Thursday, April 9, 2015

H: by Horn (26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary)

Talk about going down swinging.

Shortly after the Hungarians arrived to what is now Hungary, during the 10th century they were known for raiding and pillaging the lands to the West, an activity lovingly referred to in our history books as the "era of adventures."
(Most European prayers at the time referred to is as "Oh Lord, save us from the arrows of the Hungarians.")
But all adventures come to an end: The Hungarian armies suffered a devastating loss in 955 at Augsburg, known as the Battle of Lechfeld, from the army of Otto I the Great, the Holy Roman Emperor. The leaders of the Hungarian army, Bulcsú and Lehel, were captured.

Here is where the legend starts. According to some chronicles, when the captains were brought before the emperor, he asked them what way they wished to die (he was a polite guy, you see). Lehel answered that he would decide after he got to sound his horn one last time. The horn was brought to him; he pretended to raise it to his mouth, but in the last second he swung it and hit the emperor on the forehead with such force that he fell off his throne dead.
"You will go before me, and serve me in the afterlife," Lehel declared (we were not yet Christian at the time), just before they dragged him off and hanged him.

Other chronicles claim this never happened. It probably didn't, since Otto I didn't die this way. The chronicle names the emperor "Konrad," probably referring to the Duke of Lorraine who died in the battle.
Whatever the case, this is a story every Hungarian kid knows; one of the legends of our early history before we settled down, quartered some pagans, became a Christian kingdom, and started on an epic losing streak (see about the quartering later). Fun fact: There is a 10th century ivory horn in one of our museums that is still referred to as "Lehel's Horn." There is a piece missing from it. You never know.

15 comments:

  1. I love that depiction of Otto I getting brained. And what a beautiful horn! Whether or not it's true, it's still a pretty cool story. Sounds like good times were had in the era of adventures. ;)

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  2. Ooh, not a very flattering way to go - belted to death by a hunting horn. I am loving these posts :)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  3. Maybe this is why people think "horning in" on something is so bad...deadly, maybe.


    Great blog, by the way! Glad to see you on the A-to-Z!

    Cherdo
    www.cherdoontheflipside.com

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  4. I'm sure the Hungarian army had wreaked some serious havoc, and Otto was probably justified in wanting to kill these men... But--yeah, I'm rooting for Lehel :D How undignified for this great Holy Roman emperor--even if it's only legend. Maybe even more so because it's legend ;) Great posts, Csenge!
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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  5. A horn to the head...at least it wasn't to the butt. HAHA! When I read the title of this post, I imagined someone getting speared by a bull. :P

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    1. Nah, that stunt was already taken by the English... And as for spearing, we'll get to that later ;)

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  6. I have to say I love your writing style. I too thought it has something to do with a bull, This is one story to tell.

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  7. although these tales are not supposed to be amusing, you have such a flair in writing that i can't help but be struck funny by them.

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    1. Thanks :) I think most of them are so well-known to me as a Hungarian that they stopped being shocking a long time ago... :D

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  8. Replies
    1. Right? We all kinda like him, losing the battle and all.

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  9. The legend is more fun to remember. If he had simply missed, that would have been so boring :) Kind of makes you wonder about the accuracy of history in general that far back.

    Inventions by Women A-Z
    Shells–Tales–Sails

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  10. I thought it would be a bugle or some such musical horn. I guess a hunting horn is close. The fun never stops in Hungarian history, apparently.

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  11. Maybe if someone had taught history to me in such an interesting manner like you do, I might have learned more of it as a child.

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