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SKETCHES FROM HUNGARIAN HISTORY.
BY THE AUTHOR OF COURAGE AND COWARDS ;' 'ivon,' &c.
A.D. 1095 TO A.D. 1114.
He was ugly, hump-backed, and lame; his body was covered with rough hair like that of some animal; he squinted and stammered, and was of a stern, even ferocious disposition. Such is the pleasing description left to us by monkish chroniclers of a man who certainly deserves to be reckoned among the best and wisest of the Kings of Hungary.
* Kálmán, or Coloman, had been intended by his Uncle Lászlo to take Holy Orders and become Bishop of Erlau, while his other nephew, Almos, succeeded him on the throne of Hungary. By some writers Almos and Kálmán are said to have been both sons of Géza; by others, Almos is supposed to have been the son of Lampert, the youngest of the three brothers.
Kálmán had been brought up by monks, and carefully educated for his future calling; but, in spite of monastic discipline, his ambitious spirit soared beyond the convent walls, and when the time drew near when he was to be ordained and pledge himself for ever to the religious life, he fled to Poland, where he remained until recalled by László. He had received a better education in the monastery than fell to the lot of most princes in those days, and was consequently called Könyves, or bookloving Kálmán, by the people, but rather in derision than admiration, for learning was held in but little esteem, and was almost entirely confined to the clergy. On hearing of the death of S. László, the Crusaders at once requested Kálmán to take command of the vast army and lead it to the Holy Land. Every man in Europe, king or soldier, good or bad alike, was animated by the enthusiastic desire to aid in rescuing the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the Infidel; every one wore the cross on his dress, or on bis body. Yet, amid this tide of popular feeling, gathering strength from day to day, Kálmán alone stood unmoved, watching its rolling waves, but never for a moment allowing himself to be borne away by them; and, when the clergy urged on him the duty of obeying the call of Christendom and fulfilling the promise made by his uncle, his answer was given in such words as these :—Let each man fill the place to which he has been called by God. One may worship God everywhere without going to Jerusalem. I have always prayed, not for the death of my enemies, but for the happiness of my people; and, so long as I am obliged to erect gallows in my own kingdom, I can see no reason why I should
* Some writers make both Kálmán and Almos the sons of S. László.
go abroad to teach other nations to worship the Cross. Here in the midst of us are worse enemies of God's law than the Turks themselves. My uncle might take the Cross, for he was a saint; but I am not strong enough to fulfil so great a vow. However, the holy armies may paşs through my dominions, provided they keep the peace.'*
Such words must have sounded strange indeed in those times, and it is only wonderful that they did not evoke an anathema from the Pope, but
used not have prodwere not very close anathema from
would not have produced any very great effect. Hungary had good cause to congratulate herself on the view her wise king took of his duties; but one cannot help fancying that the man who, in this moment of general enthusiasm, could thus hold himself so entirely aloof and unmoved, must have been cold and calculating as well as wise.
Kálmán was scarcely crowned when he received a summons to Croatia from Almos, who was too feeble to keep his rather turbulent subjects under control. The Byzantine Emperor, finding himself unable to protect the coast of Dalmatia against the attacks of the Apulian Normans, had made over the sovereignty of it to the Doge of Venice, who was nearly equally helpless. Kálmán, after subduing the Croatians, now attackel the Normans, drove them from Dalmatia, and joined the Doge in a descent upon Apulia. The Doge was glad of the King's assistance until he discovered that it was not to be had for nothing. Kálmán wished to annex the Dalmatian towns to Hungary; the Venetians could not defend, but did not wish to lose them, and opposed the design, whereupon Kálmán made a treaty of peace with the Normans, asked the hand of Busilla, daughter of Count Roger, and sowed the seeds of lasting discord between Venice and Hungary.
Kálmán was far-sighted. His ancestors, coming as they did from the centre of Asia, had not thought of the advantages to be derived from the possession of a sea-coast; well-watered meadows abounding in pasture for their cattle were the objects of their chief desire; consequently Hungary's commerce did not flourish satisfactorily, she was debarred from making treaties with foreign lands, and in times of danger she had no natural defence but her mountains.
