Kingdom of Hungary in the 18th and 19th century

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History of Hungary
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Ancient Hungary
Pannonia
Hungary before the Magyars
The Middle Ages
Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages
Modern Times
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18th and 19th century (up to early 1919)
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Between the Two World Wars
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People's Republic of Hungary
Hungarian Revolution of 1956
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This article describes the history of the Kingdom of Hungary between the 18th century and the early 20th century (1699 - 1919).

Following the defeat of Ottoman forces led by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha at the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683, at the hands of the combined armies of Poland and the Holy Roman Empire under Jan III Sobieski, was the decisive event that marked the beginning of the Stagnation of the Ottoman Empire, and ultimatelly swung the balance of power in the region. Under the terms of the Treaty of Karlowitz, which ended the Great Turkish War in 1699, the Ottomans ceded nearly all of the Hungarian pashalik to Austria, its territory becoming part of the Habsburg Monarchy.

The new territories where united with that of "Royal Hungary", which was an Habsburg province as early as 1526, and where, albeit mostly formal, a Diet seated in Pressburg (Bratislava) ruled the lands. The term "Royal Hungary" fell into disuse, and the Austrian Emperors addressed their possession with the term "Kingdom of Hungary" (similar to the "Kingdom of Bohemia", "Kingdom of Croatia", "Kingdom of Slavonia", "Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria", "Grand Principality of Transylvania", etc.). As part of their long official title, the Emperors were also "Kings of Hungary" (as early as the time they controlled only the so-called "Royal Hungary").

Contents

[edit] 18th century

As the Habsburgs control of the Turkish possessions started to increase, the ministers of Leopold I argued that he should rule Hungary as conquered territory. At the Diet of "Royal Hungary" in Bratislava, in 1687, the Emperor promised to observe all laws and privileges. Nonetheless, hereditary succession of the Habsburgs was recognized, and the nobles' right of resistance was abrogated. In 1690 Leopold began redistributing lands freed from the Turks. Protestant nobles and all other Hungarians thought disloyal by the Habsburgs lost their estates, which were given to foreigners. Vienna controlled the foreign affairs, defense, tariffs, and other functions.

The repression of Protestants and the land seizures embittered the Hungarians, and in 1703 a peasant uprising sparked an eight-year rebellion aimed at casting off the Habsburg yoke. In Transylvania, another Habsburg province ("Principality of Transylvania" with the Diet seated at Karlsburg), the disgruntled Protestants, peasants and soldiers of different ethnies (Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak) united under Francis II Rákóczi, a Roman Catholic magnate who could hardly speak Hungarian. Most of the province of Hungary soon supported Rakoczi, and the joint Hungarian-Transylvanian Diet voted to annul the Habsburgs' right to the throne. Fortunes turned against the rebels, however, when the Habsburgs made peace in the West and turned their full force against them. The rebellion ended in 1711, when moderate rebel leaders concluded the Treaty of Szatmár, where they gained little except the emperor's agreement to reconvene the Diet in Bratislava, and to grant an amnesty for the rebels.

Leopold's successor, Charles VI (1711-40), began building a workable relationship with Hungary after the Treaty of Szatmar. Charles asked the Budapest Diet's approval for the Pragmatic Sanction, under which the Habsburg monarch was to rule Hungary not as Emperor, but as a King subject to the restraints of Hungary's constitution and laws. He hoped that the Pragmatic Sanction would keep the Habsburg Empire intact if his daughter, Maria Theresa, succeeded him. The Diet approved the Pragmatic Sanction in 1723, and Hungary thus agreed to became a hereditary monarchy under the Habsburgs for as long as their dynasty existed. In practice, however, Charles and his successors governed almost autocratically, controlling Hungary's foreign affairs, defense, and finance but lacking the power to tax the nobles without their approval.

Charles organized the country under a centralized administration and in 1715 established a standing army under his command, which was entirely funded and manned by the nonnoble population. This policy reduced the nobles' military obligation without abrogating their exemption from taxation. Charles also banned conversion to Protestantism, required civil servants to profess Catholicism, and forbade Protestant students to study abroad.

