|Stephen Borsody: The Hungarians: A Divided Nation|
It has been found impossible to discover such lines, which would be at the same time just and practical. . . . obviously many of these difficulties would disappear if the boundaries were to be drawn with the purpose of separating not independent nations, but component portions of a federalized state. A reconsideration of the data from this aspect is desirable.
The American Peace Commission to President Wilson on dividing Austria-Hungary into nationstates, 1918
The SaintGermain, Versailles and subsequent treaties dictated by the victorious Entente powers, created a number of new small imperialist states. . . . These states were formed by the annexation of large ter ritories with foreign populations and have become centres of national oppression and social reaction.
"Resolution on National Question in Central Europe and Balkans," The Communist International, 1924
State and Nationbuilding in Central Europe: The Origins of the Hungarian Problem
Like the other older states of Europe, Hungary was founded during the great migrations of the Middle Ages. However, unlike the others, the Hungarian state was established by people who did not belong to any of the three principal linguistic families of Europeans the Latin, Germanic, and Slavic. Arriving from Asia, the Magyar people who erected the Hungarian state in the ninth century were of Finno-Ugric stock. Among the Europeans, the Hungarians are related only to the Finns and Estonians by a common linguistic and anthropological heritage.1
The Magyar founders of Hungary arrived in Europe before "Europe" was formed. In fact, they took part in Europe's formation. Their Asiatic origin at that time was no handicap. But from the opening of the age of modern nationalism, that is, since the eighteenth century, the Hungarians' rival nations began to wish the Magyars "back to Asia."2 And slurs denigrating the Hungarians as "barbarian intruders" are still to be heard from some "Europeans" at odds with their Hungarian neighbors.3 The Hungarians do not think of them- selves as Asiatics nor do they look different from other Europeans. In fact, their Asiatic Magyar forebears mixed fairly quickly and well with small scattered groups of people around them mostly Slavs,
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but also a few remnants of some earlier visitors from Asia, mainly Avars. The Hungarians, however, never lost the language of their forebears, as did the Bulgarians, another people of Asiatic origin, who, after settling in the Balkans, became Slavic speaking. If anything, the Magyars distinguished themselves, as successful statebuilders usually do, by their ability to assimilate others. Originally, their numerical superiority in the land they conquered was also to their advantage. Today, however, most Hungarians are of mixed European rather than of original Magyar ancestry. It is their language and culture, as well as the collective sense of their history, that keeps them together.
After a series of savage raids in the tenth century on Western Europe prompting their foes to associate the Magyars with the Huns they settled down to constructive existence and nationbuilding on a European pattern. The medieval Hungarians built a state and a nation in the sparsely populated Carpathian Basin no mean feat considering that no other people since the Romans had succeeded in creating a stable and lasting order in that part of Europe. Attaching themselves to the then rising and spreading Western civilization, the Hungarians accepted, around 1000 A.D., Christianity from Rome rather than from the Eastern center, Byzantium. Hungarian culture thus became distinctly Western, and during its formative stages Latin elements predominated.
The Kingdom of Hungary became one of the three distinguished members of medieval civilization in Central Europe, a peer of the Czech Kingdom of Bohemia-Moravia to the west and of the Kingdom of Poland to the north. However, geographic location, affecting political fortunes, pulled the three kingdoms in three different directions.
The medieval Czech Kingdom of Bohemia became part of the Holy Roman Empire, centered on latterday Germany. Czech ambitions within the Empire achieved their highest fulfillment in the fourteenth century when Charles IV, a Czech king of the German Luxemburg family, became emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and Prague became the imperial capital. Medieval Czech good fortunes, however, did not continue into modern times. During the tumultuous age of the Reformation, the imperial throne (and the Czech crown as well) was already firmly in the hands of the Habsburgs, ardently Catholic
State and Nationbuilding in Central Europe 5
and rabidly conservative. The Czechs, on the other hand, since the Hussite times of the fifteenth century, had been moving in the opposite direction toward reform and radicalism. The showdown between the two trends came when the Czech-German nobility of Bohemia rose against the Habsburgs, only to be defeated in the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Under the restored Habsburg rule, guided by militant Catholicism, Germanization, and centralization, Bohemian-Moravian independence and the chances of Czech national statehood were extinguished for the next three hundred years.
