History With Crusader Kings: Álmos Árpad

Álmos starts in a precarious situation in the game. His country is sandwiched between the Khazars in the east and Bulgaria from the south. Furthermore, in Crusader Kings’ latest version, you start the game in a war with the Bulgarians. However, there is a ray of light in the storm. Like Hæsteinn before, Álmos begins with a special retinue. A 5000-man strong army, consisting of 2000 Horse Archers and 3000 levies. The levies are nothing but fodder, but the 2000-man Horse Archer retinue is nothing to scoff at. They are more than capable of pulling you to a victory if you play your cards right. This retinue was likely representative of the massive migration that took part.

 

Clashing Chronicles

Image source: wikipedia.org

 

On the topic of Álmos’ position as leader, sources disagree on whether he was truly the first-ever leader of a unified Magyar people. The Hungarian chronicle states Álmos was elected freely by the tribal chiefs to lead as sole ruler. A Greek source states his son, Árpad, was chosen over Álmos to lead. Several historians claim that the legends surrounding Álmos’ birth prove his role as leader. A Muslim source stated that the Hungarians had two high offices of leadership, the Kende (spiritual leader) and the Gyula (military leader). But the source mentioned nothing of which role Álmos held.

Regardless of all these, Crusader Kings honours and depicts Álmos to have led the Magyar to their new home. Wherein his son, Árpad, then inherits his legacy. If several of the sources are to be believed, it is possible that Álmos may have died before having fully taken the Carpathian Basin.

 

The Dream

File:Árpád (Chronicon Pictum 023).jpg

Image source: wikimedia.org

 

Álmos has legends surrounding his birth, as mentioned before. It was told that his mother dreamt of a bird “which had the likeness of a hawk” entering her womb. Similar stories are common among the steppe nomads. Even Genghis Khan himself had a similar legend behind him.

The author of the Gesta Hungarorum made connections between the name Álmos with the Hungarian word for dream, Álom. If true, his name fits well with the legendary narrative surrounding his birth.

 

The Comparisons

Image source: geni.com

 

Álmos in Crusader Kings is a brilliant martial character and is fitting of the Gyula role. In older versions, the decision to migrate used to be something the player had to take. But now Álmos begins with this decision already taken. History describes that it was a hard choice to make—leaving behind one’s ancestral homeland. So, the omission of having the player decide to relive that choice seems like a blunder on Paradox’s part. The migration itself was caused due to a two-pronged invasion by the Bulgarians and Pechenegs. The cause of which was the Hungarian intervention in a Bulgar-Byzantine war.

When Álmos was elected, a swear of allegiance known as the “Treaty of Blood” was done. This involved The Letting of blood from those swearing allegiance into a wine-filled cup where participants will drink from it. At the same time as the procession, Álmos proclaimed all to receive a fair share in their conquests. He also promised to never exclude them or their kin from counsel. These eventually became a part of Hungary’s constitution, invoked by nobles to exert their rights.

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