A Concise History Of Hungary

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    A Concise History

    of Hungary


    Translated by Anna Magyar

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    p ub l ishe d b y t he p re ss syndicat e of t he unive rsit y of camb ridge

    The Pitt Building, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, United Kingdom

    camb ridge unive rsit y p re ssThe Edinburgh Building, Cambridge,cb2 2ru, United Kingdom

    40West20th Street, New York,ny 10011-4211, USA477Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne,vic 3207, Australia

    Ruiz de Alarcn13,28014Madrid, SpainDock House, The Waterfront, Cape Town8001, South Africa


    Originally published in French asHistoire de la Hongrieby Hatier Littrature Gnrale1996and Hatier Littrature Gnrale

    First published in English by Cambridge University Press2001asA Concise History of Hungary

    Reprinted 2003

    English translation Cambridge University Press2001

    This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions ofrelevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place

    without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

    Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

    Typeface Monotype Sabon10/13pt System QuarkXPress [s e]

    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

    i sb n 0 521 66142 0hardbacki sbn 0 521 66736 4paperback

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    List of illustrations pageviiiAcknowledgements xiChronology xii

    1 from the beginnings u ntil 1301 1

    2 g r a nd e u r an d d e cl i n e : f ro m t he a n g ev i n k i ng s to

    the ba ttl e of moh c s , 13011526 41

    3 a c o un t ry u nd e r t h r e e c row n s, 15261711 87

    4 v i e n na a n d h u n g ary : ab s o l ut i s m , re f o r ms ,

    revolution , 17111848/ 9 139

    5 r u p tur e, c ompr omise a nd the du al mona rc hy,

    18491919 201

    6 between the wa rs 250

    7 u n d e r s ov i e t d o m i n at i o n, 19451990 295

    8 1990 , a new departure 338

    Bibliographical notes 356

    Index 357

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    11. Hungarian warrior (?) on the Nagyszentmikls golden goblet(Vienna, Museum of Art History) 3

    12. Effigy of St Stephen on the royal coronation robe (HungarianNational Museum) 22

    13. St Stephens tomb at Szkesfehrvr (Photo: Levente Szepsy Szsc) 2314. The portal of Esztergom Chapel (twelfth century) 2415. Herm of St Ladislas (c.1400) (Gyr Cathedral) 2816. Effigy of Andrs II on the Golden Bull1222(National Archives) 3317. Church of the Benedictine Abbey of Jk (1256). Portal (Photo:

    Lszl Jaksity) 3618. Seal of the Esztergom Latins (twelfth century) (Hungarian

    National Museum) 4019. Charles-Robert of Anjou in the illustrated chronicle (fourteenth

    century) (National Szchenyi Library) 4410. Console with womans head,1365(Castle Museum, Budapest) 5111. Effigy of King Matthias Hunyadi on tiled stove (Museum of

    Modern History, Budapest) 6912. Buda at the time of King Matthias Hunyadi. Wood engraving.

    Hartmann Schedels Chronicle1493(Hungarian NationalMuseum) 76

    13. View of Kassa in1617(Hungarian National Museum) 11614. Prince Istvn Bocskai among his haduks,1605. Etching by Wilhelm

    Peter Zimmermann (Hungarian National Museum) 11715. Gbor Bethlen, prince of Transylvania,1620(Hungarian National

    Museum) 120

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    16. Portrait of Mikls Zrinyi, poet and general. Brass engraving byGerhard Bouttats from a painting by Johannes Thomas (Hungarian

    National Museum) 12717. Portrait of Ferenc Rkczi II. Painting by dm Mnyoki,1712

    (Hungarian National Museum) 13518. Maria Theresa wearing the Hungarian crown (Hungarian

    National Museum) 14419. Eszterhzy Castle at Fertd,1791(Hungarian National Museum) 14620. Execution of Ignc Martinovics and his comrades,20May1795 16021. The actress Rza Szppataki-Dry. Print by Chladek-Kohlmann

    from a drawing by Szathmry (Szchenyi Library) 17022. Istvn Szchenyi. Lithograph by J. Kriehuber (Hungarian National

    Museum) 17223. Lajos Kossuth. Lithograph by Franz Eybl,1841(Hungarian

    National Museum) 17424. The Suspension Bridge, Budapest. Nineteenth-century engraving

    (Museum of Modern History) 17825. Sndor Petfi. Painting by Mikls Barabs,1848 184

    26. Francis Joseph in ceremonial coronation robe (Museum of ModernHistory) 203

    27. Queen Elisabeth,1867(Hungarian National Museum) 20428. Count Gyula Andrssy.(Photo Ignc Schrecker: Museum of

    Modern History) 21329. Klmn Tiszas Tarot Party. Painting by Artur Ferraris (Hungarian

