Hungary Monarch. Born in Esztergom, Hungary, in 1148, he was the second son of King Geza II. In 1161, his father granted him the Duchies of Croatia and after their father's death in 1162, his brother King Stephen III ascended to the throne. When his brother King Stephen III died in 1172, Béla became his rightful heir the throne, with his wife Anna as Queen. Béla was one of the most powerful rulers of Hungary and he was also one of the most wealthy monarchs of Europe of his age. He amended the administration of his kingdom and established the Royal Chancellery in Hungary. In the 1180s, after the death of his first wife, he married Margaret of France and expanded the Byzantine Empire territories. Béla took the cross as a token of his desire to lead a crusade to the Holy Land. However, he could not fulfill his oath, because he fell ill and died on 23 April 1196. He was buried in the Székesfehérvár Cathedral. His remains were confidently identified by archeologists during 19th-century excavations, because a contemporaneous source—Richard of London—wrote of Béla's exceptional height. Béla's skeleton shows that he was 190 centimetres (75 in) tall. Béla's remains were reinterred at the Matthias Church in Budapest.
Bio by: John "J-Cat" Griffith
Geza II of Hungary