Kingdom of Hungary
Magyar Királyság (hu)
Regnum Hungariae (la)
Königreich Ungarn (de)





Coordinates : 47°28′N 19°03′E / 47.467, 19.05
Flag Coat of arms
Regnum Mariae Patrona Hungariae[1]
"Kingdom of Mary, the Patron of Hungary"
Royal anthem
God save, God protect Our Emperor, Our Country!
Kingdom of Hungary (Ungarn) within Austria-Hungary, 1899.
Capital Budapest

Historical capitals:
Pressburg (1536–1783)
Debrecen (1849)
Esztergom (10th to mid-13th century)
Languages Official languages:
(1000–1784; 1790–1844)
(1784–1790; 1849–1867)
(1836–1849; 1867–)
Other spoken languages:
Romanian, Slovak, Croatian, Slovene, Serbian, Italian, Ruthenian
Religion Roman Catholic,[2] Calvinism, Lutheranism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Catholic, Unitarianism, Judaism
Government Monarchy
 -  1000–1038 Stephen I
 -  1920–1944 Regent Miklós Horthy
 -  1009–1038 Samuel Aba
 -  1847–1848 Stephen Francis Victor
Prime Minister
 -  1848 Lajos Batthyány
 -  1945–1946 Zoltán Tildy
Legislature Diet (from the 1290s)
 -  Upper house House of Magnates
(1867–1918; 1926–1945)
 -  Lower house House of Representatives
(1867–1918; 1927–1945)
Historical era 2nd millennium
 -  Coronation of
    Stephen I
25 December 1000
 -  Ottoman occupation
    of Buda
29 August 1541
 -  Hungarian Revolution 15 March 1848
 -  1867 Compromise 20 March 1867
 -  Treaty of Trianon 4 June 1920
 -  Monarchy abolished 1 February 1946
 -  1910[3] 325,411 km² (125,642 sq mi)
 -  1930[4] 93,073 km² (35,936 sq mi)
 -  1941[5] 172,149 km² (66,467 sq mi)
 -  1711[3] est. 3,000,000 
 -  1790[3] est. 8,000,000 
 -  1910[3] est. 20,886,487 
     Density 64.2 /km²  (166.2 /sq mi)
 -  1930[4] est. 8,688,319 
     Density 93.3 /km²  (241.8 /sq mi)
 -  1941[5] est. 14,669,100 
     Density 85.2 /km²  (220.7 /sq mi)
Currency Florentinus (1325)
Florin (1754–1867)
Forint (1867–1892)
Korona (1892–1918)
Korona (1919–1926)
Pengő (1927–1946)
Adópengő (1946)
Today part of  Austria
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
a. First became capital in 1361.

The Kingdom of Hungary was a multiethnic[6] country in Central Europe covering what is today Hungary, Slovakia, Transylvania (now part of Romania), Carpathian Ruthenia (now part of Ukraine), Vojvodina (now part of Serbia), Burgenland (now part of Austria), and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders. From 1102 it also included Croatia (except Istria), being in personal union with it, united under the King of Hungary. The kingdom existed for almost one thousand years (1000–1918 and 1920–1946) and at various points was regarded as one of the cultural centers of Europe.[7]


The Latin forms Regnum Hungariae or Ungarie (Regnum meaning kingdom); Regnum Marianum (Kingdom of Mary); or simply Hungaria, were the names used in official documents in Latin from the beginning of the kingdom to the 1840s.

The Hungarian name (Magyar Királyság) was used in the 1840s, and then again from the 1860s to the 1920s. The German name Königreich Ungarn was used officially only from 1849 until the 1860s. The names in the other principal languages of the kingdom were: Polish: Królestwo Węgier, Romanian: Regatul Ungariei, Croatian: Kraljevina Ugarska, Slovene: Kraljevina Ogrska, Czech: Uherské království, Slovak: Uhorské kráľovstvo, and Italian (for the city of Fiume), Regno d'Ungheria.

In Austria-Hungary (1867–1918), the unofficial name Transleithania was sometimes used to denote the regions covered by the Kingdom of Hungary. Officially, the term Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown of Saint Stephen was included for the Hungarian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, although this term was also in use prior to that time.


