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The lower brackets of the dwarf-holders merged into the still more unfortunate class of the true agricultural proletariat, the men who had neither land of their own nor regular employment on that of others. Such a class had, of course, always existed in Hungary, as in every country, and the statistics, such as they are, show that it had been growing with some rapidity during the first half of the nineteenth century. By 1848 the class ranking as 'peasants' (i.e., villein holders of a quarter sessio or more) certainly comprised less than half the total rural population. The other half, however, equally certainly contained many persons not entirely destitute, and the residue were in any case not so numerous as to force themselves on the attention either of the Hungarian reformers of 1848 or of their Austrian successors. Even for several years after the Compromise there was a large demand for labour on the construction of the railways and the regulation of the Tisza, and wages for those who remained on the land were comparatively high. But after the public works ended, wages sank rapidly and many could find no work at all. Emigration began in the 1870's, soon reaching a figure of 50,000 a year, most of them from the congested rural districts. Nevertheless, in 1890 the totally landless agrarian population numbered about 1,700,000 (wage-earners), over 48 per cent of the total agrarian population and over a quarter) of the gainfully employed population of Hungary. Of these, about one third were in regular employment as farm-hands; most of the rest lived from seasonal or casual labour. The seasonal labourers literally existed during half the year in a state of semi-starvation, or worse; there were several epidemics of pellagra and hunger typhus, and cases of madness induced by starvation were not unknown.

The crisis of this class reached its peak in the 1890's, when there was severe unrest, especially on the Tisza, where a strange prophet named Várkonyi appeared, preaching a kind of agrarian socialism. In 1897 the labourers in several counties struck just before the harvest.

The authorities put down the movement with troops and gendarmerie, and a draconic Law was enacted which dissolved all existing combinations among agrarian workers and made it a penal offence to address, or even attend, a meeting called for the purpose of founding a new one. It was also made a penal offence for an agricultural worker to default on his contract without reasonable cause; if he did so, he could be escorted back to his work by gendarmes. This Law naturally did not remedy the discontent, nor even quite put an end to strikes, but emigration, which in the peak year of 1907 exceeded 200,000, and the increased tempo of industrialisation, now began at least to retard the advance of the rural congestion. Wages rose slightly, and the state, while seeing to it that the agricultural workers remained without any organisation of their own, or any possibility of creating one, began itself to show some modest interest in their welfare. Even a few settlements were founded, but all of them on state land. The expedient of turning over parts of the big, extensively cultivated private estates to peasant colonists was never attempted.

Industrial labour fared little better than agricultural. The lateness of her industrialisation and its modest scale saved Hungary from the most extreme of the horrors of the industrial revolution in England, but the philosophy of the day allowed her capitalists as free a hand as their English counterparts enjoyed, and they were quite as greedy. Moreover, the state agreed that only low costs of production would enable Hungarian industry to compete against Austrian within the customs union, while the landlords opposed high wages in industry which tempted labour off the land. Their scarcity value often enabled the skilled craftsmen to command relatively good terms, but the mass of unskilled workers, refugees from the congested rural districts, were at the mercy of whoever offered them employment. Wages were always low, and protective legislation, which was generally copied from German or Austrian models, lagged behind its originals. In 1900 28% of all male industrial workers were earning between 14 and 20 crowns[28] a week, 48% between 6 and 14 and 15% under 6. Women's and children's wages were proportionately lower. While some limitation had been placed in the exploitation of child and juvenile labour, the adult was practically unprotected. The commonest factory working day was 12 hours, including breaks; the usual working week ranged between 60 and 66 hours. Housing conditions in Budapest were said to be worse than in any other large city of Europe.

