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The Hungarian War of Independence

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Based on the national guard created in the first days of the revolution, the Hungarian government began to create its own army. This caused a conflict with Vienna, which requires Hungarian soldiers to suppress the revolution in Italy. Batthyány agreed to send part of the Hungarian army contingents to the Italian front, provided that the king pacifies Jelacic and the Serbs and pledges not to use Hungarian soldiers to suppress the liberties of the Italian people.

On 5 June, a new Hungarian parliament was elected in Pest on the basis of the March electoral law. The overwhelming majority of its deputies were liberals, and 3/4 of all members of parliament were noblemen. Under the influence of Lajos Kossuth, the state assembly decided to impose additional taxes and create a 200,000-strong army.

On August 31, the Emperor issued a proclamation in which the Hungarians were accused of violating the Pragmatic Sanction , and it was announced that the decisions taken by the government and the Hungarian Parliament in March-April 1848 were unlawful.

The imperial proclamation caused a split in the Hungarian government. Supporters of loyalty to the monarch departed from the revolution: Deak and Aetvos left the government, Széchenyi was hospitalized with mental disorder, and Batthyány himself resigned.

On August 31, Croatian general Jelačić took Rijeka, and on 11 September, at the head of the Croatian troops, entered the territory of Hungary. However, the activities of Jelacic, which was of pro-Austrian and anti-Hungarian character, often had an unauthorized character and did not always find support in the person of the emperor.

The king appointed the Austrian Franz von Lamberg as commander of the Hungarian army. However, on September 16, Hungarian radicals established the Defense Committee , headed by Kossuth. Lamberg was charged with high treason, and on September 28 he was captured by Hungarian extremists and hanged.


September 29, 1848 in the Battle of Pákozd, 40 km from Buda, the Croatian troops of Jelačić were stopped by the Hungarian army and defeated.

On October 3, Emperor Ferdinand issued a decree dissolving the state assembly and appointing Croatian Jelačić commander-in-chief of the armed forces in Hungary. Hungary was declared a rebellious territory. The day before Batthyány finally left the post of prime minister. On October 8, the parliament gave the Defense Committee all the executive power in the country.

The Hungarian War of 1848-1849

In Vienna, an uprising broke out, Ferdinand fled the capital, and the imperial troops surrounded the city. The rebels turned to Hungary for help. After a long hesitation and under the personal pressure of Kossuth, the Hungarian army crossed the border and moved to Vienna. But on October 30 in the battle of Schwechat the Hungarians were defeated by the troops of Alfred Windischgrätz, and the next day Vienna was taken by storm.

On December 2, Emperor Ferdinand abdicated from the throne, on which his nephew Franz Joseph I ascended.

The commander-in-chief of the Hungarian insurgent army Kossuth appointed Artúr Görgei. He began training troops and preparing for hostilities at an accelerated pace. At the same time, the Defense Committee began recruiting recruits and organizing the military industry. By the spring of 1849 , the Hungarian army had reached 170,000 people.

In December 1848, the successful actions of the revolutionary army led by the Polish immigrant Jozef Böhm led to the liberation of Transylvania from the Austrian troops and the capture of Kolozsvar.

Meanwhile, with time, the imperial army of Windischgrätz moved from Vienna to Buda. On January 1, 1849, the rebel leaders fled to Debrecen. Görgej distracted the troops of Windischgrätz, taking his army to Slovakia. At the same time, Bema’s army successfully confronted the Austrian and Russian detachments in Transylvania.

By February 1849 in the camp of the rebels discord began. Görgej moved to a moderate position and declared his loyalty to the emperor. The rebel army was led by another Pole, Henry Dembinski, but on February 26 – 27, his troops were defeated by the Austrians in the battle of Capolna. Taking advantage of the successes of the Austrian army, on March 4 the emperor signed the Octorated Constitution of the Austrian Empire, which introduced limited democratic freedoms and strengthened the centralization of the empire.

