Upper nobility (Kingdom of Hungary)

Upper nobility (Kingdom of Hungary)

__NOTOC__The upper nobility ( _hu. főnemesség, _la. barones) was the highest stratum of the temporal society in the Kingdom of Hungary until the 20th century. In the course of the 11-15th centuries, only people who held specific high offices in the royal administration or in the Royal Households were distinguished by law within the nobility, but from the 16th century, families whose ancestors had been authorized by the monarchs to use a distinctive noble title ("e.g.", baron, count) formed a hereditary social class.

Its first members descended from the leaders of the Magyar tribes and clans and from the western knights who immigrated to the Kingdom of Hungary in the course of the 10-12th centuries. They were the "men distinguished by birth and dignity" "(maiores natu et dignitate)" mentioned frequently in the charters of the first kings. From the 1210s, the dignitaries of the central administration and the Royal Households were referred to as "barons of the realm" "(barones regni)" in official documents but their legal status was exclusively linked to the office they held and their offsprings could not inherit it.

In 1193, King Béla III granted Modruš county in Croatia to Bartolomej, the ancestor of the Frankopan "(Frangepán)" family; thenceforward, he and his descendants used the hereditary title "count" but no specific privileges were connected to it. Quite to the contrary, the theory of the "one and same liberty" "(una eademque libertas)" of the nobles strengthened and finally, it became enacted in 1351. From 1397, the descendants of the "barons of the realm" were referred to as "barons' sons" "(filii baronum)" or magnates "(magnates)" in official documents and from the 1430s, they received the honorific "magnificus", an expression that had earlier been used only when addressing the "barons of the realm".

Besides the Counts Frankopan, the members of foreign ruling houses and the nobles of foreign origin who held offices in the royal administration or owned estates in the Kingdom of Hungary ("e.g.", Duke Ladislaus of Opole, Prince Fyodor Koriatovych, the "Despot" Stefan Lazarević and Count Hermann II of Celje) were the first individuals who used noble titles, but in theory, their legal status was still equal to that of the poorest members of the lesser nobility. Similarly, the status of the brothers Szentgyörgyi did not change when they were rewarded with the hereditary title "count of the Roman Empire" in 1459 by Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor who had been claiming the throne for himself against King Matthias I.

King Matthias I also rewarded his partisans with hereditary titles when he appointed them to hereditary heads of counties "(hæreditarius supremus comes)" and authorized them to use red sealing wax (similarly to the counts of the Roman Empire). In 1487, a new expression appeared in a deed of armistice signed by King Matthias: the document mentioned 19 noble families as "natural barons in Hungary" "(barones naturales in Hungaria)" in contrast to the "barons of the realm" whose position was still linked to the high offices they happened to be holding. During the reign of King Vladislaus II, the special legal position of certain noble families was enacted and the act referred to their members as "barons" even if they were not holding any high offices at that time.

Although in the 16th century, the "Tripartitum" (a law book collecting the body of common laws that had arisen from customary practise) declared again that all the nobles enjoyed the same liberties independently of their offices, birth or wealth, but in practise, even it acknowledged that some differences had been existing within the nobility. Nevertheless, the "Tripartitum" still distinguished between the "true barons" "(veri barones)" who held the highest offices and the "barons only by name" "(barones solo nomine)" who did not hold any high offices but used noble titles. From 1526, the Habsburg kings rewarded their partisans with hereditary titles such as "baron" and "count" and the members of the families wearing such titles were invited to attend in person at the Diets. This costumary practise was confirmed by legislation in 1608, when the Diet passed an act prescribing that the monarchs were to send a personal invitation to the members of the upper nobility ("i.e.", to the "true barons" and to the nobles authorized by the kings to use hereditary titles) when convoking the Diet; thenceforward, the prelates and the members of the upper nobility formed the Diets' Upper House.

The Habsburg monarchs endeavoured to establish an "international" aristocracy within their empire and they granted several estates in the Kingdom of Hungary to their followers descending from their other realms and provinces; the Estates, however, managed to reserve the right that the kings could not grant offices and estates to foreigners without their authorization. From 1688, the members of the upper nobility were entitled by law to create an entail "(fideicommissum)" which ensured that their estates were inherited without division in contrast to the common law that prescribed that a noble's inheritance was to be divided equally among his heirs.

The "cardinal liberties" of the nobility were abolished by the "April laws" in 1848, but the members of the upper nobility could reserve their hereditary membership in the Upper House of the Parliament. In 1885, aristocrats who did not meet all the financial criteria set up by legislation, lost their seat in the legislative body. The Upper House was dissolved in 1918 and it was reorganized only in 1926, but thenceforward, the members of the upper nobility were only entitled to elect some representatives to the Upper House.

In 1945, the land reform liquidated the financial basis of the special status of the upper nobility. And finally, following the declaration of the Republic of Hungary, the Parliament passed an act that prohibited the use of noble titles in 1946.