Political pressure on the workers was always heavy. Inflammatory speeches made at the time of the Paris Commune engendered in the authorities a panic fear which led to exaggerated repressive measures. A Law enacted in 1872 and re-enacted in 1884 legalised association and even strikes, but incitement to strike was a punishable offence, and any form of association had to be strictly non-political. Nevertheless, a political movement gradually developed, and in 1890 a Social Democratic Congress was held, which adopted bodily the Hainfeld Programme drawn up by the Austrian Social Democrats in the preceding year. The forbidden link with the Trade Unions was maintained by a surreptitious device and was in fact very close, and after this the industrial unions made considerable progress, although the authorities were able to prevent either the Party or the unions from expanding outside industry. Even so, the workers' movement now became a perceptible political force. It was, however, still regarded with extreme aversion by the 'national' politicians, partly out of the usual economic motives and partly because of its Marxian tenets and its almost wholly non-Magyar leadership (the Trade Union leaders were mostly German and the intellectuals Jewish), which earned it the repute of an 'inter-national' and even an anti-national force.

Finally, it had not proved possible to induce in Hungarian national opinion itself sincere acceptance of the Compromise as the answer to its aspirations. The idea of 1848 maintained its popularity among the Magyar masses, and all governmental pressure was unable to prevent the regular return to parliament of a number of representatives of the extreme left, whose programme, as reformulated in 1874 (when the name of 'Party of Independence' was adopted) and 1884 would have reduced the link with Austria to the purely personal one of the common Monarch. But even among those who accepted the necessity of common institutions, there were always many. who thought the terms of the Compromise unsatisfactory. When the economic clauses came up for revision in 1876, Tisza himself pressed for a number of concessions, and obtained some of them, but had to renounce others, including the independent National Bank, and after this several groups of deputies seceded from the Liberals to form a "United Opposition" (the name was changed in 1891 to 'National Party') with a programme of revision of the Compromise by constitutional methods in the direction of more independence, especially in the financial and economic fields.

To the eye of Vienna, the programme of the National Party was little more compatible with the spirit of the Compromise than that of the Party of Independence itself; and in fact, the developments of the situation drove the two parties increasingly into one camp. Revision of the economic clauses of the Compromise was a legitimate demand, within the terms of the Compromise itself, although each discussion revealed differences of interest between the Austrian and Hungarian parties which left them mutually irritated. But in the 1880's nationalist opinion, provoked by some acts of supreme tactlessness on the part of the central military authorities, began to concentrate its resentment against the joint army. Even the moderate Opposition, although not asking for a fully independent army, joined the agitation for 'national' concessions in this field. This touched Francis Joseph on the raw, and his refusal to make any concessions in the field left public opinion, in its turn, more convinced that the Compromise was incompatible with true national independence.

It was the outcry raised by the Opposition against an army Bill introduced in 1889, which strengthened (although only very slightly) the centralist features of the army, that was the real cause of Tisza's resignation (although he only tendered it a few months later),. and this can probably be taken as the turning-point after which the monarch and the "political nation' alike recognised the impossibility of complete and sincere reconciliation. The Liberal Party continued in office, indeed, for another fifteen years, during the first part of which public attention was partially diverted from the 'question of public law' by social and religious problems (which produced the phenomenon of the foundation of a major party - the Christian People's Party - on a social basis) and by the millenary celebrations. Meanwhile the revision of the economic clauses of the Compromise in 1887 had gone through without too great difficulty, and that of 1897 brought Hungary the great concession of equal partnership in what was now the Austro-Hungarian Bank.

But in 1903 another army Bill evoked such unbridled agitation and parliamentary filibustering that in the end the Minister President of the day (Kálmán Tisza's son, Count István Tisza) appealed to the country, and was heavily defeated by a coalition mainly composed of the Party of Independence and `national' sympathisers.

Francis Joseph, indeed, dealt with the situation easily enough. He appointed a cabinet of officials, under the minister of defence, General Fejérváry, which threatened to introduce universal suffrage. The Coalition capitulated and agreed, in return for office, to renounce all its more far-reaching demands and itself to introduce a suffrage Bill. After it had spent four inglorious years doing little but evade the latter promise (it did produce a Bill, but weighted the voting by complicated devices to maintain Magyar supremacy), Tisza reorganised his followers in a new party, known as the Party of Work, and duly recovered the parliamentary majority in the elections of 1910. But there was no concealing that by now the Compromise had lost all its popularity; those who, like Tisza, supported it, did so because, in their view, although objectionable, it yet offered protection against worse dangers.

