Map of Europe
Map of Hungary
Map of Budapest
Hungary, facts and history in brief
Budapest, facts and history in brief
The Holy Crown (Szent Korona) of Hungary.
SAINT STEPHEN, CONFESSOR*,
also known as Stephen the Great
FIRST KING OF HUNGARY
Feast: September 2
*One who avows his religion in face
of danger, but does not suffer martyrdom.
o O o
St Stephen Bazilika
Holy Crown 1
Holy Crown 2
o O o
THE HOLY CROWN OF SAINT STEPHEN
There is no other nation in the world, who would
keep in such a high reverence, have such a high respect
for, love with such a mystical adoration their national
relic as the Hungarians do with their crown, the Hungarian
There is no other nation to be found, whose national
relic's source, origin and age are so much unanswered,
surrounded with such a mystery, and went through such
fantastic adventures as did the crown of the Hungarians.
Believed to be the crown of the first Hungarian king,
Saint Stephen I. (1000-1038), this crown was pawned
or lost, stolen or seized, stashed or rescued and was
kept in more royal courts, towns, castles and citadels
than any other nation's coronation jewel.
Wars were waged for this crown and it happened that
it was dug underground in a iron chest or in a crude
Every time the Holy Crown returned to Hungary, it brought
about an elevated emotional, solemn atmosphere in the
entire country, and its power was so enormous over the
nation that the people knelt down before the coach carrying
the crown, as they did later before the train bringing
home the remains of Louis Kossuth.
The above examples meant to say that the Holy Crown
was not only a crown for the Hungarians.
It represented something much bigger and universal.
The Holy Crown had divine power for them and symbolised
the whole kingdom, the territory of the country, the
entire Hungarian nation.
That is why it was more important than anything else
for the Hungarians to rescue and safeguard the crown
in decisive historic periods, because if there was no
Holy Crown, there was no Hungary.
This is the reason why king Béla IV rescued it
to the fortress of Klissa (Croatia today) from the Tartar
invasion (1241), king Matthias bought it back from Vienna
for an astrological [astronomical] price (1463), Peter
Perényi hid it in his citadel of Füzér
from the Ottoman invasion (1526), Louis Kossuth dug
it underground in an iron chest near Orsova (Rumania
today) after the surrender to the Habsburgs at Világos
(1849) and Ferenc Szálasi rescued it to Austria
from the invading Red Army and dug it underground in
an oil barrel (1945).
These historic events are only few examples from the
horrendous adventures the Hungarian Holy Crown went
through but they all deliver the same message, i.e.
as long as the Holy Crown is safe and exists, Hungary
is safe and exists.
The unique role the Holy Crown had in the Hungarian
history brought about the development of a doctrine
called the "Holy Crown Theory."
Initiated by king Kálmán the Booklover
(1095-1116), this theory holds that the utmost ruler
of Hungary is not the king but the Holy Crown.
In the kingdom, everything, i.e. country, towns, lands,
belong not to the king but to the Holy Crown.
The ultimate power is not that of the king but the crown's
and, for example, if a dynasty died out, their land
did not return to the king (where it came from) but
to the crown.
The territories which joined Hungary (Croatia, Dalmatia,
Slavonia, Rama [Bosnia], Serbia, etc.) were not absorbed
into Hungary but became "members of united territories
of the Hungarian Holy Crown".
Verdicts were declared in the name of the Holy Crown
and not the king, and during those troublesome times
when the country had no king, the civil leaders swore
in for the Holy Crown.
(The final form of the "Holy Crown Theory" was drafted
and published by Stephen Werbõczy, a jurist, in his
book called Tripartium, 1517, Vienna).
In 1945, the US Army seized the Hungarian Holy Crown**,
and according to a statement No 687, issued by the State
Department in 1951, the US Government did not consider
it as a spoils of war but stored it as a deposit.
The Holy Crown was kept in Fort Knox, KY, the same place
where the US keeps its gold treasure, and it finally
returned to Hungary on January 5 1978, when State Secretary
Cyrus Vance transferred it to the possession of the
The Hungarian Holy Crown consists of two separate parts,
i.e. the lower circular crown called the Greek crown
(corona graeca) and the upper arch-type crown called
the latin crown (corona latina).
