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6: Renaissance and Reform

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THE truce between dynasty and nation was broken when, on 29 November 1780, Maria Theresa died. Her elder son, Joseph, who now succeeded to the sole rule (he had been co-regent for some years, but his mother had kept him in fairly tight leading-strings) was a man of the younger generation. Steeped in the new French political philosophy of his day, and, moreover, profoundly impressed by the example of Frederick of Prussia, impatient of obstacles and blind to difficulties, he aimed at welding his dominions into a centralised polity, ruled by himself on the principles of enlightened absolutism through a single bureaucratic machine, working on uniform administrative principles and even with a uniform philosophy of life. So obvious was the incompatibility of his programme with the vested liberties of such of his dominions as had retained them, that he refused to commit himself to any oath to preserve them. As regards Hungary, in particular, he refused to submit himself to coronation, having, instead, the Holy Crown transported to Vienna, to be kept there as a museum piece, and thus earning the nickname of the 'hatted king'. He then set about enacting his reform programme by rescript.

Some of his earlier measures actually satisfied wishes which had long been expressed in Hungary. The Patent of Toleration, issued in 1781, remedied the chief grievances of the non-catholic Christians (Protestants and Greek Orthodox alike) by allowing them full freedom of public worship and complete equality with Catholics of civil and political rights, including admission to public office; the Jews, although not receiving full civic rights, were granted freedom of worship and made subject to the ordinary laws. Other of his edicts, if they could not expect to be generally popular, were certainly beneficial to much of the population: chief of these were the Livings Patent, which dissolved a number of religious Orders and applied their property to founding new parochial livings, each with an elementary school attached; and his Peasant Patent, which definitively assured the peasants liberty to leave their holdings, on payment of their dues, marry, and put their children to any trade.

But much even of these measures was unpopular, and not only among the classes obviously suffering under them: the Catholics and the landlords were enraged, but the Protestants and the peasants were not satisfied. There were two chapters of enactments which snapped the national patience. One related to the old question of noble taxation. When the nobles refused to renounce their exemption, Joseph applied extreme economic pressure. The high tariff duties round the Monarchy were replaced, in the case of many commodities, by complete prohibitions, and the importation into Hungary of manufactured articles from the Austrian provinces and Galicia became completely free, whereas Hungarian exports to Austria had to pay the full duty applicable to foreign goods. Joseph then announced his intention of imposing a general land tax, under all circumstances, and began a survey of the nobles' lands.

Even more spectacular were the administrative and educational changes. The distinctions between Inner Hungary, Croatia and Transylvania were expunged, and the whole country, except the Military Frontier, which was retained(1)

, brought under one gigantic Gubernium. This was divided into ten Districts (in delimiting which the old Croat-Hungarian frontier was ignored), each under a Commissioner. The counties lost their autonomy; the Fispáns disappeared, and the Alispáns and minor officials became Government employees. German replaced Latin as the language of administration, the changes entering into force immediately in the central offices, after one year in the counties and three in the lowest instances. Any official not mastering the language before expiration of the grace was to be dismissed. Knowledge of German was also made the condition of admission to the Diet, and education completely Germanised: by 1786 Joseph had got so far as to order that German was to be the sole language of instruction for all subjects in all schools. Only religion might be taught in the pupils' mother tongue in the primary schools, and intending priests might study Latin in the high schools.

Then, in 1787, Joseph embarked on an ill-advised Turkish war. A large army was quartered in south Hungary, and the country flooded with demands for recruits and with requisitioning orders. The whole nation, including the peasants, seethed with discontent. The proscribed counties, re~assuming their old powers, put themselves at the head of the resistance. A party made contact with Joseph's rival, the King of Prussia. Then Belgium revolted; the war went very badly, and Joseph himself fell mortally sick. On 28 January 1790 he yielded, and revoked all his rescripts relating to Hungary except the Toleration Patent, the Peasant Patent and the Livings Patent, then promised to convoke a Diet and ordered the Holy Crown to be brought back to Hungary. Three weeks later (20th February) he died.

The reign of Joseph II was perhaps the most dynamic in Hungarian history. No single aspect of the national life, political, social, economic, cultural or national in the modern sense of the term, was the same after it as before it. But many of its most important positive after-effects showed themselves only a generation later, when they appeared as manifestations of the Zeitgeist which Joseph's intemperate wizardry had helped conjure up. The immediate mood of the Diet which met soon after his death was one of unqualified reaction. Some of its speakers, indeed, voiced political doctrines on the social contract and the sovereignty of the people which could have come straight from the contemporary Paris, but without exception, they were talking strictly in terms of the historic Hungarian nation and its rights vis-ŕ-vis its monarch; its right, that is, to preserve intact its ancient institutions.

Joseph's brother and successor, the shrewd and circumspect Leopold II, handled this dangerous situation with great skill. He gave the Diet a new and solemn pledge, which in substance simply repeated Charles' declarations of 1715 and 1723, but was now embodied in a Law(2), that Hungary was a wholly independent kingdom, not subject to any other land or people and to be ruled only by its own lawfully crowned kings and in accordance with its own laws and customs. He also consented to having the loopholes stopped which his predecessors had utilised to evade this obligation. The king had to submit himself to coronation within six months of his predecessor's decease. He must convoke the Diet triennially. He would rule by law only, and not by rescript or patent.

With Joseph's recantation, the administration had already reverted to the status quo ante his innovations, the old organs, central and local, simply taking over again with their former constitutions and competences. Leopold con-firmed this, with only two modifications, both on the highest level. Transylvania and Croatia recovered their separate status, and Leopold also set up a separate 'Illyrian Chancellery' for the Hungarian Serbs. He rejected, how-ever, a 'Supplex Libellus Valachorum' in which the Roumanians of Transylvania had asked for recognition as a 'nation', although, or perhaps because, some of them had perpetrated a terrible jacquerie seven years earlier.

For the rest, Leopold prevailed on the Diet to enact legislation in the sense of the three Patents which Joseph had not revoked, and in return, agreed to a law proscribing the use of 'a foreign language' (under which German was meant) as an official medium, but rejected a request (from which the Croats had dissented, and which was not pressed), that Latin should be replaced by Magyar as the official language of all public services, including the Army. All that he would concede here was that provision should be made for the teaching of the Magyar language at the university and in the gymnasia, with a view to the training up of a future supply of Magyar-speaking officials. 'For the time being', government was to be carried on in Latin. Several other postulata for immediate change fared no better. It was, however, agreed that the Diet should set up a number of committees which were to present to its successor proposals for reform in a great number of fields, including many in which Maria Theresa had not allowed the nation a voice.