Prior to the Hungarian "Landtaking"[]

Gesta Hungarorum

The treasure of Nagyszentmiklós illustrating the Álmos legend from the Hungarian mythology: Emese's dream of the Turul bird

From 9 BC to the end of the 4th century, Pannonia was part of the Roman Empire on a part of later Hungary's area. Among the first to arrive were the Huns, who built up a powerful empire under Attila the Hun. After Hunnish rule faded away, the Germanic Ostrogoths and then the Lombards came to Pannonia, and the Gepids had a presence in the eastern part of the Carpathian Basin for about 100 years. In the 560s the Avars founded the Avar Khaganate,[8] a state which maintained supremacy in the region for more than two centuries and had the military power to launch attacks against all its neighbours. The Avar rule ended when the Khaganate was conquered by the Franks under Charlemagne in the West and the Bulgarians under Krum in the East. The Hungarians led by Árpád conquered the Carpathian Basin in 895. They led several successful incursions to Western Europe, until they were was stopped by Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor in Battle of Lechfeld. In the Carpathian Basin the Hungarians conquered a scattered Slavonic population. The force led by Árpád is estimated to have consisted of from about 400,000 to about 600,000 people,[9] consisting of seven Hungarian tribes, one Kabar tribe, and other smaller tribes.[10] Their newly founded Principality of Hungary (896–1000) was the first documented Hungarian state in the Carpathian Basin.[11]

The Medieval Kingdom (1000–1538)[]

The Holy Crown of Hungary along with other regalia

King Stephen I of Hungary

Hungary (including Croatia) in 1190, during the rule of Béla III (orange)

Árpád dynasty[]

The first kings of the kingdom were from the Árpád dynasty, and the first Christian king was Stephen I of Hungary who was canonized as a Catholic saint on Christmas Day, 1000 A.D. He fought against Koppány and in 998, with Bavarian help, defeated him near Veszprém.

The Catholic Church received powerful support from Stephen I, who with Christian Hungarians and German knights wanted a Christian kingdom established in Central Europe. It was he who created the Hungarian heavy cavalry as an example for Western European powers.

After his death, a period of revolts and conflict for supremacy ensued between the royalty and the nobles. In 1051 armies of the Holy Roman Empire tried to conquer Hungary, but they were defeated at Vértes Mountain. The armies of the Holy Roman Empire continued to suffer defeats; the second greatest battle was at the town now called Bratislava, in 1052. Before 1052 Peter Orseolo, a supporter of the Holy Roman Empire, was overthrown by king Samuel Aba of Hungary.[12][13] This period of revolts ended during the reign of Béla I. Hungarian chroniclers praised Béla I for introducing new currency, such as the silver denarius, and for his benevolence to the former followers of his nephew, Solomon. The terms Nobilissimus (most noble) and nobilissima familia (most noble family) have been used since the 11th century for the King of Hungary and his family, but it were then only a few that were mentioned in official documents as such.

The second greatest Hungarian king, also from the Árpád dynasty, was Ladislaus I of Hungary, who stabilized and strengthened the kingdom. He was also canonized as a saint. Under his rule Hungarians successfully fought against the Cumans and conquered Croatia in 1091, due to a dynastic crisis in Croatia, he managed to swiftly seize power in the kingdom, he also was a claimant to the throne due to the fact that his sister was married to the late Croatian king Zvonimir who died childless. Although it is still debated among historians, it is believed that Ladislaus created a kind of personal union between the two kingdoms. However kingship over all of Croatia would not be achieved until the reign of his successor Coloman.[14][15][16][17][18] The provinces of Croatia and Slavonia, and after 1868 the autonomous province of Croatia-Slavonia had autonomy within the Kingdom of Hungary from 1091–1918.[14][15][19][20][21] Also, one of the greatest Hungarian jurists and statesmen of the 16th century, István Werbőczy in his work Tripartitum treats Croatia as a kingdom separate to Hungary. The actual nature of the relationship bettwen the two kingdoms remains subject to much debate. In 1222 Andrew II of Hungary issued the Golden Bull which laid down the principles of law.

Mongol invasion[]

Battle on the Marchfeld

In 1241, Hungary was invaded by the Mongols and while the first minor battles with Subutai's vanguard probes ended in seeming Hungarian victories, the Mongols finally destroyed the combined Hungarian and Cuman armies at the Battle of Mohi.

The Mongols attacked Hungary with three armies, one of them through Poland in order to withhold possible Polish auxiliaries, and defeated the army of Duke Henry II the Pious of Silesia at the Legnica. A southern army attacked Transylvania defeating the voivod and crushing the Transylvanian Hungarian army. The main army led by Batu Khan and Subutai attacked Hungary through the fortified Verecke Pass and annihilated the army led by the count Palatine on 12 March 1241.[22]

Despite the appearance of the Mongol invasion having been a surprise attack, the Hungarians had known, from various sources, that the Mongols were coming. Notable heralds of the oncoming invasion include the Friar Julian group, which warned the king about impending invasion; it had established contact with Magna Hungaria and seen the aftermath of the destruction of both Magna Hungaria and Volga Bulgaria earlier in the 13th century.

