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5: The Eighteenth Century

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THE next period of Hungarian history, that covered by the remainder of Charles' reign and by the reign of his daughter, Maria Theresa, is one on which Hungarian commentators of later days have passed singularly various judgments. For some of them have seen it as an age of sorely-needed rest and successful recuperation; others, as one of stagnation and even of national decadence. In fact, it contained features which would support either view, and these call for description in some detail; for short and uneventful, on, the surface, as the period was, it yet produced the formation and alignment of the forces of whose conflict, after it had closed, the modern Hungary was born.

The supreme blessing enjoyed by Hungary during this half-century was that of peace; first and foremost, peace between the nation and its rulers. When, a few years after the Peace of Szatmár, war broke out again between Austria and the Porte, Rákóczi, from his Turkish exile, tried to raise again the old standard, but no one listened to him. For a time, it is true, the peace was still uncordial and suspicious. When, in the last years of his reign, Charles embarked on another Turkish war, and this proved both expensive and inglorious in its ending, discontent was rife again; so much so that when Maria Theresa had to meet the Diet after her father's death, there was a very real possibility that pent-up discontents might find explosive outlet. At the best the malcontents might take advantage of her difficulties to demand inordinate concessions; at the worst they might ally themselves with the King of Prussia. As is well known, the scene, one of the most famous in Hungarian history, passed differently. When the lovely young queen appeared before the Diet, her babe on her arm, it voted by acclamation 'vitam et sanguinem pro rege nostro, Maria Theresa', i.e., a substantial force of enlisted men beside the noble levée itself. But it had been a narrow squeak. The famous shout had not been nearly so spontaneous as was represented. Hard bargaining behind the scenes had preceded it, and rumour whispered that the Diet had added under its collective breath: 'sed non avenam'.

But the crisis had been weathered, however narrowly, and it was followed by a period during which the relationship was, up to a point, really cordial. Maria Theresa was genuinely grateful to the Hungarians for their response, which, if it did not materialise on quite the scale promised, yet undoubtedly saved the existence of the Habsburg monarchy as a Great Power. She regarded them as 'fundamentally a good people, with whom one can do anything if one takes them the right way', and set herself, not merely to keep them from rebelling, as her father had done, but to awaken in them a positive loyalty towards her throne. She admitted the magnates to posts at her court and in the central services, diplomatic and military, of the monarchy, encouraged them to send their sons to the Theresianum, the famous academy founded by her in Vienna for the sons of the aristocracy, and not infrequently paid their all too prevalent debts, or at least advanced them money to tide them over their crises. For the lesser nobles she founded the Royal Hungarian Bodyguard, to which each county sent two youths of noble birth. She succeeded in fact in generating, at least in the circles reached by her benevolence, a real attachment to the dynasty, and in the country at large, a sincere acceptance of the indissoluble nature of its link with the monarchy.

Charles' first Turkish war brought the recovery of the remaining corner of Hungary, evacuated by the Turks in 1718. His second was fought in the Balkans, and Maria Theresa's wars in the west. Thus Hungary saw no hostile armies during the period. She contributed towards Maria Theresa's wars not inconsiderable forces, some of which earned much distinction, but her sacrifices in blood were small, and in money, moderate. The contributio (war-tax) was fixed in 1724 at just over 2,100,000 florins. This was raised to 2,500,000 in 1728, to 3,200,000 in 1751 and to 3,900,000 in 1765, plus certain further sums from newly reincorporated areas.

This prolonged peace of course made possible a very real recovery in many directions. The population increased very rapidly, large-scale immigration reinforcing the effects of a high rate of natural increase. By Joseph II's reign it had risen to a total of about 9+ millions (just under 6 millions in Inner Hungary, nearly 1,500,000 in Transylvania, 650,000 in civilian Croatia and 700,000 in the Frontier). The growth was, of course, especially fast in the areas which had been the chief sufferers under the previous devastation: in the county of Bács-Bodrog, the population rose from 31,000 to 227,000; in the Bánát, from 45,000 to 774,000. The increase was almost pure gain for the country, which could absorb it easily; it was only in a few areas of the north, and in Transylvania, that rural congestion began to show itself, and migration down to the plains drained off most of these local surpluses. In spite of the growth of allodial farming, the taxable area of the country, i.e., that contained in 'urbarial' peasant holdings, multiplied fivefold. In many of the former devastated areas, especially where German colonists were settled, the whole face of the countryside was changed. Swamps were drained, forests cleared, land brought under the plough. Where no sign of human habitation had broken the solitude, unless the hovel of a gypsy or a Vlach herdsman, neat villages now stood amid fields of smiling corn. In the north and west, where foundations had survived on which to build, there was evidence of prosperity and even of luxury. Some of the great landlords here disposed of enormous rent-rolls and other resources. The annual income of Prince Esterházy, the richest of them, was estimated at over 700,000 florins; that of Count Batthyány at 450,000. Two other magnates had incomes of over 300,000 florins, four more at over 150,000, and there were many fortunes of 50-60,000 florins. The wealth of the roman catholic church could vie with that of the lay magnates: the net income of the Primate-Archbishop was put at 360,000 florins, that of the Bishop of Eger at 80,000 and of Nagyvárad at 70,000.