Kálmán perceived the want, and set about supplying it. Having once set foot in Dalmatia as protector and defender, he determined not to lose the opportunity of becoming the lord and master of his protégés. Meanwhile, towards the close of 1095, the Council of Clermont had been held, enthusiasm had risen to the highest pitch, multitudes had taken the Cross, and, though the army of knights and princes was not yet ready to start, the spring of 1096 saw a vast heterogeneous mass of Crusaders, under the leadership of Walter the Penniless, presenting itself on the borders of Hungary and asking permission to pass through. This unhappy multitude, expecting to be miraculously supported on the journey, was for the most part unprovided with either arms or provisions,
* Jókai Mór.
and was encumbered with enthusiastic women and even children, who had taken the Cross in the hope of obtaining pardon for their sins.
Free passage through Hungary was granted them, and they were safely led across the Bulgarian frontier. Here the escort left them, on the other side of the Save; but, unfortunately, sixteen knights under pretence of buying arms in the town, left the camp, re-crossed the river, and committed such excesses in Semlin, that the inhabitants fell upon them, robbed them, and sent them back half-naked. Their arms were fixed up on the walls of Semlin as a warning to all succeeding Crusaders of the treatment they might expect unless they behaved properly. Their companions were eager to return and avenge them, but Walter managed to dissuade them from this idea, by promising them vengeance enough on their return from Palestine. Very few, however, of these poor deluded people ever even reached the Holy Land. Another large host, led by the zealous Peter himself, soon followed them. Of this multitude Bishop Fulbert remarks that one might have found in it a new Sodom as well as a Jerusalem, so various were the materials of which it was composed. Permission was granted for this multitude also to pass through Hungary, buying what they needed on the way, and paying ready money.
They reached Semlin in tolerable order, but when they beheld the trophies of the sixteen knights displayed on the walls, they were all seized with furious indignation, took the town by storm, pursued the fugitive inhabitants, and committed the most terrible massacres. They remained in the neighbourhood, indulging in every kind of excess and cruelty, until they were alarmed by hearing that the King was coming. Hastily they crossed the Save, but they did not escape unpunished. Similar deeds of violence drew down upon them the indignation of the Bulgarians, who slew half their number.
By this time, as may be supposed, the Hungarians had had enough of these pilgrim hosts; but another was already at the frontiers, led by the priest Gottschalk, and composed of the dregs of the people. Kálmán gave them permission to encamp between Wieselburg and Mount Pannonius, and to buy what they needed; but buying seemed to be the last thing they thought of, when they could get what they wanted by plunder. They scattered themselves in bands over the country, took whatever they fancied, and slew all who in any way opposed them. But now the King thought it high time to interfere, and, laying aside all respect for the Cross on their shoulders, led his army against them, vanquished and drove them away. Scarcely were these despatched, when 200,000 pilgrims on foot and 3,000 on horseback presented themselves under the guidance of Count Enrico, an enthusiast, or a deceiver, who gave out that he had been instructed by God in a vision, to begin his work by the extirpation of the Jews. Terrible reports of his cruelties to these poor people in Cologne, Mayence, &c., preceded him; and as it was well known that he regarded the Hungarians as no better than Jews or heathen, Kálmán at once refused him permission to pass through the country. Gyula, the Palatine, was sent to Ovár with a body of men, to apprise him of the King's refusal; but the Crusaders, enraged at any opposition, fell upon him, slew him, dispersed his little army, and pushed their way on to Mosony, where they encountered the King himself. They prepared to lay siege to the town, filled the moats with trees, and placed their battering-rams and scaling ladders against the walls. Kálmán then sallied out upon them, and threw them into confusion. They were seized with a sudden panic, and began to fly; but, not being acquainted with the country, became entangled in the woods and marshes, and only those who were on horseback managed to escape the fury of the Hungarians. Among these were the leaders of the expedition, who abandoned their deluded followers to their fate without compunction, and made the best of their way to Germany and Italy Kálmán may thank this victory for the unflattering description given of him by contemporary historians; for, to have fought with Crusaders, even in self-defence, was held to be an act of sacrilege which nothing could justify. But now at last the King and his people were to make the acquaintance of the Prince of Crusaders, the noblest knight of France, the pure-minded, noblehearted, chivalrous Godfrey de Bouillon, who, with his host of knightly followers, reached the Leitha in the middle of September, and, finding his farther progress stayed by the garrisons on the Hungarian frontiers, pitched his camp near Bruck, while he and the other leaders deliberated whether to force a passage by arms, or first try what diplomacy could do. It was at last determined to send three distinguished knights with a guard of soldiers, to seek an interview with the King, and express their surprise that a 'Christian monarch should refuse to allow the armies of the living God to pass through his dominions, and should even have permitted former pilgrims to be murdered. The Duke's letter went on to say that he and' his knights were waiting at Bruck for an explanation of the King's conduct: if it were satisfactory, well and good; but if not, they were determined to avenge their fallen brethren.