In 1242, after the end of the Mongol invasion, numerous fortresses to defend against future invasion were erected by Béla IV of Hungary. In gratitude, the Hungarians acclaimed him as the "Second Founder of the Homeland", and the Hungarian Kingdom again became a considerable force in Europe. In 1260 Béla IV lost the War of Babenberg Succession, his army was defeated at the Battle of Kressenbrunn by the united Czech forces. However, in 1278 Ladislaus IV of Hungary and Austrian troops fully destroyed the Czech army at the Battle on the Marchfeld.

In 1301, with the death of Andrew III of Hungary, the Árpád dynasty died out. The dynasty was replaced by the Angevins, followed by the Jagiellonians, and then by several non-dynastic rulers, notably Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and Matthias Corvinus.

The Anjou Age[]

King Charles I of Hungary

Louis I of Hungary on Heroes Square, Budapest

When Ladislaus IV of Hungary died before Andrew III, another nobleman reclaimed the throne for himself: Charles Martel of Anjou, the son of the King Charles II of Naples and Mary of Hungary (the daughter of the king Stephen V of Hungary). However Andrew III assured the power for himself, and ruled without inconvenience after the death of Charles Martel in 1295. When Andrew III died in 1301 the queen Mary of Hungary, who raised Charles Martel's children, reclaimed the throne of Hungary for her grandson Charles Robert of Anjou who was 13 years old. Taking control after a chaotic period, he was finally crowned as the king Charles I of Hungary. He implemented considerable economic reforms, and defeated the remaining nobility who were in opposition to royal rule, led by Máté Csák. The kingdom of Hungary reached an Age of prosperity and stability under the rule of the king who had already learned the language from his grandmother, and also knew Italian, Latin, and French. The gold mines of the Kingdom were extensively worked and soon Hungary reached a prominent place in European gold production. The Hungarian forint currency was introduced to replace the denars, and soon after the reforms introduced by the King, the economy of the Kingdom was placed again in a correct direction after its disastrous state in the 13th century.

Charles I exalted the cult to the King Saint Ladislaus I of Hungary, and used him as a symbol of bravery, justice, purity (actually this monarch was Knight, King and Saint, everything at the same time, something unusual), being the ideal to follow. Charles I also venerated his uncle Saint Louis of Toulouse, and on the other hand he gave importance to the cult of the princess Saint Margaret of Hungary and Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, which became an instrument for the new king, added relevance to the lineage inheritance through the feminine branches, legitimizing himself with it.[23] Charles I restored the royal power which had fallen into feudal lords' hands, and then he made them swear loyalty to himself, the new nobility that stood by his side. For this he founded in 1326 the Order of Saint George, which was the first secular chivalric order in the world, and included the most important noblemen of the Kingdom.

After marrying three times and losing all his wives one after the other, he took as his fourth wife the daughter of the Polish King Władysław I the Elbow-high: Elisabeth of Poland. She gave him many children, most of them boys, which assured the continuity of the family in the power. When Charles I died in 1342, his eldest son succeeded him and was crowned as Louis I of Hungary. The new King followed his father's steps, being advised closely by his mother, making the widow queen one of the most influential personalities in the Kingdom.

Before Charles I's death, he had also arranged the marriage of his other sons, Andrew, Duke of Calabria with the queen Joan I of Naples. However, the Queen, fearing that a stranger might take control over his throne (actually both belonged to the same royal family), started conspiring and ordered Andrew's murder. The prince was killed in 1345, and almost immediately the King Louis declared war on Naples and conduced a first campaign in 1347-48. However, the war was interrupted by the rage of the very contagious Black Death, and the Hungarian armies went back home. Surprisingly the Italians suffered many deaths and the Hungarians were barely affected (the wife of Louis I died of it). Without giving himself up, the Hungarian King resumed the war in 1349-50, conquering the Kingdom of Naples. Seeing that keeping rule in both far states, he signed a treaty with the Queen Joan I and left them independent. Decades later, Louis I met with success on the battlefield when he defended the Hungarian Kingdom from new attacks by lesser Mongol forces in the latter half of the 14th century.

Louis I's uncle died in 1370, and after this the King of Hungary also inherited the Kingdom of Poland, because the monarch had no children that could succeed him in the throne. This was the first union of Hungary and Poland. In 1382 Louis died, leaving no male heirs for both kingdoms, only two daughters: Mary of Hungary and Saint Jadwiga of Poland.

The Sigismund Age[]

King Sigismund of Hungary

Louis I of Hungary always kept good and close relationships with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg. Louis considered Charles's son Sigismund of Luxembourg to succeed him as King of Hungary. He named him his heir and arranged the marriage with his daughter Mary of Hungary. Sigismund lived in the court of Louis, and soon learned the language and Hungarian way of life. However, the queen dowager Elizabeth of Bosnia, mother of Mary and Jadwiga, disliked the very young prince's presence. After the death of Louis, Elizabeth made her best effort for Sigismund not to be crowned as king of Hungary. This generated a chaotic period during which the little Mary became queen of Hungary as her mother and the nobility decided for her. Sigismund and Mary were married in 1385, but soon he was sent away.

