Battles for freedom 1848-49

Hungary: Battles for Freedom 1848-49


In a disastrous battle in 1526 at Mohács (S. Central Hungary) the Ottoman Turks, under Suleyman I, defeated the main Hungarian army. The young Hungarian king Louis II (b. 1506), too, lost his life in the final hours of the fight.
After the battle, the Hungarian nobility elected János Zápolya king (1526-1540), whereas the Diet (session of parliament), in Pozsony (Bratislava, Slovakia today), voted Habsburg Ferdinand I (1526-1564) . The rivalry lasted until 1538, when Ferdinand I, who was already a Bohemian king, emerged victorious.
Although, not the first Habsburg on the Hungarian throne, he opened a steady chain of Habsburg kings. It directly led to the events of 1848.
After the Battle of Mohács (1526), the country had hoped that, through control over much of Europe, the Habsburgs would have the resources and will to effectively curb and throw back Ottoman conquests.
The wisdom of that belief has been debated since, as the Turks gradually swallowed up over half the country, while showing mixed respect for Hungarian sovereignty, some of them considering Hungarians as (more or less) equal to Austrians, others regarding the country a colony. The mercurial Habsburg behavior had caused revolts at times, such as that led by Ferenc Rakoczi II in 1703. A brief revolt by the Jacobean priest Ignácz Martinovics another signal of malcontent.(1774)
In 1848 Emperor king Ferdinand V was waffling between these extremes, facing the rise of nationalism in his polyglot empire in Italy, in Bohemia and - as we shall see - in Hungary.
As "national" languages were replacing the official Latin, and demands for abolishing serfdom widespread, the stage was set for reforms.

Milestones of 1848-49

[Hungarian National Museum]
The Hungarian National Museum,
the people join in ...

Click on title for explanation

Feb 1848: Europe seethes Paris, Vienna revolt.
The Diet acts. Major Kossuth address, the "April laws"
Mar 1848: Revolution ! Rally in Pest. Freedom declaration.(March 15)
Step backwards ?.King Ferdinand V equivocates.
April 1848: New cabinet . First responsible Hungarian government.
Slovaks Slovak demands .
May 1848: The SerbsThe Serbian movement.
Transylvania Developments.
The honvéd Foundation of a Hungarian National Army.
"Bankók".Kossuth issues banknotes.
June 1848:The Diet Hungarian government moves to Pest.
New decree Vienna equivocates.
Sep 1848: Invasion. Jellacic leads Croat-Slavonian army into Hungary.
Lamberg. Batthyány removed, Count Lamberg appointed.
Oct 1848: ViennaUprising and battle of Schwechat.
Dec 1848: Coup d'etat Ferdinand abdicates. Franz Joseph succeeds him.
Austrian attackWidischgraetz invades Hungary

Transylvania, 1848.



1848 saw the emergence of Hungary's independence movement. Its aims: to recognize the country's right for self-determination, to use its language officially, to terminate serfdom and other inequalities, while continuing allegiance to the Crown.King Ferdinand V. first accepted, but pressures from his cabinet, other minorities, caused him to gradually retreat. Finally deposed, his successor, Franz Joseph I completely reversed course, encouraged by his ministers and the military. As the year ended, war appeared as the only way to resolve the controversy.

January 1849: War begins
February 1849: The war widens .
March 1849: "War of the generals".
April 1849: Battles in Central Hungary
May 1849. The "War" government
June 1849. Escalation
July 1849 Retreat to Szeged.
August 1849. Overwhelmed
September 1849 Exile.
October 1849 Retribution.


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