Front Page Titles (by Subject) 7.: THE HUNGARIANS — ( P. 36 sqq. ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 10
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7.: THE HUNGARIANS — ( P. 36 sqq. ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 10 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 10.
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THE HUNGARIANS — (P. 36 sqq.)
The chief sources for the history of the Hungarians, before they took up their abode in Hungary, are (1) Leo, Tactics, c. 18, § 45 sqq.; and Constantine Porphyrogennetos, De Adm. Imp., c. 38, 39, 40; (2) the account of Ibn Rusta, an Arabic writer who wrote 912-13; (3) some notices in western chronicles of the ninth century; (4) traditions in the native chronicles of Hungary. It has been proved that the chronicle of the Anonymous Scribe of King Béla,1 which used to be regarded as a trustworthy source for early Hungarian history, is a “Machwerk” of the 13th century;2 but the author as well as Simon de Kéza (for his Chronicon Hungaricum) had some old sources, from which they derived some genuine traditions, which criticism can detect and may use with discretion.
The main questions in dispute with regard to the Hungarians and their early antiquity are two: concerning their ethnical affinity, and concerning the course of their wanderings from the most primitive habitation, to which they can be traced, up to their appearance between the Dnieper and the Danube. It may be said, I think, that we have not sufficient data to justify dogmatism in regard to either of these questions.
As to their ethnical position, are the Hungarians Turkish or Finnic? Their language shows both elements; and the two rival theories appeal to it. Those who maintain that the Hungarians are Turkish explain the Finnic part of the vocabulary by a long sojourn in the neighbourhood of the Voguls and Ostjaks; while those who hold that they were brethren of the Voguls, Ostjaks, and Finns, explain the Turkish element by borrowings in the course of their subsequent wanderings. For the latter theory it must be said that the most elementary portion of the Hungarian vocabulary is undoubtedly related to the Vogul, Ostjak, and their kindred languages. This comes out clearly in the numerals, and in a large number of common words.3 If we set side by side lists of Hungarian words which are clearly Turkish or clearly Finnic, leaving out all the unconvincing etymologies which the rival theorists serve up, it is difficult to avoid concluding that the primitive element is the Finnic. But the conclusion is far from certain; and the wanderings of the Hungarians may suggest rather a people like the Patzinaks and Kumans, than like the Voguls and Finns.4
It seems most probable that the Magyars at one time dwelled in Jugria, in the regions of the Irtish, where they were neighbours of the Voguls. They migrated southward and in the beginning of the 9th century they had taken up their abode within the empire of the Chazars, and they amalgamated with themselves a Chazaric tribe called the Kabars (Const. Porph. c. 39), who became part of the Hungarian nation. These Kabars, according to Constantine, taught the Hungarians the tongue of the Chazars. Hence the upholders of the Finnic origin of the Turks can explain the Turkish element in Hungaria by a known cause, the coalition of the Kabars.
According to Constantine, the Hungarians abode only three years in “Lebedia near Chazaria.” This land of Lebedia was probably between the Don and the Dnieper; and it is supposed that the date of their sojourn there was between 830 and 840. For it is in the reign of Theophilus, c. 837-39, that they first appear upon the horizon of the Eastern Empire (cp. George Mon. p. 818, ed. Bonn, where they are called Ο[Editor: Illegible character]γγροι, Ο[Editor: Illegible character]ννοι, and Του̑ρκοι) and cross the Danube. It cannot be determined whether the Hungarians when they made this expedition were living beyond the Dnieper in Lebedia, or had already left Lebedia and found a new home in the land between the Dnieper and Dniester. But it must have been about this time, a little before, or a little later, that the Patzinaks drove the Hungarians out of Lebedia and the Hungarians established themselves in Atelkuzu, as they called the land between Dnieper and Danube, where they abode about half a century. Here they came under Slavonic influence; and it was here, doubtless, that they adopted the Slavonic title voevod (βοέβοδος, cp. above, p. 38) for their chieftains.
The same enemies, who had driven the Hungarians out of Lebedia, drove them again out of Atelkuzu. The Patzinaks were themselves subdued by a combined attack of the Khazars and the Uzes; they crossed the Dnieper, dislodged the Hungarians, who were thus driven farther west; and this was the cause of their settlement in the modern Hungary. The event happened fifty-five years before Constantine wrote c. 37 of his De Administratione; i.e. probably in 896 or 897 (cp. vol. ix. Appendix 9). The notice in Regino’s Chronicle under the year 889 anticipates subsequent events.5
It is to the Hungarians as they were when they lived in Atelkuzu, and not to the contemporary Hungarians who were already settled in their final home, that the description of Ibn Rusta (taken from some earlier writer) applies. He describes their land as between the Patzinaks and the Esegel tribe of the Bulgarians (clearly a tribe north of the Danube, in Walachia or Bessarabia). Ibn Rusta further mentions two rivers in the land of the Hungarians, one of them greater than the Oxus. Probably the Dnieper and the Bug are meant.6 He says that Kende is the title of their king, but there is another dignitary whom all obey in matters connected with attack or defence, and he is entitled jila. The kende clearly corresponds to the prince or ἄρχων of Constantine Porphyrogennetos (c. 40); Arpad, for example, was a kende. The jila is also mentioned by Constantine, as γυλα̑ς; to whom, however, he ascribes the function of a judge.7 It seems that the title kende was adopted by the Hungarians from the Chazars; for the title of the Chazar viceroy was kenderchagan.
