workshops were these belts made? And how did they come into the possession of Cuman noblemen whose normal attire was that of a nomadic people? If the archaeological parallels to these three "Cuman' belts, which are fairly uncommon even among Hungarian finds, are mapped, we find a distribution area approximately covering Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and Moldavia. The niello technique of the Kfgyospuszta belt points to this same region. However, when the inspiration of knightly culture that is displayed in the orna .. ments is taken into consideration, this narrows the provenance down to Italy or Hungary. In the cases of the belts from Cs6lyos and Felsoszentkirdly it would appear that we cannot identify the area any more closely than that, but perhaps it is worth attempting to trace further the Kfgy6spuszta belt, which must definitely be linked to a royal workshop or some other major centre. Although we cannot exclude an origin in Hungary. as was asserted by earlier researchers, the closest parallel to the buckle which is known at present-namely, the nielloed gold belt from tomb 81 of the Santa Reparata church in the florence Duomo-favours an Italian provenance. The diffusion of the evident French influence on the design within the designated area, apart from Hungary, can be accounted for by reference to the Latin Empire which survived at Constantinople unti11261 (the French knights who were in control there from 1240 onwards formed an alliance with the Cumans on the lower Danube). However, more weight should be given to the Anjou court at Naples. King Charles of Sicily (1266-1285) had a lively intercourse with the Hungarian court, and indeed directly with the Cumans themselves. We know of a letter of 1273 which he addressed to the Cuman leader Alpra after the death of King Stephen, in which he admonishes Alpra to stay loyal to the Hungarian crown, promising that he too would give support both through his anny and financially. The gift of a gold belt, befitting a true prince, would give appropriate force to such a request from any ruler.

Hungarian paintings give no information about Cuman female dress but we can gain a general picture with the aid of the Cumanian burial figures and other grave finds. The upper garments were in many respects similar to men's attire: a knee-



u u

57 Re(onstruction c?fthewomdn's head-omamentfrom Balotapuszta


impressive in appearance than the torques is a thick necldet of silver mesh that was worn by a woman buried in one of the graves at Tiszafdldvar-Hornok; it fastens at the front onto a flat, round locket with filigree decorations that was probably used to carry an amulet. Amulee-cases suspended from necklaces can also be seen on some burial statues.

Armlets and finger-rings complete the list of jewels. In the twelfth century the armlets worn on the Cumanian steppe were mainly Byzantine style, hinged bands with engraved decorations. A strong Byzantine influence was exerted on the Black Sea littoral for many centuries and was manifested in nomadic dress primarily in the adoptation of certain jewels as well as various precious fabrics, silks and purples. The filigree-embe1- lished jewe1s from the Balotapuszta grave betray this influence of the Byzantine or Balkan goldsmith's art whilst at the same time providing evidence that new elements were beginning to appear in Cumanian dress by the mid-thirteenth century (coifS decorated with sewn-on mounts, dress--clasps of the kind universal throughout Europe).

The attire of the las in Hungary is at present known only through the excavations conducted by Uszl6 Se1meczi. at ]aszbereny-Negyszillas. Here, in a cemetery that was in use from the second half of the thirteenth century, a number of characteristic features, differentiable from those of the Cumans, were observed. The male graves yielded a paucity of finds that were of little value for reconstruction of their costume. Mountornamented belts were rare; usually only two buckles, which might have been part of a belt, were found beside the skeleton. Aniong these buckles were some types that are typical of the Caucasian region. Apart from knives and similar implements that would have hung on the belt, a dagger and a short sword were each unearthed from a single grave, On the other hand, the cemetery provided more data relating to female dress. In certain graves the skull was surrounded by a row of round, pressed discs which were perforated at the edges-presumably decorations for some kind of headgear. A variety of Orientalstyle ear-pendants also came to light; one of these, from grave 86, has a terminal cluster decoration and its exact equivalent is known from a twelfth or thirteenth-century grave in North Iran (Kordlar- Tepe) the burial rite of which (northern orientation) can plausibly be linked to the Alans. The necklaces consist of cowrie shells strung together with rock-crystal beads cut in

1I~1I1aBta 39 ~Gt



58 Gilded silver beads and mounts for decorating a coif or cap and outer garments (Balotapuszta)

59 Gilded torque made if two thick tmd one thin silver wire ,from the Bdn/tUt horse burial



length caftan, fastening at the front, beneath which were a chemise and loosely fitting underpants, whilst the footwear consisted of boots like those of the menfolk. On the belt that was fastened round the caftan were suspended implements such as a round mirror, knife. comb, shawl and a pouch to carry miscellaneous items. The women's headwear and use of jewellery varied gready. They might wear a peaked cap (with or without a brim), a flat cap, a bonnet, sometimes even a hood, with the hair, usually braided into two plaits, being covered by a coif attached to the headwear. Hom-shaped ornaments placed behind the ears on either side of the head seem to have been a characteristic of their costume; the slanting grooves that are seen on the sculptures denote bronze or silver rings, examples of which have been recovered among the finds from several graves in South Russia and, indeed, from a noble woman's grave in Hungary (Balotapuszta). The rings were threaded closely together either around a plait of hair or a thin pad of cloth. Large ear-rings decorated with hollow beads or double cones were generally worn ornaments; a variant of the doublecone type, further embellished with tiny cones or granules, has been termed "Cuman-type pendant" by researchers because of its preferential distribution in the territories of the western Cumans, Ear-pendants with one to three hollow-bead ornaments are common finds in graves of the thirteenth and fourteenth century in the burial grounds of Hungary's Cuman settlement areas (Kecskemet district, Ottomos, Karcag, etc.); the same type was common in the dress of Balkan peoples during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and was probably adopted from them by the Cumans. Other kinds of Orientalstyle ear-pendants also occur in the material from graves of Cuman and las commoners (grave 2fJ7 of the Franciscan Church, Kecskemet; ]iszhereny-NegyszaIJas).

Cuman noblewomen wore a peculiar composite necklace which was part chain, part torque. Attached to the chain were various geometrically-shaped pendants (rhomboids, triangles, squares) and also, on either side, the recurved ends of the open torque, which thus hung below the neck rather than being fastened round it. Some wealthy women bedecked themselves with as many as three such torques at once. Torques belonging to this sort of ornament are known in Hungary from two thirteenth-cen.tury graves (Bankut, Balotapuszta), and similar have also come to light in Cuman graves on the steppes. Even more




60 Oriental· style hoop ear-drops from Cuman and las cemeteries

61 Bronze and C4rved-bone needle-cases with incised decor, .from the las cemetery at Negyszdlltis

a question of occasionally wearing items of foreign dress (e.g. the knight's weapon belt), but later on these became integral parts of Cumanian attire. This is what happened also with the round or square pressed silver mounts that were sewn on clothes as decoration; the fashion for these began in Hungary around the turn of the thirteenth to the fourteenth century and fairly soon spread among the Cumans. Contemporary pictures and grave goods attest to the great popularity of these ornaments, which were generally applied to the chest of their caftans, but sometimes also to the cap. From the mid-fourteenth century onwards Hungarian jewellery of Gothic style appears in large quantities in the burial grounds of the Cumanian territories, signalling the entry of the Cumans into the Hungarian commodity market. The artefacts in graves of the fifteenth century (head-dresses, hairpins, beads, clasps, shank-buttons, buckles, belts, rings, etc.) are evidence that their attire had by then already been changed for that of contemporary Hungary.

47, 60,62 I.


58,59 42,61

62 Pair ojdiscs with Anjouj1eurde-lis design and a connector: [asians would have sewn this onto the flaps oj an outer tunic ornumtle as a fastening

a tetraoctahedral shape. The front-fastening outer garments werejoined at the breast with a pair of gilded silver discs sewn on the two flaps. The women carried a needle-case of bone or bronze on their belt; this often accompanied them to the grave, sometimes more than one of them. This type of artefact is unknown among medieval grave goods elsewhere in the Carpathian Basin; it was exclusively an Iasian burial custom.

When putting Cuman affairs into order in 1279, the papal legate, Philip, initially wished to prohibit the Cumans from shaving their beards and from keeping their characteristic hairstyle and manner of dress as practices opposed to Christian convention. However, he did finally relent on this one matter. At the end of the thirteenth century a veritable vogue for the Cumanian fashion grew up in Hungary to the extent that the appearance of Hungarian and Cuman troops at the same time both in Austria and Germany excited comment. As has already been mentioned, the traditional Oriental style of clothing survived into the fourteenth century. This stubborn persistence was no doubt due in part to the fact that the Cumans and las were mobilized as closed units; however, with the reduction in their military significance and their feudalization and conversion to Christianity in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, the old attire gradually fell into disfavour.

The slow adoption of elements of Western fashion into traditional Cuman dress can be followed in the archaeological finds. The process had already begun during the lifetime of the first generation which entered Hungary and. not surprisingly, accelerated with the passage of time. At first it was merely


Religion. and art

When the blue sky above and the black earth below were created. the sons of man were created between the two.

(part of inscription on memorial stele to the Turki, prime Kul·ttgjn)

According to Marvazi's reports, the Cumans who nomadized the West Siberian steppe were Nestorian Christians, that is, adherents of the Syrian Church, following the heretical doctrine of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. that distinguished two persons in the being of Christ-one human, the other divine in nature. This cult was already being propagated successfully amongst the peoples of Central Asia during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, though no trace of it has been found among the Cumans who settled in Europe. QUn-Sluiri tribes did indeed migrate through territories that were under the influence of Nestorianism. Thus if Marvazi's report had any foundation in fact. it could only have amounted to a case ofindividual tribal chiefs or court officials giving permission for the activities of Nestorian priests though they themselves did not embrace Christianity. In the COUISe of their long migration the Cumans had the opportunity to become acquainted with other dogmatic creeds, notably Buddhism and Islam and, on the Black Sea littoral, the Eastern Orthodoxy of Byzantium. However, for want of information, we have no idea what influence these religions may have had on the system of beliefs of tribes that had retained the paganism of their ancestors. We have already seen that the Cumans at first put up a determined resistance to attempts, supported by the Hungarian king. to convert them to Roman Catholicism from the 1220s onwards; it was only after the severe defeats that were inflicted on them by the Mongols that some of their tribal chiefs, and later the Cuman khagan himself, accepted Christianity as a condition for the sanctuary that they sought from the rulers of Hungary and Russia.

Our written sources do not provide a coherent picture of the Cumans' belief-world; only certain aspects can be evoked with the aid of the available data. The Franciscan friar. Plano Carpini, who travelled as papal envoy to the court of the Mongol Khan (KiiyUk), supplies the information that the Cumans called their


shamans Kam. The same word was also recorded in the Codex Cumanicus, around 1330, from the speech of Cumans living under the dominion of the Golden Horde, and it is the name that a number of Turkic peoples in Southern Siberia still gave to their shamans in the quite recent past. The shaman. who also figures in Magyar folk beliefs, is a specially gifted. person. able to establish contact with the world of spirits, who is involuntarily selected for this vocation by the spirits themselves. In the shamanistic view of the world that is common to most hunter and pastoral peoples of Siberia, the upper, middle and lower realms of the universe are interconnected by the World Tree. This, so to speak, provides a way for the shaman to travel on an ecstatic journey from the middle world of this earthly life to the lower and upper worlds, which are inhabited by supernatural beings and inaccessible to ordinary mortals. By entering into direct contact with the spirits shamans functioned as magicians, soothsayers and medicine men, although the system of beliefs surrounding Shamanism became increasingly complex with the development of these societies.

Shamans were found as well among the other mounted nomadic peopler-Avars, Turks and Mongols-but not associated with their traditional range of duties. Their social function in these nomad empires has been. studied by Istvan Dienes, who has concluded that the privileged class in the entourage of the ruler and his chiefs itself in effect constituted a priestly caste, or shaman aristocracy, the members of which were not shamans in the traditional sense but court officials appointed by the khan. Their activities were not restricted to the skills of prophecy, healing and magical practices, for their most important duties lay in performing ceremonies to secure and consecrate the dynasty's authority and promoting the cycles of legends that eulogized the ruling house. It is not by chance that the sharp-eyed William of Rub ruck regarded the shamans as the Mongols' priests, on one occasion even mentioning them by their Cuman name. For the Cumans too, having taken the same path of development to reach the threshold of an early feudal state organization, may have been evolving a similar sort of institution at the time that their tribal federation disintegrated WIder the impact of the Mongol conquest. Nevertheless, belief in the magical powers of the shamans, and the shaman vocation itself, persisted for a long time among the Cuman peoples, whether they stayed in their fonner territories as the subjects of


-- --



63 Statue of a Cuman male in battle dress

Suspended from the belt on his left side are a sword and bow-case; on his right side, a quiver. On the reverse is an incised depiction of

a helmeted rider carrying a lance with pennant

64 Statues of Cumanfemales with detailed representation if the dress

foreign rulers or dispersed. Thus in Moldavia, where Cumans formed a significant component of the population, sorcerers performing magic spells and practising soothsaying and benevolent or maleficent arts in exaccl.y the same manner as shamans were still respected members of society even as late as the seventeenth century. The circle of beliefs, ascribable to Shamanism, that surrounds the ttiltos of Hungarian folk tradition can also be traced in the "Greater Cumania" (Nagykunsig) area of the country.

The most spectacular relics of Cumanian art, the stone funerary statues of male and female figures carrying a bowl in their hands, permit a glimpse into another area of this circle of beliefs. Reference has already been made to their realistic representation of costume, It should be added that these were sculptures of specific personages; the faces are individualized, portrait-like, notwithstanding the fact that they conform to strict iconographic rules, being carved in a standing or seated pose with an abstracted gaze. The essential precursors of this art must be sought in Turkic sculpture of the sixth and seventh cenruries-in the figures of Southern Siberia and Mongolia which portray deceased tribal members. Set up on the eastern side of an enclosed square of stony ground that served as the site for sacrificial feasts, these statues embodied the belief that the dead


person's spirit would stay behind for a while amongst the living

and itself participate in the burial feast before completing the journey to the other world to join the ancestral spirits that guarded the clan. There are sound reasons for accepting the suggestion that the stony areas with the figures were the shrines of

an ancestor cult. The immediate predecessors of the South Russian statues have come to light in Kazakhstan. and the "Seven Rivers" region south of Lake Balkhash, which the Cumans also visited and where the custom of setting up such sculptures was maintained until the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. 9 Thousands of these memorials must also have been erected on

the steppe lying to the north of the Black Sea between the end of

the eleventh and the mid-thirteenth centuries, but only a few hundreds have survived to the present day: in her most recent monograph S. A. Pletneva has catalogued 1,322 specimens, and

this includes examples which are known only from the literature, (The later Ukrainian and Russian populations, keeping the Turkish word baba 'father, ancestor', called the statues kamennaya baba 'stone ancestors'.) William of Rub ruck remarks on the figures in his Itinerary I whilst at the end of the twelfth century

the Azerbaijani poet Nizami of Ganja vividly described how Cumans passing through the region would prostrate themselves before the statues, those who were on horseback leaving



! I I


65 CUm4n shrine built on an artificial mound in the Donets region: il had a double stone wall, with the entrance on the westside

an arrow, and herdsmen a. sheep, as marks of respect. Archaeological observations indicate that the Cumans did not set up the sculptures over the actual graye_Qnne-dece~~J but

'"-----atbP-soiiiep~orrrinence - on-the-·steppe=.usuaIiY a~--wl1er kur-

gan-and generally clustered in groups. Recent excavations have clarified that spaces covered with stones or enclosed by a square stone wall occur equally; however, the Cum~s did not place the Iikenesses of their noblemen and women in front.of the ceremonial site but within the shrines at the centre-always fa~g_~twards; towards the home of the gods, just like the Turkic figures, Bones of sacrificial animals--horses, cattle, sheep or dogs-have also been found at these sites.

The modifications that took place in the customs of erecting the ancestor figures testify to changing beliefs and the growing significance of the shrines. Increasing social differentiation, with the emergence of early feudalistic social relations, brought


about a gradual transformation of the ancestor cult into a homage to a tribal and clan aristocracy that was becoming detached from its people in wealth and power as well as being buried separately. After their death. members of this class became spirits that promoted the community's welfare, the multiplication of its livestock, the bounteousness of its pastures, the fertility of its womenfolk, and the destruction of its enemies. The concept of a mother-goddess probably also played a part in the diffusion of the female representations.

After th~~o~!2_quest, and even though the greater part of their people remained on the steppe, the Cum~n§_~~~do~~ the practice of erecting funerary statues. This is explicable by the fact thai the Mongols- eradicitecf the tribal and clan aristocracies and with them the class to which the religious concepts had related. During the lifetime of the first one or two generations of Cumans in Hungary the social conditions required for survival of the custom were still operating. although not a single stone figure has passed down to us. All we have are a few data in eighteenth and nineteenth-century sources which speak of carved wooden figures. known in Hungarian as Cuman or las idols (kunkfp, jeiszkep), which were set up at the

66 Horse burial with complete horse skeleton. On the left of the human skeleton are some lamb bones, a sword, and an iron knife

o bll ~



67 Graveqfa Cuman male, with horse trappings and quiver, buried in the Donets region.

limits of some communities and may have been forms of boundary post that have since been destroyed. Wooden equivalents of the stone figures are, in fact, also known from the South Russian steppe and we should bear in mind that these would naturally have perished to an even greater extent than the stone memorials.

