Hungary History

During the struggle for possession of Hungary, Transylvania became the center of the Magyar movement against the rule of Turks and Austrians. The Magyars abandoned the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation, aggravating their enmity against the Habsburgs. Since the middle of the 16th century and with the beginning of the Counter-Reformation, the struggle between Magyar Protestants and Habsburg Catholics has become increasingly violent, leading to the so-called Fifteen Years War (1591-1606). When the Turkish-Austrian war ended from 1593 to 1648, Emperor Rodolfo II was obliged to grant to the Transylvanian Magyars not only political and religious autonomy, but also several territorial concessions.

Emperor Leopoldo I expelled the Turks from most of Hungary, forcing the Hungarian Diet to proclaim that the Hungarian crown would always belong to the members of the Habsburg household. Under the prescriptions of the Peace of Karlowitz (1699), the Turks only retained the Banate of Temesvar, a region that they would lose 19 years later, guaranteeing Transylvania for the Habsburg dynasty. After the explosion of the French Revolution in 1789, innumerable Magyar nationalists influenced by revolutionary ideas led to the resurgence of Hungarian nationalism in 1815. This awakening led to the creation of the Liberal Party, which launched a campaign in favor of a constitutional government and also reforms that reduced some of the demands of feudal lords on peasants.

According to, the Austrian government was threatened by the liberal revolution that broke out in Vienna in 1848, allowing the formation of a Hungarian government, with Batthyány, as prime minister. Hungary severed virtually all ties with Austria. In 1849, the Hungarian Diet proclaimed the deposition of the Habsburg dynasty and the independence of Hungary. However, a month later, the Austrian emperor Francisco José I formed a military alliance with Nicholas I of Russia and the Austrian and Russian armies subjected the Hungarians, who surrendered in 1849. After the Austrian defeat in 1859, during the process of Italian unification, the imperial regime suffered a series of diplomatic and military impasses.

Prussia defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian war, a disaster that has largely strengthened the position of Hungarians. Under the regulations of the Compromise (Ausgleich), which was adopted in 1867, Austria and Hungary became a dual monarchy under the command of a single sovereign who would be emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. The dual monarchy, (see Austro-Hungarian Empire) was in force until its total decline with the defeat in World War I. In 1918, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was officially dissolved and the National Council proclaimed the Hungarian Democratic Republic. However, social and political malaise continued and, in 1919, the communists led by Béla Kun defeated the government and established a Republic of Councils (soviets), thus socializing the economy. About that, the Czechs invaded Hungary from the north and the Romanians from the south. Unable to face foreign intervention, Béla Kun and the Council of which she was president abdicated and the Romanians occupied Budapest. Under the supervision of the Allies in 1919, an interim government was formed, dominated by Miklos Horthy.

There were general elections in 1920, with the aim of forming a national assembly that ended up dissolving all ties with Austria, proclaiming the monarchy and appointing Horthy as regent. In 1920, the Hungarian government accepted the Treaty of Trianon, which established the conditions of peace with the allies, thus losing countless territories. Horthy maintained the dictatorship in the country for almost two decades. With the start of World War II, the Hungarian government proclaimed itself neutral, but its later actions indicated total sympathy with the objectives of the Rome-Berlin-Tokyo Axis. At the end of the war, the republic was proclaimed with Ferenc Nagy as president of the Council and Matyas Rakosi, as general secretary of the Hungarian Communist Party as vice president. In 1949, new elections took place, with a single list of candidates composed only of communists. The assembly adopted a new constitution that proclaimed the Hungarian People’s Republic.

After the death of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in 1953, the Hungarian government liberalized some of its policies. Matyas Rakosi, who became prime minister in 1952, maintained his position as secretary of the Communist Party and Imre Nagy was his successor in the direction of the government. A new, less rigid economic program was initiated, although at the same time it joined the Warsaw Pact. However, popular discontent was rising and opponents of the government sparked an uprising in 1956. The prime minister, unable to control the demonstrations, asked for help from the Soviet troops who occupied the country by force.

A new government was established, that of János Kádar, who took over as prime minister and head of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party to which Moscow gave full support and emergency economic aid. Kádar firmly held power in Hungary for more than three decades from the time he was in charge, as the party’s general secretary. In the early 1970s, Hungary increased its commercial and cultural relations with non-communist countries, moving closer to the market economy. In 1988, a liberalization program started that eased censorship, allowing the formation of independent political groups. In 1989, the Constitution was revised, establishing a democratic multi-party system and changing the official name of the State, which was called the Republic of Hungary. In 1990, a coalition of center-right parties won a parliamentary majority in the first free legislative elections held in 45 years. That same year, Hungary joined the European Council. In the 1994 parliamentary elections, socialist leader Gyula Horn was elected prime minister.

Hungary History