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7: Revolution and Reaction

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ON the night of 29 February - 1 March the news of the fall of Louis Philippe reached Vienna. The immediate reaction of the honest Viennese bourgeoisie was unromantic, but effectual; fearing that Metternich would organise a European crusade against the revolution, and would finance it by a new issue of uncovered paper money, it stampeded to the National Bank to change its notes into silver, and the Bank, whose reserves of silver were quite inadequate to meet a general run, had to close its doors. Kossuth's political genius rose to the occasion. Sensing in a flash the relevance to the situation of the centralists' demand (which he had previously not taken very seriously) for a responsible government for Hungary, he on 3 March submitted to the Lower House a draft Address to the Crown, which contained most of the Opposition's programme, but especially insisted on the need for a responsible government, as the only way to safeguard the nation against arbitrary misuse of its resources. The corollary, he added, was that Austria should receive similar institutions.

The Lower House accepted the Address with acclamation, but it could not even be submitted to the Magnates, for the government had called the Palatine and officers of the House to Vienna to consult on the possibility of dissolving the Diet and installing a dictatorial regime. But on the 13th revolution broke out in Vienna itself. Metternich resigned, as did Apponyi. The intimidated magnates in Pozsony now accepted the Address, which a deputation of both Houses, led by the Palatine, carried to Vienna. They were sped on their way by a mass demonstration of the youth of Pest. Threatened on all sides by revolution and fearing that refusal would result in Hungary's declaring itself independent, the Staatskonferenz yielded. Ferdinand declared himself 'prepared to fulfil the wishes of the nation'. Count Lajos Batthyány, a Liberal magnate, was appointed provisional Minister President, and in his turn formed a provisional ministry - a team of all the talents, which included Széchenyi, Kossuth, Deák, and Eötvös. It remained to give legal satisfaction to the nation's wishes, which the Diet now proceeded to formulate.

So far as the internal political and social structure of the country was concerned, this amounted to little more than translating into the form of draft laws the programme of the United Opposition. The form of state which emerged was that of a limited monarchy. The king, or in his absence, the Palatine, exercised his executive powers through a responsible ministry, resident in Budapest; no enactment by him was valid without the counter-signature of the competent minister. The 'responsibility' of the ministers was to a bi-cameral parliament, the composition of which was provisionally left unaltered, and a Lower House of deputies elected on a wide suffrage. The franchise for the counties and municipalities was extended similarly.

Taxation became universal. The tithe was abolished, as were all payments and services due from the holders of urbarial land of 'peasant' rank(1), who thus became the freehold proprietors of their holdings; the compensation for the landlords was left 'to the honour of the nation'. The Patrimonial Courts disappeared; the law was to be equal for all. The aviticitas was abolished. All 'received' religions were placed on a footing of complete equality. Freedom of the press and of assembly were guaranteed. A National Guard was established.

The 'national' postulates of the Opposition also received full satisfaction. The Partium were reincorporated unconditionally; the union with Transylvania was enacted, subject to the consent of the next Transylvanian Diet. The re-incorporation of the Military Frontier was tacitly assumed in the provisions of the franchise Law which provided for its representation in parliament. The laws did not touch overtly on the status of Croatia, but the validity of the Hungarian case on the points in dispute between Hungary and Croatia was similarly assumed by the provisions in the franchise Law which laid down the number of representatives to be sent to parliament by the Frontier, the Slavonian counties, the towns of Fiume and Eszék and 'the counties of Kôrös, Zagreb and Varasd', whose representatives, alone, were to attend the 'Provincial Diet' of Croatia. The laws did not touch on the language question, which remained as defined by previous legislation; only the language of parliament was declared to be Magyar.