Things might have developed either way from this beginning. On the one hand, documents recently discovered show that Leopold was secretly entertaining plans for imposing drastic changes in Hungary, not in the direction of Germanisation, but in that of a far-reaching democratisation of the entire political system. On the other hand, the committees took their work very seriously, and some of them worked out some extremely interesting and constructive proposals, especially in the economic field. But now there followed a series of events the combined effect of which was singularly detrimental to all ideas of social or political progress. The French Revolution degenerated into terrorism. Leopold died suddenly, on 1 March 1792, and was succeeded by his son Francis, a man of extreme mental timidity, in whose eyes the only hope of saving his own throne and humanity lay in freezing any situation which promised to avert revolution. The settlement which Leopold had reached in Hungary seemed to him to answer this description, and at his coronation Diet he confirmed it with few changes, the most important of which was the cancellation of the Illyrian Chancellery. The Hungarian Estates, for their part, found any settlement welcome which safeguarded them against the twin dangers of Josephinian revolution from above and Jacobin revolution from below.

In 1795 feeling on both sides was hardened by a queer event. The police came on the tracks of a fantastic Jacobin plot, the leading figure in which was a dubious and enigmatic character, the Abbé Martinovics, who had been an agent of Leopold's, and employed by him on preparations for an attack on the conservative opposition to a 'revolution from above'. But after Leopold's death the plans had lost shape, retaining their revolutionary character while losing their link with the Crown, which was no longer privy to them. They had, moreover, acquired new sympathisers, some quite hare-brained, but others serious and sensible, and, for that very reason, really dangerous. The revelations, true or invented, made by Martinovics under interrogation, increased Francis' determination to refuse any change which might conceivably lead to revolution, while the arrests (which were numerous) made in connection with the conspiracy, and the glimpses afforded by the trials of obscure forces stirring below the surface, finally cured the Estates of any taste for adventure.

The period which followed was much rather one of cold war, than of genuine and cordial peace. The respect which Francis paid to the Hungarian constitution was perfunctory enough. In the first years of his reign he duly convoked the Diet every three years, but only to ask it for subsidies and recruits for his wars. By constitutional tradition, the proceedings of a Diet opened with consideration of the royal as postulata; when agreement on these had been reached, the turn came of the Estates' gravamina. It was Francis' habit simply to dissolve each Diet as soon as he had extracted from it what satisfaction he could extract of his own demands. The nation's wishes were never formally discussed at all; the reports of the committees of the Leopoldinian Diet were simply laid ad acta, and if the later Diets got any concessions at all, they were extracted in the course of the bargaining over the postulata.

This meant that they were meagre to a degree. The two main wishes expressed by the Diets of these years were for wider use of the Magyar language in education and public life, and for revision of the inequitable economic relationship with the Austrian provinces. In the former field, Francis, under pressure, made one or two further concessions: in 1792 Magyar had been made a compulsory subject in higher and secondary schools in Inner Hungary(3), and after 1805 it became permissible to correspond with the chancellery and the Consilium in Magyar. The economic system was not altered in any material respect.

For twenty years, nevertheless, each party got enough out of the truce to make it worth keeping. Francis obtained considerable votes of men and money, while Hungary could reflect that her contribution was still light compared with that which Francis' other dominions had to pay, and except in 1809, when the insurrectio was called out (for the last time), did not fall on the nobles. If the Diets were almost always barren, yet the shadow of the censorship and the political police fell but lightly on Hungary, whose nobles could with justice regard themselves by their own standards the freest class on the Continent. The wars touched Hungarian territory only twice, and each time only for a few weeks, and in other respects brought the country actual gain, for the land-owners were able to make big profits out of the wheat for which there was an almost unlimited demand, at high prices.

Even so, tempers became frayed on both sides, and an open clash was again and again averted only by the tact and skill of the Palatine, the Archduke Joseph, who combined, in a quite remarkable degree, loyalty to his brother with sympathy for the Hungarians. But even he was worsted in the end, on the issue of the common finances. The one thing which Francis had been powerless to keep stable had been the value of his money. Since the beginning of the wars, the expenditure of the Monarchy had regularly, and largely, exceeded its revenue, and the government had met the deficit by issuing paper money, the value of which, in terms of prices, had sunk rapidly, and while the paper had in law to be taken at its face value, it was quoted in Augsburg at a discount of some 800 per cent. In 1811 the Austrian Finance Minister carried through a drastic operation, reducing the nominal value of the currency by 80 per cent, and the Diet was asked to take over the funding of 100 million of the 212 million gulden to which the national debt had thus been reduced, besides paying an extraordinary subsidy towards the amortisation of the remainder. It refused, and in 1812 Francis dissolved it and enacted the desired measures by rescript. For thirteen years Hungary was now again ruled without a Diet.

The discontent now became acute; so much so that when in 1825 a renewed threat of war compelled Francis to convoke the Diet again (after attempts to get what he needed direct from the counties, by unconstitutional means, had broken down on their ingenious resistance), its proceedings were so dangerously turbulent that he found it expedient to make a sort of apology and to promise not to repeat his offence.

Some Hungarians count this Diet as marking the end of the long period of torpor and the beginning of the exciting 'Reform Era' which followed it. This is only half true. A spirit of defiance was, indeed, apparent in the pertinacity and acerbity with which speakers voiced their grievances, but except on one point, the Diet's attitude was still the old one, unchanged in any particular; it was simply that the encroachments, financial and other, of the Crown's servants on Hungary's ancient liberties must cease, and those liberties be restored intact.

The only demand which could not have come straight out of the Middle Ages was still the request, which had become regular since 1790, for wider use of the Magyar language in the administration, the Courts and education, and this did indeed reflect a modern spirit, which had begun to stir even before Joseph's day (the first signs of it go back to the last years of Maria Theresa's reign), but had been greatly stimulated by the violence offered to it by Joseph II, and since his death had grown more vigorous with every year: a spirit of pride in the national language as the embodiment and vital necessity of the national spirit.