The chief outward and visible sign of this was constituted by the great mansions which began to dot the countryside almost in profusion. That built by Prince Esterházy at Esterháza (one of several owned by him) contained 200 rooms and stabling for 200 horses, and cost 12 million gulden to erect. If this was the most magnificent of them all, those of the Grassalkoviches, Batthyánys, Festetiches and not a few others could bear comparison with those of the leading aristocracy of most European countries. Well over 200 great palaces were built in Maria Theresa's reign alone, with a large number of smaller manor-houses, while the town residences of the magnates, comfortable homes of burgesses, and many new churches and other public buildings, adorned Pozsony and Buda.

In the palaces of the magnates and the new churches, the baroque culture of the central Europe of the day was at home, sometimes magnificently expressed. Prince Esterházy supported a private theatre in which nightly performances were held, opera, German comedy and Italian opéra bouffe alternating under the direction of Haydn. The ceilings of the great palaces and churches were adorned with frescoes by fashionable painters. In 1723 the Crown had claimed the control of education, and Maria Theresa showed real interest in this subject. She had the University

of Nagyszombat transferred to Buda-Pest, and patronised the foundation of many other schools, both secondary and elementary. Under the Ratio Educationis, issued in 1777, the whole country was divided into nine districts, each of which was to be covered by a network of educational establishments of all grades. The Hungarian clergy, too, spent much of their revenues on educational purposes.

The shadows in the picture were, however, not inconsiderable. The malignant political persecution had ceased, but its cessation had not given the country back its real independence. Through her concurrence in the Pragmatic Sanction Hungary was now by her own admission, and indeed more firmly than ever, relegated to the status of a component of a larger complex with multiple extra-Hungarian interests. She had still no means of influencing the international relations of that polity, for she was not represented on the court chancellery, through which they were conducted, and when the new Hofrat was established as the supreme advisory organ to the monarch on matters of general policy, it, again, at first contained no Hungarian member; later, a Hungarian Referent was appointed to it, but rather as an expert on Hungarian affairs than a representative of Hungarian interests. The whole field of the nation's defence had slipped definitely out of its hands with the institution of the standing army, which made the effective national defence force (for the noble levée had now become & recognised last resort) a mere component of a larger body, mainly non-Hungarian in composition and entirely so in respect of control over it, for the promise that Hungary should be represented on the Hofkriegsrat was never flilfilled. Indeed, the standing army developed into a permanent and powerful instrument for the enforcement of the monarch's will in any case in which it conflicted with that of the nation.

The Crown was almost equally free in the exercise its financial prerogatives, which extended not only to the management and enjoyment of the revenues from the Crown estates, but to the minting of money, and the levying of customs, excise and indirect taxation in general. Even while recognising the 'independence' of the Hungarian camera, Charles had announced that he would give it its orders 'through the Hofkammer'. In practice, and after a time, officially, the camera again became a mere department of the Hofkammer, and Hungary had no control either over its operations or over the disposal of the money passing through its hands. Half its net revenues went to the upkeep of the court in Vienna.

Still, foreign affairs, defence and cameral finance had always been royal prerogatives, and the first two of these, at least, were bound to rank as central services of the Gesammtmonarchie. All other fields of public life were interna, to which Charles' promise applied that Hungary should be governed only through her own laws. But as the business of government grew more complex, the Crown regularly claimed as falling within its own competence every subject on which no earlier law specifically entitled the Diet to be consulted; thus in succession it claimed education, 'colonisation', religious questions, industrial legislation, and, finally, the regulation of the peasants' obligations, to constitute politica, i.e. questions which the Crown had power to regulate by rescript, without consultation with the Diets. It is true that it passed its orders in these fields through the Hungarian court chancellery, and that that body remained nominally independent of any authority except the monarch, but they were none the less orders, and the Consilium, by which they were executed, was, again, responsible to the chancellery, not the Diet. And Charles, again, left the office of Palatine vacant when its holder, Miklós Pálfy, died in 1734, appointing instead another Viceroy.

The powers of the Diet were, in fact, practically confined to voting (or refusing) extraordinary or increased supplies of money or recruits, and after he had got his way over the succession, Charles convoked it only once more, in 1734, when he asked the nobles to renounce their exemption from taxation. When they refused to do this, he did not again consult them. Maria Theresa was no less autocratic. When Charles died in 1740 she had to convoke the Diet for her coronation, and in her extremity she had to supplicate it for help against her enemies. In return for this help, besides confirming 'for ever' the nobles' liberties, she appointed a new Palatine and dismissed some of the previous Viceroy's foreign advisers. But after this, she, too, convoked only two more Diets (in 1751 and 1765) and when the second body rejected her proposals to improve the peasants' conditions, she dismissed it and enacted her reforms by rescript. She too, left the office of Palatine unfilled after 1764.

