Romanian History and Culture

A Library of Knowledge from the Web. An Educational Website

1241 Mongol  Invasion, and the Destruction of the Original Magyars, Certified by Modern Chromosome Analysis.  Carmen Miserabile super Destructione Regni Hungariae per Tartaros or Sad Song for the Destruction of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Tartars.


The Mongol cavalry pursuing their enemy.  


They achieved this success in large part due to their amazing horse archers.

 The Mongol invasion in 1241 meant for Hungary what the Hun invasions and later the Hungarian attacks had meant for Western Europe. "God protect us from the Hungarian arrows" this was the prayer in Western monasteries for over two generations. The Tartar invasion proved almost fatal; Hungary was only saved by the unexpected withdrawal of the Mongolian hosts lead by khan Batu.


 Tabla of Contents, Cuprins:

 Chromosome Analysis Proves Annihilation of Original Magyars by the Tatars and Maghyarization of  the Carpathian Basin Original Inhabitants

 Magyarization of the Population of Pannonia and Transylvania.  A Process that Never Ended.

Golden Horde Pottery discovered at Isaccea, Tulcea County



 The Mongol Invasion of the Kingdom of Hungary and Transylvania

The Mongols in the West By Denis Sinor

Journal of Asian History v.33 n.1 (1999)

 Text at:

The invasion of Hungary is a classic example of long-range strategic planning executed with meticulous care on a unprecedented scale. Against Hungary the Mongols envisaged a triple drive in which the right and left wings were each to launch a three-pronged attack, while the center, constituting the main force, would advance undivided. The right flank, facing west, was under command of Batu's brother Orda, seconded by Baidar and Qaidan, sons of Chagaday. Pushing west from Vladimir, its primary aim was the neutralization of Bela's Polish and Silesian allies. Bela's daughter Kinga was the wife of Boleslaw, son of Leszek the White of the Piast dynasty. The right wing of Orda's army, under his personal command, moving in a north-westerly direction, skirted or actually entered Prussia and, following an almost semi-circular course, descended south to Breslau (Wroclaw). Orda's center, under the command of Qaidan, advanced in a fairly straight line in the direction of Breslau, while the left wing, led by Baidar, crossed the San and moved south-west towards Cracow. Sandomierz (Sandomir) fell on February 13, 1241, Cracow on March 22. The advance of Baidar was deliberately slow, following the course of the rivers, first that of the San, then the Vistula, and, after the fall of Cracow, downstream, the Odera. On April 2, before Breslau, Baidar joined the armies of Orda and Qaidan. Once again, for them the timing was perfect. The city was set on fire, either by the Mongols or by the inhabitants themselves, who took refuge in the fortress, set on an island. Their first attack against this fortress having failed, the Mongols, reluctant to lose time, pushed on to face the first serious obstacle in their way since they left Vladimir. On April 9th, on the battlefield of Liegnitz, they clashed with the forces of Henry II, duke of Silesia, Bela's cousin, helped by a strong contingent of Templars. The Mongol victory was decisive, and Henry II himself lost his life on the battlefield. Nationalist German claims - which here and there surface - to the effect that, though the battle was lost, it prevented the invasion of Germany, cannot be substantiated. The Mongol aim was the encirclement of Hungary which, now that their rear was safe, they entered from the north-west, through Moravia. Time was pressing, for Orda's army was bound to operate its junction with that of Batu somewhere near Pest, which it intended to reach by going downstream, on the left bank of the Danube. There was no time to enter Bohemia, whose wise king Wenceslas I - though ready to defend his land - avoided any hostile initiative. A small Mongol force sent to reconnoiter the Austrian border withdrew as soon as contact had been made.

The identity of the commander-in-chief to the left wing, facing south, cannot be established with any certainty. We do know, however, that Qadan, son of the Great Khan Ogedei, assisted by Bori, a grandson of Chagaday, was in charge of the corps which on March 31, coming from the north-east, crossed the Carpathians through the pass of Borgo into Transylvania. Another, probably weaker, Mongol force, whose commander cannot be identified, skirted the Carpathian arc and crossed it at the pass of Ojtuz (Oituz). The third, southernmost, left wing entered Transylvania through the defile of the river Olt. The three aforementioned armies joined forces in Csanad (Cenad), in the region of the confluence of the Maros (Mures) and the Tisza (Tisa). No organized resistance had been encountered by these converging army groups, which were now prepared to join forces with the armies of Orda and of Batu for a decisive blow against Bela.

The central army corps, under Batu - commander-in-chief of all the Mongol forces in the west - was poised for attack along the Dniester. Subetei, veteran hero of so many Mongol victories, and Shiban, a brother of Batu, were to second him. While there is no reliable evidence on the numerical strength of the three Mongol armies, it would appear that the one commanded by Batu and Subetei was stronger than the combined forces of the right (Orda) and left (Qadan and others) wings. Batu chose to enter Hungary from the North, through the "porta Russiae", i.e. the Pass of Verecke, used by the Hungarians themselves some three hundred years earlier for the conquest of their future homeland. It seemed for a while that this new attack would destroy the state which the earlier invasion had founded; in the laconic statement of a Bavarian chronicler "The kingdom of Hungary which has lasted for three hundred and fifty years, is destroyed by the Tatars."26

More than 200 years before the event of the Mongol invasion, the Hungarian army (descendants of the Magyars) was based on light cavalry. An interesting aspect is that the former tactics of the Hungarian army were similar to those of the Mongols, but had been forgotten by 1241. One of the major light cavalry tactics was a sudden rush on the enemy, if the enemy held (or reformed ) light cavalry was insufficient for a win. Another tactic was a feigned retreat. The light cavalry would attack the enemy and then withdraw, apparently fleeing. The enemy would pursue and become disorganized, and would then be attacked by units hidden in reserve. The light cavalry would reform and attack the flanks or rear of the enemy forces. The Hungarians stopped using these tactics in the 11th century. In the late 11th century, the major force of the Hungarian army consisted of mounted sergeants (heavy knights) and infantry. The Hungarian allies, who still used these Light cavalry combat style, were the Cumans who settled down in Hungary not long before the Mongol invasion. Their task was to form the light cavalry in the Hungarian army. A tense situation erupted when Mongol troops burst into Hungary. The Hungarians, frustrated by their own helplessness, took revenge on the Cumans, whom they accused of being Mongol spies. After a bloody fight the Hungarians killed Kuthen (the Cuman Leader) and his bodyguards, and the remaining Cumans fled to the Balkans. After the Mongol invasion Béla IV of Hungary recalled the Cumans to Hungary to populate settlements devastated by war. The nomads subsequently settled throughout the Great Hungarian Plain.

Around 1241, Kingdom of Hungary looked much like any other feudal kingdom of Europe. Although the throne was still inherited by the successors of Árpád, the authority and power of the king was greatly curtailed. The rich magnates cared less about the national security of the whole kingdom than about petty feudal quarrels with their fellow landlords. The Golden Bull of 1222 authorized the magnates to rebel against the king in some circumstances, and made the king only 'primus inter pares'—first among equals. Bela IV tried to restore the king's former authority and power without much success. Thus, Hungary lived in a state of feudal anarchy when the Mongols began to expand toward Europe.

Mongol invasion of the Kingdom of Hungary

The Hungarians had first learned about the Mongol threat in 1229, when King Andrew granted asylum to some fleeing Russian boyars. Magyars, left behind during the main migration to the Pannonian basin, still lived on the banks of the upper Volga; in 1237, a Dominican friar, Julianus, set off on an expedition to lead them back, and was sent back to King Béla with a letter from Batu Khan. In this letter, Batu Khan called upon the Hungarian king to surrender his kingdom unconditionally to the Tatar forces or face complete destruction. Béla did not reply. Two more Mongol messages were brought to Hungary: the first, in 1239, by the defeated Cuman tribes, who asked for and received asylum in Hungary, and the second, in February, 1241, by the defeated Polish princes.

Only then did King Béla call his magnates to join his army in defense of the country. He also asked the papacy and the Western European rulers for help. Foreign help came in the form of a small knight-detachment under the leadership of Frederick, Prince of Austria, but it was too small to influence the outcome of the campaign. The majority of the Hungarian magnates did not realize the seriousness of the Mongol danger. Some may have hoped that a defeat of the royal army would force Béla to discontinue his centralization efforts and thus strengthen their power.

Although the Mongol danger was serious and real, Hungary was not prepared to deal with it, as in the minds of the people (who had lived free from nomadic invasions for the last few hundred years) a new invasion seemed impossible. The population was no longer a soldier population. Only the rich nobles were trained as heavy-armored cavalry. The Hungarians had long since forgotten the light-cavalry strategy and tactics of their ancestors, which were similar to those now used by the Mongols.