The last decade of the eighteenth century and the first quarter of the nineteenth had been a time of inspiring activity. Lexicographers had set themselves to the heavy task of re-fashioning and enriching the Magyar tongue, developing it into an instrument in which modern thought could be expressed and modern literature written. As the lexicographers cleared the way, the poets, romantic novelists and playwrights followed on their heels. Many of their achievements were crude and tentative, but in some, real genius - in a few cases, some of the greatest that Hungary has ever known - shone through what were still imperfect forms, and good and bad alike were hailed with enormous enthusiasm. The cult of the language was accompanied by a similar fashion for the national costume, dances, and whatever else was specifically Magyar.

Yet even this was still modern only in a peculiar and restricted sense. As the Hungarian noble class embraced most educated Magyars, it followed that nearly all their writers and intelligentsia were nobles born, and they instinctively saw the picture of the nation through the spectacles of their class. Where any writer was of non-noble origin, the chances were that he was a quasi-noble by adoption, for the attainment of certain academic qualifications conferred the status of honoratior, which brought with it some of the privileges of nobility, and with them, almost

invariably, the 'noble' outlook on the world. Thus practically every figure of this first phase of the literary renaissance, whatever his own economic circumstances, identified Hungary with its noble class, drew his inspiration from he wells of the national tradition, and heartened the present with the memories of a past which had grown glorious by defending its immemorial freedom. The new spirit in no way diminished the social and political exclusiveness of Hungarian nationalism.

The new Magyar nationalism agreed with, and in its turn helped to reinforce the assumption that the Hungarian polity must be the preserve, as it had been the creation, of the Magyar element in the country. It was on this assumption that the repeated requests were made to the Crown to substitute Magyar for Latin as the language of the state, and the non-Magyars of Inner Hungary would not have been very much affected had the change been made, so long as representation in the Diet and the county Congregations, and employment in the public services, was confined to nobles, and so long as the de facto situation prevailed that the politically active noble class, except for a the denationalised magnates at the top, already spoke and felt Magyar. As for education, although extreme proposals were bruited at two of the Diets, the Crown's refusal to make any substantial concessions in this field was enough to prevent complications from arising.

The only conflict (except that with Vienna) which the new movement had so far evoked had been with the Croats. Here the position was really different, since the language of the ordinary Croat nobles was Croat, and when, at the Leopoldinian Diet, the Hungarians first proposed the abolition of Latin, they tried to allow for this by offering that the Croat language should enjoy in Croatia any position gained by Magyar in Inner Hungary. The substitution of Magyar for Latin in the central Diet and services would still have left the Croat deputies or employees in the Consilium at a disadvantage compared with the Magyars, but the latter did not feel it reasonable that they should continue to renounce what they regarded as their natural right to transact their national affairs in their own language (besides imposing on themselves the continued burden of acquiring a second language) for the benefit of so small a minority. There were less than 20,000 noble persons in Croatia, compared with over 300,000 in Inner Hungary(4), and the 20,000 included not only the magnates, lay and ecclesiastical, most of whom either spoke both languages equally well, or neither of them, but also the 'sandalled nobles' of Turopolje (Turmezô), near Zagreb, a separate community living under their own count, who aspired to no office and were, incidentally, solid for the Hungarian connection. Croatia had only two virilist members of the Upper Table, the Ban and the Bishop of Zagreb, and only three delegates to the Lower Table -two representing the Zagreb Diet, and the Count of Turopolje.

The Croat delegates had nevertheless objected to the proposal on principle, maintaining that the Diet had been acting ultra vires in trying to pass it into law; for the use of the neutral Latin was founded on immemorial pacta conventa between the two associated kingdoms of Hungary and Croatia, and no change could be made without the assent of both parties. This attitude of theirs had shown a rift between Hungary and Croatia which was destined afterwards to widen into a great gulf, the more impossible to bridge because of the fundamental nature of the central question, whether Croatia was indeed an 'associated kingdom' or only an 'adjunct of Hungary' - a question on which neither party was ever able to convince the other, just as they could not on the second great disputed point, the appurtenance of the Slavonian counties. During the period of torpor, however, the cloud remained on the horizon, and did not even bulk very large on it, for Francis' summary Diets afforded no opportunity for the raising of constitutional issues, or even for detailed discussion of the language question, while from 1811 to 1825, the years of neo-absolutism, no discussion was possible at all. It was also important that during the latter period the Croats who could have argued their case were fewer than ever, for between 1809 and 1815 a substantial part of Croatia was out of the Monarchy altogether, as part of Napoleon's Kingdom of Illyria, and when this was liquidated, Vienna kept the civilian portions of the areas so detached under its own administration until 1824.

Furthermore, Croatia during this period was even more untouched by any true spirit of modernity than Hungary itself. Political Croatia, like political Hungary, consisted of its nobles; and the Croat nobles were not only fewer on the ground than their Hungarian colleagues (2.9 per cent of the total population, against 4.8 per cent) but even more divorced from their people. Towns were rarer, the peasants even more oppressed, the exclusive predominance of the Catholics more absolute, for the Croat delegates had invoked the same argument of pacta conventa to prevent the extension to Croatia of the alleviations which Hungary introduced for its Protestants in 1790. The Croat nobles had hitherto shown no interest whatever in the Croat language, steadily insisting on Latin, not only in the central services, but locally; when, in 1805, Francis had made the concession mentioned above, the Congregation of Várasd had solemnly resolved that the suppression of Latin would mean 'the end of culture and of the nation, which would no longer understand its own laws'. This arch-conservatism did not, indeed, render the Croats' opposition to Hungary any less determined, and perhaps made it in some respects even more dangerous, since it struck an answering note in Vienna.

The spirit of the Diet which was convoked in 1830, to strengthen the government's arm in view of the July revolution in Paris and the unrest in the Netherlands, Italy and Poland, was hardly different from that of 1825. Its members were as anxious as Metternich himself that the revolution should not spread. They used the government's embarrassment, indeed, to extract another linguistic concession, the most important which they had yet gained: it was enacted that thereafter no person not conversant with the Magyar language should be admitted to the public services in Inner Hungary, and the same requirement was to be made, after four years' grace, for admission to the Bar. The chancellery and Curia were instructed to answer in Magyar communications addressed to them in that language by the counties, and Magyar might also be used in the Courts. But for this price, they cheerfully voted 48,000 soldiers for the safeguarding of the existing order. But Francis had taken the opportunity to have his son and prospective successor, Ferdinand, crowned proleptically, and for reward had consented to listen, at a new meeting, to the nation's long-postponed gravamina. A terrible outbreak of cholera in 1831 was made the excuse for leaving the Diet unconvoked that year, but in 1832 it met; and the atmosphere in which it did so was magically transformed.