All this means that except in a few respects, Hungary was being governed exactly like any Austrian or Bohemian Land, and most of the differences were created only through the non-extension to Hungary of the reforms introduced in Austria in 1748-9 and thereafter. Then, indeed, the differences became important. The Hungarian court chancellery was not merged in the new AustroBohemian Directorium. The new system of bureaucratic control was not extended downward, as it was in Austria through the Kreisämter: the counties retained their old autonomy and organisation. Finally, when the nobles of Austria and Bohemia renounced their exemption from taxation, those of Hungary retained theirs, and with it a bargaining power much greater than possessed by their western colleagues after they had consented to the institution of decennial 'recesses'. The Diet could not, indeed, in practice refuse the contributio once fixed, nor get it reduced, but the Crown could not get it raised, nor call out the noble levée, without the Diet's consent.

A particular grievance under which Hungary suffered was the continued dismemberment of the country. When Michael Apafi II died in 1713, Charles simply took the title of Prince of Transylvania. The only change introduced by Maria Theresa (except that she formally admitted her title to derive from the Holy Crown) was to promote Transylvania to the rank of a 'Grand Principality'. It had its separate court chancellery, Gubernium and Thesauriat. When the last corner of Hungary was recovered from the Turks in 1718, the area, baptised the Bánát Temesvár, was kept as a separate crownland, administered, like the Military Frontier, from Vienna; it was only in 1779 that it was liquidated, its southern fringe being attached to the frontier, while the remainder was organised in counties. The civilian counties between the lower Save and Drave, now known as 'Slavonia', were placed for administrative purposes under the Ban of Croatia, although still ranking as parts of Hungary proper for purposes of taxation and sending representatives to both Diets.

The system of government in these areas was as autocratic as in Inner Hungary. The Transylvanian Diet was, indeed, convoked regularly, but it was so packed with ex officio members as to forfeit any claim to represent the people. The military administration in the Bánát and the Military Frontier was purely authoritarian.

The economic progress which the country was making looked, as we have said, remarkable, and was so in certain fields, but it was uneven, and in other fields even laggard. In the latter part of the period it was not of Hungary's advance that men were speaking, but of its backwardness. The whole economic picture was dominated by the appalling state of the communications, especially in the Plains. Here the roads were mere tracks, impassable for heavy traffic during much of the year; the rivers were often blocked by shoals or fallen tree-trunks. It was only on estates belonging to enlightened landlords, and where the geographical situations were exceptionally favourable, that arable farming for profit was possible, and only on these, and in some of the newly-established German colonies, that agricultural methods reached even the central European standards of the day. Even these had not usually got beyond the threefold rotation of crops. In the Magyar parts of the ex-Turkish areas, the twofold rotation of crop and fallow was still usual, while the Serbs and Roumanians merely scratched each year a different patch of the expanses on which they pastured their herds. Only vineyards were manured; otherwise, dung was used for fuel, to make walls, or to fill in potholes in the roads. The fabulous harvests which had dazzled early travellers had been the response to cultivation of soil which had lain virgin for two centuries; they were already dwindling as these primitive methods exhausted the stored-up fertility. Threshing was done by teams of horses or of oxen treading out the corn, and crops were commonly stored in underground pits (a device originally adopted to conceal them from marauders), where often they rotted. It was no uncommon thing for a year of super-abundance, in which much of the harvest had not even been gathered, to be followed by one of dearth, sometimes of actual famine.

Nearly all the farming was in fact for subsistence, for the modest needs of the local market. Cattle, driven on the hoof into Austria, and wine were more important as agricultural exports. But most of the Hungarian cattle were still kept in the open all the year round, an existence which proved too hard for a high proportion of the calves. The survivors were lean, stringy beasts, which the importers bought cheap before fattening them for slaughter. Wine was still exported in large quantities up to the middle of the century, but the best market for it, Silesia, was lost after Frederick the Great seized that province, and the Austrian Government started a tariff war with Prussia.

Thus the rewards even of agriculture were meagre, at any rate from the point of view of the national finances. And yet agriculture was the source from which fully 90 per cent of the population still derived its living even at the end of the period. The census of 1787, the first to enter into much detail, gave 18,487 priests (many of them monks) and only 5,001 professional civil servants and members of the free professions combined. To this figure may be added some 10,000 lower grade civil servants, who were not listed separately, and 5,000 or so teachers. Most of these were at least half farmers. There were 48 Royal free and 16 other boroughs in Inner Hungary, 9 in Transylvania and 8 in Croatia. The largest of these, Debrecen, had a population of just under 30,000; of the rest, only Pozsony, Buda, Pest and Szabadka topped the 20,000 mark; several had under 2,000. It is true that there existed also some considerable agglomerations which did not possess urban charters; these included Kecskemét, which in population ranked next below Pest. But these memorials to khas life under the Turkish rule were really just enormous villages, or collections of villages, counted administratively as one, and the same was true of some of the titular towns, Szabadka, Szeged and Debrecen itself. Their inhabitants were simply farmers, and the cottages which lined their streets were inhabited in the months when field-work was possible only by the economically inactive members of each family; its able-bodied members were camping out on their fields, perhaps many miles away.

