The challenges of the revolutions in Central Europe in 1848
The essay gives a survey of the political ideas in Central Europe during the period between the middle of March and May, 1848.
The victorious European revolutions in 1848 surprised not only the followers of the ancien régime, but also the liberals who found themselves in power. In Austria, that is in the western part of the Hapsburg Empire, the abolition of serfdom was recognized as the most urgent task, but its realization began very slowly although several people called attention to the necessity of following the Hungarian example. The laws passed by the Hungarian Diet in April made governmental factors in Vienna modernize the state administration. Most people in Vienna started to regard joining the process of German unification as the road to political stability.
The liberals of the Czech provinces were, on the other hand, for the survival and federalization of the Hapsburg Empire; similar views were expressed by the Polish liberals in Galicia.
The Hungarian liberals found themselves among orderly, constitutionally secured conditions from April 1848, and all that connected Hungary to the Empire was the personal union, the person of the king. The emancipation of serfs had been proclaimed and put into effect by that time, and, apart from the nationality issue, the stability of the country had been. The demand to control Transylvania and Croatia, that is the objective to create a centralized Hungarian state, however, heightened national antagonisms.
The paper describes the ideas of the German language leaflets and the German language press in March and April which indicate that some of them regarded the dissolution of the Hapsburg Empire as a fact, while others deemed it desirable or at least possible. However, concrete aspects of economy, hegemony and legitimacy were hardly mentioned: the events were seen as realizing the "spirit" of history (Weltgeist), and their views were seen rather as exposed to than as able to influence historical processes.
Looking for support, the government in Vienna accepted the invitation to the German Diet at Frankfurt and pretended to be for German unity, when it was in fact playing for time. This became quite clear when, forestalling the plans regarding Frankfurt, they issued a constitution for the western part of the Empire on April 25.
County Heves in the months of transformation (March-June 1848)
In 1848, County Heves was different from what it is today, including parts of counties Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, Nógrád and Békés. A number of places in the county, such as Eger, Gyöngyös, Szolnok, Törökszentmiklós, Heves, Pásztó, Kenderes and Pusztamonostor, were strongly stirred by the March revolution in Pest. These towns and villages elected committees to maintain law and order, and formed militia [nemzetőrség] units. On April 1, the county committee of law and order was also elected, headed by Deputy Sub-prefect [másodalispán] Gyula Blaskovics. The abolition of serfdom caused minor disturbances in the county, and lands were even occupied by force at Gyöngyöstarján and at Tiszasas. In the regions of Eger and Gyöngyös most of the complaints related to the continuing existence of the grape tithe. On April 7, there was an anti-semitic disturbance in Eger, but Sub-prefect Blaskovics, with energetic measures, managed to prevent the expulsion of the Jews. The acts passed by the Diet at Pozsony in April were proclaimed in the county on May 1.
They were executed mostly during May and June. The committee for law and order was replaced by the chief administrative body in the county, a permanent committee of 314 members, who were elected partly in accordance with the principle of popular representation. The permanent committee elected the missing members of the county government on June 2. Gyula Blaskovics was elected Chief Sub-prefect, Miklós Puky Deputy Sub-prefect. The judiciary was also changed, for example the feudal manorial courts [sedes domini] were abolished, and cases concerning the press were tried by courts of jury. Most of the work in the county was done for the organization of the county militia and in connection with the preparation of the popular elections to the national representative assembly. On account of the aversion among the peasants, the conscription of persons fit for service in the militia dragged on till October. The county's ten members to the national assembly were elected on June 13 and 26. The elections took place in an orderly manner, with one exception. At Gyöngyöspata, due to a disagreement that left one person dead, the election had to be repeated on July 6. With the elections over, the process of the transformation of the county was complete. In the following months, the emergency measures in connection with the Serbian revolt in the south and supporting the war of independence came to the foreground.
The organization and organizational development of revolutionary [honvéd] artillery in 1848
One of the most difficult tasks of organizing the Hungarian army in 1848 was the establishment of the artillery. The work done was, on the other hand, in proportion with the praises this branch received not only from its leaders but from the enemy as well. They went a far as claiming that the batteries of the Hungarian army were handled by French gunners.