It is easy, and up to a point true, to say that this change was simply the natural reflection of altered world conditions. The great deflationary crisis which had followed the boom of the war years was passing in its turn. England was in the full swing of its industrial expansion, and even in the Habsburg Monarchy the winds of modern capitalism were setting the withered leaves rustling and wafting messages of a new world in which fortunes were to be made by those who understood its language. The bourgeoisie was stirring, even the peasants were not the unquestioning, unresisting clods that their grandfathers had been.

Pertinaciously as Francis and Metternich had tried to seal off the Monarchy from the new world, the victories of Liberalism in western Europe had shown that despotism was not invincible. The stirrings which had begun in Austria in 1830 need no more explanation than this, but in Hungary, with its special tradition that saw the very existence of the nation as dependent on the preservation of the old institutions, more was necessary.

But this special impetus had been given, by two events. One was an outbreak of peasant unrest in the areas devasted by cholera in 1831 so serious as to convince the nation that the situation of the peasants could no longer be left where the legislation of '79' had settled it. Some, indeed, saw the remedy in more repression, but a considerable number believed that only real reform could avert further outbreaks. The other event was the publication of István Széchenyi's book Hitel ('Credit').

Count István Széchenyi was the scion of one of Hungary's great historic families, and heir to a tradition of national service; his father, Ferenc Széchenyi, had been the founder of the great national library which still bears his name. The young Széchenyi's own outlook was itself conditioned by his origins and his early experiences, which had included service in a hussar regiment; he saw the world through the eyes of an aristocrat, and one to whom loyalty to the dynasty was axiomatic. But his was a brooding and mystic spirit which became wholly possessed by a burning and compassionate love of his country and of the Magyar people. His whole outlook and inspiration were essentially religious. It was with the soul of Hungary that he was concerned, and subscribing to the view that 'the soul of a people resided in its language', he had electrified the Diet of 1825 by offering to contribute a year's income from his estates towards the foundation of a National Academy of Sciences for the improvement of the Magyar language. But his vision went beyond this. He had travelled in western Europe, especially England, and looking at his country, he was shocked by its backwardness, by the morally in defensible degradation in which the masses of its people lived, and by the selfishness of their exploiters. His originality, and his unique effectiveness, lay in the fact that although what he cared for most was the moral regeneration of Hungary, his approach to the problem was severely practical, even materialistic. His diagnosis, which was couched in unsparing terms, was that Hungary was not at all an Eden of successfully guarded freedom, but rather a 'great fallow-land', a place and a people deserving of infinite well-being, spiritual and material, and capable of achieving it, but at present, poor and neglected, a prey to political sterility, social oppression, economic backwardness. And with extraordinary hardihood he told his fellow-nobles that the blame for this lay, spiritually, with their own short-sightedness and egotism, and institutionally, with the sacrosanct Hungarian constitution itself, which was not, he declared, a bastion at all, but a prison in which they themselves were the most unfortunate inmates and their own pockets the worst sufferers. Their cherished exemption from taxation prevented the accumulation of funds to finance indispensable communications, and without these the produce of their estates was unsaleable; the aviticitas, by declaring their lands inalienable, prevented them from borrowing on the security of them for improvements; the landlord-peasant nexus made the peasants surly malcontents whose forced labour, unwillingly rendered, was, Széchenyi calculated, only one third as productive as a free man's hired labour.

The effect of Hitel and of the works with which Széchenyi followed it up - Világ ('Light') in 1831 and Stádium in 1833 - was like that of an explosive charge which breaks a river block and sends pent-up waters pouring suddenly and turbulently down. The orthodox were scandalised beyond measure. Copies of the books were publicly burnt in several county congregations, and their author savagely denounced for a traitor to his country and his class. But to the very considerable number of Hungarians who had felt obscurely that their country was ailing, without being able either to diagnose the disease or to prescribe the remedy, they came as a revelation, and it may fairly be said that with, and in large part thanks to, their appearance the period of Hungarian history known as 'the Reform Era', began.

The years which followed were extraordinarily stimulating ones, an intoxicating contrast to the sterile decades before, a time when it was indeed bliss to be alive, and very heaven to be young. Once Széchenyi had sounded the trumpet which sent the walls crumbling, reformers pullulated. Before the Diet, which did not rise till 1836, was over, the magnate and paternalist social reformer Széchenyi was himself a back number in the eyes of the angry young men hatching out in the aula of the University, and thronging the purlieus of the Diet itself - for it was the custom of deputies to bring with them, as secretaries and to give them experience, bands of young jurati, who formed an audience to the proceedings and often, in the absence of any fixed rules of procedure, a tumultuous chorus. Their learned apparatus, such as it was, came chiefly from the French and German liberal philosophers, whose works easily slipped past the slipshod censorship into Hungary. Their catchword and panacea was liberty, especially national liberty, and the rising sun of their allegiance was the man who soon became Széchenyi's great rival, Lajos (Louis) Kossuth.

Kossuth was a member of that dangerous class which possesses birth and brains, but no means. He was, moreover, a protestant. His family was noble, so that public service or politics were open to him, but his genius being his only fortune, he had entered active politics only comparatively late in life, and that through a curious side door. After qualifying as a lawyer, he had spent his early manhood managing the estates of a wealthy widow in his native north-eastern Hungary. The widows of magnates were, by tradition, entitled to send proxies to the Lower House, and in 1832 this lady sent Kossuth, then already thirty years of age, to Pozsony in this capacity, and here he became intoxicated with the new spirit, but proxies were not allowed to speak. He fell, however, on a brilliant idea: no official record was kept of the debates, and Kossuth had the thought of issuing an unofficial journal of them. This was less a transcript than a highly-coloured commentary, calculated to win sympathy for the causes which Kossuth had at heart. Most brilliantly written, for Kossuth proved himself a journalist of quite extraordinary capacity, they served their purpose admirably, and at the same time made their author, at one bound, the idol of the younger and more impatient reformers.

