Post by Peter Stewart Post by Peter Stewart Post by Hans Vogels Post by taf Post by Hans Vogels
There he presents - based on the Bulgarian and Hungarian interaction
- a hypothesis in which Sámuel Alba, king of Hungary 1041-1044,
becomes the 2e son of Gavril Radomir, Bulgarian emperor 1014-1015,
born (1002-1004) of his repudiated pregnant Hungarian wife. Sámuel
Alba (by an "anonyma") was the father of a Péter, born in the early
1020s, who died in battle in 1074. The well-known Agatha could have
been Sámuels daughter.
Mladjov previously held the opinion that Agatha might have been de
child of the send away pregnant Hungarian wife. This new hypothesis
constitutes - according to himself - a significant improvement of
his previous opinion.
Mladjov does not venture on the subject of Sámuels wife. He sees
Sámuel as the son of Gavril Radomir, the son of Samuil, Bulgarian
emperor 997-1014, and of his wife Agathe Khryselaine.
I'm not giving an opinion on what Mladjov constructs but - in this
new line of thought - could the anonymous wife of Sámuel Alba not be
a scion of a German noble family with distant ties to a German
To me, plucking a Hungarian king claimed to have Cuman ancestry out
of his documented (eh, not very well documented, but still) context
and making him a Bulgarian royal simply to make an onomastic argument
regarding the obscure wife of an English prince just seems to me to
be trying too hard.
I think this description does not do justice to Mladjovs hypothesis.
If you read the two papers in sequence you would have noticed that in
the first one he gives a good inventory with their merits and
downpoints of all the then known theories. He explains why he chooses
for a Hungaryan origin and dives in the historical context and tries
to find a plausble solution.
In the second one he comes back to the historical scene and the
chronology of certain aspects. In the first he was kind of following
the mainstream opinion. In the second he is more critical and he
points out to a different explanation of a detail. That lead him to a
simpler solution. He does not change the onomastics. Mladjov scetches
a clear political scene on the years 1040-1056 in which the English
prince had to manouver.
Tom me the descent for Agatha one way or another is not especially
important. It interesting to read about the historical background and
on what is sure or on what can be reconstructed with a certain degree.
The attempt on p. 79 to make Aba Sámuel into a sister's son of the first
Hungarian king St Stephen is highly doubtful.
The word 'sororius' can have this meaning, as Mladjov says, but the
source using this term for Aba Sámuel in relationship to St Stephen uses
the same term three times for other men when it necessarily means a
Szabolcs de Vajay confused this question by rejecting sister's son as a
possible interpretation (relying on the first edition of Niermeyer's
dictionary, which had omitted this meaning for the word - though it was
later included in the second edition). György Györffy in his biography
of St Stephen (*István király és műve*, original edition 1977) took the
contrary view, and their opinions were discussed by Gyula Kristó in 1992
('Aba Sámuel és Károly Róbert családi kapcsolatairól' in *Acta
Universitatis Szegediensis: acta historica* 96). Kristó ended up with
the same conclusion as Vajay, but got there through better-informed
reasoning. He argued against Györffy's view that Aba Sámuel had a claim
by blood to the Hungarian throne and that he must have belonged to the
same generation as his rival Peter Orseolo.
If Agatha had been a daughter of Aba Sámuel (by the way, Wertner thought
that Aba was his pagan name and that he was baptised Sámuel on
conversion rather than named after a grandfather of this name) she would
have had a lot of close relatives, since most of the older Hungarian
nobility claimed descent from him - from memory there are supposed to be
29 main branches of his descendants, of which 28 are descended from sons
other than Peter who is the only one noted in Mladjov's article.
This was a memory that I should have checked first: the legend that the
"Aba" clan of noble families in Hungary are descended from King Aba
Sámuel is apparently just an old fiction. (This story is attached among
others to the Rhédey family, that of Queen Elizabeth II's maternal
grandmother Queen Mary's closest line of non-royal ancestors.)
It seems that the male lineage of these families cannot be traced beyond
a man named Aba who lived in the early-13th century, who has been
fancifully conflated with the 11th-century king of the same name.
Some people treat names as a kind of talisman that can cast magic over
genealogies. The wife of Aba Sámuel was thought to have been a sister of
St Stephen, so in the 18th century someone gave her the name Sarolta on
the (unproven) assumption that this was his mother's name and therefore
probably also hers. Someone else later believed that the wife's name was
definitely Sarolta and that consequently she must have been the daughter
of her father's presumed first wife Sarolta since his (assumed, not
proven) second wife was named Adelaide.
O what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive ...
I made contact with Ian Mladjov as it would be fair to him to give him the opportunity of a response on the reviews of his articles and got the following answer. I have his permission to post it to the Newsgroup here.
