Peter Urseolo of Hungary

Peter Urseolo of Hungary

Peter I the Venetian (Hungarian: "I. (Velencei) Péter") (c. 1010-1015, Venice, Italy – 1046 or 30 August 1059), King of Hungary (1038-1041, 1044-1046). He continued his predecessor's policy and tried to strengthen the Christianity in his semi-pagan kingdom, but his arbitrary actions resulted in his deposition. He could only restore his rule with the assistance of the Holy Roman Emperor whose overlordship he had to acknowledge, but shortly afterwards he was again dethroned during a revolt of the pagan Hungarians.

Venice and Hungary

He was the son of a sister of Saint Stephen, the first King of Hungary; his father was Ottone Orseolo, the Doge of Venice.

In 1026, his father was deposed as doge by a revolt of the Venetians and he had to escape to Constantinople. Peter, however, did not follow his father to the Byzantine court but went with his mother to Hungary, where they were welcomed by his uncle, King Stephen I.

On September 2, 1031, the king's only surviving son, Imre was killed by a boar while hunting. King Stephen I wanted to secure the position of Christianity in his semi-converted kingdom; therefore, he was planning to name Peter as his successor. However, the elderly king's cousin, Vazul, who was suspected to be following pagan customs, took part in a conspiracy aimed at the murder of King Stephen. But the assassination attempt failed and Vazul had his eyes gouged out and molten lead poured in his ears. His sons Levente, Andrew and Béla were exiled. Following these tragic events, King Stephen confirmed Peter's succession rights but Peter had to swear solemnly that he would not harm Queen Giselle's estates after ascending the throne.

His first rule

When King Stephen I died on August 15, 1038, Peter ascended the throne without any open opposition. He wanted to follow his predecessor's policy and he firmly repressed the pagan customs; therefore he issued severe decrees against the pagans. He also increased the duties payable to the royal treasury.

He pushed the Hungarian nobility into the background and appointed his German and Italian partisans to his council ["When Peter became king, he threw the benevolence of the royal Majesty away and despised the nobility of Hungary raving with Teutonic rage; moreover, he consumed the goods of the land with arrogant eyes and insatiable heart, together with Germans who were shouting like wild animals and Italians who were twittering like swallows" (Chronica Hungarorum).] .

He allied himself with Prince Břetislav I of Bohemia against the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry III and made several military campaigns against the neighbouring German territories.

In 1041, Peter confiscated the estates of his predecessor's widow, Queen Giselle and arrested two bishops who tried to intercede on behalf of the dowager queen. These acts resulted in a conspiracy organised by the members of the different fractions of his court against him. The conspirators killed one of his chief councillors, Budó. Shortly afterwards, Peter was obliged to slip away to the court of his brother-in-law, Adalbert, Margrave of Austria. After his escape, the leaders of the conspiracy proclaimed King Stephen's brother-in-law, Samuel Aba king.

In exile

In October, Peter visited the Emperor Henry III in Regensburg and offered to accept his supremacy in case the Emperor restored him to the Hungarian throne. The Emperor accepted the offer, but he had to deal with his internal problems before leading his army against Hungary.

Finally, in September 1042, the Emperor led his army to Hungary and occupied nine fortresses north of the Danube. However, even the Hungarian barons allied with the Emperor did not want to accept Peter's rule; therefore the Emperor granted the fortresses to one of King Stephen's relatives (probably to Duke Béla) ["Annales Altahenses maiores"] .

His second rule

In June 1044, the imperial troops attacked Hungary again and won a decisive victory over king Samuel Aba on 5 July, 1044 in the Battle of Ménfő. King Samuel Aba could hardly escape from the battlefield and he died soon. After his rival's death, Peter's power was restored, but he, and with him the Kingdom of Hungary, became the Emperor's vassal.

In the next year, the Emperor Henry III returned to Hungary and accepted Peter's homage on May 26, 1045 in Székesfehérvár. Peter, however, was not able to strengthen his rule in his kingdom. Although, in 1045, he could wind up the conspiracy of some Hungarian nobles, but in the next year, he lost the support of the clergy, because he exiled the Dowager Queen Giselle from Hungary. The Hungarian prelates, led by Bishop Gerard of Csanád, called back to the country the two elder of Duke Vazul's formerly expelled sons, who have been living in Kiev. In the summer of 1046, an extensive revolt of the pagan Hungarians broke out, led by Vata and Peter had to flee to the Western region of his kingdom.

Captivity and death

Meanwhile, the expiled dukes returned to Hungary, and they allied themselves with the pagan rebels. Peter fall into captivity near Zámoly and he was blinded by the rebels, then as a captive he was taken to Székesfehérvár where he died some days later. He was never married thus had no any offspring or descendant (though some sources later falsely reported prolonged later years and alleged marriage). He was buried in the cathedral of Pécs which was built during his reign.

Marriage and children

# "Unknown" [Some authors claim that her name was Tuta, who was mentioned as "Queen Tuta", the founder of the Monastery of Suben, but no sources prove that she was either Queen of Hungary or wife of King Peter I.]
# Judith of Schweinfurt, a daughter of Henry of Schweinfurt and his wife, Gerberga (1010/1015 – 2 August 1058)

ee also

* Kings of Hungary


* Kristó, Gyula - Makk, Ferenc: "Az Árpád-ház uralkodói" (IPC Könyvek, 1996)
* "Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon (9-14. század)", főszerkesztő: Kristó, Gyula, szerkesztők: Engel, Pál és Makk, Ferenc (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1994)
* "Magyarország Történeti Kronológiája I. – A kezdetektől 1526-ig", főszerkesztő: Benda, Kálmán (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1981)


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