Worried about the defeats of the revolutionary army Kossuth in the early March of 1849 again returned Görgej to the post of commander-in-chief of the Hungarian army. The Hungarian troops of Józef Böhm again succeeded in driving the Austrians out of Transylvania, seizing Banat and suppressing the performances of the Serbs of Vojvodina. Meanwhile, the main forces of Görgej’s army won a series of victories in the framework of the “spring campaign”. Buda was besieged and fell on May 21, 1849. On the wave of victories, on April 14, the state assembly adopted a decree on the deprivation of the Habsburgs of the Hungarian throne and the proclamation of Hungary’s independence. Kossuth was declared the governor- president of the country.

Russian intervention

On June 21, the territory of the eastern counties of Hungary was invaded by the Russian army under the command of General-Field Marshal Paskevich. Russia’s entry into the war on the side of counterrevolution meant the imminent defeat of Hungary in view of the overwhelming superiority of the enemy’s forces. At the same time, a new offensive of the Austrians began, with Julius Gainau at the head of the army. The Austrian troops were reinforced by contingents withdrawn from the Italian front after the final suppression of revolutionary actions in Northern Italy. Under the pressure of the imperial troops, Görgej was forced to retreat to the south. At the same time, the army of Bema in Transylvania was completely defeated by the Russians in several battles and practically ceased to exist. On July 13, Buda and Pest were surrendered. The situation of the Hungarian government became catastrophic, the Defense Committee moved to Szeged and then to Arad.

The military defeat contributed to the rapprochement of the Hungarian revolution with the movements of national minorities. As a result of the negotiations between Kossuth and Nicolae Bălcescu, the leader of the Romanian national movement, an agreement was reached on measures to settle the Hungarian-Romanian contradictions in Transylvania, and all national rights (except for territorial autonomy) were recognized for the Romanians. On July 28, the state assembly passed a law on the nationalities of Hungary, which proclaimed the equality of all nations of the state, as well as the emancipation of Jews. However, these measures could not completely help the situation. As a result of defeats on the fronts, the army of the Hungarian revolution was reduced to 30 thousand people, which was nothing compared to the Austrian and Russian forces.

On August 10 – 11, 1849, the Hungarian government resigned, having handed over dictatorial powers to General Görgej. Kossuth and his associates emigrated to Turkey. On August 13, Gorgej announced the surrender of the Hungarian army and surrendered to the mercy of the Russian troops. August 17 capitulation of Arad, August 26 – Munkach. Finally, on September 5, he surrendered to Komar. The revolution in Hungary was brought to a halt.


After the suppression of the revolution, a military dictatorship developed in Hungary. On October 6, Battyani was executed in Pest, and also on October 6 in Arad – 13 generals of the Hungarian army had the same fate. Over 1.5 thousand people were sentenced to long prison terms. In the country, censorship and police supervision of dissidents were revived. The self-government of Hungary was liquidated, the absolute authority of the center was established. In 1851 the Octorated Constitution was abolished. The whole territory of the kingdom was divided into several administrative districts, abolishing the committees. Transylvania, Croatia, Slavonia, Banat and Vojvodina were separated from Hungary and formed separate units subordinate to Vienna. German became the only official language of the Hungarian kingdom.

Despite the brutal repression and curtailing reforms of the Hungarian revolution, it played a huge role in the country’s history. The liberation of the peasants and the abolition of feudalism were confirmed in 1853 by agrarian reform in the Austrian empire. Economic transformations became the impetus to the rapid capitalist development of the country. The democratic conquests and the national upsurge of the Hungarian revolution were also not wasted, but became the basis for new liberal movements that emerged in the 1850s, which led the country to gain sovereignty and transformation of the empire in 1867 into a two – united Austro-Hungarian monarchy with an independent parliament and responsible ministry. Leaders of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-1849 became national heroes of Hungary, serving as an example for imitation of new generations of Hungarian youth.


Alabin P. V. The Hungarian War of 1849
The Hungarian War // Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron
Averbukh R. A. The Revolution and the National Liberation War in Hungary in 1848-49.

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