Anna M. Cienciala (
History 557 Lecture Notes
Spring 2002 (Revised Jan. 2004)
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LECTURE 7. The Magyars and Hungary, 1790-1914.

7A. Hungary 1790-1867.

Maygars = Hungarian name for ethnic Hungarians as distinct from the non-Hungarian peoples of old Hungary: Croats, Germans, Jews, Romanians, Saxons, Serbs, Slovaks. (Word origin: one of the old Hungarian tribes).

1. Brief Historical Background to 1815.

Hungary had been a large medieval kingdom, but most of it had been conquered by the Turks following the Battle of Mohacs, 1526.

In 1690-99, the Austrian troops of the Holy Roman Roman Emperor, the Habsburg ruler of Austria, conquered  Hungary from the Turks. The wars ended with the Treaty of Karlowitz [Karlovec], Jan.26, 1699.

Ferenc II Rakoczi (1677-1735), Prince of Transylvania, revolted against Austrian rule in 1703 and fought for Hungarian independence, but was defeated. in 1711.

In 1741-1780, Hungary had a separate status within the Austrian Empire, along with immunity from taxation for the nobles. These rights were granted by the Austrian Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780, ruled 1740-80, and was crowned Queen of Hungary), in return for the Magyar noblesí support of her claim to the Austrian throne against another contender. (The Hungarian Diet of Pressburg/Pozsony/Bratislava/ supported her claim in 1741.) Separate status meant that Habsburg Emperors were Kings/Queens of Hungary, but the country had its own administration in the historic counties [comitats] ruled by nobles in local assemblies; these assemblies elected deputies to the central Diet, or Legislature.

When Maria Theresa died her son became Emperor as Joseph II (1741-1790, ruled 1780-90). As an "enlightened monarch," he set out to modernize and centralize the Habsburg Empire. He refused to be crowned King of Hungary - for which the Magyars called him "King in a Hat" - abolished the Hungarian Diet and County Assemblies and imposed German as the language of administration instead of Latin. Joseph II also tried to streamline the administration of the Low Countries (Belgium), Croatia, and other Habsburg lands by abolishing noble assemblies and imposing the German language. Furthermore, he emancipated the peasants (serfs) and established religious toleration. However, these enlightened measures aroused such strong noble opposition that Joseph had to revoke most of them before he died. He did not revoke the abolition of serfdom (though the personal services of tenants to Lords were retained), the edict on religious toleration and monastic legislation. However, the practice of serfdom survived in Hungary while the Catholic church retained great power and influence all over the Empire.

Joseph's successor, his younger brother, the Emperor Leopold II (1747-1792, ruled 1790-92), was also enlightened but realized he could not impose reforms. He restored the separate status of Hungary, and Latin as the language of administration. However, at the same time, he  encouraged reformers who wanted more representation for burghers and peasants, and thus supported the opponents of the old feudal order. He also sympathized with Polish reforms, especially the Constitution of May 3 1791 However, he died after only two years of rule and with the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars, even moderate reform ideas  were seen by European monarchs as tantamount to Jacobinism (radicalism called Jacobinism after the French Jacobites).

A few Magyar nobles tried to introduce the ideas of the French revolution in Hungary in the Martinovics conspiracy 1794-95. It was led by Ignac Martinovics, a passionate supporter of reform, who had been encouraged earlier by Leopold II. They were arrested and seven were executed.

With their separate status restored and exempt from taxes, the vast majority of Magyar nobles paid no heed to French proposals that they revolt, and supported Austria against Napoleon in  the wars of 1797-1815. Indeed, the magnates, who had large estates, profited greatly from selling foodstuffs to the Austrian government.

2. Similarities and Differences between Poles and Magyars in 1815.:

(A) Social and Government Structure: in both lands 8-10% of the population were nobles (magnates and gentry); there was a small, mostly German and Jewish middle class, and the rest were peasants. In both countries, nobles ruled through local assemblies [provincial in Poland, counties in Hungary) which ran locl affairs and elected deputies to the central Diet or Legislature.