The tribal aristocracy (9-11th centuries)

In the 9th century, the tribal federation of the nomadic Magyars "(Hetumoger)" was composed of seven (and later, after the Kabars had joined to it, of eight) tribes ( _hu. törzs, _gr. phyle).cite book | last = Kristó | first = Gyula (editor)| authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon - 9-14. század "(Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History - 9-14th centuries)"| publisher = Akadémiai Kiadó | year = 1994 | location = Budapest | pages = 262, 312, 688| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 05 6722 9] The tribes were divided into 35-50 clans ( _hu. nemzetség, _gr. genea).cite book | pages = 488-489] The Magyar clans must have been organized based on the real or fictitious kinship of their members; each of them had its own name (that may have been changing from time to time) and the clans possessed separate territories within the lands occupied by the tribe they were linked to.cite book | last = Tóth | first = Sándor László | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Levediától a Kárpát-medencéig "("From Levedia to the Carpathian Basin")" | publisher = Szegedi Középkorász Műhely | date = 1998 | location = Szeged | pages = 80-82| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 482 175 8] In the 9th-10th centuries, the "kende", the "gyula" and the "horka" were the leaders of the Magyar tribal federation, while the tribes were headed by their own princes and each clan must have also had its own head.cite book | pages = 245, 269, 389] cite book | pages = 79-89]

The Byzantine emperor Constantine VII "Porphyrogennetos" recorded thatcite book | pages = 79-89]

Around 896, the Magyars invaded the Carpathian Basin and by 902, they occupied its whole territory.cite book | pages = 189] The Magyars made several raids to the territories of present-day Italy, Germany, France and Spain and also to the lands of the Byzantine Empire.cite book | last = Kristó | first = Gyula | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Magyarország története - 895-1301 "(The History of Hungary - 895-1301)"| publisher = Osiris Kiadó | year = 1998 | location = Budapest | pages = 67-68| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 379 442 0] cite book | last = Bóna | first = István | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = A magyarok és Európa a 9-10. században "("The Magyars and Europe during the 9-10th centuries")"| publisher = História - MTA Történettudományi Intézete | date = 2000 | location = Budapest | pages = 29-65 | url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 8312 67 X] The regular raids contributed to the differentiation of the tribal society because the leaders of the military actions were entitled to reserve a higher share of the booty for themselves.cite book | page = 67] The military actions also contributed to the formation of the retinues of the heads of the tribes and the clans.cite book | pages = 66] The Magyars were obliged to stop their regular military actions westwards following their defeat at the Battle of Augsburg on the Lech River in 955; and in 970, the raids against the Byzantine Empire also finished.cite book | pages = 62-65]

When the period of the military raids closed, the organization of the future Kingdom of Hungary commenced during the reign of Grand Prince Géza (before 972-997) who united the western parts of the Carpathian Basin under his rule.cite book | pages = 235, 431] The establishment of the Kingdom of Hungary is connected to King Saint Stephen (1000/1001-1038); he defeated the (semi-)independent Magyar tribal leaders who endeavoured to resist his rule and thus he managed to expand his authority over the whole territory of the Carpathian Basin by the 1030s.cite book | pages = 291-292] King Stephen I organized several "counties" that became the basic units of the royal administration.cite book | pages = 291-292] Some scholars ["E.g.", Gyula Pauler, György Györffy] claim that King Stephen I organized the "counties" on the basis of the territories possessed by the clans, but other authors ["E.g.", Lajos Elekes, Gyula Kristó] pointed out that the relationship between the "counties" and the Magyar clans cannot be proven.cite book | pages = 449]

King Saint Stephen's acts ensured the private ownership of landed property; therefore, several families of the tribal aristocracy ("i.e.", the families of the heads of the tribes and clans) acquired the ownership of parts of the lands their clans had previously possessed.cite book | page = 151] Consequently, several families of the future upper nobility descended from the tribal leaders who had surrendered to King Stephen I ("e.g.", the Aba and Csák families), and even the descendants of some rebellious tribal leaders ("e.g.", the kindred of Ajtony) could reserve a part of their ancestor's estates.cite book | last = Fügedi | first = Erik | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Ispánok, bárók, kiskirályok "(Counts, Barons and Petty Kings)"| publisher = Magvető Könyvkiadó | date = 1986 | location = Budapest | pages = 11-27| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 14 0582 6]

Although King Stephen I made a concerted effort to strengthen the position of Christianity in his kingdom and he adopted severe measures against the followers of pagan costums, but several Magyar tribal leaders (including the king's nephew, Levente who died as a pagan around 1046) did not give up their former lifestyle.cite book | page = 153]

On the other hand, the Christian missionaries' efforts were not in vain, and several members of the tribal aristocracy ("e.g.", Csanád, one of Ajtony's former military leaders) became an ardent advocate of the Christianity; and finally, all of them who could reserve their estates integrated into the upper stratum of the Christian society following the period of the internal wars in the 1040s.cite book | page = 145] cite book | page = 153]

The immigrant knights (10-13th centuries)