The comer of the belief world on which archaeological data throw the strongest light is that of burial customs. The graves of tribal and clan aristocrats buried in a pagan manner have been discovered in Hungary; indeed, it is precisely the fact that this fashion differs so sharply from medieval Christian practice, together with the Oriental origin of articles of dress and weapons among the grave goods, which has allowed identification of the Cumanian relics. The Cumans brought with them to the West from the Volga an archaic fonn of the horse burial rite that is characteristic of nomadic peoples. They placed the

d~~~~_'_s. :i_~~~?~ein_!a!:t in_ the ~,~ve whereas iri_!@]f~ ceding era other steppe peoples of East Europe bad bUried only the horse's hide, with the skull and legs left inside, -die~fIesh';r;ci other parts of the animal being consumed at the burial feast. In the domains that fell under control of the Cuman tribal federation both types of horse burial co-existed, and inhumation of the intact horse with its trappings survived to the very last, even reaching Hungary (Bankut, Homok). From ~e s_!!:!bgom___J!ersistence Ef__!he- custom.we may infer a relativea_Q@dancs;._of horse stocks; for a!l that, however,· pres-urr..ably for social reasons, a symbolic form of horse burial in which the harness was ~tel!ed .~thout horse boneS ··31So -gamed----ruITency (Cs6lyos, Erdotdek);· in someinstances the sidille and bridle were placed under the deceased's head (Ktiriszent:m3lton):--In addition, Oriental travellers have left graphic descriptions of the custom whereby nomads would suspend horse-hides from all poles erected above certain graves. On the steppe near the Black Sea, William of Rub ruck saw a grave beside which 1.6 hides had been impaled in this manner-four ~~ __ each_E.oillt-of the compass-s-and, he further noted, "they put out kumfs that iliey should drink, and pieces of meat that they should eat, even though the deceased was said to have been baptized".

An east-west orientation of the grave was characteristic of the Cumaiiian ritUal in this period (Fels6szentkiraIy, Kunszentmarton, Bankut), though some tribes laid out their dead with the head towards the west (Hornok). Among the funerary customs



67a The grave was closed with timbers and lay below a stone-lined chamber within the kurgan


practised by the Cumans, sealing the grave with planks and beams and the use of stone-lined kurgans have not been recorded in Hungary up to now, though it should be acknowledged that few graves have been excavated in a fully authenticated manner. Contemporary sources are unanimous in declaring that the Cumans constructed a mound over their graves, and this is also the testimonyo(exc~:;;oons in SoutbemRussia. yet in Hungary no artificial mound has been found to date in association with a Cuman burial site. (So--called Cuman mounds, which are common on the Hungarian Plain, were built in prehistorical times, mostly in the Late Copper Age; medieval Cumanian graves are encountered at best only as secondary burials in the mounds. In any event, the designation does not reflect a folk tradition but derives from rrineteenth-century scholarship.) If built, such mounds, which would have been very low even at the time of their construction, could easily have been eroded away without trace under the actions of wind, rain and intensive land-use. According to the Chronicon of the Cistercian monk Aubrey of Trois Fontaines (Albericus Monachus), the Cumans on the lower Danube erected a high mound for their Khan jonas, an ally of the Latin Emperor against Byzantium, who, when he died at Constantinople in 1241, was laid to rest outside the city walls since he was unbaptized. Eight weaponbearers and 26 horses were buried alive along with him so that he should have faithful servants and not want for steeds in the other world. The belief that in the hereafter the dead would have need of the things to which they had been accustomed during their earthly existence also emerges from an eyewitness account concemingJonas Khan's daughter, who had been wedded by the knight Narjot de Touey, the second-highest ranking


person in the Latin Empire, to put a seal on the alliance that had been concluded with the Cumans. Philippe de Touey, Narjot's son by his fust marriage, visited the Cumans' camp with a group of French barons and later described his experiences there at the court of St. Louis IX, which were recorded in the chronicle of the king's life by Jean de Joinville. Philippe saw how the Cumans went about interring one of their dignitaries. Mter they had dug a large pit, the dead man's body, ceremonially dressed, was seated on a chair:

And they put in there alive, together with him, his best horse. and his best servant. The servant, before being placed in the pit with his master, took his leave from the king of the Cumans and the other wealthy lords; and during the farewell they thrust gold and silver without count into his sack and said unto him: 'When I too arrive in the next world you will return to me what I have given to you.' And he said: 'I will gladly do that. • The great king of the Cumans then gave him a letter which was addressed to the first of their kings, and in which he sent word that this valiant warrior had lived a very upright life and had served him extremely well, and that the servant should be taken into the Icing's service. When this had happened they put him in the pit with his master and the live horse; and then they placed well joined planks on the pit and everyone hurried for stones and earth. And before they had gone to lay down for sleep, they had already prepared a large hill above them in memory of those whom they had interred.

a oinville: Vie de saint Louis)

Burial in this manner was certainly not accorded to everyone, even amongst the clan aristocracy, yet the description manages to preserve some religious concepts of more general validity. Without attempting to deal with all of these, we should note the close connection between the worlds of the living and the dead; the sending of treasures by the Cuman nobles who remained alive in order to ensure the goodwill of'the spirits of the other world; the reign of the Cumans' mythical "first king" in the realm of the ancestors and the bringing of his attention to the present khan's servant by letter; also the way that the servant himself seems to have accepted the whole procedure as natural, indeed even regarding it as an honour. Joinville also related how


the Latin Emperor and his retinue had sealed a blood pact with the Cumans. The blood, collected in a silver goblet, was mixed with wine and water from which they then drank, in this way becoming blood-brothers according to the Cumans' beliefs. At the end of the ceremony a dog was thrown among the French barons and Curnan nobles and hacked to death with their swords, with the Cumans saying that this would be the fate of them who betrayed the trust of the other. It will be recalled that the Curnans performed a similar act-remarkable example of homoeopathic magic-at the wedding of Stephen .v and Elizabeth. Oath-taking on a dog or wolf was, in fact, also customary among other steppe peoples, including the Magyars, Bulgars and Mongols.

Though forcibly christianized, the Cuman nobility in Hun-

gary continued proudly to uphold their traditions for two or

three generations, still burying their dead in the pagan fashion, separately from their people, until the early fourteenth century.

Their solitary graves are found at a distance from settlements,

though always within the designated confines of the Cuman

domains and not on land belonging to neighbouring Magyar

villages. Their location may sometimes help to outline the clan

centres. Thus the greatest concentration of thirteenth-century

noble graves has been unearthed in the vicinity of Halas, the seat

of the Chertan clan in the fourteenth century. This same district

is also the provenance of a number of fourteenth-century treasure-troves (e.g. Kiskunhalas-Bodoglarpuszta, Kdebia) which 58-63 were presumably the property of Curnan notables at the time 65, 67 they were concealed.

For a long time it seemed merely a plausible hypothesis that traces of the pagan burial grounds of ordinary Cumanian people, dating from the same period as the graves of their dignitaries, should be sought, in the first place, in the cemeteries that were in continuous use by their fourteenth to sixteenthcentury communities, even after the construction of churches; there they should constitute the oldest strata of graves. As with cemeteries around other churches, the possibilities for investigation of such sites are gready restricted by the fact that, because of the crowding of burials into the same small area over centuries, it is the early graves that tend to be destroyed in the largest numbers; furthermore, most of the graves yield few grave goods, often none at all, and so are difficult to date. With the accelerating pace of excavations in the 1970s. however, it


became possible to substantiate the above hypothesis. Laszlo Sefmeczi has distinguished two main types of cemeteries on Cuman settlement sites on the basis of their origins and their association with churches. Certain communities, some from as early as the latter half of the thirteenth century, began to inter their dead besides the churches of Arpad-era villages that had been destroyed during the Mongol invasion of Hungary, i.e. Csengele-Bogarhat, Karcag-Orgondaszentmild6s, Szentkicily (from 1953 to 1987 Uszl6falva; hereinafter SzentkiraIy), whereas elsewhere similar communal cemeteries, also demonstrably in use since the late thirteenth century, were established a long time before the foundation of a church at the end of the fourteenth century or during the fifteenth century (Karcag-Aszszonyszallas, Jaszbereny-NegyszaIIas, etc.), In the former case, the Cumans who moved into the abandoned Magyar villages may have been acting under ecclesiastical orders in choosing as their burial sites the environs of churches that had lain in ruins since the Mongol invasion; for the church, after some roughand-ready repairs. would also have been useful for services held by missionary priests. The second kind of cemetery exemplifies how relatively protracted the process of converting the Cumans and Iasians was; here the building of the church may have been linked to the decision to settle permanently and the establishment of parishes.

Future excavations and a more thorough study of the architectural history of the churches in question will undoubtedly lead to refinements in our understanding but, irrespective of whether the burial ground was opened on a bare hill or next to an early church, we are able to demonstrate that pagan customs also persisted in the interment of common people. Laszl6 Selmeczi's observations in the cemetery at Karcag-Orgondaszentmild6s show the survival of steppe traditions in the funerary rites, including the specifically Cumanian practice, mentioned in our written sources, of covering the grave-pit with planks (grave 40). and the use of reeds to weave shrouds (graves 231 and 302). for which we also have evidence from the Donets region. Although interment in a coffin of treebark or planks was not a recently adopted custom, the Cumans later began to employ the same sort of box -shaped or trapezoidal, iron-banded coffins as Magyars of the Hungarian Plain. The placing of animal bones in the grave can be regarded as, a vestige of the pagan ritual; finds include horse teeth (grave 478


at Karcag-Orgondaszentmik.l6s, 167 and 170 at Karcag-Aszszonyszallas), a ram's head (grave 38 at Ottomos), and cattlebones (grave 31 at Csengele-Bogarhat). In the cemetery at Ottomas, near Szeged, eggs were found in five female graves, which attests the existence of a superstitious belief deriving from fertility magic. Certain plants (e.g. wormwood) also had a role in the funeral ceremonies. The inclusion of sharp iron implements (knife or axe) in the grave to ward off harmful spirits has also been observed at Karcag-Orgondaszentmiklos (graves 42, 375 and 379). (Quite apart from this purpose, iron knives were often put beside the body as important utensils; 12 per cent of the graves in the cemetery at Ottomos, for example, contain an iron knife.) Round glass mirrors in leather frames were probably carried about in life and placed in the grave after death for the purposes of fending off evil forces (graves VII, XVI and XXXIV at Szabadsz3ll:is-Aranyegyhiza, grave 59 at Karcag-Orgondaszentmik16s). The Byzantine crosses and the positioning of the body's hands that were observed during excavations in the cemetery at Jaszbereny-Negyszanas permit the inference that we must reckon with Christian influences among the Iasians.

In the first half of the fourteenth century, the ruling class of Cuman society, the settlement leaders (capitanei) and clan chieftains (comes) who aspired to the same rights as those enjoyed by the Hungarian nobility, finally abandoned their pagan burial sites and the more conspicuous elements of pagan ritual. such as burial with their horse, harness and weapons, and started to inter their dead in their encampments, alongside their increasingly impoverished and feudalized commoners (rurales). It is to this Cuman nobility that we can attribute graves in the communal cemeteries which have rich grave goods of jewellery and appurtenances. There are other signs, too, of how this class took the initial steps on the path to Christianization and, with this, assimilation. Studies of the corpus of personal names recorded in documents show that up until the mid-fourteenth century the majority of Cumans, like the Iasians, still kept their pagan appellations. the significations of which are complete~y consistent with the name-giving customs among other Turkic peoples and in addition provide some insight into an interesting facet of the old Cuman belief world. In the following we draw on Usz16 Rasonyi's work on the semantic and psychological categorization of these personal names.


The use of certain animal namer-man (1266) 'snake' Abchyk (in the toponym AbchykszaIIas (1395), which derives from a personal name) 'little bear'-may be ascribable to to~nristi~ concepts. Names based on animals with some superlative attnbute--e.g. Althabarz (1347) 'six leopards'-may also hav~ served to frig~ten away evil spirits. One group of prophylame names w~ m~ended to confuse the harmful spirits or make them believe ill the newborn infant's worthlessness or contemptible nature: Mordar (1280) 'dirt', Boklow (1322) 'dunghill', Kalas (1436) 'orphan', Aboska (1459) 'old, elderly', Balmas: (1~11; ~ a t~ponym derived from a personal name) 'nonexistent', Certain names define the child's destiny with wishes for good fortune, success or favourable character--A(par (1279) 'valiant man, hero', Kolbaz (1459) 'defeat the army's wing' -amongst which belong names that express physically desirable attributes such as plumpness: Arbuz (1290, 1298) 'watermelon', Kabak (1354) 'pumpkin'.

The name of the first object, animal, plant or person seen, or the first word uttered by the parents, after the child's birth seems to have been an auspicious sign: Balta (1423) 'axe', Buzkan (1;~3) 'mace', Kunc~gh (1333) 'trousers', Cherchy (1436, 1475) itmerant tradesman, Tepremez (1280) 'immobile', Kystre (1347) from qil-tura 'winter dwelling', Tastra (1347) from taItura 'stone house'. Meteorological or astronomical events at the time of birth likewise counted as omens from the spirit world:

Aydua (1290) 'rising moon', Tolon (1279) 'full moon', Toman (1419) 'mist'. Finally, the child might be called after someone known to the family or a fa~ous person e.g. Vgudey (1333), named after the Mongol Khan Ogedei.

From the late thirteenth century onwards we begin to encounter Cumans with Christian names, though these only start to outnumber pagan names during the middle third of the fourteenth century. It is principally in this period that documents feature the names of baptized Cumans whose fathers still bo~e a pagan ~me (for example, Peter son of Bwchwr in 1354). This was ~e t:nne .when evangelism gained a greater impetus. In 1348 Minonte friars of the Franciscan Order were charged by the Po~ to undertake missionary work among the Cumans and las m Hungary, ~tfirst, probably outside the country's bor?ers only, on the temtory ofMoldavian Cumania, though even m the last years of the century they were still having to carry out their pastoral duties on the move, from camp to camp, follow-


ing congregations that adhered to their nomadic way of life. The populations of the Cuman and las lands (Kunsag andjaszsag) were in fact finally Christianized only in the latter half of the :fifteenth century.

Among the factors that retarded the process of conversion, apart from the stubborn clinging of the peoples to elements of their old pagan beliefs. mention must be made of the behaviour of priests from the churches that were already functioning. For many of them insisted on immediate payment of tithes by their newly baptized congregations and, apprehensive about the size of their stipends, they also tried to c::ject the Minorite friars from their parishes. In 1328 the Pope himself had to intervene, restraining the prelates of the Hungarian Church from taxation of recently converted heathens and heretics, and this probably explains why Cuman and las churches were not entered in the papal roll of tithes. A papal Bull of1351 favoured Iasian, Cumanian and Tartar converts by making them pay a thirtieth only instead of tithes to the archbishop or diocesan.

Istvan Gyorffy has suggested that the several centuries of continual. pressure by the Catholic Church to gain converts and the conduct of its ecclesiastics were ultimate causes behind the rapid acceptance of the Reformation by Cuman and Iasian populations. (Subsequently, during the period of the CounterReformation, only the las were won back to the Catholic faith.)

For those people who still understood the Cuman dialect at the 'I

time that the Reformation was embraced, presumably sometime in the latter half of the sixteenth century. a Cumanian translation was made of the Lord's Prayer from the Gospel according to St. Matthew. This precious relic of the moribund tongue has come down to us in the form of a badly distorted version of the text that was recorded in the mid-eighteenth century:

Bizi'l attamiz kim sif) kiJkte senlensin sen adi'r} / dUIsUn sen kiit'}lut'1 / neligim Jerde alay kokte / bizin iitmegimizni her bizge bUIbUtiin kilnde. / Rt bizi,., miinimizni nele / biz de iyinniz bizge iitrii gelgenge / iltme bizni 01 Jamonga / qutqar bizni 01 Jamont1lJn / sen lJarsi'fJ bo kiilli ho lin iygi Tengeri amen.

(St. Matthewvi, 9-13 in Thunmann's first text variant, after I. Mandoky Kongur)


Nomad camps and pennanent villages

We have scarcely any information about the Cumans' 'internal affairs, settlement patterns or economy over a long period. Mentions of Cumanian encampments occur in documents from the mid-fourteenth century; at first nameless, these were settlements located in the vicinity of Magyar communities. Thus in 1341 we can read ofCumans moving into lands near the village and farmsteads ofBors6d, and in 1349 of them living in the neighbourhood of the villages of Abad and Tomajmonostor. The stipulation in the Cumanian Laws of 1279 that the Cumans should leave their tents and felt houses to dwell in buildings that were fixed to the ground, in accordance with Christian ways, remained just a pious hope for a long time. From a document of as late as 1347 we learn that twelve Cumans living in "felt houses" (filtreas domus habentes) had detached themselves from the camp of the ispan Koncheg, captain of the Chertan clan, and moved onto the estates of a neighbouring Hungarian landowner. For the first century that followed the entry of this people into Hungary we are therefore dealing primarily with nomadic camp sites with surface structures-tents or yurts-which are impossible to locate with existing archaeological techniques. Even fewer traces can have remained of the mobile shelters or yurt-wagons, drawn by oxen, horses or camels, that were favoured by medieval nomads and the two-wheeled carts with chambers for their clothes, implements and valuables, dozens of which would have been lined up at a dignitary's camp. Place-names afford us a glimpse into the protracted process by which permanent settlements came into being. In accordance with the name-giv-

68 Cumam travelling in yurtcovered carts


ing customs of other Turkic peoples, the Cumans derived the names [or most of their camp sites from personal names, the landowner's name being supplied with an appropriate Hungarian suffix such as -szdlldsa 'his camp', -Ulise 'his seat', -nipe 'his people', -luiza 'his house' (e.g. Koncsogszallasa, Csolyosszallasa, Besemihflyszillasa, Bagdasulese, Alonnepe, Bugachaza, etc.). The frequent use of the word "sz3.llas" (descensus 'camp') is in itself a pointer that these settlements were more informal than the Magyar villages. But in any case the landowner himself would have been the surest means for the Hungarian administration to identify settlements that did not have a fixed location. In 1328, for example, we find reference to a Boza, son of Bolachuch, "at his own camp", whilst in 1340 Peter the Cuman, son of Kochola, carried off a serf from the village of Tomajmonostor "to his own camp".