The honvéd artillery was organized after the Austrian model; it was a similar organization, containing similar organs. This was natural since that was what the organizers knew. However, the organization of the Imperial and Royal artillery was extremely complicated. Apart from "combat" troops, it included the system of storehouses [szerházak] storing and handling weapons and munitions. The artillery also included the so-called garrison or fortress artillery units.
The organization of the Hungarian artillery started in May 1848, using the Fifth Austrian Artillery Regiment as a basis. That is where the officers, the instructors and even the batteries came from. In order to speed up the process of learning the tasks that were regarded as very complicated in those days, usually young people from professional families, or men with mechanical knowledge were recruited as gunners. This proved to be the proper approach, and the first batteries were set up by early September. These would perform very well later, already in the battle of Pákozd on September 29. The batteries were set up, one after the other in Pest, but the honvéd army also had a few batteries from the Fifth Austrian Regiment, as well as gunners from the militia and other artillery units set up at various other places. After their unification in November, however, the batteries were uniformly treated.
The batteries and equipment of the Hungarian artillery met the requirements of the day. Its organization was different from that of the Austrian artillery, but this was justified by later events. The calibres of the batteries as well as the proportion of foot and mounted batteries were also in accordance with the principles of the times. The Hungarian army was able to maintain the important indicator of having three or four batteries to every one thousand troops. The artillery was able to provide adequate support for the troops and the formation of battle orders fit for contemporary conditions.
The organization of the Hungarian artillery was an outstanding achievement of the establishment of the honvéd army.
Mór Perczel's armistice negotiations at the end of October 1848
The paper discusses an attempt hardly mentioned in historical literature, the armistice talks between Mór Perczel and the commanders of the Imperial and Royal [K.u.K] troops in Styria and Croatia. Perczel's troops reconquered the region of Muraköz in mid-October 1848. The K.u.K. commanders in Styria and Croatia were afraid that his offensive would not stop at the river Drava and would proceed into Croatia. Therefore, Brigadier General Burits, officer of the army in Styria initiated armistice talks. Perczel was willing, but the negotiations had no results because he meant the armistice for the borderline of Styria only and wanted the Croatians to ask separately for the ceasefire if they wanted it. Colonel-General Nugent, commander of the troops in Styria, however, insisted on including the Croatians. On the other hand, Lieutenant General Dahlen, commander of the forces in Croatia thought that the armistice was not necessary because the Hungarians were in a more dangerous situation than the Croatians. The talks showed that neither party was willing to take the risk of an armed conflict before the main forces clashed near Vienna. Perczel was unwilling because he was still hoping for a peaceful settlement. Nugent and Burits had probably been deeply shocked by the successes of the Hungarian forces in County Zala during the autumn and this is how they wished to keep the commander of the Hungarian general from military activity.
Counties and the wealthy gentry in the 18th century
The paper aims to find out what forces and the interests of what social group were behind the county, this definitive institution of Hungarian historical development from the beginning of the 18th century until 1791.
A survey of the landed society of the county shows that the group of wealthy gentry occupied an outstanding position in Somogy County. On the basis of records from the 1730s and 1740s, especially of the 1743 levy of the Pannonhalma tithe, it can be established that the functioning of the county served the interests of this group in general, and those of its individual members in particular. The effects of the latifundia of the aristocracy worked through their local representatives, and this made it possible for them to partially divert and use for their own purposes the resources of the large estates and thus to rise among the bene possessionati. Since certain general characteristics of county politicking and some of its details discernible in the years 1790-91 suggest the leading role of bene possessionati, the article concludes with a socio-historical hypothesis on the rise of the nobility bene possessionata.
This development in Somogy County, coinciding with the direction of the national development also reflected in the institutional history of the national assembly, exemplifies the forms of realization the local regrouping of the Hungarian estates took in the 18th century, with a definite fading of the dominance of aristocracy and the gentry taking the lead.