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LADISLAUS [I.], Saint (1040–1095), king of Hungary, the son of Béla I., king of Hungary, and the Polish princess Richeza, was born in Poland, whither his father had sought refuge, but was recalled by his elder brother Andrew I. to Hungary (1047) and brought up there. He succeeded to the throne on the death of his uncle Geza in 1077, as the eldest member of the royal family, and speedily won for himself a reputation scarcely inferior to that of Stephen I., by nationalizing Christianity and laying the foundations of Hungary's political greatness. Instinctively recognizing that Germany was the natural enemy of the Magyars, Ladislaus formed a close alliance with the pope and all the other enemies of the emperor Henry IV., including the anti-emperor Rudolph of Swabia and his chief supporter Welf, duke of Bavaria, whose daughter Adelaide he married. She bore him one son and three daughters, one of whom, Piriska, married the Byzantine emperor John Comnenus. The collapse of the German emperor in his struggle with the pope left Ladislaus free to extend his dominions towards the south, and colonize and Christianize the wildernesses of Transylvania and the lower Danube. Hungary was still semi-savage, and her native barbarians were being perpetually recruited from the hordes of Pechenegs, Kumanians and other races which swept ovei her during the 11th century. Ladislaus himself had fought valiantly in his youth against the Pechenegs, and to defend the land against the Kumanians, who now occupied Moldavia and Wallachia as far as the Alt, he built the fortresses of Turnu-Severin and Gyula Féhervar. He also planted in Transylvania the Szeklers, the supposed remnant of the ancient Magyars from beyond the Dnieper, and founded the bishoprics of Nagy-Varad, or Gross-Wardein, and of Agram, as fresh foci of Catholicism in south Hungary and the hitherto uncultivated districts between the Drave and the Save. He subsequently conquered Croatia, though here his authority was questioned by the pope, the Venetian republic and the Greek emperor. Ladislaus died suddenly in 1095 when about to take part in the first Crusade. No other Hungarian king was so generally beloved. The whole nation mourned for him for three years, and regarded him as a saint long before his canonization. A whole cycle of legends is associated with his name.

See J. Babik, Life of St Ladislaus (Hung.) (Eger, 1892); Gyérgy Pray, Dissertatio de St Ladislao (Pressburg, 1774); Antal Ganéczy, Diss. hist. crit. de St Ladislaa (Vienna, 1775).