{1-382.} Gyula and the Gyulas

The conclusion that Transylvania was settled by one of the original conquering tribes is based not only on family legends and the property structure but also on contemporary reports that in the mid-900s, the Hungarians had a tribal structure. In his account of Byzantine government, Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenetos listed the names of the seven Hungarian tribes and of the Kabar tribe; he observed that in addition to each tribe's chieftain, the Hungarians had a higher leadership that consisted of a prince (in Greek: megas archon), a gyula, and a harka. An earlier Moslem source refers to the prince by the Hungarian word kende and also mentions the gyula, but not the harka. Constantine noted that these titles should not be confused with proper names: 'It should be borne in mind that the harka Bulcsú is the son of Kál, the harka, and that while Kál is a proper name, harka is a title, just like gyula, which ranks higher than harka.'[4]4. A magyarok elődeiről és a honfoglalásról, ed. by György Györffy (Budapest, 1975), p. 122; in keeping with the original Greek, the source spells the names 'Karcha', 'Kali', and 'jila'. This account dates from Bulcsú's visit to Byzantium in 948. The emperor's explanatory note was apposite, for confusion could arise involving title and personal name, as it did in the work of a contemporary Arab historian, Ibn Haijjan. When, in 942, the latter met Hungarians who had been captured in the course of their campaign in the Moorish-held region of what is today Spain, he inquired about their leaders; as he records it, the Hungarians said that their second-ranking chief was the gyula (a title), and that their third-ranking leader was Bulcsudi (the personal name of the harka). The study of Hungary's history in the 10th century is complicated by the fact that the titles in the tribal alliance, and indeed the names of tribes noted by Emperor Constantine had faded from memory as the tribal alliance disintegrated. As a result, medieval chroniclers were not aware of the tribes' names and would use the three highest titles as personal names; this happened with kende or kündü (Kund) and gyula in the 'Old Gesta', and with the same titles as well as harka in {1-383.} Anonymus' chronicle. The chroniclers were not alone in making this mistake; all three titles would appear frequently as late as the 12th century in the form of personal names and toponyms.

The fusion of personal names and titles was not specific to the Hungarians. 'Charlemagne' gave rise to the Slavic kral, which inspired the Hungarian király (king), which in turn became crai in Romanian. In Hungary, the pattern was reversed, for the titles were converted into personal names, but there remained traces of the original meaning, for at times the title and personal name would be used to designate father and son, or two brothers. Anonymus does this in his passages on Transylvania. In drawing Tétény's family tree, he attributes two sons to Horka, Gyula and Zombor; Gyula is said to have two daughters, Karold and Sarolt, while Zombor has two sons, Buja and Bonyha. Both the 'Old Gesta' and Anonymus affirmed that Sarolt had been the wife of Prince Géza and mother of King St. Stephen. Yet two reliable sources, the Altaich Annals (1003) and Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg (d. 1018) maintain that the Transylvanian gyula who was defeated by King St. Stephen was the king's uncle (avunculus); the former refers to him by his title, Iulus rex, while the latter calls the gyula by his personal name, Prokuj senior. In an expanded, 13th-century version of the 'Old Gesta', Sarolt is again presented as daughter of the Transylvanian Gyula, wife of Prince Géza, and mother of King St. Stephen, and it is the 'third' Gyula who is imprisoned in 'Pannonia' by King St. Stephen. In the Altaich Annals, it is the wife of Iulus rex and their two sons (identified by Anonymus as Buja and Bonyha) who are taken into captivity by King St. Stephen; according to Thietmar, it is 'Prokuj's' wife who suffers this fate. It becomes apparent that Anonymus believed 'Zombor gyula' (i.e. Zombor the gyula) to be two persons, the brothers Zombor and Gyula, and he divided up the gyula's children between the two imaginary brothers; and since in this case, the 'younger Gyula' could not be the uncle of King St. Stephen, Anonymus concluded that he was merely 'related to the king's mother'.

{1-384.} If Anonymus failed to distinguish between title and personal name in the case of the gyula Zombor, it is likely that he made the same mistake with other titles as well. Anonymus reports that the tribal chieftain Künd descended from Kurszán; in fact, Kurszán was a kündü, and Anonymus turned that title into the name of a son. Reversing the mistake, he affirms that the father of the gyula Zombor was called Horka, when in fact he must have simply borne the title of harka. Since titles were passed on from father to son (Constantine noted that Árpád's sons and grandsons were princes, and that the harka Bulcsú was the son of the harka Kál), it is likely that Tétény, too, was a harka. In the case of the father, the title is missing; with the son, it is the personal name that is omitted.

