The ancestors of the Hungarians were the Magyars, warlike horsemen and hunters who migrated from the Ural region in the fifth century A.D. Under Árpád the Magyars occupied the middle Danube basin in 896. The most notable of their early rulers was Stephen I, who ruled from about 1000 to 1038. He organized a strong kingdom and became a Roman Catholic. He was canonized as Saint Stephen.

The Hungarian kings often came into conflict with the nobles. In 1222 Andrew II issued the Golden Bull, called the “Hungarian Magna Charta.” This decree exempted all nobles from taxation, granted them other privileges, and conceded the right of resistance to any illegal act of the king. In 1241 Hungary was invaded by Mongols, who left it devastated after a year's occupation.

Important dates in Hungary
Late 800's The Magyars conquered Hungary.
1000 Stephen I became Hungary's first king and converted the country to Roman Catholic Christianity.
1241 The Mongols invaded Hungary.
1458-1490 Matthias Hunyadi ruled Hungary and helped make it a center of Italian Renaissance culture.
1526 The Ottoman Empire defeated Hungary in the Battle of Mohacs. Soon afterward, the Ottomans occupied central and eastern Hungary.
1600's-early 1700's Austrian Habsburg forces drove the Ottomans out of Hungary and took control of the country.
1703-1711 Francis Rakoczi II led an unsuccessful uprising to gain Hungarian independence.
1848 Lajos Kossuth led an anti-Habsburg revolution, which was defeated the following year.
1867 The Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary was established.
1914-1918 Austria-Hungary was defeated in World War I.
1918 Hungary became a republic.
1919 Bela Kun established the first Hungarian Communist government. It lasted only a few months.
1919-1944 Admiral Nicholas Horthy, a conservative, ruled Hungary as a regent (in the place of a king).
1941 Hungary entered World War II on Germany's side.
1944 Germany, which mistrusted Hungary as an ally, occupied the country.
1945 Hungary and the Allies signed an armistice.
1946 Hungary again became a republic. The new government started political, economic, and social reforms.
1946-1949 Hungarian Communists gradually gained control of the government.
1947 The Allies signed a peace treaty with Hungary that confirmed the terms of the 1945 armistice.
1955 Hungary became a member of the United Nations.
1956 Soviet forces crushed an anti-Communist revolution in Hungary.
1988 Hungary's Communist Party agreed to allow other political parties to operate in the country.
1990 The 40-year rule of the Communist Party ended.
1999 Hungary joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance of Western nations.