Unlike Bohemia-Moravia, both Poland and Hungary successfully resisted the medieval pull of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet, due to the power of the Russian and Ottoman Empires, respectively, neither Poland nor Hungary escaped loss of national independence. Had Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles been united some modern historians like to muse they could have averted their respective national catastrophes. 4 Actually, toward the end of the Middle Ages, a loose personal union of the three kingdoms under the Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellonian dynasty did materialize briefly. But a union capable of averting the catastrophes of modern times was beyond the reach of these three leading Central European powers of sporadic glorious individual achievements.
All three of them, through the common religion that shaped their culture, belonged to Western civilization. But their individual fates were determined mainly by their geographical locations. Thus, medieval Bohemia-Moravia geopolitical destiny tied her, for better or worse, to her German neighbors. In the Polish case, Catholicism constituted an unbreakable Western tie. Yet its uncertain position on the crossroads between East and West prompted medieval Poland to turn eastward in search of power and security. She entered into a partnership with Lithuania, a grand duchy ruling over vast eastern Slav territories which, before the disastrous Mongolian invasion of the thirteenth century, belonged to Kievan Rus'. Through union with Lithuania, Poland became a great power of the European northeast. But Polish supremacy in that part of Europe lasted only as long as the Russians remained paralyzed by their misfortunes, brought upon them partly by Polish interference in their affairs. The animosity between Roman Catholic Poles and Orthodox Russians supplied the emotional fuel to their power struggle. It took several "times of trouble" before the Russian state, centered by that time on Moscow and
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brought under the rule of the Romanovs, made a spectacular come back which turned out to be fatal for Poland. From the time of Peter the Great, tsarist Russia's power fast outstripped that of Poland. Internal instability added to Polish decline. By the end of the eighteenth century nothing was left of Poland's erstwhile greatness. Partitioned by her three powerful neighbors, Austria, Prussia, and Russia (the latter taking the largest part), Poland disappeared from the map of Europe, not to reappear until Russia's collapse and the Allied victory over Germany in World War I.
The medieval greatness of Hungary, too, eventually vanished. The Hungarian state achieved remarkable stability within the natural boundaries of the Carpathian Basin throughout the Middle Ages. Proof of its inner strength was its rapid recovery from the ravages of the thirteenth century Mongolian invasion. In contrast to Hungarian stability were the unstable conditions in the neighboring Balkans where states rose and fell, and the Byzantine Empire continued its slow but steady decline toward demise. Lack of stability in the Balkans favored Hungary's fortunes for a while. Expanding southward, landlocked Hungary became an Adriatic power in the eleventh century when the Dalmatian coast of the Balkans came under its domination following Hungary's union with Croatia. A kingdom even older than the Hungarian, but much weaker by the eleventh century, Croatia remained constitutionally united under the Hungarian Crown until the end of World War I.
The pinnacle of Hungary's success as a medieval power was reached in the fourteenth century under King Louis the Great of the Anjou dynasty (a situation reminiscent of the Czech glory under an other Western dynasty, the German Luxemburgs). Louis, the only Hungarian king called "great," actually was not the greatest of Hungarian kings. That distinction is usually accorded to Saint Stephen, who introduced Christianity to Hungary and is considered to be the founder of the Hungarian state, or to Mathias Corvinus, the popular native Renaissance king, who was remembered for his domestic achievements as "the just." Louis owed his exalted fame mainly to his foreign exploits. He added Poland's crown to the one he inherited from his father in Hungary. He also stood up for his family's dynastic rights as far south from Hungary as the Kingdom of Naples. With the steady advance of the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans, the threat that ultimately ended Hungary's medieval independence came I
State and Nationbuilding in Central Europe 7
from the south, the same direction that had been for so long the scene of Hungarian triumphs. The common Moslem threat elicited some feeling of solidarity between Hungary and her Orthodox Christian Balkan neighbors, Slavs as well as Romanians (Vlachs, as they were known at that time). But Hungarian intervention was unable to save any of them from falling under Ottoman domination. In addition to defending their own Balkan dominions, the Magyars' warlike spirit against their distant Turkish relations was heightened by their medieval crusading conviction that the defense of Western Christendom was at stake. Ironically, in the heart of the West, the French were no longer fired by such medieval ambitions; they did not hesitate at the very height of the Ottoman threat to Europe to conclude a Turkish alliance against their Christian Habsburg rivals. And, for that matter, the Hungarians themselves were not uniformly committed to the de fense of Western Christendom. At an early stage of the Turkish conflict there was a fairly significant peace party in Hungary which advocated accommodation with the Moslems. However, it was overpowered by the party of war and the ubiquitous papal intrigue, which traditionally played a prominent role in the councils of the Hungarian state.
