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20: Hungarian Revival

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IT was a direct attack upon the constitution which, to use the words of István Széchenyi, first "startled the nation out of its sickly drowsiness." In 1823, when the reactionary powers were meditating joint action to suppress the revolution in Spain, the government, without consulting the diet, imposed a war-tax and called out the recruits. The county assemblies instantly protested against this illegal act, and Francis I. was obliged, at the diet of 1823, to repudiate the action of his ministers. But the estates felt that the maintenance of their liberties demanded more substantial guarantees than the dead letter of ancient laws. Széchenyi, who had resided abroad and studied Western institutions, was the recognized leader of all those who wished to create a new Hungary out of the old. For years he and his friends educated public opinion by issuing innumerable pamphlets in which the new Liberalism was eloquently expounded. In particular Széchenyi insisted that the people must not look exclusively to the government, or even to the diet, for the necessary reforms. Society itself must take the initiative by breaking down the barriers of class exclusiveness and reviving a healthy public spirit. The effect of this teaching was manifest at the diet of 1832) when the Liberals in the Lower Chamber had a large majority, prominent among whom were Francis Deák and Ödön Beöthy. In the Upper House, however, the magnates united with the government to form a Conservative party obstinately opposed to any project of reform, which frustrated all the efforts of the Liberals.

The alarm of the government at the power and popularity of the Liberal party induced it, soon after the accession of the new king, the emperor Ferdinand I. (1835- 1848), to attempt to crush the reform movement by arresting and imprisoning the most active agitators among them, Louis Kossuth and Miklós Wesselényi. But the nation was no longer to be cowed. The diet of 1839 refused to proceed to business till the political prisoners had been released, and, while in the Lower Chamber the reforming majority was larger than ever, a Liberal party was now also formed in the Upper House under the brilliant leadership of Count Louis Batthyány and Baron Joseph Eötvös. Two progressive measures of the highest importance were passed by this diet, one making Magyar the official language of Hungary, the other freeing the peasants' holdings from all feudal obligations.

The results of the diet of 1839 did not satisfy the advanced Liberals, while the opposition of the government and of the Upper House still further embittered the general discontent. The chief exponent of this temper was the Pesti Hírlap, Hungary's first political newspaper, founded in 1841 by Kossuth, whose articles, advocating armed reprisals if necessary, inflamed the extremists but alienated Széchenyi, who openly attacked Kossuth's opinions. The polemic on both sides was violent; but, as usual, the extreme views prevailed, and on the assembling of the diet of 1843, Kossuth was more popular than ever, while the influence of Széchenyi had sensibly declined. The tone of this diet was passionate, and the government was fiercely attacked for interfering with the elections. Fresh triumphs were won by the liberals. Magyar was now declared to be the language of the schools and the law-courts as well as of the legislature; mixed marriages were legalized; and official positions were thrown open to non-nobles.

The interval between the diet of 1843 and that of 1847 saw a complete disintegration and transformation of the various political parties. Széchenyi openly joined the government, while the moderate Liberals separated from the extremists and formed a new party, the Centralists. Immediately before the elections, however, Deák succeeded in reuniting all the Liberals on the common platform of "The Ten Points": (1) Responsible ministries, (2) Popular representation, (3) The incorporation of Transylvania, (4) Right of public meeting, (6) Absolute religious liberty, (7) Universal equality before the law, (8) Universal taxation, (9) The abolition of the Aviticum, an obsolete and anomalous land-tenure, (10) The abolition of serfdom, with compensation to the landlords. The ensuing elections resulted in a complete victory of the Progressives. All efforts to bring about an understanding between the government and the opposition were fruitless. Kossuth demanded not merely the redress of actual grievances, but a reform which would make grievances impossible in the future. In the highest circles a dissolution of the diet now seemed to be the sole remedy; but, before it could be carried out, tidings of the February revolution in Paris reached Pressburgš (March 1), and on the 3rd of March Kossuth's motion for the appointment of an independent, responsible ministry was accepted by the Lower House. The moderates, alarmed not so much by the motion itself as by its tone, again tried to intervene; but on the 13th of March the Vienna revolution broke out, and the king, yielding to pressure or panic, appointed Count Louis Batthyány premier of the first Hungarian responsible ministry, which included Kossuth, Széchenyi and Deák. The Ten Points, or the March Laws as they were now called, were then adopted by the legislature and received the royal assent (April 10). Hungary had, to all intents and purposes, become an independent state bound to Austria only by the fact that the palatine chanced to be an Austrian archduke.