The Staatskonferenz accepted most of this without argument, declaring itself disinterested in any questions which were of internal Hungarian concern. It was, on the other hand, actively interested in the maintenance of the central services, which it regarded as essential to the preservation

of the unity of the Gesammtmonarchie. It began by objecting to the creation of a ministry of defence, or even one of finance, and yielded only when its attitude evoked such a storm as to reawaken the spectre of a declaration of independence. The resultant solution was in many respects ambiguous. The draft laid down the principle that the executive must 'respect the unity of the Crown and the intangibility of the link with the Monarchy', but did not n define the nature of that link. The cabinet included a minister a latere, or liaison minister, resident in Vienna, whose duty it was to represent Hungary in all matters of common interest with the rest of the Monarchy, and whose counter-signature was required for all enactments issued by the king when acting in his wider capacity, but the fields of common interest were, again, not defined. They were tacitly assumed to include foreign affairs. In both defence and finance the Hungarians had their way: they got an independent minister of defence, under whose control (and thus that of parliament) the Hungarian Army now stood; the king reserved his rights only in respect of 'the employment of the Hungarian army outside the national frontiers, and appointments to military office'. The ministry of finance was entirely independent, and all revenues from the camera came under its jurisdiction. The Hungarians agreed that their country would have to contribute towards the expenses of the court, but the amount of the quota and the means of determining it were left unsettled, and no agreement was reached on the very crucial question whether Hungary was to take over a share of the accumulated national debt; so far, she had not consented to do so, but the Austrians had not accepted the position as definitive. The question of an independent Hungarian national bank had not been raised.

When this agreement, such as it was, had been reached, Ferdinand came to Pozsony and on 11 April gave his sanction to the corpus of legislation summarised above, and known to history as the 'April Laws'. The new government thereupon legally assumed office.

That April day was truly one of glory for Hungary; but how certain would its glory prove? Socially, the outlook seemed assured. The magnates were hostile, but unless supported from outside, they were too few to be dangerous. The young radicals' and students' demonstration in Pest on 15 March had helped frighten the magnates into quicker submission, but the students' 'twelve points' had contained little more than what the laws now gave. Further middle-class unrest showed itself only in the form of some anti-Jewish rioting; the burghers as a class were behind the new government. The ex-villein peasants were not interested in national politics, but in extending and consolidating their own gains. The cottars and agricultural labourers had, indeed, come out practically empty-handed, and remained so, for the question of partitioning the allodial land was hardly raised, and then only to be rejected (only the small vintners were ranked on the same footing as the villein peasants); but the mentality of most of this class was still pre-revolutionary. Thus the countryside, on the whole, remained quiet, although there were a few disturbances in the chronic storm-centre of the Tisza. The industrial workers could be disregarded, or repressed.

There were, however, two quarters from which danger threatened. One was 'Vienna', which had surrendered only reluctantly on the question of the central services, and would certainly endeavour to recover the lost ground if it was ever in a position to do so. The other was the camp of the discontented non-Magyars. Between these an alliance was quickly struck which in little over a year brought the whole work of the Hungarian reformers down in ruin.

By a piece of singular ill-fortune for Hungary, the office of Ban of Croatia happened to be vacant, and on 22 March, the day before his own resignation and just before the appointment of Batthyány was confirmed, Kolowrat secured the appointment to that post of one Colonel Josip Jellacic, an enthusiastic 'Illyrian' and fanatical anti-Magyar. Three days later, Jellacic was installed by acclamation at a mass meeting in Zagreb, amid shouts for the realisation of the Triune Kingdom. Jellacic announced that he would not submit to 'the present Hungarian government', and when he went to Vienna to complete the formalities, refused to take the oath as Ban on the ground that this would prevent him 'from remaining a firm supporter of the Crown at the head of the Southern Slav Movement'. After many provocative gestures, he formally 'broke off relations' with the Hungarian government on 19 April.

On 10 May a gathering of Slovaks at Liptószentmiklós asked for national rights within Hungary. On 15 May a mass meeting of Roumanians at Balázsfalva (Blaj) protested against the Transylvanian Diet's voting the union with Hungary before the Roumanians were properly represented on it. The Saxons demonstrated in a similar sense. It is true that when, on 30 May, the Diet pronounced for the union, the Saxons voted with the majority, but this was a matter of tactics. They remained only partially reconciled, while the Roumanians were openly hostile.