Maria Theresa (1740-80) faced an immediate challenge from Prussia's Frederick II when she became head of the House of Habsburg. In 1741 she appeared before the Diet of Budapest holding her newborn son and entreated Hungary's nobles to support her. They stood behind her and helped secure her rule. Maria Theresa later took measures to reinforce links with Hungary's magnates. She established special schools to attract Hungarian nobles to Vienna.

Under Charles and Maria Theresa, Hungary experienced further economic decline. Centuries of Ottoman occupation, rebellion, and war had reduced Hungary's population drastically, and large parts of the country's southern half were almost deserted. A labor shortage developed as landowners restored their estates. In response, the Habsburgs began to colonize Hungary with large numbers of peasants from all over Europe, especially Slovaks, Serbs, Croatians, and Germans. Many Jews also immigrated from Vienna and the empire's Polish lands near the end of the century. Hungary's population more than tripled to 8 million between 1720 and 1787. However, only 39 percent of its people were Magyars, who lived mainly in the center of the country.

In the early to mid-eighteenth century, Hungary had a primitive agricultural economy that employed 90 percent of the population. The nobles failed to use fertilizers, roads were poor and rivers blocked, and crude storage methods caused huge losses of grain. Barter had replaced money transactions, and little trade existed between towns and the serfs. After 1760 a labor surplus developed. The serf population grew, pressure on the land increased, and the serfs' standard of living declined. Landowners began making greater demands on new tenants and began violating existing agreements. In response, Maria Theresa issued her Urbarium of 1767 to protect the serfs by restoring their freedom of movement and limiting the corvee. Despite her efforts and several periods of strong demand for grain, the situation worsened. Between 1767 and 1848, many serfs left their holdings. Most became landless farm workers because a lack of industrial development meant few opportunities for work in the towns.

Joseph II (1780-90), a dynamic leader strongly influenced by the Enlightenment, shook Hungary from its malaise when he inherited the throne from his mother, Maria Theresa. Joseph sought to centralize control of the empire and to rule it by decree as an enlightened despot. He refused to take the Hungarian coronation oath to avoid being constrained by Hungary's constitution. In 1781 Joseph issued the Patent of Toleration, which granted Protestants and Orthodox Christians full civil rights and Jews freedom of worship. He decreed that German replace Latin as the empire's official language and granted the peasants the freedom to leave their holdings, to marry, and to place their children in trades. The "Kingdom of Hungary", "Kingdom of Croatia", and the "Grand Principality of Transylvania" became a single imperial territory under one administration, called "Lands of the Crown of St. Stephen". When the Hungarian nobles again refused to waive their exemption from taxation, Joseph banned imports of Hungarian manufactured goods into Austria and began a survey to prepare for imposition of a general land tax.

Joseph's reforms outraged Hungary's nobles and clergy, and the country's peasants grew dissatisfied with taxes, conscription, and requisitions of supplies. Hungarians perceived Joseph's language reform as German cultural hegemony, and they reacted by insisting on the right to use their own tongue. As a result, Hungarian lesser nobles sparked a renaissance of the Magyar language and culture, and a cult of national dance and costume flourished. The lesser nobles questioned the loyalty of the magnates, of whom less than half were ethnic Magyars, and even those had become French- and German-speaking courtiers. The Magyar national reawakening subsequently triggered national revivals among the Slovak, Romanian, Serbian, and Croatian minorities within Hungary and Transylvania, who felt threatened by both German and Magyar cultural hegemony. These national revivals later blossomed into the nationalist movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that contributed to the empire's ultimate collapse.

Late in his reign, Joseph led a costly, ill-fated campaign against the Turks that weakened his empire. On January 28, 1790, three weeks before his death, the emperor issued a decree canceling all of his reforms except the Patent of Toleration, peasant reforms, and abolition of the religious orders.