(B) Both lands had a long history of independent status. Hungary, independent until 1526, also had a separate status within the Habsburg Empire, 1740-1780, similar to what the Poles had later for a much shorter time in the Kingdom of Poland, 1815-30.

(C) Both were multi-ethnic lands ruled by a dominant nationality.

(D) In both, the national revival began with a shock: in Poland with the First Partition, 1772; in Hungary with Joseph IIís abolition of the separate status of Hungary, 1780-90.

(E) In both, desire for independence was linked with a desire for enlightened reforms and later, democratization.

(F) In both, revolts gave impetus to the spread of national consciousness, though Hungary had only one major revolt: the Revolution and War of Independence against Austria in 1848-49, while the Poles had six uprisings between 1794 and 1907, of which the two against Russia in1830-31 and 1863-64 were the most important.

However, there were some differences:

(A) By the early 1800s, the Poles had a fully developed modern language and literature, while the Magyars, who had great writers in the 16th and 17th centuries, set about modernizing their language. Both nations experienced a great flowering of their literature in the 19th century.

(B) The Magyars began by demanding the restoration of their separate status in the Austrian Empire, while the Poles began with a struggle to regain their recently lost independence.

3. Developments in Hungary, 1815-1848.

    The turning points in Hungarian History 1815-1914, were: The Revolution and War of Independence 1848-49, and the Compromise with Austria, 1867.

The Habsburg Emperor Francis II of Austria, and last Holy Roman Emperor, 1792-1806, was Francis I of Hungary (1765-1835, ruled 1792-1835), bypassed the Hungarian Diet in legislation and taxation, and disregarded Hungarian rights. This led to strong opposition by the Nobles, who not only insisted on their rights, but also demanded the use of the Magyar/Hungarian language in the administration and in Hungarian regiments.

Work began on modernizing the Hungarian language in the 1820s. Up until that time, Hungarian nobles used Latin and German in administration and law, and Magyar at home, while Magyar peasants spoke only Hungarian. However,national consciousness was awakening all over Europe and the Hungarian nobles wanted to emphasize their national rights.

The first works of literature began to appear in Magyar in the 16th century and some were written in the late 18th century. Prominent writers appeared again in the 1820s and 1830s - Sandor and Karoly Kisfauldy and Janos Bacsanyi. Bacsanyi was an advocate of social reforms.


A. Count Istvan (Stephen) Szechenyi (1791-1860, pronounced Sheecheenyi), was a great magnate and moderate reformer. He founded the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1825, endowing it with one yearís revenue from his huge estates. He was well educated and widely traveled; his great interest was economic reform. He founded the National Cassino at Pest for horse racing, but it became a forum for political discussion.(Compare with Andrzej Zamoyskiís Agricultural Association, Russian Poland, 1856-62). He criticized the law of entail, whereby a landowner could not borrow on the security of his estate, and argued  that credit  was needed to modernize Hungarian agriculture. He promoted the production of goods for the domestic market and insisted they be labelled
"made in Hungary."

He stated that freedom was the condition for economic prosperity, and preached the need to abolish serfdom,(which still survived despite its abolition by Joseph II ). However, he envisaged Hungarian reforms only within the framework of the Austrian Empire.

B. Lajos (Louis) Kossuth (1802-1892), came from the poor "sandaled" gentry (who were too poor to buy shoes, so wore sandals). He was a lawyer, orator, and journalist, and was greatly influenced by the Polish revolt against Russia of 1830-31, for he met some Polish refugees in Hungary. He edited reports of the Hungarian Diet, and inserted his own views, exerting much influence on the reading public.In 1840-44, he was the editor of the influential paper, Pesti Hirlap (Pest Herald), in which he advocated democratic ideas, that is, responsible government, and extension of the suffrage (right to vote). He also protested against the "colonial" status of Hungary in the Austrian Empire. He was a member of the Hungarian Diet in 1847-49, where he representated  a deputy's widow, a common practice. Szechenyi opposed Kossuth, fearing the latter's ideas would lead to the break up of the Empire, with dire consequences for Hungary. (Kossuth was to lead the Hungarian revolution and war against Austria, see below).

