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Ladislaus IV of Hungary

Ladislaus IV the Cuman (Hungarian: IV László, Slovak: Ladislav IV)(1262 - July 10, 1290), also known as Laszlo IV, king of Hungary, was the son of Stephen V, whom he succeeded in 1272.

He was kidnapped at age ten from his father's court by rebellious vassals. His minority, from 1272 to 1277, was an alternation of palace revolutions and civil wars, in which his Cuman mother Elizabeth barely contrived to keep the upper hand. In this milieu Ladislaus matured precociously and was poorly educated, which greatly confined his personalities as rough and reckless.

He was married before September 5, 1272, to Elizabeth of Anjou, the daughter of King Charles I of Naples. Even though she had been brought up at the Hungarian court, the marriage was a purely political arrangement by Stephen V and a section of the Hungarian magnates to counteract hostile German and Bohemian influences.

During the earlier part of his reign, Ladislaus obsequiously followed the direction of the Angevin court, which his wife was from, in foreign affairs. In Hungary itself another large party was in favour of the Germans, but the civil wars which raged between the two factions from 1276 to 1278 did not prevent Ladislaus, at the head of 20,000 Hungarians and Cumans, from co-operating with the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph I in the great battle of Marchfeld on August 26 1278, which destroyed the Premyslid dynasty once and for all.

A month later a papal legate arrived in Hungary to inquire into the conduct of the king, who was accused by his neighbours and many of his own subjects, of adopting the ways of his pagan Cuman kinsfolk and thereby undermining Christianity. Ladislaus was not really a pagan, or he would not have devoted his share of the spoil of Marchfeld to the building of the Franciscan church at Bratislava, nor would he have venerated as his aunt St Margaret. Political enmity was largely responsible for the revolt against him, yet the result of a very careful investigation (1279-1281) by Philip, bishop of Fermo, more than justified many of the accusations brought against Ladislaus.

Ladislaus alienated his Angevin kinsfolk and Hungarian nobility by favoring the society of the semi-pagan Cumans, from whom he was descended through his mother. He wore Cuman dress as his court wear, surrounded himself with Cuman concubines, and neglected his Angevin consort, Elizabeth of Anjou. He had arrested the legate, whom he subsequently attempted to starve into submission. His conduct generally was regarded as unsatisfactory. After repeated warnings the Holy See resolved to supersede him by his neglected Angevin kinsfolk. On August 8, 1288 Pope Nicholas IV proclaimed a crusade against him.

He was finally compelled to take up arms against his Cuman friends, whom he routed at Hodmezo in May 1282 with fearful loss. For the next two years all Hungary was convulsed by civil war, during which the young king was driven from one end of his kingdom to the other. The magnates and lower nobility were able to establish their power constitutionally at the expense of the monarchy during the prolonged political unrest.

On December 25, 1289 he issued a manifesto to the lesser gentry, a large portion of whom sided with him, urging them to continue the struggle against the magnates and their foreign supporters. However he was slain in his camp at Rorosszeg by the Cumans, who never forgave him for deserting them.

He died heirless. His successor, Andrew III, issued from another branch of the Arpad dynasty.

original text from 1911 EB please update

Preceded by:
Stephen V
List of Hungarian rulers Succeeded by:
Andrew III