The Hungarian noblemen brought forth the King of Naples, Charles of Anjou-Durazzo, who was the only living male relative to Louis I of Hungary, and crowned him as Charles II of Hungary in 1385. However, Elizabeth and her advisors soon conspired to regain power and Charles II was murdered in 1386. The enraged people created disturbances, and Elizabeth and Mary lost a lot of adepts, They were eventually were captured and locked up in a tower. Elizabeth was strangled in 1387, and soon Mary was released by Sigismund, who was crowned king of Hungary, having the full support of the nobility.

Sigismund became a strong king who created many improvements in the Hungarian law system and who rebuilt the palaces of Buda and Visegrád. He brought materials from Austria and Bohemia and ordered the creation of the most luxurious building in all central Europe. In his laws can be seen the traces of the early mercantilism. He worked hard to keep the nobility under his control.

A great part of his reign was dedicated to the fight with the Ottoman empire, which started to extend its frontiers and influence to Europe. In 1396 was fought the Battle of Nicopolis against the Ottomans, which resulted in a defeat for the Hungarian-French forces led by Sigismund and Philip of Artois, Count of Eu. However, Sigismund continued to successfully contain the Ottoman forces outside of the Kingdom for the rest of his life.

Losing popularity among the Hungarian nobility, Sigismund soon became victim of an attempt against his rule, and Ladislaus of Anjou-Durazzo (the son of the murdered King of Naples Charles II of Hungary) was called in and crowned. Since the ceremony was not performed with the Hungarian Holy Crown, and in the city of Székesfehérvár, it was considered illegitimate. Ladislaus stayed only few days in Hungarian territory and soon left it, no longer an inconvenience for Sigismund.

In 1408 he founded the Order of the Dragon, which included the most of the relevant monarchs and noblemen of that region of Europe in that time. This was just a first step for what was coming. In 1410 he was elected King of the Romans, making him the supreme monarch over the German territories. He had to deal with the Hussite movement, a religious reformist group that was born in Bohemia, and he presided at the Council of Constance, where the theologist founder Jan Hus, was judged. In 1419 Sigismund inherited the Crown of Bohemia after the death of his brother Wenceslaus of Luxembourg, obtaining the formal control of three medieval states, but he struggled for control of Bohemia until the peace agreement with the Hussites and his coronation in 1436. In 1433 was crowned as Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope and ruled until his death in 1437, leaving as his only heir his daughter Elizabeth of Luxembourg and her husband. The marriage of Elizabeth was arranged with the Duke Albert V of Austria, who was later crowned as King Albert of Hungary in 1437.

Hungary in 1490

Hunyadi family[]

Western conquests of Matthias Corvinus

The Hungarian kingdom's golden age was during the reign of Matthias Corvinus, the son of John Hunyadi. His nickname was "Matthias the Just". He further improved the Hungarian economy and practised astute diplomacy in place of military action whenever possible. Matthias did undertake campaigning when necessary. In 1485, aiming to limit the influence and meddling of the Holy Roman Empire in Hungary's affairs, he occupied Vienna for 5 years. After his death, Vladislaus II of Hungary of the Jagiellonians was placed on the Hungarian throne.

Battle of Breadfield

Matthias Corvinus

Buda during Matthias Corvinus

At the time of the initial Ottoman encroachment, the Hungarians successfully resisted conquest. John Hunyadi was leader of the Long campaign in which the Hungarians tried to expel the Turks from the Balkans. Initially, it was successful, but finally they had to withdraw. In 1456 John Hunyadi, the father of Matthias Corvinus, delivered a crushing defeat on the Ottomans at the Siege of Belgrade. The Noon bell commemorates the fallen Christian warriors. In the 15th century, the Black Army of Hungary was a formidable modern mercenary army with the Hussars the most skilled troops of the Hungarian cavalry. In 1479, under the leadership of Pál Kinizsi, the Hungarian army destroyed the Ottoman and Wallachian troops at the Battle of Breadfield. The Army of Hungary destroyed its enemies almost every time when Matthias was the king.

In 1526, at the Battle of Mohács, the forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Suleiman I annihilated the Hungarian army. In trying to escape Louis II of Hungary drowned in the Csele Creek. The leader of the Hungarian army, Pál Tomori, also died in the battle.

Kingdom of Hungary between 1538 and 1867[]

The divided kingdom[]

Due to Ottoman pressure, central authority collapsed and a struggle for power broke out. The majority of Hungary's ruling elite elected János Szapolyai (10 November 1526). A small minority of aristocrats sided with Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor, who was Archduke of Austria, and was related to Louis by marriage. Due to previous agreements that the Habsburgs would take the Hungarian throne if Louis died without heirs, Ferdinand was elected king by a rump diet in December 1526. The kingdom was divided between Szapolyai and Ferninand I in 1538, according to the secret agreement of Nagyvárad.[24]

Map of the counties in the Kingdom of Hungary around 1880

Battle of Buda (1686). Hungarians and the Holy League (1684) capturing back Buda.