Kálmán quickly perceived with whom he had to deal, and feeling sure that these noble knights would have no sympathy with the deeds of violence committed by the followers of Peter the Hermit and Gottschalk, told them all that Hungary had suffered at the hands of these turbulent pilgrims, at the same time expressing his great wish for a personal interview with the good Duke, of whom he had already heard so much, adding that, from such Crusaders as these he knew he had nothing to fear for his people, and was therefore ready to render them any assistance in his power. He dismissed the embassy with the following letter to the Duke:
King Kálmán to Duke Godfrey and all the Christians with him, greeting and love without dissimulation.
Thy good report, noble Duke, has long informed me that in thine own land thou art a powerful and just man, pious, upright, and sincere, respected by all who know thee. I have therefore always loved thee, and now I desire to see and know thee personally. I therefore propose that, laying aside all suspicion, thou shouldest meet us at Oedenburg (Soprony) on the banks of the new lake, where we may peaceably discuss all thy demands and accusations.'
The new lake here mentioned is the Neusiedler See, or Lake Fertö, which had been formed in the tenth or eleventh century by the gradual stopping up of the River Fertö.
In compliance with this invitation, Godfrey de Bouillon with three hundred knights betook himself to Oedenburg, where the King received him on a splendidly decorated platform erected in the lake. At their very first meeting all misunderstandings vanished, and the King led his guest to the palace on Mount Pannonius, to arrange for the passage of the army through Hungary. After a few days' deliberation, it was granted, on condition that the strictest discipline should be maintained, that everything required by the army should be honestly paid for, and that the Duke would give certain hostages to be named by the King, as a guarantee for the preservation of peace. This latter condition the King imposed, not so much for the satisfaction of himself as of his people, who, having already suffered so much, would not be likely to look with favour on any Crusaders, however fair might be their promises. The Duke was wise enough to see the reasonableness of these conditions, and at once acceded to them. The crusading army having entered Hungary, and encamped between the lake, the Leitha, the Danube, and the Bakony Forest, Kálmán accompanied the Duke thither to receive the hostages. Thereupon a difficulty arose. Kálmán had chosen the Duke's brother Baldwin, with his wife Gundehild, and Godfrey had readily agreed; but now, to his great annoyance, Baldwin refused to surrender himself, and the only way in which he could overcome his reluctance, was by declaring that if Baldwin did not comply with the terms agreed upon, he would himself become a hostage for the good behaviour of his followers. This resolution was opposed by the whole army, and Baldwin at last saw the necessity of submission, nor did Kálmán give him any cause for dissatisfaction with his short sojourn at the Hungarian court.
By order of the King a large market was at once held for the supply of provisions to the army, and any disposition to overcharge or cheat the foreigners was held in check by threats of severe punishment.
Godfrey led his army through the country in most perfect order, while Kálmán followed unobserved with the hostages and a numerous guard of horsemen. Following the same route as the preceding hosts, the Crusaders crossed the Save at Semlin, and when nearly all had passed over, Kálmán came up and restored Baldwin and his wife to the Duke.
Godfrey and the King took an affectionate leave of one another, and separated, never to meet again on earth ; but, as Hungary was then the great highway between East and West, the newly-made friends doubtless received tidings of one another from time to time, and Kálmán must have