    National Museum) 21430. The Hungarian National Museum, c.1890(Museum of Modern

    History) 22831. Cover of the journalNyugat,1912(Museum of Modern History) 23832. The poet Endre Ady (Photo: Aladr Szkely) 25633. Bla Bartk (Photo: Pl Vajda) 25734. Bla Kun addresses a factory crowd, April1919(Museum of

    Modern History) 25835. Mikls Horthy enters Budapest on16November1919(Photo:

    Jnos Mllner) 260

    36. Panorama of Budapest, c.1930 26537. Istvn Bethlens first government,15April1921(Museum ofModern History) 267

    38. Harvest on the Great Plain, c.1940(Museum of Modern History) 27239. Telekis farewell letter 28440. Hungarian soldiers in Kiev, February1942(Museum of Modern

    History) 286

    List of illustrations ix

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    41. The German invasion of Hungary,19March1944: Germans climbto the castle (Museum of Modern History) 289

    42. The Suspension Bridge destroyed by the Germans. In thebackground, the castle in ruins (Museum of Modern History) 294

    43. Count Mihly Krolyi in Nice, with Imre Nagy and Mrs Nagy,1949 307

    44. The1956Revolution: after the defeat (Hungarian NationalMuseum) 320

    45. Jnos Kdr (Photo: Sndor Mez) 32946. The funeral ceremonies for Imre Nagy and other victims of the

    19578repression,16June1989(Lajos Sos, MTI Foto) 33647. Mikls Vsrhelyi, a close friend of Imre Nagy, speaking at the

    1989ceremonies 33648. President of the Republic rpd Gncz (centre) at the official

    formation of the new government,8July1998, with, on the left,Prime Minister Viktor Orbn, and, on the right, President of theNational Assembly Jnos der (Lajos Sos, MTI Foto) 353

    ma p s

    11. Migrations of the ancient Magyars page612. The conquest of the Carpathian basin 1513. Europe at the time of Louis the Great 5214. Hungary at the time of King Matthias Hunyadi 7115. Hungary until1541 9016. Hungary divided (late sixteenth century) 101

    17. Hungary after the expulsion of the Turks 13218. Hungary in18489 19019. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy, c.1910 21710. Nationalities in the kingdom of Hungary,1910 22211. Frontiers of Hungary after the Treaties of Trianon (1920) and

    Paris (1947) 247

    x List of illustrations

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    From the beginnings until 1301

    hungary before the hungarians: an overview of

    the ter ritory

    From the conquest of 895 up until the First World War Hungarys

    history unfolded in the Carpathian basin; then it was confined within asmaller territory, that of todays Hungary. This is a land situated at thesame latitude as central France and the same longitude as its Slovak andSlav neighbours to the north and the south. Its western boundariesfollow those of Austria, with present-day Ukraine to the north-east andRomania further to the east.

    The oldest known inhabitants date back 350,000 years and traces ofseveral successive prehistoric cultures have been found, from the Palae-

    olithic to the Bronze and Iron ages. Among the most important civilisa-tions to have crossed the Danube were the Celts. They dominatedPannonia and a part of the plain which lies between the Danube and theTisza in the third century bc. Meanwhile, further east, the Dacians,Thracians and Getians left behind their heritage in Transylvania as didthe Illyrians in the south.

    In the middle of the first century bc, a Dacian empire, led by

    Boirebistas, occupied vast expanses of the lower Danube region. Thispower was probably at the root of Romes expansion towards Dacia andPannonia. Initially under Augustus and Tiberius, Roman conquestbrought civilisation and imperial forms of governance to the two prov-inces for nearly four centuries. The first stone bridge across the Danubewas erected in 103 in what is today Turnu-Severin-Drobeta in Romania

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    (Szrny in Hungary). Hungarian Pannonia/Transdanubia (Savazia Pcs, Sophianum Szombathely and Acquinicum at Budapest) are

    dotted with rich remains of Roman settlements.The two Danubian provinces separated by the great plain experi-

    enced prosperity and relative peace throughout the reigns of Trajan,Marcus Aurelius and Caracalla until the decline of Rome. But by thesecond half of the fourth century, the rump of the Roman Empire wasunder attack from a number of peoples: Sarmatians, Quadi and Goths.The Roman army suffered a series of major defeats, the worst of them

    at the hands of the Goths in 378 near Andrinopolis (Edirne), where theywere decimated. Within a few decades the Romanised two Pannonias,along with the whole of the region south of the Danube, had become atransit zone for new migrations and a collision point for warringGermanic, Turkish and other peoples.

