The Revolution of 1848 was the result of big demonstrations and pressure on the leaders of the empire by the common folk, much like what is going on in the world around us today… Facing popu- lar pressure they could not resist, the leaders gave in to the de- mands of the Hungarian people.
As the Hungarians noticed this they grabbed the opportunity to proclaim their liberty and autonomy. Louis Kossuth (the square where you find the Parliament of Hungary is named after him) and Louis Batthyány (Hungary’s first prime minister) were important characters in the fight for autonomy and freedom, and it looked as if they were going to be successful for quite a while.
Hungary’s autonomy was threatened quickly as they had enemies surrounding them from both west and north. They tried to get the favor of the Habsburgs in Austria, offering to help to them in their battles, but it was not accepted. The Habsburgs themselves were flooded with trouble; there were struggles within the kingdom, and attacks without. This provided all the excuse the Hungarians needed to proclaim their freedom, as the Austrians did not have time to concentrate on them.
The problems though arose when the battles in Vienna had stopped. The Habsburg Empire could once again concentrate on Hungary, no longer accepting their autonomy. A war that would cause many lives was about to start.
Hungary was supported by the Jews, the Germans, the Slovak and other people that were living in the nation. Some also came from other nations to help them out. Austria gathered forces from Croatia, Serbia and Romania to put an end to Hungarian autonomy. The Hungarian forces proved too strong, and in the end the Austrians were calling on the Russian armies for help.
With Russian help, the enemy proved to strong for the Hungarians to repel, and by the end of 1848 the Hungarian government had to escape from Pest. Louis Kossuth himself escaped to the United States, where there is a county in Iowa named after him today, to this very day. Louis Batthyány was killed on October 6, 1849, in Budapest, by gunshots, on a square not too far from the Parliament in Budapest. You can still visit the exact place where he was shot. Thirteen other leaders of the revolution were killed that fateful day, but in Arad, a city approximately 250 kilometers’ from Budapest (today in Romania).
It is said that after executing them, the Austrian generals clinked their beers together while making fun of the Hungarians. Because of this, the Hungarians promised to themselves that they would not clink their beer mugs for 150 years. That promise expired in 1999, but many Hungarians still keep this promise, so it is very unusual among Hungarians today to clink their beers. Many claim that the beer story is just a legend, but it serves to give insight into the national determination of amazing Hungarians, as they make their march through history as a nation.
The Ballad of the Minister of War Theodor Earl Baillet de Latour
If you’re curious for more perspective on the Revolution of 1848, this talented Austrian animator has narrated a rhythmic and versed song of the events surrounding Vienna after 1848, when the people, facing hard government repression, made a full revolution during the revolt in Hungary (image, above). As the troops of the Empire were preparing to leave Vienna to suppress the Revolution in Hungary on October 6th, 1848, a crowd sympathetic to the Hungarian cause and sick of the oppressive Habsburg regime and its reactionist minister of war (Theodor Count Baillet de Latour), started taking up arms and roaming the streets, some of them heavily armed. The incident escalated into violent street battles and under the guidance of workers and students, the angry mob conquered the Ministry of War and lynched the unpopular Latour. The Vienna Uprising of October 1848 was the last uprising of the Austrian Revolution of 1848.
Written by the author of the Budapest Guide, located at www.hungarybudapestguide.com where you can find information about attractions, restaurants, programs, hotels in the capital of Hungary, Budapest!