Although the borders shifted frequently during this period, the three parts can be identified, more or less, as follows:

  • Royal Hungary, which consisted of northern and western territories where Ferdinand I was recognized as king of Hungary. This part is viewed as defining the continuity of the Kingdom of Hungary. The territory along with Ottoman Hungary suffered greatly from the nearly constant wars taking place.
  • Ottoman Hungary The Great Alföld (i.e. most of present-day Hungary, including south-eastern Transdanubia and the Banat), partly without north-eastern present-day Hungary.
  • Eastern Hungarian Kingdom under the Szapolyai. Note that this territory, often under Ottoman influence, was different from Transylvania proper and included various other territories sometimes referred to as Partium. Later the entity was called Principality of Transylvania.

On 29 February 1528, King John I of Hungary received the support of the Ottoman Sultan. A three-sided conflict ensued as Ferdinand moved to assert his rule over as much of the Hungarian kingdom as he could. By 1529 the kingdom had been split into two parts: Habsburg Hungary and the "eastern-Kingdom of Hungary". At this time there were no Ottomans on Hungarian territories, except Srem's important castles. In 1532, Nikola Jurišić defended Kőszeg and stopped a powerful Ottoman army. By 1541, the fall of Buda marked a further division of Hungary into three areas. In the year 1542 Petar Keglević the ban of Croatia and Slavonia from 1537 to 1542 was sentenced as an infidel by the Parliament in Bratislava, because of his special agreement with the Ottoman Empire. Even with a decisive 1552 victory over the Ottomans at the Siege of Eger, which raised the hopes of the Hungarians, the country remained divided until the end of the 17th century. The heroes' memory continues to live in a famous poem written by Sebestyén Tinódi Lantos, Summáját írom Eger várának ("I am writing the history of Eger's castle"). Transylvania evolved during the following centuries into a distinctive autonomous unit within the Hungarian kingdom, with its special voivode (or governor), its united, although heterogeneous, leadership (descended from Szekler, Saxon, and Magyar colonists), and its own constitution[25] until the 1526 Battle of Mohács when it effectively became independent[25]

In the following centuries there were numerous attempts to push back the Ottoman forces, such as the Long War or Thirteen Years' War (29 July 1593 - 1604/11 November 1606) led by a coalition of Christian forces. In 1644 the Winter Campaign by Miklós Zrínyi burnt the crucial Suleiman Bridge of Osijek in eastern Slavonia, interrupting a Turkish supply line in Hungary. At the Battle of Saint Gotthard (1664), Austrians and Hungarians defeated the Turkish army.

After the Ottoman invasion of Austria failed in 1683, the Habsburgs went on the offensive against the Turks. By the end of the 17th century, they managed to conquer the remainder of the historical Kingdom of Hungary and the principality of Transylvania. For a while in 1686, the capital Buda was again free, with European help.

The Kuruc age[]

Kuruc-Labanc battle

Rákóczi's War for Independence (1703–1711) was the first significant freedom fight in Hungary against absolutist Habsburg rule. It was fought by a group of noblemen, wealthy and high-ranking progressives who wanted to put an end to the inequality of power relations, led by Francis II Rákóczi (II. Rákóczi Ferenc in Hungarian). Its main aims were to protect the rights of the different social orders, and to ensure the economic and social development of the country. Due to the adverse balance of forces, the political situation in Europe and internal conflicts the freedom fight was eventually suppressed, but it succeeded in keeping Hungary from becoming an integral part of the Habsburg Empire, and its constitution was kept, even though it was only a formality.

After the departure of the Ottomans, the Habsburgs dominated the Hungarian Kingdom. The Hungarians' renewed desire for freedom led to Rákóczi's War for Independence. The most important reasons of the war were the new and higher taxes and a renewed Protestant movement. Rákóczi was a Hungarian nobleman, son of the legendary heroine Ilona Zrínyi. He spent a part of his youth in Austrian captivity. The Kurucs were troops of Rákóczi. Initially, the Kuruc army attained several important victories due to their superior light cavalry. Their weapons were mostly pistols, light sabre and fokos. At the Battle of Saint Gotthard (1705), János Bottyán decisively defeated the Austrian army. The famous Hungarian colonel Ádám Balogh nearly captured Joseph I, the King of Hungary and Emperor of Austria.