In the assertion of their national aspirations, confused as these were with the new democratic ideals, the Magyars had had the support of the German democrats who temporarily held the reins of power in Vienna. On the other hand, they were threatened by an ominous stirring of the subject races in Hungary itself. Croats, Vlachs, Serbs and Slovaks resented Magyar domination - a domination which had been carefully secured under the revolutionary constitution by a very narrow franchise, and out of the general chaos each race hoped to create for itself a separate national existence. The separatist movement was strongest in the south, where the Rumans were in touch with their kinsmen in Walachia and Moldavia, the Serbs with their brethren in Servia, and the Croats intent on reasserting the independence of the "Tri-une Kingdom."

The attitude of the distracted imperial government towards these movements was at first openly suspicious and hostile. The emperor and his ministers hoped that, having conceded the demands of the Magyars, they would receive the help of the Hungarian government in crushing the revolution elsewhere, a hope that seemed to be justified by the readiness with which Batthyány consented to send a contingent to the assistance of the imperialists in Italy. That the encouragement of the Slav aspirations was soon deliberately adopted as a weapon against the Hungarian government was due, partly to the speedy predominance at Pest of Kossuth and the extreme party of which he was the mouthpiece, but mainly to the calculated policy of Baron Jellachich, who on the 14th of April was appointed ban of Croatia. Jellachich, who as a soldier was devoted to the interests of the imperial house, realized that the best way to break the revolutionary power of the Magyars and Germans would be to encourage the Slav national ideas, which were equally hostile to both; to set up against the Dualism in favour at Pest and Vienna the federal system advocated by the Slavs, and so to restore the traditional Habsburg principle of Divide et impera. This policy he pursued with masterly skill. His first acts on taking up his office were to repudiate the authority of the Hungarian diet, to replace the Magyar officials with ardent "Illyrians" and to proclaim martial law. Under pressure from the palatine of Batthyány an imperial edict was issued, on the 7th of May, ordering the ban to desist from his separatist plans and take his orders from Pest. He not only refused to obey, but on the 5th of June convoked to Agar the Croatian national diet, of which the first act was to declare the independence of the Tri-une Kingdom. Once more, at the instance of Batthyány, the emperor intervened, and on the 10th an imperial edict stripped Jellachich of All his offices.

Meanwhile, however, Jellachich had himself started for Innsbruck, where he succeeded in persuading the emperor of the loyalty of his intentions, and whence, though not as yet formally reinstated, he was allowed to return to Croatia with practically unfettered discretion. The Hungarian government, in fact, had played into his hands. At a time when everything depended on the army, they had destroyed the main tie which bound the Austrian court to their interests by tampering with the relation of the Hungarian army to the crown. In May a national guard had been created, the disaffected troops being bribed by increased pay to desert their colours and join this and on the 1st of June the garrison of Pest had taken an oath to the constitution. All hope of crushing revolutionary Vienna with Magyar aid was thus at an end, and Jellachich, who on the 20th issued a proclamation to the Croat regiments in Italy to remain with their colours and fight for the common fatherland, was free to carry out his policy of identifying the cause of the southern Slavs with that of the imperial army. The alliance was cemented in July by a military demonstration, of which Jellachich was the hero, at Vienna; as the result of which the government

š Up to 1848 the Hungarian diet was usually held at Pressburg.


mustered up courage to declare publicly that the basis of the Austrian state was "the recognition of the equal rights of all nationalities." This was the challenge which the Magyars were not slow to accept.

In the Hungarian diet, which met on the 2nd of July, the influence of the conservative cabinet was wholly overshadowed by that of Kossuth, whose inflammatory orations - directed against the disruptive designs of the Slavs and the treachery of the Austrian government - precipitated the crisis. At his instance the diet not only refused to vote supplies for the troops of the ban of Croatia, but only consented to pass a motion for sending reinforcements to the army in Italy on condition that the anti-Magyar races in Hungary should be first disarmed. On the 11th, on his motion, a decree was passed by acclamation for a levy of 200,000 men and the raising of Ł4,500,000 for the defence of the independence of the country. Desultory fighting, in which Austrian officers with the tacit consent of the minister of war took part against the Magyars, had already broken out in the south. It was not, however, until the victory of Custozza (July 25) set free the army in Italy, that the Austrian government ventured on bolder measures. On the 4th of September, after weeks of fruitless negotiation, the king-emperor threw down the gauntlet by reinstating Jellachich in all his honours. Seven days later the ban declared open war on Hungary by crossing the Drave at the head of 36,000 Croatian troops. The immediate result was to place the extreme revolutionaries in power at Pest. Széchenyi had lost his reason some days before; Eötvös and Deák retired into private life, of the conservative ministers only Batthyány, to his undoing, consented to remain in office, though hardly in power. Kossuth alone was supreme.

