Hungarian Crowns



A very famous crown is the Holy crown of St Stephen which is ascribed to the hungarian king Stephen I (1001-1038).

However, not a trace of this crown is found in history before the middle of the 16th century. Therefore the origin of the crown, which has been the subject of many studies, is nevertheless still a great enigma. This article is meant to throw some light on the royal crowns of Hungary through the ages. We start therefore with a short analysis of the Crown of St. Stephen as it exists now en proceed with the royal crowns of Hungary as they can be found in several historical sources


I. The Corona Latina


De huidige Stephanskroon wordt gesloten met twee beugels die zijn samengesteld uit gouden geëmailleerde platen, acht in getal met in het midden een negende, vierkante plaat. Dit onderdeel wordt de corona latina genoemd. Op de acht rechthoekige platen staan acht apostelen nl.: Petrus, Paulus, Jacobus, Johannes, Andreas, Filippus, Bartholomeus en Thomas, en op de middelste, waarop inmiddels een gouden latijns kruisje is gesoldeerd, een afbeelding van de Christus. Hoogstwaarschijnlijk zijn de vier buitenste (of binnenste) platen waarop de overige apostelen, nl. Mattheus, Judas, Simon en Thaddeus er bij het in elkaar zetten van de Kroon van St. Stefan afgesloopt. Aan de uiteinden van de armen kunnen vierkante platen van het formaat van de middelste gezeten hebben waarop de  symbolen van de evangelisten: leeuw, stier, adelaar en mens. Zodoende komen we uit op Christus, de twaalf apostelen en de vier Evangelisten, wat een logisch programma is.

Plat gelegd vormen de platen een grieks kruis (de bestuurlijke macht, de geestelijke macht berustte bij de Paus) en het is dus waarschijnlijk dat zij oorspronkelijk deel uitmaakten van een metalen kruis dat, vergeleken met andere soortgelijke kruisen, als een Rijkskruis kan worden beschouwd. Dit kruis zou uit dezelfde tijd dateren als de corona grćca, dus uit de 11e eeuw. Een voor de hand liggende tijd is de regering van Stephan I (1001-1038). Uit zijn regeringsperiode zou ook het citaat dateren: ... ab apostolica sede, que premisimus insignia postulavit [.....] cuncta prout fuerunt postulata benigne concessit. Crucem insuper ante regi ferendam velut in signum apostolatus misit.) De kroningsmantel, met een soortgelijk programma, draagt het jaartal 1031.

Herkomst en stijl komen echter zodanig met die van de corona graeca overeen dat een gelijktijdig onstaan waarschijnlijk is.

Het kruis vormde tesamen met een kroon het Hongaarse rijkssymbool. Deze kroon was aanvankelijk een cilinderkroon met opzetstukken zoals afgebeeld op de kroningsmantel. 


The Corona Latina [1]

The current Stephen’s crown is closed with two brackets composed of gold enamelled plates, eight in number, with a ninth square plate in the middle. This part is called the corona latina. On the eight rectangular plates are eight apostles, namely: Peter, Paul, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew and Thomas, and on the middle one, on which a golden Latin cross has now been soldered, an image of the Christ. Most likely the four outer (or inner) plates on which the rest of the apostles, namely Matthew, Judas, Simon and Thaddeus, were torn off while assembling the Crown of St. Stephen. At the ends of the arms may have been square plates the size of the middle bearing the symbols of the Evangelists: lion, bull, eagle and man. Thus we come to Christ, the twelve apostles and the four Evangelists, which is a logical program. When laid flat, the plates form a Greek cross (administrative power, spiritual power rested with the Pope) and so it is likely that they originally formed part of a metal cross which, compared to other similar crosses, can be considered a Reich Cross. This cross is said to date from the same time as the corona grćca, so from the 11th century. An obvious time is the reign of Stephan I (1001-1038). The quote is also said to date from his reign: ... ab apostolica sede, que premisimus insignia postulavit [.....] cuncta prout fuerunt postulata benigne concessit. Crucem insuper ante regi ferendam velut in signum apostolatus misit.
[2] The coronation mantle, with a similar program, bears the year 1031. [3]) Origin and style, however, are so similar to those of the corona graeca that a simultaneous origin is likely. The cross, together with a crown, formed the Hungarian state symbol. This crown was initially a cylinder crown with attachments as depicted on the coronation mantle.


