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Samuel Aba ( ) (died after 5 July 1044), King of Hungary (1041-1044), Palatine of Hungarymarker (c. 1009-c. 1038).

King of Hungary

Samuel was from Northern Hungary, Castle Gonce / Castle Abaújvármarker, County of Aba, born circa 1010. He married his older cousin Gisel, the youngest daughter of Prince Géza of the Hungarian Árpád dynasty. (According to Hungarian sources she was the daughter of Géza's only known wife Sarolt, but some Polish sources mention a second wife for Géza, Adelaide of Poland, a daughter of Prince Mieszko I of Poland, born circa 950, d. after 997.)

Some historians claim that Samuel Aba was the leader of the Kabar tribe in the early 11th century. It is also presumed by the same group that he was a member of the Khazar Jewry but (formally) converted to Christianity with his entire tribe when he married Gisel. Even though he acted as a Christian and even founded a monastery in Abasár, converting to Christianity was mainly a political move for him, and he was not really a religious man.

During the reign of Stephen I of Hungary, who was the first Christian King of Hungary, Samuel Aba became Palatine of the Kingdom of Hungary. After the death of Stephen I of Hungary the new ruler, Peter Urseolo of Hungary (Stephen's nephew) continued to strengthen the feudal Christian state and removed Samuel from the royal court for not supporting him enough. Many of the people were opposed to Christianity and feared that Peter would make the Hungarian kingdom subservient to the Holy Roman Empire; so they supported Samuel who might have had an active role in deposing Peter.

Peter fled Hungary, and Samuel became king in 1041. He had many of Peter's supporters killed or tortured, and he abolished several laws made by Peter. This sheds some light on who his supporters might have been: since he abolished the laws that mainly affected the poor people and commoners, and in chronicles he was criticised for socializing with the peasants instead of the nobles, it is likely that he was supported by the lower classes who still held their Pagan beliefs.

Samuel knew that he could remain on the throne only if he could make peace with Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor, who was Peter's main ally. He succeeded in this in 1043, but had to pay a heavy price: Hungary lost some of its territories to Henry and had to pay tribute.

Because of the tribute paid to Henry and the abolishing of taxes, Samuel had to look for sources of money. He claimed back the donations the preceding kings gave to the Church, and made the bishops pay taxes. This was in keeping with his intentions of diminishing the role and power of the Church. (According to some sources he and his followers were excommunicated by the pope).

In several ways Samuel's rule meant a relapse from Feudalism to a tribal society. He was less and less popular, and was opposed by the Church, by the nobles, who resented him favouring the commoners, and by Henry III, who was furious that Samuel did not keep all the points of their peace treaty. Peter, with the help of Henry, attacked Samuel, and defeated him in the Battle of Ménfő, near Győrmarker. Samuel fled to the East. Contemporary sources offer different opinions about his fate; some say he was captured and killed by Peter and Henry, others say he reached the Tisza river and was killed there by Hungarians who opposed him. He was buried in the monastery he founded at Abasár.

There are no further data about what happened to his wife and sons, but his family, the Aba clan continued to be one of the most influential clans of Northern Hungary, where their name is preserved in the name of Abaúj-Torna county (today its Hungarian half is a part of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and its Slovakian half forms the region of Abov), and that of several villages.

Marriage and children

  1. Gizella (? – ?), a daughter of Géza, High Prince of the Magyars and his wife Sarolt, daughter of Gyula of Transylvania


The Hungarian noble clan of Aba (Genus Aba), was already a very powerful clan in Hungary in the IX century.

During the XII and XIII centuries the clan itself split into several associated families and each took their surnames from the estates or a manor that they possessed at that time. The Rhédey family took its' name from the estate of 'Kisréde' (now Nagyréde) of Heves County.

There are nineteen noble families that directly descend from the Royal House of Aba, and belong to Clan Aba - “Genus Aba”. They are: Athinai, Báthory, Báthory de Gagy, Berthóty, Budaméry, Csirke, Csobánka, Frichi, Gagyi, Hedry, Keczer, Kompolthi, Laczkffy de Nádasd, Lapispataky, Rhédey, Sirokay, Somosy de Somos, Vendéghy and Vitéz.

See also


  • Kristó, Gyula - Makk, Ferenc: Az Árpád-ház uralkodói (IPC Könyvek, 1996)
  • Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon (9-14. század), főszerkesztő: Kristó, Gyula, szerkesztők: Engel, Pál és Makk, Ferenc (Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest, 1994)
  • Search for "Claudine Rhédey de Kis-Rhéde" in existing articles.


  1. In contemporary foreign sources he was called King Aba, on his coins he was mentioned as King Samuel.

  • Siebmachers Wappenbuch Die Wappen des Adels von Ungarn …
  • NOTE: Certain Slovakian historians claim that Samuel Aba was a ruling prince of the Principality of Nitra (1038 – 1041).

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