C. Ferenc (Francis) Deak (1803-1876, pron. Deyaak), also came from the poor gentry and was also a lawyer. He drew up the Liberal Program of 1844 for Pest, demanding responsible government, equality before the law, equal taxes and equal votes.

NOTE: The Austrian government opposed all democratic reforms, but recognized Hungarian as the language of administration in Hungary in 1844.

4. Revolution, War of Independence and Defeat, 1848-49.

Revolutions swept Europe in 1848, beginning with the February revolution in Paris that overthrew  King Louis Philippe and established a short-lived Republic. In March, there were revolutions in Vienna, Berlin, Budapest and the raising of a Polish army in Prussian Poland. There was a peaceful revolution in Prague, where German and Czech liberals cooperated in drawing up a liberal program for Bohemia. Such programs were also drawn up elsewhere, e.g. in Croatia.

On March 3, 1848, Kossuth, speaking in the Hungarian Diet, demanded a constitution and representative government for Hungary. Reports of this speech helped spark the revolution in Vienna ten days later, March 13, which led to the fall of Prince Klemens von Metternich (1773-1859), the long time Foreign Minister and chief minister of Austria. (He fled to Britain).

On March 15, revolution began in Budapest, where the poet Sandor Petofi (1823-1849) proposed a democratic program for Hungary. [For excerpts from Petofi's political writings and some of his poems, see end of this lecture].

On March 15, 1848: The Hungarian Diet passed The March Laws, which included most of the reforms sought for years by Kossuth and other democratically minded Maygars. These laws stated that:

1. A Hungarian Cabinet responsible to Parliament was to be established in Budapest;
2. A Hungarian Viceroy was to rule in Hungary in the Emperor's name;
3. Hungary was to have her own administration, army and militia.
4. Parliament (Legislature) was to be elected very three years and meet annually;
5. Suffrage (right to vote) was extended, but was based either on property (there had to be a minimum of landownership or property taxes) or on educational qualifications (High School diploma);
6. All citizens were to be equal before the law.
7. All religions were to be equal.
8. The Hungarian language was obligatory in the administration and in education.
9. Serfdom was abolished.
10. Entailment of property was abolished.
11. Arbitrary arrest and detention were forbidden.
12. Personal inviolability and of property were guaranteed.
13. Trial by Jury was introduced for political crimes.
14. Provisions were made for the rapid economic development of Hungary.

Kossuth went to Vienna, where the Emperor Ferdinand (ruled 1835-1848) promised him everything he demanded - because Imperial advisers adopted the tactic of making concessions to win time for recovering strength. The Emperor approved the laws in April, so they are sometimes referred to as "The April Laws."

But, the non-Magyar Peoples now demanded Home Rule and the right to use their own languages in administration and education.

(Magocsi, Historical Atlas of Eastern Europe).

A. The Croats of the Triune Kingdom (Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia) asked the Emperor to create a South Slav State. The Emperor appointed a Croat noble, Count Joseph Jelacic , a general in the Austrian army, as "Ban" (governor) of the region.

Kossuth and most Magyar leaders saw this move as an Austrian intrigue against the Magyars who had ruled Croatia since 1100, except when most of Hungary was under Ottoman rule, 1526-1699. Therefore, Kossuth and his supporters refused to recognize the Croats as a separate "nation" in Hungary. (In September 1848, Jelacic led a Croat army into Hungary proper and the Hungarian War of Independence began, see below).

B. The Serbs of the Voevodina (who had settled there around 1690) made an offer to the Magyars in April: They would help them fight Austria in return for Hungarian agreement to the use of the Serb language in administration and to self-government in Voevodina.
Kossuth refused. Again, fear of Austrian intrigue and losing a part of Hungary motivated him and his supporters to refuse the Serb offer.

