THE LEGENDS OF KING STEPHEN
Prazak, Richard (Univerzita J. E. Purkynë, Brno)
M.A. Thesis, HUNGARIAN STUDIES, No. 2, VOL. 1 (1985)
The Legends of King Stephen, which appeared at the turn of the 11th and 12th centuries, have become part of the background of the literary awakening in the Early Middle Ages in Hungary, at the time of their appearance, however, there was still a very strong tradition of oral narrative, and literary creation brought to Hungary by Christianity. The christianization of Hungary dates from the middle of the 10th century, when the “Turkish” missionary bishop Hierotheos together with chief Gyula, baptized in Byzantium, came to the territory of the so-called “black” Magyars on the south-eastern border of present-day Hungary; he also baptized Gyula’s daughter Sarolta, wife of Duke Géza, who was himself baptized by the missionary bishop Bruno of Sankt Gallen in 972.2 The Czech bishop Adalbert (Vojtëch)—according to the life of Bruno of Querfurt from the year 1004—visited Hungary only briefly in the year 955, but a tradition has been handed down to modern times that it was he who played the main role in bringing Christianity to Hungary. Shortly after his death Adalbert became a symbol of the missionary activity of the Ottoman Renaissance in Central Europe, patron of the first Christian cathedrals in Gniezno and Esztergom, and together with Wenceslas, the first patron of Czech Christianity. This dominant role of him in the christianization of the early medieval Central Europe in the Czech, Polish and Hungarian territories is graphically depicted by the legends of the 11th century, including the Hungarian legends of King Stephen.