At this time the court was in a painful quandary. Its most urgent needs were to prevent revolution from breaking out where it had not yet done so, and to find reinforcements for its armies in Italy. Eternal hotbed of potential revolution as Hungary was, it had up to that stage behaved completely loyally; it was also the biggest potential source of reinforcements, especially since the court had conceded the claim of the Hungarian ministry of defence to authority over the Military Frontier regiments. Batthyány, who visited the court in Innsbruck early in June, promised to get the new Diet to vote 40,000 recruits for Italy if the court would disavow Jellacic, and accordingly, Jellacic, who in his turn set out for Innsbruck on 12 June, was icily received, and hardly had he left Innsbruck when a royal rescript rebuked him publicly for disobedience to orders and divested him of his honours and dignities.

He was, however, being secretly encouraged and used as mouthpiece by the Austrian centralists, led by the minister of war, Count Latour. Batthyány met him in Vienna, and offered him very wide concessions for Croatia, but his reply was that he could accept nothing less than the central control by Vienna of defence and finance, as well as Hungary's promise to take over part of the national debt. The negotiations, of course, broke down.

Meanwhile, the Serbs, encouraged from Vienna and also from Belgrade (which had sent some 10,000 armed irregulars to help), had held a congress which had demanded national and territorial autonomy, in alliance with Croatia, and had opened hostilities in south Hungary. Kossuth replied on 11 July by asking parliament to authorise the raising of 200,000 men 'to defend the endangered fatherland', and a credit of 42 million florins. Ten days later the request for reinforcements for the armies in Italy came before the House, and now the radicals, led by Kossuth, persuaded the House to refuse the men except on political conditions which were probably ultra vires and certainly absurd.

But the Austrian 'reaction' was now settling in the saddle. In mid-June Windischgrätz had put down the rising in Prague and converted the Czechs to loyalty. At the end of July Charles Albert capitulated to Radetzky in Italy. On 4 September Jellacic was formally reinstated in all his dignities; on 11 September he led an army across the Drava. Batthyány resigned; pending the appointment of a new government, the authority, under the Palatine, passed to a Committee of National Defence under Kossuth, who, the royal sanction for the Army vote not having been received, authorised the conscription of the new force and the issue of paper money to cover the expenses. The last hope of compromise disappeared when Count Lamberg, whom the Palatine had appointed Royal plenipotentiary, with instructions to negotiate with Jellacic, was lynched by a mob in Pest.

The successor to Batthyány's government was never installed, and in its default Kossuth was now the de facto dictator of Hungary. It was open war between Hungary and the court, and, at first, the Hungarians had the better of it. The Imperial authorities, their hands full with a renewed outbreak of revolution in Vienna, were unable to help Jellacic, who proved a very incompetent leader in the field. Heavily defeated by the young Hungarian armies, who had thrown up a leader of genius in Arthur Görgey, a youthful ex-officer of the Imperial forces, he was driven back across the frontier. But Vienna capitulated on 28 October and on 2 December Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his nephew, Francis Joseph. Kossuth, rightly seeing that the measure was directed against Hungary - its whole purpose was to release the regime from Ferdinand's pledge to respect the April Laws - refused to recognise the abdication as legal for Hungary. A few days later, Windischgrätz and Jellacic led two new armies into Hungary, with the avowed purpose of crushing the 'rebels'. Their first advance carried them into Pest in a fortnight. Windischgrätz proudly announced final victory, and on 4 March 1849 an Imperial manifesto announced the dissolution of the Austrian Constituent Assembly and the constitution of the entire Monarchy as 'an indivisible and indissoluble constitutional Austrian Empire'. This was to consist of a number of 'crown lands', and Hungary was to be partitioned into no less than five such units: Hungary proper, Transylvania (to include the Partium), Croatia-Slavonia (with Dalmatia, and including Fiume), the Military Frontier and a new 'Serbian Voivody'. The Hungarian constitution, said the manifesto, remained in being so far as its provisions did not conflict with those of the new constitution, and subject to the introduction of institutions guaranteeing equal rights for all nationalities and 'locally current' languages.

To this the Hungarian parliament, meeting in the Calvinist church at Debrecen, replied on 14 April by proclaiming Hungary, within its historic frontiers, a fully independent sovereign state. The House of Habsburg was declared forfeit of the throne; Kossuth became provisional Head of the State with the title of Governor (Kormányzó).