    The Huns, a nomadic people from Asia, were to leave an indeliblemark on the collective European memory. Attilas people invaded theBalkans, the future Hungary (Attilas headquarters), northern Italy and

    Gaul. Following his death in 453, this empire would disappear, leavingthe way open to fresh invaders, among them the ancestors of present-day Hungarians, the last and the only people to establish a state and tofend off subsequent invasions. Before them, during the sixth century,the Avars did succeed in establishing themselves for a relatively longerperiod before being absorbed into the ethnic fringes of Charlemagnesoppressive Frankish Empire.

    The origins of the Avars are relatively unknown. Probably Turks fromCentral Asia, driven out by other Turks, they arrived in the lowerDanube around 562, and under the kagan, Baian (Bajan), fought theByzantine Empire. By 567 they had occupied a large part of theCarpathian basin. Over the next 230 years, the Avars fought numerousbattles, but after the 620s, they began to suffer setbacks generallyinflicted by the Byzantine Empire that forced them to retreat into theterritories of future Hungary. Archaeological findings nonetheless

    reveal a new cultural flowering during the years after 670. Among thegreatest finds is the fabulous Nagyszentmikls treasure (named afterthe place of its discovery in 1799), a collection of gold artefacts, twenty-three of which are held in the Museum of Art History in Vienna. Theywere probably buried around 796, just before the collapse of thissecond Avar Empire, under attacks by Kroum Khans Bulgars on its

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    south-eastern front and by Charlemagne from the west. From 796, theAvars were forced to submit to the Frankish Empires occupation ofWestern Pannonia. The entire eastern and Balkan part of their empire

    was conquered by the Bulgars and further pressure came from theMoravians under Prince Moimer and his successors.Thus, by the second half of the ninth century, at the time of the

    Magyar conquest, the country was a kind of crossroads of peoples andmilitary marches, divided between the eastern Franks, the Moravians,the Bulgars and what was left of the Avars.

    The territories encircled by the Carpathians were therefore neitherempty nor abandoned. They were soon to be repopulated with the

    arrival of the new Magyar conquerors. Contrary to certain legends, thelast of the Avars were not wiped out without a trace by the Franks.A significant Slav population also remained in the region with numer-ous other tribes to the east and south-east under the feeble rule of adeclining Bulgar regime. The end of the ninth century, by contrast,appears politically and militarily blank, despite frequent battles

    From the beginnings until 1301 3

    Plate 1. Hungarian warrior (?) on the Nagyszentmikls golden goblet.

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    between local armies the Franks and the Moravian princes, in partic-ular. The Hungarians, still established at Etelkz, were not entirely

    unaware of the situation since, in 862, they had made forays as far asthe Frankish Empire, and in 894, just before leaving for their new home-land, had fought alongside the Byzantine emperor, Leo the Philosopher,against the Bulgar Tsar Simeon.

    The Moravians, led by Svatopluk (replaced by Moimer II after hisdeath in 894), more than any of the peoples of the time, represented for a short period a distinctive political and military identity called

    Great Moravia. As for the land of future Hungary, it offered numerousadvantages to the steppe peoples from the Black Sea region and its envi-ronment turned them from nomads into settlers. The climate, continen-tal and moderate, had been traversing a mild cycle since the earlyMiddle Ages. The land, almost entirely covered with loess, was fertileand richly endowed with fish-filled rivers and lakes. Hydrographic mapsshow vast areas of intermittent flooding, covering more than one eighthof the countrys surface. This was to be a key aspect in the eventual

    occupation and settlement patterns of the new conquerors.In the meantime, however, they were still on their way to this new des-

    tination. It was the penultimate stage of a very long journey in bothtime and space, which will need to be retraced before the history ofHungary can begin.

    distant ancestors: a linguistic aside

    The prehistory of the Magyar peoples distant ancestors begins severalthousand kilometres further east and north of Hungary, in a timebeyond memory, when a people speaking a language called Uralianinhabited a vast region that probably straddled both sides of the Urals.It should be said at the outset that all we have is a hypothetical languagematrix and that nothing is actually known about those that supposedlyspoke it. Indeed, their geographical whereabouts also relies on hypoth-

    eses. What is scientifically certain is the existence of a language grouporiginating in the area. Its evolution and diversification constitutes agoldenthreadtracingapaththroughhistory.Itisimportanttopointoutthe distinctive nature of this primitive Uralian language, unrelated tothe Indo-European, Altaic, Semitic and other languages. Uralian consti-tutes the origin of several linguistic families. Finno-Ugric, one of its

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    derivatives, is in turn the common base for twenty or so languages, ofwhich Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian are the best known. The closest

    linguistic relative to the latter is not, however, the Finno-Baltic branchbut the Ugrian one, that is, the languages of the Voguls (or Manysi-s)and Ostyaks (or Hanti-s), small tribes that today inhabit westernSiberia, to the east of the Urals. Other descendants of the Finno-Ugriansare to be found fur...