The territory between the Drava, Lake Balaton, the Danube, the Carpathians and the Transylvanian Alps, which roughly corresponds to historic Hungary, was initially populated by people of Celtic lineage (6th century BC), who brought the so-called La Tène civilization there. The southern part of the Danube was occupied by the Romans in the century. I d. C. and divided into two imperial provinces, Upper Pannonia and Lower Pannonia, having Carnuntum (now disappeared) and Aquincum(Buda) as centers respectively. With the decline of the Empire, Pannonia became a road of passage for invasions directed towards Italy by Marcomanni and Quadi (2nd and 3rd century AD); later than Alani, Vandals, Huns and Ostrogoths, the latter of whom resided there some time until their invasion of Italy (end of the 5th century), while Gepidi and Eruli settled there permanently. The Lombards arrived (early 6th century) who, having destroyed the former and perhaps merged with the latter, then emigrated to Italy, giving way (568) to the Avars whose reign was overthrown by Charlemagne in 796: much of the region passed then under the control of the Carolingians.
At the end of the century. IX was formed an ephemeral Slavic kingdom of Great Moravia, including the ancient Pannonia, soon overwhelmed by a Finno-Ugric people mixed with Turkish elements, called Magiari or Ungari. Coming from the Volga area, installed in eastern Ukraine, under the pressure of the Pecenegians they moved, led by Árpád, to Pannonia (before 897). The Finno-Ugric elements, more inclined to pastoral activity, prevailed over the Turks and the Hungarian people, also due to the influence of Christianity, became a sedentary people. The kingdom reached the apogee of its prestige with Vajk, who converted to Catholicism with the name of Stephen, which he obtained in 1000 from Pope Sylvester II the confirmation of power with the royal crown, called since then of Santo Stefano and which will become the mystical sign of the Hungarian state. This was followed by the conversion of a large part of the people, sometimes imposed with violence.
The Church soon acquired a great influence: in 1001 an archbishopric was established and at the end of the century. XI there were already ten bishoprics. According to petsinclude, the country was divided into counties on the Carolingian model; cities arose, the capital was established at Székesfehérvár and the kingdom enjoyed relative security. This situation was not changed by the revolt of the pagans (1049), by the invasion of the Peceneghi and the Cumani, nor by the succession struggles between the descendants of Stephen. The Guelphism of Ladislao I(1077-95) during the investiture and investiture struggle Géza II (1141-62) in the period of Frederick Barbarossa he was rewarded with the granting to the Hungarian kings by the papacy to exercise the right of investiture of bishops. The árpádi kings defended the borders with a solid fortified belt, but they did not know how to absorb neither the subjugated Slavic populations (Slovaks to the N, Croats to the S) nor those coming from the steppe (Peceneghi, Székely) who infiltrated the territory and lived according to their own statutes. With the purchase of Croatia (1102), Hungary blossomed into the Adriatic, coming into conflict with the kingdom of Bosnia and with Venice, but was unable to establish itself permanently in Dalmatia. Inside, those who had obtained lands in exchange for the obligation to follow the sovereign in war within and outside the borders of the kingdom gradually transformed them into their own assets, creating states within the state and becoming stronger than the king.
Béla III (1172-96), with whom Hungary reached the pinnacle of its power, the infighting between his heirs caused a further weakening of the power of the state as the contenders alienated much of the crown’s assets to procure followers. This new feudality (Second Order), which established itself above all under Andrew II (1205-35), managed in 1222 to snatch the Golden Bull from the king, ensuring numerous privileges such as exemption from taxes and the free disposal of possessions. Equal power also obtained the Church (whose exponents constituted the First Order), which in 1217 had pushed Andrew II to an unsuccessful crusade. The restorative work of Béla IV (1235-70) was made in vain by the Mongol invasion which the feudal lords who owned fortresses took advantage of to resist the royal authority and extend their dominions over unfortified territories. During the reign of Ladislao IV the Cumano (1272-90) even the minor owners, free or semi-free (Third Order) gathered to form committees that counterbalanced the oligarchy, but further weakened the power of the king. With the advent of the last of the Árpáds, Andrew III the Venetian (1290-1301), the country was torn apart by the claims of foreign princes to the crown. Caroberto d’Angiò won(1308-42), the candidate of the Holy See, who defeated the oligarchs but made a new distribution of the lands favoring foreigners or Hungarian families loyal to him. The army became totally feudal; new taxes were created, new industries developed, money made clean.