Plan of the Corona Latina


In the middle Christ athen: 1. Petrus; 2. Paulus; 3. Jacobus; 4. Johannes; 5. Andreas; 6. Filippus; 7. Batholomeus; 8. Thomas. [4])



Reconstruction Corona Latina


The Mantle of St Stephen (1001-1038)


Portrait of King Stephen I the Saint on the Coronation Mantle. The King with a lance and an orb. On his head a crown with three fleurs-de-lis.

The coronation mantle is the only survivor from the coronation robes, which would have consisted of several garments. It is a semicircular garment in a bluish lilac colour, densely embroidered in gold. Its original function is clear from the semicircular inscription on the cloth, done by the same technique as the rest of the mantle: ANNO INCARNACIONIS XRI : MXXXI : INDICCIONE XIIII A STEPHANO REGE ET GISLA REGINA CASULA HEC OPERATA ET DATA [EST] ECCLESIAE SANCTAE MARIAE SITAE IN CIVITATE ALBA (this chasuble was made for and presented to the Church of St. Mary in the city of Alba (Fehérvár) by King Stephen and Queen Gisela, in the 1031st  year of the incarnation of Christ, and in the 14th  indiction).

The chasuble was an act of thanksgiving to God, for the victory over the Germans in 1030, and for Stephen’s earlier success in establishing the country and the church.

(Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Budapest)

The crown on his head is styled after the crowns of the Ottones as can be  seen on their portraits



The Preslav Treasure ca 913-963


The Preslav Treasure was found in autumn of 1978 at the vineyard in Castana, 3 km to the north - west of the second Bulgarian capital Veliki Preslav. The excavations that followed revealed more than 170 golden, silver and bronze objects including 15 silver Byzantine coins of Constantine VII (913-’59 and Romanus II (959-‘63) and other artifacts dating far back to the period between the 3rd and 7th centuries.

Five enameled plates from the Preslav Treasure

Constantinople, 1st half-middle of 10th cent. (?)

5.39´4.41; 5.39´4.48; 5.34´4.45; 5.37´4.45; 5.37´4.43 cm

Preslav, Arkheologicheski Muzei “Veliki Preslav”, inv. nr. 3381/2


These plates are a part of a cuirass of the shape St. Michael is wearing on the Icon of St. Michael from Venice dating from about 1100


The Cuirass of St. Michael, 1100 ca.

They represent:

Alexander the Great on a cart pulled by two griffins, two senmurws, a griffin and a winged lion.[5]


The scales have belonged to a scale-armour which was the fashion in the 11th-12th century and Basileus Bulgaroctones is for example represented in such a coat of arms. The Alexander and the senmurws are probably of armenian origin and are the badges of a high ranking military commander, probably the domestic of the west. They are in the tradition of the representation of all rank-badges from low to high on the armour and coat of arms of a supreme commander. A candidate-owner of the whole armour is Leo Phokas the Younger who, under Romanus II, was named Domestic of the Schools of the West, i.e. commander of the western armies in the Balkans (959-963).



Five enameled plates from the Preslav Treasure

Constantinople, 1st half-middle of 10th cent. (?)

5.39´4.41; 5.39´4.48; 5.34´4.45; 5.37´4.45; 5.37´4.43 cm

Preslav, Arkheologicheski Muzei “Veliki Preslav”, inv. nr. 3381/2


The Crown of Constantine IX Monomachos (1042-’55)




Byzantine, 1042-’50.


Inscribed: A.: KѠNCTANTINOC AYTOKRATO POMEON O MONOMAXOC (Constantine Monomachos, autokrator of the Romans). B.: ZѠH OI EYCAIBAICTATH AYΓOCYCTA (Zoe, the most pious Augusta). C.: ΘEOΔѠPA H EYCAIBECTATI  AYΓOYCTA (Theodora the most pious Augusta).