And those dangers were mounting visibly. The twentieth century had seen a steady growth in Hungary itself of the forces which challenged the class-national supremacy which was the common basis of the '67 and the '48 parties alike. The agrarian crisis had been repressed rather than resolved. The industrial workers' movement had visibly gathered strength. A Trade Union Congress had been instituted in 1904. When the Fejérváry government raised their hopes, and again later, the workers had staged big demonstrations in favour of universal suffrage. The nationalities had emerged from their relative passivity. In the 1905 elections they had gotten deputies into parliament and in those of 1906 (held by the Coalition after it had agreed with the Crown) no less than twenty-six, who had formed an alliance between themselves and with the deputies from Croatia. There, in 1905, a Dalmatian politician named Supilo had succeeded in persuading a number of the Croat and Serb parties to form a coalition. This had at first offered to support the Hungarian Coalition against Austria, but had soon swung round to bitter opposition to Budapest. In the 1908 elections for the Sabor, the Coalition had secured 57 seats, the Party of Pure Right 24, the Unionists none at all. The new Ban, Baron Rauch, was reduced to ruling without a Sabor.

The danger of these developments was immensely enhanced by the developments which were taking place in the Monarchy itself, outside Hungary, and in Europe at large. The real basis on which the Compromise should have rested in the Monarchy had been swept away long since when the German centralists, whose supremacy west of the Leitha should have been the counterpart to that of the '67 parties east of it, had proved unable to maintain their position. Since then, Austrian Governments had balanced uneasily between Germans and Slavs, who had never renounced their hopes of remodelling the Monarchy. While Francis Joseph lived, this, at least, would not happen, but he was growing old, and it was notorious that the heir presumptive, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, meant on his succession to carry through radical changes. In military and economic respects, the Monarchy was to be strictly unitary, but, politically, it was to be reorganised either as a trialist state (by forming a third component out of its Southern Slav areas) or as a more complex federation of national units. Either solution would have meant the end, not only of Dualism, but even, in practice, of Historic Hungary. The Archduke was in close contact with the nationality leaders in Hungary, and also with the new forces among the Austrian Germans, notably the Christian Socials, who were also bitterly hostile to Hungary.

Outside the Monarchy, Russia was in alliance with France, had reached a modus vivendi with Britain and since 1906 had again redirected its expansionist drive southwestward. Russian agents were at work in Galicia and even among the Hungarian Ruthenes, and in touch with the neo-Slavs in Prague. Above all, Russia had developed an intimate understanding with Serbia, where the replacement of the Obrenovi dynasty by that of Karageorgevi in 1903 had soon been followed by the emergence of an anti-Austrian feeling which almost reached hysteria when the Monarchy annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908. Roumania was still technically allied to the Monarchy, but its most popular politicians were openly proclaiming the annexation of Transylvania as the supreme objective of the nation's policy.