Joseph's successor, Leopold II (1790-92), re-introduced the bureaucratic technicality which viewed Hungary as a separate country under a Habsburg king, similar to Croatia and Transylvania who were reestablished as separate territorial entities. In 1791 the Diet passed Law X, which stressed Hungary's status as an independent kingdom ruled only by a king legally crowned according to Hungarian laws. Law X later became the basis for demands by Hungarian reformers for statehood in the period from 1825 to 1849. New laws again required approval of both the Habsburg king and the Diet, and Latin was restored as the official language. The peasant reforms remained in effect, however, and Protestants remained equal before the law. Leopold died in March 1792 just as the French Revolution was about to degenerate into the Reign of Terror and send shock waves through the royal houses of Europe.

[edit] First half of the 19th century

Enlightened absolutism ended in Hungary under Leopold's successor, Francis I (1792-1835), who developed an almost abnormal aversion to change, bringing Hungary decades of political stagnation. In 1795 the Hungarian police arrested an abbot and several of the country's leading thinkers for plotting a Jacobin kind of revolution to install a radical democratic, egalitarian political system in Hungary. Thereafter, Francis resolved to extinguish any spark of reform that might ignite revolution. The execution of the alleged plotters silenced any reform advocates among the nobles, and for about three decades reform ideas remained confined to poetry and philosophy. The magnates, who also feared that the influx of revolutionary ideas might precipitate a popular uprising, became a tool of the crown and seized the chance to further burden the peasants.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, the aim of Hungary's agricultural producers had shifted from subsistence farming and small-scale production for local trade to cash-generating, large-scale production for a wider market. Road and waterway improvements cut transportation costs, while urbanization in Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia and the need for supplies for the Napoleonic wars boosted demand for foodstuffs and clothing. Hungary became a major grain and wool exporter. New lands were cleared, and yields rose as farming methods improved. Hungary did not reap the full benefit of the boom, however, because most of the profits went to the magnates, who considered them not as capital for investment but as a means of adding luxury to their lives. As expectations rose, goods such as linen and silverware, once considered luxuries, became necessities. The wealthy magnates had little trouble balancing their earnings and expenditures, but many lesser nobles, fearful of losing their social standing, went into debt to finance their spending.

Napoleon's final defeat brought recession. Grain prices collapsed as demand dropped, and debt ensnared much of Hungary's lesser nobility. Poverty forced many lesser nobles to work to earn a livelihood, and their sons entered education institutions to train for civil service or professional careers. The decline of the lesser nobility continued despite the fact that by 1820 Hungary's exports had surpassed wartime levels. As more lesser nobles earned diplomas, the bureaucracy and professions became saturated, leaving a host of disgruntled graduates without jobs. Members of this new intelligentsia quickly became enamored of radical political ideologies emanating from Western Europe and organized themselves to effect changes in Hungary's political system.

Francis rarely called the Diet into session (usually only to request men and supplies for war) without hearing complaints. Economic hardship brought the lesser nobles' discontent to a head by 1825, when Francis finally convoked the Diet after a fourteen-year hiatus. Grievances were voiced, and open calls for reform were made, including demands for less royal interference in the nobles' affairs and for wider use of the Hungarian language.

The first great figure of the reform era came to the fore during the 1825 convocation of the Diet. Count Istvan Szechenyi, a magnate from one of Hungary's most powerful families, shocked the Diet when he delivered the first speech in Hungarian ever uttered in the upper chamber and backed a proposal for the creation of a Hungarian academy of arts and sciences by pledging a year's income to support it. In 1831 angry nobles burned Szechenyi's book Hitel (Credit), in which he argued that the nobles' privileges were both morally indefensible and economically detrimental to the nobles themselves. Szechenyi called for an economic revolution and argued that only the magnates were capable of implementing reforms. Szechenyi favored a strong link with the Habsburg Empire and called for abolition of entail and serfdom, taxation of landowners, financing of development with foreign capital, establishment of a national bank, and introduction of wage labor. He inspired such project as the construction of the suspension bridge linking Buda and Pest. Szechenyi's reform initiatives ultimately failed because they were targeted at the magnates, who were not inclined to support change, and because the pace of his program was too slow to attract disgruntled lesser nobles.