The question thus arises, what was Tétény's title, and what was the personal name of his harka son? Since Anonymus' more reliable information came from family traditions (e.g. the Zsombor and Agmánd clans), it is not likely that he made up the name Tétény or derived it from a contemporary toponym. No such place is found east of the Tisza. There is, on the other hand, a Tétény south of Buda, and another on the right bank of the Danube in Moson county; they lie on the periphery of a region, north of Lake Balaton, where there are toponymic traces of the later harkas Kál and Bulcsú, and there are also Harka toponyms dating from the Middle Ages, one to the west of Lake Fertő, the other near Szőny. Thus, if the toponymic legacy of Tétény and his harka son signifies that Tétény was a harka at the time of the Hungarian Conquest, then he can hardly have been (as Anonymus contends) the conqueror of Transylvania, for the toponyms Tétény and Harka do not occur in that region. By all indications, the harkas were charged with defending the western frontier, and set off from this area (as did Bulcsú) for their western European campaigns. At best, Tétény might have been the father of a chieftain who led the conquest of Transylvania. That chieftain must have been promoted from harka to gyula, for Transylvania was ruled by a gyula — through two generations {1-385.} according to Anonymus, or three according to the 'Old Gesta'. It may be supposed, on the basis of Anonymus' chronicle, that Transylvania's first gyula was a former harka who had moved there from Transdanubia along with his soldiers; as gyula, he became the leader of the Hungarian clans in Transylvania and assumed responsibility for the defence of the country's eastern frontier.

But was there a precedent for such a promotion in Hungary during the 10th century? According to a plausible hypothesis, after the kende Kurszán died in 904, the gyula Árpád became the ruling prince, and his title was passed on. The most likely recipient is no other but Tétény, who was named by Anonymus as the ancestor of a string of gyulas. This supposition is reinforced by the fact that Tétény, who — as noted — was probably once a harka, was given the land, on the right side of the Danube, where there are toponymic traces of Kurszán. At this point, the gyulas were not yet in charge of eastern defences; they were needed to lead the early raids into Italy and the German regions. After the death of Kurszán, the life of a ruling prince could hardly be put to risk in foreign raids. The campaigns came to be led by a gyula and a harka, who — as is known from the fate of the harka Bulcsú and of Lél — were accompanied by a prince of the house of Árpád.

In the eastern border regions, the Hungarian conquerors were compelled to mount a protracted defensive action. The blows suffered at the hands of the Pechenegs and Bulgars in 895 induced great caution. Constantine Porphyrogenetos repeatedly noted that the Turkic people (i.e. the Hungarians) feared the Pechenegs, who were used by the Bulgars to keep the Hungarians in check. When, early in the 10th century, Byzantine envoys urged the Hungarian leaders to attack the Pechenegs, their proposal was rejected on the grounds that it carried too many risks; in any case, the Hungarians had no intention of reoccupying the Etelköz, now held by the Pechenegs as far as the Danube delta. They tried to preserve peaceful {1-386.} relations with the Pechenegs so that they would be free to concentrate on more westerly targets. The Pechenegs, for their part, preferred to raid the richer lands of the Bulgars and Byzantines rather than the poorer Carpathian Basin, which was in a state of some turmoil due to the Hungarian conquest. Thus the anti-Hungarian alliance of the Bulgars and the Byzantine empire gradually fell apart, and the two old enemies, the Hungarians and the Pechenegs, pursued a rapprochement in the face of growing Bulgar might. Negotiations were conducted as early as 917 with the aim of launching joint Byzantine-Hungarian-Pecheneg action against the Bulgars. In the short run, such action did not materialize, and Czar Simeon proceeded to conquer additional Byzantine territory, but in 932 the allies did launch a joint attack.

Al Masudi, a contemporary Arab geographer from Baghdad, noted in 932 (making reference to the Byzantine emperor Romanus Lecapenus, who reigned between 920 and 944) that four Turkic peoples, the 'bedjenei', the 'bedjenek', the 'badjgird', and the 'nu.k.r.da" (read: unkariya) had been fighting against each other when their undefended homes were attacked by the inhabitants of a 'Byzantine town' called W.l.n.d.r (read: Wlandur, from Lándor or Nándor, the Hungarians' name for the Bulgars). The four peoples thereupon joined forces and killed many of the people of 'Wlandur'. Although the Byzantine emperor led a great army to save the 'town', it was invested and sacked by the attackers, who took the inhabitants into captivity and proceeded to devastate the Byzantine Empire all the way to Constantinople. This account, which muddles up the names of peoples, 'towns', and countries, has inspired a variety of interpretations, but scholars now tend to conclude that it concerns only two 'Turkic' peoples, the Hungarians and the Pechenegs, who were attacking the Bulgars, a.k.a Lándors, at a time when the latter were getting support from Byzantium.