In 1708, the Habsburgs finally defeated the main Hungarian army at Battle of Trencsén, and this diminished the further effectiveness of the Kuruc army. While the Hungarians were exhausted by the fights, the Austrians defeated the French army in the War of the Spanish Succession. They could send more troops to Hungary against the rebels. Transylvania became part of Hungary again starting at the end of the 17th century, and was led by governors.[26][27]

Age of Enlightenment[]

Local proportion of Hungarians in Hungary (1890)

Ethnographic map of Hungary without Croatia and Slavonia (1910). The population of areas under 20 persons/km2 is represented in the nearest area above that level, and the area is left blank.

In 1711, Austrian Emperor Charles VI became the next ruler of Hungary. From this time on, the designation Royal Hungary was abandoned, and the area was once again referred to as the Kingdom of Hungary. Throughout the 18th century, the Kingdom of Hungary had its own Diet (parliament) and constitution, but the members of the Governor's Council (Helytartótanács, the office of the palatine) were appointed by the Habsburg monarch, and the superior economic institution, the Hungarian Chamber, was directly subordinated to the Court Chamber in Vienna. The Hungarian Language reform started under reign of Joseph II. The reform age of Hungary was started by István Széchenyi a Hungarian noble, who built one of the greatest bridges of Hungary, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. The official language remained Latin until 1844. Then, between 1844 and 1849, and from 1867, Hungarian became the official language.

Hungarian Revolution of 1848[]

The European revolutions of 1848 swept Hungary, as well. The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 sought to redress the long suppressed desire for political change, namely independence. The Hungarian National Guard was created by young Hungarian patriots in 1848. In literature, this was best expressed by the greatest poet of the revolution, Sándor Petőfi.

As war broke out with Austria, Hungarian military successes, which included the brilliant campaigns of the great Hungarian general, Artúr Görgey, forced the Austrians on the defensive. One of the most famous battles of the revolution, the Battle of Pákozd, was fought on the 29 September 1848, when the Hungarian revolutionary army led by Lieutenant-General János Móga defeated the troops of the Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić. Fearing defeat, the Austrians pleaded for Russian help, which, combined with Austrian forces, quelled the revolution. The desired political changes of 1848 were again suppressed until Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867.

The Treaty of Trianon: Hungary lost 72% of its territory, and lost its sea ports in Croatia. 3,425,000 ethnic Hungarians found themselves separated from their motherland. Hungary lost half of its 10 biggest cities and all of its precious metal mines.[28][29][30]

Austria-Hungary (1867–1918)[]

Following the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the Habsburg Empire became the "dual monarchy" of Austria-Hungary.

The Austro-Hungarian economy changed dramatically during the existence of the Dual Monarchy. Technological change accelerated industrialization and urbanization. The capitalist way of production spread throughout the Empire during its fifty-year existence and obsolete medieval institutions continued to disappear. By the early 20th century, most of the Empire began to experience rapid economic growth. The GNP per capita grew roughly 1.45% per year from 1870 to 1913. That level of growth compared very favorably to that of other European nations such as Britain (1.00%), France (1.06%), and Germany (1.51%).

Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1946)[]

The Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown (comprising the Kingdom of Hungary proper, into which Transylvania was fully incorporated, and the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia, which maintained a distinct identity and a certain internal autonomy within the Lands of the Holy Hungarian Crown) were granted equal status with the rest of the Habsburg monarchy. Each of the two states comprising Austria-Hungary exercised considerable independence, with certain institutions, notably the reigning house, defence, foreign affairs, and finances for common expenditures, remaining under joint management. This arrangement lasted until 1918, when the Central Powers went down in defeat in World War I.

Treaty of Trianon set in 1920[]

The new borders set in 1920 by the Treaty of Trianon ceded 72% of the historically Hungarian territory of the Kingdom of Hungary to the neighbouring states. The beneficiaries were Romania, the newly formed states of Czechoslovakia, and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. This left more than 3.5 million ethnic Hungarians outside the new borders. Many view this as contrary to the terms laid out by US President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, which were intended to honour the ethnic makeup of the territories.

Interwar period[]

Miklós Horthy was regent of Hungary.

After the pullout of occupation forces of Romania in 1920 the country went into civil conflict, with Hungarian anti-communists and monarchists purging the nation of communists, leftists and others by whom they felt threatened. Later in 1920, a coalition of right-wing political forces united, and reinstated Hungary's status as a constitutional monarchy. Selection of the new King was delayed due to civil infighting, and a regent was appointed to represent the monarchy. Former Austro-Hungarian navy admiral Miklós Horthy became that regent. New international borders separated Hungary's industrial base from its sources of raw materials and its former markets for agricultural and industrial products. Hungary lost 84% of its timber resources, 43% of its arable land, and 83% of its iron ore. Furthermore, post-Trianon Hungary possessed 90% of the engineering and printing industry of the Kingdom, while only 11% of timber and 16% iron was retained. In addition, 61% of arable land, 74% of public road, 65% of canals, 62% of railroads, 64% of hard surface roads, 83% of pig iron output, 55% of industrial plants, 100% of gold, silver, copper, mercury and salt mines, and 67% of credit and banking institutions of the prewar Kingdom of Hungary lay within the territory of Hungary's neighbors.[31][32][33]