The most popular of Hungary's great reform leaders, Lajos Kossuth, addressed passionate calls for change to the lesser nobles. Kossuth was the son of a landless, lesser nobleman of Protestant background. He practiced law with his father before moving to Pest. There he published commentaries on the Diet's activities, which made him popular with young, reform-minded people. Kossuth was imprisoned in 1836 for treason. After his release in 1840, he gained quick notoriety as the editor of a liberal party newspaper. Kossuth argued that only political and economic separation from Austria would improve Hungary's plight. He called for broader parliamentary democracy, industrialization, general taxation, economic expansion through exports, and abolition of privileges and serfdom. But Kossuth was also a Magyar chauvinist whose rhetoric provoked the strong resentment of Hungary's minority ethnic groups. Kossuth gained support among liberal lesser nobles, who constituted an opposition minority in the Diet. They sought reforms with increasing success after Francis's death in 1835 and the succession of Ferdinand V (1835-48). In 1843 a law was enacted making Hungarian the country's official language over the strong objections of the Croats, Slovaks, Serbs, and Romanians.

[edit] The 1848 Revolution

The crescendo of discontent of the various ethnies inside not only of Hungary, but of the whole Habsburg Empire would climax in the March 1848 revolution. The Austrians asked for the help of the Russian Imperial troops, who quashed the rebellion, enabling Austrian emperor Franz Joseph to impose absolute control for almost two decades.


[edit] 1848 - 1867

After the revolution, the emperor revoked Hungary's constitution and assumed absolute control. Franz Joseph divided the country into four distinct territories: Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia-Slavonia, and Vojvodina. German and Bohemian administrators managed the government, and German became the language of administration and higher education. The non-Magyar minorities of Hungary received little for their support of Austria during the turmoil. A Croat reportedly told a Hungarian: "We received as a reward what the Magyars got as a punishment."

Hungarian public opinion split over the country's relations with Austria. Some Hungarians held out hope for full separation from Austria; others wanted an accommodation with the Habsburgs, provided that they respected Hungary's constitution and laws. Ferencz Deak became the main advocate for accommodation. Deak upheld the legality of the April Laws and argued that their amendment required the Hungarian Diet's consent. He also held that the dethronement of the Habsburgs was invalid. As long as Austria ruled absolutely, Deak argued, Hungarians should do no more than passively resist illegal demands.

The first crack in Franz Joseph's neo-absolutist rule developed in 1859, when the forces of Sardinia and France defeated Austria at Solferno. The defeat convinced Franz Joseph that national and social opposition to his government was too strong to be managed by decree from Vienna. Gradually he recognized the necessity of concessions toward Hungary, and Austria and Hungary thus moved toward a compromise. In 1866 the Prussians defeated the Austrians, further underscoring the weakness of the Habsburg Empire. Negotiations between the emperor and the Hungarian leaders were intensified and finally resulted in the Compromise of 1867, which created the Dual Monarchy of Austra-Hungary, also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

[edit] Austria Hungary

Further information: Ausgleich
Further information: Austria-Hungary

The Compromise of 1867, which created the Dual Monarchy, gave the Hungarian government more control of its domestic affairs than it had possessed at any time since the Battle of Mohacs (see fig. 4). However, the new government faced severe economic problems and the growing restiveness of ethnic minorities. World War I led to the disintegration of Austria-Hungary, and in the aftermath of the war, a series of governments--including a communist regime--assumed power in Buda and Pest (in 1872 the cities of Buda and Pest united to become Budapest).

[edit] Constitutional and Legal Framework

Once again a Habsburg emperor became king of Hungary, but the compromise strictly limited his power over the country's internal affairs, and the Hungarian government assumed control over its domestic affairs. The Hungarian government consisted of a prime minister and cabinet appointed by the emperor but responsible to a bicameral parliament elected by a narrow franchise. Joint Austro-Hungarian affairs were managed through "common" ministries of foreign affairs, defense, and finance. The respective ministers were responsible to delegations representing separate Austrian and Hungarian parliaments. Although the "common" ministry of defense administered the imperial and royal armies, the emperor acted as their commander in chief, and German remained the language of command in the military as a whole. The compromise designated that commercial and monetary policy, tariffs, the railroad, and indirect taxation were "common" concerns to be negotiated every ten years. The compromise also returned Transylvania, Vojvodina, and the military frontier to Hungary's jurisdiction.