We are in the best position to estimate the date of origin of a settlement's name in those cases where the eponymous landowner is mentioned independendy in the sources. Now, some of the permanent settlement sites of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries preserve the names of Cum an nobles who lived at the end of the thirteenth or in the first half of the fourteenth century. Thus, Tortelszallas (1436: TherthezaUas) comes from Tortel (1290: TurteQ, Koncsogszillas (1436: Kempcegzallasa) from Koncheg (1333: Kunchegh), and Buzganzal1as (1432) from Buzgan (1333). In these instances there can be little doubt that a nomadic winter camp site was made permanent at a relatively early date and thus can be regarded as the immediate antecedent of the later village. With another group of toponyms that are based on Christian personal names it is highly likely that the landowner, who might bear a Cuman name merely as a distinguishing appellation, flourished after the middle of the fourteenth century, e. g. Besemihalyszallasa (1395) and J akabszfllasa (1447).

It is worth enquiring why a whole series of Cuman camps preserved the names of the Magyar villages that stood earlier on

the site. In some cases it has been possible to demonstrate an essential continuity of settlement; in other words, after the rav-

ages of the Mongol invasion the original Magyar population returned but, since it now formed an enclave within a Cuman settlement area, it was gradually Cumanized or else was integrated into the Cuman "seat" organization. In the "Greater Cumania" (Nagykunsag) region this happened, for example, to 78

Matjalaka, which was surrounded on one side by Cuman settlements and on the other by marshlands. Archaeological investigations suggest that it was already a respectably sized village during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and that it was continuously inhabited thereafter, but by the late fourteenth century it may be presumed to have been in Cumanian ownership. In the case of estates that were purchased or newly granted fiefs, property laws would no doubt have been instrumental in preserving the names of Arpad~ villages, even where the Cumanleader gained vacant possession of the lands.

In villages that had been completely razed by the Mongols continuity oflife was, of course, interrupted for a while, but the new settlers would often find that the site of the Arpad-era village was topographically favourable for their own permanent quarters too. Testimony to this is provided by, among other things, the opening of Cumanian communal burial grounds by deserted churches. In fact, churches often became the nuclei for settlement by populations that were still semi-pagan and thus it is no coincidence that the names of most of the villages that sprang into life again in this way designate a church site. We can give here several examples of settlements that underwent this particular course of evolution. In 1389 the Icing's Palatine (tuidor) issued a document "at the Cuman camp lying around the Church of the Martyrs SS. Fabian and Sebastian"-a place later called Fabi3nsebestyen. In. 1353 a Cuman captain, Janos, son of Karia's son Istvan, was granted as a new fief the vacant property of Agasegy1Uza (Agaseghaz) near Kecskemet, Archaeological evidence suggests that he and his people settled there soon afterwards since most of the graves in the communal cemetery can be dated by coins from the reign of Louis I the Great (d. 1382). The following year, in 1354, King Louis bestowed the similarly vacant crown properties ofSzentkirily and Mindszent in Szolnok County on the Cuman Peter, son of Bwmwr, and his cousins BaramukJ son of KabakJ and Gal, son of WeztegJ on condition that they settled on the lands and lived there in a Christian manner (observatafide ortIwdoxaJ more et ritu Christiarwrum). Settlement on both properties did indeed take place for by the end of the fourteenth century sound dwelling houses, conforming with "Christian. custom", had arisen around the churches, which had been rebuilt and buttressed. The church at Szentkir:ily, one of the properties that had passed into the hands of this Cuman family, still. bears to this day the


name of St. Stephen. to whom it was originally dedicated in the Arpad era. Mindszent, on the other hand was given a new name after a subsequent medieval landlord (BarabasszaIlasa).

The course of development that can be reconstructed for the

las area differed somewhat from that for the Cumans. Although here, too, documents show the same initial uncertainties about the naming of settlements-for instance, in 1325

the convent at Esztergom cited "the lasians dwelling around Csaba" in a Jaw suit-most of our data suggest that the process

of settling down was accomplished fairly quickly. Place-names

of Magyar origin, among them appellations derived from church names, predominate; indeed, lasian pagan personal names ofIranian or Turkic character are nowhere encountered, despite the fact that the las dialect was still in use up to the midfifteenth century. True, the relatively small area of the las-lands 8 (laszsag) was more tighdy hemmed in by Magyar villages than were the Cuman settlement areas; nevertheless, we concur with 77 the ethnographer Laszl6 Szab6 that more decisive reasons why

the Iasians established stable settlements earlier on were the preponderance of tillage-agriculture in their economy by the time

that they entered Hungary and the greater intensiveness of their animal husbandry. For the Cumans who moved into Hungary pastoralism was the most important component of their farm-

ing activities, even though they carried out a certain amount of cultivation on their winter quartering Jands, as is indicated by

the list of crop plants included in the glossary of the Codex Cumanlcus, among them millet, wheat, barley, rye. lentils, chick-peas, beet, water-melon, pumpkin, cantaloup (musk melon), garlic and onions.

During the fourteenth century there was a speeding up of the process of social differentiation. The aristocratic class which stood at the apex of the immigrant communities strove to boost its power and wealth by appropriating clan properties and asserting its rights to personal ownership of land and tides of nobility, whilst the free commoners became increasingly impoverished, some of them sinking to the rank. of serfdom. The feudal relations that had emerged by the end of the fourteenth century, coupled with the growing weight and. economic importance attached to agriculture, led to a consolidation of settlements around the tum. of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. This accords with archaeological finds which date the earliest strata of Cumanian and las villages to this


69 Bone implementsfrom Cuman settlements ofthe 15th to 16th century: a) awl,

b) spiked implementfor attaching to a stick, c) ice-seate

I l




69, 70


period. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries mixed or complex farming was being pursued in these communities, although both historical sources (e. g. tax-rolls) and archaeological evidence indicate that extensive pastoralism continued in importance, with cattle and sheep as the chief domestic animals. To help them tend the herds and flocks that were kept at pasture throughout the year, winter as well as summer, the herdsmen had massive and immensely powerful, longhaired guard-dogs of the komondor breed, whose very name denotes their Cuman origin (deriving from the ethnic name koman, the word can be literally translated as 'Cuman dog'). Skeletal remains of sheepdogs with a withers height of 60-62 em have been unearthed at some settlements (Tiirkeve-Moric, Szentkidly).

We may ask what specifically Cumanian features were retained by these permanent settlements? The archaeological record is above all a monument to the socio-economic integration of this people for, from all the evidence obtained to date, it would appear that in the Hungarian Plain (Alfold) there were no essential differences between villages of Magyar or Cuman population in terms of layout, types of dwelling, household utensils or other implements. Excavations have now been undertaken at quite a large number of settlements (we would mention in particular the work of Kalman Szab6 and Laszl6 Papp in the Kiskunsag district around Kecskemet and Istvan Meri's excavations at Ttirkeve-Moric in the Nagykunsag, which have provided a methodological model for the investigation of medieval village sites). Yet it must be admitted that we have still taken only the fust few steps towards understanding the economic structure of any single community. Earlier exca-

vations were directed primarily at uncovering dwelling houses and only recently have the excavation of farm outbuildings and thorough study of the farmyard become objectives. It seems that as a result of agrarian developments in the fourteenth century a new kind of dwelling, called the "Middle Hungarian" house type, began to appear at much the same time in both Magyar and Cuman villages of the Hungarian Plain. Built on an axial plan, usually with three rooms arranged as living roomkitchen-store, this type of abode had the special feature of a heating stove in the main room that could be fired from the kitchen. This method of keeping the living room free of smoke was a major advance in the evolution of peasant dwellings and as such was readily adopted by the Cumans, who were just in the process of setting up permanent residences.

Mention has already been made ofSzentkiraIy, for which we can demonstrate through tax records a history of ownership by a single Cuman family over 150-200 years and whose population was at least partly Cumanian by descent right up to the time of the Ottoman Turkish occupation of Hungary. A full excavation has now been completed of one of the farmsteads in the middle of this settlement, close to the church. The dimensions and construction of the house as well as its position within the settlement all lead to the conclusion that it must have been the abode of a leading member of the village community, perhaps one of the landowning family. A four-roomed dwelling was built on the site at the beginning of the fifteenth century but burnt down at the end of that century or early in the sixteenth century. A new building with similar alignment and plan, except for the addition of a veranda, was raised-presumably by the same famiIy-on top of the levelled debris of the first, but this too was destroyed in the late sixteenth century. In the farmyard at the back of the house there were originally several smaller surface constructions on posts and a pen dug in the earth, but in the later period most of the yard, an area 15-17

metres in diameter, was enclosed by a palisade which can be 72-73 interpreted as a pen for holding animals. Thus, with the passage

of time the layout of the farmstead was modified in a quite

specific manner, with the pen-the characteristic wintering construction of extensive pastoralism-being brought in from

the grazing-lands into the village, next to the farm dwelling it-


SzentkiraIy is situated in the central part of the sandy region







70 Iron implements used in ani,,",1 husbandry,from the ,,",terialof medieval villages in the district of Kecskemet: a) currycomb, b) hobble, c) lock-keysfor hobbles • d) ha y-rake , e) sheepshearing clippers,.n goad

of the Danube- Tisza Interfluve, on the margins of a large area dotted with shallow lakes. The village itself was built on a dune that extends in a general north-west to south-east direction, in conformity with which the houses. spaced about ~70 metres apart from one another, were arranged in two rows stretching over the hill on either side of a street of stamped earth. A similar pattern is seen at Tiirkeve-Moric, where the village street is thought to have run in a south-west to nortb.-east direction with a branch at 9Cf. Taking the findings of the various excavations together with the data from more general archaeological surveys, the loose structure of Cuman villages in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with their large farmyard, may be regarded as a characteristic which probably arose from the fact that the settlements grew out of what were originally temporary winter camps.

Cultivation of the land was already an important part of the fann economy of the Cumans who settled at Szentkiraly. Turkish tax-rolls from the sixteenth century indicate that their crops included wheat, rye, flax and hemp. The produce was generally stored in large, round pits in the ground. Amongst the archaeological finds that point to cultivation of grain are iron implements (sickles, scythes), storage jars and millstones. However, animal husbandry lost none of its importance, and no doubt Szentkici1y too contributed to the growing sixteenth-

century export trade in animals, one of whose centres was nearby Kecskemet, Merchants from such centres would buy up the horses, cattle and sheep intended for sale in all the villages that lay within the market's" catchment" area. Judging from the bones that have been recovered from rubbish pits at Szentkiclly, the meat-eating preferences of the inhabitants seem to have been (in declining order): cattle, sheep and goat, horse, fowl (chicken, goose, duck, pigeon), fish (sheath-fish, carp, bream).

In contrast to these unmistakable signs of a sedentary way of life, other bone-finds are reminiscent of the nomadic past. The horse seems to have retained a special place. Large amounts of chopped-up horse bones have been unearthed amidst kitchen rubbish, indicating regular consumption of horse-meat. These remains are, in general, consistent with a medium-sized horse of Oriental type (there are documentary records that a Cuman breed of horse existed in Hungary during the thirteenth century). That superstitions or cultic rites were still associated with the horse is evidenced by the finding of phalangeal bones, several of them marked with incised lines, at a number of places in the settlement as well as the skull of a yOWlg foal which, from

71 Ground-plan oJthe 15th to 16th-century Cuman village of T urkeve- M one:

1 Location of excavated houses 2 Presumed location oJhouses 3 Church


- 1

o 2

o 3


Q !9Om


fifteenth century, and only 55-60 per cent of settlements survived even into the period of the Ottoman Turkish conquest, by which time they were in the process of becoming integrated into the Magyar village system. Most of the settlements that fell under the Turkish occupation were destroyed at the end of the sixteenth century during the so-called Fifteen Years' War (1593-1606). The settlers either crowded into market towns and larger villages of the region or else fled for longer or shorter periods of time to the unoccupied northern part of the kingdom.

'This brought to an end the several centuries' long process of assimilation of Hungary's Cuman and las populations. However, the clans that had originally arrived in the country from the East during the Middle Ages did give rise to ethnographically distinct groups which for a long time preserved the memory of their former privileges as well as an awareness of their separate descent and elements of whose traditional culture set them apart from the peasant rultures in other regions of Hungary.

73 SickleJrom TurkeveMorie. Thetang

if the blade

is greatly corroded

72 Detail of a Jarmyard in the late·medieval Cuman village of Szentkiraly

Thefour·roomed dwelling IuuJ

a prop-and-beam roofstructure and dosed fireplace; part oj th e yard behind it was later endosedfor animals. Thepen wallswtre rebuilt several times, indicating their temporllry nature

the visible damage to it. was probably set on a pole or post. According to a belief which is detectable down to the present day, a horse skull impaled on a stake served to protect both crops and animals from curses, pestilence and hailstorms.

A fairly dense network of fourteenth and fifteenth-century Cuman settlements em be reconstructed from various written sources and archaeological research. In the most closely investigated of these areas, that of "Greater Cumania" (Nagykunsag), the average area owned by a community was 25 to 30 square kilometres (60--75 acres)-a density comparable to that of Magyar settlements in the Arpadian era. With the disappearance of economically unviable villages-possibly the communities that had clung most persistendy to the steppe way of life-a thinning of the network had already begun during the







after 955





Expedition oflsmail Ibn-Ahmed, second ruler of the Samanid dynasty, against the Ghuzz (Oghuz, Turks). Ghuzz, in alliance with the Khazars, evict Pechenegs from their quarters in western Siberia.

Pechenegs confiscate from Magyars the so-called Etelkoz between the Don and the lower Danube.

Magyar conquest of the Carpathian Basin.

Pechenegs' first incursion into Russia. Arabic traveller Ibn FozIin encounters a Pecheneg tribe amongst Ghuzz to the east of the Ural river. Magyar-Pecheneg marauding campaign into the Byzantine Empire. Pecheneg leader Thonuzoba moves into Hungary.

Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev's successful campaign against the Khuars. Pechcnegs murder Svyatoslav at the Dnieper. Byzantines form the frontier province (theme) of Paris trion from their eastern Bulgarian conquest. Ghuzz, allied with the Russians, in conflict with the Bulgars.

Khitayan conquest of the country to the north-west ofPcking precipitates emigration ofCumans.

Unified Cuman and Shiri tribes pass through Dzungarian Gate: onto Tiirkmen steppe.

Cuman-Shari-Kipchak tribal confederation in western Siberia.

Pechcncgs cross the Danube to enter Paris trion.

Pechencgs besiege Kiev.

Kegen, at the head of two Pecheneg tribes, settles in Paris trion as frontier garrison.

1048-1049 Tyrach, in pursuit of Keg en, invades the Byzantine Empire; later surrenders to Emperor.

1054 Ghuzz attack Prince Vsevolod of Pereiaslavl.

1055 Cuman advance guard at the Dnieper in pursuit ofGhuzz.

1060 Alliance of Russian Principalities against Ghuzz.

1061 Cumans at southern fringe of Russian Principalities.

1064-1065 Unsuccessful Ghuzz campaign

against Byzantium.

1068 Cumans inflict defeat on three Russian Principalities. Ghuzz-Pecheneg army invades Transylvania but is defeated by King Solomon and Dukes C*za and Ladislas at Battle of Kerles (Cserhalorn).

1071 Curnans at border of Kievan Principality.

1078 First Cuman intrusion into Balkans. 1091 Battle of Mount Levunion; Byzantines and Cuman allies devastate the Pechenegs. Cuman army invades Hungary and is vanquished by King (St.) Ladislas.

1099 Cumans under Bonek Khan defeat Hungarian army of King Coloman Beauclerc at Przemysl,

1103 Unified Russian forces crush Cumans.

1116 Cumans occupy Sarkel; Prince Yaropolk's campaign against the CuIlWlS. Pechenegs and Sseklers form the vanguard of King Stephen II's Hungarian army.

1122 Byzantine Emperor John II Comnenos routs Pechenegs in Thrace; remnants of latter organized into bodyguard by Stephen II.

1146 Pechenegs and Szeklers in the vanguard of King Geza Il's army fighting against Germans.

1185 Russian Prince Igor's unsuccessful campaign against Cuman tribal federation in Doncts region (immortalized in the epic verse Lay of the R~i4 of Igor); reprisal expedition by Konchcg Khan on region ofPereiaslavl.



915 922





1036 1048

1185- t 187 Revolt against Byzantine rule by Cuman-descended Bulgarian iwY4rs, Peter and Asen, with Bulgar, WalJachian and Cuman troops; foundation of second Bulgar State.

1203 Cumans capture Kiev.

1219 Prince Mstislav of Novgorod, with help from Koten Khan, recaptures Galieh from Magyars. Start of Gengoo Khan's Khwarizmian campaign.

1221 Dominicans send missionaries to Cumans.

1222 Charter granting privileges to Pechenegs of Arpas (Gy6r-Sopron County).

16 june 1223 Battle of the River Kalka; Mongols annihilate the allied Russian-Cuman army.

1227 A Cuman tribe in Moldavia embraces Christianity.

1229 Creation of bishopric of Cumania with seat at Milkov in Moldavia.

1236 Batu and Siibedei commence Mongol campaign in West.

1239 Koten and part ofhis people move to Hungary.

1240 Alliance of Baldwin II, Latin Emperor of Constantinople, with Cumans on lower Danube.

March 1241 Koten and entourage murdered at Pest; Cumans withdraw from Hungary.