Provenance: Reportedly found during plowing at the village of Nyitra-Ivánka in Slovakia; sold to the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum between 1861 and 1870.

Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Budapest, Hungary (99/1860).


A. 11.5 ´ 5 cm; B. 10.05 ´ 4.8 cm; C. 10.7 ´ 4.8 cm; D. 10 ´ 4.8 cm; E. 9.8 ´ 4.5 cm; F. and G. 8.7 ´ 4.2 cm.

Total width 32,8 cm


Ů   32,8 cm  Ú


Arabic sources speak of Byzantine belts of cloth encrusted with gold and enamel plaques. A similar use must be envisaged for these objects, [although the arched tops suggest that they were intended for a diadem rather than for a belt. (Evans, 145, p. 210).]


II De Corona Graeca


Geza I



The Crown of St Stephen


The Crown of St Stephen is undoubtedly from Byzantine manufacture and was sent to Geza by the Byzantine emperor Michael VII Parapinaces (1071-1078). Certainly the crown is originally a diadem made from a curved golden plate in one piece. The points indicate a high rank, possible and probably directly under the Basileus.



đ It is unlikely that the Cross of St. Stephen, or the corona latina, has ever formed a set with this crown. It is also unlikely that the crown has been in use for longer than the favorable diplomatic relations with Byzantium.




The  image is taken from the papal registers Codex Reg. Vat. 5 of the Vatican Archives, which is the seventh year of Innocent's pontificate (Click here for larger image).  The letter in the middle of the page with the capital "R" initial is dated 30 November 1204 - February 1205 and has next to it in the margin a drawing of  the Hungarian Crown and a young boy.  The letter was from the Regent of Hungary, Andrea, the duke of Dalmatia and Croatia and written to Innocent.  It must have been of special importance to Innocent, since the registers contain few letters that were written to Innocent by other correspondents.


The Crown of Bela IV



In the Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum in Budapest, a crown of gilded silver and decorated with precious stones has been preserved (pict.). The crown has eight links with soldered lilies, on the hinge pins groups of three asp-leaves. This was the common model at the beginning of the thirteenth century. Cf. eg the crown of Peter II de Courtenay of Constantinople in Namur.

It is also possible that the crown was originally the crown of the co-king and was later upgraded to a royal crown by applying lilies.


The crown comes from the ruins of the Dominican convent in Budapest, built by Bela IV for his daughter Margaret. In 1249 the royal residence was moved from Esztergom to Buda. The crown may therefore have been from Bela IV (co-king 1214-'35, king 1235-70). Bela IV also carries a lily crown on his seals.


“Bela IV had a convent built on Margaret Island (Margit-sziget) for Dominican nuns in the 13th cent. and for a while under his patronage the nuns became the largest ecclesiastical landowners in the country. According to tradition Béla vowed, during the Mongol invasion of 1242-’44, that if Hungary were victorious his daughter Margaret would be brought up as a nun. Thus at the age of nine Margaret was brought here in 1252. She lived here until her death in 1271.” 


The Crown of Queen Elizabeth Kotromanic.



A crown of nine segments of the reliquiary of St. Simeon in Zadar. Width of each segment 5. cm. Third quarter of the fourteenth-century. (Treasury of the church of St. Simeon, Zadar)


The crown has been dissembled and 4 parts of it are missing. It is composed of small plates in the form of fleurs-de-lis which were originally connected by hinges. The upper parts of the hinges turn into a cast branching ornament similar to a tree, with a human head in relief and pearls on the top. The plates are decorated with jewels (rubies, sapphires) and pearls. The crown is obviously not part of the coronation insignia, but belonged to some member of the royal family. Most probably it was worn by Queen Elizabeth on state occasions. A very similar crown was found in the grave of Elizabeth’s daughter, Queen Mary. Today the elements of the crown are sewn onto a piece of crimson silk in the form of a mitre, which was a decoration for the relic of St. Simeon’s head. Sewn onto the silk are also twenty small silver plates, most of which have the form of stylized human faces, and many pearls. Probably both the silk and the small decorations sewn onto it were part of the fabric foundation of the crown itself. [6])