The lower circular crown was given as a gift to the
Hungarian king Géza I. by the Byzantine emperor
Michael Dukas in 1074.
Made in the goldsmith shops of the emperor, the front
perimeter of the circular crown has 5 semicircular and
4 triangular enamelled golden plates in alternating
sequence. In the central plate, the figure of Jesus
Christ can be seen sitting on a throne, raising his
right hand for blessing and holding a book in his left.
This is a typical representation of Christ in the Byzantine
art, where he is shown as the World Ruler (Pantokrator).
From Christ to the lower left and right, Gabriel and
Michael archangels look toward Jesus. Next to Michael
is the picture of Saint George (a warrior saint in the
Byzantine mythology) followed by Saint Kosma (a healing
Next to the Gabriel is the picture of Saint Demetrius
(a warrior saint) followed by Saint Damjanus (a healing
In the back, at the opposite location to the Pantokrator
Christ, the enamelled golden plate of Michael Dukas,
Byzantine Emperor can be seen holding a regal sign in
his right hand and a sword in his left.
From him to the lower left and right, emperor Constantine,
Jr. and Hungarian king Géza I. look toward Dukas.
In the front, beneath the plate of Christ, a large blue
Indian sapphire gem is located followed by on both sides
between the plates of the saints a red almandine garnet,
another sapphire and a green glass stone.
In the back, beneath the plate of Michael Dukas, a large
sapphire gem is located.
On the hind perimeter of the corona graeca 18 pearls
are sitting, and four little golden chains with gems
at their tips are clinging on the left and right side
of the crown and one in the back.
In the Middle Ages, the gems had their own meaning.
According to this, the blue sapphire symbolised the
see, the red almandine the fire, the green glass the
earth, and together they represented the Universe.
The upper part of the Holy Crown is the older one which
was sent by Pope Sylvester II. to
the first Hungarian king in 1000 A.D. in recognition
of his mission to turn the pagan Hungarians to Christianity
and to recognise the Hungarian state.
On the top of the corona latina, the enamelled golden
plate shows again the World Ruler Christ (Pantokrator)
raising his right hand for blessing and holding a book
in his left.
The upper part of the Holy Crown has an arch-type design
and carries pictures in enamelled golden plate of 8
Ahead of Christ comes the picture of John and Bartholomew,
to the right Peter and Andrew, to the left Paul and
Philip, to the back James and Thomas.
The figures are surrounded by filigree ornaments made
of golden wire, pearls and almandine garnets.
On the top plate of the arch, a golden cross is mounted
which is not the original one.
It is believed that the original cross was a relic holder
and contained a little piece of the cross on which Christ
was crucified. This cross was broken off and later replaced
by the present one which was originally in upright position
and its leaning posture is likely due to a physical
The earliest representation of the Holy Crown dating
from the 17th century already shows it in leaning position.
The two parts, the lower circular Greek crown and the
upper arch-type latin crown was attached together by
Hungarian king Géza I. at the end of the 11th
century, and it is proven that the complete Hungarian
Holy Crown already existed in 1166. So, it is more than
800 years old.
The Hungarian Holy Crown is a harmonic complex of many
styles of art, fine goldsmith's and artistic works,
so it truly counts for a masterpiece.
Apart from that, it represents their country, nation
and culture for the Hungarians, and such, it is much
more than just a regal jewel for them, it is their highest
regarded national relic.
If the Holy Crown were able to speak, it could tell
all the ups and downs, despairs and hopes, anguishes
and happiness, cares and cheers the Hungarians went
through with their crown during their history which
made them, the Holy Crown and the nation, two inseparable
© 1995 András Szeitz
The Saint Stephen Reliquary containing His Right
Hand, at the Budapest St Stephen Bazilika.
o O o
St Stephen Bazilika
Holy Crown 1
Holy Crown 2
Back to Top
Thanks for coming, I hope you
have enjoyed it, will recommend
it to your friends, and will come
back later to see my site developing
I'm trying to make my pages enjoyable and trouble free
for everyone, please let me know of any mistakes or
trouble with links, so I can fix any problem as soon
These pages are best viewed with monitor
resolution set at 640x480 and kept simple
on purpose so everyone can enjoy them
across all media and platforms.