C. The Romanians who constituted the majority of the population in Transylvania demanded "equality" with the other two "nations" of the province: the Magyars and the Saxons (descendants of German settlers). Kossuth refused, though he made an agreement with the Romanians on these lines in 1849, when it was too late.

D. The Slovaks asked the Emperor to grant them home rule within the Empire. (They were ruled from Vienna, 1849-1860.)

[For Croats, Serbs, Romanians, see Lecture 9; for Slovaks, see Lecture 8].

The intolerant attitude of Kossuth and his supporters toward the non-Magyar peoples of Hungary stemmed from fear that home rule and the use of their own languages would lead to the disintegration of the historic Kingdom of Hungary. They had read the books of the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder (1740-1803), who prophesied that the Magyars would be swallowed up by the non-Magyar peoples of their country, and they were determined to prevent this.

Meanwhile, the Austrian monarchy began to recover its strength. In June-July 1848, Austrian armies in Italy led by Marshal Joseph Radetzky [Johann Strauss, "Radetzky March"] defeated the troops of the Kingdom of Sardinia (House of Piedmont-Savoy) and the Austrian government reneged on the concessions made to the Magyars.

On September 11, 1848, Jelacic and his Croat army invaded Hungary and the Hungarian revolution turned into a War of Independence.

In October, the Austrian army crushed the revolution in Vienna.

In December 1848, Francis Joseph became Emperor at age 18.

The War of Independence.

The Magyars managed to stave off the Jelacic army, but had to face the Russians as well. Nicholas I feared the Hungarian revolution would overflow into Russian Poland, so in Feb. 1849, a Russian army marched into Hungary. However, it suffered defeats. They were defeated by an army commanded by Polish General Jozef Bem (1794-1850) who had fought in the Polish revolt of 1830-31. In 1849, he was for a time commander-in-chief of the Hungarian army (wasn't very good), as was another Polish General, Henryk Dembinski (1791-1864).

In January 1849 General Windischgraetz's army took Budapest. Kossuth and the government moved to Debreczen. However, by April, the Magyars were doing better though they had to fight the Serbs in the Banat and the Romanians in Transylvania.

On 14 April, the National Assembly at Debreczen declared the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty was deposed. Hungary was declared an independent Republic with Kossuth as Governor with semi-dictatorial powers. (These applied to wartime).

On April 29, 1849, the second Russian invasion turned the tide against the Magyars, who now had to fight both Austrian and Russian armies.

After a series of defeats by the Austrians, the Hungarian General Arthur Gyorgy (1818-1916), surrendered to the Russians at Vilagos on August 12, 1849, because he expected better terms  from them than from the Austrians. The Hungarian fortress of Komarom. commanded by general Gyorgy Klapka, did not surrender until six weeks later.

Meanwhile, Kossuth and some other leaders, including Bem and Dembinski, as well as the whole Polish Legion which had fought for the Magyars, crossed the border into the Ottoman Empire.

Austrian punishment of Hungary was ruthless, culminating with the execution of 13 Hungarian generals at Arad on October 6, 1849, while count Lajos Batthyany, who had been prime minister, was executed at Pest. Nicholas I had requested the generals be pardoned, and was affronted when they were executed. Public opinion in Europe and the U.S. was outraged; the Austrian General Julius von Haynau, who had gained a hangman's reputation in Italy, meted out punishment in Hungary, He was called "the hangman" in the western press, which treted Hungarian emigres, especially Kossuth, as heroes.

The greatest achievement of the 1848 revolution in the Austrian Empire was the abolition of serfdom in September 1848. The Austrian Emperor approved it in all of his domains, for he could not do otherwise because peasants everywhere demanded it. It is true that Serfdom had been abolished by Joseph II in the late 18th century, but the personal service of tenants to lords remained and this limited their freedom. (Most of the other constitutional laws of March 1848 were to be implemented in Hungary in 1867)..


 LECTURE 7 B. HUNGARY 1849-1867.

1. 1849-1860. The Era of Absolutism and Repression.

