Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867
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The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 (German: Ausgleich, Hungarian: Kiegyezés) established the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Compromise re-established the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hungary, separate from and no longer subject to the Austrian Empire. Under the Compromise, the lands of the House of Habsburg were reorganized as a real union between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. The Cisleithanian (Austrian) and Transleithanian (Hungarian) regions of the state were governed by separate parliaments and prime ministers. Unity was maintained through rule of a single head of state, the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, and common monarchy-wide ministries of foreign affairs, defence and finance under his direct authority. The armed forces were combined with the Emperor-King as commander-in-chief.
The names conventionally used for the two realms were derived from the river Leitha, or Lajta, a tributary of the Danube and the traditional border between Austrian and Magyar lands. The Leitha however did not form the entire border nor was its whole course part of the border: the Cis- and Trans- usage was by force of custom rather than geographical accuracy.
In the Middle Ages Austria was a quasi-independent state within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the House of Habsburg, while the Kingdom of Hungary was a sovereign state outside the empire. In 1526 at the Battle of Mohács, Hungary was defeated and partially conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The crown of Hungary was inherited by the Habsburgs, with part of the kingdom preserved from the Ottomans, who were subsequently driven out of Hungary in 1699. From 1526 to 1806, Austria and Hungary were a personal union under the Habsburgs, but remained nominally separate.
In 1804–6, the Holy Roman Empire was abolished, and the Austrian Empire was created. The Austrian Empire included Hungary as a constituent state, no longer sovereign. This was resented by the Hungarian people, or Magyars. Nationalist sentiment among the Magyars and other peoples of the region threatened the stability of the state and the power of the Austrian elite.
In the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Magyars came close to regaining independence, and were defeated by the Austrian Empire only with the aid of the Russian Empire. After 1848, the empire instituted several constitutional reforms, trying to resolve the problem, but without success.
In 1866, Austria was completely defeated in the Austro-Prussian War and its position as the leading state of Germany ended forever, as the remaining German minor states were soon absorbed into the German Empire created by Prussia. Austria also lost almost all of her remaining claims and influence in Italy, which had been her chief foreign policy interest.
The state needed to redefine itself to maintain unity in the face of nationalism.
In the wake of the defeat by Prussia, there were renewed calls in Hungary for complete separation from Austria. To avoid this, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his court floated the suggestion of a dual monarchy.
Hungarian statesman Ferenc Deák is considered the intellectual force behind the Compromise. Deák initially wanted independence for Hungary and supported the 1848 Revolution, but he broke with the hardline nationalists and advocated a modified union under the Habsburgs. Deák took the line that while Hungary had the right to full internal independence, questions of defense and foreign affairs were "common" to both Austria and Hungary under the Pragmatic Sanction. He also felt that Hungary benefited through continued unity with wealthier, more industrialized Austria, and that the Compromise would end the pressures on Austria of continually choosing between the Magyar and Slav populations of the Kingdom of Hungary. Imperial Chancellor Beust quickly negotiated the Compromise with the Hungarian leaders. Beust was particularly eager to renew the conflict with Prussia, and thought a quick settlement with Hungary would make that possible. Franz Joseph and Deák signed the Compromise, and it was ratified by the restored Diet of Hungary on 29 May 1867.
Beust's desired revenge against Prussia did not materialize. When in 1870, Beust wanted Austria-Hungary to support France against Prussia, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Andrássy was "vigorously opposed", effectively vetoing Austrian intervention.
Under the Compromise, Austria and Hungary had separate parliaments that met in Vienna and Buda (later Budapest), respectively, that passed and maintained separate laws. Each region had its own government, headed by its own prime minister. The "common monarchy" consisted of the emperor-king, and the common ministers of foreign affairs, defense, and finance in Vienna. The terms of the Compromise were renegotiated every ten years.
The Compromise of 1867 was meant to be a temporary solution to the problems the state faced, but the resulting system was maintained until the dissolution of the state following World War I. The favoritism shown to the Magyars, the second largest ethnic group in the state after the Germans, caused discontent on the part of other ethnic groups like the Czechs and Romanians. Although a "Nationalities Law" was enacted to preserve the rights of ethnic minorities, the two parliaments took very different approaches to this issue.
