December 11th, 2023 AAAA
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Brief History of Hungary

The foundation was laid in the ninth century by the great Magyar chief, Árpád, who after having settled in the Carpathian Basin lead the people from paganism toward Christianity. On Christmas Day, 1000, Árpád's great grandson, Stephen ascended to the throne with a crown sent from Rome by Pope Sylvester II. The kingdom and nation of Hungary was born.

The three hundred year reign of the House of Árpád saw the country become increasingly westward-looking and the succeeding House of Anjou brought expansion—into Poland, towards Dalmatia—and a great flowering of art and architecture. The first Golden Age had begun. Under King Matthias, lauded for his fairness and justice, Hungary flourished, but his passing eventually led to decimation under the Ottomans for 150 years during the 16th and l7th-century. However, the Habsburgs helped oust the Turkish, heralding a more stable time of reconstruction.

As the Habsburg Empire floundered, a revolt in 1848 resulted in the dual monarchy of "Austria the empire, Hungary the kingdom". In 1867 there were two capitals, two parliaments. This "age of dualism" sparked an economic, cultural and intellectual rebirth in Hungary. The second golden age had begun.

Turn of the century Budapest was rightly considered the birthplace of the modern world. World War I proved disastrous, however. Partitioned into almost one-third its original size, millions of ethnic Hungarians found themselves living outside the country. Russian intervention followed after World War II as Stalinism lowered its iron curtain across Central Eastern Europe.

But at the turn of this new century, Hungary is now a free country for a decade and combines a smiling, dynamic image with a reputation for nostalgia. In this post-communist era of rapid change, the visitor will find constant reminders of a largely vanished Europe - old-fashioned customs and courtesies like kissing of hands and the presentation of flowers. Nowadays Modern Hungary is experiencing a new Renaissance. With its colorful people and the 21st century mix of ethnic influences this was almost eerily predicted. St. Stephen, Hungary's first king said: "Therefore I command you my son, to extend a benevolent protection and respect towards newcomers, so that they would rather stay with you instead of settling somewhere else."
The Conquest—Arriving from the East, the Hungarian tribes conquer the Carpathian Basin under Árpád's leadership.
Stephen I (Saint Stephen) is crowned king, and during his reign Christianity is adopted and the structure of the Hungarian state is set up.


The Golden Bull issued during the reign of King Andrew II confirms feudal privileges and grants the right of resistance to the nobility.
The Mongols invade the country. The reconstruction is Béla IV's achievement.


The house of Árpád dies out with King Andrew III.
A ruler from the House of Anjou: Charles Robert I ascends the throne.


Under the reign of Charles' son, Louis I, the Great, the medieval state of Hungary attains its largest territory. Louis secures the throne of Naples, and becomes king of Poland in 1370.
In the battle of Nikápoly the Turks secure their first important victory by defeating the crusader army of Sigismund of Luxembourg.


János Hunyadi successfully defends Nándorfehérvár, today's Belgrade, and stops Turkish attacks for half a century.
During Mátyás (Matthias) Hunyadi's reign Hungary is an important European power: the Black Army conquers part of Bohemia and takes Vienna.


The greatest Hungarian peasant uprising led by György Dózsa.
29 August 1526
The independent Hungarian state falls in the battle of Mohács against the attacking Turkish empire. One camp of the feudal estates elects János Szapolyai while another camp elects Ferdinand I (of Habsburg) king.


Buda is seized by the Turks. The country is divided into three parts, the largest part is held by the Turks while Northern and Western Hungary recognises the Habsburgs as ruler and Transylvania becomes an independent principality pursuant to the Speyer treaty of 1570.
The 15-year war against the Turks ends with the Peace of Zsitvatorok.
The fight of István Bocskai (ruler of Transylvania from 1605) for independence ends with the Peace of Vienna.


Transylvania's golden age under the rule of Gábor Bethlen.
The Turks are expelled from Hungary with the help of the Habsburg emperor. The castle of Buda is recaptured in 1686.
War of Independence of Ferenc Rákóczi II (prince of Transylvania from 1704, ruling prince from 1705) against the Habsburgs. In 1707 the national assembly at Ónod declares the dethronement of the Habsburgs, but the war of independence fails.