The Hungarian army (some 60,000 on the eve of the Battle of Muhi) was made up of individual knights without tactical knowledge, discipline, or talented expert commanders. As much as the Hungarian army was not expert in nomadic warfare, King Béla welcomed the Cuman king, Kuthen also known as Kotony, and his fighters. Soon a rumor began to circulate in Hungary that the Cumans were the agents of the Mongols. On the other hand, Batu Khan himself justified his invasion of Hungary because Béla had given asylum to the Cumans who were regarded as rebels and traitors in the Mongol Empire.

Thus King Béla had taken an unnecessarily great risk, which proved to be detrimental to his plans. When some hot-headed Hungarians attacked the Cuman camp and killed their king, the Cumans escaped to the south, looting, ravaging the countryside, and slaughtering the surprised Magyar population. The Austrian troops moved back to Austria shortly thereafter to "enlist more Western help." The Hungarians remained alone.

Battle of Mohi in a Medieval depiction

Arriving at the Hernád river without having been challenged to a fight by the Mongols, the Hungarian army encamped on April 10, 1241. The Mongols began their attack the next night. Soon, it was clear that the Hungarians were losing the battle. The king escaped with the help of his bodyguard, but the rest of the army was either killed without mercy by the Mongols or drowned in the rivers while attempting an escape. The Mongols now systematically occupied the Great Hungarian Plains, the slopes of the northern Carpathian Mountains, and Transylvania. Where they found local resistance, they mercilessly killed the population. Where the people did not offer any resistance, they forced the men into servitude in the Mongol army. Still, tens of thousands avoided Mongol domination by taking refuge behind the walls of the few fortresses or by hiding in the forests or the large marshes alongside the rivers. The Mongols, instead of leaving already defenseless and helpless peoples behind and continuing their campaign through Pannonia to Western Europe, spent the entire summer and fall securing and pacifying the occupied territories. Then, during the winter, contrary to the traditional strategy of the nomadic armies which started campaigns only in spring-time, they crossed the Danube and continued their systematic occupation including Pannonia. They eventually reached the Austrian borders and the Adriatic shores in Dalmatia. At this time Croatia was part of Hungary, since it was conquered by the Kingdom of Hungary in 1091.[4][5] The Mongols appointed a darughachi in Hungary and minted coins in the name of Khagan.[6] According to Michael Pravdin, the country of Béla was assigned to Orda by Batu as an appanage.

At least 20%-40% of the population died, if not in slaughter then in epidemic. However the Mongols took control of Hungary they couldn't occupy any fortressed cities like Fehérvár, Esztergom, Veszprém, Tihany, Győr, Pannonhalma, Moson, Sopron, Vasvár, Újhely, Zala, Lockenhaus, Bratislava, Nitra, Komárom, Fiľakovo and Abaújvár. Learning from this lesson, the fortresses came to play a significant role in Hungary. (See:next section) King Béla IV rebuilt the country and invested in fortifications. With a shortage of money, he settled down Jewish families, investors and tradesmen giving them rights. The King settled tens of thousands of Kun (Cumans) who had fled the country before the invasion. This is called the second foundation of Hungary.

During the spring of 1242, Ögedei Khan had died at the age of fifty-six after a binge of drinking during a hunting trip. Batu Khan, who was one of the contenders to the imperial throne, returned at once with his armies to Asia (before withdrawal, Batu Khan ordered wholesale execution of prisoners), leaving the whole of Eastern Europe depopulated and in ruins. Because of his death, the Western Europe escaped unscathed.

Some Hungarian historians[who?] claim that Hungary's long resistance against the Mongols actually saved Western Europe. Many Western European historians reject this interpretation[citation needed]. They point out that the Mongols evacuated Hungary of their own free will, and that Western Europe was saved by the sudden death of Ögedei Khan, not by the struggle of the Hungarians. Other European and American historians have questioned whether the Mongols would have been able to, or even wished to, continue their invasion into Europe west of the Hungarian plain at all[7], given the logistical situation in Europe and their need to keep large number of horses in the field to retain their strategic mobility.

The Mongolian invasion taught the Magyars a simple lesson: although the Mongols had destroyed the countryside, the forts and fortified cities had survived. To improve their defense capabilities for the future, they had to build forts, not only on the borders but also inside the country. During the remaining decades of the 13th century and throughout the 14th century, the kings donated more and more royal land to the magnates with the condition that they build forts and take care of their defenses.


Carmen Miserabile

'Carmen Miserabile super Destructione Regni Hungariae per Tartaros' (Latin for "Sad Song for the destruction of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Tartars") is an account written by Rogerius of Apulia. After 1241, Rogerius wrote a description of the conquest of Transylvania and the Great Hungarian Plain by the Tatars in this work. Mongol-Tatar Golden Horde forces led by Batu Khan began attacking Europe in 1223, starting with Kievan Rus. They continued to defeat German, Polish, and Hungarian armies before turning back to go home, upon learning of the death of their Great Khan in 1241. 

Rogerius survived the devastation by hiding in the marshes, and writes that the Tatars annihilated the population(of the towns and cities) to the last infant, besides committing many other atrocities. Besides information regarding the occupation of Transylvania by the Tatars, the work includes details regarding the organization of the Transylvanian knezates, a type of Romanian administration. Rogerius writes that the knezes (in Latin canesii) or rulers brought back peace after the Tatar invasion. Their seats of justice were called scaune.[1] Rogerius also includes details such as how the inhabitants of the village of Frata received him, and offered him black bread.

Rogerius subsequently assumed other posts, including dean of Sopron (1243), dean at Zagreb (1249), secretary to Johannes Toletanus in Lyons, and archbishop of Split, where he died.

Rogerius' work can be found in Carmen Miserabile super Destructione Regni Hungariae per Tartaros, ed., L. Juhasz, in I Szentpetery, ed., Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, 2 vols. (Budapest 1937-1938) 11, 543-88; ed., a German translation by H. Gockenjan in Ungarns Geschichtsschreiber, 111: Der Mongolensturm. C. de Bridia, Historia Tartarorum, ed., A. Onnerfors (Berlin 1967); an English translation in R.A. Skelton, T.E. Marston, and G.D. Painter, The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation (New Haven 1965) 54-101. William of Rubruck, Itineraarium, ed., A. Van den Wyngart, Sinica Franciscana 1, 147-332; an English translation in Dawson, op. Cit. (At n. 6)87-220.


External Links

  • Vlachophiles
  • Rogerius (in Hungarian)

Rogerius, Carmen miserabile (Cântecul de jale). Ediţie anastatică. Traducere şi introducere G. Popa-Lisseanu. Cuvânt înainte pentru ediţia actuală Doru Marta. Postfaţă Emanuel Engel. Oradea, Muzeul Ţării Crişurilor, Edit. Arca, 2006, 109 p.


 Rogerius of Apulia

Rogerius of Apulia (also Rogerios; Ruggero di Puglia in Italian) (c. 1205 – 1266) was a medieval Roman Catholic monk and chronicler, born in Torremaggiore, Apulia. He became bishop of Oradea in 1249, and is best known for his account of the Tatar invasions.


After 1241, he wrote a description of the conquest of Transylvania and the Pannonian Plain by the Tatars (see: Battle of Mohi) in his work Carmen Miserabile ("Sad Song"). Mongol-Tatar Golden Horde forces led by Batu Khan began attacking Europe in 1223, starting with Kievan Rus'. They continued to defeat Imperial, Polish, and Hungarian armies before turning back to go home, upon learning of the death of their Great Khan in 1241.

Rogerius survived the devastation by hiding in the marshes, and writes that the Tatars annihilated the population to the last infant, besides committing many other atrocities.

The Tatars invade; detail of a miniature in the Chronicon Pictum

Rogerius subsequently assumed other posts, including dean of Sopron (1243), dean at Zagreb (1249), secretary to Johannes Toletanus in Lyon, and archbishop of Split, where he died.

Comments and renditions of his work

  • Carmen Miserabile super Destructione Regni Hungariae per Tartaros, ed., L. Juhasz, in I Szentpetery, ed., Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum, 2 vols. (Budapest 1937-1938) 11, 543-88;
  • German translation by H. Gockenjan in Ungarns Geschichtsschreiber, 111: Der Mongolensturm
  • C. de Bridia, Historia Tartarorum, ed., A. Onnerfors (Berlin 1967); an English translation in R.A. Skelton, T.E. Marston, and G.D. Painter, The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation (New Haven 1965) 54-101.
  • William of Rubruck, Itineraarium, ed., A. Van den Wyngart, Sinica Franciscana 1, 147-332; an English translation in Dawson, op. cit. (At n. 6)87-220.

 See also

  • Rogerius quarter, a district in Oradea, Romania, named after Rogerius of Apulia

External links




The Mongols invasion of Hungary in 1285.