Because most of the country's pre-war industry was concentrated near Budapest, Hungary retained about 51% of its industrial population, 56% of its industry. Horthy appointed Count Pál Teleki as Prime Minister in July 1920. His government issued a numerus clausus law, limiting admission of "political insecure elements" (these were often Jews) to universities and, in order to quiet rural discontent, took initial steps towards fulfilling a promise of major land reform by dividing about 3,850 km2 from the largest estates into smallholdings. Teleki's government resigned, however, after Charles IV unsuccessfully attempted to retake Hungary's throne in March 1921. King Charles's return produced split parties between conservatives who favored a Habsburg restoration and nationalist right-wing radicals who supported election of a Hungarian king. Count István Bethlen, a non-affiliated right-wing member of the parliament, took advantage of this rift forming a new Party of Unity under his leadership. Horthy then appointed Bethlen prime minister. Charles IV died soon after he failed a second time to reclaim the throne in October 1921. (For more detail on Charles's attempts to retake the throne, see Charles IV of Hungary's conflict with Miklós Horthy.) As prime minister, Bethlen dominated Hungarian politics between 1921 and 1931. He fashioned a political machine by amending the electoral law, providing jobs in the expanding bureaucracy to his supporters, and manipulating elections in rural areas. Bethlen restored order to the country by giving the radical counterrevolutionaries payoffs and government jobs in exchange for ceasing their campaign of terror against Jews and leftists. In 1921, he made a deal with the Social Democrats and trade unions (called Bethlen-Peyer Pact), agreeing, among other things, to legalize their activities and free political prisoners in return for their pledge to refrain from spreading anti-Hungarian propaganda, calling political strikes, and organizing the peasantry. Bethlen brought Hungary into the League of Nations in 1922 and out of international isolation by signing a treaty of friendship with Italy in 1927. The revision of the Treaty of Trianon rose to the top of Hungary's political agenda and the strategy employed by Bethlen consisted by strengthening the economy and building relations with stronger nations. Revision of the treaty had such a broad backing in Hungary that Bethlen used it, at least in part, to deflect criticism of his economic, social, and political policies.

The Great Depression induced a drop in the standard of living and the political mood of the country shifted further toward the right. In 1932 Horthy appointed a new prime-minister, Gyula Gömbös, who changed the course of Hungarian policy towards closer cooperation with Germany.

István Bethlen, the Prime Minister of Hungary

Gömbös signed a trade agreement with Germany that drew Hungary's economy out of depression but made Hungary dependent on the German economy for both raw materials and markets. On 2 November 1938, the First Vienna Award transferred parts of Southern Slovakia and Carpathian Ruthenia to Hungary, an area amounting to 11,927 km² and a population of 869,299 (86.5% of which were Hungarians according to the 1941 census). Between 5 November and 10 November, Hungarian armed forces peacefully occupied the newly transferred territories.[34] Hitler later promised to transfer all of Slovakia to Hungary in exchange for a military alliance, but his offer was rejected. Instead, Horthy chose to pursue a territorial revision to be decided along ethnic lines. In March 1939, the Czecho-Slovak Republic was dissolved, Germany invaded it, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was established. On 14 March, Slovakia declared itself to be an independent state. On 15 March, Carpatho-Ukraine declared itself to be an independent state. Hungary rejected the independence of Carpatho-Ukraine and, between 14 March and 18 March, Hungarian armed forces occupied the rest of Carpathian Ruthenia and ousted the government of Avgustyn Voloshyn. By contrast, Hungary recognized the Nazi puppet state of Slovakia led by the Clerical Fascist Jozef Tiso.[35] In September 1940, with troops massing on both sides of the Hungarian-Romanian border, war was averted by the Second Vienna Award. This award transferred the northern half of Transylvania to Hungary, with a total area of 43,492 km² and a total population of 2,578,100 with a 53.5% Hungarian majority according to the 1941 census. By dividing Transylvania between Romania and Hungary, Hitler was able to ease tensions in Hungary. In October 1940, the Germans initiated a reciprocity policy between Romania and Hungary which was continued until the end of World War II. The region of Sub-Carpathia was given special autonomous status with the intention that (eventually) it would be self-governed by the Ruthenian minority.

