Hungarian Revolution of 1848: Wikis


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Artist Mihály Zichy's painting of Sándor Petőfi reciting the Nemzeti dal to a crowd on March 15, 1848
Military campaign

The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was one of many revolutions that year and closely linked to other revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas. The revolution in the Kingdom of Hungary grew into a war for independence from Habsburg rule.

Many of its leaders and participants, including Lajos Kossuth, István Széchenyi, Sándor Petőfi, József Bem, are among the most respected national figures in Hungarian history, and the anniversary of the revolution's outbreak, on March 15, is one of Hungary's three national holidays.


The events leading to the revolution

uring the Napoleonic Wars and afterwards, the Hungarian Diet had not convened for decades.[citation needed] In the 1820s, the Emperor was forced to convene the Diet, and thus a Reform Period (Hungarian: reformkor) began. Nevertheless, its progress was slow, because the nobles insisted on retaining their privileges (no taxation, exclusive voting rights, etc.). Therefore the achievements were mostly of national character (e.g. introduction of Hungarian as one of the official languages of the country, instead of the former Latin).

Count István Széchenyi, one of the most prominent statesmen of the country recognized the urgent need of modernization and his message got through. The Hungarian Parliament was reconvened in 1825 to handle financial needs. A liberal party emerged in the Diet. The party focused on providing for the peasantry. Lajos Kossuth - famous journalist at the time - emerged as leader of the lower gentry in the Parliament. Habsburg monarchs tried to preclude[citation needed] the industrialisation of the country. A remarkable upswing started as the nation concentrated its forces on modernisation even though the Habsburg monarchs obstructed all important liberal laws about the human civil and political rights and economic reforms. Many reformers (like Lajos Kossuth, Mihály Táncsics) were imprisoned by the authorities.

The Revolution

See: April laws

The Revolution started on March 15, 1848, with bloodless events in Pest and Buda (mass demonstrations forcing the imperial governor to accept all demands), followed by various insurrections throughout the kingdom, which enabled Hungarian reformists to declare Hungary's new government and the first Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány of Hungary. The new government approved a sweeping reform package, referred to as the "April laws" (also referred to as the "March Laws"), which essentially created a democratical political system[1] in Hungary. They also demanded that the Hungarian government receive and expend all taxes raised in Hungary, and have authority over Hungarian regiments in the Habsburg army.

The Hungarian cockade used in 1848

In the summer of 1848, aware that they were on the path to civil war, the Hungarian government ministers attempted to gain Habsburg support against Conservative Josip Jelačić by offering to send troops to northern Italy. By the end of August, the imperial government in Vienna officially ordered the Hungarian government in Pest to end plans for a Hungarian army. Jelačić then took military action against the Hungarian government without any official order.

With war raging on three fronts (against the Jelačić's Croatian troops, in the Banat, and in Transylvania), Hungarian radicals in Pest saw this as an opportunity. Parliament made concessions to the radicals in September rather than let the events erupt into violent confrontations. Faced with revolution at home in Vienna too, Austria at first accepted Hungary's government. However, after the Austrian revolution was beaten down, and Franz Joseph I replaced his mentally handicapped uncle Ferdinand I as Emperor, Austria again refused to accept Hungarian government. The final break between Vienna and Pest occurred when Field Marshall Count Lamberg was given control of all armies in Hungary (including Jelačić's). In response to Lamberg being attacked & viciously murdered by a peasant mob upon his arrival in Hungary a few days later, the Imperial court ordered the Hungarian parliament and government dissolved. Jelačić was appointed to take Lamberg's place. War between Austria and Hungary had officially begun.

War of Independence

The Austrian ruler and his advisors skillfully manipulated the Croatian, Serbian and Romanian peasantry, led by priests and officers firmly loyal to the Habsburgs, and induced them to rebel against the Hungarian government. The Hungarians were supported by the vast majority of the Slovak, German and Rusyn nationalities, as well as by the Jews of the kingdom, and by a large number of Polish, Austrian and Italian volunteers. [2]

Battle at Tápióbicske (4 April 1849) by Mór Than

Initially, the Hungarian forces (Honvédség) achieved several victories[3][4] fighting with Austrian armies (at Pákozd in September 1848 and at Isaszeg in April 1849), during which they even declared Hungary's total independence from the Habsburg Empire, in April 1849. Because of the success of revolutional resistance, Franz Joseph had to ask for help from "The Gendarme of Europe", Czar Nicholas I, and Russian armies invaded Hungary, causing antagonism between the Hungarians and the Russians.

The war led to the October Crisis in Vienna, when insurgents attacked a garrison on its way to Hungary to support Jelačić's forces. After Vienna was recaptured by imperial forces, General Windischgrätz and 70,000 troops were sent to Hungary to crush the last challenge to the Austrian Empire. By the end of December, the Hungarian government evacuated Pest. However this army had to retreat after heavy defeats from March to May 1849 and General Windischgrätz was removed as well. Without destroying the Austrian army, the Hungarians stopped, besieged Buda and prepared defenses. In June 1849 Russian and Austrian troops entered Hungary heavily outnumbering the Hungarian army. After all appeals to other European states failed, Kossuth abdicated on August 11, 1849 in favor of Artúr Görgey, whom he thought was the only general who was capable of saving the nation. On August 13, Görgey signed the surrender at Világos (now Şiria, Romania) to the Russians, who handed the army over to the Austrians.[5]

Surrender of Hungarian Army at Világos 1849
Kossuth in New York, (1852)

Julius Jacob von Haynau, the leader of the Austrian army who then became governor of Hungary for a few months of retribution, ordered the execution of 13 leaders of the Hungarian army in Arad and the Prime minister Batthyány in Pest.

The revolution's suppression

Following the war of 1848–49, the whole country was in "passive resistance". Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen was appointed regent (civil and military governor) of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1851, being relieved of the post in 1860, and this time was remembered for Germanization.

Lajos Kossuth went into exile. In the US he was most warmly received by the general public as well as the Secretary of State Daniel Webster, leading to tensions in US-Austrian relations, and a county in Iowa was named after him. He then traveled through Istanbul, Turkey and Turin, Italy.

Deciding his biggest political error of the Revolution was the confrontation with the minorities of Hungary, he popularized the idea of a multi-ethnic confederation of republics along the Danube, which might have prevented the escalation of hostile feelings between the ethnic groups in these areas. Many of Kossuth's revolutionary comrades in exile, including the sons of one of his sisters, as well as other supporters of the 1848 revolution, (usually referred as "Forty-Eighters") stayed in the USA, and fought on the Union side in the US Civil War.

Major battles of the Hungarian Revolution

History of Hungary

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Notable people of the Hungarian Revolution

Fate of the Hungarian revolutionary banners

After the Hungarian Army's surrender at Világos in 1849, the Hungarian revolutionary banners were taken to Russia by the victorious Tsarist troops. There they remained for nearly a century, under both the Tsarist and the Communist regimes. In 1940 the Soviet Union proposed to the Horthy regime to exchange the banners for the release of the imprisoned Hungarian Communist leader Mátyás Rákosi – which was duly carried out.[7]




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