For a little longer the issue still hung in the balance. Windichgrätz' assumption that Hungarian resistance was broken proved premature. Kossuth's eloquence and genius rallied his supporters to extraordinary efforts. Görgey, in a series of brilliantly conducted operations, drove the Imperial armies far back, and even recaptured Buda. A Polish volunteer, General Bem, carried through another most skillful campaign in Transylvania. But the odds were too heavy, especially since many of the Hungarian officers, including Görgey himself, were caught in a conflict of conscience over the dethronement of the Habsburgs. Mutual suspicion between Görgey and Kossuth hampered the conduct of the operations. The foreign Powers to which Kossuth appealed for help refused to move; on the other hand, the Czar Nicholas I, who was concerned lest the revolution spread to Poland, had already intimated his readiness to support Francis Joseph in the interest of monarchic solidarity. Now Francis Joseph asked his help. In June two Russian armies entered Hungary, bringing the forces of Austria and her allies up to some 370,000 men, with 1,200 guns, against the Hungarians' 152,000 men and 450 guns. The defenders were driven inexorably back into southeastern Hungary. On 11 August Kossuth handed over his powers to Görgey and fled to Turkey, with a few of his most obstinate supporters. On the 13th Görgey surrendered at Világos to the senior Russian commander, Marshal Paskievicz, who reported to the Czar: 'Hungary lies at the feet of Your Majesty.'

The capitulation of Világos was followed by another of the reigns of terror of which Hungarian history is so full. At first the country was placed under a military administration headed by Haynau, the notorious 'hyaena of Brescia', who boasted that 'he would see to it that there should be no more revolutions in Hungary for a hundred years'. Thirteen Imperial officers who had served as generals in the Hungarian army were hanged at Arad on 6 October and on the same day Batthyány, who had tried to cut his own throat, was shot. There were many more sentences of death, and about 100 executions; then an amnesty saved the lives of the remaining destined victims, but for a while, the fortress-prisons were full. The rank and file of the Honvéd were as a rule conscripted into the Imperial forces and sent to foreign stations.

In July 1850 the military regime was replaced by a civilian one, which was at first called 'provisional' but made 'definitive' in 1853. The treatment to which Hungary was now submitted was no longer brutal, but carefully calculated to eliminate all traces of the nation's independence. The division of the country into the five crown lands was confirmed, Inner Hungary being further subdivided, for administrative purposes, into five Districts, each under a commissioner, and Transylvania into five more. The autonomy of the counties and municipalities was abolished. The administration was purely absolutist and bureaucratic; it was conducted by a civil service drawn chiefly from the Czech and German districts of Bohemia, and reinforced by a newly instituted gendarmerie. The language of administration and of most secondary and all higher education was German; primary education was, in principle, in the pupil's mother-tongue. The tariff wall between Hungary and Austria was abolished and the tobacco monopoly introduced into Hungary.

The regime was not in every respect unbeneficial, especially to the poorer classes and the nationalities. The peasants benefitting by the 1848 reform, about 625,000 heads of families, were left in possession of their freeholds, the average size of which was estimated at about 12 hold. No compensation whatever was required of them. The more enterprising among them developed into solid yeoman farmers. The nationalities enjoyed more cultural freedom, on the lowest level, than before. 2,000 kilometres of railways were built, and a big network of roads. There was also some industrial development, and some credit institutions came into being.

But for the backbone of the nation, the middle and smaller nobles, the times were ruinous. The compensation paid to the former landlords (certain aulic favourites excepted) was not only niggardly, but paid only after long delays. Money cost 30-40 per cent. Some 20,000 foreclosures were made in under twenty years. A large part of this class fell into destitution. Such wealth as the country now produced flowed largely into the coffers of the Viennese holding banks. General taxation was crushingly heavy; the yield of direct taxation before 1848 had been 4,280,000 florins, and of indirect, 5,300,000; the corresponding figures in 1857 were 41,500,000 and 65,600,000.

These burdens weighed as heavily on the nominal beneficiaries of the regime as on its avowed victims, and so, for that matter, did the Germanisation and the centralised bureaucracy. 'What you are getting as punishment,' a Croat once remarked to a Magyar, 'we are getting as reward.'