The young Emperor Francis Joseph (1830-1916, Emperor Dec. 1848), influenced by his chief minister, Count Felix zu Schwarzenberg (1800-1852), set out to centralize and strengthen the Austrian Empire with the aim of winning leadership over the German states from Austria's rival Prussia.

In Hungary, this meant the abolition of the traditional County Assemblies and the rule of "Bachís Hussars." This referred to Chancellor Alexander Bach who sent Czech and German officials, sometimes dressed in Hussar uniforms, to administer Hungary proper (without Croatia-Slavonia, Transylvania, Voevodina and Banat of Temesvar), which was divided into 5 military districts.

However, this policy proved self-defeating. The Magyar nobles offered passive resistance: they would not cooperate. Austrian troops stationed in Hungary could not fight for the Emperor against the French and Italians in 1859; and taxes were very difficult to collect.

The major factor which led to a change of Austrian policy toward Hungary was defeat in war: first in Italy, then in Germany.

A. The Italian War of Independence. In 1859, Francis Joseph lost the war to keep N. Italy, suffering defeat by the armies of French Emperor Napoleon III. Thus, Austria lost Lombardy, while 150,000 Austrian troops were occupying Hungary. Austrian defeat led to the first stage of Italian Unification in 1860.

Defeat led Francis Joseph to experiment with various compromises with Hungary in order to secure taxes and manpower. (i) Hungarian military districts were scrapped in 1860; (ii) In October of that year,  the Hungarian Diet was given more power and the County Assemblies were restored.

(iii) A "narrower" Reichsrath ( State Council) was created in Vienna for Austrian lands, and a "Fuller"one to include Hungary.

However, Hungarian leader Francis Deak (1803-1876) held out for the restitution of the "March [April] Laws" of 1848, and the County Assemblies showed their disdain for the Fuller State Council by "electing" such deputies to Vienna as Kossuth (in exile) Garibaldi (Italian leader), and Napoleon III, Emperor of France.

In 1861, Francis Deak negotiated an agreement with Croat leaders, who promised support in exchange for Croatian home rule within Hungary.

In 1864, Deak put his demands before Fr. Joseph:

(i) reunion of Hungary and Croatia, also the return of Transylvania to Hungary (it had been under direct Austrian rule since 1849);
(ii) the coronation of Fr. Joseph in Budapest as King of Hungary;
(iii) the restoration of the March Laws.

In 1865, the Hungarian Diet voted to stand by the March Laws.

B. The Austro-Prussian War and Defeat of Austria, 1866.

Austria was defeated by Prussia in a short 7 week war. Austria lost not only the last chance to lead the German states, but also lost Venetia in Italy.

Francis Joseph had two alternatives in order to strengthen Habsburg rule over his heterogenous lands; he could establish a partnership with

(a) some of the Slavic peoples, e.g. the Poles and possibly the Czechs, or/and the Croats, or
(b) with the Magyar nobles.

He chose the latter because the Magyars were well organized and, led by Deak, stood by the March [April] laws. They also showed in 1849-60 that they had a high nuisance value if dissatisfied.

Therefore, the Austro-Hungarian "Ausgleich" (Compromise) was established in October1867, creating a Dual Monarchy.

The key features of the Compromise were:

(a) confirmation of the March (April) Laws except for "common affairs," that is: the Army, Foreign Policy, Finances., which remained in Vienna.
(b) there were two separate parliaments: one for the Austrian lands in Vienna, and one for Hungarian lands in Budapest;
(c) Delegations from the two parliaments were to meet periodically to settle problems, but they were to communicate only in writing (Deak insisted on this to avoid the Magyars being outvoted by the Austrian delegation);
(d) there was a 10 yr. agreement on taxes, originally set at 70% for Austria and 30% for Hungary (later this was increased to 34%). These decannial meeings of the two Delegations were always accompanied by great tension and sometimes crisis.

The Compromise was a victory for the Magyars, for Hungary now became a partner in the Dual Monarchy.

