March 1848

1848-49 Revolution and the Institution of the Dual Monarchy

Prelude to Revolution (1825-1847)

The meeting of the Diety in 1825-1827 marked the start of an era of reform in Hungary, with Count Istvan Szecsenyi playing an active role in modernizing the country. Hungarian was declared the official language. The third Diety in 1839 released political prisoners and granted non-nobles land ownership and administrative positions. Notable during this period was Lajos Kossuth, who was arrested by conservatives for standing for the 1832 Diety and later started the liberal newspaper, the Pest Gazette, in 1841.

The Revolution Begins (February-March 1848)

The revolution was partly sparked by events in Paris, where the Second Republic was proclaimed in February 1848. In March, people demonstrated in Pest, passing a 12-point program for establishing a bourgeois democracy. Emperor Ferdinand V, pressured by these events, appointed Count Lajos Batthyany to lead the government and confirmed the laws passed by the Diety, including the abolition of feudalism, the constitution of a representative national assembly, freedom of the press, equality of worship, and Transylvania’s cession to Hungary.

The Conflict Escalates (September 1848-January 1849)

Tensions heightened in September 1848 when General J. Jalacic’s imperial army marched on the Hungarian capital. The crowd in Pest killed General Lamberg, sent by Vienna, and Kossuth took leadership of a national defense committee. The Imperial Army occupied the capital in January 1849.

The End of the Revolution (April-August 1849)

In April 1849, Kossuth pushed a motion to depose the Habsburgs. By May, the Hungarian army had recaptured Pest and Buda, but by August, they surrendered to the Austrian forces and the Russians, requested by Emperor Franz Josef. Hungary was placed under Austrian control.

Dual Monarchy (May 29, 1867-1868)

After Austria’s defeat by Prussia at Sedova, the Austrian Empire sought to appease Hungarian unrest. The compromise instituted the Dual Monarchy, recognizing the Austrian Emperor as the head of the newly independent state formed by Hungary, Croatia, and Transylvania. The Law on Nationalities in 1868 granted civic equality and recognized certain cultural and religious rights.