The first knights from the western countries (mainly from the provinces of the Holy Roman Empire) arrived to Hungary during the reign of Grand Prince Géza in the 990s and he granted several estates to them on his domains.cite book | page = 12] In 997, the future King Saint Stephen could gain a victory over Koppány (his relative who claimed the throne for himself after the death of Grand Prince Géza) with the assistance of the foreign knights serving in his German wife's retinues.cite book | page = 89] The arrival of the immigrant ( _hu. jövevény, _la. advena) knights continued until the end of the 13th century; several of them ("e.g.", the brothers Hont and Pázmány) were invited by the monarchs who offered them estates in their kingdom; others arrived in the retinues of the queens of foreign origin; while some of them was obliged to leave their country and seek shelter in the kingdom.cite book | pages = 14-15] Most of the immigrant knights were horse-mounted men-at-arms thus the maintenance of their equipment required considerable financial resources that was ensured by grant of estates.cite book | pages = 40-41]

Dignitaries and office-holders (11-13th centuries)

The formation of the Royal Council

The kings' (and their queens') retinues and the Royal Households became the centres where the merger of the tribal aristocracy and the immigrant knights occurred (mainly by inter-marriages) in the course of the 11-12th centuries.cite book | pages = 28-31] The decrees of King Stephen I contain clear references to the "men distinguished by birth and dignity" ( _hu. születésre és méltóságra nézve nagyobbak, _la. maiores natu et dignitate) who can be identified with the immigrant knights and the members of the tribal aristocracy who held the highest offices at his court and in the royal administration.cite book | pages = 153] They formed, together with the prelates, the Royal Council ( _hu. királyi tanács, _la. consilium regium) which became the highest forum of political decision-making in the kingdom.cite book | page = 357] Nevertheless, the monarchs remained the biggest landowners in the country until the end of the 12th century and the scattered lands owned even by the wealthiest members of the kings' retinues did not form contiguous geographical units in the kingdom.cite book | page = 54-55] Based on their financial recources, the monarchs could reserve their overwhelming authority within their kingdom in the course of the 11-12th centuries: during the reign of King Géza II (1141-1162), the Bishop Otto of Freising recorded that all the Hungarians Quote|"are so obedient to the monarch that not only irritating him by open opposition but even offending him by concealed whispers would be considered for felony by them."|Bishop Otto of Freisingcite book | last = Kristó | first = Gyula | last2 = Makk | first2 = Ferenc | title = Az Árpád-ház uralkodói "("Rulers of the Árpád dynasty")" | publisher = I.P.C. KÖNYVEK Kft. | year = 1996 | location = | page = 181 | isbn = 963 7930 973]

The heads of counties

Among the members of the monarchs' retinues, the heads of the counties ( _hu. ispán, _la. comes) enjoyed a distinguished position: they managed the royal revenues of the "counties" and they were entitled to one third of the revenues; moreover, they lead their own retinues attached to their office.cite book | page = 63-66] They enjoyed several privileges; "e.g.", in their cases, the judgement was to be passed by the monarchs in person.cite book | page = 55]

The "ispán"s" became the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in the country, but their appointment and dismissal depended exclusively upon the kings' favour and therefore, they could not form a hereditary aristocracy.cite book | pages = 107] Their financial conditions ensured that they could set up monasteries and grant possessions to them. These "private monasteries" not only served for burial place to the founder's family but their founder often reserved the "right of patronage" ( _hu. kegyuraság, _la. ius patronatus) for himself and for his descendants.cite book | pages = 33-35]

The high-officers of the realm and of the Royal Households

The first references to an organized entourage around the monarchs were recorded during the reign of King Andrew I (1046-1060), but the development of the Royal Household ( _hu. királyi udvar, _la. aula regia) must have commenced earlier.cite book | page = 46] The existence of a separate Household of the Queens was documented for the first time in the 1190s.cite book | page = 49]

The gradual development of the Royal Households contributed to the establishment of a hierarchical structure within the nobility, because their high-officers held the highest positions within the kingdom.cite book | page = 52] In practice, they not only fulfilled their duties within the Royal Households but also became heads of "counties", probably because no specific revenues were attached to their offices in the Royal Households.cite book | page = 51]

The decrees of King Ladislaus I (1077-1095) referred to them as "notabilities" ( _hu. előkelők, _la. optimates) or "nobles" ( _hu. nemesek, _la. nobilis).cite book | pages = 154] From 1216, the royal charters began to use the expression "barons of the realm" ( _hu. országbáró, _la. baron regni) when referring to the dignitaries which prove that they wanted to distinguish themselves from other nobles ("e.g.", from the heads of counties).cite book | last = Bán | first = Péter (editor) | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Magyar történelmi fogalomtár - I. kötet (A-K)"(Dictionary of the Terminology of the Hungarian History - Volume II /A-K/)"| publisher = Gondolat | date = 1989 | location = Budapest | page = 43| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 282 203 X] They, however, could not form a hereditary aristocracy, because their title was still linked to the offices they held and the monarchs had the power to dismiss them and to promote others at any time.cite book | page = 83] cite book | page = 43]