Like Széchenyi, Kossuth loved his country and his own people with a profound passion, saw in their existing condition many evils, and burned to remove them. But both his diagnosis and his remedy differed from Széchenyi's. Széchenyi was both, as we have said, instinctively loyal, as an ex-officer and a magnate, to the dynasty, and also intellectually convinced that Hungary's own interests demanded a considerable measure of integration into the Monarchy. Not only was he far too weak to challenge Vienna to a conflict, but the connection was necessary both for her security and also, given her paucity of capital, for her economic development.

Kossuth, a true child of his age, regarded liberty as the universal talisman - liberty of all kinds, and above all, national liberty, as the pre-requisite without which no social, economic or cultural advance was possible at all. Blind to the advantages which Széchenyi recognised in the connection with Vienna, he saw only the oppressive side of the de facto control which the central authorities had come to exercise over Hungary. The very first objective of the reform movement must be to emancipate her from this control; after this political battle had been won, all the rest would follow. His programme was, in fact, a repudiation of Széchenyi's advocacy of collaboration and a reversion to Hungary's traditional gravaminal policy, only now in the interests of national development, not of stabilisation.

Kossuth's social and political tenets constituted a curious and not altogether logical mixture. He was as axiomatic as any man in his instinctive identification of political Hungary with its noble class (of his own membership of which he was deeply proud), and in all his political thinking he assumed that the leadership in Hungary should and would remain in the hands of that class. Nevertheless, his burning national feeling itself came to generate in him, as he grew older, an increasingly pronounced social radicalism. Partly out of genuine love and compassion towards his fellow-men, partly with the political purpose of strengthening the Hungarian nation against Vienna, he came to wish, as he once put it, 'not to abolish our noble liberties, but to extend them to the whole people'. He came thus to accept the abolition of all ancestral restrictions which confined liberty to the noble class alone, and to advocate, not only the extention of taxation and the abolition of robot, but the complete emancipation of the peasants. An extended franchise, freedom of the Press and association, penal reform and an inexhaustible list of further innovations, from which little was missing that Hungary needed to modernise herself, found their places on his list.

Kossuth would probably in any case soon have over-shadowed Széchenyi, for his was obviously far the more popular appeal: how much more romantic (and more in the national tradition) to declaim against a foreign oppressor, than to follow an austere path of self-criticism, self-discipline, self-sacrifice! And while his position had automatically placed Széchenyi in front at the outset - no one but a magnate could even have published Hitel, still less have found readers for it - once the first step had been taken, he was at a heavy personal disadvantage. He spoke the Magyar language itself haltingly; not only was the argumentation of his books dry, but their language was difficult and contorted. Kossuth had a resonant and beautiful organ; he was equally magical as speaker and writer, inexhaustibly fluent, irresistibly convincing, never at a loss for a phrase or an argument.

Széchenyi and Kossuth are the two most picturesque and most publicised figures of the Reform Era, and it is fashionable to describe its course in the terms of a duel between the two men and their respective principles: evolution or revolution, with Austria or against it - the more tempting because a bitter personal antagonism developed between them. But this is to over-simplify the picture. Even among those who found themselves forced to accept the necessity of the political struggle, there were almost as many ideas on what Hungary needed as there were reformers. The parliamentary leadership, in so far as the phrase is applicable at all, for no parties existed before 1847, of the reform movement during the decade, lay not with Kossuth (who was not a deputy until 1847) but with Ferenc Deák, a quiet, unassuming medium land-owner from Zala, distinguished equally for his complete rectitude, his unfailing good sense, his encyclopaedic legal knowledge and his unequalled legal acumen. A very important intellectual leaven was provided by a little group headed by Baron József Eötvös and known in derision as the 'centralists', or 'doctrinaires'. Unlike Kossuth, who regarded the counties with mystical devotion, and still saw them as bulwarks against centralist oppression, the centralists held them to be strongholds of reaction and obscurantism, and argued for a central government, responsible to the electorate and thus not under the control of Vienna, but itself administering Hungary with modern efficiency. In spite of this, they did not share Kossuth's nebulous allergy to all things Austrian, and were genuinely concerned to preserve the unity of the Monarchy. Socially, they were more radical than Széchenyi, and even, in reality, than Kossuth himself. In the Reform period, and even after it, so far as their persons were concerned, they were heavily overshadowed by the far more spectacular and popular Kossuth; yet, as will be seen, it was the essentials of their programme, hurriedly adopted by Kossuth when he saw its relevance, which laid the foundations of the reform of 1848.

Outside the strictly political circles, too, new forces were stirring. The literary movement entered on a new phase: it no longer looked back, but forward. Petôfi, Arany and its other great figures were revolutionaries, like the young Shelley and Wordsworth.

But new ideas and new enthusiasms were now no longer the monopoly of the Magyars. Up to 1830 the Croat representatives in the central Diet had steadily followed their old path, opposing any suggestion to replace Latin as an official language anywhere, and for that matter, any proposal for social reform. But the re-incorporation of the ex-French districts had brought into Croatia a whole army of young men who, under the French regime and in the schools instituted by it, had imbibed a romantic nationalism of the most heady sort, flavoured (rather sporadically) with advanced social doctrines and, above all, belligerently impatient of any shadow of subordination of Croatia (which they conceived in the most extensive geographical terms) to Hungary. The Preporod, as the new nationalism called itself, swept over Croatia like a heath fire, setting students and young 'intellectuals' aflame, throwing out fiery streams of grammarians, lexicographers, poets and political journalists, and penetrating even the aristocracy. In 1832 a Croat magnate, Baron Rukovina, addressed the Sabor in Croat, a language which it had not heard for centuries. The next year Count Jankó Draskovic, an elderly man, a member of one of Croatia's leading families, a Court Chamberlain, a member of the House of Magnates and a colonel, published a pamphlet entitled Sollen wir Magyaren werden? This was less a protest against the threat of linguistic Magyarisation in Croatia, than a highly political programme for the constitution of Croatia, not only with Slavonia and Fiume, but also with the two 'Illyrian' governments of Austria (Dalmatia and the Slovene areas) and perhaps Bosnia, as a separate political constituent of the Habsburg Monarchy, with Croat as the language of administration and education.