In the mid-1280s Nogai Khan led an invasion of Hungary alongside with Talabuga. Nogai lead an army that ravaged Transylvania with success, where cities like Reghin, Braşov and Bistriţa were plundered and ravaged. However Talabuga, who led the main army in Northern Hungary, was stopped by the heavy snow of the Carpathians and the invading force was defeated near Pest by the royal army of Ladislaus IV and ambushed by the Székely in the return. As with later invasions, it was repelled handily, the Mongols losing much of their invading force. The outcome could not have contrasted more sharply with the 1241 invasion, mostly due to the reforms of Béla IV, which included advances in military tactics and, most importantly, the widespread building of stone castles, both in response to the crushing defeat of the Hungarian Kingdom in 1241.


Cumans and Tatars: Oriental military in the pre-Ottoman Balkans, 1185-1365  By István Vásáry


Image:Battle of Mohi.svg

The Battle of Mohi, or Battle of the Sajó River, (on April 11, 1241) was the main battle between the Mongols under Subutai and the Kingdom of Hungary under Béla IV during the Mongol invasion of Europe. It took place at Muhi or Mohi, southwest of the Sajó River. Mongol use of heavy machinery demonstrated how military engineering could be put to effective and strategic use. After the invasion, Hungary lay in ruins. Nearly half of the inhabited places had been destroyed by the invading armies. Around a quarter of the population was lost, mostly in lowland areas, especially in the Great Hungarian Plain, where there were hardly any survivors; in the southern reaches of the Hungarian plain in the area now called the Banat, and in southern Transylvania.

Soon after the battle, Ögedei Khan died, so Subutai and his Mongols were recalled to Mongolia so that he could take part in the election of a new Great Khan. Effectively, this brought the Mongol invasion of Europe to an end, turning the Battle of Mohi, although a defeat for the Europeans, into an iconic event in the history of East-West relations. Yet, what was most significant about the Mongol advance towards Europe was the opening up of communication, travel, and trade between East and West. Gunpowder, porcelain, and the technology of papermaking went West in return for perfume, precious stones, and certain textiles among other items. As Europeans established diplomatic relations with the Mongols, too, Europeans became more intellectually open to ideas and value in other cultures. Although Europeans would be guilty of racist, religious and civilizational arrogance during their colonial era and at other times in history, early European-Mongol encounter contains seeds of an alternative world-view. This alternative view recognizes that East and West each benefit from cultural and economic exchange, and can be partners rather than rivals.


In 1223, the expanding Mongol Empire defeated an allied Cuman army at the Kalka river. The defeated Cumans retreated towards Hungary. Hungary had continuously tried to convert the Cumans to Christianity and expand its influence over the Cuman tribes for the past few decades. The Hungarian King Béla IV even began to use the title "King of Cumania." When the Cuman refugees (c. 40,000 people) sought [[political asylum|asylum in his kingdom, it seemed that at least a portion of the Cumans had accepted Hungarian rule. The Mongols considered the Cumans to be their slaves, saw Hungary as a rival, and the Cuman migration to Hungary as a casus belli. In their ultimatum they also blamed Hungary for missing envoys.

The Mongolian threat approached Hungary during a time of political turmoil. Traditionally, the base of royal power consisted of the vast estates owned as royal property. Under Andrew II, the donations of land by the crown reached a new peak. Whole counties were donated. After Béla IV inherited his father's throne he began to re-confiscate Andrew’s donations and to execute or expel his advisers. He also denied the lord's right of personal hearings and accepted only written petitions to his chancellery. He even had the chairs of the council chamber taken away in order to force everybody to stand in his presence. His actions caused great disaffection among the lords. The newly arrived Cumans gave the king a better position (and increased prestige among Church circles for converting them) but also caused a lot of problems. The nomadic Cumans seemed unable to live together with the settled Hungarians and the lords were shocked that the king supported the Cumans in quarrels between the two.

The battle

Battle of Mohi in a Medieval depiction
Battle of Mohi in a Medieval depiction

The Mongols attacked Hungary with three armies. One of them attacked through Poland in order to withhold possible Polish auxiliaries and defeated the army of Duke Henry II the Pious of Silesia at the Legnica. Duke Henry was slain (after trying to retreat) and "nine sacks of ears" collected by the victors "attested to the heavy losses of the defeated."[1] A southern army attacked Transylvania, defeated the Voivode (military commander) and crushed the Transylvanian Hungarian army. The main army led by Khan Batu and Subutai attacked Hungary through the fortified Verecke Pass and annihilated the army led by the count Palatine on March 12, 1241.

King Béla IV began to mobilize his army and ordered all of his troops, including the Cumans, to the city of Pest. Frederick II, Duke of Austria and Styria, also arrived there to help him. In this moment, the conflict between Cumans and Hungarians caused riots and the Cuman khan—who had been under the personal protection of the king—was murdered. Some sources mention the role of Duke Frederick in inciting this riot, but his true role is unknown. The Cumans believed that they had been betrayed, and left the country to the south, pillaging all the way. The full mobilization was unsuccessful. Many contingents were unable to reach Pest; some were destroyed by Mongols before they arrived, some by renegade Cumans. Many nobles refused to take part in the campaign because they hated the king and desired his downfall. Hardly anybody believed that the Mongol attack was a serious threat to the kingdom's security, and the Cuman defection was considered minor and usual. This attitude may have contributed to the death of the Cuman Khan Kuthen (or Kutan) who was killed during civil uprising among the Cuman.[2]

The Tartar vanguard reached Pest on March 15th and began to pillage the neighboring area. King Béla forbade his men to attack them, as the Hungarian army was still unprepared. Even so, Duke Frederick attacked and defeated a minor raiding party, so Béla came to be seen as a coward. After this "heroic" act, Duke Frederick returned home. Ugrin Csák, the archbishop of Kalocsa, also tried to attack a Mongol contingent, but he was lured to a swamp and his armored cavalry became irretrievably stuck in it. He barely escaped with his own life.

Finally, the king decided to offer battle with the Tartars, but they began to retreat. This affirmed the opinion of the lords that the Tartars were not a threat and the king’s behavior was not caution, but cowardice. After a week of forced marches and regular Tartar attacks, the Hungarian army reached the flooded river Sajó. Here the army stopped to rest and to wait for additional supplies. The king and the Hungarians still did not know that the main Tartar army, which numbered between 20,000 and 30,000, in contrast to the approximately 15,000-strong collection of varied Hungarian forces, was present, because of the wooded terrain on the far bank of the Sajó. The cautious king ordered the building of a heavily fortified camp of wagon trains.

It is highly unlikely that the Mongols originally wanted to cross a wide and dangerous river to attack a fortified camp. It is more likely that their original plan was to attack the Hungarians while crossing the river just as in the case of the Battle of the Kalka River. The original Mongol attack plan is still unclear. A Ruthenian slave of the Tartars escaped to the Hungarians, warning of a possible night attack across the Sajó bridge.

The Hungarians still did not believe that this would be a full scale attack, but the troops of Prince Kálmán, Duke of Slavonia, and the younger brother of king Béla, and archbishop Ugrin Csák with the Templar master left the camp to surprise the Tartars and defend the unguarded bridge. They reached the bridge at midnight. The sun set at 18:29, so they had to march 7 kilometers in darkness. It is very unlikely that the Mongols wanted to attack at night (horse archers avoid night battles), but they did need to cross the river to be able to attack the Hungarian camp at dawn. When Kálmán and Ugrin arrived they found the Tartars unprepared and in the middle of crossing the river. They successfully forced them into pitched battle and achieved a great victory at the bridge. The Mongols were totally unprepared for the crossbowmen who inflicted considerable losses on the Mongol forces, especially due to the size of the bridge, which was a minimum of 200 meters long. The Hungarians left some soldiers to guard the bridge and returned to the camp, unaware that the main Mongol army was still there. When they arrived at the camp around 2 a.m., they celebrated their victory.

The unexpected Hungarian victory forced the Mongol generals to modify their plans. Sejban was sent north to a ford with a smaller force to cross the river and attack the back of the bridgeguard. At about 4 a.m., as the daylight they required started to break, they began the crossing. Meanwhile, Subutai went south to build a makeshift emergency bridge while the Hungarians were engaged at the main bridge, but left Batu a plan to use giant stone throwers, which the Hungarians had probably never seen, to clear the crossbowmen opposing them. At dawn, Batu, with the help of seven stone throwers, attacked the Hungarian guards on the bridge and after the subsequent arrival of Sejban and his men, the Hungarians retreated to their camp. The Mongol main forces finished crossing the river around 8 a.m.