Dissatisfaction among the nobles and aristocracy of Hungary and Croatia with the “womens’ government” and the killing of Charles II led to a general revolt in Croatia. The queens were taken prisoner near Gorjan in Slavonia, brought to Dalmatia and imprisoned in Novigrad close to Zadar. Here Elizabeth was strangled in front of her daughter, and buried in Zadar in the Church of St. Chrysogonus on 9 February 1387. Soon afterwards Queen Mary was freed from Novigrad by her fiancé, Sigismund of Luxemburg, with the help of Venice. Elizabeth’s body was exhumed on January 16, 1389, and transferred, escorted by three Zadar nobles, by sea to Obrovac, from were it was carried overland to Hungary.


Fragments of a crown

Middle 14th century

From the tomb of Sigismund of Luxemburg, Nagyvárad (Oradea).

H.: 8.2 cm, width of the segments 4.9 - 5.1 cm.

Budapest, Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Középkori Osztály, inv. nr. 1934.415.a.


These are the four missing parts of the crown of Zadar.[7])


The Crown of King Wenceslas


King Wenceslas *1361

Votive Painting of Archbishop Jan Očko of Vlašim, ~1371


* Jan Očko of Vlašim Archbishop of Prague (1364–1378) †1380. 


The Holy King Sigismund

Wing of the  Mühlhauser Altar, Bohemia, 1385,

H. 233,5 cm. Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie


The altar with representations of St. Wenceslas and Vitus was donated by the brothers Reinhart and Eberhard, citizens of Prague to the St. Vitus chapel in Mühlhausen a.d. Neckar

This picture would mean that the crown of Wenceslas was given to Sigismund when crowned a King of Hungary in 1385.



This crown is on the head of a bust of St. Ladislas, in fact the bust of king Ladislas from 1406

The bust is in the collection the the National Museum in Budapest.


Reliquiary of Szent Laszlo, 15th century

Ensigned of the arms of the House of Arpad and Hungary


This Saint Ladislas I (1077-1095 ) was the patron saint of Hungary but there are some other kings of the name for example Vladislas I of Poland, king of Hungary (1440-1444), and Wladyslaw I the Short of Poland (1305-1333). Probably Vladislas I of Varna (Hungary) is meant because he lived in the time a long beard was the fashion. However this Vladislas I only was 20 when he died and had no long bard

His father was Wladyslaw II Jagiello (1386-1434) who bore a beard Luxemburg fashion but was not a king of Hungary but a king of Poland and Lithuania


Vladislas III Jagiello 

*1424- 1444

King of Poland 1434-1444

King of Hungary and Croatia 1440-1444


Wladislaus Dei gracia Polonie, Hungarie, Dalmacie, Croacie, Rascia etc. rex necnon terrarum Cracouie, Sandomirie, Syradie, Lancicie, Cuyauie, Lithuanie princeps supremus, Pomeranie, Russieque dominus et heres etc.


Seal 1438

This seal is said to be of Vladislas III but may be of his predecessor Albert de of Austria (1437-1439)


He is represented in the Chronica Hungarorum:


Wladislas II of Poland-Lithuania


The third chronicle entitled Chronica Hungarorum, partly based on the Chronicon Pictum, was produced by Johannes de Thurocz (Thuróczy János), c.1435-90, ed. E. Galantai, J. Kristo, E. Malyusz, Budapest 1985-88), the first layman known to have written a book in the Kingdom of Hungary.

This work (Brno, 1488, Augusburg, 1488) presents events as seen by an educated nobleman. The chronicle is described in the article on the author.