The advance of Jellachich as far as Lake Balaton had not been checked, the Magyar troops, though - contrary to his expectation - none joined him, offering no opposition. The palatine, the Austrian Archduke Stephen, after fruitless attempts at negotiation, laid down his office on the 24th September and left for Vienna. One more attempt at compromise was made, General Count Lambergš being sent to take command of all the troops, Slav or Magyar, in Hungary, with a view to arranging an armistice. His mission, which was a slight to Jellachich, was conceived as a concession to the Magyars, and had the general approval of Batthyány. Unhappily, however, when Lamberg arrived in Pest, Batthyány had not yet returned; the diet, on Kossuth's motion, called on the army not to obey the new commander-in-chief, on the ground that his commission had not been countersigned by a minister at Pest. Next day, as he was crossing the bridge of Buda, Lamberg was dragged from his carriage by a frantic mob and torn to pieces. This made war inevitable; though Batthyány hurried to Vienna to try and arrange a settlement. Failing in this, he retired, and on the 2nd of October a royal proclamation, countersigned by his successor, Recsséy, placed Hungary under martial law and appointed Jellachich viceroy and commander of all forces. This proclamation, together with the order given to certain Viennese regiments to march to the assistance of Jellachich, who had been defeated at Pákozd on the 29th of September, led to the émeute (Oct. 3) which ended in the murder of the minister of war, Latour, and the second flight of the emperor to Innsbruck. The fortunes of the German revolutionaries in Vienna and the Magyar revolutionists in Pest were now closely bound up together; and when, on the 11th, Prince Windischgrätz laid siege to Vienna, it was to Hungary that the democrats of the capital looked for relief. The despatch of a large force of militia to the assistance of the Viennese was, in fact, the first act of open rebellion of the Hungarians. They suffered a defeat at Schwechat on the 30th of October, which sealed the fate of the revolutionists in Vienna and thus precipitated a conflict á outrance in Hungary itself.

In Austria the army was now supreme, and the appointment of Prince Felix Schwarzenberg as head of the government was a guarantee that its power would be used in a reactionary sense without weakness or scruple. The Austrian diet was transferred on the 15th of November to Kremsier, remote from revolutionary influences; and, though the government still thought it prudent to proclaim its constitutional principles, it also proclaimed its intention to preserve the unity of the monarchy. A still further step was taken when, on the 2nd of December, the emperor Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his nephew Francis Joseph. The new sovereign was a lad of eighteen, who for the present was likely to be the mere mouthpiece of Schwarzenberg's policy. Moreover, he was not bound by the constitutional obligations unwillingly accepted by his uncle. The Magyars at once took up the challenge. On the 7th the Hungarian diet formally refused to acknowledge the title of the new king, "as without the knowledge and consent of the diet no one could sit on the Hungarian throne," and called the nation to arms. Constitutionally, in the Magyar opinion, Ferdinand was still king of Hungary, and this gave to the revolt an excuse of legality. Actually, from this time until the collapse of the rising, Louis Kossuth was the ruler of Hungary.

The struggle opened with a series of Austrian successes. Prince Windischgratz, who

š Franz Phillip, Count von Lamberg (1791-1848), a field-marshal in the Austrian army, who had seen service in the campaigns of 1814-1815 in France, belonged to the Stockerau branch of the ancient countly family of Orteneck-Ottenstein. He was chosen for this particular mission as being himself a Hungarian magnate conversant with Hungarian affairs, but at the same time of the party devoted to the court.