During World War II 1941–1945[]

After being granted part of southern Czechoslovakia and Subcarpathia by the Germans and Italians in the First Vienna Treaty of 1938, and then northern Transylvania in the Second Vienna Treaty of 1940, Hungary participated in their first military maneuvers on the side of the Axis powers in 1941. Thus, Hungarian army was part of the invasion of Yugoslavia, gaining some more territory and joining the Axis powers in the process). On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa. Hungary joined the German effort and declared war on the Soviet Union on 26 June, and entered World War II on the side of the Axis. In late 1941, the Hungarian troops on the Eastern Front experienced success at the Battle of Uman. By 1943, after the Hungarian Second Army suffered extremely heavy losses at the river Don, the Hungarian government sought to negotiate a surrender with the Allies. On 19 March 1944, as a result of this duplicity, German troops occupied Hungary in what was known as Operation Margarethe. By then it was clear that Hungarian politics would be suppressed according to Hitler's intention to hold the country in the war on the side of the Nazi Third Reich because of its strategic location. On 15 October 1944, Horthy made a token effort to disengage Hungary from the war. The Germans launched Operation Panzerfaust and Horthy's regime was replaced by a fascist puppet government under the pro-German Arrow Cross leader Ferenc Szálasi, thus effectively ending the possibility for independent actions in the war. However, the form of Government was only changed to a republic two years later.

Transitioning into a republic[]

Following its occupation of Hungary in 1944, the Soviet Union imposed harsh conditions allowing it to seize important material assets and control internal affairs.[36] After the Red Army set up police organs to persecute class enemies, the Soviets assumed that the impoverished Hungarian populace would support the communists in the coming elections.[37] The communists fared poorly, receiving only 17% of the vote, resulting in a coalition government under Prime Minister Zoltán Tildy.[38] Soviet intervention, however, resulted in a government that disregarded Tildy, placed communists in important ministries, and imposed restrictive and repressive measures, including banning the victorious Independent Smallholders, Agrarian Workers and Civic Party.[37] In 1945, Soviet Marshal Kliment Voroshilov forced the freely elected Hungarian government to yield the Interior Ministry to a nominee of the Hungarian Communist Party. Communist Interior Minister László Rajk established the ÁVH secret police, which suppressed political opposition through intimidation, false accusations, imprisonment and torture.[39] In 1946 the form of government was changed to a republic. Soon after the monarchy was finally abolished, the Soviet Union pressed Hungarian leader Mátyás Rákosi to take a "line of more pronounced class struggle."[40] What emerged was a communist state lasting until October 1989 when the Communists agreed to give up their monopoly on power, paving the way for free elections in March 1990. In today's free republic, the Kingdom is regarded as one long stage in the development of the state. This sense of continuity is reflected in the republic's national symbols such as the Holy Crown of Hungary and the Coat of arms of Hungary, which are the same as when the monarchy was still in place. Several holidays, the official language (Hungarian), and the capital city Budapest have also been retained. The official Hungarian name of the country is Magyarország (simply Hungary) since 2012,[41] it was also the common name of the monarchy.[42] The millennium of the Hungarian statehood was commemorated in 2000 and codified by the Millennium Act of 2000.[43]

See also[]

  • Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen
  • List of Hungarian rulers
  • Nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary
  • Administrative divisions of the Kingdom of Hungary
  • Demographics of the Kingdom of Hungary
  • Comitatus (Kingdom of Hungary)
  • History of Hungary
  • Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg); Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia
  • Transylvania
  • Vojvodina
  • Transcarpathia
  • Prekmurje
  • History of Croatia
  • Holy Crown of Hungary
  • Coat of arms of Hungary
  • Kingdom of Hungary in the Middle Ages
  • Eastern Hungarian Kingdom
  • Kingdom of Hungary (1538–1867)
  • Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen (1867–1918)
  • Hungarian Democratic Republic (1918–1919; 1919–1920)
  • Hungarian Soviet Republic (1919)
  • Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1946)


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  2. ^ The majority of Hungarian people became Christian in the 10th century. Hungary's first king, Saint Stephen I, took up Western Christianity. Hungary remained solely Catholic until the Reformation took place during the 16th century and, as a result, Lutheranism and then, soon afterwards, Calvinism started to spread.
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Further reading[]

  • Frucht, Richard. Encyclopedia of Eastern Europe: From the Congress of Vienna to the Fall of Communism (2000) online edition
  • Hoensch, Jörg K., and Kim Traynor. A History of Modern Hungary, 1867–1994 (1996) online edition
  • Hanak, Peter et al. A History of Hungary (1994)
  • Kontler, Laszlo. A History of Hungary (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Molnár, Miklós, and Anna Magyar. A Concise History of Hungary (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Palffy, Geza. The Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy in the Sixteenth Century (East European Monographs, distributed by Columbia University Press, 2010) 406 pages; Covers the period after the battle of Mohacs in 1526 when the Kingdom of Hungary was partitioned in three, with one segment going to the Habsburgs.

External links[]

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Coordinates: 47°28′N 19°03′E / 47.467, 19.05

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