Thus almost every class and every nationality in Hungary was soon chafing against the absolutist regime, but until its grip relaxed, they did no more than chafe. The exiled Kossuth sought tirelessly for an international situation which should give Hungary back the full independence which she had bestowed on herself in 1849, but although some foreign Powers were willing to use Hungary as a tool, none was prepared to risk a new policy of adventure, and, no less important, it had been by no means all the nation that had wanted full separation in 1849, or wanted it now. At least as numerous were those who desired an accommodation with the Crown, provided that it did justice to Hungary's historic rights and her needs.

As time went on, the adherents of the latter view gradually fell into line behind Deák, who now emerged from the retirement into which he had withdrawn early in 1849. Deák had disapproved of the dethronement of the Habsburgs, in which he had had no hand, and believed in the necessity of agreement with Austria. He maintained with complete firmness that the April Laws were legally

valid, and that any subsequent modification of the situation created by them, unless made by agreement with Hungary's lawful parliament, was legally null and void, and unacceptable. But he recognised that the laws regulating Hungary's relationship with the rest of the Monarchy were in truth imperfect, and agreed that a modification of them by consent would be acceptable.

An important point in Deák's thesis was that while recognising no negotiating partner save Hungary's own crowned king, he was prepared that the agreement when negotiated should contain provision for consultation with the constitutional representatives of Austria; he even thought such provision essential, for, like Kossuth, he was convinced that constitutionalism in Hungary would not be safe if the monarch was absolute elsewhere. An unacknowledged corollary was that Hungary, while legally uninterested, was in reality vitally concerned with what form the Austrian constitutional settlement took: it was very important for her that it should be one which rested on factors whose interests coincided with her own.

In return for an acceptable settlement, Deák offered Hungary's loyalty; so long as it was refused, he advised the nation to practise passive resistance to all illegal demands made by the regime and its agents.

The possibility of an accommodation became real after Austria's defeat at Solferino in 1859 had convinced Francis Joseph that the centralist forces in the Monarchy were not strong enough to hold down simultaneously all the elements of national and social opposition. It was, however, Only slowly that he came to recognise the inevitability of making concessions precisely towards Hungary, the bete noire of Austrian absolutism and centralism. He began by inviting notables from his various dominions to form a 'Reinforced Imperial Council', but the Hungarians who accepted the invitation, although all belonging to the extreme aulic aristocracy, yet combined with their Bohemian colleagues to insist on the restoration of the 'historic constitutions'. The 'October Diploma' of 1861 in fact reinstated these on paper, but half-heartedly, for while restoring the chancellery and the Consilium, it still provided for a strong central executive and a Reichsrat with competence extending to all questions affecting the Monarchy as a whole. Hungary's separate status was recognised only in a provision that questions relating only to the western half of the Monarchy were to come before a 'Restricted Reichsrat', to which the Hungarian Diet might be regarded as a partner. Then, four months later, came the 'February Patent' of 1861, nominally an elucidation of the Diploma, and this in fact carried the centralisation a long step further. The competences of the local legislatures were severely reduced, while the Reichsrat blossomed into a genuine central bi-cameral legislature, to which Hungary was required to send its representatives, to meet on an equal footing those of the other Lands. Hungary would thus have been degraded to the position of one Land among the others, and, to add to the grievance of principle, placed in a permanent minority, being allotted only 85 seats out of the 343 in the Reichsrat. Further, although the Voivody, which had satisfied no one, had been dissolved under the Diploma, Transylvania and Croatia continued to figure as separate Lands, and the Military Frontier was maintained.

Elections (on the 1848 franchise) were held, but the Diet which then met flatly refused, under Deák's guidance, to recognise the legality of the Diploma or the Patent; the only difference between its members related to the form in which the refusal should be expressed. Francis Joseph replied by dissolving, first the Diet, then the county congregations, and reinstating a new Provisorium, chiefly military in character. Deák, however, stuck to his point with quiet persistence, and by this time Hungary was not alone. Every political factor in the Monarchy was in arms against absolutism, and while the aims of most of these were mutually incompatible, Hungary found a valuable ally in the German 'Constitutional Party' in Austria (very powerful because of its connections with Viennese finance), as which saw in the realisation of the Hungarian wishes the best guarantee against the Slavs gaining the overweight in Austria.