Jogaila (Jogaila), later Władysław II Jagiełło (c. 1352/1362 – 1 June 1434) was the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1377–1434) and then the King of Poland (1386–1434), first alongside his wife Jadwiga until 1399, and then sole King of Poland. He ruled in Lithuania from 1377. Born a pagan, in 1386 he converted to Catholicism and was baptized as Władysław in Kraków, married the young Queen Jadwiga, and was crowned King of Poland as Władysław II Jagiełło. In 1387 he converted Lithuania to Christianity. His own reign in Poland started in 1399, upon the death of Queen Jadwiga, and lasted a further thirty-five years and laid the foundation for the centuries-long Polish–Lithuanian union. He was a member of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Poland that bears his name and was previously also known as the Gediminid dynasty in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The dynasty ruled both states until 1572,[nb 2] and became one of the most influential dynasties in late medieval and early modern Central and Eastern Europe. During his reign, the Polish-Lithuanian state was the largest state in the Christian world.

Jogaila was the last pagan ruler of medieval Lithuania. After he became King of Poland, as a result of the Union of Krewo, the newly formed Polish-Lithuanian union confronted the growing power of the Teutonic Knights. The allied victory at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, followed by the Peace of Thorn, secured the Polish and Lithuanian borders and marked the emergence of the Polish–Lithuanian alliance as a significant force in Europe. The reign of Władysław II Jagiełło extended Polish frontiers and is often considered the beginning of Poland's Golden Age.

At the end of the 15th century the dutch painter Antoni Boys made a portrait called of Wladyslaw the Short which was inspired on this  bust and having a long beard.



King Wladislas the Short  (1305-1333)

by the dutch artist Anton Boys, 1579-1587


As Wladislas II had a full  beard this portrait should be a posthumous portrait of him.


Wladislas II Jagiello (King of Bohemia1471-1516 King of Hungary 1490-1516)

By Albrecht Dürer, 1517



Louis II 

1 July 1506 – 29 August 1526


During the reign of Louis the crown was restyled by replacing the leaves by points probbaly by using a crown from a byzantine treasury, sold by the last byzantine pretenders for example Anreas Palaiologos  (*1483-1502) who was in financial troubles, or his elder brother Manuel Palaiologos (*1455-1515).


King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia from 1516 to 1526. He was killed during the Battle of Mohács fighting the Ottomans, whose victory led to the Ottoman annexation of Hungary. He had no legitimate issue.

Vladislaus II took steps to ensure a smooth succession by arranging for the boy to be crowned in his own lifetime; the coronation of Louis as king of Hungary took place on 4 June 1508 in Székesfehérvár Basilica, and his coronation as king of Bohemia was held in 1509 in St. Vitus Cathedral.

Seal of King Louis II. (1516-1526)

the original kept in the archives. Drawn by Emil Baránski.


The Hungarian-Bohemian arms in a shield quarterly in the middle; the Polish eagle in its heart shield.

In the smaller shields are the arms of Hungary (the double cross), Dalmatia, Bohemia, Moravia, Tótia (Slavonia) and Bosnia.

Caption: + S[igillum] SERE * [nissimi] * PRIN[cipis] * D[omini] * LODOVICI * DEI * GRACIA * REGIS * HVNGARIE * BOHEMIE * DALMACIE * CROACIE * ETC [etera].

That is: Seal of his Majesty Prince, Lord Louis, by the grace of God king of, Hungary, Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, etc.


The crown of five points and three hoops.


Louis II fell in the battle of Mohács in 1526 and his crown was taken by Sultan Sulayman. From that time a new model of crown is seen on seals of his successor John Zapolya . On his seal of 1529 the crown shows a diadem with seven points spanned with four hoops. This crown disappears on the seal of his son and successor, John Sigismond (1540-1551). After the original crown was rendered by Sulayman at his restoration of 1556 on his  initiative. From the tiime of the rule of Ferdinand I the Zapolya crown of 1526 reappears on the coat of arms of Ferdinand. I  and remains on the arms of his Habsburg successors until this day.


John Zapolya



Seal of John Zapolya 1529


Arms: Ľ:  Arpad and Hungary and escutcheon Ľ of  Zips & Zapolya.