had received orders to reduce Hungary by fire and sword, began his advance on the 15th of December; opened up the way to the capital by the victory of Mór (Oct. 30), and on the 5th of January 1849 occupied Pest, while the Hungarian government and diet retired behind the Theiss and established themselves at Debreczen. A last attempt at reconciliation, made by the more moderate members of the diet in Windischgrätz's camp at Bieské (Jan. 3), had foundered on the uncompromising attitude of the Austrian commander, who demanded unconditional submission; whereupon the moderates, including Deák and Batthyány, retired into private life, leaving Kossuth to carry on the struggle with the support of the enthusiastic extremists who constituted the rump of the diet at Debreczen. The question now was: how far the military would subordinate itself to the civil element of the national government. The first symptom of dissonance was a proclamation by the commander of the Upper Danube division, Arthur Görgei, from his camp at Vácz (Jan. 5) emphasizing the fact that the national defence was purely constitutional, and menacing all who might be led astray from this standpoint by republican aspirations. Immediately after this proclamation Görgei disappeared with his army among the hills of Upper Hungary, and, despite the difficulties of a phenomenally severe winter and the constant pursuit of vastly superior forces, fought his way down to the valley of Hernád - and safety. This masterly winter-campaign first revealed Görgei's military genius, and the discipline of that terrible month of marching and counter-marching had hardened his recruits into veterans whom his country regarded with pride and his country's enemies with respect. Unfortunately his success caused some jealousy in official quarters, and when, in the middle of February 1849, a commander-in-chief was appointed to carry out Kossuth's plan of campaign, that vital appointment was given, not to the man who had made the army what it was, but to a foreigner, a Polish refugee, Count Henrik Dembinski, who, after fighting the bloody and indecisive battle of Kápolna (Feb. 26-27), was forced to retreat. Görgei was immediately appointed his successor, and the new generalissimo led the Honvéds from victory to victory. Ably supported by Klapka and Damjanich he pressed forward irresistibly. Szolnok (March 5), Isaszeg (April 6), Vácz (April 10), and Nagysarló (April 19) were so many milestones in his triumphal progress. On the 25th of May the Hungarian capital was once more in the hands of the Hungarians.

Meanwhile, the earlier events of the war had so altered the political situation that any idea which the diet at Debreczen had cherished of a compromise with Austria was destroyed. The capture of Pest had confirmed the Austrian court in its policy of unification, which after the victory of Kápolna they thought it safe to proclaim. On the 7th of March the diet of Kremsier was dissolved, and immediately afterwards a proclamation was issued in the name of the emperor Francis Joseph establishing a united constitution for the whole empire, of which Hungary cut up into half a dozen administrative districts, was henceforth to be little more than the largest of several subject provinces. The news of this manifesto, arriving as it did simultaneously with that of Görgei's successes, destroyed the last vestiges of a desire of the Hungarian revolutionists to compromise, and on the 14th of April, on the motion of Kossuth, the diet proclaimed the independence of Hungary, declared the house of Habsburg as false and perjured, for ever excluded from the throne, and elected Kossuth president of the Hungarian Republic. This was an execrable blunder in the circumstances, and the results were fatal to the national cause. Neither the government nor the army could accommodate itself to the new situation. From henceforth the military and civil authorities, as represented by Kossuth and Görgei, were hopelessly out of sympathy with each other, and the breach widened till all effective co-operation became impossible.

Meanwhile the humiliating defeats of the imperial army and the course of events in Hungary had compelled the court of Vienna to accept the assistance which the emperor Nicholas I. of Russia had proffered in the loftiest spirit of the Holy Alliance. The Austro-Russian alliance was announced at the beginning of May, and before the end of the month the common plan of campaign had been arranged. The Austrian commander-in-chief, Count Haynau, was to attack Hungary from the west, the Russian, Prince Paskevich, from the north, gradually environing the kingdom, and then advancing to end the business by one decisive blow in the mid-Theissian counties. They had at their disposal 375,000 men, to which the Magyars could only oppose 160,000. The Magyars, too, were now more than ever divided among themselves, no plan of campaign had yet been drawn up, no commander-in-chief appointed to replace Görgei, whom Kossuth had deposed. Haynau's first victories (June 20-28) put an end to their indecisions. On the 2nd of July the Hungarian government abandoned Pest and transferred its capital first to Szeged and finally to Arad. The Russians were by this time well on their way to the Theiss, and the terrible girdle which was to throttle the liberties of Hungary was all but completed. Kossuth again appointed as commander-in-chief the brave but inefficient Dembinski, who was utterly routed at Temesvár (Aug. 9) by Haynau. This was the last great battle of the War of Independence. The final catastrophe was now unavoidable. On the 13th of August Görgei, who had been appointed dictator by the panic-stricken government two days before surrendered the remnant of his hardly pressed army to the Russian General Rüdiger at Világos. The other army corps and all the fortresses followed his example, Komárom. heroically defended by Klapka, being the last to capitulate (Sept. 27) . Kossuth and his associates, who had quitted Arad on the 10th of August, took refuge in Turkish territory. By the end of the month Paskevich could write to the Emperor Nicholas: "Hungary lies at the feet of your Imperial Majesty."