Some of the high-officers commenced to fulfil judiciary functions and thus they got rid of their administrative duties within the Royal Households.cite book | page = 358] These high-judges and the governors of certain provinces ("e.g.", Transylvania, Croatia, Slavonia) formed together the high-officers of the realm who enjoyed a distinguished position within the nobility:cite book | pages = 52-54]
* the Palatine ( _hu. nádor, _la. regni Hungariæ palatinus) administered the Royal Household in the 11-12th centuries, but later, the Palatines held the highest judiciary position within the kingdom;cite book | page = 473] cite book | last = Engel | first = Pál | title = Magyarország világi archontológiája (1301-1457) "(The Temporal Archontology of Hungary /1301-1457/)"| publisher = História - MTA Történettudományi Intézete | year = 1996 | location = Budapest | page = 1 | isbn = 963 8312 43 2] cite book | last = Markó | first = László | title = A magyar állam főméltóságai Szent Istvántól napjainkig - Életrajzi Lexikon "(The High Officers of the Hungarian State from Saint Stephen to the Present Days - A Biographical Encyclopedia)"| publisher = Magyar Könyvklub | year = 2000 | location = Budapest | page = 206 | isbn = 963 547 085 1]
* the Judge of the Realm ( _hu. országbíró, _la. iudex curiæ regiæ) appeared in the documents around 1130, probably as the Palatine's deputy but later, the Judges of the Realm had their own sphere of jurisdiction;cite book | page = 511] cite book | page = 254]
* the office of the Voivode of Transylvania ( _hu. erdélyi vajda, _la. vayuoda Transsilvanus) developed from the office of the heads of Fehér county and its denomination was changing before the 13th century, but thenceforward, the "voivode"s governed Transylvania and they appointed the heads of the "counties" in the province;cite book | page = 707] cite book | page = 282]
* the Ban of Slavonia ( _hu. szlavon bán, _la. regni Sclavoniæ banus) was the governor of Slavonia from the 12th century;cite book | page = 651] cite book | page = 16]
* the Ban of Dalmatia and Croatia ( _hu. dalmát-horvát bán, _la. regnorum Dalmatiæ et Croatiæ banus) governed the two kingdoms occupied by the kings of Hungary at the beginning of the 12th century;cite book | page = 651] cite book | page = 22]
* the Ban of Macsó ( _hu. macsói bán, _la. banus Machoviensis) administered the territories of the Macsó (today "Mačva" in Serbia) region from the 1270s;cite book | page = 421] cite book | page = 27]
* the Ban of Szörény governed the territories attached to the Kingdom of Hungary around the Castle of Szörény (today "Drobeta-Turnu Severin" in Romania) in the 1220s;cite book | page = 657] cite book | page = 32]
* the Master of the Treasury ( _hu. tárnokmester, _la. magister tavernicorum) took over the financial functions of the Judge of the Realm in the 12th century but later, the "tárnokmester"s' own sphere of jurisdiction also developed.cite book | page = 662]

The list of the high-officers of the Royal Households was developing gradually from the 11th century, and their functions also changed from time to time, but by the end of the 13th century, their hierarchy become consolidated:cite book | page = 358]
* the Marshal ( _hu. lovászmester, _la. magister agazonum) was the head of the royal stablemen from the 11th century and later, he lead the royal armies;cite book | page = 416]
* the Master of the Cup-bearers ( _hu. pohárnokmester, _la. magister pincernarum) served wine at the kings' table and he administered the activities of the royal wine-growers;cite book | page = 551]
* the Master of the Stewards ( _hu. asztalnokmester, _la. magister dapiferorum) served dishes at the monarch's table.cite book | page = 68]

The emerging power of the barons (13th century)

King Béla III (1172-1196) was the first monarch who alienated a whole county when he granted the ownership of all the royal estates in Modruš county to Bartolomej, who became the ancestor of the Frankopan ( _hu. Frangepán) family.cite book | pages = 180] In his grant, the king stipulated that the Counts Frankopan would be obliged to arm some horse-mounted knights for the monarchs.cite book | pages = 180]

King Andrew II (1205-1235) radically changed the internal policy his predecessors had been following and he started to grant enormous domains to his partisans.cite book | pages = 203] He not only alienated castles and whole counties ("i.e.", the royal estates attached to them), but he also made "perpetual grants" ( _hu. örökadomány, _la. perpetua hereditas) that passed not only from fathers to sons (or in the lack of sons, to brothers or their sons) but all the male members of owner's family could inherited them.cite book | pages = 72-73] From the 1220s, several individuals commenced to refer to their clan in the official documents by using the expression "de genere" ("from the kindred of") following their name which suggests that the relevance even of distant kinship started to increase.cite book | page = 79]