Intermittently throughout the fifteenth century Hungary was at war with the Turks, often winning Christian acclaim but seldom military assistance. It looked for a while at the time of Janos Hunyadi's famous victories as if the Hungarian state would be strong enough to stem the westward tide of Ottoman power in Europe. However, when the Turks finally invaded Central Europe from their consolidated power base in the Balkans, the Kingdom of Hungary was in a pitiful state. Corruption and rivalry under weak kings prevailed at the top, while society at large was badly hurt when war preparations against the Turks turned, under Gyorgy Dozsa's command, into a peasant uprising. The defeated peasants were cruelly punished and condemned to perpetual servitude, while the nobility rewarded itself through the legal provisions passed by the Diet and included in the Tripartitum, a work of codification of Hungarian law then in progress by Istvan Verboczy, a famous jurist of the time. As a result of this unfortunate coincidence, these punitive measures inflicted upon the great majority of the population served for centuries to come as a legal basis for narrowing down the very concept of the nation to the
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nobility. Indeed, Hungary had been humiliated by its own meanspirited rulers even before it was defeated by the Turks in that disastrous battle at Mohacs in 1526.
The Turks were stopped in their westward drive before they could capture Vienna, which was their Central European objective. For Hungary, however, the consequences of the Mohacs defeat turned out to be catastrophic. The Hungarian state suffered severe blows from which it has never fully recovered. One of the immediate results of Mohacs was Hungary's division into three parts. The Habsburgs took possession of the Hungarian Kingdom's western and northern parts. The central portion came under direct Turkish domination. Only Transylvania in the east, with some other territories west and north of it, remained in Hungarian hands (albeit under Ottoman suzerainty) to sustain the continuity of Hungarian independence.
Turkish rule lasted for a century and a half and it was followed by another one hundred and fifty years of Habsburg centralization attempts. The wars of conquest and reconquest devastated the ethnically most homogeneous Magyar heartland of multiethnic Hungary. The Magyars, enjoying comfortable ethnic majority before 1526, were reduced to a minority by the end of the eighteenth century. Apart from the enormous population losses in the Magyar heartland, two more reasons accounted for the diminution in relative numbers of Hungary's Magyar-speaking people. One was the natural increase of non-Magyars in the territories spared from the ravages of the Turkish wars; the other was the massive influx of foreign settlers after the expulsion of the Turks. The latter occurred partly as a spontaneous migration into underpopulated parts of Hungary from the Ottoman Balkans, but mainly as a planned policy of colonization by the Habsburgs. The dramatic shift, at the Hungarians' expense, in the ethnic composition of the Hungarian state led to the nineteenth century nationality struggles which, if not the sole, were one of the principal causes of historic Hungary's demise.
Hungary's two neighbors, the Czech and Polish kingdoms, were also plagued by ethnic problems in the age of modern nationalism. But their efforts to regain their lost national independence took a different course from that of the Hungarians, and thus their multi-ethnicity resulted in different consequences. In 1867, Hungary made a seemingly profitable compromise with Austria, when the Hungarians' Habsburg-German archenemies had been weakened by defeats in
State and Nationbuilding in Central Europe 9
wars against Italy and Prussia. With the Compromise (Ausgleich), the Austrian Empire became the dualist Austria-Hungary. With some limitations in matters of Austro-Hungarian "common affairs" (foreign and economic policy and national defense), dualist Hungary regained her national independence. But fifty years later, following Austria-Hungary's defeat in World War 1, the Hungarians were punished as allies of the Germans, both of the Austrian and Prussian kind. Thus, when the twentieth-century reorganization came to pass according to the nationality principle, only Hungary's multiethnicity was judged a cause for partition in Central Europe. The kingdoms of the Czechs and Poles, no less mixed ethnically than the kingdom of the Hungarians, remained more or less recognizable on the map of Europe. New Czechoslovakia, as a matter of fact, became almost twice as large as the kingdom of the Czechs by the addition of Upper Hungary now called Slovakia. Historic Poland was greatly reduced but still contained large numbers of Ukrainians and Germans. Only Hungary was hacked up beyond recognition. The fall of the multinational Habsburg Monarchy sealed the fate of multinational Hungary as well.
