Apostolic King of Hungary, Emperor Ferdinand of Austria, Emperor Franz-Joseph of Austria, Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary, Hungarian Revolution of 1848, King Ferdinand V of Hungary, Lajos Batthyány, Lajos Kossuth
From the Emperor’s Desk I: Hungarian Revolution of 1848 is very complex. What I have posted here is a basic retelling of the events and it’s relationship to Archduke Franz Joseph of Austria becoming both Emperor of Austria and Apostolic king of Hungary on December 2nd 1848.
The Hungarian Revolution of 1848 was was one of many European Revolutions of 1848 and it was closely linked to other revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas. Although the revolution failed, it is one of the most significant events in Hungary’s modern history, forming the cornerstone of modern Hungarian national identity.
In April 1848, Hungary became the third country of Continental Europe (after France (1791), and Belgium (1831)) to enact laws about democratic parliamentary elections. It thereafter set up a representative type of parliaments which replaced the old feudal estate–based parliamentary system.
Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria (Apostolic King Ferdinand V of Hungry)
Hungarian statesman Lajos Batthyány was part of a delegation of Hungarian Statesman to Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria who was also King Ferdinand V of Hungary, that insisted Hungary’s government be supreme in its territory.
Lajos Kossuth, another Hungarian Statesman, gave a speech to the government where he appealed to the hope of the Habsburgs, the incoming emperor: “our beloved Archduke Franz Joseph” (then seventeen years old), to perpetuate the ancient glory of the dynasty by meeting half-way the aspirations of a free people.
Kossuth at once became the leader of the European revolution; his speech was read aloud in the streets of Vienna to the mob which overthrew Metternich (March 13). When another delegation, this time from the Diet, visited Vienna to receive the assent of Emperor Ferdinand for their petition, Kossuth received the chief ovation.
On March 17, 1848 the Emperor assented to Kussoth’s terms and Batthyány created the first Hungarian Diet (Parliament). The new Hungarian government was no longer responsible to the King, but to the elected members of the Diet. In the new government Kossuth was appointed as the Minister of Finance.
On March 23, 1848, as head of government, Lajos Batthyány commended his administration to the Hungarian Diet. A significant advancement of Hungarian independence at this time was the passing of the April Laws.
Lajos Kossuth, Governor-President of the Kingdom of Hungary
The April Laws, also called March Laws, were a collection of laws legislated by Lajos Kossuth with the aim of modernizing the Kingdom of Hungary into a parliamentary democracy, and nation state. The imperative program included Hungarian control of its popular national guard, national budget and Hungarian foreign policy, as well as the removal of serfdom.
These laws were passed by the Hungarian Diet in March 1848 in Pozsony (Pressburg, now Bratislava, Slovakia) and signed by King Ferdinand V, (Emperor Ferdinand of Austria) at the Primate’s Palace in the same city on April 11, 1848.
Because of the Revolutions in Vienna during 1848, Archduke Franz Joseph of Austria replaced his uncle Ferdinand I of Austria on December 2nd, who was not of sound mind, as Emperor of Austria.
The new Emperor Franz Joseph wanted to suppress the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 and to restore the power of Habsburg Monarchy within Hungary. The Emperor didn’t recognize Lajos Batthyány’s second premiership, which had begun on September 25, 1848.
Another complication was that Franz Joseph was not recognized as the new “Apostolic King of Hungary” by the Hungarian Parliament, and he would not be not crowned “Apostolic King of Hungary” until 1867.
From a constitutional point of view, and according to the coronation oath, a crowned and anointed Hungarian King could not abdicate the Hungarian throne during his lifetime. If the king is alive but unable do his duty as ruler, a governor (or, in English, a regent) could be appointed to undertake the royal duties. Therefore, according to Hungarian law, the former Emperor of Austria legally remained King Ferdinand V of Hungary.
If there was no possibility of inheriting the throne automatically due to the death of the preceding king, (as King Ferdinand V was still alive), but the monarch was wanting to relinquish his throne and appoint another king before his death, there was technically only one legal solution: the parliament had the power to dethrone the monarch and elect his successor as the new Apostolic King of Hungary.
However, owing to the legal and military tensions between the Diet and the new Emperor, the Hungarian parliament did not grant Franz Joseph this honour. This issue also formed a solid legal foundation to the Hungarian resistance. If Franz Joseph was not the legal successor and Apostolic King of Hungary his orders and decrees could be ignored by the Hungarian resistance.
After his accession the new Emperor revoked all the concessions that had been granted through the April Laws without any legal competence. This unconstitutional act irreversibly escalated the conflict between the Hungarian parliament and Franz Joseph.
Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary
The following Austrian military campaign that ensued against the Kingdom of Hungary resulted in the fall of the pacifist Batthyány government (who sought agreement with the court) and led to the sudden emergence of Lajos Kossuth’s followers in the parliament, who demanded the full independence of Hungary.
Batthyány realized that he could not compromise with the Emperor, so on October 2, 1849 he resigned and nominated Miklós Vay as his successor. At the same time, Batthyány resigned his seat in parliament.
Instead of Miklós Vay, as the head of the government, from this time until the collapse of the revolution, Lajos Kossuth, replaced Lajos Batthyány and became Head of State of the Kingdom of Hungary, and became the de facto and de jure ruler of the country as the Governor-President. With the exception of Kázmér Batthyány, (an Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and no relation to Lajos Batthyány) all members of the new cabinet were Kossuth’s supporters. Emperor Franz Joseph also outlawed Governor-President Lajos Kossuth.
The Austrian military intervention in the Kingdom of Hungary resulted in strong anti-Habsburg sentiment among Hungarians, thus the events in Hungary grew into a war for total independence from the Habsburg dynasty.
After a series of serious Austrian defeats in 1849, the Austrian Empire came close to the brink of collapse. The young emperor Franz Joseph I had to call for Russian help in the name of the Holy Alliance. Emperor Nicholas I answered, and sent a 200,000 strong army with 80,000 auxiliary forces. Finally, the joint army of Russian and Austrian forces defeated the Hungarian forces. After the restoration of Habsburg power, Hungary was placed under martial law.
From the Emperor’s Desk II: in the coming days I will post about the fates of Lajos Batthyány and Lajos Kossuth along with the 1867 Compromise between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary which led to the creation of the dual monarchy.