At this point the Croat linguistic, and for a time also the political, movement were given a curious twist by a young man named Ljudevit Gaj, who for a time figured as their spiritus rector. Educated under Pan-Slav masters, Gaj held all Slavs to be brothers in the wider sense, but accepted the division of them into four main groups, one of which was the Southern Slav, or 'Illyrian', cornprising the Croats, Slovenes, Serbs and Bulgars. He hoped to see all of these merge in a single nation, and the pre-requisite for this was to get them all to speak and write a single language.

The results of his linguistic endeavours were rather peculiar. He persuaded the Croats, and up to a point, the Slovenes, to adopt a new orthography, modelled on that of the West Slavs, but the Serbs and Bulgars rejected this, and continued to use the Cyrillic alphabet. Orthographically, therefore, the Southern Slavs continued to divide on religious lines, the Catholics using Gaj's Latin script, and the Orthodox, the Cyrillic. Linguistically, on the other hand, Gaj and the Serbian linguistic maestro of the day, Vuk Karadzic, agreed on a common language, the 'sto' dialect, generally spoken in the Serb lands, although not the Croat. Gaj persuaded the Croats to adopt this, but the Slovenes refused. Gaj had thus assassinated his own language, replacing it by one which was Serbian in content and Czech in orthography.

Politically, few disciples, and they almost all Croats, fully adopted Gaj's Illyrian doctrine. The Serbs, in particular, rejected it as a devilish machination of Rome's, and most of the Croats also disliked and distrusted the Serbs.

There were, of course, even some who were genuinely attached to Hungary and wanted no change in the Hungaro-Croat relationship, but this group, although politically important by virtue of the official positions held by some of its members, notably the Count of Turopolje, was numerically small. The great majority, to whom the name of 'Illyrian party' was applied, although inaccurately, really subscribed to the particularist Croat programme set out in Draskovic' pamphlet. Meanwhile the larger Illyrianism, or at least the idea of Serbo-Croat brotherhood, was there to be trotted out as an additional stimulus to anti-Hungarian feeling.

Vienna, indeed, after first encouraging Gaj 's Illyrianism, ended by taking fright at its Pan-Slav and pro-Russian implications; the Pasha of Bosnia, too, complained that the movement was spreading sedition among his peasants. The movement was forbidden, but not so the Croat particularist movement, which appeared to Vienna a useful counterweight against Hungary. It was given its head; and it may be said that the unbridled licence of the Croat national Press, and the venom of its attacks on the Hungarian state and the Magyar people, exceeded even what the Magyars allowed themselves in their counter-utterances, although these were vicious enough.

The new nationalism was now spreading also to the non-Magyars of Hungary, and analogous antagonisms were developing. Each side blamed the other lavishly for this, but the truth was that here, too, two views were confronting one another which were at least equally intelligible, but mutually incompatible, while the development of the conflict was a hen and egg story if ever there was one. The Magyars' profound conviction that the Hungarian polity was essentially theirs was certainly understandable, in view of its history; and in wanting its official language to correspond with what they regarded as its national character they asking no more than what every independent European nation regarded as its axiomatic right. When they now began to press actively their demand for the increased use and diffusion of their language to a point which involved imposing it, in greater or less degree, on the non-Magyars, this was in the first instance largely the reflection of the widening and democratisation of their own conception of the nation, the recognition of the existence as a political factor of other elements in the population, besides the nobility. If their view of the nature of the polity was accepted as justified even under modern conditions, it was even a liberal move to provide non-Magyars with sufficient schooling in Magyar to enable them to enter the national political community. It is fair to point out that there have been cases enough in history where national minorities have asked for no more than this, and that even now, some of the non~Magyars asked for no more. But others felt -no less in accordance with the spirit of the age - that they had the same natural right as the Magyars themselves to use their own language, cultivate their own national attributes, take pride in their own national pasts, and that to force another language on them was an unnatural tyranny. Their view was that the multinational country which Hungary was, when its total population was taken into account, ought to be organised as a multinational polity, and that the languages of administration and education should adapt themselves accordingly.

What prevented either side from yielding, or even seeking a compromise, exacerbated the conflict and made collision ultimately inevitable, was the presence of outside factors: above all, Vienna, with its age-long hostility to Hungarian nationalism and its historic policy of allying itself with the non~Magyars; but to this was added in the 1830's the spectre, which then loomed very large, of Pan-Slav agitation, subverting the loyalty of Hungary's Slavs. In the eyes of many Magyars, the only complete safeguard against these dangers would have lain in Magyarising the entire population, and while only a few extremists (although there were such) ever dreamed of carrying so enormous an operation to completion, there were many who felt that a large measure of Magyarisation, something far beyond the provision of schools for a few aspiring civil servants, was a simple and legitimate matter of self-defence. Conversely, the more Magyars there were, the larger would be the number of champions of Hungarian nationality against the tyranny of Vienna. Ardent spirits added: the larger the army championing and enjoying the blessings of freedom and progress (which they proposed to bestow on Hungary) instead of reaction and obscurantism.

These considerations led the Magyars to be impatient and intolerant and to pay less consideration than they would probably otherwise have given to the natural susceptibilities of the nationalities, which they interpreted as sympathy with the enemies of the nation - thereby, of course, breeding such sympathy; although here again the shadow of the hen should not obscure the egg, for the designs both of Vienna and of Pan-Slavism were real, and both really possessed sympathisers in Hungary.

At the beginning of the 1830s all this lay rather in the future than the present. The Swabians and Ruthenes seemed so far untouched by any national feeling whatever. The Serbs were passing through a quiescent period, although the literary movement which was developing under the auspices of Vuk Karadzic was instinct with Pan-Serb nationalism, which was also growing in Serbia. The Roumanian movement was still almost confined to Transylvania. Only a handful of Slovak intellectuals had so far adopted the theory of Czecho-Slovak identity, while rather more (like many of the Czechs themselves) were nebulously Pan-Slav. Others were particularist Slovaks, and quite prepared to make common cause with the Hungarians. The situation was, however, full of latent dangers, and Magyar chauvinism, by making the most of these, was already increasing them.