From October 1849 to July 1850 Hungary was governed by martial law administered by "the butcher" Haynau. This was a period of military tribunals, dragooning, wholesale confiscation and all manner of brutalities.š From 1851 to 1860 pure terrorism was succeeded by the "Bach System," which derives its name from the imperial minister of the interior, Baron Alexander von Bach. The Bach System did not recognize historical Hungary. It postulated the existence of one common indivisible state of which mutilated Hungary formed an important section. The supreme government was entrusted to an imperial council responsible to the emperor alone. The counties were administered by imperial officials, Germans, Czechs and Galicians, who did not understand the Magyar tongue. German was the official language. But though reaction was the motive power of this new machinery of government, it could not do away with many of the practical and obvious improvements of 1848, and it was not blind to some of the indispensable requirements of a modern state. The material welfare of the nation was certainly promoted by it. Modern roads were made, the first railways were laid down, the regulation of the river Theiss was taken in hand, a new and better scheme of finance was inaugurated. But the whole system so to speak, hung in the air. It took no root in the soil. The Magyar nation stood aloof from it. It was plain that at the first revolutionary blast from without, or the first insurrectionary outburst from within, the "Bach System" would vanish like a mirage.

Meanwhile the new Austrian empire had failed to stand the test of international complications. The Crimean War had isolated it in Europe. The Italian war of 1859 had revealed its essential instability. It was felt at court that some concessions were now due to the subject nationalities. Hence the October Diploma (Oct. 20, 1860) which proposed to prop up the crazy common state with the shadow of a constitution and to grant some measure of local autonomy to Hungary, subject always to the supervision of the imperial council (Reichsrath). This project was favoured by the Magyar conservative magnates who had never broken with the court, but was steadily opposed by the Liberal leader Ferencz Deák whose upright and tenacious character made him at this crisis the oracle and the buttress of the national cause. Deák's standpoint was as simple as it was unchangeable. He demanded the re-establishment of the constitution of 1848 in its entirety, the whole constitution and nothing but the constitution.

The October Diploma was followed by the February Patent (Feb. 26, 1861), which proposed to convert the Reichsrath into a constitutional representative assembly, with two chambers, to which all the provinces of the empire were to send deputies. The project elaborated by Anton von Schmerling, was submitted to a Hungarian diet which assembled at Pest on the 2nd of April 1861. After long and violent debates, the diet, on the 8th of August, unanimously adopted an address to the crown, drawn up by Deák, praying for the restoration of the political and territorial integrity of Hungary, for the public coronation of the king with all its accompaniments, and the full restitution of the fundamental laws. The executive retorted by dissolving the diet on the 21st of August and levying the taxes by military execution. The so-called Provisorium had begun.

But the politicians of Vienna had neither the power nor the time to realize their intentions. The question of Italian unity had no sooner been settled than the question of German unity arose, and fresh international difficulties once more inclined the Austrian government towards moderation and concession. In the beginning of June 1865 Francis Joseph came to Buda; on the 26th a provisional Hungarian government was formed, on the 20th of September the February constitution was suspended, and on the 14th of December a diet was summoned to Buda-Pest. The great majority of the nation naturally desired a composition with its ruler and with Austria, and this general desire was unerringly interpreted and directed by Deák, who carried two-thirds of the deputies along with him. The session was interrupted by the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian War, but not before a committee had been formed to draft the new constitution. The peace of Prague (Aug. 20, 1866), excluding Austria from Italy and Germany, made the fate of the Habsburg monarchy absolutely dependent upon a compromise with the Magyars. On the 7th of November 1866 the diet reassembled. On the 17th of February 1867 a responsible independent ministry was formed under Count Gyula Andrássy. On the 29th of May the new constitution was adopted by 209 votes to 89. Practically it was an amplification of the March Laws of 1848. The coronation took place on the 8th of June, on which occasion the king solemnly declared that he wished "a veil to be drawn over the past." The usual coronation gifts he devoted to the benefit of the Honvéd invalids who had fought in the War of Independence. The reconciliation between monarch and people was assured.


š The crowning atrocities, which the Magyars have never wholly forgiven, were the shooting and hanging of the "Arad Martyrs" and the execution of Batthyány. On October 6, 1849, thirteen generals who had taken part in the war, including Damjanich and Counts Vécsey and Leiningen, were hanged or shot at Arad. On the same day Count Louis Batthyány was shot at Pest.


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