The chief occupation of many other towns, Tokaj, Gyöngyös, Ruszt, even Buda, was viticulture. In 1777 the towns contained only 30,921 persons listed as employed in industry, nearly all of it on the smallest scale: there were 13,394 independent master-craftsmen, 12,316 journeymen and 4,671 apprentices. Most of the peasants' simple needs hardly required the services even of a craftsman: they were supplied by their own women folk.

The gold and silver mines were nearing exhaustion and the first coal-mines only just opening.

Most internal trade was equally primitive.

And this backwardness was, in part, thrust upon Hungary from Vienna, of deliberate policy. In part only, for the first cause lay in the devastation which the country had suffered under the Turks and in the wars of liberation, and the slow pace of its recovery up to the middle of the century had been due to its own inability to overcome this damnosa hereditas. Among the handicaps there must indeed be counted that of the national psychology. Centuries of history had rendered the Hungarian noble, great or small, quite incapable of counting industry or trade as a career fit to rank with landowning or soldiering. And the peasants were no more enterprising than their masters. They were not easily persuaded to supplement their incomes by housework, even when the opportunity offered. Travellers noted that 'the abundant blessings of nature made them dull and lazy. If they had bread and bacon to last them the year, and a warm coat, their needs and their monetary ambitions were satisfied.'

As a consequence, most of such trade and industry as existed was in non-Magyar hands. The members of the guilds - who, however, had become as narrowly restrictive as imagination could conceive - were still mostly Germans. The trading class and pioneers of capitalist development in Hungary were Serbs, or the class collectively known as 'Greeks', a term which included not only true Greeks, but Kutzovlachs and other Balkan elements. These were not only the shopkeepers but the industrial entrepreneurs, who travelled round the country and bought up the products of the peasant craftsmen.

The Austrian repressive policy developed out of what were quite reasonable initial considerations. The planned economic development of the Monarchy was originally undertaken on a serious scale to make good the loss of Silesia, and it was natural enough to site the new factories in Bohemia and round Vienna, in proximity to the main markets and where the populations had an old tradition of skill, assigning to Hungary, which in any case was suffering from a shortage of labour even for agriculture, the role of producer of raw materials. This division of functions was in any case only meant to last until conditions in Hungary changed. Maria Theresa specifically forbade any discrimination against Hungary, where she personally founded several factories (including the famous Herend porcelain works, still in production today). But she herself agreed that the state should not found or subsidise factories in Hungary which competed with Austrian enterprises, and the Austrian and Bohemian magnates whose interests were bound up with the new developments (and who dominated the economic council which was in charge of the new planning) found ways of getting this ruling to apply to almost any state enterprise in Hungary. A suggestion that private individuals should be prohibited from founding factories was not adopted, but the economic council, through whose hands applications for privileges, subsidies and other facilities passed, saw to it that these were never, or hardly ever, granted to Hungarians. Where, nevertheless, such establishments came into being, their products, and those of the guilds (which did not come under the authority of the council) were handicapped by an internal tariff which allowed Austrian manufactures to enter Hungary free, except for payment of a small fiscal duty, while Hungarian exports to Austria were made prohibitively expensive by over-valuation of them on the frontier. The internal market for Hungarian manufactures was further restricted by the facts that no court (the chief consumer of luxury goods) resided there, and that all the requirements of the army were produced in Austria except the food, which was supplied locally, often at under the cost of production.

Hungary's industrial subjection to Austria was made almost complete by the institution (first in 1754) of a high tariff wall, applying both to exports and imports, round the whole Monarchy. Articles which Austria could not produce, and which were therefore allowed to enter the Monarchy, had to be bought from Austrian middle-men.

Worst of all, the discrimination came to be extended to agriculture. In the early stages, some government money was spent on agricultural improvements in Hungary, some of them useful: the cultivation of the silkworm in the Bánát is an example. But if the Austrian cereal harvest was poor, Hungary was sometimes forbidden to export hers elsewhere than to Austria, while if the Austrian harvest was good, the Hungarian was excluded. Even Hungarian wine could not be sent abroad unless accompanied by an equal quantity of Austrian wine. The only export which was almost entirely unrestricted was that of cattle.