Crown: The Holy Crown of Stephen


And the arms of  Bosnia, Slavonia, Moravia, Bohemia, Dalmatia and Hungary


The seal of King John (p. 59) was drawn from the original copy of the archives of the Hungarian National Museum of Volume V of the History of the Hungarian Nation by Károly Mühlbach. Fields 1 and 4 of the squared shield covered with a sealed crown show the Hungarian divisions, fields 2 and 3 the double cross, fields 1 and 4 the squared heart shield show the unicorn, fields 2 and 3 the growing wolf; around the large shield 6 smaller shields show on the right 1. the double cross, 2. the three Dalmatian leopard heads, 3. the Lutheran lion, on the left 1. the two crowns of Bosnia, 2. the weasel of Slavonia, 3. the eagle of Silesia.


The crown is of five spade-shaped pieces and three hoops


It is very likely that the famous Crown of St. Stefan is a creation to replace the crown of king Louis, his crown being at that time to have been in the hands of Sultan Suleiman who had taken it from King Louis at the battle of Mohács (1526). Its rightful owner being John Zapolya who swore to the Hungarian the diet not to recognize Ferdinand I Habsburg after his death.


The crown of St. Stefan (John Zapolya) is a pastiche of two parts both dating from the 11th century, namely the so-called corona graeca and the corona latina.

Presumably, in the treasury in Székesfehérvár the corona graeca was found between the regalia and, in order to obtain a (royal-) crown with a hoop, it was merged with the largest part of the old Imperial Cross, the so-called corona latina. This must have been done rather rigorous because pieces of the imperial cross were torn off to make it fit and the plates were fastened to the old diadem with rough rivets. On top of that, a cross bottony was soldered in the middle of the lap of Christ


John Sigismund Zápolya



Sultan Suleiman gives back the crown to Szapolyai (1556?)

Persian miniature 1605


Ottoman sultan Suleiman (1520-1566) gives the Crown of Hungary to King of Hungary János Zsigmond Szapolyai after briefly holding it after the Battle of Mohács (1526).

Topkapi Istanbul. inv.n° Hazine 1517


On this miniature it can clearly be seen that the crown is of four leaves set with jewels and has a golden sphere set with pearls. It is of a Western european fashion most reminiscent to the crown of King Wladislas. Such a crown is also on the seal of  Ioan Zapolya. Of course it is not known where this crown is now.

Seal of János Zsigmond Szapolyai


The Crown of  St. Stephen


On 10 November 1526, John Zápolya was proclaimed king by a Diet at Székesfehérvár (Stuhlweißenburg), elected in the parliament by the untitled lesser nobility (gentry).

Nicolaus Olahus, secretary of Louis, attached himself to the party of Ferdinand but retained his position with his sister, Queen Dowager Mary. Ferdinand was also elected King of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, etc. by the higher aristocracy (the magnates or barons) and the Hungarian Catholic clergy in a rump Diet in Pozsony on 17 December 1526. Accordingly, Ferdinand was crowned as King of Hungary in the Székesfehérvár Basilica on 3 November, 1527.

The Croatian nobles unanimously accepted the Pozsony election of Ferdinand I, receiving him as their king in the 1527 election in Cetin, and confirming the succession to him and his heirs.[10] In return for the throne, Archduke Ferdinand promised to respect the historic rights, freedoms, laws and customs of the Croats when they united with the Hungarian kingdom and to defend Croatia from Ottoman invasion.[2]


While acting as secretary to George SzatmáriBishop of Pécs, he was appointed a canon of that chapter, later of Esztergom, and 1522 became Archdeacon of Komárom. In 1526 he was made secretary to King Louis II; but was transferred to the service of Mary of Habsburg. After the battle of Mohács, Olahus attached himself to the party of King Ferdinand I, but retained his position with the queen-dowager


Soon after his coronation there appears a picture of his crowned royal arms, the crown thoroughly of the traditional style  of five leaves and two hoops.