When the fleeing Hungarians arrived at the camp they woke up the others. Kálmán, Ugrin, and the Templar master left the camp again to deal with the attackers. Others remained there, believing this was also a minor attack and that Prince Kálmán would again claim victory. But as Kálmán and Ugrin witnessed the horde of Tartars swell, they realized that this was not a minor raid, but a very dangerous attack of the main Mongol force. After some heavy fighting they returned to the camp to reinforce themselves and to return with the full army. They were badly disappointed, as the king had not even issued orders to prepare for the battle. Archbishop Ugrin reproached the king for his faults in public, and finally the Hungarian army sallied forth, but this delay gave enough time to Batu to finish the crossing. A hard struggle ensued. The Hungarians outnumbered Batu's troops and the Tartars were unable to move quickly because the Sajó was behind their backs. Chinese and Mongol sources mention that Batu lost 30 of his bodyguards and one of his lieutenants, Bakatu, and only the personal action and bravery of Batu kept the horde from breaking and fleeing the field. At this moment, Subutai who had been delayed by bridge-building, attacked the Hungarians’ rear flank, causing the panicked Hungarians to retreat to their camp.

It is possible that the Hungarians might have had the capability to defend the camp, but sallying was ineffective, and they were terrified by the flaming arrows, resulting in the deaths of many soldiers by the trampling crush of their comrades. The Mongols used "catapults, flame throwers" and "possibly gunpowder bombs."[3] Finally, the demoralized soldiers routed and tried to escape through a gap left open on purpose (A Chinese plan stated in Sun Tzu's Art of War[4]) by the Mongols, a plan chosen because fleeing soldiers can be killed more easily than those who, with their backs to a wall, are forced to fight till death. However, the Tartar casualties had been so large that, at this point, Batu did not want to pursue the Hungarians. However, Subutai exhorted him successfully and the Mongols attacked. Archbishop Ugrin (as was another archbishop) was killed, but Kálmán and Béla managed to escape, though the wounds of Kálmán were so serious that he died soon after. Some 65,000 men are said to have died.[2] The Hungarians lost nearly 10,000 men and were unable to field another army to contain the remaining Tartar. After the victory, the Tartars regrouped and began a systematic assault on the rest of the nation.


Burrial site at Mohi
Burrial site at Mohi

After the battle, there was no other major organized force capable of halting the advance of the Mongols; defeating them completely was unthinkable. An attempt was made to hold off the main Mongol army at the Danube, which was mostly successful from April 1241 until January 1242. In an unusually cold winter, the river froze over, and after a number of close battles, the Mongols managed to cross. The royal family escaped to Austria to seek help from their ally Duke Frederick, but instead he arrested them and extorted an enormous ransom in gold and forced the king to cede three western counties to Austria. It was at this point that the King and some of his retinue fled southwest, through Hungarian-controlled territory, to the Adriatic coast and the castle of Trogir, where they stayed until the Mongols retreated. While the king kept himself apprised of the situation in the rest of the country, he made numerous attempts to contact other rulers of Europe, including the Pope Innocent IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, and the King of France, but none seemed interested, and all seemed to have the same profound misunderstanding of the threat posed by the Mongol armies, which stood by this time within a week's ride from the borders of France.

Meanwhile, in the main territory of Hungary, surviving members of the royal retinue, being for the large part those that did not get to the battle of Mohi in time to participate, along with a number of unorganized irregulars consisting mostly of armed peasants, employing guerrilla tactics, continued to harass Mongol troops, even occasionally successfully engaging them in open battle. Much of the civilian population fled to areas of refuge inaccessible to the Mongol cavalry: high mountains in the north and east; swamps, especially on the puszta (or bushy wilderness), around Székesfehérvár, and in the west (the Hanság); and older earthwork fortresses, most of which were in a Motte-and-bailey form or consisted of a mud-banked enclosure on the top of a mountain, steep natural hill, or man-made hill. Rogerius recounts his experience in one such refuge called Fátra in his Carmen Miserabile (Sad Song for the destruction of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Tartars).[5] Such places are often referred to by the German term Fluchtburg.

Subutai's recall

In 1242, the Great Khan Ögedei died and ultimately this led the Mongols to retreat so that the princes of the blood could be present for the election of a new Great Khan. Just prior to their departure, the Mongol army was having difficulty with the pacification of the country, though they made plans to attack Austria and eventually Germany and Italy. While the defeat of the Hungarian army at the Sajó river is most often described in a couple of sentences as an effortless rout by the Mongols of the Hungarian army, this is an oversimplification. The Hungarian army as well as irregulars from the countryside proved dangerous foes and Mongol losses were not insignificant. Subutai's engineers faced additional difficulties in constructing a bridge in the deeper than expected waters, and managed to attack the Hungarian rear just in time, as Batu's forces were being stretched and taxed by the numerically superior Hungarian forces.

By the mid-thirteenth century, the Hungarian army had lost the tactics of the steppe nomads that made them such effective fighters against the German states, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, the Balkans and the present Netherlands in the ninth and tenth centuries. But there is some doubt in this regard, as some historians have stated that the Hungarian military became more Westernized after the Mongol invasion and because of it; and despite its steppe tactics, early Hungary was still defeated by the Germans in the tenth century and was hardly a threat to France or Spain; whether they had retained steppe tactics or not would not have helped. Outfitted in lighter versions of contemporary European armor equipment, they were often slow, easy targets for swift Mongol archers (this statement however, is likely an oversimplification; the Mongols were simply better tacticians, and there is no indication in the sources that the Hungarians had any problems coming to grips with the Mongols). Still, they managed to nearly defeat the main Mongol force. At one point, Batu Khan's personal guards were being slaughtered and his own life lay in serious danger. At another point, the Mongol troops were being routed by the Hungarian archers followed up by the heavy mounted knights and only the personal bravery of Batu Khan prevented the wholesale flight of his army. Ultimately, only by means of what was essentially a trick (and ironically, one which earlier Hungarian troops used often) did the Mongols manage to defeat the main Hungarian army in open battle.

In spite of this, by Candlemas (February) 1242, more than a year after the initial invasion and a few months before the Mongols' withdrawal, a significant number of important castles and towns had resisted the formidable and infamous Mongol siege tactics. Among the nearly eighty sites that remained unconquered, only three were of the most formidable type: The then-new stone castle on an elevation: Fülek, Léka, near the western border, and Németújvár. The rest were either fortified towns (for example, Székesfehérvár), old comital center castles (Comital towns were where a Count, or Graf, had his seat) (such as Esztergom citadel), fortified monasteries (for example, Tihany and Pannonhalma) or military fortresses (for example, Vécs guarding a main trade route in the mountains of Transylvania). Ultimately, the country was not subdued; and though much of the population was slaughtered, the King and upper nobility avoided capture. As a tardy revenge, the Hungarians and Croats ambushed and destroyed the rearguard division of the retreating Mongol army in the Carpathians.

After the withdrawal of the Mongol troops, they were never again to return to Hungary with a force capable of laying siege to fortified cities, as the Chinese bombardiers and engineers under general Subutai were no longer deployed in the European theater of operations; Subutai was reassigned by Guyuk to engage the Southern Song, and died of old age in 1248. Hungary lay in ruins. Nearly half of the inhabited places had been destroyed by the invading armies. Around a quarter of the population was lost, mostly in lowland areas, especially in the Alföld, where there were hardly any survivors; in the southern reaches of the Hungarian plain in the area now called the Banat, and in southern Transylvania.

However, the power of the kingdom was not broken. Within a year of the withdrawal of the Mongols, the three westernmost counties (Moson, Sopron, and Vas) that were extorted as ransom by Duke Frederick of Austria were recaptured, and a local uprising in Slavonia was quashed. The threat of another Mongol invasion, this time taken seriously, was the source of exceptional national unity and provided the impetus for Bela IV's extensive expansion of Hungarian defenses, especially the building of new stone castles (forty-four in the first ten years) and the revitalization of the army, including expanding the number of heavily armored cavalry in the royal army. Béla IV is seen now as a second founder of the nation, partly in recognition of all that was done during his reign to reconstruct and fortify the country against foreign invasion from the east. These improvements were to pay off, in 1284, when Nogai Khan attempted an invasion of the country. In that event, the invasion was defeated handily, as were a number of other minor attacks before and after. In the coming centuries, as the power of the Mongols of the Russian steppe waned and western defenses became more capable, the attention of countries of central Europe would increasingly be directed to the southeast, and the growing power of the Ottoman Empire.


Bela IV set about rebuilding and re-fortifying his country, earning the title of Hungary's "second founder."[6] Although the Mongols intervened "in Hungarian affairs in the 1280s and 1290s, they never again threatened Western Europe" and after 1260, "the Mongol empire split into four parts, the Chaghadai khanate in central Asia, the Yuan Dynasty in China … the Il-Khans of Persia and the Golden Horde in Russia."[7] From a military point of view, the Battle of Mohi was significant for its use of engineering tactics by the Mongols, from which their enemies learned some lessons in strategy.