The king's new policy endangered the liberties of the royal servants owning landed property in the counties that the king had granted to his partisans.cite book | pages = 209-210] Therefore, in 1222, the royal servants lead by former "barons of the realm" who had been dismissed by King Andrew II enforced the king to issue the Golden Bull in order to ensure their liberties.cite book | pages = 210-211] cite book | page = 102] In the Golden Bull, the king also promised that he and his successors would not grant offices to foreigners without the consent of the Royal Council.cite book | page = 211] The first precedent when the nobles decided on a foreigner's reception into the nobility of the kingdom was set during reign the reign of King Andrew III (1290-1301), when in 1298, the assembly of the nobility authorized the king to grant an office in the royal administration to his uncle, the Venetian Albertino Morosini.cite book | page = 272]

The last provision of the Golden Bull authorized the prelates and the "nobles" to resist any royal measures that could endanger their liberties confirmed by his decree.cite book | page = 55] Quote|"Should it happen that we or any of the kings following us acted against these arrangements of us, this charter shall authorize both the bishops and the notabilities and nobles (both the ones who are present now and who would live later and also their descendants) to whenever resist and contradict universally or individually both to us and to the kings following us without suffering the ignominy of treachery."|Section 2 of the Article 31 of the Golden Bull (Decree of 1222) [http://mek.oszk.hu/01300/01396/html/01.htm#1]

Following the Mongol invasion of the kingdom in 1241-42, King Béla IV endeavoured the landowners to build strongholds in their domains and therefore, he often granted lands to his partisans and obliged them to have a fortress built there.cite book | page = 123] As a consequence, at least 75% of the 162 fortresses built in the kingdom from 1242 until 1300 was erected on private estates.cite book | page = 143] The maintenance of the fortresses required significant financial resources and therefore, the scattered character of landed property went under a radical change because the strongholds became the centres of bigger units of estates that consisted of the villages attached to them.cite book | pages = 128] The possession of one or more strongholds strengthened the position of the upper nobility, because the castle-owners could resist the monarchs for a longer period and they could also expand their influence over the owners of smaller estates around their castles.cite book | pages = 128-129] Based on their fortresses and retinues, the wealthier members of the landed nobility endeavoured to strengthen their own position and they often rebelled against the monarchs.cite book | paged = 263-269] They began to employ the members of the lesser nobility in their households and thus the latter (mentioned as "familiaris" in the deeds) became subordinate to them.cite book | pages = 132-133] A "familiaris" (servant) had to swear fidelity to his "dominus" (lord) and he fell under his lord's jurisdiction with regard to any cases connected to their special relationship.cite book | pages = 132-133] On the other hand, a "familiaris" reserved the ownership of his former estates and in this regard, he still fell under the jurisdiction of the royal courts of justice.cite book | page = 133]

From the 1290s, the most powerful barons commenced to govern their domains "de facto" independently of the monarchs and they usurped the royal prerogatives on the enormous territories possessed by them or by their "familiaris".cite book | pages = 273-276] Following the death of King Andrew III, the largest part of the kingdom became subject to the "de facto" rule of oligarchs like Máté Csák, Amade Aba and Ladislaus Kán who took advantage of the struggles among the claimants to the throne and expanded their supremacy to several counties.cite book | last = Engel | first = Pál | last1 = Kristó | first1 = Gyula | last2 = Kubinyi | first2 = András | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Magyarország története - 1301-1526 "(The History of Hungary - 1301-1526)"| publisher = Osiris Kiadó | date = 1998 | location = Budapest | pages = 41-45| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 379 171 5] King Charles I Robert (1308-1342) had to spend the first decades of his reign in waging wars against the most powerful oligarchs and he could strengthen his position within the kingdom only by the 1320s.cite book | pages = 41-55]

The age of chivalry (14th century)

The estates King Charles I Robert acquired by force from the rebellious oligarchs made him possible to introduce a new system in the royal administration: when he appointed his followers to an office, he also granted them the possession of one or more royal castles and the royal domains attached to them, but he reserved the ownership of the castle and its belongings for himself and thus his dignitaries could only enjoy the revenues of their possessions while they held the office.cite book | pages = 56-57] During his reign, the 20 dignitaries who held the highest offices in the royal administration or in the Royal Household obtained the honorific "magnificus vir" that distinguished them from other nobles.cite book | page = 188]

During his reign, members of new families attained the status of "barons of the realm"; some of the ancestors of the new families ("e.g.", that of the Drugeths) arrived from abroad and some of them were members of the lesser nobility ("e.g.", the ancestor of the Újlaki family), but the majority of the new families ("e.g.", the Garai, Szécsényi and Szécsi families) descended from clans whose members had already held high-offices in the 13th century.cite book | pages = 174, 229, 620, 698] cite book | page = 236]

