Photographer's Note

Saint Stephen I (Hungarian: I. Szent István) was the last Grand Prince of the Hungarians between 997 and 1000 or 1001, and the first King of Hungary from 1000 or 1001 until his death in 1038. He was born as Vajk in Esztergom. The year of his birth is uncertain, but many details of his life suggest that he was born in or after 975. He was the only son of Grand Prince Géza and his wife, Sarolt who descended of the prominent family of the gyulas. Although his both parents were baptized, Stephen was the first member of his family to become a devout Christian. He married Giselle of Bavaria, a scion of the imperial Ottonian dynasty.

Stephen succeeded his father in 997. He was forced to fight for the throne against his relative, Koppány who was supported by masses of pagan warriors. Stephen defeated his opponent mainly due to the assistance of Vecellin, Hont and Pázmány and other knights of foreign origin, but the ancestors of the Aba and Csák clans, and other native lords also joined him. He was crowned king on December 25, 1000 or January 1, 1001 with a crown sent by Pope Sylvester II. Through a series of wars he waged against semi-independent tribes and chieftains – including the Black Hungarians and his uncle, Gyula the Younger – he achieved the unification of the Carpathian Basin under his rule. He also succeeded in protecting the independence of his kingdom by forcing the invading troops of Conrad II, Holy Roman Emperor to withdraw from Hungary in 1030.

Pope Gregory VII canonized Stephen together with his son, Saint Emeric of Hungary, and Gerardo Sagredo, on 20 August 1083. Stephen became one of the most popular saints in Hungary, and 20 August, which was also his feast day until 1687, is celebrated as a public holiday in Hungary commemorating the foundation of the state.

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Additional Photos by Ovidiu Sotiriu (Schnappilic) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 600 W: 51 N: 1071] (9692)
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