The basic problem in the later years was that the Compromise with Hungary only encouraged the appetites of non-Hungarian minorities and regions in Hungary that were historically within the boundaries of the previous Hungarian Empire. The majority of Hungarians felt they had accepted the Compromise only under coercion. The Austrian Archduke, separately crowned King of Hungary, had to swear in his coronation oath not to revise or diminish the historic imperial (Hungarian) domains to the Hungarian nobility, magnates, and upper classes. These Hungarian groups never acquiesced to granting "their" minorities the recognition and local autonomy which the Austrians had given to the Magyars themselves in the Compromise.
In the Kingdom of Hungary, several ethnic minorities faced increased pressures of Magyarization. Further, the renegotiations that occurred every ten years often led to constitutional crises. Ultimately, although the Compromise hoped to fix the problems faced by a multi-national state while maintaining the benefits of a large state, the new system still faced the same internal pressures the old had. To what extent the Dual Monarchy stabilized the country in the face of national awakenings and to what extent it alleviated, or aggravated, the situation are debated even today, particularly by ethnic groups in the region still constructing nation-states.
- Sowards, Steven W (23 April 2004), Nationalism in Hungary, 1848–1867. Twenty Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History, retrieved 19 March 2009.
- Seton-Watson, R. W. "The Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich of 1867." The Slavonic and East European Review 19.53/54 (1939): 123–40.
- Tihany, Leslie C. "The Austro-Hungarian Compromise, 1867-1918: A Half Century of Diagnosis; Fifty Years of Post-Mortem." Central European History 2.2 (1969): 114–38.
- Albertini, Luigi (1952), The Origins of the War of 1914, Volume I, Oxford University Press, p. 4
- "Impatient to take his revenge on Bismarck for Sadowa, he persuaded Francis Joseph to accept the Magyar demands that he had until then rejected. [...] Beust deluded himself that he could rebuild both the [Germanic Federation] and the Holy Roman Empire and negotiated the Ausgleich as a necessary preliminary for the revanche on Prussia. [...] As a compromise with Hungary for the purposes of revanche on Prussia, the Ausgleich could not be otherwise than a surrender to the Magyar oligarchy." Albertini, Luigi (1952), The Origins of the War of 1914, Volume I, Oxford University Press, p. 4
- Lackey, Scott (1995-10-30). The Rebirth of the Habsburg Army: Friedrich Beck and the Rise of the General Staff. ABC-CLIO. p. 22. ISBN 9780313031311. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- Albertini, Luigi (1952), The Origins of the War of 1914, Volume I, Oxford University Press, p. 6
- Cornwall, Mark. Last Years of Austria-Hungary: A Multi-National Experiment in Early Twentieth-Century Europe, 2nd ed. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2002.
- Seton-Watson, R. W. "Transylvania since 1867." The Slavonic Review 4.10 (1925): 101–23.
References↑Jump back a section
- Cornwall, Mark (2002), Last Years Of Austria-Hungary: A Multi-National Experiment in Early Twentieth-Century Europe (2nd ed.), University of Exeter Press.
- Seton-Watson, R. W. (1939), "The Austro-Hungarian Ausgleich of 1867", The Slavonic and East European Review (19.53/54): 123–40, JSTOR 4203588.
- Seton-Watson, R. W. (1925), "Transylvania since 1867", The Slavonic Review (4.10): 101–23, JSTOR 4201928.
- Taylor, A. J. P. (1952), The Habsburg Monarchy, 1815 – 1918: A history of the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary., New York: Macmillan.
- Tihany, Leslie C (1969), "The Austro-Hungarian Compromise, 1867–1918: A Half Century of Diagnosis; Fifty Years of Post-Mortem", Central European History (2.2): 114–38, JSTOR 4545523.
- Sowards, Steven W (23 April 2004), Nationalism in Hungary, 1848–1867. Twenty Five Lectures on Modern Balkan History, Michigan State University, retrieved 19 March 2009.
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