My paean of praise for the Hungarians in last week's podcast began by reminding listeners that there have throughout history been many attempted invasions of Europe by barbarian hordes, and that, quote, "Each one has brought forth heroes to lead the fight for civilization." I placed today's Hungarians in the context of those heroes.
A listener emailed in to point out that the Hungarians, when they first showed up in Europe in the ninth century, were themselves regarded as a barbarian horde, and that Europe was saved from them at last by Otto the Great at the Battle of the Lechfeld.
Hey, everybody has a past. The reformed drunk used to be the star of every Temperance meeting. The savage Magyars turned into the Christian Kingdom of Hungary in pretty much a single generation after Lechfeld, and have been a bulwark of European civilization in the thousand years since. I say they've paid their dues.
I'd add that the Magyars were never an existential threat to Europe anyway, nor even to any of the European nations other than the Slavic territories in the East, which didn't yet rise to the level of real nationhood. There just weren't enough of them. The Magyars were a fearsome nuisance in the early tenth century, I'll grant, raiding as far West as Burgundy; but they always took their booty and went home. When they did challenge Otto, the King of Germany, he crushed them. They took up Christianity themselves and raided no more.
So let bygones be bygones, I say. Everybody has a past.