He descended from a family whose members held the hereditary title gyula, which was the second in rank among the leaders of the Hungarian tribal federation. Hungarian scholars identify him as Zombor (Zubor) who is mentioned in the 13th-century Gesta Ungarorum, although Gyula (Gyyla/Geula) and Zombor are brothers according to the anonymous author of the Gesta. According to the Hungarian chronicles, his family’s progenitor was one of the seven conqueror chiefs who occupied Transylvania at the time of the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin.
The Hungarian historian, Gyula Kristó argues that the area where his domains were situated around 950 lay in the region bordered by the rivers Temes, Maros, Körös, Tisza and Tutisz (unknown, but possibly the Béga), because it equals to the entire dwelling area of Turkia (Hungary) as described by the contemporary Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The Romanian born American historian, Florin Curta suggests that it is possible that the gyula and the harka (another leader of the Hungarian tribal federation) ruled over the southern region of the Carpathian Basin, because most finds of 10th-century artifacts of Byzantine origin found in Hungary cluster at the confluence of the rivers Tisza and Maros. According to the Hungarian Péter Váczy, Gyula’s tribe moved to Transylvania in his time.
Ioannes Skylitzes narrates that around 952 Gyula visited Constantinople, where he was baptized, and Emperor Constantine VII lifted him from the baptismal font. He also received the honorary title patrikios in Constantinople.
Gyula was given a bishop named Hierotheos who accompanied him back to Turkia (Hungary). Thus Gyula, who received the Stephen name, adopted the Christian faith, what is more its Orthodox (Byzantine) variety.
- Kristó, Gyula. Early Transylvania (895-1324).
- Curta, Florin. Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 500-1250.
- Kristó, Gyula (General Editor). Korai magyar történeti lexikon (9-14. század).
- Berend, Nóra; Laszlovszky, József; Szakács, Béla Zsolt. The Kingdom of Hungary.
- Berend, Nóra – Laszlovszky, József – Szakács, Béla Zsolt: The Kingdom of Hungary; in: Berend, Nora (Editor): Christianization and the Rise of Christian Monarchy: Scandinavia, Central Europe and Rus’ c. 900-1200; Cambridge University Press, 2007, Cambridge&New York; ISBN 978-0-521-87616-2
- Curta, Florin: Southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages - 500-1250; Cambridge University Press, 2006, Cambridge; ISBN 978-0-521-89452-4
- Kristó, Gyula (General Editor) – Engel, Pál - Makk, Ferenc (Editors): Korai Magyar történeti lexikon (9-14. század) /Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History (9th-14th centuries)/; Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994, Budapest; ISBN 963-05-6722-9 (the entry “gyula” was written by Alfréd Márton, “Gyula” by Sándor László Tóth and László Szegfű)
- Kristó, Gyula: Early Transylvania (895-1324); Lucidus Kiadó, 2003, Budapest; ISBN 963-9465-12-7