On the one hand, Europeans saw the Mongols as a threat, although Europeans in the West appear to have been content to let the Hungarians and others in Eastern Europe serve as a buffer-zone, thus protecting their own territory. On the other hand, the Mongols' arrival on the borders of the European space from the East reminded Europeans that a world existed beyond their horizons. The political stability, sometimes called the Pax Mongolia, that Ögedei established throughout Asia re-established the Silk Road, the primary trading route between East and West. Before long, Marco Polo was traveling this route, followed by others. The Mongols absorbed local customs wherever they settled, so helped to build bridges between some of the world's cultures. Lane says that this facilitation of cultural exchange was not accidental but that the Mongols regarded themselves as "cultural brokers," so often it was their own policies that "launched these exchanges … they initiated population movement, financed trade caravans, established industries and farms and created the markets for the goods that began to crisscross their vast empire." They "remained involved in the whole business of commercial and cultural exchange at every level," he says, "and in every area."[8] Guzman says that it was contact with the Mongols that "ended Europe's geographical isolation, moved Christian Europe toward ecumenism and toleration, and broadened Europe's intellectual horizons." Later, when diplomatic relations were established between Europeans[9] and various Mongol polities, diplomacy began to emerge as much more important way of dealing with relations between different states and political entities. Early European-Mongol contact, says Guzman, "represented Europe's first true intercultural experience and is of critical importance in evaluating and understanding the growth and development of Western intellectual history especially in the emergence of a European world-view of mankind and history."[9]


  1. Saunders (1971), 85.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Saunders (1971), 86.
  3. Archer (2002), 180.
  4. Sun Tzu and Gilers, Lionel, The Art of War, China Page. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  5. Rogerius, and Helmut Stefan Milletich, Carmen miserabile: Lateinisch/Deutsch (Eisenstadt, DE: Edition Roetzer, 1979, ISBN 9783853740477).
  6. The Free Dictionary, Hungary: history to 1918. Retrieved October 17, 2008.
  7. Archer (2002), 181.
  8. Lane. 2004. pages 97-98.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Gregory Guzman, Christian Europe and Mongol Asia: First Medieval Intercultural Contact Between East and West, in Mark D. Johnston and Samuel M. Riley, Essays in Medieval Studies (Chicago, IL: Loyola University, 1999). Retrieved October 17, 2008.


  • Amitai-Preiss, Reuven. 1998. The Mamluk-Ilkhanid War. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521462266.
  • Archer, Christon I. 2002. World History of Warfare. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803244238.
  • Gabriel, Richard A. 2004. Subotai the Valiant: Genghis Khan's Greatest General. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 9780275975821.
  • Lane, George. 2004. Genghis Khan and Mongol Rule. Greenwood guides to historic events of the medieval world. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 9780313325281.
  • Morgan, David. 1986. The Mongols. The Peoples of Europe. Oxford, UK: B. Blackwell. ISBN 9780631135562.
  • Nicolle, David, and Richard Hook. 1998. The Mongol Warlords: Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, Hulegu, Tamerlane. London, UK: Brookhampton Press. ISBN 9781860194078.
  • Regan, Geoffrey. 1992. The Guinness Book of Decisive Battles. New York, UK: Canopy Books. ISBN 9781558594319.
  • Saunders, J.J. 1971. The History of the Mongol Conquests. New York, NY: Barnes & Noble. ISBN 9780389044512.
  • Sicker, Martin. 2000.The Islamic World in Ascendancy From the Arab Conquests to the Siege of Vienna. Westport, CT: Praeger. ISBN 9780313001116.
  • Soucek, Svatopluk. 2000. A History of Inner Asia. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521651691.
  • Kosztolnyik, Z.J. 1996. Hungary in the Thirteenth Century. East European monographs, no. 439. Boulder, CO: East European Monographs. ISBN 9780880333368.

External Links


New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:

Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.


Transylvania during the Mongol Invasion


In 1241 the Tatars (Tartars or Mongols) of Genhis Khan marched into Hungary with four armies, 500,000 armed men [56]. The main body of their army marched through the Verecke Pass to the Tisza Valley. The other three armies attacked from Transylvania. While the Tatars retreated from the Great Plain and the Maros Valley, they devastated Transylvania to a very large degree. They destroyed everything that had got in their way. The Partium and Transylvania suffered the biggest losses and most casualties.

In his memorandum, Carmen Miserabile (Miserable Song) Rogerius, of Italian origin,  wrote that when he had escaped from Tatar captivity, and had been travelling through Transylvania, he was hardly able to find a man there; he did not see anything but "heaps of ruins" in Nagyenyed, Torda and Gyulafehva. "On the Eve of the Tatar invasion the Hungarian armies were fighting on the Balkans serving the interest of the Hungarian aristocracy and the Papacy. The Papacy, however, did not recruit Western forces against the Tatars in 1240-1242... The struggle against the Mongols was strongly hindered, since the German feudal nobles, serving their own interests in Northern and Eastern Europe, in agreement with the Papal State, led their troops against the divided Russians" [57].

Without any allies and also separated from each other, Hungary and Poland were attacked by the Mongols, who, after breaking the Russian resistance, turned with full force against the two countries.

King Bela IV. (1235-1270) tried to organize the defense of the country, but failed. The King's desperate efforts were seen with malicious joy by the nobles who felt offended due to the strengthening of the King's power. They put their soldiers at the king's disposal with considerable delay and reluctance. The murder of the Cumanian leader, turned the Cumanians away from Bela IV., even though the responsibility did not rest with the King. The King could not mobilize an army of satisfactory numbers, until the very last moment, when the Mongols had already broken into the country, and the danger had become overwhelming.

The army of King Bela IV. could not resist the Mongols, whose horsmen swarmed all over the Tisza area. The Tatars and the Hungarian cavalry fought on the battlefield of Muhi, near the Saj?stream in April 11th, 1241. The battle ended with the total destruction of the Hungarian Army. The King escaped with extreme difficulties. His death would have meant the final destruction of Hungary.

After the battle of Muhi the country was in complete ruins. The number of slaughtered people could be counted in ten-thousands. Most of those who survived were hiding in the deep forests and marshes and were waiting for the day of salvation.

Fortunately, the Mongol Chief Khan, Ogotaj died unexpectedly. Since Batu Khan, the Commander in Chief of the Mongol army, now in Hungary, wanted to be present and take part in the power struggle, following the death of the chief khan, hastily withdrew from the country and returned to Mongolia.

At the end of May 1242, there were no Mongols left in Hungary. The work of reconstruction could start.

King Bela's first task was the reorganization of the country's defenses. He realized that the Mongols had not been able to capture the Hungarian fortresses. He organized a castle system on the border zone, and urged his nobles to build more fortified castles. He founded a new capital at Buda with a splendid royal palace and churches on the Castle Hill (part of modern Budapest).

After the Mongol withdrawal, King Bela immediately started to re-build the country, building new fortified castles of stone also (in Transylvania: D, Kolozsvar).

The King sent Vajda (Voivod) Lorinc to Transylvania " gather his people, and arrange everything, by using his authority, that he finds useful to his country". Lorinc tried his very best to fulfill his duty. He transfered ploughmen and soldiers to the depopulated areas from the territories that suffered less. He also encouraged people from abroad to settle in the devastated territory.

In his letter to the King, the Transylvanian Bishop Gallus, wrote that in the year of 1246 it was hard to find people in Gyulafehv and the city's surrounding areas. He asked the King to take Vlachs, who lived or were willing to live on the episcopal properties out of the authority of the voivods and county sheriffs. He, the Bishop of Transylvania, would have been in this case their only master. The King fulfilled his wish.

The Mongol invasion decimated the population, therefore foreigners had to be hired to do the reconstruction. What kind of nationality did they have? Where did they come from? The new dwellers, who were brought to the episcopal and unoccupied royal properties, migrated with their flocks from the Balkans. They were Vlachs, ancestors of today's Rumanians [58]. Most of them ran away from the political discords and battles going on in the Balkan Peninsula. They were led by Bulgarian and Serb kenez-es.

During the times of Charles the Anjou (Charles I.) (1307-1342), especially in 1335, they were also invited to Transylvania. In 1370 some of their nobles moved, because of political unrest, from Bulgaria, as well as from the western areas of Wallachia, to Transylvania [59].

The Szamos and Maros valleys were Transylvania's main military routes during the Mongol invasions. These valleys were inhabited by Hungarians. Every enemy, marching through the area, ravaged mainly this people. The Saxons found shelter in their forts and fortified towns, while many Szkelys were hiding in the forests. The farming people of the undefended villages always became easy prey of the enemy. That is why they could not and did not grow sufficiently in number. That is why they later were forced to welcome foreign settlers.

King Bela, "the second state founder" settled the Johannite (Maltan) Order of Knights between the Lower Danube and the Olt, which teritory also had been devastated by the Mongols. Their presence, from the year 1247, meant defense for the territory.