At Franz Joseph's insistence, Hungary and Croatia reached a similar compromise in 1868, giving the Croats a special status in Hungary. The agreement granted the Croats autonomy over their internal affairs. The Croatian ban would now be nominated by the Hungarian prime minister and appointed by the king. Areas of "common" concern to Hungarians and Croats included finance, currency matters, commercial policy, the post office, and the railroad. Croatian became the official language of Croatia's government, and Croatian representatives discussing "common" affairs before the Hungarian diet were permitted to speak Croatian.

The Nationalities Law enacted in 1868 defined Hungary as a single nation comprising different nationalities whose members enjoyed equal rights in all areas except language. Although non-Hungarian languages could be used in local government, churches, and schools, Hungarian became the official language of the central government and universities. Many Hungarians thought the act too generous, while minority-group leaders rejected it as inadequate. Slovaks in northern Hungary, Romanians in Transylvania, and Serbs in Vojvodina all wanted more autonomy, and unrest followed the act's passage. The government took no further action concerning nationalities, and discontent fermented.

Anti-Semitism appeared in Hungary early in the century as a result of fear of economic competition. In 1840 a partial emancipation of the Jews allowed them to live anywhere except certain depressed mining cities. The Jewish Emancipation Act of 1868 gave Jews equality before the law and effectively eliminated all bars to their participation in the economy; nevertheless, informal barriers kept Jews from careers in politics and public life.

[edit] Rise of the Liberal Party

Franz Joseph appointed Gyula Andrassy--a member of Deak's party--prime minister in 1867. His government strongly favored the Compromise of 1867 and followed a laissez-faire economic policy. Guilds were abolished, workers were permitted to bargain for wages, and the government attempted to improve education and construct roads and railroads. Between 1850 and 1875, Hungary's farms prospered: grain prices were high, and exports tripled. But Hungary's economy accumulated capital too slowly, and the government relied heavily on foreign credits. In addition, the national and local bureaucracies began to grow immediately after the compromise became effective. Soon the cost of the bureaucracy outpaced the country's tax revenues, and the national debt soared. After an economic downturn in the mid-1870s, Deak's party succumbed to charges of financial mismanagement and scandal.

As a result of these economic problems, Kalman Tisza's Liberal Party, created in 1875, gained power in 1875. Tisza assembled a bureaucratic political machine that maintained control through corruption and manipulation of a woefully unrepresentative electoral system. In addition, Tisza's government had to withstand both dissatisfied nationalities and Hungarians who thought Tisza too submissive to the Austrians. The Liberals argued that the Dual Monarchy improved Hungary's economic position and enhanced its influence in European politics.

Tisza's government raised taxes, balanced the budget within several years of coming to power, and completed large road, railroad, and waterway projects. Commerce and industry expanded quickly. After 1880 the government abandoned its laissez-faire economic policies and encouraged industry with loans, subsidies, government contracts, tax exemptions, and other measures. The number of Hungarians who earned their living in industry doubled to 24.2 percent of the population between 1890 and 1910, while the number dependent on agriculture dropped from 82 to 62 percent. However, the 1880s and 1890s were depression years for the peasantry. Rail and steamship transport gave North American farmers access to European markets, and Europe's grain prices fell by 50 percent. Large landowners fought the downturn by seeking trade protection and other political remedies; the lesser nobles, whose farms failed in great numbers, sought positions in the still-burgeoning bureaucracy. By contrast, the peasantry resorted to subsistence farming and worked as laborers to earn money.

[edit] Social Changes

Hungary's population rose from 13 million to 20 million between 1850 and 1910. After 1867 Hungary's feudal society gave way to a more complex society that included the magnates, lesser nobles, middle class, working class, and peasantry. However, the magnates continued to wield great influence through several conservative parties because of their massive wealth and dominant position in the upper chamber of the diet. They fought modernization and sought both closer ties with Vienna and a restoration of Hungary's traditional social structure and institutions, arguing that agriculture should remain the mission of the nobility. They won protection from the market by reestablishment of a system of entail and also pushed for restriction of middle-class profiteering and restoration of corporal punishment. The Roman Catholic Church was a major ally of the magnates.

