Question: Who was Stephen I of Hungary?

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Stephen I. was one of the great constructive statesmen of history. His long and strenuous reign resulted in the firm establishment of the Hungarian church and the Hungarian state. The great work may be said to have begun in 1001, when Pope Silvester II. recognized Magyar nationality by endowing the young Magyar prince with a kingly crown. Less fortunate than his great exemplar, Charlemagne, Stephen had to depend entirely upon foreigners--men like the Saxon Asztrik, the first Hungarian primate; the Lombard St Gellert ; the Bosomanns, a German family, better known under the Magyarized form of their name Pázmány, and many others who came to Hungary in the suite of his enlightened consort Gisela of Bavaria. By these men Hungary was divided into dioceses, with a metropolitan see at Esztergom, a city originally founded by Geza, but richly embellished by Stephen, whose Italian architects built for him there the first Hungarian cathedral dedicated to St Adalbert. Towns, most of them also the sees of bishops, now sprang up everywhere, including Székesfehérvár, Veszprém, Pécs and Györ. Esztergom, Stephen's favorite residence, was the capital, and continued to be so for the next two centuries. But the Benedictines, whose settlement in Hungary dates from the establishment of their monastery at Pannonhalma, were the chief pioneers. Every monastery erected in the Magyar wildernesses was not only a center of religion, but a focus of civilization. The monks cleared the forests, cultivated the recovered land, and built villages for the colonists who flocked to them, teaching the people western methods of agriculture and western arts and handicrafts. But conversion, after all, was the chief aim of these devoted missionaries, and when some Venetian priests had invented a Latin alphabet for the Magyar language a great step had been taken towards its accomplishment.

The monks were soon followed by foreign husbandmen, artificers and handicraftsmen, who were encouraged to come to Hungary by reports of the abundance of good land there and the promise of privileges. This immigration was also stimulated by the terrible condition of western Europe between 987 and 1060, when it was visited by an endless succession of bad harvests and epidemics. Hungary, now better known to Europe, came to be regarded as a Promised Land, and, by the end of Stephen's reign, Catholics of all nationalities, Greeks, Pagans, Jews and Mohammedans were living securely together within her borders. For, inexorable as Stephen ever was towards fanatical pagans, renegades and rebels, he was too good a statesman to inquire too closely into the private religious opinions of useful and quiet citizens.
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