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The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (German: Ausgleich, Hungarian: Kiegyezés) established the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, formerly the Habsburg Empire. Signed by Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and a Hungarian delegation led by the statesman Ferenc Deák, the Compromise established the framework of the new government in which the Cisleithanian (Austrian) and Transleithanian (Hungarian) regions of the state were governed by separate Parliaments and Prime Ministers. Unity was maintained through a common ruler, military, and several ministries. The Compromise was formally voted on by the restored Hungarian Diet on 30 March 1867.



Prior to the Compromise, the Habsburg Empire had addressed internal pressures through less drastic reform. Rising nationalism throughout the 19th century threatened the stability of the state as the ruling Austrian elite faced pressures from Magyars, Romanians, Czechs, and Croats, among others. Following the revolutions of 1848, the government enacted a series of constitutional reforms that failed to resolve the situation.[1] The state's loss in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 was the final factor in the state’s decision to restructure. With the defeat, Austria lost the opportunity to have a continued influence in a unified Germany and any remaining claims in Italy, both of which had dominated foreign policy interests. The state needed to redefine itself in order to maintain unity in the face of nationalism.[2]

The suggestion for a dual monarchy was made by the Habsburgs but Hungarian statesman Ferenc Deák is considered the intellectual force behind the Compromise. Although initially a supporter of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and an independent state for Magyars, Deák broke with Lajos Kossuth and others and advocated for a modified union under the Habsburgs. Deák took the line that while Hungary had the right to full internal independence, questions of defence and foreign affairs were "common" to both Austria and Hungary under the Pragmatic Sanction. He also felt that Hungary benefited through continued unity with a wealthier, more industrialized Austria. Further, Deák believed that the Compromise would end the pressures on Austria of continually choosing between Magyar and Slav populations.[3]


Under the Compromise of 1867, Austria and Hungary each had separate parliaments that met in Vienna and Buda (later Budapest), respectively, that passed and maintained separate laws. Each region had its own government, headed by its own prime minister. The "common monarchy" consisted of the emperor-king and the common ministers of foreign affairs, defense and finance in Vienna. Terms of the Compromise were renegotiated every ten years.

Continuing pressures

The Compromise of 1867 was meant to be a temporary solution to the problems the state faced. However, the resulting system was maintained until the forced dissolution of the state following World War I. The favoritism shown to the Magyars, the second largest ethnic group in the state after the Austrian Germans, was the source of discontent on the part of other ethnic groups like the Czechs and Romanians.[4] Although a Nationalities Law was enacted to preserve the rights of ethnic minorities, in reality the two parliaments took very different approaches to the continuing problem. In the Kingdom of Hungary several ethnic minorities faced increased pressures of Magyarization.[5] Further, the renegotiations that occurred every ten years often led to constitutional crises. Ultimately, although the Compromise hoped to fix the problems faced by a multi-national state while maintaining the benefits of a large state, the new system still faced the same internal pressures the old had. To what extent the Dual Monarchy stabilized the country in the face of national awakenings and to what extent it alleviated, or aggravated, the situation are debated even today, particularly by ethnic groups in the region still constructing nation-states.


  1. ^ Sowards, Steven W (23 April 2004), Nationalism in Hungary, 1848–1867. Twenty Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History,, retrieved 19 March 2009  .
  2. ^ Seton-Watson, R. W. "The Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich of 1867." The Slavonic and East European Review 19.53/54 (1939): 123–40.
  3. ^ Tihany, Leslie C. "The Austro-Hungarian Compromise, 1867-1918: A Half Century of Diagnosis; Fifty Years of Post-Mortem." Central European History 2.2 (1969): 114–38.
  4. ^ Cornwall, Mark. Last Years of Austria-Hungary: A Multi-National Experiment in Early Twentieth-Century Europe, 2nd ed. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002.
  5. ^ Seton-Watson, R. W. "Transylvania since 1867." The Slavonic Review 4.10 (1925): 101–23.


Further reading


Simple English

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (German: Ausgleich, Hungarian: Kiegyezés) established the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. It was signed by Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and a Hungarian delegation led by Ferenc Deák. The compromise followed a series of failed constitutional reforms of the Habsburg Empire.


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