Two Counties’ Coat of Arms
Erika Papp Faber
Szolnok-Doboka was a county in pre-World War I Hungary, now part of Romania. Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok is a county in present-day Hungary, configured in the 19th century from the Jászkun district, incorporating territory from Külső-Szolnok, Heves and Pest-Pilis-Solt. Strikingly similar in the two coats of arms on the escutcheon (shield) is a horse and rider which appears in both.
In addition to the fact that Szolnok is part of the name of both counties, another common bond is that both had something to do with the kunok, or Cumanians, a nomad people who had originally invaded Hungary in the 11th century, but later came to settle in the 13th century.
The rider with the lance in the Szolnok-Doboka coat of arms is identified as King Szt. László (c. 1040 – 1095), pursuing a kun soldier who, according to the most famous legend about the king, had abducted a Hungarian girl. Szt. László called to her, telling her to grab her abductor’s belt and jump off the horse with him. She followed suit and he rescued the girl by killing the pagan soldier. The seven stars above Szt. László represent the seven leaders of the Hungarian tribes.
The fess, or band in the middle of the shield, represents the Szamos River. The chapel in the lower part of the design is that of the ancient castle of Dés, capital of Szolnok-Doboka County.
Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County is named for the jászok (Jazygians, from Iran), and the kunok (Cumanians), both groups which settled in the Carpathian Basin in the 13th century. The stork in the upper left of the escutcheon represented the Kiskunság area, the lion with two tails in the upper right hand (and with the waning moon and star reminiscent of Turkish occupation in the 16th and 17th centuries) stood for Nagykunság. The bottom section with the rider, in reverse this time, has a round shield in his hand, and the symbol of Jászság, Lehel’s horn* in the other.
Here, three wavy bands separate the top of the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok coat of arms from the bottom, also representing rivers: the Tisza, Zagyva and Kőrös, all of which flow within its borders.
Just clearing up a puzzle ...
*According to the early chronicles, the Hungarians did not all settle down once they came into the Carpathian Basin. Some went marauding across western Europe, keeping the people in fear. It has been recorded that ”From the arrows of the Hungarians deliver us, o Lord” was a frequent prayer of the time. Among the leaders of these roving bands were Lehel (or Lél) and Bulcsu. They suffered a crushing defeat at Augsburg in 955, were captured and condemned to death by the German emperor. Lehel asked that his last wish be granted, that he might blow his battle horn one more time. When it was brought to him, he approached the emperor and hit him on the head with the horn so hard that the emperor died on the spot. He said, ”You will go before me and be my servant in the next life.” Both Lehel and Bulcsu were executed by hanging. An ivory horn – with a crack in it – is preserved in the museum of Jászberény, said to be Lehel’s battle horn.