The Pragmatic Sanction endorses the line of succession through the female line of the Habsburgs.
Reign of Maria Theresa (apostolic monarch from 1758).


Reign of Joseph II. The enlightened absolutist monarch, the "king with a hat" introduces a number of reforms but, with the exception of three, revokes them on his deathbed.
Conspiracy of the Hungarian Jacobins led by Ignác Martinovics.


Count István Széchenyi offers one year's revenue of his estates for the establishment of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in the national assembly of Bratislava—the beginning of the Reform Period. Starting from 1832, the national assembly conducts its sessions in Hungarian instead of Latin.
15 March 1848
Revolution in Pest. On 7 April King Ferdinand V appoints the first independent and responsible Hungarian government led by Count Lajos Batthyány, and on 11 April assents to the laws adopted by the last feudal Diet.

September 1848

A war of independence begins against the Habsburgs. After the initial defeats, the Hungarian troops win a series of victories.
14 April 1849
The national assembly proclaims the dethronement of the Habsburgs and elects Lajos Kossuth as governor-president in Debrecen.
13 August 1849
Fall of the War of Independence. The Hungarian army capitulates to the Austrian emperor's and the Russian tzar's superior forces at Világos.

6 October 1849

The martyrs of the War of Independence are executed in Arad, Lajos Batthyány in Pest. By way of retaliation, all laws adopted in 1848-1849 are invalidated, only the liberation of serfs remains in force. The constitutional independence of Hungary is abolished and the Austrian customs and legal system is introduced.
29 May 1867
Compromise with the House of Habsburg. Francis Joseph I is crowned King of Hungary, and the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy is established. Dynamic economic development starts in Hungary while political and national tensions are aggravated.


The millennium, the thousandth anniversary of the Magyar conquest, is celebrated with great pomp.
28 July 1914
Following the assassination of Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy declares war on Serbia; World War I breaks out.


As a result of the defeat the Monarchy falls apart.
31 October 1918
Count Mihály Károlyi becomes Prime Minister.

21 March–31 July 1919

Károlyi resigns because of the Entente's territorial claims. The Republic of Council is established, headed by the Communist Béla Kun. The Commune survives for 133 days. A counter-government is established at Szeged.
16 November 1919
Miklós Horthy, defense minister of the counter-government and commander-in-chief of the national army marches into Budapest.

1 March 1920

Miklós Horthy is elected Regent. Hungary is a "kingdom" again in name but the issue of the power of the head of state is not settled with final effect.
4 June 1920
The peace treaty of Trianon is signed, which reduces Hungary's territory from 288,000 square kilometres to 93,000 and its population from 18.2 million to 7.6 million. Millions of Hungarians find themselves in the successor states of the collapsed Monarchy, and the revision of the Treaty becomes the goal for Hungarian foreign policy.

6 November 1921

The law on the dethronement of the House of Habsburg is enacted.
The country is consolidated under Prime Minister Count István Bethlen but is unable to fend off the effects of the Great Depression.


During the period when Gyula Gömbös is Prime Minister, foreign policy increasingly seeks support from the Fascist Germany and Italy, the Axis powers.
2 November 1938
The Italian-German court of arbitration returns from Czechoslovakia to Hungary the part of the Felvidék inhabited by Hungarians by the First Vienna Award, and in March 1939 the Sub-Carpathia is re-annexed. In August 1940 the Second Vienna Award gives back Northern Transylvania together with Székelyföld to Hungary.

3 April 1941

After Hungary permits the transit of the German army on its way to occupy Yugoslavia, thus breaching the 'treaty of eternal friendship', Prime Minister Pál Teleki commits suicide. On 16 April Bácska, the Baranya triangle, Muraköz and Muravidék are returned to Hungary.
26 June 1941
The government led by László Bárdossy declares war on the Soviet Union. Hungary enters World War II.

January 1943

The Second Hungarian Army is annihilated at the bend of the Don river.
19 March 1944
Hungary is occupied by the Germans. On 15 October Horthy makes a failed attempt at pulling out of the war; the next day the Germans force him to resign. Ferenc Szálasi, leader of the Arrow-Cross (Hungarian National Socialist) Party becomes "leader of the nation".