The discrimination was regularly justified by the argument that as the Hungarian nobles had retained their freedom from taxation after the Austrian had renounced theirs, they would, given equal treatment, undercut Austria; and further, that Hungary's contribution to the common exchequer in direct taxation was unduly light. It is true that the 'war tax' was not raised pari passu with the growth of the population, and thus came to be much lighter than that paid per capita in Bohemia or the Netherlands; yet an Austrian expert, Count Zinzendorf, calculated that if a complete balance-sheet had been drawn up, including the Crown's revenues from the camera, the cost of maintaining the army, etc., Hungary would have been found to be paying more than her quota. The weight of the taxation was, moreover, greatly increased by the extreme shortage of currency among the peasants, on whose shoulders the payment fell.

There was much that was unsatisfactory also in the cultural field. The fine flower of the baroque culture was savoured chiefly by a small privileged circle. During most of the period, catholic education was chiefly in the hands of the Jesuits, and was directed primarily to the propagation of the faith, and as means to this end, to the training of missionary priests. The weight of it was laid on theology and the humanities, and it was essentially aristocratic in spirit. It produced elegant courtiers and learned and subtle bishops, who were themselves often the scions of the highest families in the land, but it did not penetrate to the masses. The intellectual level of the parish priests was low, as their stipends, too, were meagre. The Piarists, who were the Jesuits' main rivals and succeeded to their position when the Jesuit Order was dissolved in 1773, were much more democratic and their curriculum less restricted, but they had much leeway to make up. In the 1775 only 4,145 of Inner Hungary's 8,742 communes had schools at all (an average of 7.5 schools to every 10,000 of the population) and in 3,883 of these only one teacher was registered; the exceptions were in areas of mixed population.

And all the facilities and favours in this field were for the catholics. The question of the protestants' status, left in 1722 for agreement between the parties, was settled by Charles in 1731, after the parties had reached deadlock, by the Carolina Resolutio. This upheld the restrictions imposed by Leopold. Protestant services could be held only in a few specially designated places, outside which only private worship was allowed. Conversion to Protestantism was forbidden. Protestants had to observe catholic festivals and their clergy were subject to the visitations of catholic prelates. A Catholic oath was required from all persons entering the public services, which were thus practically closed to Protestants. For a while, Protestant students were forbidden to attend foreign universities.

In this respect Maria Theresa, being herself a devout Catholic, was less tolerant than her father, who took his personal religion more lightly. Moreover, her name inspired Catholic zealots to press the theory that Hungary was the 'regnum Marianum', a country peculiarly dedicated to the service of the Mother of God. For the Protestants, on the other hand, her reign was 'the Babylonian captivity'. They were subjected to many further grievous restrictions. Their colleges actually declined in number and wealth. That they survived at all, and even maintained a high level of learning, was a tribute to the courage and solidarity of the population; it was achieved in the face of strong governmental opposition, and at the cost of painful sacrifice.

An important improvement was brought about in the cultural standards of the Ruthenes and some of the Roumanians by the introduction among them (against strong resistance which limited its extension) of the Uniate church; but the level of the populations which remained true to the Orthodox creed (the Serbs and over half the Roumanians) remained deplorably low.

The chief charge brought by the Hungary of the nineteenth century against that of the eighteenth was of having allowed the national spirit to decay. It was certainly the case that by the end of the century the magnate class was only half Hungarian. It was not, indeed, an ethnically foreign class like that of Bohemia; for whereas the Germans, Spaniards and Irishmen among whom the estates of the Czech rebels had been distributed after the Battle of the White Mountain had found these habitable and profitable, and had struck their roots in them, the foreign beneficiaries of the Neoacquistica had often found the geographical and human conditions in their new homes too intractable, and had sold them back to Hungarians or to Greek speculators, who in turn had sold them on. Those who had survived, or had come in later - for even after the liquidation of the Neoacquistica it had not been difficult for a foreigner to buy an estate and acquire Hungarian 'indigenate' - had Magyarised, and become indistinguishable from the old stock.

But on the class as a whole, Maria Theresa's policy of the sugar-loaf had worked with great effect. They spent much of their time and their rent-rolls in Vienna, intermarried with the 'Imperial' German-Austrian and Bohemian aristocracy, looked for their culture, not to Hungary (where, indeed, its products were thin enough on the ground) but to Vienna or Paris, and forgot, or failed to learn, the Magyar language itself. If few of them were 100 per cent centralists - national pride and an appreciation of the material advantages which went with a patent of Hungarian nobility forbade this - they were yet unquestioning supporters of the Gesammtmonarchie and essentially alien from the rest of the nation.

This was enormously important politically, for few as they were - the families bearing hereditary titles at the end of the eighteenth century numbered only 108 (two princely, 82 of counts and 24 baronial) - they owned between them about one third of the soil of Hungary. They also, as we have seen, formed a separate 'Table' of the Diet and no Resolution by the Lower Table was valid unless endorsed by the Upper. Their monopoly of the high offices of state was almost complete.