Interpretations of the Compromise of 1867.

(A) Some historians, notably the Czechs, Croats, and their sympathizers, have condemned the Compromise as blocking the way to a real federation of all the peoples of the Empire. These historians see the Compromise as preparing the way for the dissolution of the Empire in October-November 1918. (e.g. R.W.Seton-Watson, "The Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich of 1867," Slavic Yearbook,, London, 1940, pp. 123-140; the Hungarian emigre historian, George Barany, "Hungary: The Uncompromising Compromise," Austrian History Yearbook, 1967, vol. III, pt. 1).

(B) Other historians, mostly Magyars and their sympathizers, have seen the Compromise as the only realistic solution for the Empire because the Magyar nobles were a much stronger political force than the disunited Slavs. These historians view Magyar nobles and Austrian businessmen as the two greatest forces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (See: C.A. Macartney, The Habsburg Empire, 1790-1918, London, 1968, pp. 567-68).

Effects of the Compromise.

1. It consolidated Austro-German and Magyar domination over the other peoples of the Empire - who taken together outnumbered the two ruling nationalities.

2. It confirmed and consolidated the old social structure of Hungary: great magnates, lesser nobles, intelligentsia, small middle class, and peasant masses.

3. The Hungarian-Croat Compromise was never observed by the Magyars who dominated Croatia; this led to Croat resentment.

4. The Magyar policy of assimilation regarding Slovaks and Romanians failed, while sharpening their national consciousness.

Lecture notes 7b. HUNGARY 1867-1914.

General Characteristics of the Period:

1. The Magnates dominated the government, which in turn provided access to the civil service for the gentry intelligentsia;
(Military service was the other profession often chosen by this class).

2.Budapest became a great industrial center, but Hungarian economic development lagged behind the Austrian part of the Empire;

3. Magyar culture and learning flourished;

4. Magyar assimilation policy alienated the non-Magyar nationalities.

I.. The Social Structure of Hungary, 1867-1914.

(A) Great Magnates: e.g. The Esterhazy family which owned about 850,000 acres of land. They charmed Teddy Roosevelt when he visited Hungary. However, they exploited their peasants and supported the government's assimilationist policy toward non-Magyar peoples.

(B) County Gentry: They had supported the revolution, including the abolition of serfdom, also fought in the War of Independence; then offered passive resistance to Austrian rule in 1849-60. After 1867, they  entered the army and civil service, and so depended on government patronage.

(C) The Urban population made up 10% of the total in 1839, and 20% in 1910.

The Jews played a leading role in economic life, increasing from about 270,000 of the total population in 1840 to about 1,000,000 out of a total population of 20,900,000 in 1913 (Immigration from the Russian Empire and Austrian Poland). After the establishment of equal rights for Jews in the Empire,1867, most became assimilated Magyars. They were prominent in banking, trade, factory ownership, and retail trade. Some even became great landowners. They were also prominent in journalism, law, and medicine. The same was true in the Austrian part of the Empire, especially in Austria proper and in Austrian Poland.

(D) The Peasants:numbered about 14 million out of the total population  in 1900. Of these 14 million, 10 million did not have enough land to live on, so they worked for the landowners. Many also worked as seasonal laborer, especially in the channeling of the Tisza river to prevent flooding.

The lowest standard of living was among the Rusyns (Ruthenes), Slovaks and Romanians, so there was a large emigration of these peoples from the Hungarian lands to the U.S. - about 1 Ĺ million in 1889-1910. In the U.S. some of them gained education and of these - mainly Rusyns and Slovaks - some developed national consciousness and political thought. Most sent money to their families, which became a form of unofficial "foreign aid," very important for the folks at home.

II.The Economic Development of Hungary, 1867-1914.

1. Agriculture to 1900.

(a)The wheat crop tripled, but  yields were hampered by primitive methods. Hungary faced competition from American wheat exports to Europe after 1870. Therefore, Hungarian politicians obtained the imposition of tariffs on Am. wheat, and this raised bread prices in the Empire.