Arms of Ferdinand I, King of Hungary

From: Chororaphia Hungariae, Ingolstadt, 1528

As Ferdinand did not have the Hungarian crown, then in the possession of Suleiman, the arms is covered with a common royal crown, Habsburg fashion

Wolfgang Lazius, Map of Hungary 1552-‘56


An image of the “new” crown appeared in the years 1552-'56 for the first time on a map of the Kingdom by Wolfgang Lazius and later, more accurately, in the Chronicle of Fugger. So both images come from the Habsburg camp.

On this  picture the hoops are still of the old fashion, no apostles to be seen.


The so-called Holy Crown of Hungary appears in the last years of the reign of Ferdinand I (1576), when the crown of Hungary when John Sigismund Zapolya had died (1570)


Fugger Chronicle, 1599


Here the corona latina can be seen and pendilia are added


On a picture from 1610 Matthias II (1608-18) was crowned with it


Another old image is in Révay, Peter: De Sacrć coronć Regni Hungarić ortu (Augsburg 1613).

On stamps of Gabriel Bethlen, who was king of Hungary from 1620-'21, his arms impaled  of  Hungary and Transilvania was crowned with it.


The Crown of Stefan Bocskai



Stefan Bocskai's crown

Turkish, around 1605

Gold, rubies, spinels, emeralds, turquoises, pearls, silk, 23.2 cm high, 18.8 - 22 cm in diameter (

Weltliche u Geistliche Schatzkammer Wien, Inv.No. XIV 25


The crown is associated with only one brief historical episode. Counter-Reformation measures caused the Lutheran mountain towns of Upper Hungary and the Transylvanian Saxons to turn away from Emperor Rudolf II. The Calvinist nobleman Stefan Bocskai (1557-1606) took the lead of the discontented and was elected Prince of Siebengurgen in February 1605. He had already designated himself as such in 1604 and had Sultan Achmed I (1603-1617) recognize him. After great successes against General Basta's imperial army, also in western parts of Hungary, the rebellious Hungarian nobility elects him on 20 4 1605 a Prince of Hungary Now Bockskai turned to the sultan about the bestowal of the royal dignity. The Porte, at war with the emperor, took the opportunity to exercise suzerainty and at the same time tied the prince to their interests. Sultan Ahmed recognized Bocskai and his heirs as kings of Hungary with full authority and had him solemnly crowned with this crown by the Grand Vizier Lala Mehmend Pasha on 11 November 1605 on the Rákos field near Pest. A little hypocritically, Bocskai declared that out of consideration for the emperor, the crown should not be viewed as a sign of royal dignity, but only as a Turkish gift. On 23 June  1606, the Peace of Vienna was concluded, which granted freedom of religion. In November of the same year peace was made with the Turks in Zsitva Torok. On 29 December Bocskai died in Kaschau Košice, and his successor Bálint Drugeth Homonnai (d. 1609) took over the crown. In 1608 Matthias was crowned King of Hungary, and in November 1609 the Hungarian parliament decided to hand over the Bocskai crown to Matthias. It was taken from the heirs of the now deceased Homonnai, and the palatine Georg Thruzo brought it to Vienna on 4 October 1610.


Lit.: K. Nahrin. Die Bocskai Krone als Objeky des patrimoine intellectuel. in: Südost Forschungne, XLIII, 1984. S. 123-133.

Matthias. King of Hungary1608


The Holy Crown of Hungary



Baron Péter Révay de Szklabina et Blathnicza (used aliases of his name include Révai, Rewa, Réva; 2 February 1568 – 4 June 1622) was a Hungarian nobleman, Royal Crown Guard for the Holy Crown of Hungary, poet, state official, soldier, and historian. He was the grandson of Ferenc Révay.


1735 (1613)




The crosslet on the crown has been skewed since the Kossuth rebellion of 1848




During World War II, the crown was transported out of Hungary to protect it from the Germans and the Soviets. On 2 May 1945, the Holy Crown and other jewels were handed over by a Hungarian Army Colonel to a U.S. Army Colonel near Egglesberg, Austria. The Crown had been packed in a large black satchel. It was initially sheltered in Wiesbaden, in the American Zone, but was later transferred to the United States Gold Reserve at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. It was not considered as spoils of war; rather, the U.S. Government stored it in hopes of returning it to the Hungarian people one day.

