Gyula (Yula, Gula, Gila) was, according to Muslim and Byzantine sources, the title of one of the leaders, the second in rank, of the Hungarian tribal federation in the 9th–10th centuries. In the earliest Hungarian sources, the title name is only recorded as a personal name (Gyyla, Geula, Gyla, Iula). The title name does not have convincing etymologies, but it is probably of Turkic origin.
The title "Gyula" is known from the Hunnic times. The Chinese Shi Ji recorded hierarchy in the Hunnic state, after the Juki Prince (Ch. Xiang Wang) followed Luli or Guli Wang (谷蠡), a third grade in the state hierarchy. Other Chinese phonetizations are kokli, and the initial phonetics is not only "gu" but also "yu": Yuli. The title was used by the states of the Hunnic circle in China, Europe, and Central Asia, among them the Hungarian Gyula, the Hephthalite Huns' Gula (in Byzantine sources also Golla), it is a component in the Indian Huna Mihirakula’s name, Constantine Porphyrogenitus noted it as Gila and Yula among the Kangar Pachinaks in his De Administrando Imperio (ca. 950), it is found in the Old Turkic Yula, and in the Khitan clan name Yila, in the Mongolian Jangar epos in the form Jula and in Mongolian expression "joloo" with a meaning "rein", earlier this title appeared when was established the Turkic empire Turkic Khaganate. During the Middle Ages it is known as a title and a personal name Ulug Bek, meaning "Great Prince".
The gyulas in the 9th century
The first data of the title, recorded by Ibn Rusta and Gardizi, can be traced back to the earlier works of Abu Abdallah al-Jayhani. According to these earliest pieces of evidence, the Hungarians were ruled conjointly by two ‘kings’. The major one, called kende (or künde), enjoyed nominal leadership, while effective power was exercised by his colleague, inferior in rank, called the gyula. This peculiar form of governance (‘dual kingship’) is generally supposed to have been imitative of the Khazar Khaganate, which did indeed have a similar organization. However, the only thing that the Muslim sources tell us is that the gyula was in charge of the military matters of the tribal confederation; whereas there existed a legitimate ruler (the kende) who had little influence on army-related issues.
The Majgars are a race of the Turks and their leader rides out with horsemen to the number of 20,000. Their leader is called künde [kende], but this is only a nominal title, for the name of the man who is actually king over them is called jila [jula] and all the Majgars accept the orders of their jila [jula] in the matters of war and defense and the like.
These Majgars are a type of the Turks. Their leader rides out with 20,000 warriors. This leader they call künde [kende]. This is the title of the greater of their kings. That leader who appoints the functionaries they call jula [jole]. What the jula commands, the Majgars do.
The gyulas in the 10th-11th centuries
Following the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin around 896, the title gyula can be found in the De administrando imperio ("On the Governance of the Empire") written by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The emperor confirms that around 950 the gyla was one of the two important officers who assisted the leader of Hungarian tribal federation; also, each tribe had a chieftain.
They /the Hungarians/ have for their first chief the prince who comes by succession of Árpád’s family, and two others, the gylas and the karchas, who have the rank of judge; and each clan has a prince.
The karchas Boultzous is the son of the karchas Kalis, and Kalis is a proper name, but karchas is a dignity, like gylas, which is superior to karchas.
The Byzantine Ioannes Skylitzes in the second half of the 11th century recounted (using earlier written sources) the baptism of the Hungarian chieftain Gyula (or gyula) in Constantinople in the mid-10th century. According to Ioannes Skylitzes, Gyula stayed true to his new faith and took a missionary bishop, Hierotheos, with him. A Slavic source also contains related information.
The almost contemporary Annales Hildesheimenses ("The Annals of Hildesheim") recorded for 1003 that "King Stephen of Hungary led an army against his maternal uncle, King Gyula" and "obliged his country by force to adopt the Christian faith".
Persons named Gyula in the Hungarian chronicles
The Gesta Hungarorum written by an anonymous author
The anonymous writer of the Gesta Hungarorum ("The Deeds of the Hungarians") was the first Hungarian chronicler who compiled the list of the seven Hungarian conqueror chiefs around 1210. At the seventh place we can find Tétény (Tuhutum), his son Horka (Horca) and the latter's sons, Gyula (Gyyla/Geula) and Zombor (Zubor). According to the author of the Gesta, Zombor (Zubor) was the father of the younger Gyula (Geula/Gyla). The Gesta also narrates that Tétény occupied the land of Transylvania from the Vlach (Romanian) Duke Gelou; neither Tétény nor Gelou are mentioned in other primary sources.