The Hungarians' occupation of southern Transylvania may well be linked to this event, if not to an earlier one. The legend, {1-387.} related in the 'Old Gesta', of Gyula's hunting expedition and his discovery of the ruins of a Roman 'white castle' (Apulum), may well be based on the historical fact of a military campaign conducted in southern Transylvania. But who was the Gyula, or rather gyula, who led this campaign? The answer must satisfy three conditions: first, his name could not be Gyula or Harka/Horka, but he had to be a gyula or harka; second, he had to leave some toponymic traces in Transylvania; and third, he had to be dated from the early 900s in a reliable and preferably contemporary source. The only known personage who satisfies these conditions is the ruling prince Bogát (Bugat rex). It is recorded in Liudprand's Antapodosis that in 921, Bogát and his Hungarian troops joined Dursac rex in bringing aid to the Italian king Berengar against a group of plotters.

Hungarian historians agree that the western raids were led by the harka, who was accompanied by a prince of the house of Árpád; thus Bulcsú and Lél were present at the fateful battle of Augsburg. Since 'Dursac' has been plausibly identified with Tarhos, son of Árpád, Bogát is considered equally plausibly to have been a high dignitary of the tribal alliance. Some believe that Bogát was the gyula in that period, but it is more likely that he was the son of the gyula Tétény, and held the rank of harka — unless he had already inherited the title of gyula from his late father. In medieval documents, Bogát's name figures in numerous toponyms — three in Baranya county, two in Somogy county, and one in each of Vas, Zala, and Veszprém counties; and these places are found in the neighbourhood of villages bearing the names of Árpád, Árpád's relatives, and the harkas Kál and Bulcsú. He also appears in chapters 39, 41, and 53 of Anonymus' chronicle, where the subsequently famous harka Bulcsú — the 'man of blood' — calls Bogát his father. Although Anonymus did not know that Bulcsú was a harka and the son of the harka Kál, he nevertheless links Bogát, through Bulcsú, to the harkas; the chronicler may have drawn this vague connection from dying and misconstrued legends. Contemporary foreign {1-388.} sources, Hungarian legends, and toponyms all point to the existence of the harka (later gyula) Bogát, son of the harka (and later gyula) Tétény; judging from his places of residence, this Bogát may have been related to Árpád's family, perhaps as a son-in-law.

Moreover, medieval documents reveal that Bogát's name figures in another, eastern group of toponyms that, following Anonymus, can be linked to the gyula (Bogát) who was the son of Tétény (the harka), as well as to the other Transylvanian gyulas. Most of these place-names are found along the salt-route from Transylvania to the Tisza. In the period of the monarchy, the salt extracted in northern Transylvania at Désakna, Székakna, and Kolozsakna (perhaps along with some salt from Tordaakna) was transported across the Meszes Pass and Szalacs down to the Tisza, where it was loaded on ships. There is a place called Magyarbogát in the vicinity of Désakna; another Bogát, now defunct, was found in the 13th century south of Tordaakna, in the Aranyosszék district; there is a Nyírbogát northwest of Szalacs; and, finally, there are two fields called Bogát near the Tisza, at Mezőzombor and Polgár, but there is no assurance that these date from the Middle Ages. (The Oláhbogát in Fehér county must be excluded from this list, for it got its name in the late Middle Ages from the propertied Marosbogáti family; on the other hand, Oltbogát, as will be noted, has some bearing on the matter.) The eastern Bogát toponyms are invariably proximate to places bearing the name Zombor or Zsombor (which are linguistically indistinguishable): Magyarnagyzsombor at the Meszes Pass, and farther north, Zsombortelek, a settlement that had become deserted by the Middle Ages; Szászzsombor on the right bank of the Kis-Szamos, in the Mezőség; Mezőzombor on the left bank of the Tisza; and two Zsombors along the Olt River, northeast of Oltbogát. If Gyula had not been a common personal name in the Middle Ages, three additional Gyula toponyms from northern Transylvania and four from the middle reaches of the Maros could be linked to Anonymus' Gyula-Zombor legend; however, the only {1-389.} one of these toponyms that safely traced to the title of gyula is Gyulafehérvár. As noted, Anonymus probably drew from the Transylvanian, Zsombor clan's legend the information that the ancestor of the Transylvanian gyulas was the harka Bogát, son of the harka Tétény, and that Bogát's son was the gyula Zombor (considered by Anonymus to be two brothers, Gyula and Zombor). If this information is broadly accurate, it supports the hypothesis — one that has been advanced by others as well — that the first Transylvanian gyula was Bogát, who reached this second-highest rank in the tribal alliance when he moved from western Hungary to Transylvania. The promotion would have occurred shortly after 921, when the title of harka was assumed by Bulcsú's father, Kál.