Stephen I was born c. 970, –975, at Esztergom, Hungary and died August 15th, 1038, at Esztergom. He was canonized 1083 and his feast day is August 16th. He is also called Saint Stephen, Hungarian Szent István, original name Vajk, and was the first king of Hungary, who is considered to be the founder of the Hungarian state and one of the most renowned figures in Hungarian history.
Stephen was a member of the Árpád dynasty and son of the supreme Magyar chieftain Géza. He was born a pagan but was baptized and reared as a Christian, and in 996 he married Gisela, daughter of Duke Henry II of Bavaria. He became Duke of Hungary in 997. After the death of his father (997), Stephen defeated an insurrection led by his older cousin, Koppány, who claimed the throne in accordance with Árpád succession rules. Stephen defeated Koppány at Veszprém (998) and had him executed as a pagan.
On Christmas Day, AD 1000, Stephen was anointed king of Hungary. On the occasion of his coronation Pope Sylvester II sent a crown from Rome and accorded him the title "Apostolic Majesty", which was borne by Hungarian sovereigns until the overthrow of the Hungarian monarchy in 1918. With the exception of an invasion by the Holy Roman emperor Conrad II in 1030 and minor disputes with Poland and Bulgaria, Stephen's reign was peaceful.
Stephen founded bishoprics and abbeys, made the building of churches mandatory, and established the practice of tithing. He promoted agriculture, safeguarded private property with strict laws, and organized a standing army.