In the event, the course taken by the developments of these years, and, in particular, both the contents and the course of the Hungarian reform movement, were largely determined by the attitude taken up towards it by Vienna. It was hopeless to expect anything during the lifetime of Francis, whose aversion from change of any sort had become almost pathological with advancing years, and for this reason the first three years of the Diet which met in 1832 were practically barren. After Francis' death on 2 March 1835 the government of the Monarchy was taken over for the simpleton Ferdinand by the Staats- und Konferenzrat, which was not a body from which the Hungarian reformers could expect much sympathy. Of its three effective members, the Archduke Ludwig held it to be an injunction of piety to keep his brother's 'system' intact. Metternich was not anti-Hungarian, if only out of snobism, and the shallow corpus of inductive conclusions which he called his political philosophy included the beliefs that allowance must be made for Hungary's national individuality and respect accorded to the Hungarian constitution; but what he valued in that constitution was precisely its antique elements, which seemed to him a guarantee against revolution. Kolowrat, the 'overlord' of the interior and finance, was a Josephinian at heart, not against authoritarian reform; but he regarded Hungarian nationalism as a dangerous disruptive force, his intellectual convictions in this respect being reinforced by strong pro-Slav, and in particular pro-Czech, prejudices.

The policy followed by the Konferenzrat towards Hungary was in fact wavering and inconsistent, and probably depended largely on which of its members happened at a given moment to be interesting himself most in the country. Its first moves, when in 1836 the 'Long Diet' rose at last, were severely repressive. The key government posts were filled with men who were both extreme centralists and unbending reactionaries. Kossuth was arrested, as were several of the young jurati and Baron Miklós Wesselényi, a fiery and extremely popular Transylvanian magnate and friend of Széchenyi's. At the same time, Kolowrat was lavishing encouragement on the Croats.

But the resulting outcry was very formidable. Even the moderate Hungarians rallied against this new oppression. Moreover, the international situation grew threatening again. Metternich wanted money and recruits from Hungary, and dared not provoke the nation too much. In 1840, accordingly, there was a change of policy in the direction of conciliation. The most unpopular officials were replaced, the Diet convoked and placated by considerable concessions in several fields, and Kossuth and Wesselényi amnestied.

The result, however, was only to whet appetites, and to play into the hands of the extremists. For one point on which the Opposition had protested particularly strongly, and on which the government had promised to mend its ways, had been its violations of the principle of free speech. When, then, the proprietor of one of Hungary's few papers, the Pesti Hirlap, made Kossuth its editor, he was allowed to write pretty well what he would. The brilliance of his writing sent the circulation of the Pesti Hirlap soaring until it was being read over all Hungary; the aura of martyrdom with which his imprisonment had invested him helped to lend his words an almost oracular authority, and soon he was far the most popular man in Hungary, and exercised far the greatest influence on its opinion.

This had a big effect in strengthening the reform movement on social issues, for thanks to Kossuth's real enthusiasm, and to his peculiar genius for presenting political and social reforms as national desiderata, political opinion in the country was during these years largely won over to the emancipation of the peasants and to many other good causes. But his influence also helped to keep alive the eternal spirit of opposition to Vienna, and further to exacerbate the nationalities question. A wave of extreme chauvinism swept during these years over Hungary and Croatia alike, and here again Kossuth was the inspiration and leader of the extremists, while Széchenyi sacrificed almost the last remnants of his popularity by protesting against Magyarisation as both unchristian and politically unwise. He and Kossuth were now openly at loggerheads, and attacking one another in barbed pamphlets.

For the Diet of 1843 the government mobilised all its resources, and again kept the Opposition down to a small number, largely thanks to the tempestuous support which it organised for itself among the sandalled nobles, to whom the taxation of their land would have been a serious blow. It was, however, now still hoping to conciliate the Hungarians, and sanctioned a considerable number of reforms in the social field. On the question of Austro-Hungarian economic relations there was an interesting regrouping of forces. The development of the German Zollverein (customs union) under Prussia's patronage had led Metternich and certain other members of the inner ring in Vienna themselves to favour abolishing the internal tariff between Austria and Hungary and the constitution of the Monarchy as a homogeneous economic unit, all parts of which should be treated on a footing of strict economic and financial equality. Precisely in 1843, however, Kossuth had been converted by reading List's Nationale System der politischen Oekonomie to the idea of protection for Hungarian industry. His influence secured the rejection of the government's offer, as a counter to which Kossuth then launched a 'Buy Hungarian' campaign which at first enjoyed considerable popularity. It is true that this soon died away, and when the opportunity next occurred the country preferred to adopt the customs union.

Finally, the government, which already in 1840 had made further concessions on the language question, now gave way on it almost completely. A Law was enacted which made Magyar the official language of all institutions of Greater Hungary, i.e., of the Diet, the chancellery, the Consilium, etc., and of all internal administration in Inner Hungary. The king also promised to Magyarise all schools in Inner Hungary. The Croat deputies to the Diet, if unable to speak Magyar, were allowed a six years grace in which they might continue to speak Latin, and the law did not affect the language of internal administration in Croatia. Communications from Hungarian to Croat authorities were to be in Magyar and no longer in Latin. The Slavonian counties and Fiume were counted as part of Hungary, and, after six years, had to use Magyar for internal purposes; up to that date, they were allowed to use their own languages.

This final victory in the long linguistic battle was hailed with enormous rejoicings in Hungary. But the effect of the laws on the relationship between Magyars and non-Magyars was disastrous. The Slovaks, on whom a great weight of entirely unjustified pressure was also being put, especially by the leaders of the Lutheran church in north Hungary, were at last stung into protest. They petitioned Vienna for redress, and now for the first time a Slovak national opposition became a considerable factor within Hungarian political life. Similar, although less widespread, protests came from Roumanians in the Partium and from some of the Hungarian Germans. The Croats besieged Vienna with petitions for complete or virtual separation from Hungary, and sent back, unread, communications addressed to them in Magyar. The situation in respect of the Serbs grew increasingly dangerous, less as an effect of the laws, which were only very partially applied among them, than because of developments in the Principality of Serbia, where the Minister President, Garasinin, was revolving a plan of his own for uniting all Serbs and Croats under the rule of

Belgrade, and sending his agents into Hungary to make propaganda for the plan.