In default of the magnates it was chiefly on the bene possessionati middle nobles in their county strongholds that the leadership of the national cause devolved. Many of them took their responsibilities seriously and conscientiously, and in so far as Hungary emerged at the end of the period with its political institutions as nearly intact as they were, its national life as vigorous, the merit must go to these men. Most of them were national also in the narrower sense of the term. They felt themselves to be Magyars, spoke the Magyar language, affected Magyar usages. It is true that this was the period at which the Magyar language, regarded as a means of expression, was at its lowest ebb. The nation had never renounced the tradition that its official documents were couched in Latin, and since the sixteenth century the debates of the Diet and even the county congregations, and the proceedings of the Courts, had come to be conducted in that language. Partly for that reason - to fit budding administrators and jurists for their careers - education above the primary level was given mainly in that language, and after Latin, the Ratio Educationis gave the largest place (above the primary level) to German(1). Thus Magyar in the eighteenth century was hardly a literary language, but it was none the less a living one, spoken currently by an educated class. Thus when the time came for the full political national revival, the Magyar people, like the Polish, had to hand a class which was already fully national; it did not, like the Slovenes or Ruthenes, have to create one.

The achievement of the Hungarian nobles had, however, its weaknesses, although these were not all of their own making. Those critics who castigate them so severely for the exclusive stubbornness with which they defended their own class privileges should in fairness remember that this was the only major political question on which the Crown commonly allowed them any voice at all: it usurped almost all constructive work as its own prerogative. Nor is it by any means certain that the instinct was absurd which warned the Hungarian nobles always to mistrust any proposal emanating from Vienna. If their outlook was narrow, what else could be expected from these local squires whom the deplorable communications cut off during much of the year from contact with all but their nearest neighbours?

Yet the narrowness was there, and it was true that they were too easily satisfied, looking no further so long as they possessed the wherewithall for abundant living and for the limitless hospitality which was their pride. Also true that they too easily attributed these blessings to the successful defence by their ancestors of their privileges, not asking whether time had not changed the value of those privileges. It was especially unfortunate that the most treasured among them, the exemption of their land from taxation, entailed them in a direct conflict of interests with the peasants, so that their defence of it did breed among them a great class-egotism.

This was particularly apparent in their attitude towards the peasants, where, incidentally, they made no national distinction: a true noble should be Magyar, but the converse, that a true Magyar should be noble, was not admitted. The Hungarian nobles of the eighteenth century went right back to Werbczy and to Werbczy's own authorities in their identffication of Hungary with themselves. The gulf had never been wider in the national history, or at least not since the old days of slavery, between the populus and the misera contribuens plebs, whose function in the state was still simply to work for his betters. 'God himself has differentiated between us', wrote one contemporary, 'assigning to the peasant labour and need, to the lord, abundance and a merry life.'

For the first decades of the period the material condition of the peasants, too, degenerated. The savage enactments of the Tripartitum had proved short-lived in practice; as early as 1547 a Diet had repealed the adscriptionem glebae, seeing in the misfortunes of the previous years Divine punishment for the oppression of the poor, 'whose cry goes up incessantly before the Face of God'. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the peasants suffered greatly from war and from the exactions of the foreign garrisons and the Austrian treasury, but their legal position did not greatly deteriorate. A very considerable proportion of them achieved free or partially free status, holding their lands on 'contracts' which were often not unfavourable.

But the return of law and order, and the growth of commercial farming in an era of labour shortage, coupled with the economic conditions which left land still almost the only source of wealth, brought a renewal of the pressure. Old customary freedoms were overridden, common lands enclosed, dues and services multiplied. To the landlords' exactions were added those of the state, for besides the war-tax, which rested exclusively on their shoulders, the peasants had now to supply food and transport for the local units of the standing army, and might themselves be pressed into service in it (for the 'recruiting' normally took the form of shanghai-ing). Finally, the 'house-tax', levelled by each county (again exclusively from the non-nobles) to meet the costs of local administration, rose sharply. In Transylvania conditions were worse still: here the robot was four days a week, and there was also much rural over-population, so that misery was acute in the whole province, including the Szekel districts.

Charles did not willingly interfere in the relations between landlord and peasant, but after serious disturbances had broken out in Slavonia, he worked out an urbarium for that area, laying down the minimum legal size for a peasant sessio and the maximum services which the landlord might exact. This, however, never became law. Maria Theresa did not raise the question seriously at her Coronation Diet, at which she needed the nobles' support, but asked the Diet of 1751 to raise the war-tax without increasing the burden on the peasants. The Diet retorted that the way to alleviate the peasants' position was to reduce the tax and to abolish the discriminatory tariff. In 1756 the queen simply promulgated Charles' urbarium in Slavonia, and hoped to persuade the Diet which she convoked in 1764 to adopt a similar system, and to accept the taxation of its own land. Although the unrest was now widespread the Diet refused flatly. Maria Theresa did not try to enforce the extension of the land-tax, which would have been contrary to her own sworn word, but now had the rest of Hungary (Transylvania excluded) surveyed, and in 1767 simply enacted an urbarium for it by rescript.(2)