The decision by President Jimmy Carter to return the Crown in 1978 was a controversial one, and one which took political courage. President Carter made his decision based on the evidence that Hungary’s record on human rights – its tolerance of religious expression, its facilitating of travel and communication – while not perfect, deserved recognition as an example to other Soviet-bloc countries. Many people on both sides of the Atlantic adamantly opposed the return of the Crown at a time when Hungary was still under Communist rule. Carter felt that it was only right that the Crown be returned before a whole generation of Hungarians came of age without understanding its symbolism. to resurface.

The delegation that President Carter sent to bring the Crown to Hungary was a distinguished one, led by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. It included Senator Adlai Stevenson, Congressman Lee Hamilton, and Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi. On the Hungarian side, the Cardinal, the Chief Rabbi, Protestant Bishops, and leaders of the academic, scientific and cultural communities participated in the ceremony, as well as representatives of the Hungarian state.


About the crown of St Stephen Otto von Habsburg said in an interview with the Groene Amsterdammer (27 March 2009, page 30):

“There is such a thing as the Mysticism of the Holy Crown. The thousand-year-old Crown of St. Stephen of Hungary is seen as more than a symbol. That crown has a mythical-religious component. You must not forget: the Hungarians come from the Far East and bring along a certain type of Asian thinking, which is very healthy for all of us, but for many who only think Western is difficult to understand. For a Hungarian, the crown, very physical, is the only reality. Firstly from history, secondly because the crown is surrounded by an Asian mysticism. That means: he is the most valuable relic that Hungary possesses. After the Second World War, the crown stolen by the Nazis was found by American troops and taken to the US. We then formed a group there to ensure that the Holy Crown was protected and not just lying around. That has functioned for a while, until I found out that the Americans treated this relic of history in an ordinary and shameful manner during drinking. I do not want to elaborate on that, because it would make every Hungarian emotion even more emotional. The worst communist in Hungary would be more respectful. I tried to protect the crown, so I went straight to the other side and, to the anger of the anti-Communist opposition, persevered. Since 1978 the crown is back in Hungary, where he is now, with his own bodyguard, in parliament. The crown, as it was thought, is the real head of state and the ruler is the servant of this head of state. In the time that there were no constitutions yet, the crown was the constitution. You can only understand the inner value that this object represents when you read the testament of St Stephen; it is the best constitution I have ever read! "




No trace of the present Crown of St. Stepehen is found before the end of the 16th century. Neverthelesse the Kings of Hungary were always crowned with precious crowns of which some have been preserved.

The present crtown is a pastiche of several parts, probably put together by Baron Péter Révay de Szklabina et Blathnicza who was the Royal Crown Guard for the Holy Crown of Hungary at the end of the 16th century. It is not known where the Baron got the pieces from  but at the time he could have the disposal of many pieces from several treasuries from the possessions of the ruling Habsburgs for example Emperor Matthias (1612-1619), who was the first actually been crowned with the Holy Crown. The work of Révay seems to have been done in great haste as the cross of the hoops is soldered quite careless to the pointed crown.

We must coclude therfore thta the Holy crown of St. Stephen is nor a Holy Crown nor of St Stepen bur rather the crown of King - Emperor Matthias made by the Royal crown guard of Hungary.



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 © Hubert de Vries 2020-09-01




[1] ) Tóth, Endre & Karoly Szelényi: op. cit. 1996, pp. 23-24.

[2])  Barcsay p. 164.

[3] ) Tóth, op.cit. pp. 41 e.v.

[4] ) Tóth, Endre & Karoly Szelényi: The Holy Crown of Hungary. Kings and Coronations. Budapest, 1996. fig. 29, p.23  



[7] ) Hungaria Regia, 1999. Nr. 33, p. 124.