1241-1242 Tartar invasion of Hungary.

1246 Cumans re-enter Hungary and fight with Bela IV against Duke Frederick II of Austria.

1247 Marriage of Hungarian crown prince Stephen to Curnanian princess Elizabeth,


1254 Baptism of Elizabeth's parents in Dominican church ofBuda. 1264-1265 Stephen (as "Younger King") in armed struggle with his father. Bela IV, who has Cumans on his side. 26 August Battle of Dilmkrut (Marchfeld); 1278 Rudolf Habsburg of Austria and Ladislas IV of Hungary defeat Ottokar Il,

23 June 1279 Hungary's First Cumanian Law. 10August Decrees of Hungarian Diet at T~teny 1279 issued (Second Cumanian Law).

1280 (? 1282) Battle of Lake H6d; Ladislas IV ('the Cuman') forcibly restrains Cumans from leaving Hungary.

10 july 1290 Ladislas IV murdered by three Cuman leaders.

1298 Battle of GOllheim; a Hungarian-Cuman force fights with the army of Albrecht I ofHabsburg.

1323 Charter granting privileges to las people.

1328 Pope John XXII instructs Hungarian bishops not to collect tithes from Cumaas,

1330 King Charles Robert's unsuccessful campaign against Basaraba, Voivode ofWallaehia.

1347-1349 First campaign of Hungarian King Louis the Great against Naples.

1348 Pope Coloman VI charges Minorite friaIS to convert Cumans and lasians. 1350 Louis the Great's second campaign against Naples.

1397 King Sigismund introduces the militu, pofflllis.

1418 First record of organization of Cum an 'seats',

1422 Compilation ofIas glossary.

. __ -_ --------_----------~~~~,


Act4Arch. Hung.


Acta A,ch4t!oiogiCll AClIdemi4t Scimtiarum Hung4rkae.

ATChaeologi4i Enesiro.

BARANYNE OBERSCHALL, M.: " A kiskunhalas-bodoglarpusztai kozepkori ezusrlelet." -"La Trouvaille medievale en argent de Kiskunhalas-Bodoglarpuszta." Budapest, 1945, Magyar Muzrum.

CHEREPANOVA. E. N. and SHCHEPINSKII, A. A.: "Pogrebeniya pozdnykh kochevnikov v stepnom Krymu." ArkMologiche.rkoye isrledovaniye uednevekollogo Kryma. Red. O. I. DOMBROVSKII, Kiev (1968) 181-201.

Corpus Nummorum Hungoriae.

Com. Arch. Hung. CommuniC4liolU's ArchaeologiC4e





Folia Arch.



Kipes Kr6nileit

FEDOROV-DAVYDOV, G. A.: Iskusstvo ko.hevnikov i Zolotoi ()rdy.~o$cO~, 1976.

FETTICH, N.: "A honfoglal6 magyarsag femmuvesscgc" [Metalcraft of Magyars of the Conquest period}. in Archaeologia Hung4ric4XXI (1937).

Folu, ATthaeologica.

A jaszberinyi jdsz Muzeum Evkonyve [Year-book of the las Museum injaszbereny],

J asz Muzeum, Jaszbercl'lY.

Kepes Kr6tlika. Chronieon Piaum. [Illuminated Chronicle] Facsimile edition. Budapest, 1964. 2 vols,


Snary4zhmie vS4Jlnika i verkhovogo konya I1tl Rusi lX-XIll vv. Leningrad.1973.







A.: Kocheuniki Vostochnoi Evropy

pod vlast'yu zolotoordynskikh kh4nov.Moscovv, 1966.

Katona j6zsef Museum, Kecskemet.

M6r4 Fermc Muzeum EUk5nyvt.', Szeged [Year-book of the Mora Ferenc Museum in Szeged].

M4teri4li i issledovaniya po arlehtolagii SSSR

Magyar Mez6gazdasagi Muzeum [Hungarian Agric:ultural Museum'), Budapest.

Magyar Nemzeti M11zeum [Hungarian National Museum], Budapest

Magy4r Nytlv.









Damjanich Janos Museum,


DVORAKOV A, V., KRASA, J. and STEJSKAL, K.: Stredovekd nJsttnn4 mal'/JQ lUI Slovmsb. Prague and Bratislava. 197B.

Az Egri Muzeum EIIMnYlle, Eger




OAK 1905








Magyar Tutlomdnyo! AltadimUl Nyelv- is lroJalomtudom4nyi 1. OsztJlydnak Kiizlemenyei [Proceedings of the Language and Literature Department I of the Hungarian Academy of'Sciences],

NAGY, G. and NEMES, M.:

A nwgyar viseltttk t&thute [History of Hungarian costume]. Budapest. 1900.

A Ilyfregyhdzi)6sa Andras Muzeum Evkiinyve [Year-book of the J6sa Andras Museum ofNylregyhazaJ. Nyfregyhba.

Dlehet ImperatoTsltoi Arltheo!ogichesleo; Kommissii za 1905 gotI. Saint Petersburg, 1908.

Orszagos uvCltar [National Archives J. Budapest.

PLETNEV A, S. A.: Drtvtlosti chemykh Itlobukov . Moscow, 1973.

PLETNEV A. S. A.: Polovet.dtie kamenniyt izvayaniya. Moscow, 1974.

Sovyttsltaya Arkheologiya.

Studii Ii Cerutifri de lstorie Vecht.

Sem. Konda1eov.

Seminarium Kondakovianmn.

Selected Bibliography

- - -_. __ ._ .. _- - ---.~--~

by F. RISCH, Johann de Plano Carpini, Gescnidne der Mongolmurul Rtistbuitht 1245-1247, Leipzig, 1930, and IDEM, Wilhelm von Rubrule, Reise zu dm Mongolen 1253-1255, leipzig, 1934. Documentation relating to the Cumans and Iasians in Hungary: I. GYARFAs. Ajtisz-kutKJk tmlntlt [History of the [asians and Cumans], 4 vols., Kecskemee-Szolnok-Budapcst, 1870--85.

m. General history of the steppe peoples

R. GROUSSET. L'empire dts steppes. Alrila, Gengis. kMH, T4merl.:m, 4th cd, Paris, 1952. English trans!' D. SINOR and M. MacKELLAR, COnql'tror oj the World, London, 1967. On migrations of peoples in the era preceding the Magyars and Pechenegs: K. CZEGL~DY. Nomid nlpek vandorltisd N4J'lulettOi NapnYflgatig [The migration of nomadic peoples from Orient to Occident], Budapest. 1969. On the period after the advent of the Mongols: B. D. GREKOV and A. Yu. Y AKUBOVSKII, Zolot4ya Orrla i ee padenie, MoscowLeningrad, 1950; B. SPULER, Die Goldene Horde. Die Mongolen in Russldnd 1223-1502, 2nd ed., Wicsbaden, 1965.

IV. Pechenegs. Ghuzz. Cumans and Iallians A comprehensive survey of their histories, languages and contacts with the peoples of Eastern Europe is given by L. RASONYI. Les Tuns lUm-isLlInises ttl Occident (Pe(enegues, OuZts et Qipdlaqs, a leurs r4J'ports avec Its Hongrois). PhiiologUle Tumcae Fundamenta, Wiesbaden, 1970, vol. 3; IDEM, Hid41e a Dunan. A regi tBrok nlpek a DmuInal [Bridges over the Danube. Ancient Turkish peoples by the Danube], Budapest, 1981. On the so-called Kangar tribes ofPechenegs: K. CZEGLEDY, 'Kangarok (beseny6k) a VI. szizadi szit forrasokban' [Kangars (Pechencgs) in 6th--century Syriac sources] MTAK (I) 5 (1954),243-276.

The Viflkerwanderung of893-895 and the location of the Pecheneg tribes are discussed by Gy. GYORFFY. 'A beseny6k europai honfogIaladnak kerd~hez' [The Pechenegs' occupation of their European territories], Tonintlmi Sztmlt 14 (1971), 281-288. On the Pechenegs who settled in the Danubian province ofthe Byzantine Empire: M. GYONI. A pdristrioni "dlianwlaleu14tok" etnikaijellege [The ethnic character of the "state formations" of Paris trion], Budapest, 1942. For a detailed but highl y debatable history of the Pechenegs on the lower Danube: P. DIACONU, us Petthb,egue! 4uBas~Danube, Bucharest, 1970.

Historical, linguistic and toponyrnic data on the Pechenegs in Hungary have been collected by

SPINEl: Moldova SPINEl. V.: Moldov4 in secolel« Xl-XIV. - LA Moldavie dUX Xr-XI~ Slides. Bucharest. 1982.




SZABO, K.: Az 4lfoldi magyar nep muvrlOdlstiirthteti mUkti. - Kultursmhichtlithe Denkmiila der UngariSthM Tiifebme. Bibliothet4 Humanitatis Historiae III. Budapest,1938.

SZILAGYI, S. (Ed.): A magyar nemztt tortinttt [History of the Hungarian nation], vol. II:

MARCZALI, H.: Magy4rorszl.g wninete 4Z Arpddok Ieorl.ban (1038-1301) [The history of Hungary in the Arpadian era (1038--1301)]. Budapest. 1896.



Szolnok Megyei Muzeumi Evkonyv [Year-book of the Museum of Szolnok County].

Szolnok County

'Szolnok County: the Crossroads if Many Ratts.' The History of Seolnok County through Archaeological Finds. Guide to the Archaeological Collection, DJM, 1982.

1. General works

A systematic list of the published historical, linguistic and archaeological literature relating to the Pechenegs, Cumans and lasians is provided by J. BANNER and I. JAKABFFY, A KBzep-DJmamedence regiszeti bibliogr4{uSjd. - Archiiologische Bibliographie des Mitteldonaubekkms. - Bibliographie drcheologique du bassin du Da,lUbt moym, 4vols., Budapest, 1954. 1%1, 1968 and 1981 (1. JAKABFFY is author of vol. 4). Information from Byzantine sources on the Turkic peoples is given with a historical survey and comprehensive bibliography on the various peoples by Gy. MORA VCSIK, Byzdntinoturaca, 2 vols., Berlin, 1958.

n. Sources

For sources on the Magyar conquest of Hungary see Gy. PAULER and S. SZILAGYI (eds.), A nwgyaTok elodeir61 is d Iumfog141i.sr61 [The Magyars' ancestors and the conquest of Hungary]. Budapest, 1900. 2nd ed, edited by Gy. GYORFFY, Budapest, 1975; CONSTANTINE PORPHYROGENlTUS, De Adminirtr4nt1o Imptrio, English transl. by R.J. H.JENKINS. In:

Corpus Fontium Historiae Byzantinae, Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D. C., 1967, vol. 1. Fora critical edition of the Hungarian chronicles: E. SZENTPETERY (ed.), Smptores rerum Huntaricum ttmpore ducum rtgumque stirpis Arpadianae gestatum, 2 vols., Budapest, 1937-38. A collection of foreign and some Hungarian narrative sources on the Arpad era is in A. F. GOMBOS, Cdtalogusfontium historUll! Hungaricae, 800-1301, 3 vols. , Budapest, 1937-38.

On the growth of the Mongol world empire:

L. LIGETI, A mongolok titleos tiirtinete [The secret history of the Mongols], Budapest, 1962; Die Gehtime Ctschichte dtr Mongolm aus tintr mongolischm NiedaschriJt desJdhres 1240 von da Inset Kade'e im Keluren-Fl'tfJ, 2nd ed, edited and German transl. by E. HAENISCH. In: E. HAENISCH and H. SCHADER, Dasmongolische Weltrei(h, Leipzig. 1948, vol. 1. Travellers of the Mongol era: A. van den WYNGAERT, Sinica Franciscana, Pirenze, 1929. English translations of Giovanni de Plano Carpini and William of Rubruck in C. DAWSON. The Mongol Mission, London-New York, 1955. German translations ofboth

Gy. GYORFFY, BeseHyok es mdgytlrQk [Pechenegs and Magyars), Kiiros! Csoma·Atchivum, Suppl, No.1 (1939). 397-500. The Pechenegs' role as frontier garrisons is elucidated by I. KNIEZSA, 'A nyugat-magyarorszagi besenyok kirdes6hez' [The Pechenegs of western Hungary], In: Domanovszky EmUkkiinyv [Domanovszky memorial volume], Budapest, 1937, pp. 323-337. Military auxiliaries of the Arpad era are dealt with by Gy. GYORFFY, 'A magyar nemzc:tsegt6l a varmegyeig, a torzst61 az orszagig' [From Magyar clan to county, from tribe to state], Sz 92 (1958), 12-87 and 565-615; H. GOCKEN}AN, Hilftvolker und Gmlzwachter im mitteialter1ichen Un gam, Quelltn und Studien zur Geschidue des ostlichen Europas, vol. 5, Wiesbaden, 1972.

A detailed picture of the period when the Hungarian state was being founded is in Gy. GYORFFY, Istvan kirdly is miive [King Stephen and his achievement], Budapest, 1977; IDEM, Wirtschqft und Gesellscrnyi der Ungam Uln aie Jahrtausenawendt, Studia Historica No. 186, Budapest, 1983.

V. Early Cumanian history

J.>~-srolr.: some debatable and outdated passages, the fund_an.;.:nt'J~ work on the topic remains J. MARQUART, Lr1U't ,11.l' ~~dlutJjm der Komanm, Abhandhmgen d. kgl. GI'~ • .tiir W:";..~ . .:, .. GJrf;lIgtt., Phil.-Hist. Klasse. Vol. XIII (N. R).I!U.1 (l~h\ J5-238. On the ethnic name, origili~m.-! migr.;ariollllfthe Cumans:]. N~METH, 'Die V'llkm~amcrJ q:mun und qun,' Korosi Csoma-Archivum lit (i'9·n~·n; ')j...lo-..i~ Gy. GYORFFY, 'A kun es kom.in n~pn':'v (:rc.ietcnck kerdesChez' [The origin of the edlll1(,;l;;nll~ 'Kun' and 'Koman'], AntiquitasHungarica 2 (iIJ.sa) 1580-176: K. CZEGL~DY, 'A kunok e,.cdl"h~rt\l' [On the origin of the CumansJ, MNy 45 (1 '}·n) H-50. For the history of the Cumans in South Ru~siJ '1l'(_' B. KOSSANYI, 'Az iizok es komanok tort6It'r~'hC1' a Xl-XlI. szazadban' [Towards the history of tht· ( .huzl. and Cumans in the 11 th-12th centuries], Sz 57-;h(1fJ24j5l9-537; D. A. RASOVSKlI, 'Polovtsy,' SO", K.otui<Jk(lJl. 7 (1'}J5) 245-262, 9 (1936) 161-182. 9 (1;37n~ -,.<is. Ill. (1938) 155-178 and 11 (1940) 95-128; lDr~M .. '["":5 COlli am er Byzance,' Bull. de l'Instituta"h. bul.\'" IX (1935) :46-154. The Cuman Codex, the most vatl1;JhJ~· r('hc: ot'the Curnanian language in the late 13th and l· .. fiy 14th centuries, compiled in the Crimea with a L.lflf!-CUDl~n-Pl1rs~ao glossary, was published by G. KUDN i .. xi.], C'IJ,x Cumanlcus bibliothecae ad templum Jil'" MiJt'':; V~JI('tia",m, Budapest, 1880. Reprinted by L. UGBTI ('-'l.t) with the Prolegomena to tht Codex CUlffam1w in BuJ=pm Orimtal Reprints, Series B I, Bud:t!"!C"i~, 1·981.

VI. The Cumans and Iasians in Hungary The major historical work is that by I. GY ARFAs, cited above under 'Sources'; with the exception of Vol. 1, now superseded, it may be read with profit in conjunction with the findings of more recent scholarship, -Cuman and Iasian social structures. and their integration into Hungarian society. are covered by M. KRING, 'Kun esjasz tirsadalomelemek a kozepkorban' [Cuman and las social elements in the Middle Ages], Sz 66 (1932) 35-63 and 169-188; Gy. GYORFFY, 'A kunok feudalizil.6dasa' [The feudalization of the CumansJ, In: Gy. SZEKELY (ed.) Tanulmdnyok a parasztstig tiirtlnetlhtz Magyarorsztigon a 14. szdzadba« (Studies on the history of the peasantry in 14th-century Hungary], Budapest, 1953, pp. 248-275. On the permanent military retinues: Gy. N~METH, 'Kun Uszl6 kiraIy ny6gerei' [King Ladislas the Cuman's nDgtT bodyguard], MNy 49 (1953) 304-318. The Battle of Diirnkrur (the Marchfeld) is treated by A. KOSTERNIG, 'Probleme um die Kampfe zwischen Rudolf und Ottokar und die Schlachr bei Diimkrut am 26. August 1278.' ]ahrbuch des VtTtinsfor Landeskutule 44-45 N. S. (1978-79) 226-311. A quite different perspective on the size and disposition of forces and the course of the battle, as derived from the older literature, has been presented by A. HOROSY in}. BONIS (ed.) Magyarorszag hadtiirtlmte [Military history of Hungary J, vol. I, Budapest, 1984; this appeared after my own manuscript was sent to press.

The history of the lasians' predecessors is summarized by K. CZEGLEDY in his book cited under 'III. General history of the steppe peoples. '-The emergence and history of the las in Hungary are discussed by L. SZABO, 'A jasz etnikai csoport' [The las ethnic group], Szolnok, 1979. On the Iasian settlement of the las-lands Gaszsag): Gy. GYORFFY, 'A jaszok megteJepedese' [The settlement of the Iasians J, in: EmUkkanyv a Turkeve; Muzeum Jemu1l1asanak harmimadik tvJotduI6jtita [Commemorative book for the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Turkeve MuseumJ, Turkeve, 1981, pp. 6~72.

