Budapest (Buda/Ofen)

Until the foundation of a new city on the hill opposite Pest, the today old Buda/ Ofen was called Buda/Ofen, before the Mongolian invasion, it was the country’s leading political and economic centre. We know that from the end of the 12th century the kings of Hungary regularly resided at old Buda/Ofen during Lent. In 1241, the Mongols destroyed the blossoming city of Pest, as well as the royal castle, the chapter of the Cathedral, and the entire unfortified city of Old Buda/ Ofen. After the pillage, the king relocated the German citizens of Pest to a mountain opposite the city, where he founded a new fortified settlement.

In the early fifteenth century (1408) Buda/Ofen finally became the main seat of the royal government, the chancellery, and the courts. The extensive enlargement of the royal palace dates from this time, i.e. the reigns of King Sigismund, King Matthias Corvinus, and his two Jagiellonian successors, King Wladislav/ Vladislav II and King Ludwig II. Begun in the late Gothic style, it was continued in Renaissance fashion. At the same time, the Hungarian population and influence grew, a result of both the presence of the cosmopolitan royal court and the influx into the city of inhabitants of the Hungarian parts of the realm. Rivalry between the Germans and the Hungarians led first to legal disputes, then in 1439 to a rebellion. Tensions were resolved by an agreements that from now on the city council would comprise six Germans and six Hungarians, and that both nations would alternate in naming the city judge. The agreement formed the template for Buda/Ofen’s town laws.

The Oldest View of Buda

After the Battle of Mohács, fought on August 29th, 1526, the city was left defenseless Fearing the Ottomans, Queen Maria of Hungary had fled to Bratislava, taking the royal treasury. On September 12th the Sultan’s troops entered Buda/ Ofen unopposed. They plundered the city, removed all remaining treasures and burned everything down except the palace.

In 1541, exactly fifteen years after the Battle of Mohács, the city fell into the hands of Sultan Suleiman in the wake of a new Ottoman occupation begun in 1529. It was only retaken by an international coalition called the Holy League in 1686.

Judit Majorossy

Pest (Rákos)

First mentioned in 1061, Pest is situated on the left bank of the Danube, exactly opposite of Ofen/Buda. Because the Danube was not only the most important river but also the most important trade route in Hungary, the city became, thanks to its harbor, the country’s leading economic center in) the 11th century. Its first citizens were Muslim, Bulgar merchants from the Volga.. Under King Andreas II, Germans were also invited to settle there in the first third of the 13th century. He rewarded Pest in 1230 with privileges. During the Mongol invasion (1241-42), both the city of Pest and (Old) Ofen/Buda were burned to the ground. The king built a new city and a new royal palace on a mountain opposite Pest that easier to defend; it was soon called Buda/Ofen, and the earlier Buda/Ofen plundered by the Mongols became known as Old Buda/Ofen. Although the king settled (hospes) guests in Pest in 1244 and rewarded the city with privileges and commercial rights, it took decades for Pest to regain its former power. In contrast to the dynamic development of Ofen/Buda, Pest was now in a dependent position under the supervision of a “Rector”. King Sigismund only freed Pest in 1413 and gave it back the right to elect a city judge.

In the fifteenth century, the city’s economic power was based primarily on livestock and wine trade. As Pest became an economic powerhouse it joined the elite group of Hungarian cities. It became the eighth member of the free royal cities. But this period of prosperity started with the defeat at Mohács in 1526 and the Ottoman invasion of Hungary.

North and east of the city walls, built between 1450 and 1470, and another symbol of Pest’s economic success, lay a vast area intersected by marshes and old arms of the River Danube. This land was called Field-Rákos, because it was situated next to the smaller river/stream Rákos. From the twelfth and the thirteenth century, this area regularly used as a parade ground for the army and for diets. It is first mentioned in 1074 in this context. In 1298, Rákos was called the center of the Kingdom of Hungary. From the 13th century, the diets to elect a new king met in the field outside Pest. The diet held in October 1505 also took place here, at which Stefan Werbőczy wrote the Decision of Rákos.

Judit Majorossy

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