The Concord of Ashes
(modified from the wikipedia article and Transylvania by Night pp. 40-41)
Also known as Gran to the Germans
Esztergom is one of the oldest towns in the Kingdom of Hungary, but Castle Hill (Várhegy) has been inhabited for time out of mind. It is said that the Celts had a fortification on the hill and a large walled settlement (called Solva) below it for centuries before the Roman legions conquered the region. Thereafter it became an important border province of Pannonia, known by the name of Strigonium. The settlement prospered for hundreds of years as Roman castrum, but it was eventually humbled in successive waves of German and Avar invasions. Owing to the excellent fortifications, those peoples would invariably remain before being cast out by the next wave.
At about 500 CE, Slavic peoples immigrated into the Pannonian Basin. In ninth century, the place was part of Great Moravia, afterwards of the Principality of Nitra. In Old Slavonic language, it was called Strěgom (“guard”), as it was a place to control the Danube valley.
The Magyars entered the Pannonian Basin in 896 CE and conquered it systematically until 901. In 960, the ruling prince of the Hungarians, Géza, chose Esztergom as his residence. His son, Vajk, who was later called Saint Stephen of Hungary, was born in his palace built on the Roman castrum on the Várhegy (Castle Hill) around 970. In 973, Esztergom served as the starting point of an important historical event. During Easter of that year, Géza sent a committee to the international peace conference of Emperor Otto I in Quedlinburg. He offered peace to the Emperor and asked for missionaries.
By that time, significant craft and merchant settlements had been founded. In 1000 CE, Stephen was crowned king in Esztergom. From the time of his rule up to the beginning of the present time at the turn of the 12th century, the only mint for the country has operated here. During the same period, the castle of Esztergom was built. It serves not only as the royal residence, but also as the center of the Hungarian state, its religion, and also of the County of Esztergom. The Hungarian king, Emeric I, while still a young man at just over 30 years of age, is ailing and he rarely leaves the palace. His health has been spent on incessant campaigning in Serbia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and in dynastic strife against his own younger brother, Duke Andras. Andras was a prisoner in the castle until recently, when he managed to escape the capital and conspires once more against the throne.
The archbishop of Esztergom is the leader of the ten bishoprics founded by Stephen. The archbishop was often in charge of important state functions and had the exclusive right to crown kings. The present Archbishop, Job, has held the office since 1185 CE and he is very old and sick. His subordinates are already jockeying to replace him.
The settlements of royal servants, merchants, craftsmen at the foot of the Várhegy has developed into the most significant town in the nation. While Estergom has a smaller population than Buda-Pest, the economic, ecclesiastic, and political life of the country is here. According to the Frenchman Odo de Deogilo, who visited the country in 1147, “the Danube carries the economy and treasures of several countries to Esztergom”. This is the town where foreign monarchs meet Hungarian kings. Emperor Conrad III met Géza II in this town during the march of the Second Crusade. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa also visited Béla III on the Third Crusade. The historians traveling with them all agree on the richness and significance of Esztergom. Arnold of Lübeck, the historian with Frederick Barbarossa, called Esztergom the capital of Hungarian people (“quae Ungarorum est metropolis”).
Titular Ruler: King Emeric I of Hungary"
Cainite Ruler: ‘Archbishop’ Geza Arpad
Governmental Mix: Autocratic monarch who rules over the nation, county and city from his court in the castle atop Várhegy. He is advised by a town council consisting of the wealthiest residents of Esztergom, many of whom are of French, Spanish, Flemish, and Italian origin in addition to the native Magyars. This council is left to handle matters of commerce, for the Crown understands that “silver flows best when the river of trade is not dammed”.
In addition to the king and the town council, considerable politicking occurs among the clergy of the city. Esztergom is the seat of the Archbishop of Esztergom, the chief cleric in all of Greater Hungary. All major appointments to ecclesiastical positions are made here, often with input from the king, and so the Archbishop’s palace has become a hotbed of intrigue.
Population: c. 8600 (63% Magyar, 12% German [mainly Bavarian & Saxon], 6% French, 5% Spanish, 5% Flemish, 4% Italian, 5% other including Poles, Vlachs, Turks & Jews).
Economy: Extremely Strong, reliant on the Danube trade route supplemented by land routes from the northern counties and the Polish dutchy’s beyond them. The royal and archepiscopal courts consume a great number of luxuries of all stripes, and merchants from all over Europe have a permanent residence here to supply them.
Cainites Affairs of Esztergom
- “Archbishop” Geza Arpad, Prince of Esztergom (7th gen. Ventrue, Childe of Bulscu, e. late 10th century)
- Sister Liseta Iluminada, Church conspirator (7th gen. Lasombra, Childe of Juan Antonio Ramirez [d], e. early 10th century)
- Ormos Arpad, courtly conniver (8th gen. Ventrue, Childe of Geza Arpad, e. mid 12th century)
- Dorika Dénes, her Master’s voice (8th gen. Ventrue, Childe of Geza Arpad, e. late 12th century)
- Robi Tamás, Usurper envoy (8th gen. Tremere, Childe of Malgorzata, e. mid 12th century)
- Several itinerants, namely Lady Arianne, Zelios and Vassily Taltos
Archbishop Job (from 1185 until March 1204)
Archdeacon Kalán (Archbishop Sept 1204- April 1205)
The prince’s residence stands on the northern side of the hill. The center of the hill was occupied by a basilica dedicated to St. Adalbert, who, according to legend, baptised St. Stephen. The Church of St. Adalbert was the seat of the archbishop of Esztergom, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary.