The conflict between East and West for the control of Europe has world-wide implications today. This stems partly from a conflict of ideologies and partly from the simple fact that speed and ease of communication have narrowed the circumference of the globe. Yet the conflict itself is not a new phenomenon, and Hungary has always been involved to some extent.
When the first Magyars, originally resident east of the Urals, crossed the Carpathians in the winter of 895-96, they established an eastern outpost in the Danubian Basin. Their initial conquests ended the extensive Moravian kingdom and permanently separated the Western and Northern Slavs (Poles, Slovaks, and Czechs) from the Southern Slavs (Slovenes, Croatians, and Serbians). These early Magyars were a collection of tribes, and they raided deep into Western Europe, into Italy, and to the southeast to the walls of Constantinople. In 955, they suffered a catastrophic defeat at Lechfeld, near Augsburg, at the hands of Emperor Otto I, who reorganized the Ost Mark ( Austria) as a barrier against further Magyar inroads into Western Europe. The defeat apparently had a sobering effect, for the Magyars settled down permanently in the lands where they have ever since remained.
A chieftain, hardly to be called king, by the name of Arpad is credited with having led the Magyars into Europe. Although he gave his name to the first great Hungarian dynasty, which ruled until 1301, his immediate successors by no means exercised royal rights. It was Duke Geza ( 972-97) who organized the princely power and began to weld the tribes into a kingdom. At this time, the Byzantine Empire had taken a new lease on life and was threatening to extend its power again beyond the Danube. Geza, who realized he could no longer live in pagan isolation, decided to accept Roman Christianity at the hands of German missionaries to avoid subjugation to the Church at Constantinople. Nevertheless, he was fearful of coming under German domination, an attitude which has characterized Hungarian history through the ages.