(b) Pig breeding and exports increased, but faced competition from Serbia (this led to the "pig war" of 1904-05, see lecture notes no. 9).

(c) horse breeding was very important for the economy.

2. Industry: Hungary was very poor in mineral resources except for zinc; therefore, it did not attract large scale investment and lagged behind the Austrian lands, esp. Bohemia. Only Budapest became an important industrial center on a western scale. The largest industrial sector was food processing. In 1913, industrial workers numbered about 613,000 out of a total population of 20,900,000 (similar to Russian Poland)..

III. Education. Magyar illiteracy dropped from about 60% in 1867 to 48% in 1900.
However, the Slovaks, Rusyns and Romanians had an illiteracy rate of 60-80% because they lacked schools with their own language of instruction. The Croats were privileged in this respect, for they had their own schools and a University at Agram (Zagreb). The Romanians of Transylvania had a University at Koloszvar/Cluj/, but it was constantly harassed by Magyar authorities.

IV. Politics Hungary was ruled by noble oligarchies; only 6.1% of men above age 21 had the vote in 1874, based on property or educational qualififactions.. Voting was open (as it was in England until 1832) , so corruption was common.

Political Parties; At first these consisted of:

(a) Deakists or Supporters of the Compromise of 1867, and
(b) the Modifiers, who wanted only a personal bond with Austria in the person of the King-Emperor, and
(c) the Kossuthites, who wanted complete independence.

However, in the early 1870s, the Modifiers, led by Count Kalman (Coloman) Tisza (1830-1902) merged with the Deakists to form the Liberal Party, which dominated Hungarian governments until 1914.

1875-1890: The Reign of Kalman Tisza: was characterized by pork barrel politics, patronage and corruption, much like the United States at this time. However, Americans could choose their governments through elections, and all men above 21 had the vote - except for colored men in the southern states, to whom it was largely denied until the 1960s.

K.Tisza set up the Austro-Hungarian Bank; developed the port city of Fiume (now Rijeka) - but to serve only Hungarian needs, thus cutting out the Croats.

The period 1890-1910 was marked by political crises.

In 1890, the Kossuthites pressed for an army bill establishing Magyar as the language of command in the Magyar regiments. Francis Joseph would not allow this, but changed the name of the army from Kaiserliche (Imperial) to "Kaiserliche und Konigliche" (Imperial and Royal), abbreviated as K.u.K.. The language of military command was German; the average non-German Austrian soldier only knew 100 German command words, but most officers were required to know a second language besides German and their own.

The Kossuthites continued pressing for Magyar as the language of command in Magyar regiments, and often resorted to filibusters until Tisza introduced closure to debates. At this, the Kossuthite deputies demolished some furniture in the lower house.

In 1905, Francis Joseph threatened to establish universal suffrage [the vote] for all men over 24. This would have made the Magyars  a minority to be outvoted by the other nationalities, so the Kossuthites gave in.

There was also constant friction with Austria over the proportion of taxes to be paid by Hungary. (The Hungarian share went up from the original 30% to 34%.)

V. The Nationalitiesí Problem in Hungary.

Magyars made up 54% of the population excluding Croatia, but only 49% with Croatia. Yet, in 1907, the Magyars had 404 seats in the Hungarian Parliament, while the non-Magyars had only 26.

At first the other nationalities wanted some form of home rule with their own language of education and local administration. This was rejected and the Magyar policy of cultural assimilation was often accompanied by oppression, which in turn further sharpened national consciousness.

(A) The Croats - Croatia was part of Hungary from 1,100 to 1526, when it came under Venetian rule, then Austrian 1815-48, then back to Hungary in 1867. The Hungarian-Croat Compromise of 1868 remained a dead letter, like the Hungarian Nationalities Law of the same year.

Croat leaders hoped for a South Slav Crownland - including Dalmatia - within the Empire, but this was always opposed by the Magyars. Therefore, Croats began to look to Serbia. (For details, see Lecture Notes no. 9).

