The Medieval Politics and History of Europe

The Medieval Politics and History of Europe


This article discusses the political and historical events of eleventh century Europe, with a particular focus on Hungary and Poland. It highlights the differences in political stability and centralization between countries such as France and Germany, with Germany enjoying a centralized power under the Ottonian or Saxon dynasty while France struggled with fragmentation. The article then delves into the medieval history of Hungary under the rule of Stephen I, the first Christian king who dedicated himself to consolidating power and integrating the Church into the state.

Table of Contents

  • Political Stability and Centralization in Europe
  • Poland’s Expansion and Tension with Germany
  • Medieval History of Hungary under Stephen I


Q: How did Otto I use the Church to extend his influence across Germany?

A: Otto I used the Church to extend his influence by establishing bishoprics and monasteries, appointing loyal clerics to them, and using their influence to assert his power over the local nobility. He also arranged for the coronation of bishops and the election of the archbishops, ensuring that the Church would be loyal to him rather than to the nobility.

Q: How did Poland’s expansion to the south affect its relations with Germany?

A: Poland’s expansion to the south allowed it to establish a potential defensive line against its enemies, but it also created tensions with Germany. Germany had concentrated power in the west, and Poland’s marshes and mountain terrain faced enemies to the east and south. This led to a perceived threat by Germany, and in a series of three wars, Poland established its independence. The tension with Germany remained a significant factor in the international politics of Northern Europe and would impact the internal histories of both kingdoms in the decades to come.

Q: How did Stephen I consolidate power in Hungary?

A: Stephen I used a number of tactics to consolidate his power in Hungary. He confiscated property and engaged in political battles to weaken the nobility’s power and consolidated authority through territorial governments and codes of laws. He also integrated the Church into the state, employing Latin prelates, and established parishes and churches to support the Catholic faith. Additionally, he supported the pilgrimage movement, which helped to create a sense of community among the people and ethnogenesis.

Q: How did Stephen I deal with external pressures on Hungary?

A: Stephen I faced external pressures on Hungary from the Empire, Poland, and pagan Pecheneg tribesmen from the north-east and east. He dealt with these pressures by consolidating his power and integrating the Church, which allowed him to have a loyal army and administration. He also established territorial governments and codes of laws to establish stability in the region. Moreover, Stephen I encouraged the building of parishes and churches and supported the pilgrimage movement to create a sense of unity among the people of Hungary.


The eleventh century was a time of significant political and historical events in Europe. While some countries, such as Germany, enjoyed centralized power and economic growth, others, such as France, struggled with fragmentation. Poland’s expansion to the south created tensions with Germany, while Hungary’s Stephen I consolidated his power and integrated the Church into the state to establish territorial governments and support the Catholic faith. Despite facing external pressures, Stephen I established codes of laws, supported the pilgrimage movement, and encouraged the building of parishes and churches, which created a sense of community and stability in the region.

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