B bábi, Tibor

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Borderland – After the years 896-900 the settlement in the Carpathian Basin by the Magyars was completed, and an uninhabited zone was established along the western border for defensive purposes. It was called “gyepű”. The line was drawn from the present-day city of Moson through Kapuvár and Sárvár, down to Vasvár. The western limit of the gyepü was the actual fortified border of the country with established crossing points. Certain clans or tribes were settled nearby to maintain and defend the gyepü, while other tribes made treaties with the Hungarian-related tribes, such as the Kabars, Pechenegs and Szeklers. The border zone was patrolled and the entrance gates were securely guarded by the so-called “gate guards”. These border guards used their own weapons and sustained themselves without pay; but received all the privileges of the other free tribes. The King appointed their commander-in-chief, the head guard. In front of the gyepű inside the border stretched the ‘gyepűelve’, also an uninhabited strip of land. This way Hungary had a double, west-facing guarded border in the Middle Ages. Immediately behind the gyepű a chain of earth fortifications were erected in the 11th century, such as Csákány, Ikervár, Sárvár and Vasvár, a pattern common to all European countries of the time. During the 12th century this new line of defense slowly moved westwards. Some other forts were also erected in the region, such as the Benedictine cloister founded in 1157, which was transformed into a permanent fortification by King Béla III (1172-1196) to counterbalance the permanent forts of the united Austria and Steyr. After the Tartar-Mongol invasion of 1241-1242, a chain of forts built of stones became the backbone of the western defense system of Hungary. Border guards continued their duty even after the transformation; but their significance diminished with time. The Eastern and Southern Carpathians defended the eastern border of historic Hungary from 900 on with additional defense provided by the Szekler Magyars of Eastern Transylvania. – B: 1209, T: 3233.→Gyepű; Pre-Borderland; Burgenland; Szeklers.

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