The urbarium registered all land then worked as peasant-holdings, and thus liable to tax. Further alienation of such land, except under permit, was forbidden. The size of a sessio was fixed at an area ranging according to locality and the quality of the land from 16 hold (3) arable plus 6 hold ley for the best land in Sopron and Pozsony to 38 plus 22 for poor-quality land on the Tisza, plus, in every case, one hold for house, garden and farm-buildings. The peasant's obligations to his landlord were fixed at one day's robot (labour) weekly per full sessio if performed with draught animals and cart, or twice as much hand-labour, plus the old 'ninth' payment introduced by Louis the Great, and certain other dues and payments which varied according to locality. The obligations of a peasant holding less than a full sessio were proportionately less. A peasant was declared legally free to leave his holding if he had paid up all his dues. Royal Commissions were appointed to supervise the work of the patrimonial Courts of Justice.

This enactment must have improved the peasants' conditions, which some observers now described in very favourable terms. The robot was, at any rate, far lighter than in Bohemia or Galicia, where it was 156 days a year per full sessio, while even in Styria it was 104. On the other hand, the Hungarian peasant was worse off than the Austrian in that he lacked the protection which the latter enjoyed through the Kreis officials; the 'noble county,' with all its administrative and judicial apparatus, was and remained a class institution.

And the way in which the reform had been brought about deepened still further the cleft between noble and peasant. Although humanitarian considerations had entered into it, the primary motive behind it had been simply to secure for the Crown a larger fraction of the peasants' production by limiting that of the landlord. Nevertheless, the Crown was now able to figure as the protector of the peasants against the tyranny of the nobles, and was widely so regarded by the peasants themselves.

The period also saw the consummation of what, in its long-term effects on the national destinies, was the most serious of all its developments: the great transformation of the ethnic character of the population.

The beginnings of the change reach back, of course, to far earlier periods. The Turkish advance through the Balkans had already driven many Serbs, Vlachs and Bosnian Croats to take refuge in Hungary. Then had come the Turkish invasion and occupation of Hungary itself, the brunt of which had fallen on its most purely Magyar areas, while the national homes of the Slovaks, Ruthenes and Roumanians in north Hungary and Transylvania had escaped relatively lightly. It is true that many Magyars had escaped into these parts, but those saving themselves by flight were outnumbered many times by those slaughtered or carried off into slavery, and while the non-Magyars, too, had their losses, these were much less heavy and were partially offset, in the case of some of them, by further immigration: substantial numbers of Serbs and Vlachs followed the Turks into the Alföld, other Roumanians slipped unobtrusively into Transylvania; and there was a big immigration of Croats, not only into the old Slavonia, (now officially known as 'Croatia'), but northward into the Muraköz, and more sporadically, all up the AustroHungarian frontier.

It has been calculated that when the wars of liberation began, some 50 per cent of the total population was still Magyar; but the ravages of these wars, again, were heaviest in the Magyar areas, and the end of them was accompanied by more waves of immigration. The biggest of these, the organised immigration of the Serbs under their Patriarch, has already been mentioned, and besides this great body, many smaller groups entered Hungary both from the Balkans and from Wallachia. Serb and other South Slav elements occupied the old Lower Slavonian counties, now known simply as 'Slavonia', and much of the south of Hungary proper; the Vlach element multiplied in Transylvania and, driven by the pressure of population and harsh social conditions, spilled out into the Partium.

This led on to the systematic operation known as the Impopulatio, viz., the settlement by the Crown (and on a smaller scale, by some of the big landed proprietors) of the vacant lands at their disposal. In some instances great landowners who owned estates both in the north and the centre populated the latter by bringing down peasants from their other properties: it was in this way, for example that the Slovak colony round Békéscsaba, still in existence, came into being. Even a few Magyar peasants were moved in this way. But the purpose of the operation was to mcrease the total population, which could not be done by moving men from one part of the under-populated country to another; and in fairness it must be recalled that the economic doctrines of the day held the multiplication of population to be a desirable objective in itself. To this, however, were undoubtedly added, in the Crown's mind, the political and economic considerations that the Magyars were a politically unreliable element, which it was desirable to weaken, and a backward one in its agricultural methods.

So another stream of non-Magyars was directed into the country: a few freak groups brought from as far afield as France, Italy, Catalonia and South Russia, a few political, religious or moral deportees from Austria, but the great majority recruits, enlisted by agents, from the smaller states of south Germany, a fact which led to the application to them all by the Hungarians of the generic name of 'Swabians'. The process began under Charles, was at its fullest flood in the middle years of Maria Theresa's reign and was not officially wound up until 1786.

