Hungary was recognized as a Catholic Apostolic Kingdom under Saint Stephen I, the son of Géza and thus a descendant of Árpád. Applying to Pope Sylvester II, Stephen received the insignia of royalty (including the Holy Crown of Hungary, currently kept in the Hungarian Parliament) from the papacy. He was crowned in December 1000, in the capital, Esztergom. The papacy conferred on him the right to have the cross carried before him, with full administrative authority over bishoprics and churches.
By 1006, Stephen had consolidated his power, eliminating all rivals who either wanted to follow the old pagan traditions or wanted an alliance with the Eastern Christian Byzantine Empire. Then he started sweeping reforms to convert Hungary into a western feudal state, it has been asserted that the Christianisation was forced. Stephen established a network of 10 episcopal and 2 archiepiscopal sees, and ordered the building of monasteries, churches and cathedrals.
The country switched to using the Latin language and alphabet under Stephen, and until as late as 1844, Latin remained the official language of Hungary. Previously Hungarian had been written with the Old Hungarian script, a runic script. Stephen followed the Frankish administrative model: The country was divided into counties (Hungarian: megye), each under a royal official called an ispán or count (Latin: comes) — later főispán (lord lieutenant or prefect) (Latin: supremus comes). This official represented the king’s authority, administered its population, and collected the taxes that formed the national revenue. Each ispán maintained at his fortified headquarters (castrum or vár) an armed force of freemen.