Post by Peter Stewart Post by Peter Stewart
Onomastics can be overrated indeed, but it would be just as silly to deny their footprints all over the pages of genealogical connections. I would think that, with the Agatha enigma, the lack of sufficiently strong (concurrent) indication of origin and the relative strangeness of the name in Western Europe all but require a look at potential onomastic clues. I believe I managed to find the
google newsgroup page you were referring to and thank you for having taken the time to actually read through my arguments, both old and new, and to do them justice. I am aware of the unpopularity of the solution (and the Henry Project gave it a low rating in it's ranking of Agatha hypotheses) and of the seeming weakness in having revised one’s views. But, as you said, I believe I have provided sufficient reasoning as to why the earlier identifications are still inadequate, and why another solution needed to be sought. Of course, I have not had the opportunity to discuss hypotheses published since my original article in detail, and I hope to return to the Agatha question soon.
The second article does reflect my current views. The chronology, names, and political considerations made the original identification a possibility in the first place; the revised version of the genealogical connections retained these points in what I now believe to be a more sensible arrangement. All of this seems to fall into place nicely enough, but technically speaking, these are possibly different issues: is Samuel Aba a nephew (rather than brother-in-law) of Istvan I (and through which sister)?; is Agatha his daughter?; do the names Samuel, Agatha, and Peter (among others) point to the Kometopouloi family that ruled Bulgaria before its conquest by Byzantium in 1018? While all of these questions make sense to me answered in an affirmative and interconnected way (i.e., Agatha is the daughter of Samuel
Aba, who was the son of Gavril Radomir of Bulgaria [son of Samuil of Bulgaria by Agathe Khryselaina] by the sister of Istvan I of Hungary), they need not be; but I do think there is better reason to derive Agatha from Hungary than from any other place that has been proposed (Germany, Russia, Poland). And while it is nowhere explicitly attested, seeing her as the daughter of Samuel Aba makes the best sense; it would conform closely (if not entirely exactly) to several of our earliest sources, from the first half of the 12th century.
At the risk of repeating what I have stated in the article, some notes on Samuel Aba -- while he was later believed to be an ancestor of the Aba clan, that is in fact perfectly unverifiable; for what it is worth, the anonymous chronicler of King Bela III thought the name “Aba” a reference to his piety or being an abbot. The supposed Cuman descent is a red herring, as Cumans did not appear in these parts until many decades later -- actually many of the Bulgarian rulers of the Second Bulgarian State were of Cuman descent, so perhaps that would work the other way; the supposed Hunnic descent, on the other hand, is compatible with the genealogical claims (verifiable or not) of the Hungarian and Bulgarian ruling houses, for what little that is worth. As for sororius, from what I have seen, the earlier source (Simon de Keza) uses it only for Samuel Aba; the later Chronicon pictum (late 14th century) does follow Keza in this, but also uses it (twice) for Otto, margrave of Moravia, as sister’s husband of the Hungarian kings Geza I and Laszlo I; yet, it is a later source and we need not expect an identical usage there (or consistency). The Hungarian chronicles’ statement that the Hungarians had no one of the royal house left to make king instead of Peter the Venetian so they turned to Samuel Aba as a sororius of Istvan I originally led me to believe the long-standing interpretation of the relationship as Samuel being married to Istvan’s sister. But encountering the opposite interpretation, Samuel being the son of Istvan’s sister in several reputable historical and genealogical sources made me revisit the
question, and on chronological and biological grounds it seems to me more likely that this is the correct interpretation of sororius -- for example, Samuel Aba almost certainly belongs in a later generation than Istvan I, and that in a society where a woman might have married a man as old as her father! As for the royal house, that does appear to have been defined through male-line descent from Arpad, so Samuel Aba would be considered an outsider.
As already mentioned in passing in my first article, Samuel Aba was always a possible father for Agatha -- although I ignored (more than dismissed) that possibility for the lack of evidence and because then I thought he belonged at least one generation earlier. Hard evidence, of course, is still lacking for any of the proposed hypotheses on Agatha’s origins, but with the new genealogical placement of Samuel Aba, there is no problem placing Agatha as his daughter; this would largely vindicate several early sources making Agatha the daughter of a Hungarian king (though not of the one that played her host), and in a world of copying manuscripts and using
abbreviations, it might even make some sense of the obviously erroneous indication of Salamon as her father (in Orderic Vitalis). It would make sense of a Kievan exile during the reign of Peter the Venetian in Hungary, when rival members of the Hungarian royal house sought refuge in Russia. It would also make sense of the enmity of Emperor Heinrich III (though Agatha was supposed to be a kinswoman, in some sense, of the German royal house too) -- if she were the daughter of the king of Hungary he had opposed, fought and chased off. And while Hungary as the intended destination of Agatha during her widowhood does not automatically guarantee it was her homeland, it certainly does lend itself to that interpretation, when Germany, Russia, and even Poland would have been easier to reach. What it boils down to, I suppose, is that Hungary seems to be of key importance to reconstructing Agatha’s origins.
Ian Mladjov <<
Mr. Mladjov was a professor in the History department at Bowling Green State University and teaches now at Michigan State University.
His field of interest is history, more specifically pre-modern and especially Byzantine/Balkan political and diplomatic history; political geography, genealogy, and chronology. He has his own website.