Ibn Rusta says that the Hungarians rule over the Slavs, whom they oppress with heavy burdens; that they worship fire; that they trade in the slaves whom they capture, with Greek merchants at Kertsch.8
The reconstruction of Hungarian history between Jugria and Lebedia has been attempted, most recently and with great ingenuity by Count Kuun. But, as there is not material sufficient to enable us to decide between various possibilities, it seems unnecessary to discuss here these hypotheses which are entirely in the air.9
A word may be said about the name Magyar. It was doubtless the name of a single tribe before it became the name of the whole people; and the third of the 8 tribes enumerated by Constantine (c. 40 ad init.) was that of Megerê (του̑ Μεγέρη). In another place (c. 37) Constantine mentions the Μάζαροι as dwelling in the 9th century near the river Ural, where they were neighbours of the Patzinaks; but without any suggestion that they are identical with the Hungarians, whom he always calls Turks. Hungarian scholars find other traces of the Magyar name between the Black Sea and the Caspian: thus there are two villages called Mājār in the neighbourhood of Derbend;10 and K. Szabo wished to detect the word in Muager (Μουαγέρην), whom Theophanes mentions as the brother of Gordas, king of the Huns near the Cimmerian Bosporus. It has also been proposed to connect the name of a fortress, τὸ Ματζάρων (mentioned by Theophylactus Simocatta, ii. 18, 7). It was on the confines of the Roman and Persian dominions, but its exact position is unknown. Without committing oneself to these last combinations, there seems to be some evidence, such as it is, associating the Magyar name with the regions between the Caspian and the Euxine. In that case, we might infer that the original Magyars were, like the Kabars, a Turkish tribe (akin to Patzinaks and Uzes) which coalesced with the (Finnic) Ugrians or Hungarians. This inference would be quite in accordance with the apparent probability that the Hungarians are “Mischvolk,” a blend of two elements, Finnic and Turkish.
[1 ]Best ed. by C. Fejerpatsky (1892).
[2 ]R. Roesler Romanische Studien, p. 147 sqq. On the Hungarian sources, see H. Marczali Ungarns Geschichtequellen, 1882.
[3 ]As a specimen, for comparison of the Hungarian language with the Vogulic which is the most closely connected, I subjoin the names of the first seven numberals (the original numerical system seems to have been heptadic): —
[4 ]For the Finnic origin, P. Hunfalvy, Magyarorazág Ethnographiája, 1876, and Die Ungern oder Magyaren, 1881. For the Turkish, A Vámbéry, A Magyarok eredete, 1882. For the “Ugrian” or Finnic or “Ugro-Finnic” languages, see Budenz in the 4th vol. of Bessenberger’s Beiträge zur kunde der Indogermanischen Sprachen (Die Verzweigung der Ugrischen Sprachen).
[5 ]On the chronology see E. Dümmler, Geschichte des Ostfränkischen Reichs (ed. 2), iii. 438 sqq. — Count Géza Kuun in his Relationum Hungarorum — Hist. Antiquissima, vol. i. (1893) p. 136, departs entirely from the data of Constantine, and tries to establish, instead of a three years’ sojourn in Lebedia and a long (fifty years’) sojourn in Atelkuzu, a long sojourn in Lebedia (up to 889) and a short (seven or eight years’) sojourn in Atelkuzu.
[6 ]Cp. Kuun, op. cit. vol. i. p. 184.
[7 ]Constantine mentions a third dignitary, inferior to the γυλω̑ς, and entitled Desta.
[8 ]The notice of Ibn Rusta will be found in some shape in all recent works on the early Hungarians, most recently in Kuun’s work cited above, vol. i. p. 165-6, translated from the recent Arabic text of M. de Goeje. Ibn Rusta used to be called Ibn [Editor: Illegible character]
[9 ]In the foregoing paragraphs I have adopted Constantine’s statements about Lebedia, as the only positive statement we have; but there is much to be said still by way of criticism on these chapters of Constantine.
[10 ]Kuun, op. cit. p. 93.