The Christian churches, devastated earlier by pagan insurgents, were replaced by new ones. Saint Stephen's orders were reissued by Saint Ladislas I. He ordered that the burned out or devastated churches had to be rebuilt by the congregations. "The churches which were ruined because of their old age must be reconstructed by the bishop." These churches were rebuilt by the time of the Mongol attack (1241). It was hard to find a village without a temple. The churches, however, were mostly robbed, burned and destroyed by the Tatars. The cathedrals of Gyulafehv and Nagyvad had to be rebuilt. The village churches also had to be rebuilt from their ruins.
Again, we have no information about the reconstruction of any Greek-Catholic (Orthodox) church in this period in Transylvania. There weren't any.

After the Mongol attacks fortified stone and brick churches were built that could have been used for defensive purposes. Their construction was regulated - under the king's inspiration - by the propriety relations. "Every proprietary recognized the mental and material advantages of the patronage's right." The number of parishes in the 13th century exceeded that of the 11th century. We do not know about Rumanian parishes and church building proprietaries. Thus, in the Hungary of the 13th and 14th centuries, particularly in Transylvania, Hungarian churches made earlier of wood and mud were reconstructed because they were completely destroyed by the Tatars. The reason was not that assumed by Radu Popa, Rumanian historian [60]. The brick and stone churches mentioned by him are newer. They are churches re-built after the Tatar devastations. If there were some Rumanian churches made out of bricks or stones after the Tatar attack in Transylvania, it would mean that they were built in that period, - they could not have been built before the Tatar invasion.


Research begins here...


Golden Horde Pottery discovered at Isaccea, Tulcea County


Golden Horde Pottery discovered at Isaccea, Tulcea County

The Tatar invasion in Central Europe in 1241-42 has strongly marked the history and northern Dobrudja. In the 13th century, the region from the mouth of the Danube became an active area of international trade, especially after the Golden Horde settled here. The Tatars’ presence at the mouths of the Danube is a topic investigated by many Romanian historians, but it is still far from being clarified[1], due to the limited number of historical sources, and to the lack of archaeological research, with the exception of some discoveries that have been reviewed and ascribed to the Golden Horde[2].

Thus, the archaeological research from Tulcea[3], Revărsarea–Dealul Tichileşti[4], Enisala[5], Nufăru[6], Păcuiul lui Soare[7], the random discoveries from Jurilovca, Slava Rusă and Babadag[8] have revealed yellow, reddish or grey ceramic fragments, decorated with the wheel; they are typical to the material culture of The Golden Horde from the 13th-14th centuries[9].

The money circulation at the mouths of the Danube in the 13th-14th centuries is the most eloquent testimony of the Tatars’ presence in this area. Undoubtedly, at present the coins still represent the main documentary source for understanding the evolution of events and socio-economic area from the mouth of the Danube during the Tartar domination[10].

In order to better understand the specific material culture of the Golden Horde, we should note that the medieval settlement of Isaccea was located on a promontory in the northwest of present-day town and very close to the well-known ford of the Danube from Isaccea to Orlovca.

Both Isaccea District, represented by the nowadays town, and the bordering area, which represented the administrative territory is known for housing remains assigned to different historical periods because the area was a crossing ford intensely used along history by various groups of people who came by.

The settling and control exercised by the Golden Hoard over the area from the mouth of the Danube were certainly complex, with different steps marked schematically by the literary and cartographic sources.

The monetary discoveries remain for now the main source of historical information on the Tatars, as well as on the political events and socio-economic development of the area at the mouth of the Danube during the Golden Horde’s rule.

For the topic in question, two important archaeological points of interest are known: the fortress of Noviodunum and the city’s north-eastern area.

In 2006, the Museum of History and Archaeology of the Eco-Museum Research Institute Tulcea purchased from Manea Mihai, resident of Isaccea town, his collection of archaeological and numismatic objects. Among the objects offered for acquisition there were 7 pieces of ceramic moulds, a vessel of ellipsoidal shape, hemispheric bottom, a bowl-vessel (ready for glazing) and 3 tripods. According to the person who collected these objects over a period of 10 years, they were found on his property:

    • oval-shaped vessel, probably a pitcher, hemispheric bottom, reddish paste subjected to oxidizing firing, decorated with rosettes, missing the top; angoba, glazed in the upper half with white pearlescent enamel with greenish reflections. Diam. – 15.8; h – 9.5 cm;

    • ceramic mould (7) fragments, semicircular, rosettes Preserved L – 11.1; cm h – 8.5 cm; Preserved L – 10.2; cm h – 9 cm;

    • bowl, reddish-yellow paste, angoba, prepared for glazing, stylized decoration: flower petals, tendrils.


    • tripods – 9 items.

    • coins – 3 items.

         The pitcher is cast in compact, good quality mould paste and burnt in an oxidizing atmosphere. The moulds are also made of ceramic.

Both the patterns and the vessel present similarities regarding the decoration, with spheroconical vessels dated to the 13th-14th centuries, found in Tulcea County[11]. The decoration consists of rosettes, obviously done by patterns. For analogies, similar discoveries from Crimea are known, where they discovered a number of patterns (published)[12], vessels (unpublished but mentioned and described by authors), Orheiul Vechi, Costeşti[13] and Cetatea Albă[14].

In the historical literature, especially in the Russian one, this ceramics category is called stamped pottery. This kind of pottery[15] was also found on Romanian territory. Thus, at Coconi[16], Baia[17], Curtea de Argeş[18] there are some vessel fragments made in moulds, dated to the 14th century.

The existence of vessels prepared for glazing indicates the performance of the pottery masters from Isaccea who knew this technique. In the absence of other elements that could offer us more clues regarding the dating of the ceramics found at Isaccea, we indicate a date sometime in the 14th century. The reddish-yellow ceramics was produced in Tatar centers in north-eastern Moldavia, using the existing prototypes in the lower basin of the Volga and in Crimea or other regions of the Golden Horde. Due to its qualities, this type of pottery became superior to the local one and in the 14th century its used spread up to Bârlad basin, which marked the western limit of Mongolian territory.

The existence of a workshop for producing ceramics and the presence of specialized craftsmen in the workshop at Isaccea points to the existence of a strong political and economic center under Mongol control. We wanted to draw attention to the presence of this type of ceramics at Isaccea, and to the existence of a workshop producing these ceramic types, hoping that in the future archaeological discoveries in this area will provide new information regarding the presence and the material culture of the Golden Horde at the Danube mouth. We hope that future archaeological research will bring out new data regarding the presence of Tatars at the mouths of the Danube.


  Bârnea, P. P., Scerbakova, T.A. 1973 – Kratkie itoghi arheologyceskyh issledovanija v Starom Orhee v 1971g in Arkheologiceskie issledovanija v Moldavii v 1979-1971 gg., Kysinev.

    Brătianu Gh. I. 1935 – Recherches sur Vicina et Cetatea Albă – Contributions a l’histoire de la domination byzantine et tartare et du commerce génois sur le littoral roumain de al Mer Noire, Bucharest.

    Brătianu, Gh. I. 1999 – Marea Neagră. De la origini până la cucerirea otomană, Iaşi.

    Ciocâltan, V. 1998 – Mongolii şi Marea Neagră în secolele XIII-XIV. Contribuţia Cinghizhanizilor la transformarea bazinului pontic în placă turnantă a comerţului euro-asiatic, Bucureşti.

    Constantinescu, N. 1972 – Coconi. Un sat din Câmpia Română în epoca lui Mircea cel Bătrân, Bucureşti.

    Constantinescu, N. 1984 – Curtea de Argeş (1200-1400). Asupra începuturilor Țării Româneşti, Bucureşti.

    Diaconu, P., Baraschi, S. 1977 – Păcuiul lui Soare. Aşezarea medievală (secolele XIII-XIV), II, Bucureşti.

    Dzanov, A. V. 1998 – Goncharnye pechi XIV–XV vv. na remeslennom posade Sugdei, în Istoriko-kul'turnye svyazi Prichernomor’ya i Sredizemnomor’ya X–XVIII vv. po materialam polivnoi keramiki, Simferopol.

    Mănucu-Adameşteanu, Gh. 1983 – Consideraţii finale asupra locuirii medievale (sec. XIV-XV) de la Aegyssus, jud. Tulcea, în Materiale 17, 2, 439-454.

    Mănucu-Adameşteanu 1984 – Din nou despre vasele sferoconice în lumina descoperirilor din nordul Dobrogei, în Peuce 9, 363-374.

    Neamţu, Eugenia, Neamţu, V., Cheptea, S. 1984 – Oraşul medieval Baia în secolele XIV-XVII. II. Cercetări arheologice din anii 1977-1980, Iaşi.

    Nicolae, E., Costin, B. 2003 – Monede din secolele XIII-XIV descoperite în Dobrogea, în BSNR, 92-97 (1998-2003), 175-187.

    Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E. 1985 – Documentele numismatice privind relaţiile spaţiului est-carpatic cu zona gurilor Dunării în secolele XIII-XIV, în AIIAI 22, 585-590.

    Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E. 1987 – Numismatical contributions to the history of south-eastern europe at the end of the 13th century, în RRH 26, 245-258.

    Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E. 1989 – Noi descoperiri de monede emise în zona gurilor Dunării în secolele XIII-XIV, în SCN 9, 121-129.

    Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E. 1993 – Un atelier monétaire inconu de la Hoarde d’or sur le Danube: Saqčy-Isaccea (XIIIe-XIVe siecles), în Actes du XIe Congres International de Numismatique organisé a l’occasion du 150e anniversaire de la Société Royale de Numismatique de la Belgique, Bruxelles, 8-13 septembre 1991, III, Louvain-la-Neuve, 291-304.

    Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E. 1997 – Începuturile prezenţei tătarilor în zona gurilor Dunării în lumina documentelor numismatice, în Originea tătarilor. Locul lor în România şi în lumea turcă, Bucureşti.

    Oberländer-Târnoveanu, E. 2003 – Începuturile prezenţei tătarilor în zona Gurilor Dunării în lumina documetelor numismatice, în Tătarii în istorie şi în lume, Bucureşti.

  Spinei, V. 1970 – Unele consideraţii cu privire la descoperirile arheologice din Moldova din secolul al XII-lea, în SCIV 21, 4, 595-618.

    Spinei, V. 1975-1976 – Aspekte der politischen Verhältnisse des Gebites zwischen Donau und Schwarzen Meer in der Zeit Mongolenherrschaft (XIII-XIV Jahrhundert), în Dacoromania 3, 34-37.

    Spinei, V. 1994 – Moldova în secolele XI-XIV, Chişinău.

    Spinei, V. 2006 – Universa Valachica. Românii în contextul politic internaţional de la începutul mileniului al II-lea, Chişinău.


    Pl. 1. Ellipsoidal shaped vessel.

    Pl. 2. Ceramic moulds.

    Pl. 3. Bowl (prepared for glazed).

    Pl. 4. Tripods.

    Pl. 5. 1 – Ellipsoidal shaped vessel; 2 – Ceramic mould; 3 – Bowl (prepared for glazed).

    Pl. 6. Ellipsoidal shaped vessel

    Pl. 7. Bowl (prepared for glazed)

    [1] For this issue, see: Brătianu 1935, 53-78; Brătianu 1999, 296-310; Spinei 1970, 607-610; Spinei 1975-1976, 34-37; Spinei 1982, 168-177; Spinei 1994, 253-255; Spinei 2006, 319-366; Papacostea 1993, 90-125; Ciocâltan 1998, 13-16; 129-259.


    [2] Archaeological investigations at Tulcea, Revărsarea–Dealul Tichileşti, Păcuiul lui Soare, Enisala, and accidental discoveries at Jurilovca, Slava Rusă and Babadag revealed yellowish, reddish or gray pottery fragments decorated with the wheel, which are typical to the material culture of the Golden Horde in the 13th-14th centuries. Oberländer-Târnoveanu 1997, 93-94, 2; Oberländer-Târnoveanu 2003, 67-68, note 2.


    [3] Mănucu-Adameşteanu 1983, 453, fig. 10/6.


    [4] Simion 1998, 231-238.


    [5] Unpublished materials, courtesy of O. Damian, to whom we express our gratitude.


    [6] Unpublished materials, 2009 investigations, courtesy of O. Damian, whom we thank.


    [7] Diaconu, Baraschi 1977, 65-66, fig. 46, no. 1-7.


    [8] Oberländer-Târnoveanu 2003, 67-68, note 2. In the collection of the Museum of Archaeology and History of ICEM Tulcea, we identified materials found in Tulcea and Slava Rusă.


    [9] It was V. Spinei who correctly identified the origin of this pottery. Spinei 1982, 44-48, 196-197; some materials have been published in: Spinei 2006, 348-349, fig. 8-9; 686, fig. 2; Spinei 1994, 253-255, fig. 36, 38, 39, 47.


    [10] Oberländer-Târnoveanu 1985, 585-590; Oberländer-Târnoveanu 1987, 245-258; Oberländer-Târnoveanu 1989, 121-129; Oberländer-Târnoveanu 1993, 291-304; Oberländer-Târnoveanu 2003, 69-102. For the reassignment of Saqčy-Isaccea workshop, see: Nicolae, Costin 2003, 175-187.


    [11] Mănucu-Adameşteanu 1984, 364, 719, pl. 4/1-3, 723, pl. 8/4-7.


    [12] Dzanov 1998, 84.


    [13] Bârnea, Scerbakova 1973, 203-204; Spinei 2006, 734, 764, fig. 13; courtesy of E. Nicolae and E. Abâzova, whom we thank.


    [14] Courtesy of L. Bacumenco, whom we thank.


    [15] Species of non-glazed vessels with stamped motifs, probably originated from Central Asia, where it was wide-spread. Spinei 2006, 722.


    [16] Constantinescu 1972, 124-128, fig. 56, 57. The artefact from Coconi probably comes from a workshop at the mouth of the Danube.


    [17] Neamţu, Neamţu, Cheptea 1984, 207, 210, fig. 88/6.


    [18] Constantinescu 1984, 124.


Magyarization of the Population of Pannonia and Transylvania.  A Process that Never Ended.

 At the time of mongol invasion, 1241,Transylvania could not be ruled without Romanian nobles support, so the voivoda of Transylvania was a Romanian, Posea.

The Mongol invasion, affected more the Hungarians, and less the Romanians (who even help mongols in some circumstances ), because in that times, Romanian territory was still covered with huge forests, and was 30 % mountains, places were Mongols didn't enter, and were the bulk of Romanian population took refuge. They, instead, attacked more in the plains, (like Pannonia, were bulk of Magyars lived, and in Transylvania where the Saxons and Szekely lived), and their cities and castles.

This invasion, and the diseases and famine who come after, killed some 60 % of already weakened and small Magyar population. It was a disaster who almost destroy the Magyars, at least the original Magyars (mongolic ones) who make today just a small part of Hungarians,documented in 'Carmen Miserabile super Destructione Regni Hungariae per Tartaros' (Latin for "Sad Song for the destruction of the Kingdom of Hungary by the Tartars") an account written by Rogerius of Apulia'

This is the moment when Hungarians, to recover themselves, started the policy of Magyarization  by allowing Romanians, Slavs, Cumans, and Germans to enter in their nobility, with two condition:  to become catholic and to change their Romanian or Saxon names into  Magyar names as Romanian Candea into Kendeffy. This is the moment when Hungarian language receive an amount of arround  2300  Romanians words,  as Romanians (Vlachs) inhabited Pannonia and Transylvania before the Magyar invasion. Hungary and Transylvania were ruled as distinct entities, and very distinct one after Hungary disappeared, after Mohacs.

Discution at :


Chromosome Analysis Proves Annihilation of Original Magyars by the Tatars and Maghyarization of  the Carpathian Basin Original Inhabitants


  1. B. Csányi1,*,
  2. E. Bogácsi-Szabó1,
  3. Gy. Tömöry2,
  4. Á. Czibula1,
  5. K. Priskin1,
  6. A. Csõsz2,
  7. B. Mende2,
  8. P. Langó2,
  9. K. Csete3,
  10. A. Zsolnai4,
  11. E. K. Conant5,
  12. C. S. Downes5,
  13. I. Raskó1

Article first published online: 28 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2008.00440.x

Annals of Human Genetics

Annals of Human Genetics

Volume 72, Issue 4, pages 519–534, July 2008




The Hungarian population belongs linguistically to the Finno-Ugric branch of the Uralic family. The Tat C allele is an interesting marker in the Finno-Ugric context, distributed in all the Finno-Ugric-speaking populations, except for Hungarians. This question arises whether the ancestral Hungarians, who settled in the Carpathian Basin, harbored this polymorphism or not. 100 men from modern Hungary, 97 Szeklers (a Hungarian-speaking population from Transylvania), and 4 archaeologically Hungarian bone samples from the 10th century were studied for this polymorphism. Among the modern individuals, only one Szekler carries the Tat C allele, whereas out of the four skeletal remains, two possess the allele. The latter finding, even allowing for the low sample number, appears to indicate a Siberian lineage of the invading Hungarians, which later has largely disappeared.

The two modern Hungarian-speaking populations, based on 22 Y-chromosomal binary markers, share similar components described for other Europeans, except for the presence of the haplogroup P*(xM173) in Szekler samples, which may reflect a Central Asian connection, and high frequency of haplogroup J in both Szeklers and Hungarians. MDS analysis based on haplogroup frequency values, confirms that modern Hungarian and Szekler populations are genetically closely related, and similar to populations from Central Europe and the Balkans.


Hungarian (Magyar) is a Finno-Ugric language, more specifically an Ugric language (Róna-Tas, 1999; Szíj, 2005), quite unrelated to the other languages of Central Europe. The Hungarian-speaking populations have a special position among the Finno-Ugrians, being the most numerous (approximately 15 million Hungarian speakers, with about 10 million in today's Hungary and another 3 million in seven neighbouring countries), and also the westernmost, surrounded entirely by Indo-European-speaking populations.