The chief receiving areas were the Bánát (from which Magyars were excluded by deliberate policy) and the other empty lands of South Hungary, Bács-Bodrog, Baranya and Tolna, in which the Germans were settled in such numbers as to earn for the district the popular name of 'Swabian Turkey'; but Germans were settled in considerable numbers also in other parts of Hungary, including the western environs of Buda itself.

Meanwhile, the inconspicuous immigration of Roumanians had been going on, and there had been other smaller but not inconsiderable movements: several thousand Armenians settled in Transylvania; a steady trickle of artisans and other specialists, these chiefly from Austria and the German districts of Bohemia-Moravia, entered the towns. The Jewish population, too, although still small, was on the increase.

The Magyar element re-asserted itself not ineffectually in certain parts of the country. When the central and northern parts of the Alföld were cleared of the Turks, not only did the old landowning class,in so far as it had survived, flock back to re-occupy its ancestral acres, but the same road was taken also by a large number of Magyar peasants, lured by the larger holdings and easier social conditions. The surviving non-Magyars of these areas Magyarised (it was in Maria Theresa's reign that the Cuman language finally died out). These areas became almost solidly Magyar, and the same became true of much of the Dunántúl, except its western fringe, its south-eastern corner, a few smaller areas, and the towns. But this centripetal movement depleted the Magyar stock in the peripheral areas, and as they moved down, the non-Magyars moved in after them.

It is calculated that by the end of the impopulatio, the Magyars numbered only about 3,350,000, or some 3~ per cent of the total population. The Roumanians now numbered about a million and a half, the Slovaks a million and a quarter, the Germans a million, the Serbs and Croats about three quarters of a million each. The remainder was made up of Ruthenes, gypsies, Jews and smaller nationalities.

An ethnic map of the country drawn at the end of Maria Theresa's reign which did not take density of population into account and ignored small ethnic islets, would have looked very much like one drawn in 1900. It would have shown the Magyars in a large, or clear, majority only in the central parts of Hungary. In the west, the fringe was German. In the north, the main ethnic line between the Magyars on the one hand and the Slovaks and Ruthenes on the other followed approximately the line where the foothills of the Carpathians melt into the plain. In Transylvania and the Partium, the Roumanians were probably now in a small absolute majority. Croatia proper was almost solidly Croat, the Slavonian counties chiefly Serb, and the rest of the south a hotch-potch of Southern Slav, of various brands, German and Roumanian, with a relatively small admixture of Magyars.

The Serbs were always a thorn in the Hungarians' flesh. From the first, they regarded themselves as the Emperor's men, whose flinction it was to fight any of his enemies, including, or for preference, Hungarians. They certainly did not propose, if they could help it, to exchange their accustomed life of herdsmen-soldiers for the arduous state of peasant cultivators on some Hungarian nobleman's estate. They battled hard for continued recognition of their 'national' status, if possible on a territory of their own, where they would form a separate polity under the Emperor.

The Hungarians succeeded in getting this latter demand rejected, and the Serbs' 'national' privileges reduced to ecclesiastical autonomy. Through their church, however, the Serbs kept alive their feeling of national cohesion, and, most of them, their implacable hostility towards Hungary, and this was the easier because a high proportion of them were settled in the Military Frontier, where the authorities welcomed and fostered the attitude.

There were national stirrings during the period also among the Roumanians. Between the Orthodox Roumanians and the Hungarians, again, the religious difference helped to accentuate the contempt in which the latter held the former, as an unstable and altogether inferior race, little superior to gypsies. The Roumanians in their turn endured with sullen hatred their position of inferiority and the increasing social pressure which was put on them as the Transylvanian nobles drove them into settled work under conditions which were peculiarly burdensome. The conscious Roumanian national revival was, however, initiated by the leaders of the Uniate church, who came forward with the theory that the Roumanians of Transylvania were its true autochthonous population, the descendants of the Roman colonists of Dacia. They used this theory as an argument to demand recognition of the Roumanian nobles as a fourth 'nation' of Transylvania, and of the Orthodox faith as a fifth 'recognised' religion.

The remaining non-Magyars had not yet become troublesome. The Croat nobles lived in harmony with their Hungarian colleagues; the non-nobles here had nothing to say. There was some friction between the Hungarians and the German peasant colonists, who also regarded themselves as the subjects rather of the Empire than of Hungary, and the German burghers - this last as much on social and economic as on strictly national grounds. This was not, however, very serious, and in the case of the peasants, rather tended to diminish as they settled in. Slovak and Ruthene nationalism was still dormant. The Hungarians, for their part, did not see in the non-Magyar quality of the peasants (as distinct from the Serbs) any particular danger. Yet the danger, although still latent, was there, and only a little later it Was destined first to threaten and then to destroy the Hungarian state itself.

1. It is interesting that in the urban boys' schools there were three 'foreign' pupils (presumably the sons of army officers) to every four 'Hungarian'.

2. It was not introduced in Croatia until 1780.

3. One hold = 0.576 hectare = 1.43 English acre.

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