Hungarian Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1711–1848

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Publication date: 
396 pages

This book describes and analyzes the critical period of 1711-1848 within Hungary from novel points of view, including close analyses of the proceedings of Hungarian diets. Contrary to conventional interpretations, the study, stressing the strong continuity of traditionalism in Hungarian thought, society, and politics, argues that Hungarian liberalism did not begin to flower in any substantial way until the 1830s and 1840s.

Hungarian Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Monarchy also traces and evaluates the complex relationship between Austria and Hungary over this span of time.  Past interpretations have, with only a few exceptions, tilted heavily towards the Austrian role within the Monarchy, both because its center was in Vienna and because few non-Hungarian scholars can read Hungarian. This analysis redresses this balance through the use of both Austrian and Hungarian sources, demonstrating the deep cultural differences between the two halves of the Monarchy, which were nevertheless closely linked by economic and administrative ties and by a mutual recognition that co-existence was preferable to any major rupture.



Chapter 1
A Portrait of 18th Century Hungary
The Country
The People
The Institutions

Chapter 2
The Joy and the Agony of Standing Still
The Sense of Permanence
Habsburg Modernization in Hungary
“Extra Hungariam non est Vita”
The Baroque in Hungary
Service and Resistance

Chapter 3
The Enlightenment and Cultural Sensibilities: A Comparative Historical Perspective
The Enlightenment
Cultural Sensibilities

Chapter 4
The Slow Erosion of Traditionalism
The War-time Diets
The Biedermeyer
The Multiplicity of Moods
Cultural Nationalism
Ferenc Kazinczy

Chapter 5
The Ambiguous Journey Toward Reforms
The Hungarian Theater, Music, and the Arts
Cultural Breakthroughs: Romanticism
The 1825–27 Diet

Chapter 6
The Hungarian Age of Reform in the 1830s
The Early-mid 1830s: The Triumphant Years of Count István Széchenyi
The Diets of the Early-mid 1830s: Wesselényi and Széchenyi
Government Aggression Against the Liberals
The 1839–40 Diet

Chapter 7
The Hungarian Age of Reform in the 1840s
Lajos Kossuth and Count Aurél Dessewffy: Liberals, Conservatives, and the Issue of Nationality
The Széchenyi-Kossuth debate
The 1843–44 Diet
Social and Economic Developments: Kossuth’s Védegylet
Political and Cultural Pluralism


Works Cited

"Hungarian Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1711–1848 is a fascinating exercise in turning back the clock and bringing an old school approach to the telling of Hungarian history. Gábor Vermes has chosen to focus on constructing ameta-narrative that focuses on the power elite and how that power elite guided the system. This is an excellent book for those interested in reading about the East Central European nobility and its contribution to the advancement of the enlightenment, nation building, and the flowering of liberal democracy in 1848. The book will appeal to those who are curious about the history of the elite, and howspecifically the former feudal elitemade a critical contribution to modernization in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century East Central Europe. It will engage those students of nationalism who are intrigued by the nation-state building role the nobility can play and, more specifically, the cultural background that can account for the making of this... more