Elizabeth the Cuman

Elizabeth the Cuman (1244-1290) was the Queen consort of Stephen V of Hungary. She was regent of Hungary during the minority of her son in 1272-1277.

Elizabeth the Cuman
Queen consort of Hungary
Died1290 (aged 4546)
SpouseStephen V of Hungary
IssueElizabeth, Queen of Serbia
Catherine, Queen of Serbia
Mary, Queen of Naples
Anne, Byzantine Empress
Ladislaus IV of Hungary
Andrew, Duke of Slavonia
HouseÁrpád dynasty
FatherKöten (or possibly Seyhan, a Cuman chieftain)

The Cumans were the western tribes of the Cuman-Kipchak confederation. Her people followed a shamanist religion and were considered pagans by contemporary Christians of Europe.

Questions of parentage and family

In 1238, Khan Köten, her father according to historians, led the Cumans and a number of other clans in invading the Kingdom of Hungary while fleeing from the advancing hordes of the Mongol Empire. In time, Béla IV of Hungary negotiated an alliance with Köten and his people, granting them asylum in exchange for their conversion to Roman Catholicism and loyalty to the King. The agreement was sealed with the betrothal of Elizabeth to Stephen, eldest son of Béla IV. The agreement seems to have occurred while Stephen was an infant. Elizabeth was unlikely to have been older than her future husband. In 1241, the Mongol invasion of Europe under the leadership of Batu Khan and Subutai began, with Hungary among its primary targets. Köten was assassinated by Hungarian nobles fearing he would lead a defection to the other side.

Other historians point out that a charter of her father-in-law, Béla IV, refers to a Cuman chieftain Seyhan as his "kinsman," which can be interpreted to mean that Seyhan was in fact Elizabeth's father.[1][2]

She also had an unidentified sister, who married Hungarian noble Gregory Monoszló.


Béla IV returned from Austria following the Mongol evacuation. Upon his return to power, Béla began rebuilding his country, including a massive construction campaign which produced the system of castles as a defense against the threat of a Mongol return. Köten was deceased but the betrothal was still in effect. Elizabeth was converted to Roman Catholicism in preparation for her marriage. The marriage of Stephen and Elizabeth occurred in 1253. The groom was twelve years old and the bride close in age to him. She became queen of Hungary upon her father-in-law's death on 3 May 1270.


Stephen died on 6 August 1272. Elizabeth became regent for their ten-year-old son, Ladislaus IV. Her regency lasted until 1277 and saw palace revolutions and civil wars. Her upbringing of her son would cause further problems for his reign. Ladislaus favored the society of the "semi-pagan" Cumans, from whom he was descended through his mother. He wore Cuman dress as his court wear, surrounded himself with Cuman concubines and thus alienated the Hungarian nobility. His later attempts to regain Hungarian loyalty instead alienated parts of the Cumans. He was murdered in his tent by Cumans while camped in Bihar county on 10 July 1290. By that time Elizabeth herself seems to have also been deceased. There is no mention of her in the reign of his successor, Andrew III. There is a tradition that she died in the year 1290.


Elizabeth and Stephen V of Hungary were parents to six known children:


  1. [(Hungarian) Kristó, Gyula; Makk, Ferenc (1996). Az Árpád-ház uralkodói [Rulers of the House of Árpád]. I.P.C. Könyvek. ISBN 963-7930-97-3], p.268.
  2. Klaniczay, Gábor (2002). Holy Rulers and Blessed Princes: Dynastic Cults in Medieval Central Europe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42018-0., p.439.


Royal titles
Preceded by
Maria Laskarina
Queen consort of Hungary
Succeeded by
Elizabeth of Sicily
Preceded by
Ugrin Csák
Ban of Macsó
Duchess of Macsó and Bosnia
Succeeded by
Stephen Dragutin
King of Syrmia
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