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The military history of Hungary includes battles fought in the Carpathian Basin and the military history of the Hungarian people regardless of geography.

Early Hungarian warfare

The first well established reference about Hungarians derives from Georgius Monachus' work in the 9th century when they lived under the suzerainty of Khazar Khaganate. It mentions that around 837 the Bulgarian Empire searched an alliance with the Hungarians.[1] Although, the Hungarians supposedly participated earlier at Battle of Pliska in 811.[2] The Hungarians started to settle the Carpathian Basin in 895. They continued to raid adjacent countries for many years. The Hungarians were able to defeat three major Frankish imperial armies between 907 and 910,[3] however a military defeat in 955 forced them to bethink themselves of their state consolidation.

The strength of Hungarian people (Magyars) arriving into the Carpathian Basin is well demonstrated by the failure of European countries in stopping them.[4] The Magyars advanced as far as the Iberian Peninsula, the Coast of Normandy and city of Constantinople.

The Magyar art of war was agility, speed, fast movement throughout the terrains. Their armies were well-organized and the men were well trained and disciplined.[5] The Hungarians used many tools of war to defeat there foes, their most characteristic weapon was the quick-firing reflex bow, which they fired accurately while mounted on their horses, even while galloping. They also carried sabers and spontoons, but the reflex bow was the weapon the favored most. When the Magyars meet the Swiss Army, and as they released a storm of arrows that darkened the sun, someone said, “Save us, o Lord, from the arrows of the Hungarians.”[citation needed] And soon after, the rest of Europe adopted that saying, due to the fact the Magyars we're tactful and deadly with their bows and arrows. The Magyars valued ranged fighting – their charges were usually preceded by a volley of arrows, and when in hand-to-hand combat, they were tough, quick, and fierce. The majority of their troops were trained and fought on horseback, and had use of Infantry to support Cavalrymen. And during the sieges, the Magyars were fast and quick to mount the walls, and they developed small but precises siege weapons.[citation needed]

The second battle of Lechfeld also known as the Battle of Augsburg in 955 is told to have stopped the Hungarian attacks on Europe's armies, claiming the Holy Roman Empire brought "Peace" to Europe.

Era of patrician warfare

After the Battle of Mohács, Kingdom of Hungary fell apart. The southern part, as a result of Ottoman conquest, was annexed by the Ottoman Empire. The eastern region broke off from Hungary, and became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. Habsburg Austria claimed a section, known then as Royal Hungary.

The Hungarians demonstrated a use of siege weapons, including a battering ram at the Siege of Ausburg. After the death of the last king Demetrius Zvonimir of Croatia, he left no heir, so his wife Helen, the sister of Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary called the Hungarian troops to take control of the kingdom. After that, Croatia was attached to the Hungarian kingdom, and a personal union was forced. After Saint Ladislaus' death, his nephew, the King Coloman of Hungary ascended to the Hungarian throne. The feudal lords of Croatia elected a new king, and tried to get rid of the Hungarian occupation, and then the Hungarians took up arms against Croatia, and won a bloody victory at Gvozd Mountain. After this, Coloman was crowned as king of Croatia in 1102, but this was only a nominal title, because the Croatian kingdom itself was absorved into Hungary. The Croatian territories would get the independence finally in 1918. The Hungarian chivalric army was at its best during the reign of Louis I, who also led campaigns against Italy in 1347 and 1350. Nevertheless, there were still light cavalry units in the army, consisting of, among others, Szeklers and the settling Kuns. On the winter of 1458 the 15 years old Mathias Corvinus was elected as king by the Hungarian nobility. During his reign he dealt with the noble factions, and created a centralized royal authority, supported mainly by the first permanent Hungarian mercenary army, the Fekete Sereg (King’s Black Army). Mathias favored the obsolete catapults over the modern cannons already employed by his father. Light cavalry, formed by hussars and Jász mounted archers, regained part of their former role in the Fekete Sereg.
On 2 September 1686 united Hungarian, Austrian and West-European troops liberated Buda from the Turkish occupation. By the end of the XVII. century Christian armies led by Habsburgs conquered all the Turkish-ruled territories. Thereafter the Kingdom of Hungary was part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
A decisive part of the fighting force – about four fifth, most of the time – was formed by the main arm of the time: infantry. The other arm, cavalry, still consisted mainly of heavy cavalry, or units equipped with mail armor, called battle cavalry. Another two types of cavalry were dragoons and light cavalry. Hungarian hussars became internationally recognized, being a prime example of light cavalry. In this era artillery became a third arm.
Two significant attempts were made at achieving independence: the war for independence led by Francis II Rákóczi (1703–1711), and the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.

Notable battles

Kingdom of Hungary (1526-1867)


  1. Tóth, Sándor László (1998). Levediától a Kárpát-medencéig (From Levedia to the Carpathian Basin). Szeged: Szegedi Középkorász Műhely. ISBN 963-482-175-8. 
  2. Király, Péter. Gondolatok a kalandozásokról M. G. Kellner "Ungarneinfälle..." könyve kapcsán . 
  3. Peter Heather, Empires and Barbarians, Pan Macmillan, 2011


  • Bohn, H.G. (1854). Hungary and Its Revolutions from the Earliest Period to the Nineteenth Century. London. ASIN B000H48F74. 

Further reading

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