The Ossetians' Kinsmen Abroad. Hungary.


The First Contacts Between the Ossetians and the Hungarians.

The first Sarmatian tribe known to have populated Pannonia (modern Hungary) were the Yazygs, whose ancient Indo-European (Iranian) origin, ways and language made them closely related to the other Sarmatian peoples, and namely, the Alans. The Yazygs first appeared on the territory of Hungary yet in the first centuries A.D. and stayed there for many centuries. Individual groups of Alans settled down in Pannonia in 376 A.D. during the Hunn invasion. However, it is unknown presently whether Hungary still had any Sarmatian population at the time when the Magyars (Hungarians) arrived there, having made a long way from the region of the River Volga. Before their arrival in the parts occupied by modern Hungary, the Magyars had already had a brush with the Alans (Hungarian and ancient Russian - the Jaszy), at the time when the former temporarily settled down in the steppes adjacent to the Black Sea, west of the River Dnieper. This time is considered to be the time of the very first contacts made between the ancestors of the modern Hungarians and Ossetians.

History of the Alans' Arrival in Hungary.

At the time of the Mongol-Tatar invasion the Kipchaks (in Hungarian - the Kuns), headed by Khan Kotian were desperately trying to counter the superior Mongol forces, being assisted, apparently, by their long-time allies - the Alans. The Kipchak troops were defeated by the Mongols in the Pre-Caspian steppes, which caused the remaining part of the Kipchaks (about 40 000 people) to flee to Hungary. They were joined by several thousand Alans. The Kipchaks and the Alans were welcomed in Hungary by the Hungarian sovereign of the time, Bela IV. All this took place circa 1237.

The Kipchaks and the Alans found shelter in Hungary, but several years later were followed into the Kingdom by the innumerable hordes of the Mongol-Tatars, intruded into the country in 1241. Owing to the unfavorable internal situation, created in the Mongol-Tatar state, they departed from the Kingdom of Hungary in 1242. This time can be considered the beginning of the Kipchaks and the Alans' settling down on the territory of Hungary for good, thus forming two neighboring provinces - Kunzsag and Jaszsag, later on merged into one with the administrative center in the town of Jaszbereny.

The Hungarian royals were interested in friendly relations with the Alans as those were known to be a highly belligerent and capable of fighting people, whose military defeats were accounted for, in most cases, by the disintegration of different groups of the people, being outnumbered or impaired by individual feudal lords' strifes, (the latter is corroborated by many authoritative historical sources of the time, such as, for example, the prominent Gothic historian Jordan, who indicated that the Alans were "...analogous to the Hunns in battle..."). The Hungarian Alans provided the Kings of Hungary for warriors, being granted in return multifarious royal privileges. In the Royal deeds and charters of the time the Alans were referred to as "the noble Jaszy" ("the noble Alans"). The royal privileges had been enjoyed by the Jaszy until the second half of the 19-th century.

The excavations of Alanic burial grounds, carried out on the territory of Jaszsag have shown, that the Hungarian Jaszy were North- - Caucasian Alans.

The Hungarian Alans spoke Ossetic -Alanian Language up until the time of the Turkish occupation of Hungary, lasting from the 13-th till the 15-th century. The preserved linguistic materials appertaining to the Jaszy are freely understood by the modern speakers of Ossetic. According to some other data, the Alanian language was lost by the Jaszy in the 17-th century.

The Present-Day Alanic (Jasz) Community in Hungary.

At the present time the number of the Alans' descendants in the Hungarian Province of Jaszsag is estimated at over 105 000 people. They are still based largely in Jaszsag, and live primarily in the city of Jaszbereny, and also in a score of major villages and a number of other small settlements in the province. In spite of their having lost the Ossetic language, the Hungarian Alans have preserved their national consciousness and show great interest for life of their kinsmen in the Caucasus. There exists a Jaszy Museum in Jaszbereny.

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© 1999 Soslan Tabuev

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