The Christianization of the Cumans is discussed in L. MAKKAI, A milk,,; (kIln) piispokslg Is nepei [The (Cumanian) diocese ofMilk:6 and its peoples], Debreceo, 1936; r. GYORFFY, 'A kunok megtcresc' [The conversion of the CumansJ, Protestans Szemle, 34 (1925) 669-681. Cumanian personal and place-names in Hungary are dealt with by L. RASONYI, 'Les noms toponymiques du Kiskunsag," Acta Linguistka Hung. 7 (1957) 7~146; IDEM, 'Us anthroponymes comans

de Hongrie,' Acta Orirntalia Hung. 20 (1967) 135-149. On the linguistic relics of the Cumans, see I. MANDOKYKONGUR, 'Akun miaryank' [TheCumanian Lord's Prayer], SzMME 1 (1973) 117-125; IDEM, 'A kun nyelv rnagyarorszagi emlekei' [Memorials of the Cuman language in Hungary], in: Gy. KARA and]. TERJEK (cd.) Keletkutatas 1975 [Oriental research 1975J, Budapest, 1976, pp.143-151.

vn. Archaeology and cultural history Comprehensive works that include surveys of the history and culture of the steppe peoples of Sou them Russia have been published by S. A. PLETNEVA, 'Pechenegi torki i polovtsy v yuzhnorusskikh srepyakh,' MIA 62 (1958) 151-226; see also FEDOROVDAVYDOV.-On the nomad cemetery at Sarkel, see S. A. PLETNEV A, 'Kochevnicheskii mogil'nik bliz Sarkela-Beloi vezhi,' MIA 109 (1%3) 216-259. Pechenegs finds in Romania have been described by M. SAMPETRU, 'Inmormintllri pecenege din Cimpia Dunarii,' SCIV24 (1973) 443-468. The medieval archaeology of historical Moldavia and its relics of nomadic peoples are presented in SPINEl: Moldova.-The archaeological material of the nomad military colonists that settled on the southern frontiers of the Russian Principalities has been summed up in PLETNEV A: Drevnostl.

Problems relating to archaeological investigation of the Pechenegs in Hungary are dealt with by I. FODOR, 'Der Ursprung der in Ungam gefundenen Tonkessel,' Acta Arch. Hung. 29 (1977) 323-349. Findings of an archaeological survey of the Sarviz region in Hungary are given by Cs. CSORBA, 'A Sarviz mente telepiilestortenete a X-XVII. szbadban' [Settlement history of the Sarviz region in the 10th-17th centuries], in: A. PUSKAs (cd.) TanulmJnYCJk Tolna megye tortlnetebOi [Studies on the history of Tolna County], vol. 3, Szekszard, 1972, pp. 49-91.

A conceptual framework for achaeological research on the Cumans in Hungary was established by G. NAGY, 'A regi kunok eemetkezese' [Burial of the ancient Cumans], A"h. Ert. 13 (1893) ~34; IDEM, 'A magyarhom lovassirok' [Horse burials in HungaryJ, Arch. Eri. 13 (1893) 105-17; I. ERI, 'Adatok a kigy6spusztai csat ertekel6sehcz' [Data towards an evaluation of the Kigy6spuszta buckle], Folia Arch. 8 (1956) 137-152. More current accounts of the research problems and opportunities arc provided by A. pALOCZI-HORVATH, 'Situation des recherches archeologiques sur Ies Comans en Hongrie,' Acta Orientalia Hung. Zl (1973) 201-9; L. SELMECZI, 'Angaben und Gesichtspunkte

zur archaologischen Forschung nach den Kumanen im Komitat Szolnok,' MFME (1971172) 187-197. The Cumanian death cult is discussed by L. SELMECZ1, 'A magyarorszagi kunok temerkezese a XIII-XVI. szazadban'-'Burial practices of the Cumans in Hungary during the 13th-16th centuries,' Elomunkalatok a Mdgyarsag Nfprajztihoz 10 (1982),95-109.

The history of the weaponry and dress of nomadic peoples is covered by K. U. KOHALMI, Steppek nomdlija 16hdton,ftgyverben [Weaponry of the mounted nomad of the steppes), Budapest, 1972. Archaeological and art-historical sources for our information on Cuman dress are surveyed by A. pALOCZI-HORV ATH, 'Le costume coman au moyen age. ' Acta Arch. Hung. 32 (1960) 403-27. Cumanian stone figures are described by PLETNEVA: Polovttskie; I. FODOR. 'A slrszobrok kerd6sehez.'-'Sculptures funeraires,' Folia Arch. 21 (1970) 113-126; M. L. SHVETSOV, 'Polovetskicsvyatilishcha,' SA 1 (1979) 199-209. Aspects of the Cumans' entry and settlement in Hungary are discussed by A. pALOCZI-HORVATH. 'L'immigration et 1'6tablissement des Comans en Hongric,' Acta Orientalia Hung. 29 (1975) 31.3-333. Reports on the excavations carried out between the two world wars in the Danube- Tisza Interfluve are supplied by K. SZABO.-Report to the finds at the village of M6ric in Greater Cumania (N agykunsag) is given by 1. MERY, 'Beszamol6 a tiszalok-razornpusztai es nirkeve-m6rici asarasok credmenycir61II. ' [Report on the excavations at Tisza!ok-Rb:ompuszta and Turkeve-M6ricIl], Arch. Eri. 81 (1954) 138-154.

A preliminary report on the excavations at Karcag-Orgondaszcntmikl6s is given by L. SELMECZI. 'The setdement structure of the Cumaniansettlers in the Nagykunsag,' inGy. KALDY-NAGY (ed.) , Hungar()' Turcica, Studies in Honour iif]ulius Nhraeth, Budapest, 1976, pp. 255-262; here the author suggests that the construction with a circular ground-plan that was uncovered near to the dwelling-house was a yurt.

A preliminary report on the excavations at the settlement of Szentkiral y in Lesser Cumania (Kiskunsdg) has been published by A. pALCCZI-HORVATH, 'A Uszl6faldn 196~74. evben vegzett asacisok eredmenyei' [Results of the excavations conducted at Laszlofalva in 1969-74]. Cumania 4 (1976) 275-309. On the only las burial site in Hungary that has been discovered to date. see L. SELMECZI, 'A negyszallisi jasz temet6r6l' [The las cemetery at NegyszaIl.as], Com. Arch. Hung. 1 (1981) 165-78.

(The Bibliography closes in 1984.)

List of Figures

1 Migration of the Pechenegs and location of their tribes on the East European steppe in the tenth century.

Events of A.D. 893-895 and the territories of the western Pecheneg tribes arc taken from Gy. GYCRFfY, T6ninelmi Sztmle 14 (1971) 287, Fig. 1 and IDEM, 'Honfoglalis, megrelepedes es kalandozasok' in: Magyar oslihimeli h1l1lllmdnyclt [Conquest, settlemCllt and raids. Studies in early Hungarian history]. Budapest, 1977, p.. 126. Fig. 1.

Locations of the Peeheneg tribes living to the east of the Dnieper were mapped by thtauthor using information given by A. M. SHCHERBAK, 'Znakinakeramikeikirpichakhiz Sarkela-Beloi Vezht, , MIA 75. (1959). pp. 376-77.

2 Tip of a stick, probably the ferrule for a whiphandle, from a nomad grave in the River Ros region

Bone carved in the shape of a bird's head. Height 4.2 em, Rossava (USSR), kurgan3.

After PLETNEVA: Drt1Jnosli, Ill, :mo.

3 Whip handle made from twisted silver plate Length approx. 31.8 em. Sarkel (USSR). grave 56.

After S. A. PlETNEVA, 'Xochevnicheshkii mogil'nik bliz Sarkela-Beloi Vew,' MIA 109 (1963) p. 236, ill. 23/4.

4 Socketed iron spear-head

Length 9.5 em. Burri (USSR). kurgan262. After PLETNEV A: Dreonosti, p. 71, 111.23/11.

5 Flat, deltoid and leaf-shaped arrow heads Lengths 7.1, 7.8 and 8.4 em. Pavlovka (USSR). After SP[NE[: M"IJovtI, III. 30.

6 Iron mace with four spikes

Diameter 6.3 em, height 3 em. From an unknown site in Hungary. MNMInv. no. FN55.3651,

l. KOV Acs, Folill Arch. 22 (1971) p. 170, Fig. 211.

7 Wrought iron sabre of Oriental type

Forged iron. Length 82.4 em; the cross-guard is


missing and the hilt-end is broken. The tanged blade is 70.4 CIJl long. From an unknown site in Hungary. MNM Inv. no. FN 53.232.


8 Open-work bronze dress mount in a stylized bird shape LowerVolgaregion(USSR),lOthcentury.

After FEDOROV-DAVYDOV: ISMs'v", Ill. 72, SO.

9 Cast bronze pendant with a 'tree-of-life' design Length 8.4 em, From a female Pecheneg grave found in the ruins of Bath-house II at ancient Histria (Rumania).

Mter A. SUCEVEANU. 'Un morrnint din secolul XI e. n. la Histria, ' SCIV24 (1973) pp. 497-498, Ill. 311.

10 Pecheneg horse burial

Kazanki (USSR).

After CHEREPANOVA-SHCHEPINSKn, p. 188. m. 5.

11 Horse trappings from a Pecheneg grave

Snaffle with unjointed mouth-bit, length 14.9 em. Girth buckle, length 4,2 em. Non-matching pair of stirrups with curved foot-plates, diameters 12.5 and 15.4 em. The arch of the smaller stirrup carries bronze inlays.

Vitanesti (Rumania), grave 1.

After V. LEAHU and G. TROHANI, SCIV 29 (1978) pp. 529-530, Ill. 3.

12 Pecheneg horseman's equipment

Battle-axe, length 13.1 em. Iron knife, length 12 em. Flint-stone, length 4.1 em, Strike-iron, length 6.9 em. Vitan~ti (Rumania), graves 1 and 2.

After V. LEAHU and G. TROHANI, SCIV29 (1978) pp. 529-530, Ill. 2.

13 Harness decorations of cast and gilded silver The leaf-shaped mount with engraved and nielloed palmette-and-tendril embellishments was a frontal or breast-strap ornament, length 7.5 em. Triple-branched mount, length 4 em.

Trefoil mount, length 4.1 em.

Triple strap-distributor, diameter 4.9 em. Gayevka (former Voronesh Province, USSR). After OAKt!KJS, Ills. 94-96, 1~11 and 115;

FETTICH, pp. 51. 66, Plate XXVII/2 and 4; XIRPICHNIKOV, pp. 26-28, PlareVrn.

14 Finds from the Gayevka assemblage

Gilded and nielloed silver buckle with palmette decor, length 3.3 em. Round mounts with chased rims, diameter approx, 1 em. Heart-shaped mounts, diameter approx. 1.8 ern, Gilded and nielloed four-branched silver mount with doubleleaf decor. diameter 4.2 em, Cusp-ended mounts with the same ornamentation. lengths 6.5 and 4.3 ern, Palmette-shaped mounts with decor of interlaced ribbon and palmette decor. lengths 3.9 and4.4cm.

After OAK 1905, HIs. 94-6. 107-9, 112-13 and 116; FETTICH. pp. 51, 60. Plate XXVIIl3; XIRPICHNIKOV, pp. 26-28, Plates VIII-IX.

15 Bone stirrup-strap adjustor

Length 6.3 cm. Burti (USSR). kurgan273.

Stirrup decorated with gilded copper inlays, diameter 12.3 em; the foot-plate is missing. Babichi (USSR).

AfterPLETNEVA: Drt1JrIOsti, Plates 25/8, 4615; KIRPICHNlKOV, Plate XVII.

16 Conical helmet with crown and brow-band embellished with gilded copper plate bearing tendril and pal merte designs

Height 16.5 em, diameter 22 ern, Babichi (USSR). After PLETNEVA: Drtllno$ti, Plate 4711; FEDOROV-DAVYDOV: Kf)Chwnilti, p. 34; A. N. KIRPICHNIKOV, DrtlJllt'l'USlltOt tlruhiye. 3. Dosptldl, Itomplrla batvylth lrtdt,s1J IX-XIII VII., Leningrad, 1971, p. 28, Plate XI.

17 Encampment areas granted to the Pechenegs in Arpadian Hungary

Plotted by the author us~g the map appended to Gy. GYORFFY, Besenyok es magyarok [Pechenegs and Magyars], Korosi-Csoma Archivum, Suppl. No.1 (1939).

18 Snaffle with rigid, curved mouth-bit for a foal Length 15 COl. Bajcs (Bajc, Czechoslovakia), honse10.

ALi:e:r A. TOCIK. 'Zichranny vyskum v BajlS-Vlkanove v rokoch 1959-1960,' ~tudijnl ZlItsli AUSAV 12 (1964) pp. 67-68, Pbte XXXIX/S.

19 Mace with four spikes and spiked comers Diameter 6.5 em, height 3.5 em. Szorenyvar

(Tumu Severin, Rumania). MNM Inv. no. FN 52.42.

1. xovxcs, Polia Ard«. 22(1971) p. 170, Fig. 2/5.

20 Round Pecheneg-type stirrups

a) Diameter 12.5 em. Sarbogard-Tinod (Fejer County). MNM Inv, no. 46/1877. 3. Lost item.

b) Diameter 13 em, Kolesd-Itarohegy (Tolna County).

Aftcr G. CSALLANy, 'Nagy Geza regl!szeti Ievelei j6sa Anddsho%'-'Alchacologica1 letters from ~za Nagy to Anddsj6sa,' Ny]ME 2 (1955) p. 59, Plate VIII/1-2; see also NAGY-NEMES, Pl:ue23/18.

21 Wrought-iron sabre with straight cross-guard Length 98 em, cross-guard 9.6 em long. Sarbogard-Tined (Fejer County). MNM Inv, no. 52/1878.

(Listed as missing object but tentatively identified with a sabre. 97.3 em long and currently without cross-guard, in the MNM Armour Collection, catalogued as from an unknown site; Inv. no. FN 53. 330.)

G. NAGY, Arch. En. 16 (1896) pp. 349, 351, Plat~ 113; NAGY-NEMES, Plate 23/32.

22 Wrought-iron sabre with long, straight crossguard

Length 96.9 em, The tanged blade is 82.3 em long; the cross-guard and hilt bear traces of copper overlays. Sarbogard-Tinod (Fejer County). MNM Inv. no. 65/1878 = FN 52.40.

G. NAGY, Arch. Ert. 16 (1896) pp. 349, 351, Plate [/2; NAGY-NEMES, Plate23/32.

23 Eastern Europe in the early 13th century

Aftcr Atlas zur Gtsthichtl', I, Gotha-Leipzig, 1973, p. 26, Map H (Die Rus vom Ende des 10. bis rum Anfang des 13. Jh.) and the map edited by Gy. GYORFFY in: TOrtinl'lmi atlasz (Historical Atlasl, Budapest, 1959, Map 9a. Accountha.s also been taken of D. A. RASOVSKH, S~m. Kond.Ikov 8 (1936), Fig. H; PLETNEVA: POIOlltt$lcit, llls. s-s,

24 Sandstone statue of a female standing figure This shows the typical appurtenances of Cuman female dress: headgear, a double torque, and a caftan with decor on the sleeves and lower hem. Height 1.9 m. Skotovatoye (USSR). Historical Museum. Moscow.


After FEDOROV~DAVYDOV: /$S/Mtl'(}, p. st. III. 67; PLETNEVA: P"lov~I$'dt, Catalogue no. 1285, p. 110, Plate 78/25.

25 Sandstone statue of a male standing figure wearing a helmet and cuirass

Height 2.03 m. Stupki (USSR). Historical Museum, Moscow.

Afrer FEDOROV-DAVYDOV: Isltusstvo, p. 101, Ill. 69; PLETNEVA: Polovtl!ki~, Catalogue no. 1286. p. 110, Plate 78/26.

26 Silver penannular ear-rings

a) Two cones with beaded silver wire soldered to a ring of silver wire, diameter 4 cm. Zelenki (USSR), kurgan365.

PLETNEV A: DrttJrrosli, Plate 13/1.

b) Four cones with granulation tips soldered to each ofthe two cones of the ring

(Granulation is one of the techniques of medieval metalcraft; it is achieved by fusing molten globules of gold, or more rarely silver, onto the base of noble metal.) Diameter 8 em. Nizhnaya Kozinka (USSR).

AfM A. A. GORBENKO, V. A. KORENYAKOand B. E. MAKSIMENKO, SA lrn51t, p. 287,111.1/6.

V Bronze cauldron with suspending chain Diameter of the cauldron, made from riveted plates: 24.1 em, height 18.2 em.

Length of the suspending "chain" of wroughtiron rings and connecting rods: approx. 43 em. Nizhnaya Kozinka (USSR).

After A. A. GORBENKO, V. A. KORENYAKO and B, E. MAKSIMENKO, SA 1975/1 pp. 287-289, Ills. 1/1 and 3.

28 Wrought-iron scissors

Length 17.5 em. Kut(USSR), kurgan 10, grave 2. After D. T. BEREZOVETS, Arkheologichni pam'yallfi URSR 9 (1960) 60, Ill. 18/2.

29 Cast-bronze mirror with cross-ribbing and radial decor of repeated crescents

Diameter 9.3 em. Zelenki (USSR), kutgan304. After PLETNEV A: DrttJIUIJli, Plate V1II/13.