Some lesser-noble landowners survived the agrarian depression of the late nineteenth century and continued farming. Many others turned to the bureaucracy or to the professions.

In the mid-1800s, Hungary's middle class consisted of a small number of German and Jewish merchants and workshop owners who employed a few craftsmen. By the turn of the century, however, the middle class had grown in size and complexity and had become predominantly Jewish. In fact, Jews created the modern economy that supported Tisza's bureaucratic machine. In return, Tisza not only denounced anti-Semitism but also used his political machine to check the growth of an anti-Semitic party. In 1896 his successors passed legislation securing the Jews' final emancipation. By 1910 about 900,000 Jews made up approximately 5 percent of the population and about 23 percent of Budapest's citizenry. Jews accounted for 54 percent of commercial business owners, 85 percent of financial institution directors and owners, and 62 percent of all employees in commerce.

The rise of a working class came naturally with industrial development. By 1900 Hungary's mines and industries employed nearly 1.2 million people, representing 13 percent of the population. The government favored low wages to keep Hungarian products competitive on foreign markets and to prevent impoverished peasants from flocking to the city to find work. The government recognized the right to strike in 1884, but labor came under strong political pressure. In 1890 the Social Democratic Party was established and secretly formed alliances with the trade unions. The party soon enlisted one-third of Budapest's workers. By 1900 the party and union rolls listed more than 200,000 hard-core members, making it the largest secular organization the country had ever known. The diet passed laws to improve the lives of industrial workers, including providing medical and accident insurance, but it refused to extend them voting rights, arguing that broadening the franchise would give too many non-Hungarians the vote and threaten Hungarian domination. After the Compromise of 1867, the Hungarian government also launched an education reform in an effort to create a skilled, literate labor force. As a result, the literacy rate had climbed to 80 percent by 1910. Literacy raised the expectations of workers in agriculture and industry and made them ripe for participation in movements for political and social change.

The plight of the peasantry worsened drastically during the depression at the end of the nineteenth century. The rural population grew, and the size of the peasants' farm plots shrank as land was divided up by successive generations. By 1900 almost half of the country's landowners were scratching out a living from plots too small to meet basic needs, and many farm workers had no land at all. Many peasants chose to emigrate, and their departure rate reached approximately 50,000 annually in the 1870s and about 200,000 annually by 1907. The peasantry's share of the population dropped from 72.5 percent in 1890 to 68.4 percent in 1900. The countryside also was characterized by unrest, to which the government reacted by sending in troops, banning all farm-labor organizations, and passing other repressive legislation.

In the late nineteenth century, the Liberal Party passed laws that enhanced the government's power at the expense of the Roman Catholic Church. The parliament won the right to veto clerical appointments, and it reduced the church's nearly total domination of Hungary's education institutions. Additional laws eliminated the church's authority over a number of civil matters and, in the process, introduced civil marriage and divorce procedures.

The Liberal Party also worked with some success to create a unified, Magyarized state. Ignoring the Nationalities Law, they enacted laws that required the Hungarian language to be used in local government and increased the number of school subjects taught in that language. After 1890 the government succeeded in Magyarizing educated Slovaks, Germans, Croats, and Romanians and co-opting them into the bureaucracy, thus robbing the minority nationalities of an educated elite. Most minorities never learned to speak Hungarian, but the education system made them aware of their political rights, and their discontent with Magyarization mounted. Bureaucratic pressures and heightened fears of territorial claims against Hungary after the creation of new nation-states in the Balkans forced Tisza to outlaw "national agitation" and to use electoral legerdemain to deprive the minorities of representation. Nevertheless, in 1901 Romanian and Slovak national parties emerged undaunted by incidents of electoral violence and police repression.

