Hungarian Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Monarchy 1711-1848

Hungarian Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Monarchy 1711-1848

Gábor Vermes
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Pages: 396
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  • Book Info
    Hungarian Culture and Politics in the Habsburg Monarchy 1711-1848
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-963-386-020-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    The question of how to define “culture” has produced an immense number of answers and interpretations. To Raymond Williams, “the concept is among the two or three most complicated words in the English language,” and Peter Burke, after registering two hundred definitions, concluded that “there is no agreement about what constitutes culture.”¹ Indeed, the treatment of this concept has become an interdisciplinary matter. Anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, and historians have offered different definitions, as have scholars whose views have been influenced by particular ideologies. For instance, anthropologists such as Clifford Geertz or Marshall Sahlins have emphasized the importance of symbols...

  5. CHAPTER 1 A Portrait of 18th Century Hungary
    (pp. 5-54)

    Historians often abandon literal centennial divisions and, instead, find it more meaningful to denote the ending of one century and beginning of the next by using dates which make more historical sense than the customary demarcation lines. For example, the years of the Rákóczi Rebellion between 1703 and 1711 truly belong to the previous century, when wars, including Imre Thököly’s anti-Habs burg campaigns, were still common. A prolonged period of peace and reconciliation with the Habsburg dynasty, the salient characteristics of eighteenth century Hungary, commenced only after 1711, when the Habs burg Monarchy—more precisely, the part of the Holy...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Joy and the Agony of Standing Still
    (pp. 55-104)

    The Hungarian nobility’s fervid belief in the permanence of its values and way of life countered continuing fears about the Turks, as well as anguish about sharp religious dissensions. This stubborn and firm faith should have become somewhat attenuated around its sharp edges, at least in its intensity, once life had returned to normal after the defeat of the anti-Habsburg Rákóczi Rebellion in 1711. Yet this was not the case. As Marc Bloch warned us, it is important to remember the role that inertia can and does play in history. In our eagerness to document change “which is not merely...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Enlightenment and Cultural Sensibilities: A Comparative Historical Perspective
    (pp. 105-152)

    In order to understand and appreciate the roles that proponents of the Enlightenment played in the eighteenth century, important questions need to be asked. What motivated them and what were the conditions and limitations that had shaped the character of their practical proposals in various countries? Without questioning or denying the intrinsic merits and significance of the ideas and blueprints for the future that its proponents advanced, this chapter will emphasize the practical-utilitarian aspects of their thoughts, of what they were willing and actually able to accomplish in their respective societies. By regarding certain events in Hungary within a comparative...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Slow Erosion of Traditionalism
    (pp. 153-212)

    Perhaps no other writer more eloquently registered the reversal of steady progress in Hungary’s spiritual and intellectual fermentation than József Kármán, whoseA nemzet csinosodása[The nation is be-coming refined] in the last issue ofUrániain 1795 was the swan song of that brief period of intense activities. Mincing no words, his essay was an epitaph, writing that “we are very far from perfection… the love of knowledge has not yet awakened here, and nations who are passing us by on that path consider us a crude nation.”¹ His last-minute, desperate attempts to save his journal further underlined the...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Ambiguous Journey Toward Reforms
    (pp. 213-246)

    On September 28, 1820, in Pest, the king happened to attend the performance of the young playwright, Károly Kisfaludy, entitledA tatárok Magyarországon(The Mongols in Hungary). This play was remarkable for its patriotic fervor, and so was this particular performance, because the king himself showed up in full Hungarian national costume, a minor but, to the Hungarian contemporaries, most pleasing gesture.¹ The king’s presence was significant for two reasons. In the first place, it demonstrated that the Hungarian theater, while still lagging behind the quality of its German counterpart, also in Pest, had succeeded in becoming presentable after a...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Hungarian Age of Reform in the 1830s
    (pp. 247-288)

    Count István Széchenyi was the son of Count Ferenc Széchenyi, the venerable reform-minded patriot and generous benefactor in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His son, born in 1791, enjoyed all the advantages of an aristocratic upbringing. Serving in the cavalry of the Monarchy’s army during the Napoleonic wars, the young count distinguished himself in several battles, including the critical one at Leipzig in 1813. After the cessation of hostilities, he lived the life expected from someone rich and privileged, a life of ease, levity, and occasional recklessness. This only gradually started to change during the first half of...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Hungarian Age of Reform in the 1840s
    (pp. 289-334)

    When Lajos Kossuth, coming from a poor noble family in Zemplén County and representing an absentee aristocrat, appeared at the diet in 1832, he was regarded as a nonentity. Within five years, Kossuth’s brilliant insight about the importance of disseminating information, first through the Parliamentary Reports and then the Municipal Reports, had made his name. By imprisoning him in 1837, the government un-wittingly enhanced his reputation as a key opinion maker and leader in the liberal camp. His years in prison were not wasted. As he himself acknowledged later, they had given him time to read a great deal and...

  12. Epilogue
    (pp. 335-342)

    Hungary’s “Age of Reform” has had a glowing reputation in the Hungarian public mind for good reason. Only faulty revisionism would deny the presence of undeniable idealism, fuelled by romanticism that seemed virtually boundless. Mostly young noblemen, who were both intellectually and emotionally attached to liberal idealism, believed in the coming of a “perfect society.” They worked toward the day when liberty and progress would triumph over the forces of backwardness and retrogression, although the optimism sparked by this idealism never did succeed in overcoming longstanding, dark shadows of national gloom. National disasters in Hungary’s past, a sense of backwardness...

  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 343-380)
  14. Index
    (pp. 381-388)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 389-389)