Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Queen Sarolt

Technically, she was not even a queen. We are talking about the 10th century AD - Hungary had a few decades to go before it would officially be accepted as a Christian kingdom. Sarolt was the daughter of the man who ruled over Transylvania; the mother of our first king, István I; and the wife of Chief "I Am Rich Enough To Follow Two Gods" Géza, who knew Christianity was useful, but decided his son would be the one to deal with actually ruling as a Christian king. Sarolt had five children, three daughters and two sons, but we don't know much about all of them, it was more than 1000 years ago, give us a break.

(Sarolt's name means "white weasel", by the way. Some sources also mention her sister, Karold, which means "black weasel". If I ever have two daughters...)

Sarolt was no role model for a Christian queen that's for sure. Even though she was a legendary beauty, Catholic sources note that she "drank beyond measure," "rode a horse like a soldier" (duh, we are talking half a century after the half-nomadic Hungarian tribes arrived from the east) and that once in her anger she struck a man dead with her bare fist.
You don't argue with a queen like that.

As Géza grew older, apparently Sarolt took over more and more of his role in ruling over their kingdom-in-the-making. When Géza died, a fight broke out between his son István who should have inherited the throne according to the Western Christian customs of succession (oldest son as heir) - and Koppány, the oldest male relative who had a claim to the throne according to the old ways. Koppány demanded Sarolt for a wife, but got a war instead, and ended up in four neat pieces nailed to the gates of four major Hungarian cities.
"So, guys, we take on this love religion, and whoever doesn't agree we kill them, right?"

(We have a rock opera about this whole thing. No, really.)

We don't know what happened to Sarolt after her son became István The First. She probably was a mother figure to reckon with...

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