Tisza may have been too optimistic in thinking that in this situation any policy at all could ensure the survival of a Hungary recognisable to him as such. He was at any rate convinced that if it could be saved at all, this could only be by close adherence to the Austrian connection and to the German alliance, and by keeping political power out of the hands of the centrifugal forces in Hungary. Under pressure from the Crown itself, the Party of Work passed a franchise act, but it was as restrictive as the Coalition's had been. When the murder of Francis Ferdinand, on 28 June 1914, brought the European crisis to a head, Tisza, who had returned to the Minister Presidency a year before, was personally against war with Serbia, which he thought could only bring harm to Hungary, whether it were won or lost. But his logic bound him to submit to, and publicly to espouse, the decision of the Crown Council which declared for war, and Hungary thus found herself involved, as a part of the Monarchy and as Germany's ally, in a conflict with the Entente, and presently also with the U.S.A., on whose side stood also Serbia, after 1916 Roumania, and in 1918 a shadow Czecho-Slovakia. As this international alignment took shape, it became increasingly probable that if Hungary lost the war, she would be dismembered in the name of national self-determination; and various secret treaties and agreements to this effect were in fact made in the course of the war. The details of these were not always known to the Hungarians but their existence was either known to them, or could be inferred, and they came to realise that their only hope lay in victory. Tisza held the country unswervingly on her course so long as Francis Joseph lived, and when the old monarch died, on 21 November 1916, prevailed on his successor, Charles, to accept immediate coronation, thereby making it impossible for Charles to realise the intention with which he was credited, of offering the Slavs and Roumanians of the Monarchy concessions a la Francis Ferdinand at the expense of its Germans and Magyars. All Charles could do was to insist on further franchise reform, and Tisza's refusal to sponsor this brought his resignation, but the tragi-comedy of the Coalition period repeated itself; his successors evaded fulfilling the condition, and haggled over 'national' concessions at the expense of Austria, while the military situation deteriorated, war-weariness and social unrest grew, and disaffection spread among the nationalities and in Croatia.

The effective end of Historic Hungary, when it came, did so swiftly, although another eighteen months passed before the treaty which legalised its demise was signed. As the situation grew worse, one prominent Hungarian politician, Count Mihály Károlyi, who had recently succeeded to the leadership of a fraction of the Party of Independence, came forward with the proposal that Hungary should sever her connection with Austria and Germany, conclude a separate peace, and at the same time introduce social and political reforms, and concessions to the nationalities. In this way, he argued, the nationalities would be reconciled to Hungary and the victors be deprived of any reason to attack her integrity; the other reforms were desirable per se. The popular appeal of this programme grew apace as conditions deteriorated, and on 25 October 1918, when it was plain that the end was imminent, Károlyi's own Party followers, the Social Democrats, and a group of bourgeois Radicals set up a National Council in Budapest. On 31 October Budapest was in a state of dangerous turmoil, and Charles, to save bloodshed, appointed Károlyi Minister President. The National Council transformed itself into a cabinet. Károlyi opened negotiations with the nationalities and went to Belgrade to ask the French commander, General Franchet d'Espérey, for a separate armistice. Unhappily for his theories, most of the nationalities had by now lost the wish to stay in Hungary on any terms, and where the willingness did exist, it was irrelevant in view of the wishes of Hungary's neighbours, and the Allies' commitments to them. Croatia had already proclaimed her independence and union with Serbia in a new state; a meeting of the Roumanians of Transylvania declared for union with the Regat, and a meeting of Slovaks, for union with the Czechs. The demarcation line drawn by Franchet d'Espérey allowed Serb and Roumanian troops to occupy all south and east Hungary, and immediately thereafter, Czech forces entered northern Hungary and occupied it up to a line which, in most of its extent, corresponded to the full claims of the Czecho-Slovak provisional government. The de facto dismemberment of Hungary was already near-complete, and was brought nearer in the next weeks, as the Roumanian troops edged their way westward.

On 13 November Charles 'renounced participation' in the affairs of state, declaring that he recognised in advance whatever decision Hungary might take regarding its future form of state. On the 16th the National Council dissolved parliament and proclaimed a republic, with Károlyi as provisional President. The separation from Austria was popular, as was the prospect of peace, but the chief basis of Károlyi's appeal was destroyed and his programme discredited by the complete failure of either the nationalities or the Allies to behave as he had promised. Meanwhile, complete confusion reigned at home. There was mass unemployment in the factories and near-starvation in Budapest. Károlyi prepared to introduce a land reform and a democratic franchise, but did not get beyond preparations. Extremist agitation increased; the bourgeois elements in the government were pushed back by the Social Democrats, who were themselves outbid by the agitation spread by Béla Kun, a communist agent of Hungaro-Jewish origin whom Lenin had entrusted with the mission of bolshevising Hungary, and all central Europe.