The king introduced a new royal prerogative in 1332 when he entitled Margaret "de genere" Nádasd to inherit her father's possessions in contradiction to the costums of the kingdom prescribing that daughters can inherit only one-fourth of their father's estates and the other parts of the estates should pass to his agnates.cite book | page = 250] Thenceforward, the monarchs could strengthen the financial conditions of their followers by using the prerogative of "putting her into a son's place" ( _hu. fiusítás, _la. præfectio) and thus entitling their wifes to inherit their fathers' possessions.cite book | page = 252] King Charles I Robert also set himself against the costums of the kingdom, when he granted landed property to his followers but he stipulated that the property could only be inherited by their descendants and thus he excluded their agnates from the inheritance.cite book | page = 253]

King Charles I Robert endeavoured the implementation of the ideas of chivalry; in 1318, he established the Order of Saint George whose membership was limited to 50 knights.cite book | page = 632] cite book | page = 220] He also set up the body of "knights-at-the-court" ( _hu. udvari lovag, _la. aule regiæ miles) who acted as his personal delegates on an "ad hoc" basis.cite book | pages = 192-193] Thenceforward, most of the "barons of the realm" were appointed among the knights-at-the court.cite book | page = 695] Before being knighted, children of the upper nobility could serve as pages ( _hu. apród, _la. parvulus) in the Royal Households, and when they grow up they became "juveniles-at-the court" ( _hu. udvari ifjak, _la. aule regiæ iuvenes).cite book | page = 193] cite book | pages = 60] King Charles I Robert was the first king of Hungary who granted crests to his followers; the Hungarian word for coat-of-arms "(címer)" derives from the French expression for the crest "(cimier)".cite book | page = 193]

In 1351, King Louis I (1342-1382) issued a new decree that modified the Golden Bull and introduced the entail system ( _hu. ősiség, _la. aviticitas) when regulating the inheritance of the nobles' estates; according to the new system, the nobles' real property could not be devised by will, but it passed by operation of law to the owner's heirs upon his death.cite book | page = 102] During his reign, the members of the Bebek, Cudar and Lackfi families attained the status of "baron of the realm".cite book | pages = 87, 142, 391]

The rule of the barons' leagues

Following the death of King Louis I, his daughter Queen Mary I (1382-1385, 1386-1395) acceded to the throne, but the majority of the nobles opposed her rule.cite book | pages = 123] In 1385, the young queen had to abdicate in favor of her distant cousin, King Charles II (1385-1386), but her partisans murdered the new king soon and thus she could ascend the throne again.cite book | pages = 124] However, the followers of her murdered opponent's son, King Ladislaus of Naples rose up in open rebellion and captured her; thus the realm stayed without a monarch.cite book | pages = 125]

At that moment, the prelates and the "barons of the realm" set up a council; they have a seal prepared with the inscription "Seal of the People of the Kingdom of Hungary" ( _la. Sigillum regnicolarum regni Hungariæ) and issued decrees sealed by it in the name of the "prelates, barons, notabilities and all nobles of the realm".cite book | pages = 285-286] The members of the council entered into a contract with Queen Mary's fiancé and elected him king; in the contract, King Sigismund (1387-1437) accepted that hisQuote|"counsillors shall be the prelates, the barons, their offsprings and heirs, of those who used to be the counsillors of the kings of Hungary"cite book | page = 288] The contract also recorded that the king and his counsillors would form a league and according to their contract, the king could not dismiss his counsillors without the consent of the other members of the Royal Council.cite book | page = 289] The contract suggests that the members of the Royal Council endeavored to strengthen the hereditary character of their position.cite book | page = 289] The first league was lead by the Palatine Stephen II Lackfi and the Archbishop John Kanizsai, but the latter could drive the former out of the power in 1397.cite book | last = Mályusz | first = Elemér | title = Zsigmond király uralma Magyarországon "(King Sigismund's reign in Hungary)" | publisher = Gondolat | date = 1984 | location = | pages = 24, 36 | isbn = 963 281 414 2] However, King Sigismund favorized his counsillors of foreign origin ("e.g.", his favourite was the Polish Stibor of Stiboricz) which resulted in his imprisonment, in 1401, by the discontent members of the Royal Council lead by the Archbishop John Kanizsai, but he managed to conclude a new agreement with some members of the Royal Council who set him free.cite book | page = 133]

The public law of the kingdom also started to differentiate the descendants of the "barons of the realm", even if they did not held any higher offices, from other nobles: the Act of 1397 referred to them as the "barons' sons" ( _hu. bárófi, _la. filii baronum) while later documents called them "magnates" ( _hu. mágnás, _la. magnates). From the 1430s, the "magnates" received the honorific "magnificus", an expression that had earlier been used only when addressing the "barons of the realm".cite book | pages = 172]

During his reign, King Sigismund granted several royal castles and the royal domains attached to them to the members of the barons' leagues; by 1407, the number of royal castles decreased from 111 to 66.cite book | page = 322] The king, however, wanted to strengthen his position and for this purpose, in 1408, he founded the Order of the Dragon, a chivalric order whose 22 members ("e.g.", the Palatine Nicholas II Garai, count Hermann II of Celje and the "Despot" Stefan Lazarević) swore fidelity to the king, his queen and their future children.cite book | page = 309] cite book | pages = 59-90]

