Hungarian Revolution of 1848

Hungarian Revolution of 1848
Part of the Revolutions of 1848
Artist Mihály Zichy's painting of Sándor Petőfi reciting the National Poem to a crowd on 15 March 1848
Date15 March 1848 – 4 October 1849
(1 year, 6 months, and 19 days)

Austro-Russian victory; revolution suppressed

Russian Empire Russian Empire Hungarian State
(April–August 1849)
Commanders and leaders
170,000 men from the Austrian Empire,
and 200,000 men from the Russian Empire [1]
Beginning of 1849: 170,000 men[2]
Photograph of the aged Emperor Ferdinand I dated c. 1870
Part of a series on the
Coat of arms of Hungary
Flag of Hungary.svg Hungary portal

The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 (Hungarian: 1848–49-es forradalom és szabadságharc, "1848–49 Revolution and War") was one of the many European Revolutions of 1848 and closely linked to other revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas. Being one of the most determinative events in Hungary's modern history, it is also one of the cornerstones of the Hungarian national identity. The crucial turning point of the events were the April laws which was ratified by king Ferdinand, however the new young Austrian monarch Francis Joseph arbitrarily "revoked" the laws without any legal competence. This act irreversibly escalated the conflict between the Hungarian parliament and Francis Joseph. The new constrained Stadion Constitution of Austria, the revoke of the April laws and the Austrian military intervention resulted in the fall of the pacifist Batthyány government (who searched agreement with the court) and led to the sudden emergence of Lajos Kossuth's followers in the parliament, who demanded the full independence of Hungary. The revolution in the Kingdom of Hungary grew into a war for total independence from the Habsburg dynasty.

After a series of serious Austrian defeats in 1849, the Austrian Empire came close to the brink of collapse. The young emperor Franz Joseph I had to call for Russian help in the name of the Holy Alliance.[3] Tsar Nicholas I answered, and sent a 200,000 strong army with 80,000 auxiliary forces. Finally, the joint army of Russian and Austrian forces defeated the Hungarian forces. After the restoration of Habsburg power, Hungary was placed under brutal martial law.[4]

The anniversary of the Revolution's outbreak, 15 March, is one of Hungary's three national holidays.

Hungary before the Revolution

The Kingdom of Hungary had always maintained a separate legal system and separate parliament, the Diet of Hungary, even after the Austrian Empire was created in 1804.[5] Unlike other Habsburg ruled areas, Kingdom of Hungary had old historic constitution[6], which limited the power of the Crown and greatly increased the authority of the parliament since the 13th century.

The administration and government of the Kingdom of Hungary (until 1848) remained largely untouched by the government structure of the overarching Austrian Empire. Hungary's central government structures remained well separated from the imperial government. The country was governed by the Council of Lieutenancy of Hungary (the Gubernium) - located in Pozsony and later in Pest - and by the Hungarian Royal Court Chancellery in Vienna.[7]

While in most Western European countries (like France and England) the king's reign began immediately upon the death of his predecessor, in Hungary the coronation was absolutely indispensable as if it were not properly executed, the Kingdom stayed "orphaned". Even during the long personal union between Kingdom of Hungary and other Habsburg ruled areas, the Habsburg monarchs had to be crowned as King of Hungary in order to promulgate laws there or exercise his royal prerogatives in the territory of Kingdom of Hungary.[8][9][10] Since the Golden Bull of 1222, all Hungarian monarchs had to take a coronation oath during the coronation procedure, where the new monarchs had to agree to uphold the constitutional arrangement of the country, to preserve the liberties of his subjects and the territorial integrity of the realm.[11]

From 1526 to 1851, the Kingdom of Hungary maintained its own customs borders, which separated Hungary from the united customs system of other Habsburg ruled territories.