On 20 March 1919 a representative of the Allies in Budapest handed Károlyi a Note ordering him to evacuate a further area of central Hungary for the benefit of the Roumanians. Károlyi understood that the new line was to constitute a political frontier, and resigned; as did the bourgeois members of the cabinet. Kun, on the other hand, promised Russian help, and the next day the Social Democrats fused with the Communists and proclaimed a dictatorship of the proletariat. A red regime under Kun now followed Károlyi's pink one, but it only re-enacted its predecessor's faults, in aggravated form, with none of its redeeming virtues. Kun turned the entire peasantry against him by announcing that the land was not to be distributed, but nationalised. He set the urban population, including the industrial workers, against him in innumerable ways, and inaugurated a red terror under the vile Szamuelly. Withal, he proved as unable to defend Hungary against her enemies as Károlyi had been. He undertook an offensive against the Czechs in Slovakia, but the Entente stepped in and vetoed it. The Russians never produced the promised help against the Roumanians, and when Kun nevertheless attacked the latter, his armies melted away. On 4 August he fled, with most of his associates, to Vienna; two days later, the Roumanian troops entered Budapest.

The draft peace terms were ready by this time; indeed, except in the west, where Austria put in a belated claim for the German-speaking fringe across the Leitha, most of the new frontiers had been in existence, de facto, since soon after the armistice. The Allies had, however, been unwilling to recognise Kun, and the presentation of the Treaty had therefore been deferred. There was now another delay until a new Hungarian regime was formed. which the Allies were prepared to treat as stable; then a few weeks more, for discussion of the terms. It was thus only on 14 June that the Treaty was signed at Trianon which constituted the death certificate of Historic Hungary.

This was hard indeed. The Allies had entirely accepted the view that the 'principle of self-determination' called for the 'liberation' from Hungary, so far as this was practicable, of all its non-Magyars. Thus the Slovak, Roumanian and all Southern Slav areas had to go; and satisfaction was given also to Austria's claim.

Furthermore, it was not genuine self-determination that was applied at all, but a sort of national determinism which assumed that all peoples in Hungary of the same or kindred stock as their neighbours ought to be transferred; their wishes were taken for granted. More, it was assumed that any non-Magyar should, where at all possible, be taken away from Hungary, even if the state to which he was transferred had no ethnic claim on him. Thus the Ruthenes of the north-east were attached to Czecho-Slovakia although they were neither Czechs nor Slovaks, simply because they were not Magyars, and in the mixed districts of the south the Germans - not to mention the Bunyevci and Sokci - were counted to show that the local majority was non-Magyar, whereas another calculation, which would have accorded far better with the wishes of these peoples, would have given the answer that the majority was non-Serb.

Finally, even where the claimants could produce no sort of ethnic case, the frontiers of all of them, except Austria, were extended to satisfy economic or strategic claims, often of very exaggerated nature. The final result was that of the 325,411 sq. km. which had comprised the area of the Lands of the Holy Crown, Hungary was left with only 92,963. Roumania alone had received 103,093; Czecho-Slovakia 61 ,633; Yugoslavia the 42,541 sq. km. of Croatia-Slavonia and 20,551 of Inner Hungary; Austria 4,020; and even Poland and Italy small fragments. Of the population of 20,886,487 (1910 census), Hungary was left with 7,615,117. Roumania received 5,257,467, Czecho-SIovakia 3,517,568, Yugoslavia 4,131,249 (2,621,954 + 1,509,295), and Austria 291,618. Of the 10,050,575 persons of Magyar mother-tongue, according to the 1910 census, no less than 3,219,579 were allotted to the Successor States: 1,704,851 of them to Roumania, 1,063,020 to Czecho-Slovakia, 105,948 + 441,787 to Yugoslavia and 26,183 to Austria. While the homes of some of these, e.g., the Szekels, had been in the remotest corners of Historic Hungary, many of them were living in compact blocs immediately across the frontier.

In addition, the Treaty required Hungary to pay in reparations an unspecified sum, which was to be 'the first charge upon all her assets and resources', and limited her armed forces to a long-service force of 35,000 (officers and men), to be used exclusively on the maintenance of internal order, and on frontier defence.

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