A very similar situation was, meanwhile, developing in Transylvania. Here, too, the excitement of the Josephinian period and the Leopoldinian Diet had been followed by a long stagnation. Francis did not convoke the Diet between 1808 and 1834, and the authorities quietly filled the elective posts in the Gubernium with their own nominees. in the early 1830s, however, agitation for reform and for union with Hungary set in. At first this was conducted almost single-handed by Széchenyi's friend, Wesselényi, whose fellow-nobles were slow to join him, partly out of particularist feeling, partly on social grounds: social conditions in Transylvania were much more backward even than in unreformed Hungary (the robot commonly ran at four days weekly), and the extension to the Principality of the reforms for which the Liberals were pressing in Hungary would have shaken their whole position. From 1840 or so onward, however, national feeling began to outweigh calculation among many of them. They adopted the programme of union with Hungary, and pending its achievement, demanded a more dominating position for the Magyar element in Transylvania. The Diet had been convoked again regularly since 1837, and in 1841-2 its members put forward a motion to make Magyar the exclusive language of the Diet, the Gubernium and the other central offices, and of higher education; the Saxons were to be allowed a period of grace before the Law was fully applied to them. The Crown refused to sanction this proposal, but a Law on these lines was enacted in 1846, when the Diet, incidentally, passed another Law making social conditions harder than ever.

The reactions of the non-Magyars were, of course, strongly unfavourable. The Saxons, who were experiencing a national renaissance of their own, protested vigorously against the identification of what they maintained to be by right and tradition a multinational state, with the Magyar element in it alone. They declared themselves opposed to union, and spun what threads they could to Vienna. The Roumanians could afford to be fairly indifferent about the language of an administration in which they did not participate and an education which they did not receive, but there was among them, naturally, much discontent with their miserable social conditions, and national feeling, after a period of quiescence, was growing stronger again with the increase in numbers and quality of their own educated class, and with the parallel movement (itself largely fostered by émigrés from Transylvania) in the Danubian Principalities. There was already considerable latent and embryonic irredentism among them, but when they revived an official programme, it was still that of 1791, for recognition of their 'nation' and their religion within the framework of the Transylvanian constitution. They, too were bitterly opposed to the union with Hungary, as making this impossible and as calculated to bring them under even heavier Magyar pressure.

After the 1843 Diet, Metternich tried new tactics. A group of the younger Hungarian magnates, calling themselves the 'Progressive Conservatives', had come to the conclusion that some reform was necessary, and a certain measure of it even desirable, but it should be carried through by the government, with due safeguards against extremism, both social and national. In 1843 this group, then under the leadership of Count György Apponyi (its founder, Aurél Dessewffy, had died prematurely) reached agreement with Metternich on a programme of political authority and economic reform. The Fispáns were to undertake the direct administration of the counties, in which they were to enforce the government's will; where unable or unwilling to do so, they were to be replaced by 'administrators'. The Opposition was to be excluded, as far as possible, from the Diet, and the procedure of that body was to be thoroughly recast and made orderly. The customs union with Austria (which promised advantage to the magnates, for by this time the growth of population in Austria had gone so far that Hungary could place practically all her agricultural surplus there) was accepted, together with its consequences, the most disagreeable of which would be the introduction into Hungary of the tobacco monopoly. There was to be a big programme of public works carried through with the help of Austrian financial houses, and such internal reforms as seemed beneficial; the group was not entirely opposed to seeing noble land taxed.

Apponyi was now appointed Vice-Chancellor (in 1846 he became Chancellor), and his associate, Baron Samuel Jósika, Vice-Chancellor of Transylvania. Some items of the programme were put in hand immediately. Administrators were appointed in no less than eighteen counties, and some important public works initiated, including the regulation of the Tisza, of which Széchenyi took charge. Legislation, however would have to wait for the next Diet, which was announced for the autumn of 1847, when its first business would be to elect a successor to the old Palatine, who had just died.

In preparation for this, the supporters of the regime, including many conservatives who were far from progressive, constituted themselves into a 'government party'. The Opposition, in reply, drew together, and in June 1847 produced an 'Oppositional Declaration'. Thanks to Deák, who drafted it, this document was meticulously loyal, but it condemned the existing regime, in the roundest of terms, as 'foreign and non-national' and unconstitutional, being contrary to the provisions of the Law of 1790. For the rest, since all fractions of the signatories had insisted on having their own wishes included, the Declaration emerged as a somewhat amorphous but very comprehensive document, representing the lowest common multiple, rather than the highest common factor, of Hungarian liberal and national aspirations. It demanded a genuinely national ministry, responsible to a parliament, exercising effective control over the collection and expenditure of revenue; extension of representation to non-nobles in the counties and municipalities; general equality before the law and equality of status for all 'received' religions; complete and compulsory redemption of all peasant servitudes, against compensation for the landlords(5)

, taxation of noble lands, abolition of the aviticitas and the institution of an adequate credit system; freedom of the press and abolition of the censorship on books; the re-incorporation of the Partium and union with Transylvania, if voted by the Transylvanian Diet. On the tariff question it trod warily, but protested against the inequalities to which Hungary had previously been subjected in industrial and commercial respects. Hungary was prepared to negotiate amicably with the Austrian Lands, but not to have conditions imposed on her.

It was with these two programmes that the Diet met in the autumn of 1847. In spite of strong pressure by the government, the two parties were approximately equal in strength, but the Liberals, who were led by Kossuth, (elected for Pest county, and now for the first time sitting in his own right) had, on the whole, the advantage in the Lower House. It could be assumed that a considerable fraction of the social reforms, the resistance to which was crumbling even among the magnates, would go through, but the question of the central political control was different. On this the government was determined not to give way, and in fact, after the Diet had duly elected the old Palatine's son, Stephen, to his father's office, it almost at once reached deadlock on this central question. This was still unresolved, and seemed, indeed, past resolving, when events in the outer world violently snapped it and within a few weeks brought the reformers what, if they could consolidate it, would amount to total victory.

1. As said above, the Bánát had already been abolished in 1779.

2. This Law (Law X of 1790) was thereafter counted by the Hungarians as the fundamental guarantee of the national status.

3. i.e., excluding Croatia as well as Transylvania and the Frontier

4. The census of 1787 showed 9,782 male nobles (of all ages) in Croatia, and 155,519 in Inner Hungary. This census counted the Slavonian counties as part of Inner Hungary, but these contained only 160 noble families all told.

5. Opinion on the peasant question throughout the Monarchy had been enormously influenced by the bloody Galician jacquerie of 1846.


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