Some signs of the increasing self-consciousness of the "magnates" appeared in the 1420s.cite book | page = 358] Some of them commenced to use names that referred to the high office their ancestors had held; "e.g.", the members of the Losonci family started to call themselves "Bánfi" meaning the "son of a Ban" in reference to their forefather who had been the Ban of Dalmatia and Croatia.cite book | page = 359] Other magnates clearly referred to their descent from former "barons of the realm" in their deeds or used noble titles (such as "count" or "duke") abroad following the example of the western nobility although the public law of the kingdom did not accept their claim to distinctive titles.cite book | page = 361]

When King Sigismund's son-in-law, Albert I (1437-1439) was proclaimed king, he had to take a solemn oath that he would exercise his prerogative powers only with the consent of the Royal Council.cite book | page = 198] Following King Albert's death, a civil war broke out between the followers of his posthumous son, King Ladislaus V (1440-1457) and the partisans of his opponent, King Vladislaus I (1440-1444).cite book | pages = 199-202] Between 1440 and 1458, the Diet was convoked in each year (with the exception of 1443 and 1449) and it was involved in the legislative process of law-making: the bills were passed by the Diet before receiving the Royal Assent.cite book | page = 195] When the monarch (or the regent) convoked the Diet, he sent a personal invitation to the prelates, "barons of the realm" and "magnates" and they attended in person at the assembly, while other nobles were usually represented by their deputies.cite book | page = 195] Consequently, the Diets were dominated by the "magnates" not only because of their personal presence, but also because of the tendency that the counties elected their partisans as their own delegates.cite book | page = 196]

In 1445, the Diet elected seven Captains General ( _hu. főkapitány, _la. generalis capitaneus) in order to govern the kingdom during the absence of King Vladislaus I (who actually had fallen in the Battle of Varna).cite book | last = Benda | first = Kálmán (editor) | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Magyarország történeti kronológiája I /A kezdetektől 1526-ig/ "("The Chronology of the History of Hungary - From the beginnings until 1526")"| publisher = Akadémiai Kiadó | date = 1981 | location = Budapest | page = 264| url = | doi = | id = | isbn = 963 05 2661 1] In 1446, the assembly of the Estates proclaimed John Hunyadi to Regent and he was to govern the realm in cooperation with the Estates until 1453 when King Ladislaus V returned to the kingdom.cite book | pages = 266, 270]

John Hunyadi was the first temporal "magnate" who received a hereditary title from a king of Hungary: in 1453, King Ladislaus V appointed him the hereditary head ( _hu. örökös főispán, _la. hæreditarius comes) of Beszterce county (now "Bistriţa" in Romania) and thus he became a count in the sense similar to the title's usage in the western countries.cite book | page = 270] Although, some of the immigrant "magnates" ["E.g.", Prince Fyodor Koriatovych, the counts Hermann and Ulrich of Cille and the "Despots" Stefan Lazarević and George Branković.] had already used honorary titles before and they were often mentioned even in official documents with a reference to their title ["E.g.", Article 25 of the Act of 1439 and Article 9 of the Act of 1454.] , but their title was granted by foreign monarchs and the public law in the Kingdom of Hungary did not recognize any special privileges connected to it.

The legal separation of the hereditary aristocracy

John Hunyadi's son, Matthias I (1458-1490) was proclaimed to king by the Estates, but he had to wage war against Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor who claimed the throne for himself.cite book | page = 276] Several magnates supported the emperor's claim and proclaimed him to king against King Matthias; the emperor rewarded the brothers Sigismund and John of Szentgyörgy and Bazin with the hereditary noble title "count of the Holy Roman Empire" in 1459 and thus they became entitled to use red sealing wax.cite book | page = 381] cite book | page = 276] Although the Counts Szentgyörgyi commenced to use their title in their deeds, but in the Kingdom of Hungary, public law did not distinguish them from other nobles.cite book | page = 381]

King Matthias I also rewarded his partisans with hereditary titles and appointed them hereditary heads of counties: John Vitovec became the hereditary head of Zagorje county in 1463; Emeric Szapolyai received the honor of Szepes county in 1465; in 1467, Nicholas Csupor de Monoszló and John Ernuszt were appointed to hereditary head of Verőce county and Turóc county respectively; in the 1480s, Nicholas Bánffy de Alsólendva and Peter and Matthias Geréb received such hereditary titles.cite book | page = 381-382] cite book | page = 227] The hereditary heads of counties were entitled, similarly to the "counts of the Holy Roman Empire", to use red sealing was.cite book | page = 382] Moreover, during his reign, all the members of the wealthier families descending from the "barons of the realm" received the honorific "magnificus" which was a next step towards their separation from other nobles.cite book | page = 226]