The multinational Habsburg Monarchy tried to remain supranational in the age of modern nationalism. However, the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 became a turning point in the wrong direction when dualist Hungary turned into a nationstate. The Monarchy could not survive half national half supranational. Both the Habsburgs and the Hungarians failed miserably as modern federators of nations in Central Europe and so have their successors since World War I. Yet the failure in the age of modern nationalism did not ruin altogether the Habsburg Monarchy's historical record. She has played a prominent role for centuries in the European balance of power, and she distinguished herself in both transmitting and generating Western culture among the peoples of Central and Southeastern Europe. Whether rulers or oppressed, all the Monarchy's nationalities benefitted to differing degrees from the common Habsburg heritage of a distinctly Central European brand of Western civilization. The benefits of the Monarchy's destruction, expected by the liberated nationalities, turned out to be of a much more questionable nature.
Of the two ruling nationalities, the Germans and Hungarians, hardest hit by the Monarchy's fall were the Hungarians. The Austrians
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lost an empire with a mixture of peoples of uncertain loyalties. The Hungarians lost their own country with many of their own people torn away from them by their neighbors. Hungary's partition following Austria-Hungary's defeat in World War I had taken place theoretically according to the principles of ethnicity and of national self-determination. In practice, however, these principles were not applied to the Hungarians. The fact of the matter is that historic Hungary's territory was up for grabs. Hungary's non-Magyar nationalities took whatever they pleased. Only their most absurd demands were rejected by the Western arbiters of this free-for-all, such as some Romanian territorial claims in eastern Hungary, and the Czech plan to connect newborn Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia with a corridor across western Hungary.
The composition of the nationstates carved out from defeated Austria-Hungary duly reflected the double standard in applying national self-determination based on ethnic principles for the benefit of the victors. Defeated Austria and Hungary became ethnically almost homogeneous 96 and 90 percent respectively. But in Czechoslovakia, the Czechs, Slovaks, and Ruthenes united in the hope of Slav solidarity together amounted only to 69 percent of the total population. In Greater Romania a composite new nation enlarged mainly by the annexation of multiethnic Transylvania the Romanians made up only 72 percent of the population. In Yugoslavia yet another untried fraternal Slav combination the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes together made up only 83 percent. (Incidentally, in all these states, the ethnic minorities claimed even larger percentages, arguing that official statistics favored the majorities.) In the case of restored Poland not exactly a "successor" state, but treated with the same territorial generosity as Austria-Hungary's triumphant successors boundaries were based broadly on historical rights and the population was ethnically only 69 percent Polish. And it should not be left un-mentioned that Czech historical rights to the lands of the Bohemian Moravian medieval kingdom (where one third of the population was German) was fully respected, whereas Hungarian historical claims were declared null and void.
As a result of this lopsided application of the celebrated Wilsonian principle of national selfdetermination, one-third of the Hungarians were divided among the three victorious neighboring states, newly formed or enlarged: Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The
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Hungarian situation was further aggravated after World War II, when Subcarpathian Ruthenia, together with its Hungarians, was transferred from Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union. From a nation divided into four after World War I, the Hungarians ended up after World War II as a nation divided into five parts.
After World War I, two European nations, the French and the English, with American assistance, presided over Hungary's partition. They showed no respect for Hungary's merits in Europe's history, nor for Hungarian rights according to modern principles of national self determination. Their decision on Hungary, taken mostly under French pressure, reflected the emotional anti-Hungarian interpretations of the past and present, as propagated by Hungary's resentful Slavic neighbors, portraying the Hungarian state and nation as miscreations of European history. How did the Hungarians land in this hostile isolation?
Fundamentally, the Hungarian problem is intertwined with the peculiar general problems of state and nationbuilding east of the Rhine. Farther east, in the belt of smaller nations from the Baltic to the Balkans, evolution of modern nations and states has been suppressed by the expansion of three empires those of the Ottoman Turks in the Balkans, the Russian Romanovs in the Baltic region, and the German Habsburgs in Central Europe.
In the wake of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, the ideas of modern nationalism penetrated this vast area of Central and Eastern Europe. The first crack in the old imperial order of this "unfinished part of Europe" occurred in the Ottoman-dominated Balkans; hence the nineteenth-century term "Balkanization," a label for the breakup of empires into small nations, but also a derogatory term suggesting a breakup accompanied by ethnic rivalry and regional destabilization. "Balkanization" was a far cry from what the European champions of modern nationalism expected to happen. The liberated nations were supposed to be reunited under the banner of democratic equality.