In 1865 Francis Joseph abolished the Provisorium and suspended the February Patent. In December the Diet was re-convoked, and in January 1866 the reunion of Transylvania with Hungary was in effect sanctioned by an order permitting the Transylvanian Diet to attend that of Pest. Negotiations for a settlement now opened seriously. They were interrupted by the outbreak of the Austro-Prussian war, whose disastrous course for Austria put the Crown in a position in which it could not easily have refused much more extravagant demands - for which, indeed, the more extreme Hungarian nationalists pressed. Deák, however, as he had not abated his terms when Hungary was weak, refused to raise them in her hour of advantage. Agreement was reached at the beginning of 1867. Hungary recovered her integrity and her complete independence in internal affairs. Foreign affairs and defence were designated as questions common to Austria and Hungary, each being placed under a "common" minister; the unitary nature of the defence services was further safeguarded by a stipulation that 'all questions relating to the unitary command, control and internal organisation of the whole army, and consequently also of the Hungarian army, as a constituent part of the whole army, are recognised as falling within the competence of His Majesty'. A third 'common' minister was in charge of the finance for these two portfolios. The problems relating to these portfolios were discussed by delegations from the two parliaments. The proportion of the common expenditure to be born by the two halves of the Monarchy was initially fixed at 70-30, but was to be re-discussed, by the Delegations, every ten years, as were questions relating to commercial and tariff agreements; for a start, the whole Monarchy formed a single customs unit.

On 17 February, after this had been agreed, a responsible Hungarian ministry was formed under Count Gyula Andrássy, who had been Deák's principal assistant in the negotiations. On 29 March parliament accepted the 'Compromise', and on 8 June Francis Joseph was crowned and gave royal assent to the laws. The Crown had throughout made its consent to its concessions to the Hungarians conditional on their reaching agreement with Croatia and enacting legislation to safeguard in Hungary the principle of national equality which had been cardinal in Austria since 1848. Negotiations on both points had been proceeding, and on the former a committee appointed by the 1861 Diet had produced a remarkable interim report. Now the discussions were resumed, and laws on both subjects were sanctioned in 1868. Under the Hungaro-Croat Compromise (Nagodba), the Croats were forced to renounce the hope of making theirs a wholly distinct polity within the Monarchy: it remained linked with Hungary, and although the wording carefully described it as the theoretical equal of Hungary proper, the Ban of Croatia was nominated by the Hungarian Minister President. Its territorial claims were, on the whole, generously treated: it received the Slavonian Counties and, in theory, also Dalmatia, although not Fiume or the Muraköz. It was represented on the Delegations when Austro-Hungarian 'common' affairs were discussed. Questions left to Hungary as interna under the main Compromise were divided again into Hungaro-Croat 'common' affairs and Croat interna; the chief of the former were coinage and currency, commercial policy, and communications, while all cultural affairs and local administration and justice were Croat interna. Croatia sent representatives to the Hungarian Diet for the discussion on 'common' affairs; they were allowed to speak in Croat. Other affairs were dealt with in the Croat Sabor. The official language for Croat interna was Croat. Croatia's contribution to the common expenditure was fixed at a figure which made full allowance for its low taxable capacity.

The Nationalities Law began with a remarkable preamble which stated that all citizens of Hungary formed, politically, a single nation, the indivisible, unitary Hungarian nation, and that their equality of rights could be qualified only in respect of the official usage of the various languages and that only so far as necessitated by the unity of the country, the demands of administration and the prompt execution of justice. To meet these requirements, the language of parliament, administration, and the courts, and of the university, was Magyar, but non-Magyar languages were offered ample scope in the administration and justice, from the county level down. The lowest level officials were bound to use the language of the members of the public with whom they were dealing. In principle, every schoolchild was to receive instruction in his own mother-tongue up to the point where higher academic instruction began. The churches had the right to prescribe the language of instruction in the schools controlled by them. The free use of any language in private life was guaranteed.

1. Only persons holding a quarter sesslo or upwards qualified for this title. Holders of less than a quarter sessio ranked with landless men as 'cottars' (zsellérek).

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