[edit] Political and Economic Life 1905-19

Tisza directed the Liberal government until 1890, and for fourteen years thereafter a number of Liberal prime ministers held office. Agricultural decline continued, and the bureaucracy could no longer absorb all of the pauperized lesser nobles and educated people who could not find work elsewhere. This group gave its political support to the Party of Independence and the Party of Forty-Eight, which became part of the "national" opposition that forced a coalition with the Liberals in 1905. The Party of Independence resigned itself to the existence of the Dual Monarchy and sought to enhance Hungary's position within it; the Party of Forty-Eight, however, deplored the Compromise of 1867, argued that Hungary remained an Austrian colony, and pushed for formation of a Hungarian national bank and an independent customs zone.

Franz Joseph refused to appoint members of the coalition to the government until they renounced their demands for concessions from Austria concerning the military. When the coalition finally gained power in 1906, the leaders retreated from their opposition to the compromise of 1867 and followed the Liberal Party's economic policies. Istvan Tisza--Kalman Tisza's son and prime minister from 1903 to 1905--formed the new Party of Work, which in 1910 won a large majority in the parliament. Tisza became prime minister for a second time in 1912 after labor strife erupted over an unsuccessful attempt to expand voting rights.

[edit] World War I

On June 28, 1914, a Bosnian Serb assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne. Within days AustriaHungary presented Serbia with an ultimatum that made war inevitable. Tisza initially opposed the ultimatum but changed his mind when Germany supported Austria-Hungary. By late August, all the great European powers were at war. Bands playing military music and patriotic demonstrators expecting a quick, easy victory took to Budapest's streets after the declaration of war. However, Hungary, was ill prepared to fight. The country's armaments were obsolete, and its industries were not prepared for a war economy. In 1915 and 1916, Hungary felt the full impact of the war. Inflation ran rampant, wages were frozen, food shortages developed, and the government banned export of grain even to Austria. Franz Joseph died in 1916, and Karl IV (1916-18) became Hungary's new king. Before being crowned, however, Karl insisted that Hungarians has expanded voting rights. Tisza resigned in response. By 1917 the Hungarian government was slowly losing domestic control in the face of mounting popular dissatisfaction caused by the war. Of the 3.6 million soldiers Hungary sent to war, 2.1 million became casualties. By late 1918, Hungary's farms and factories were producing only half of what they did in 1913, and the war-weary people had abandoned hope of victory.

On October 31, 1918, smoldering unrest burst into revolution in Budapest, and roving soldiers assassinated Istvan Tisza. Pressured by the popular uprising and the refusal of Hungarian troops to quell disturbances, King Karl was compelled to appoint the "Red Count," Mihaly Karolyi, a pro-Entente liberal and leader of the Party of Independence, to the post of prime minister. Chrysanthemum-waving crowds poured into the streets shouting their approval. Karolyi formed a new cabinet, whose members were drawn from the new National Council, composed of representatives of the Party of Independence, the Social Democratic Party, and a group of bourgeoisie radicals. After suing for a separate peace, the new government dissolved the parliament, pronounced Hungary an independent republic with Karolyi as provisional president, and proclaimed universal suffrage and freedom of the press and assembly. The government launched preparations for land reform and promised elections, but neither goal was carried out. On November 13, 1918, Karl IV surrendered his powers as king of Hungary; however, he did not abdicate, a technicality that made a return to the throne possible.

The Karolyi government's measures failed to stem popular discontent, especially when the Entente powers began distributing slices of Hungary's traditional territory to Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. The new government and its supporters had pinned their hopes for maintaining Hungary's territorial integrity on abandoning Austria and Germany, securing a separate peace, and exploiting Karolyi's close connections in France. The Entente, however, chose to consider Hungary a partner in the defeated Dual Monarchy and dashed the Hungarians' hopes with the delivery of each new diplomatic note demanding surrender of more land. On March 19, 1919, the French head of the Entente mission in Budapest handed Karolyi a note delineating final postwar boundaries, which were unacceptable to all Hungarians. Karolyi resigned and turned power over to a coalition of Social Democrats and communists, who promised that Soviet Russia would help Hungary restore its original borders. Although the Social Democrats held a majority in the coalition, the communists under Bela Kun immediately seized control and announced the establishment of the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

Kingdom of Hungary in the 18th and 19th century

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