(B) The Serbs of Voevodina looked toward union with Serbia, or at least autonomy in a union with Bosnia-Herzegovina within the Empire.

(C) The Romanians formed a majority of 60% in Transylvania. They enjoyed brief autonomy under direct Austrian rule in 1849-68, then returned to Hungarian rule. After 1878, they looked increasingly to union with the Kingdom of Romania.

(D) The Slovaks were under direct Austrian rule 1849-60, then returned to Hungarian rule. After 1860, they had no High Schools and the Slovak People's Party fought for their rights without much success. (See Lecture Notes no. 8).

(E) The Rusyns (Ruthenes) of Subcarpathian Ruthenia Subcarpathian Rus) spoke a version of Ukrainian. They were 95% illiterate and their poor land was known as the Hungarian "deer preserve." They were somewhat better off in Bukovina, under Austrian rule.

(F) The Germans numbered about 2,000,000 in 1900. They were subject to some discrimination and sometimes appealed for help to Germany, but found no support because Chancellor Otto von Bismarck wanted the Austro-Hungarian Empire to be a strong ally, so he did not want to have disputes over the Germans in Hungary..

(G) The Jews as noted earlier (See I, C, Urban Population above), increased from about 270,000 in 1840 to about 1,000,000 in 1914. Most voluntarily became Magyars after gaining equal rights in 1867, that is, they became assimilated. There was very little anti-Semitism in Hungary before 1918.

Hungarian Attitudes toward the Nationalities.

Kalman Tisza said the nationalities should observe the old Magyar proverb: "Be silent and pay." Baron Deszo Banffy said: "Without chauvinism it is impossible to establish a unitary Magyar nation." Stephen Tisza (son of Kalman) said: "Our citizens of the non-Magyar tongue must, in the first place, become accustomed to the fact that they belong to the community of a nation-state which is not a conglomerate of various races" (which it was). While such statements sound very intolerant, we should bear in mind that  similar attitudes were manifested elsewhere: by Germans toward the Poles of Prussian Poland; by German Austrians toward the Czechs in Bohemia; by Russians toward Poles, Ukrainians, Belorussians and other nationalities of the Russian Empire. In all these cases, the ruling nationalities feared the disintegration of their states if home rule and free cultural development were given  to the different peoples in their states. (This fear would fuel ethnic nationalism in the successor states between the two world wars).

However, there were a few Magyars who advocated concessions to the other nationalities. Among them were Count Mihaily [Michael] Karolyi (1875-1955), a liberal politician and later first prime minister, then president of independent Hungary (1918-19), and the sociologist Oskar Jaszi, who proposed that the Austro-Hungarian Empire become a Federation of " The Big Five:" Germans, Magyars, Czechs, Poles and Croats, and a cantonal reorganization of Hungary on the Swiss model. However, the boundaries of old Hungary were to remain the same, thus including Romanians, Rusyns and Slovaks. Hoever, Karolyi and Jaszi were isolated exceptions among Hungarian politicians.

Western Views of Hungary.

Magyars were very popular as heroes of the struggle for freedom against Austria in 1848-49. Kossuth was cheered in England, also in U.S. The first books critical of Magyars, especially their treatment of other nationalities, were written by a British (Scots) scholar, R.W.Seton-Watson, see esp. his Racial Problems in Hungary.(London, 1908). He became a great supporter of the Czechs and Southern Slavs.





For a brief overview of Hungary 1790-1914, see: Jorg K. Hoensch, A History of Modern Hungary 1867-1994, 2nd edition, London, New York, 1996, ch., 1,2 (pp.10-84).

For more detailed treatment see: Peter F. Sugar et al., A History of Hungary, ch. XI through XIV (pp.174-266).

Oscar Jaszi, "On Forcible Magyarisation," in: Peter F. Sugar, Eastern European Nationalism in the 20th Century.

For different periods and aspects of Hungarian History up to 1914, see: Bibliography Part I, in: "Information about the Course."