Vladislaus II the "Dobže" (1490-1516)
In 1487, a new expression appeared in a deed of armistice signed by King Matthias: 18 families [The families Bánfi de Alsólendva, Báthory, de Corbavia "(Korbáviai)", Ellerbach, Ernuszt, Garai, Frankopan "(Frangepán)", Héderváry, Losonci, Móric de Meggyesalja, Ország de Gut, Paksi, Paumkirchner, Perényi, Rozgonyi, Szapolyai, Szentgyörgyi, Újlaki "(Fügedi, Erik op. cit. p. 385)".] were referred to as "natural barons of Hungary" ( _hu. Magyarország természetes bárói, _la. barones natureles in Hungaria) in contrast to the "barons of the realm" who were still the holders of the highest offices in the public administration and the Royal Households.cite book | page = 382] One of the 19 families (the Újlaki family) was styled "duke" in the deed, while other four families were styled "count" - the latter group included the Szentgyörgyi family which suggests that King Matthias accepted the title his opponent had granted to them.cite book | pages = 383-385]

During the reign of King Vladislaus II (1490-1516), the Diet unambiguosly expressed that certain noble families [The families Bánfi de Alsólendva, Bánfi de Bolondóc, Báthory, Bebek, Beriszló, Both de Bajna, Branković "(Brankovics)", de Corbavia "(Korbáviai)", Drágffy, Drugeth, Ellerbach, Ernuszt, Frankopán "(Frangepán)", Geréb de Vingárt, Héderváry, Jakich de Nagylak, Kanizsai, Lévai, Losonci, Kompolth de Gut, Ongor de Nádasd, Ország de Nána, Paumkirchner, Pálóczi, Perényi, Pongrácz de Dengeleg, Ráskai, Rozgonyi, Szapolyai, Szentgyörgyi, Szécsi, Szokoli, Újlaki "(Article 22 of the Act of 1498)".] were in a distinguished position and mentioned them as barons irrespectively of the office they held.cite book | page = 227] The Diet prescribed that the barons were to arm soldiers pursuant to the number of the landed villeins who lived on their domains which prove that by that time, public law had acknowledged their special legal status and their privilege to use distinctive titles.cite book | page = 227] Quote|"Moreover, there are lord barons," i.e.", Duke Lawrence Újlaki and the Honourable Lords, Stephen Szapolyai (hereditary head of Szepes county, Palatine of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Judge of the Cumans), the Counts of Szentgyörgy and Basin, the Counts Frankopan and of Corbavia and Lord Peter Geréb de Vingárt (the Judge of His Majesty's Court) and other lord barons who are obliged (together with the above-mentioned lord prelates and officers of the realm) to struggle according to the number of their villeins." |Article 22 of the Act of 1498


* Bán, Péter (editor): Magyar Történelmi Fogalomtár; Gondolat, Budapest, 1989;
ISBN 963 282 202 1.
* Benda, Kálmán (editor): Magyarország történeti kronológiája "("The Chronology of the History of Hungary")"; Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1981; ISBN 963 05 2661 1.
* Engel, Pál - Kristó, Gyula - Kubinyi, András: Magyarország története - 1301-1526 "(The History of Hungary - 1301-1526)"; Osiris Kiadó, 1998, Budapest; ISBN 963 379 171 5.
* Engel, Pál: Magyarország világi archontológiája (1301-1457) "(The Temporal Archontology of Hungary (1301-1457))"; História - MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1996, Budapest; ISBN 963 8312 43 2.
* Fügedi, Erik: Ispánok, bárók, kiskirályok "(Counts, Barons and Petty Kings)"; Magvető Könyvkiadó, 1986, Budapest; ISBN 963 14 0582 6.
* Kristó, Gyula (editor): Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon - 9-14. század "(Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History - 9-14th centuries)"; Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994, Budapest; ISBN 963 05 6722 9.
* Kristó, Gyula: Magyarország története - 895-1301 "(The History of Hungary - 895-1301)"; Osiris Kiadó, 1998, Budapest; ISBN 963 379 442 0.
* Kristó, Gyula - Makk, Ferenc: Az Árpád-ház uralkodói "(Rulers of the Árpád dynasty)"; I.P.C. KÖNYVEK Kft., 1996; ISBN 963 7930 973.
* László, Gyula: The Magyars - Their Life and Civilisation; Corvina, 1996; ISBN 963 13 4226 3.
* Markó, László: A magyar állam főméltóságai Szent Istvántól napjainkig - Életrajzi Lexikon "(The High Officers of the Hungarian State from Saint Stephen to the Present Days - A Biographical Encyclopedia)"; Magyar Könyvklub, 2000, Budapest; ISBN 963 547 085 1.
* Mályusz, Elemér: Zsigmond király uralma Magyarországon "(King Sigismund's reign in Hungary)"; Gondolat, 1984; ISBN 963 281 414 2.
* Tóth, Sándor László: Levediától a Kárpát-medencéig "("From Levedia to the Carpathian Basin")"; Szegedi Középkorász Műhely, 1998, Szeged; ISBN 963 482 175 8.


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