The foremost prophet of modern European nationalism, the Italian Guiseppe Mazzini, was a champion of federal unions. His "Young Europe" plan envisioned regional democratic federations of nations in Central Europe in particular. But democratic federations have never materialized, either in Central Europe or elsewhere in the age
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of nationalism. As an international peacekeeping force, as Mazzini thought of it, nationalism has failed miserably. In retrospect, it even appears foolish that nationalism was ever thought of as possessing cosmopolitan qualities. As Edward Hallett Carr pointed out:
[It was a puzzle] why the rugged individualism of nations would have been regarded as less self-assertive and menacing to peace than the rugged individualism of monarchs, why nations should have been expected to display the princely qualities of forebearance and sense of honour, but not the equally princely qualities of aggressiveness and greed, why nationalism should have been regarded as a steppingstone to internationalism, and why, finally, it was rarely perceived that nationalism is not so much the apogee of individualism and of democracy as denial of them.8
Puzzling as it may seem, the age of nationalism did not quite extinguish the cosmopolitan ideal of European unity, handed down to the modern world from vague memories of universality under ancient Rome and medieval Christianity. Even Napoleon, who more than anyone else spread the nationalist idea across Europe, chose to pose as a universalist in exile, to foster the legend of himself as an apostle of a "United States of Europe." 9 And while sinking ever more deeply in the quagmire of nationalist rivalry, Europe of the nineteenth century hung on to the unifying dream of the "Concert of Europe." Even after the world wars of the twentieth century while shaping the world according to the nationality principle, the peacemakers went on be lieving in harmony among nationstates, first under the League of Nations and then under the United Nations.
To rationalize the failures of peace under nationalism, a distinction was invented in our time between good and bad nationalism. Of course, there is a world of difference between nineteenth-century humanist nationalism of Mazzini and the twentieth-century barbaric nationalism of Hitler, but distinguishing between good and bad does not resolve the problem at hand. In the peacemaking after World War I, in particular, dubious distinctions were drawn between the rival nationalisms of the defunct Habsburg Empire. The nationalism of the formerly oppressed was idealized, while that of the former oppressors was considered criminal. Exaggerated charges against Hungarians as oppressors of Hungary's non-Magyars, as well as allegations of a Hungarian menace to European peace on account of Austria-Hungary's alliance with Germany, served as prime justifications for the partition
State and Nationbuilding in Central Europe 13
of the Hungarian state. This partition, in turn, resulted in the ethnic dismemberment of the Hungarian people, which has been the essence of the Hungarian problem ever since.
There was national oppression in Hungary in the age of modern nationalism, but it was neither of the kind nor duration that anti-Hungarian propaganda claimed. In fact, one of the main characteristics of Hungarian statebuilding had been the peaceful relationship among Hungary's different ethnic groups.
Turning into Europeanized Hungarians, the Magyars were builders of a state in the Carpathian Basin. Within that region, no rival ethnic statebuilding was attempted. Not even the catastrophe of the Turkish invasion, which split the medieval Hungarian Kingdom into three parts, altered the Hungarian political character of the Carpathian Basin. Although the northern and eastern parts of divided Hungary were the most ethnically mixed ones and were future strongholds of Romanian and Slovak separatism, in the sixteenth century, however, Slovaks of the north had no political consciousness to initiate separatist movements, while most of the Romanians in the east were not even living there at the time. Romanian ethnic preponderance in some parts of Hungary dates only from post-Turkish times and is due mainly to continuous migration from the Balkans.
During two centuries of Hungary's Turkish partition, the championing of the unity and continuity of the Hungarian state and nation could not unfold from the most homogeneously Hungarian part of the country, namely the Turkish-occupied central area. However, the champions of historic Hungary's continuity and indivisibility arose from the nonoccupied ethnically mixed western, northern, and eastern borderlands. In the west, the Habsburgs ruled as kings of Royal Hungary with Pozsony (Pressburg) as the Hungarian capital (renamed Bratislava, it became the capital of future Slovakia). In the east, Transylvania was an independent principality under local Hungarian rule, allied to the Turks against the Habsburgs. Both the Hungarians in Habsburg Hungary and the Hungarians in the Principality of Transylvania regarded themselves as legatees of Hungary,s unity - the Transylvanians, in particular, as anointed heirs of Hungarian independence. Added to the Transylvanians, pride as champions of Hungarian liberty was their profession of religious freedoms. In fact, independent Transylvania had earned international recognition as an
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eastern outpost of European Protestantism and a pioneer of coexistence between Protestants and Catholics. In no sphere of life did the interests of Hungary's Magyars and non-Magyars clash yet.
