The foundation was laid in the ninth century by the great Magyar chief, Árpád, who after having settled in the carpathian basin lead the people from paganism toward Christianity. On Christmas Day, 1000, Árpád's great grandson, Stephen ascended to the throne with a crown sent from Rome by Pope Sylvester II. The kingdom and nation of Hungary was born.
The three hundred year reign of the House of Árpád saw the country become increasingly westward-looking and the succeeding House of Anjou brought expansion - into Poland, towards Dalmatia - and a great flowering of art and architecture. The first Golden Age had begun. Under King Matthias, lauded for his fairness and justice, Hungary flourished, but his passing eventually led to decimation under the Ottomans for 150 years during the 16th and l7th-century. However, the Habsburgs helped oust the Turkish, heralding a more stable time of reconstruction.