30 Arrow-heads and stirrup

Rhomboid arrow-heads, lengths 10.2 and 8 em. Upper part of stirrup iron, width 14 em.

The curved foot-plate is missing. Ostrogozhsk


(USSR), 12th-13th century. MNM Inv. no. 87/1950. 1-2.

1. FODOR, Cumania4 (1976) pp. 255-258, Fig. 3.



3t Fleeing group ofCumans

Miniature from the Konigsberg Chronicle (Radziwill Codex, f 237), 15th century.

After S. A. PLETNEV A, 'Pechenegi, torki i polovtsy v yuzhnOIUsskikh s tepyakh, ' MIA 62 (1958), Ill. 27.

32 Front saddle-bow and border strip with decorations of bone plate

Zelenki (USSR), kurgan303.

After PLETNEVA: DrtJIrlosti, Plate 7; KIRPICHNIKOV, p. 38, Ill. 25.

33 Conical iron helmet with rounded spike and iron nasal decorated with gilded silver

Diameter approx. 22 em, height 21.5 em. Wrought-iron arrow-heads, length 11.5 em. Moscu (Rumania).

Mter V. SPlNEI, sctv 25 (1974) pp. 397-399; SPINEl:

Moldova, pp. 138-139,111.27/8.

34 Entry of the Tartars into Hungary

Detail of miniature from the illuminated Chronicle (£ 63b), 13605.

Illuminated Chronicle, vol. I, p. 125.

35 Cuman and las settlement areas in Hungary Plotted by the author with reference to maps edited by Gy. GYORFFY in: T6rthltlmi atlasz [Historical AtI:lS), Budapest. 1959, Maps lOa, 12. See also A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH. Affh. Ert. 101 (lrn4) pp. 249-255,111. 3.

36 Accoutrements from a las cemetery Four cowrie shells. 1.5--1.6 emlong. Six silver shank-buttons, 1.3cmlong.

Two bronze finger-bands, diameter 1.8 em. Annular bronze buckle, diameter 3.1 em. Jaszd6zsa (Szolnok County). MNM Inv, no. 1936.15.

(The finds probably originated from the cemetery of the deserted medieval las village of Negyszillas.)


37 Pressed gilded silver disc-buckle with eyelet Diameter 5.3 em. Jaszd6zsa (Szolnok County). MNMlnv. no. 1936.15.

BARANYNt OBERSCHALL, p. 20,111. 5.

38 Double seal of Stephen V as "Younger King" (Duke of Sty ria until 1261 )

Esztergom, Archiepiscopal Archives. Inscription on theobverse: + SIGILL VM· STEPHANI· D E(i gra) CIA· REGIS, ET[ or: STJ ... (Hung)ARIE. Insription on the reverse: +PRIMOGEN (iti) . BELE· Q V A(rti· illu)STRIS' REGIS, HVNGARIE.

After SZILAGYI II, pp. 534-535, 695. See also F. DORY, Turu' 35 (1917) p. 30; t. SZENTP£TERY, Sz 5~56 (1921-22) pp. 8O-S2.

b) Zsigra (Zehra, Czechoslovakia), 14th century. Mter Gy. LAsZL6, Nfpr"jzj Ertts{to 32 (1940) p. 58. Ill. 7; K. URA Y KOHALMI, 'Die Bedeutung der Kulturgeschicbte des Karpatenbeckcns fUr die Erforsehung der UIltral:lSiatischcn Rcitcmomaden,' in: Spraclle, Gtschiclltt una Kultur au tdt4ischtn VSlller, Berlin, 1974, p. 643, Plate 49; DvoltAKOV A-KRAsA-STEJSKAL, m. 106.

44 Structure of mail vest

Iron-wire rings, diameter 1.1 em, thickness 0.8 em. Cs6lyospalos-Csolyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. no. 63.11.4.B.

A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH, Folia Arch. 20 (1969) pp. 109-110, Figs. 2/3 and 3; IDEM. Arch. Ert. 109 (1982) pp. 92-93, Ills. 1-2.

45 Domed wrought-iron helmet with palmette on brow-hand

Diameter 21.6 em, height 16.4em. Csolyospalos-Csolyospuszra (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 63.11.1.B.

A . pAL6czI-HORVArn, Folia Arch., 20 (1969) p. 108, Fig. 1.

46 Wrought-iron armour plates

Diameters 11.8 and 9.9 em. Cs6lyospaIos-Cs6lyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. nos 63. 11.2-3.B.

A. p AL6cZI-HORV Am, Folill Anh. 20 (1969) pp. 10-12, Fig. 211-2.

47 Double seal of Queen Elizabeth of Hungary Inscription on the obverse: +ELISABET DEI GRATIA REGINA VNGARIE ET FILlA + (Inner circle): IMPERATORIS CVMANORVM [Elizabeth, by God's grace Queen of Hungary and daughter of the Prince of the Cumans]. Inscription on the reverse: + S(igillum) VXORIS STEFANI REGIS QUINTI QVARTI BELE ILLUSSTRIS REGIS FILI(i) [Seal of the wife of King Stephen V, son of His Majesty King Bela IVJ.OL.

After SZILAGYI n, pp. S5S-559, 696.

48 Sabre

Length approx. 96 em. The cross-guard and hilt arc missing.

Szentkiraly-Pelsoszenrkirflv (Bacs-Kiskun County). KJM. Destroyedin World WarIl.

After SZAB6, p. 74.111.367; see also A. pAL6cZI-HORvAm, Cutnallial(1972)pp.180,l84.


39 Figure of the Cuman girl-abductor in the "Wrestling" episode of the legend of St. Ladislas Szekelyderzs (Dirjiu, Rumania), Unitarian Church.

From a photograph by T. MIHALIK (National Inspectorate for Historical Monuments, Budapest).

D. RADOCSA Y, A ltiizq,ko1J' MagytJrorszagjallltpd [W:illpainrings in medieval Hungary], Budapest, 1954, pp. 216-17; L. DA VrD, A Iriiztpleori Udvamtll'sztll miiveszeti emUllti [Artistic relies of medieval Udvuhclys2;ek, Transylvania]. Bucharest, 1981. Ills. 271-272, 278, 280 and 282.

40 Carved strips ofbone

These served to decorate and reinforce the edge of a bow-case and have holes to suspend the case. Chokurcha (USSR).

Asscmbled by the author on the basis of CHEREPANOVA-SHCHEPINSKII, p.191, Ill. 10114.

41 Quiver on right side of the Cuman girl-abductor in the "Pursuit" episode of the legend of St. Ladislas

Kakaslomnic (Vel'ka Lomnica, Czechoslovakia), Roman Catholic Church, early 14th century.


42 Probable construction of a Cumanian quiver in closed and open 5 tates

Reconstruction by Gy. LASZLO on the basis of Transylvanian wall-paintings.

ArteT Gy. LASZL6, Nlprajzi Erte.rflo32 (1940) p. 56, Ill. 5.

43 Round-apertured quivers of animal fur, as depicted in the legend of St. Ladislas

These items of a Cuman warrior's equipment were probably made from the pelts of fur-animals.

a) Karaszk6 (Kraskovo, Czechoslovakia), 14th century.

49 Wrought-iron, double edged sword with straight cross-guard and disc pommel

Length 114.6 em.

Kunszentmarton-] aksorerparr (Szolnok County),DJM.

After L. SELMECZI. MFME 197112. pp. 188-190, Plate I; IDEM SzMME 1973, p. 107, Platd.

50 Obverse of a denarius from the reign of La dislas IV (1272-1290), Enlarged.

CNH. Vol. I, p. 315.

51 Silver groat struck by Charles Robert I (1308--1342)

The obverse shows the enthroned king with royal regalia. On the reverse, the arms of the House of Anjou and above it a helmet with ostrich-head crest-a new element in Hungarian heraldry which symbolizes the knightly culture at Charles Robert's court,

Inscription on the obverse: + MONETA· KAROLI·REGIS·HVNGARIE. Inscription on the reverse: +HONOR·REGIS·IVDICIVM· OILIGIT.

CNH, Vol.n,no. 7.

52 Bronze mace with twelve spikes and bands of incised decoration between spikes

Height 7.4 em. diameter 6.9 em. From an unknown site in Hungary, 12th-13th century. MNMlnv. no. FN54.2175.

L. xovxcs. p.,liaA"h. 22 (1971) p. 74, Fig. 5/3.


i 53"Figure of the Cuman girl-abductor from the "Pursuit" episode of the legend of St. Ladislas Szepesmindszenr (Bijacovce, Czechoslovakia), Roman Catholic Church, second half of 14th century.


54 Snat1le, stirrups, iron buckle and iron knife Wrought-iron foal's bit, length 25 cm.

Pair of stirrups with wide foot-plate, diameter Bern.

Iron buckle, length 4.3 em.

Iron knife. length 16.5 em. Kunszentmarton-Jaksorcrpart (Szolnok County). DJM.

L SELMECZI. MFME 197112, pp. 189-90, Plate I; IDEM. SzMME t 973. p. 107. Plue I,


55 Gilded iron stirrup decorated with rows of silver-wire inlays

Height 13.7 em, Cs6lyospaIos-Cs6lyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 63.11.1O.B.

A. pAL6czl-HORVArn, Folia Arch. 20 (1969) pp. 114-115, Figs. 2/5, 9 and 10.

/. ..

( 56/bepiction of bridle on the horse of the Cuman

'warrior in the "Pursuit" episode of the legend of St. Ladislas

Karaszk6 (Kraskovo, Czechoslovakia), 14th pentury.

After DVORAKovA-KRASA-STEJSKAL, 1115.106-107.

57 Female head ornament constructed from a stack. of penannular rings

Diameter of rings 1.1-1.3 ern, BalotaszallasBalotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. nos. 5411893.60--143.

HpJ. O. HAMPEL!. Auk. Eri. 13 (1893) pp. 368-369, Ills. 27-36.

58 Pressed gilded silver mounts for sewing on clothes or head-dress

Horizontally: mounts of square foil with alternating rosette and hemispherical repousse motifs. diameter 1 cm. Vertically: Hollow conical mounts with filigree and granulation decor, diameter 1.1-1.3 cm, and shank-button of two soldered cones, length 1.6 cm. BalotaseillasBalotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. nos. 54/1893.10-44,47-51.

HpJ. D. HAMPEL]. Arch. Ert. 13 (1893) pp. 368--369, Ills. 16, 19-26 and 36--46.

59 Gilded silver torque

Diameter approx. 20.3 em. Nagykamaras-Bankut-Rozsamajor (Bek& County). Lost during World War II,

J, BANNER, Dolso~a',,1t6(1931)pp.191-193. PlateXX/2; I. FODOR, FIIUIJ Arch. 23 (1972) pp. 224-225, Fig. 2/t.

60 Oriental-style hoop ear-drops

a) Silver hoop ear-pendant with terminal sphere, length5.4cm.

Kecskemer (Bacs-Kiskun County), Franciscan Church, grave267. KJMlnv. no. n.1.455.

P. BIcz6, CUPtllJllia 4 (1 "'6) p. 340, m. 9.

b) Ear-pendant of silver wire with coiled end,

length appro X, 1.8 COl. Jiszbaeny-NegyszalLis (Szolnok County), grave 1.

c) Silver ear-pendant with terminal duster, length approx. 2.5 em. Jaszbereny-Negys.zilIas, grave 86. DJM.

After L. SELMECZI, Com. Arch. Hung. 1 (1981) Ill. 11/1-2; Szv/llok, Exhibition, llIs. 57-58,

1903 excavation ofV. A. GORODTSOV in the Bakhmut district of the Donets region.

AftcrG. FEHER. Studia Slauira 5 (1959) pp. 318-320, Ill. 18.


",~$)Cumanian cam p on the move

Detail from a miniature in the Konigsberg Chronicle (Radziwill Codex, £ 232), 15th century.

Aft~r S. A. PLETNF.VA, 'Pechenegi, torki i polovtsy v yUlhnorusskikh srcpyakh;' MIA 62 (1958), lll. 26.

/_ .. ,

! 69 .Bone implements

;if Awl made from horse's metatarsal

Length 13.7 ern, The lower end has been cut into. Szentkiraly (B:ics-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 75.26.9.C. Excavated by A. pAL6cZIHORVATH.


b) Sharpened bone implement made from horse's lower radius

Length 18.7 cm. A stick was inserted into the bone's cavity. Szentkiraly, MNM Excavated by A. pAL6cZI-HORV ATH.


c) Ice-skate fashioned from horse's radius

Length 34.2 em. The two ends are carved and the sides cut into; the u ppeT surface is heavily worn. T1irkeve-M6ric (Szolnok County), house 2. MNM Inv. no. 56. 1. 106. C. Excavated by I. MER!.


70 Iron implements from deserted medieval villages in the K ecs kernct area

...- .

a) Curry-comb for horse After SZABO, p.llS, m. 55{).

b) Hobble

After SZABO, p.119, m. 564.

c) Lock-keys for hobbles After SZABO, fils. 567-569.

d) Hay-rake

After SZABO, p. 120, Ill. 570.

e) Sheep-shearing clippers Mter SZABO. p. 121, Ill. 579.

t) Goad

After SZABO, p. 124, Ill. S98 .

KJM. All material destroyed in World War II.


61 las needle cases

Cast bronze needle-holder with engraved decor, length approx. 5.5 cm. Jaszbereny-Ncgyszallas (Szolnok County), grave 117.

Carved bone needle-holder with incised decor. length 5.5 em. ]aszbereny-Negyszallas. grave 78. DJM.

Aft~r L. SELMECZI, Cam. Arth. Hung. 1 (1981) pp. 174-175, Ills. 11 16 and 8; SZO/IIC1k, Exhihition, Ills. 129 md59-60.

62 Pair of pressed gilded silver discs

Length 5.5 ern, Jaszbereny-NegyszalLis (Szolnok County),JM.

J. KOMAROMY .}bME 1937, pp. 86-88, 111.33;

L. SELMECZI, Com. Arcl •. Hung. 1 (1981) p. 175. Ill. 11/3.

63 Stone sculpture of standing male figure

Height 1.9 m. Kherson (USSR), Historical Mu-


PLETNEVA: p.,lovrt5kir, Catalogue no. 1206, p. 107, Plate71.

64 Sandstone sculptures of standing female figures

a) Height 1. 77 m. Dubovaya Balka (USSR).

b) Height 1. 7 m. Khortyirsa (USSR). Dniepropetrovsk Historical Museum Inv. nos. 7972 and 8009.

PLETNEVA: POlovtb/dt, Catalogue nos. 11 and 47, pp. 77, 79, Plates 3 and 14.

65 Ground-plan of a Cuman shrine Novoselovka (USSR). kurgan2.

After M. L. SHVETSOV, SA 1 (1979) p. 204, 111. 5.

I 66 Cumanian horse burial. Chokurcha (USSR).


. 67-67a "Burial with quiver and horse trappings in a timber-covered pit under a stone-lined mound


71 Ground-plan of the 15th to 16th-century Cumanian village of Turkeve-Moric

AfterI. MERI, Arch. En., 81 (1954) p. 141, Hl. 2.

List of Plates

the Cumans"]. The document is closed with Stephen's double seal, the reverse of which .is a depiction of an armoured knight that he had used earlier as Duke of Styria. OL Catalogue no. Dl.86.834

r. SZENTP~TERY, $% 55-56 (1921) pp. 82-87; IDEM, Az Arptfd-h.fzi ltir41yok oldellt1till~k Itritik4ijegyzeke. lIlA critical catalogue of documents of the Arpidi:an kings. II, Budapest, 1943, p. 44 (No. 1895).

6 Charter issued by Ladislas IV in 1279

For the purposes of settlement and conversion of the Cumans, this document grants them rights to vacant properties in noble possession, with compensation of the nobles either at purchase price or by exchange. Thus Endre ofMeney, son of Endre, receives the properties of Apcha and Oitan in exchange for the lands of Cuplan andJunyn. OL Catalogue no. Dl. 90.459.

I. SZENTP:e.TERY:and I. BORSA, Az ArpJ4-h4zi kiralyok okl~vtMnrlt mti#tQi jegyzih. II/2-J I A critical catalogue of documents of the Arpadian kings. 11/2-3], Budapes t, 1961, pp.248-249.

7 Charter issued by Charles Robert on 8 March 1323

The named Iasians aazonfs} and their clans are removed from the authority of a certain Keverge and his sons and invested with the rights of freemen. Document lost with Hungary's Ias-Cuman Archives.

After facsimile in: L GYARFAS, Aj4sz-lnmo/l tortin~lt. 1Il [History of the lasians and Cumans. IIIJ, Szolnok, 1883, pp. 463--465.

8 Iasian glossary

The las-Latin glossary, written on the reverse of a document dated 1422, contains 40 las common words and a few Hungarian words. This provides indisputable proof that the las tongue was an Iranian dialect, closely related to Ossetian, and that it survived the entry of this people into Hungary. OLCatalogueno.01.103.489.

Gy. N:e.METH, MTAK(I) 12(1958) pp. 237-248.

9 Stone statue from the collection of]. jerney Lithographic print of a Cumanian statue. The male figure with a bowl in his hands is shown in a caftan and helmet, carrying a quiver. comb, sabre, bow-case and whip. It was collected at

72 Detail of a farm yard in the late medieval Cumanian village ofSzentkir:ily

Szentkidly (Bacs-Kiskun County), house 4a (15th century) and bedding trenches ofits associated pen; the intersecting ditches represent different periods.

Excavations by A. pALOCZI-HORVAm in 1~1980.


1 Sabre hilt and cross-guard with traces of copper overlays

Full length of sabre: 96.9 em. Length of crossguard: 15.5 cm.

Sarbogard-' Tinodpuszta (Fejer County).

Sabre no. 2.MNMInv. no. 6S/1878=FN 52.40. G. NAGY, Auh. Eft. 16 (1896) pp. 349, 351, Plate 1/2; NAGY-NEMES, Plate 23/32.

73 Wrought-iron sickle

The highly curved blade has an inner arc of27 em; the tang of the blade is fragmentary. Tl1rkeve-M6ric (Szolnok County), house 2. MNM Inv. no. 56.1.136. C.

I. MtRr, Arch. ~rt. 81 (1954) p. 147, Plate XXVill/3.

2 Snaflle with cheek-pieces

Wrought iron with silver inlays imitating rivets. Lengths of cheek pieces: 13 and 13.2 em.

Length of mouth-bit: 8.7 em. Sarbogard-Tin6dpuszta (Pejer County).

MNMlnv. no. 4611877.2=9711950.3. NAGY-NEMES, Plate 23117; I. DIENES. Arch. Eft. 93 (1966) pp. 209-210, m. 5/1.

3 Obverse of the "Golden Bull" of Bela IV ( 1235-1270)

The enthroned and crowned king holds an orb and a lilied sceptre. Inscription: +BELA·DEI· GRACIA· HVNGARIE· OALMACIE· CROHACIE· RAME· SERVIE·

GALICIE· LODOMERIE· CVMANIE, REX. Diameter6.8 em, MNM Inv, no. 26/1881.

E. BARTONIEK, Twnd 39 (1924-25) pp. 22-24.

4 Reverse of Bela IV's "Golden Bull" with arms showing apostolic cross

Inscription: + SIGILLVM . Q V ARTI . BELE·


F.DORY, Twrwl35 (1917) p. 19.

5 Charter issued to the Chapter of Kalocsa by Stephen as "Younger King" in 1269 concerning transfer of the Babay lands

The tide of the document reads: Stephanus dei grada junior rex Hunonriae dux Transilvanus dominus Cumanorum [From the end of1262 until his coronation in 1270 Stephen V bore the titles "Younger King of Hungary, Duke of Transylvania, Lord of


Chernyovka, on the northern shore of the Sea of Azov.

After J. JERNEY, Ktler; utaz<isa II 'magyarole' 6shelyeintle ki· nyomozasa vegerr, 1844 is 1845 Uourney to the East in search of the Magyars' ancestral settlements, 1844 and 1845]. Pest, 1851. Vol. II, p. 60, PlateII/1.

10 Floor-tile depicting a Cuman horseman firing an arrow to the rear

Budapest, Margitsziget; late 13th century.

MNM Inv. no. 17/1848. Copy of the lost original.

Magyar Miivei5destiinin(t.1 [History ofHungarim culture. II, ed, by S. DOMANOVSZKY, Budapest, n. d., Vol. I-V, p.269.

11 Golden belt-buckle

Length 10 em, The rim of the buckle was cast; the plate carries engraved and nielloed ornamentation depicting knights in combat. The knights are wearing armour from the third quarter of the 13th century. There are signs oflater modification of the plate, part of the right-hand side of the scene being missing.

Kiskunmajsa-Kigy6spuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. no. 61.64.1.C.

z. T6TH, Turu147 (1933) pp. 11-19; IDEM, Arch. En. 71 (1943} pp. 174-184;1 ERl, Fl11iItArch. 8 (1956) pp. 137-151.

12 Detail of battle scene on the Kigy6spuszta belt The equipment and deportment of the figures show features common ro French seals.

z. T6TH. Turn/47(1933)p.15.

13 Belt mounts from Kigy6spuszta

Round gold mounts with embossed centres and e.ngraved borders carrying nielloed Latin inscripnons.

Diameter 3 em. MNM Inv. nos. 61.64.2-5 C. The legends invoke the help of St. Stephen Protomartyr, St. Bartholomew, St. Margaret of Antioch, and St.James.:



Z. T6TH, Turu147 (1933) pp. 15-16; IDEM, Arch. ~t1. 71 (1943) pp. 179-180; I. ERI. Folia Arch. 8 (1956) pp. 137-151; J. KOLBA. FI11ia Arch. 15 (1963) pp. 78-85.


14 Belt mount from Kigyospuszta

The legend is a supplication to St. Stephen Pro[omartyr, patron saint ofknights.

z. T6TH. Turn/47 (1933) p. 15.

15 Belt mount from Kigy6spuszta

The legend requests the patronage of St. Bartholomew, who in the Middle Ages was invoked for protection against nervous diseases and in lifeand-death struggles.

z. T6TH. Turu147 (1933) p. 15.

16 Belt mount from Kfgy6spuszta

The legend calls for the help of St. Margaret of Antioch, one of the patron saints of knights and the female equivalent of St. George.

z. T6TH, Turul47 (1933) p. 15; E. MALYUSZ, Az V. blv4t1-lrori grsM [The grsM from the time of Stephen V], Budapest, 1971, p. 114.

17 Arrow-heads

a) Steel armour-piercing arrow-head with ground edges, Length 9. 1 em.

b) Steel arrow-head. Length 5.6 em.

c) Iron arrow-head. Length 8.5 em.

The latter two might have been equally suitable for battle or hunting. Csolyospalos-Csolyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. no, 63.11.6-8.B.

A. pAL6CZI-HORVATH, Folid Arch. 20 (1969) p. 114, Fig. 8: IDEM, MFME, 1969/1 pp.118-120.111. 2.

18 Circular mounts of gilded silver with embossed centres

Diameter 2.6 em. Csolyospalos-Csolyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv, no. 63.11. 12.B.

A. pALOCZI-HORVATH, Folia Arch. 20 (1969) pp. 112. 114, Figs. 5-7.

19 Gilded silver belt-buckle

Length 12.6 cm. The buckle frame is cast, width 3.6 em. The buckle plate carries a stamped geometrical design of tendrils and plants. Cs6- Iyospalos-Csolyospuszra (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMJnv.no.63.11.11.B.

A. PAtOCZI-HORVATH, Folia Arth. 20 (1969) p. 112, Figs. 5-7.

20 Gilded silver strap end made from two joined plates with ornamentation similar to the buckle of Plate 19.

Length 9.2 em. Csolyospalos-Csolyospuszta (Bics-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 63.11.13. B.

A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH, Folia Arch. 20 (1969) p. 114, Figs. 5-7.

21 Fragment of mail vest woven from butt-dosed and riveted iron rings

Length 21 em. Sixty fragments of the vest, with a total area of nearly 1,500 sq. cm (c. 230 sq. in), are extant.

Csolyospalos-Csolyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMlnv. no. 63.11.4.B.

A. pAt6CZI-HORVATH, Fl1lia Arch. 20 (1969), pp. 109-110. Figs. 2/3 and 3; IDEM, Arch. En. 109 (1982) pp.92-93, 1l1s. 1-2.

22 Pair of wrought-iron stirrups

Height 13.7 cm. The foot-plates are broad and straight, the arches and strap-suspenders are gilded and have silver-wire inlays imitating rivets.

Csolyospalos-Csolyospuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. no. 63. 11.9-10.B.

A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH, Folia Ardl. 20 (1969) pp. 114-115, Figs. 2'~5 and 9-10.

23 Wrought-iron snaffle for a foal

Length 28 ern, The cheek-pieces and rings are asymmetrical. Erdotelek (Heves County). MNM Inv. no. 15511876.4=FN 52.60.

A. NAGY, EgriME7 (1969) p. 135, Plate2/2; L FODOR. CUllldtlid 4 (1976) p. 259, Fig. 5/1.

24 Wrought-iron adze

Width 14.5 em,length of the blade edge 20.5 em. In view of the asymmetry of the blade, the implement may have been for one-handed use (carpenter's broad axe?). Erdorelek CHeves County). MNMlnv. no. lS5.1876.5=FN 52.57.

A. NAGY, EgriME7(1969) p.135, Plate 211.

25 Pair of wrought-iron stirrups with broad, curved foot-plates

Height of the intact example: 15 em, Erd6telek (Heves County). MNM Inv. no. 155/1876. 2-3=FN 52.5~59.

A. NAGY, EgriME7 (1%9) p. 135, Plates 112-3; 1. FODOR. Cumania4 (1976) pp. 259-260, Fig. 5/2-3.

26 Belt mounts

Shield-shaped mounts of pressed sheet silver with engraved heraldic devices and "double-crescent" mounts of cast silver; all items gilded. In accordance with 13th and 14th-century fashion, the two kinds of mounts would have been set on the belt in alternation.

Szentkid,ly-FelsoszentkiraIy (Bacs-Kiskun County). KJM Inv. nos. 55.41.626-627. (Deposited at the MNM.)

SZAB6, IIls~ 372-386; A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH. Curtumid 1 (1972) pp. 181-184 and 189-190, Ills. &-9 and 12/3-6; IDEM, Arth. Ert. 109(1982) pp. 9&-101,1115. 4, 6and 7.

27 "Double-crescent" belt mounts of cast silver from Felsoszentkiraly

KJMInv. no. 55.41.626.

SZAB6, m. 372; A. pAtOCZI-HORVATH, Cumania 1 (1972) pp. 184, 190, Ills. 8-9.

28 Belt mount with barry heraldic device, from Felsoszentkirily

The escutcheon is divided by four lines, with vertical hatching in the two bars.

A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH, Cunumid 1 (1972) pp. 182, 199. lis. 6/13. 7/13 and 19I"C".

29 Belt mount with heraldic device, from Fclsoszentkiraly

The escutcheon is divided by a bend sinister; the dexter chief field has four horizontal divisions. the sinister base three diagonal divisions.

A. pA.L6CZI-HORVATH, C"mdnia 1 (1972) pp. 183, 199, JUs. 617. 717 and 191"H".

30 Belt mount with chequered heraldic device, from Fcls6szentkir:ily

The shield is divided by four horizontal and three vertical lines.

A. pAL6CZI-HORVATH, CUlmmia 1 (1972) pp. 182. 199. Ills. 6/11,7111 and 19'''D''.

31 Belt mount with serpentine heraldic device. from FelsoszentkiraIy

The shield is divided per bend with a triple-looped line; the sinister field is horizontally hatched.


- - - ----------------- --


A. PAL6cZI-HORVATH. Cumanial (1972) pp. 183,200, Ills. 6/1, 7/1 and 19/"F".

" "

32 Belt mount with heraldic device, from Felsoszentkidly

The shield is divided per fesse with a triple casrellation in the chief. a chevron in the base.

A. pALOCZI-HORvArn. CUltl4nia 1 (1972) pp. 183,200. Ills. 6/2, 7/2 and 19rr,



33 Belt mount with rosette heraldic device. from Felsoszentkiraly

The six-petalled rosette was constructed with a compass.

A. pAL(.lCZI-HORV ATH, Cumllnia 1 (1972) pp. 183,200, Ills. 6/12. 7/12.2nd 19'''G''.

34 Gilded silver belt-buckle

Length 13.9 em. The buckle-frame is cast, width 5.1 em. The buckle plate is engraved with a design of tendrils and leaves on a hatched background punched with a double-edged graver. Szentkidly-Felsoszentkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County). KJM Inv. no. 55.41.625. (Deposited at the MNM.)

SZABO. pp. 72-78, m. 370; A. pALOCZI-HORVATH, Cumtltlia 1 (1972) pp. 180-181, ills, 4-5 and 12/1.

35 Gilded silver strap end

Length 10.6 em. The construction is sheath-like; the front plate is engraved with tendrils and palmette-like designs. SzentkiraIy-Felsoszentkiclly (Bacs-Kiskun County). K]M Inv. no. 55.41.624. (Deposited at the MNM.)

SZABO, pp. 72-78, m. 371; A. pALOCZI-HORVATH, Cumllf'li41 (1972) pp.I80-181. ills. 4-5, tOand12/2.

36 Woman's riding equipment ofwrought iron T~e foal's snaffle has a truck. jointed mouthpiece wah flat cheek-ring (one ring is missing), length 23cm.

Pair of round stirrups with broad, ribbed footplate, height 12.5 em.

Girth-buckle. length 6 em. Nagykamaras-Bankut-R6zsamajor (Bekes Co~ty). University of Szeged, Archaeological Institute. Inv. nos. 9290-9292. (Deposited at the MNM.)

BANNER. Dolgo%tJtolt7 (1931) pp. 1~191, PlateXX/6-9; I. FODOR, FolitJ Arch. 23 (1972) pp. 223-224. Fig. I.

I )1



I ~


37 Mirror of east bronze

Diameter 9.35 em, The handle has broken off. The decoration on the reverse is a repousse design of two fish pursuing one another, with a waterlily and dragon-fly in the turbulent water between the fishes. The work is Chinese. from the 12th or early 13th century. Nagykamaras-Bankut-R6- zsamajor (Bekes County). University ofSzeged, Archaeological Institute. (Deposited at the MNM.)

BANNER. Dolgozlltok7 (1931) pp. 193-198, PhteXXI; I. FODOR, FolitJ Arch. 23 (1972) pp. 2~242.

38 Parts of a riding equipment

Foal's snaffle with thick mouth-bit, length 25.5 cm. Pair of round stirrups with a broad, ribbed foot-plate, heights 12.7 and 13.5 em, The wide, flat arches are studded with iron rivets. Tiszafoldvar-Homok-6viraghegy (Szolnok County). DJM.

L. SELMECZI, MFME 1971-1972, p. 189, Plate II; IDEM, SzMME1973, pp.l07-110, Ill. 2.

39 Thick necldet of silver mesh

Full length 74 em. The terminal caps hook onto a flat, cylindrical locket ornamented with filigree. Tiszafoldvar-Homok-6vid.ghegy (Szolnok County). DJM.

L. SELMECZI, MFME 1971-1972, p. 189, Plate II; IDEM, SzMMEl97.3, pp. 107-109, Ills. 2-3.

40 Torque made from twisted silver strip Diameter 17.7 cm. The tapering ends are recurved into terminal loops. Balotaszallas-Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 54/1893.1.

Hpl. U· HAMPEL), Arch. En. 13 (1893) pp. ~370, m. 3. A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH, ActtJ Arch. Hung. 32 (1980) pp. 422-423, Ill. 17.

41 Two silver armlets

Diameters 6.8 and 6.5 cm. The borders are ornamented with double lines of beaded wire soldered to the piece; there are two holes at each of the widening ends.

Balotaszallas-Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County).

MNMInv. nos. 54/1893.2-4.

HpJ. U. HAMPEL], Arch. En. 13 (1893) pp. ~369, Ills. 1-2.

42 Seal-ring cut from sheet silver with incised linear design offoliage and two semi-lunes Diameter 2 em. Balotaszallas-Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 54/1893.147.

Hpl, U. HAMPEL], Auh. Erl. 13 (1893) pp. 368-370,111. 8; zs. LOVAG, Folid Arch. 31 (1980) p. 232. Fig. 1/18.

43 Oval pendant of polished rock-crystal in a filigree-decorated silver setting with suspending ring

Length, including ring: 4.8 cm. BalotaszalIas- Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. no. 54/1893/5.

HpJ. U. HAMPEL]. Arch. En. 13 (1893) pp. 368-370, m. 7.

44 Silver pin with suspending ring and spirally twisted shaft

Length 9.8 em. This would have been worn suspended on a necklace or belt; its use is uncertain (possiblya toilet article). Balotaszallas-Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. no. 54/1893.6.

HpJ. U. HAMPEL]. Arch. En. 13 (1893) pp. 368-370.111. 12,

45 Base and stem of a goblet (?) I

Height 21. 9 em; diameter of base 6.15 em.

The round base of gilded silver is divided with . filigree decor into six fields, each with a gemstone setting (thejewcls are missing). The thin cylindrical stem has a filigree knob on its lower third; the upper part has been broken off, but it may have been a goblet, judging from the only similar known object (from Macedonia). The work is evidently Byzantine-influenced. BalotasesllasBalotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 54/1893.8.

Hpl. U. HAMPEL}, Arch. Ert. 13 (1893) pp. 368-370, ill. 11; E. xovscs, Ronultl~sqUt eo'tlsmiths' An in Hungllry. Budapcst,1974, pp. 16-17, IIl,50,

46 Conical mounts with filigree border and granulation on tip

Diameters 1.1-1.3 em. These would have been sewn on an outer garment or head-dress, Balotaszallas-Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNMInv. nos. 54/1893. 10-14 and 18-35. Hpl. U. HAMPEL]. Arch. Ert. 13 (1893) pp. 368-370, Ills. 19-26.

47 Pressed gilded silver mounts for sewing on a garment or head-dress

Embossed rosettes on square base. diatemer 1 cm. Balotaszdllas-. B alota puszta (Bdcs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. nos. 54/1893.38-44 and 52-60. Hpl. U. HAMPEL]. Ar(h. Bri, 13 (1893) pp. 368--370, Ills. 37-44md47-56.

48 Gold Byzantine coin

Hyperper of John III Doukas Vatatzes, Emperor at Nicaca (1222-1254), with images of the emperor and his empress and a double cross on the obverse. Diameter 3.1 ern. The design is modelled on the gold solidi of John II Comnenos. Balotaszallas-Balotapuszta (Bacs-Kiskun COW1- ty). MNMlnv, no. 102/1893.

Hpl. U. HAMPEL], Arch. En. 13 (1893) pp. 368--370; T. BERTEL~ and C. MORRISS ON, Numismllh4uc byzantine, Wettertn, 1978, p. 22. Plate V 167.

49 Reverse ofhyperper of John Vatatzes with image of Christ enthroned

SO Scene of the Battle of'Kerles (Cserhalom) from the legend of St. Ladislas

Miniature executed at the court of King Charles Robert c. 1332. The Cumans are depicted in peaked felt caps decorated with buttons or pearls and side-fas tened caftans .