And while they tarried there some while, Tuhutum father of Horca, as he was a shrewd man, when he learned from the inhabitants of the goodness of the land of Transylvania, where Gelou, a certain Vlach, held sway, strove through the grace of Duke Árpád, his lord, to acquire the land of Transylvania for himself and his posterity. This was later so done, for the posterity of Tuhutum up to the time of the holy King Stephen held the land of Transylvania and would have held it longer, had the younger Gyula with his two sons, Bolya and Bonyha, wished to be Christians and not always opposed the holy king, as will be said in the following.
As he was in flight, hastening to his castle beside the Szamos River, Tuhutum’s warriors, boldly pursuing Duke Gelou, slew him beside the Kapus River. Then the inhabitants of the land, seeing the death of their lord, giving the right hand of their own free will chose to themselves as lord Tuhutum, father of Horca, and in that place, which is called Esculeu, they confirmed their troth with an oath and from that day the place is called Esculeu, because they swore there. Tuhutum possessed that land peacefully and happily from that day, but his posterity possessed it only up to the times of the holy King Stephen. Tuhutum begat Horca, Horca begat Geula and Zubor, Geula begat two daughters, of whom one was called Caroldu and the other Saroltu, and Sarolt was the mother of the holy King Stephen. Zumbor begat the younger Geula, father of Bua and Bucna, during whose time the holy King Stephen subjugated to himself the land of Transylvania and led Geula in fetters to Hungary and held him imprisoned for all the days of his life because he was false in faith and refused to be a Christian and did many things against the holy King Stephen, even though he was of the line of his mother.
Tétény (Tuhutum) ♂ │ Horka (Horca) ♂ ┌───────────────────┴──────────────────────┐ Gyula (Gyyla/Geula) ♂ Zombor (Zubor) ♂ ┌───────────┴──────────┐ │ Karold (Caroldu) ♀ Sarolt (Saroltu) ♀ Gyula the Younger (Geula/Gyla) ♂ ∞ Géza ♂ ┌─────────┴────────┐ │ Bolya (Bua/Biua) ♂ Bonyha (Bucna) ♂ Stephen I ♂ │ │ Maglód kindred (genus Maglout)
The Gesta Hungarorum written by Simon of Kéza
Simon of Kéza, who wrote his Gesta Hungarorum between 1280 and 1285, inserted Gyula /Iula/ in connection to Translyvania in the list of the seven Hungarian conqueror chiefs. He, as opposed to the anonymous writer of the Gesta Hungarorum, wrote not about two but only one Gyula.
The third host was commanded by Gyula /Iula/. Although he came into Pannonia with the others, Gyula finally settled in Transylvania.
After St Stephen was crowned and chief Koppány was finally put to death, the King brought his uncle Gyula /Iula/ with his wife and sons from Transylvania to Pannonia.
The Chronicon Pictum
Gyula was the third captain from whom Gyula son of Ladislaus descends. This Gyula was a great and powerful chieftain; on a hunt, he found a great city built by the Romans long before. He had a beautiful daughter called Sarolt, of whose beauty the princes of several provinces had been talking for a long time. Prince Géza married her as his lawful wife at the advice and with the help of Beliud who possessed the land of Kulán.
Finally, given that Gyula was hostile and often offensive to the Hungarians living in Pannonia, King Saint Stephen had him taken to Pannonia. But this was not this Captain Gyula, but the third one in descent.
Gyula I ♂ ┌──────────┴─────────┐ Sarolt ♀ Gyula II ♂ ∞ Géza ♂ │ Gyula III ♂
The list of the gyulas
Many historians (e.g., György Györffy, Florin Curta) suggest that at the time of the Hungarian conquest Árpád was the gyula, who was later considered to be the ancestor of the dynasty that ruled Hungary until 1301. At any rate, Hungarian chroniclers are unanimous in reporting that the conquest of the Carpathian Basin was directed by Árpád. Florin Curta suggests that when the kende of the conquest (whom he does not name) died in 902, the leadership passed onto Árpád, and one of Árpád’s kinsmen became gyula.
Other scholars (e.g., Gábor Vékony, C. A. Macartney) argues that Árpád was the kende, and the gyula was Kurszán (Chussal, Chussol) whose name, in contrast to Árpád, can be found in contemporary Western texts.
The Slavic source narrating the baptism of the Gyula in Constantinople in the middle of the 10th century mentions that his baptismal name was Stefan. According to the chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg (975-1018), the name of King Stephen’s uncle whose country was occupied by the Hungarian king in 1003 was Procui.
- Kurszán (before 894–902) or Árpád (before 894–902/after 902)
- "Gyula I" or an unknown member of the Árpád dynasty (?–?); "Gyula I" may be identical to Kurszán
- "Gyula II" (c. 952/953); his baptismal name was Stefan
- "Gyula III"/ (c. 980 – c. 1003); his name may have been Procui
- The Annales heremi, the Annales alamannici, and the Annales sangalenses maiores refer to him (Róna-Tas, András op. cit. p. 344).
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