Only after Hungary's liberation from the Turks and the restoration of the country's territorial integrity under Habsburg rule did the peaceful coexistence among Hungary's ethnic groups begin to break down - not because of Habsburg rule but as a result of the new spirit of the times. The process of ethnic disintegration began with ideas of modern nationalism spreading from the West to Central and Eastern Europe. Starting toward the end of the eighteenth century and accelerating throughout the nineteenth century, historic Hungary's na tionality conflicts finally exploded in the twentieth century when they proved to be insoluble. These were the times, too, when the cata strophic consequences of the Turkish conquest of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were fully revealed. Gyula Szekfu, the prominent twentieth-century Hungarian historian, expressed it the most graphically - and also the most wistfully. Without the Turkish intervention, he wrote, Hungary, too, "could have entered the eighteenth century, like some of the other countries of Europe, as a nation of fifteen-twenty million . . . of which at least 80-90 percent could have been Magyar. . . . However, from the great people of European standing in the Middle Ages, the Hungarians have been reduced to the rank of a small people, similar to the Czechs, Serbs, Croats." 11
The nationalist tone of Szekfu's description well reflects the spirit in which the Hungarians to their undoing met Hungary's nationality problems in the age of modern nationalism. They refused to recognize their own status of a small people. They avoided facing the fact that their fate is not only similar to, but common with, that of the Czechs, Serbs, and Croats, and the rest of Central Europe's small peoples. The Hungarians, of course, were not alone in violating the principle of national equality. Their neighbors turned out to be no better than they had been. The Hungarians simply found themselves sooner than the others did in a position to act the way nations usually do: without respect for the rights of others.
From the time that Western ideas of nationstate began to fire the imagination of the peoples of Europe's "unfinished part," everybody went to work correcting his nation's historical misfortunes. Since the eighteenth century, fables about the past have been planted in the
State and Nationbuilding in Central Europe 15
minds of the smaller nations of Central and South-eastern Europe. This has resulted in mutually incompatible territorial aspirations. The Daco-Romanian theory about the origins of modern Romanians created an irreconcilable conflict with the Hungarians over the possession of Transylvania. The Slav conflict with the Hungarians came to be embedded in Romantic historical theories which challenged the very presence of the "Asiatic Magyars" on the sacred Slavic soil of Europe. The nineteenth-century Czech nationalist historian Frantisek Palacky bemoaned the Magyar invasion of the Danube region as the greatest tragedy of Slavdom. The Magyars, he believed, destroyed the Great Moravian Empire, they ruined Slavic unity by driving a wedge between the Western and Southern Slavs. But, even before Palacky, unfriendly views of German professors and philosophers putting down the "Asiatic Magyars" as an inferior race had found a lively response among the cultural elites of Hungary's ethnically awakening non-Magyar nationalities. Particularly pleasing to Slavic ears was the eighteenth-century Herderian prophecy about the great future of the Slavs and the inevitable doom of the Magyars.
Johann Gottfried von Herder's prophecy notwithstanding, the Magyars had one great advantage over their rivals in the age of modern national awakening. They were the only ones who had a state of their own. True, since the eighteenth century this Hungarian state of theirs was no longer theirs the way it was in the Middle Ages. Liberated from the Turks, Hungary was tied to Habsburg Austria. As kings of Hungary, the Habsburgs recognized the country's Diet as the representative body of the nation. And the nobility of the Diet prided itself on representing a "free kingdom." Yet, the Hungarians never reconciled themselves to the Habsburg curtailments of their indepen dence. Nor did the Habsburgs forget the rebellious record of the Hungarians, in particular the wars the Transylvanian princes had fought against them. The last of these wars had ended only in 1711, resulting in the defeat and exile of Ferenc Rak6czi II, an ally of France against the Habsburgs during the War of Spanish Succession. Habsburg suspicion of Transylvania did not cease with the Peace of Szatmar that ended the Hungarian war against the Habsburgs in 1711. Transylvania had been placed under a separate Habsburg administration, partly for reasons of military security against the Turks, but no less as a measure of political security against the Hungarians. "Union" with Transylvania thus became one of the principal demands
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of Hungarian struggle against Vienna. But not until the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 did the Habsburgs finally relinquish their strategic foothold there.
|Stephen Borsody: The Hungarians: A Divided Nation|