In: F. LEV ARDY (Ed.), MllgYllr Anjllu LegrmiJrium (Facsimile cd.) [Legendarium of the Hungarian AngevinsJ (facsimile ed.), Budapest. 1973, p. 135, Plate XLIV/I 0:

"Qvllmodo pvglUlbllt <vm Ittrlllris" [How he fought with the Tartars],

51 Scene from the legend of St. Ladislas fighting withaCuman

Miniature executed at the court of King Charles Robert c. 1332. A Cuman wearing a felt cap aims a blow at St. Ladislas with his spiked mace.

In: F. LEV ARDY (Ed.), MtJgy"r Af'ljou ugenddrium (facsimile ed.) [Legendarium of the Hungarian AngcvinsJ. Budapest, 1973, p. 135. Plate XLIV/ll; "Qvomodo foir p~tvssts'"m conto"[How he was hit with amaee],

52 Scenes from the legend of St. Ladislas Miniature from the Chronicon Piaum [Illuminated Chronicle], painted in the 13605. In the initial "P" the artist, Nicolaus de Herrul, court illuminator to King Louis I the Great, produced a masterly con-


- - -- - -

densation of several events from Ladislas's battle ;:"ith t~e ~umans. In the foreground is the

Wrestlmg scene: (St.) Ladislas, in knight's arm~)Ur of the latter ~alf of the 14th century, fights with the Cuman girl-abductor, who is wearing a long green caftan and red felt cap with wide tur;ned-up brim and whose face, moustache and hatr-style are also Oriental in appearance. In the background the Hungarian army, with light mounted arch~rs-Szek1ers and Pechenegs!-in the vanguard, IS pursuing the Cumans, wearing peaked felt or fur caps, who are fleeing into the Transylvanian mountains.

Kepes Kronika, p. 72 (D6'a); A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH Acta Arch. Hung. 32 (1980) pp. 10-11, m. 3. '

53 E~try of various clans into Hungary

Detail from a miniature in the Chronicon Pittum [llluminated Chronicle], painted in the 1360s. The illummator ~asponrayed some of the foreign peoples entenng Pannonia in Oriental dress similar to that Worn by the Cumans,

Kepes Kronika, p. 32 (fl6'); A. pAL6cZI-HORvAm Aaa Arch. HUllg. 32 (1980) p. 412, Ill, 6. '

54 The second Tartarinvasion

Detail from a miniature in the Cnronicon Pktum [Illuminated Chronicle), painted in the 13605. The figure on the right is shooting with a composite bow; the man at the rear on the left has a Russianstyle conical hcl~et with a chain-mail neck guard. The women WIth th~ Tartar group arc wearing the same style of Oriental head-dress as those in PlateS3.

Kepe~ Kronika, p. 128 (ffi4b); A. PhLOCZI-HORVATH A£t4 Arm. Hung. 32 (1980) pp. 411-412, Ill. 5. '

55 King Ladislas and his assassins

Minatare from the Cnronicon Piaum [Illuminated Chronicle], painted in the 1360s. The murdered ~dislas. in C urnanian dress, is laid out in his tent. His assass~s--Cuman aristocrats, according to the chromcle-are carrying a broadsword and spear and glance back from behind the tent ..

Kepcs Kronika, p. 129 (f65b); A. PAL6cZI~HORVATH. A(ta Arch. Hung. 32 (1980) p.411. m. 4.

56 Noblemen in Oriental dress on the left of King LoUiS the Great

Detail from a miniature in the Chronicon Piaum


[Illuminated Chronicle], painted in the 1360s. The three figures in the foreground seem most likely to represent Cuman and las nobles. The weapons in their hands-bow, mace and sabre-are the symbols of court officials.

Kepes Kr6nika. p. 1; A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH. Alta An:I.. Hung. 32 (1980) pp. 4!4-416, 111. 8.

57 Deta.il of .mural painting of the legend of St. Ladislas m the T ereske Roman Catholic Church (N6grad County)

14th century. In these scenes of "The Wrestling contc:st" and :'The Beheading" King Ladislas is weanng a cuirass of lamellar armour' the simplified depiction of the Cuman's dres~ suggests a peaked cap with a felt or leather neck-guard and short caftan.

Zs, LUKAcS. 'A Szene Uszl6-legenda a kozepkori magyar fa1k6pfest6zetbelJ' {The Legend of St. Ladislas in medieval Hungarian wall-painting], in: L. MEZEY (Ed.), Athl~tlJ Patria~, Budapest, 1980, p. 202, m. 24.

. 58 Silver ear-pendants

Diameters 1.6-2.1 em. Kiskunhalas-Also... Bodoglarpuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County), treasuretrove. 14th-15th century. MNM Inv. nos. 1941.9.13-17.


59 Fragment; of gilded silver armlet with filigree ornamentanon and traces of a gemstone setting Length 2.9 em. Kiskunhalas-A]s6-Bodoglar_ puszta (Bacs-Kiskun County), MNM Inv. no. 1941.9.3.

BARANYN~ OBERSCHALL, p. 1'7, m. 1.

~ Round, pressed dress mount of gilded silver Dtam~ter 1..5 COl. The quartered design is of repousse herruspheres and drops with a beaded bord~r. Kiskunhalas-Als6-Bodoglarpuszra (BacsKiskunCounty), MNMlnv. no. 1941.9.8. BARANYN~ OBERSCHALL. pp. 14-16,111. 1.

61 Gilded silver ornamental button

D~ameter 2.~ em. The face is a stamped mount WIth a hexadic design of small Cones encircled by double rows of beading within a frame of double ~ding; this is soldered to a hemispherical back WIth an eyelet.


Kiskunhalas-Als6- Bodoglarpuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County), MNMInv. no. 1941.9.18.


62-63 Rectangular plate of cast silver

Length 5.5 COl. Inside the lattice border, which has a winged human head in each comer, is a line of beading framing the plain centre. The article rna y have been used as a mirror. Kiskunhalas-Also- Bodoglarpuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County), MNMInv. no. 1941.9.2.


64 Pressed ornament of gilded silver with four holes for sewing to a garment

Diameter 3 cm. The decoration within the beaded border is a six-pointed star with a trefoil between each point.

Szentkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv, no.7S.52.3.C.

A. pAL6cZI-HORV A TH, CUllulllill4 (1976) p. 298, m. 23.

65 Six-lobed mount of stamped and gilded silver with six holes tor sewing to a garment

Diameter 6.1 CIn. In the centre a hexagon with star and rosette decoration. On the evidence of miniatures in the Chronkon Pictum and other archaeological finds, mounts like this were worn by Cuman nobles in the 14th centurv on the shoulder or breast, or sometimes on their caps, Kiskunhalas-Also-Bodoglarpuszta (Bacs-Kiskun County), MNMlnv. no. 1941.9.1.

BARANYN~ OBERSCHALL, pp. 14-16, m. 1; A. pAL6cZI~HORVATH, Acta Arch. Hung. 32 (1980) pp. 424-425.

68 Cumanian settlement areas in the Danube- Tisza Interfluve during the 16th century

The cattle and sheep shown grazing in the region from Cegled in the north to Zenra in the south symbolize the importance of pastoralism to the economy of the region. The map shows a distortion of approx. 4sQ in its projection.

Map by W. LAZIUS. HUIlganat Descriptio, 1570. Museum of Military History, Budapest. Map Room Catalogue no. B IXa48711-1.

69 Skull of a large-sized male dog

Fulllengtb 22 em. Anatomically the skull docs not correspond completely with the modern-day komondor but the dog's calculated height (61 em), the shoulder is com parable.

SzentkiraIy (Bacs-Kiskun County). MMM. Excavated by A. pAL6 CZI-HO RvATH; description by I. TAKAcs.


70 Skull of a young foal

Full length 46.7 em. The horse was about 2 years old. The indentation and fracturing of the frontal bone indicate clubbing with a blunt implement. From the damage to the nasal bone, it seems like! y that the skull was impaled 00 a post.

Szentkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County), house 4-4a, outbuilding 1. MMM

Excavated by A. pAL6cZI-HORVATH; descriprionbyI. TAKACS.


71 Skeleton of a large-sized dog

From the posture it can be deduced that the dog was buried with its legs bound together. Szentkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County). MMM Excavated by A. pAL6cZI-HORV ATH. Unpublished.

72 Bedding trench of the pen-wall (15. 16) and water-drainage ditch (17) in the yard of house 4-4a in Szentkiraly village

The framework of the pen-wall was constructed with closely spaced posts, which were found embedded in the bottom of the trench.

Szenrkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County).

Excavated by A. pAL6cZI-HORV ATH. Unpublished.


66 Penannular silver ear-pendant with three beads The middle bead has a nubbly finish. Karcag (Szolnok County). DJM.

S:1;olnoic Exhibition. Ill. 62.

67 Silver coins of King Sigismund (1387-1437) from the Bodoglarpuszra treasure-trove Diameters 0.9-1.2 em. The find consisted of a total of2,312 coins struck by Kings Louis I the Great and Sigismund, Queen Maria, the Banat of Szoreny (Severin, southern Transylvania), and Wallachia.

Kiskunhalas-Also-Bodoglarpuszra (Bacs-Kiskun County), MNM Inv. no. 50/1941.


73 Bedding trench of the pen-wall in the yard of house4-4a in Szentkiralyvillage

Ditch J 4; detail of the elliptical pen with a row of post-holes from another construction.

Szentkiralv (Bacs-Kiskun County).

Excavated by A, pALOCZI-HORVATH. Unpublished.

74 Clay pottery from house 4a in the Szentkidly village. 15th century

a) Grey, wheel-turned pot with a slightly drawnin rim, height 26,8 cm. The fragments were found plastered onto the cooking-surface of the kitchen's external stove,

b) Smaller, dark-grey, wheel-turned pot, height 20 em. The pot was pierced at several places on the neck and sides. After it had become useless, its fragments were plastered onto the cooking surface of the stove.

c) Grey pot-lid with flat handle; diameter 14.6 em. From the fill ofoutbuiIding 1.

Szentkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM. Excavated by A. pAL6cZI-HORV ATH. Unpublished.

75 Iron knife with handle covered by a bronze sheet with incised decorations

. Length 12.2 ern; the blade is 5.4 ern long. Szentkiraly (Bacs-Kiskun County). MNM Inv. no. 75.51.41.C.

Excavated by A. pAt6cZI-HORV ATH. Unpublished.

76 Clay pot from house 1a in M6ric village Height 15.3 em, Greyish-brown, wheel-turned pot with fluted rim and incised lines around its shoulder. 15th-16th century.

Turkeve-M6ric (Szolnok County). MNM Inv. no. 55901.212.

I. M~RI. Arch. En. 81 (1954). PlateXXXVIlI/6.

TI The "las lands" Oaszsag), "Greater Cumania" (Nagykunsag) and "Lesser Cumania" (Kiskunsag) in the 18th century (Scale 1: 120,000)

Map by S. MIKOVINY. MQPPQPdrtis Regni HlIngdriQt!, qua IQzygu, CUntdnl' MdiMtS d MillDru (ontinmtur, 1773. Museum of Military History, Budapest. Map Room Catalogue no. B lXa 624.

78 Villages and farmsteads of "Greater Cumania" Detail from MIKOVINY's map oft Tl3.

Villages were hidden away in the marshes, surrounded by large numbers of farmsteads. Those villages that were completely destroyed during the Turkish occupation of Hungary eventually had their boundaries integrated into settlements which were repopulated during the 18th century and later grew into large market-towns .


1 Hilt and cross-guard of sabre from Tin6d

2 Srwfflr with cheek-pieces from TinM

4 Reverse cifKing Bela IV's 'Golden Bull'

5 Detail cif a charter oj 1269 bearing the equestrian seal cif Stephen as' Younger King'


3 ObverseoJKing Bela IV's 'GoldenBull'

6 Ladislas IV's charter cif1279 on recompensing his nobles Jor settlement by the Cumans





7 King Charles Robert's charter oj 1323 on theprivileges oJthe las

8 The so-called las glossary

., -

~ " .. ,.:,-\ ..... ':.:", \ ~\ P"~' " r

~) ~\r:_ II'\~_.\ .

~ "''''-t,+1.l\ I ,,'t.

l?---' V (~~. ~::r'" G ~I' <_n:. ~l)t'tA i:;~~

l tt~~ (' l ( "

- t~4\:!'~ -: I

V\ ") 4.. ~\\-'(\f1- .

l " . ~.,'VJ~1

I ~Y1.

9 Cuman stone statue from the collection of J.Jemey

10 Floor-tile from the Archbishop's Palace on MargtJTrl Island, Budapest, showin.~ 'hi' figure of a Cuman archer sJ,ooling to the rear

11 The Kfgyospuszta belt-buckle

12 Knights in combat: detailfrom the Kfgy6spuszta belt-buckle

13 Mounts with Latin inscriptions from the Kfgyospuszta belt

14 "St. Stephen,prayjorme"

15 "St. Bartholomew 1 pray jor me"

16 "St. Margaret, pray for me"


17 Arrow-heads from the Cs6/yos grave

, .,
d,' t
., .
.1 18 Mounts from the Cs6lyos belt

19 Belt-buckleJrom Csolyos farmstead

20 Strap end from Csolyos farmstead

21 Fragment if the mail vestfrom Csolyospuszta

22 Pair ~f sti""ps from the CsDlyos fitU'J

23 Mouth-bitfrom Erdotelek

24 Adze from Erdotelek

25 Paircifstjm~psfrom Erdotelek

26 Mountsfrom the Ftlsoszrnlkira!y belt

27 "Double-crescent" mounts from Felsoszentkiraly

28 Belt mount with barry heraldic device (Felsoszentkiraly)

29 Belt mount with heraldic device of a bmd sinister and bars (FtlsosZtnfkiraly)

30 Belt mount with thequered heraldic device (Felsoszentkiraly)

31 Belt mount with serpentine heraldic device (Feisoszentkiraly)

32 Belt mount with castellated and thevroned heraldic device (Felsoszentkiraly)

33 Belt mount with heraldic device of a six-pttalled rosette (FdsosztntkirJly)

----------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------

34 Belt-buckle Jrom Felsoszentkircily

35 Strap endjrom Feisoszetlikircily

36 Woman's riding equipment from Bcinkut

37 Chinese bronze mirror Jrom Bankut

- -------------------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------- ------ -

38 Woman's riding rquipmmt from Homolt-01/irJghtX}'

39 Necklet ofsilvtr mt"~ll and locket from Homo"_6,,;r.J.rl"r.rlY



40 Torquefrom Balotapuszta

41 Armletsfrom Balotapuszta 42 Seal-ringfrom Balotapuszta

43 Crystal pendantfrom Balotapuszta

44 Silver ornamental pinfrom Balotapuszta

45 Base and stem rfgoblet (? )from the &lol4pIUZ'4.!illd

46 Mounts decorated with fil igree and granulation on tip (Balotapuszta]

47 Hemispherical and rosette dress mounts from Balotapuszta

48 Obverse ofgold coin oJJohn III Doukas Vatatzes, Emperor oj Nicaea (1222-1254)

50 St. Ladislas' battle with the I> Cumans (from the Magyar Aojou Lcgcndarium Il1~i'YIJ.triwn oJthe Hungarian AngevinsJ)

51 St. lAJislas fi~hting with t>

a Cuman warrior (from the Magyar Aojou Legendarium

I ugt'flJarillln of the Hungarian Angwins I)

49 Reverse oJgold coin oJJohn III Vatatzes

52 St. LAdHiasj'K'uill.1? with the Cuman~ir/-abdlw(.r; '71,(, Pursuu' and 'The Wrestling Contest' (Chronicon Pictum)

54 The second Tartar invasion (Chronicon Pictum)

55 King LAdislas the 'Cuman' and his assassins

(Chronicon Pictum)

53 Entry ,!"'II~ various clans into Hungary (Chronicon Pictum)

57 The legend of St. Ladislas: 'The" 'wl/m.1( contest' and 'The Beheading' f Tcreskc )

56 Noblemen it. Eastern dress on the left ,'''Kjtl,~ Louis tile Great

( .hromcon Pictum)

581.:'."-pmd.mtsfrolll B"d'~I?/Jrpw ~ 1<1

59 ha.CIIII"II1 of an armletfrom Bod(~l?la'1lJ1.~':: 1<1

60 Round mourJI for a dress (&do.~IJrplfjztll )

61 Ornamental buttonfrom Bodoglarpuszta

62 Silver plate decorated with human heads (Bodogldrp uszta}

63 Detail cifSilverplate No. 62

64 Silver costume omtlment from Szentkirdly

65 Six-lobed silver dress mount from Bodogldrpuszta

66 Ear-pendant with bead ornaments from Karcag


67 Coins of King Sigismund (1387-1437 )from tht Bodoglarpuszl4 treasure-trove

68 Cuman settlement areas in the Danube- Tisza Intetjluvt (dt.'wil from a map by Lazius in 1570)

69 Dog skullfrom Szentkiraly 70 Horse skull from Szentkiraly

<J 71 Dog skeletonfrom Szentkiraly <J 72-73 Foundations cifanimal pens in Szentkiraly

74 Pottery from Szentkirdly

75 Iron knife with bronze handle from Szentkiraly

76 Potfrom the village cifM6ric

77 'Greater Cumania', 'Lesser Cumania' and the 'las-lands' on the map of S. Mikoviny (1773)

~ F;J.


; C E u ",IIjl:iIl'l,.~1

iftfllill '~liiI/jr y

11),002-19" ..



78 Villages and famrslttlds (detail from the map of 'GrtlJl" Cwmania ')

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