Discussion:
Cuman Oath
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HWinnSadler
2018-04-30 18:08:23 UTC
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While doing some research on King Stephen V of Hungary, I came across an interesting fact about his wife Elizabeth the Cuman that I thought would be nice to share with the group, since a large amount of us descend from Elizabeth the Cuman. Through her daughter Mary, she is the ancestress of Philippa of Hainault, wife of King Edward III.

At the Gate of Christendom: Jews, Muslims and 'Pagans' in Medieval Hungary, c. 1000 to c. 1300, Nora Berend: “As a result, he had his son, (already crowned, and ruling over a part of the country as “younger king”), marry the daughter of the Cuman king. During the wedding feast, ten Cuman lords swore over a dog ‘cut into two by a sword, as is their custom, that they would hold the land of the Hungarians, as men faithful to the king, against the tartars and barbarous nations’. That swearing an oath while cutting a dog to pieces was a Cuman custom is confirmed by Jean de Joinville’s account, whose source, the eyewitness Philippe de Toucy, recounted a similar ceremony”.

Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages: A Cultural History, Piotr Goreck and Nancy W. Deusen: “The ceremony also known from the Steppe was then performed, cutting a dog in two by a sword, as is their custom, that they would hold the land of the Hungarians, as men faithful to the king, against the tartars and barbarous nations’.

Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c.900–c.1300, Nora Berend, Przemysław Urbańczyk, Przemysław Wiszewski: “Their baptism and the marriage of a Cuman chieftain’s daughter to Bela’s son Istvan, during which Cuman leaders swore an oath over a dog cut in two, was meant to guarantee the Cuman’s fidelity to the king”.
Peter Stewart
2018-05-01 00:47:35 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
While doing some research on King Stephen V of Hungary, I came across an interesting fact about his wife Elizabeth the Cuman that I thought would be nice to share with the group, since a large amount of us descend from Elizabeth the Cuman. Through her daughter Mary, she is the ancestress of Philippa of Hainault, wife of King Edward III.
At the Gate of Christendom: Jews, Muslims and 'Pagans' in Medieval Hungary, c. 1000 to c. 1300, Nora Berend: “As a result, he had his son, (already crowned, and ruling over a part of the country as “younger king”), marry the daughter of the Cuman king. During the wedding feast, ten Cuman lords swore over a dog ‘cut into two by a sword, as is their custom, that they would hold the land of the Hungarians, as men faithful to the king, against the tartars and barbarous nations’. That swearing an oath while cutting a dog to pieces was a Cuman custom is confirmed by Jean de Joinville’s account, whose source, the eyewitness Philippe de Toucy, recounted a similar ceremony”.
This is not exactly what Joinville related - according to him, good faith was sworn by the leading men on both sides drinking their own and the others' blood mixed in wine. Then a dog was cut to pieces by both sides to demonstrate what would happen to anyone who broke the pact.

Sounds like a novel way to settle a thread on SGM, rather than having the principals in an argument cut each other to pieces.

Peter Stewart
HWinnSadler
2018-05-01 15:04:19 UTC
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That seems to be what I've read from other sources as well. I just reproduced what the author of the text wrote, possible errors and all. The Cumans sure did have some interesting customs!

That does seem like a better solution. Would also be more theatric.

As always, I do not think Wikipedia is a reliable source- however, the article on the Cumans has a fascinating section on Cuman Culture. If the sources are accurate, I wonder how Elizabeth the Cuman and her family seemed to the Christian Hungarians, besides just being Pagans.

Hunter Winn
Peter Stewart
2018-05-01 22:20:59 UTC
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Post by HWinnSadler
That seems to be what I've read from other sources as well. I just reproduced what the author of the text wrote, possible errors and all. The Cumans sure did have some interesting customs!
That does seem like a better solution. Would also be more theatric.
As always, I do not think Wikipedia is a reliable source- however, the article on the Cumans has a fascinating section on Cuman Culture. If the sources are accurate, I wonder how Elizabeth the Cuman and her family seemed to the Christian Hungarians, besides just being Pagans.
Elizabeth seems to have fitted in well enough - she was no doubt very young when handed over well ahead of her marriage, and she was practically raised at the court of Bela IV and Maria Laskarina. As a widow she appears to have ruled in Bosnia personally with more success than her young son's advisers had in Hungary.

Peter Stewart

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