The Hungarian nation traces its history to the early Magyars (ancient Hungarians), who settled in the Carpathian Basin at the end of the 9th century after two millenia of migration from the steppe zone (Bálint, 1996). According to literature at the time of settlement the ancient Hungarians were a people who spoke a Finno-Ugric language, but had a Turkic way of life (Róna-Tas, 1995; Sindbæk, 1999; Bálint, 2006). The ancestors of the Hungarians appear to have separated from their closest linguistic relatives, the Voguls and the Ostyaks who now live in the forested areas beside the river Ob in western Siberia, around 500 BC (Fodor, 1996).

Though Hungarians linguistically belong to the Finno-Ugric language family, the ethnic components of the ancient Hungarians' population, according to recent hypothesis of historical research, could have changed significantly during the last 1000 years due to admixture with other tribes and peoples (Bálint, 2005).

The Szeklers (or Székelys) are a Hungarian ethnic group living in Transylvania, in present-day Romania. Their origin is subject to much debate, but there are two main hypotheses (Bóna, 1990; Kordé, 1994; Kristó, 2005). One is that their ancestors, after having separated from the Eskil-Bulgars of the Volga region, joined the ancient Hungarians and formed one of the tribes of the Hungarian Conquest that settled at the eastern border (Transylvania) of historical Hungary (Kristó, 2005). The second is that Szeklers are derived from the tribes that originally settled in the Danubian plain, but were removed from central Hungary to guard the Transylvanian frontier later, during the 12th century (Bóna, 1990). As a privileged people who guarded an exposed border region, Szeklers lived in comparative isolation in the mountains in Transylvania from at latest the 12th century until the 19th (Kordé, 1994).

Analyses of classical markers (Czeizel et al., 1991) have revealed that the modern Hungarians are genetically close to other European populations (Guglielmino et al., 2000). The contribution of Uralic genes for the overall Hungarian population has been estimated to be 13% (Guglielmino et al., 1990). Nevertheless, an analysis of the alleles of 24 nuclear genes by Guglielmino et al. (2000) indicated that isolated ethnic groups of Hungarians, including Szeklers, have better preserved the traces of their original gene pool than the main Hungarian population, who are very close to Slavs and Germans.

These studies were recently corrected from the field of the historical sciences (Bálint, 2006).

Studies on maternally-inherited mitochondrial markers (Lahermo et al., 2000; Bogácsi-Szabó et al., 2005; Tömöry et al., 2007) also showed that genetic variation among modern Hungarians, including Szeklers, resembles closely that found in other European populations. However, mitochondrial markers recovered from skeletal remains from the 10th and 11th centuries place the Hungarian population shortly after the invasion, on a distance matrix tree, between Asian and European populations (Tömöry et al., 2007).

These investigations, then, have consistently demonstrated that the bulk of the modern Hungarian population is genetically indistinct from the surrounding Indo-European-speaking populations; but maternal lineages in early Hungarians are more distinct.

Paternal lineages, which usually give a higher geographical resolution than maternal, have been studied for 11 biallelic Y-chromosomal markers in a small sample of modern Hungarians, and again appear similar to the surrounding populations (Rosser et al., 2000).

One specific Y-chromosomal base substitution (Tat, T→C) a relatively recent event (95% confidence interval 3140–6200 years, Lahermo et al., 1999) is a valuable marker in Finno-Ugric population studies (e.g. Zerjal et al., 1997). According to published data the C allele of the Tat polymorphism is widespread in all Uralic-speaking populations studied so far, except that it is absent or extremely rare among modern Hungarian-speaking populations (Zerjal et al., 1997; Lahermo et al., 1999; Rootsi et al., 2000; Semino et al., 2000a, 2000b; Tambets et al., 2001, 2004). This rarity could be due to extensive gene flow into the Hungarian-speaking population before their arrival in modern Hungary, or in the eventful centuries afterwards.

To clarify this, in the present study, we therefore screened for the Tat polymorphism in ancient DNA from skeletal remains from the age of the Hungarian Conquest.

In addition, to gain further insight into the paternal genetic diversity of the modern Hungarian-speaking populations, we have typed additional markers from the non-recombining region of the human Y chromosome (NRY); we present the analysis of 22 NRY biallelic polymorphisms in Hungarian samples, predominantly from the Great Hungarian Plain, and Szeklers from Transylvania. The results are compared with data from other European populations studied by Semino et al. (2000a), and the phylogeographic context of the Y chromosome pool of the populations studied has been analysed.

Materials and Methods


In this study 100 Hungarian and 97 Hungarian-speaking Szekler individuals were involved. All the Hungarian paternally unrelated, healthy males selected for the analysis had a birthplace in different parts of Hungary, but the most represented area (90 samples) was the Great Hungarian Plain (occupying the southern and eastern part of Hungary). The Szekler sample consists of 97 unrelated, healthy Szekler volunteer donors born and living in Corund, Transylvania, Romania (Figure 1). Most of the DNA samples (94 Hungarian and 97 Szekler samples), extracted from blood, were anonymously obtained from the DNA collection of the Department of Forensic Medicine (University of Szeged, Hungary). Six additional Hungarian DNA samples, isolated from hairbulbs, were from our DNA depository. The Szekler samples are identical to those recently studied for Y-STR variation (Beer et al., 2004).

Figure 1. Map showing the locations of the studied samples: Numbers 1, 2, 3 refer to locations of the cemeteries where the bone samples were excavated. The Great Hungarian Plain includes the birthplaces of most of the Hungarian males studied (90 out of 100 samples).The Szekler males studied live in Transylvania, Romania.


For ancient DNA, bones from 8 skeletons were studied, but in only four cases was DNA successfully isolated. These four samples were derived from three different well-documented Hungarian excavations from 10th century cemeteries (Figure 1). Burial sites and bones were archeologically and anthropomorphically well defined before analysis (Table 1). Three ancient remains (anc4, anc21, anc28) were excavated with rich grave goods, unambiguously typical of funeral practices of Hungarian conquerors (Szõke, 1962; Révész, 1996; Mesterházy, 1997). These samples were from two burial sites, in the same county (Békés) in the eastern part of the Great Hungarian Plain. The fourth sample (anc19) derived from a cemetery located in the western part of Hungary, with poor grave goods, possibly the burial of a soldier. These ancient samples are a subset of those 27 previously typed for mitochondrial DNA in our laboratory (Tömöry et al., 2007). The denomination of the samples is identical to that used in that study. Gender of the remains was initially determined by anthropometric evaluations.

Table 1.  Sample Characteristics
Samplea Siteb Anthropological features Estimated Age Type of grave goods
Sex and Age Taxonomy
  1. aDenomination of the samples is identical to that used in our previous study (Tömöry et al., 2007).

  2. bNumbers in brackets refer to cemeteries on the map in Figure 1.

anc4 Szabadkígyós-Pálliget (2) Male, 25–30 years Europid (Cromagnoid) middle 10th century classical
anc19 Mözs-Szárazdomb (3) Male, 24–28 years middle 10th century poorer
anc21 Örménykút (1) Male, 61–67 years Europo-Mongolid late 10th century classical
anc28 Szabadkígyós-Pálliget (2) Male, 45–50 years middle 10th century classical



Our data suggest that the Tat C allele, which is widespread in Uralic-speaking populations, was substantially present in the ancient Magyar population when they crossed the Carpathians and settled in the Carpathian Basin.

Our findings provide further evidence for its virtual absence in recent Hungarian-speaking populations, with the exception of a single male in the Szekler group.

This contrast, despite the relative linguistic stability, may be attributed to a combination of the Magyars being a dominant elite, whose language was accepted  by the more numerous pre-existing populations (mostly Slavs and Avars), and of the effects of a number of substantial post-Magyar immigrations and incursions.


The Y-chromosomal patterns of the modern Hungarians and Szeklers can for the most part be adequately explained within the European paternal genetic landscape. As with other Europeans, the Y chromosomes are characterized by early lineages derived from Paleolithic inhabitants, and by a minor impact of Neolithic and post-Neolithic migratory episodes. Consistent with previous studies, Hungarian-speaking populations are genetically closely related to their geographic neighbours. The Hungarian and Szekler groups cluster together with some other central Europeans (e.g. Czechs and Slovaks), but mainly with Balkan populations.

There are two exceptions. Haplogroup P*(xM173) is almost absent in continental Europe. The presence of this haplogroup in the Szeklers may indicate a connection with Central Asian populations. Also, there is an elevated haplogroup J frequency. This may reflect Anatolian and southern Balkan contributions to the gene pools of Hungarians and Szeklers, but historical data and the comparative analyses of maternal lineages of ancient Hungarian population suggest that the earlier migrations of the Magyars may also have contributed to the presence of this lineage in the Carpathian Basin.