21 December 1944

The Provisional National Assembly convenes in Debrecen, the eastern part of the country liberated by the Soviet Army. The Provisional Government established the next day declares war on Germany.
early April 1945
The Soviet army drives the Germans out of the country. Hungary's loss of human lives is about one million in World War II, and 40 per cent of the national wealth is destroyed.

November 1945

The Independent Smallholders' Party wins the parliamentary elections.
1 February 1946
Hungary becomes a republic, with Zoltán Tildy as the head of state.

10 February 1947

Hungary signs the Paris Peace Treaty, which restores the borders defined in the Trianon Peace Treaty, and Czechoslovakia gets a bridgehead (three villages) near Bratislava.
31 August 1947
In the "blue slip" elections the Communist party, which does not hasitate at fraud, gains the upper hand. The erosion of the opposition, the so-called "salami tactics" commences.

12 June 1948

In the "year of the turning point" the Communist and the Social Democratic parties unite, creating the Hungarian Working People's Party (Magyar Dolgozók Pártja - MDP). The other parties disappear. The plenipotentiary ruler of the country is Mátyás Rákosi, Secretary General of MDP and Prime Minister. The head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Mindszenty is convicted in a show trial; plants employing over 10 persons are nationalised; a new Constitution is adopted; the forced collectivisation of agriculture commences. Some of the Communist cadres are also executed or imprisoned after show trials. The standard of living plummets, dissatisfaction increases.
20 August 1949
The Constitution of the People's Republic of Hungary comes into force.

4 July 1953

Upon the instructions of Moscow, Imre Nagy replaces Rákosi as Prime Minister, and the "adjustment" of errors commences. Imre Nagy is dismissed in April 1955 and is later expelled from the party.
23 October–4 November 1956
Revolution and war of independence for the democratic transformation of domestic politics and for national independence. On 1 November Prime Minister Imre Nagy announces Hungary's secession from the Warsaw Pact. On 4 November János Kádár announces the establishment of the Workers' and Peasants' Revolutionary Government and calls in the Soviet troops. The revolution is put down, and the unprecedented bloodshed of the retaliation claims over two hundred lives; (general but not complete) amnesty is proclaimed only in 1963. Imre Nagy and his companions, who sought refuge at the Yugoslav embassy, then left it, are arrested, sentenced to death in 1958 and executed on 16 June.

19 March 1959

The Socialist restructuring of agriculture starts, and ends by 19 February 1961.
20-24 November 1962
The 8th Congress of Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party (MSZMP) declares that the laying down of the foundations of Socialism is completed.
27 May 1966
MSZMP KB (Central Committee) passes a resolution on the new economic mechanism.
21 August 1968
As a member of the Warsaw Pact, Hungary participates in the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia and in the suppression of the "Prague Spring". The introduction of the new economic mechanism suffers a setback.

6 January 1978

The United States of America returns the Holy Crown and the coronation insignia that were transferred to the U.S. after World War II.
14-16 June 1985
Meeting of the social opposition to "Socialism as it exists" at Monor.

27 September 1987

The Hungarian Democratic Forum (Magyar Demokrata Fórum) is established, which is converted into an independent social organisation in 1988.
30 March 1988
The Alliance of Young Democrats (Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége—Fidesz) is established; the Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabaddemokraták Szövetsége—SZDSZ) is established on 13 November, and the Independent Smallholders' Party (Független Kisgazdapárt—FKGP) is re-established on 4 March 1989. The party conference of the MSZMP on 20–22 May 1988 releases János Kádár from the his duties as Secretary General. Miklós Németh becomes Prime Minister at the session of the National Assembly between 24–26 November.

23 March 1989

The Opposition Round Table is formed.
13 June–18 September 1989
Political conciliation negotiations between the MSZMP, the Opposition Round Table and social agencies and movements (third side) on the creation of the political and legal conditions for peaceful transition and the creation of the democratic rule of law based on a multi-party system.

16 June 1989

On the anniversary of their execution, Imre Nagy and his fellow martyrs are re-buried. On 6 June János Kádár dies, and the period hallmarked by his name comes to a symbolic end.
10 September 1989
The Hungarian government opens the country's western borders to refugees from the German Democratic Republic. (In the autumn, the "iron curtain" separating the two world systems falls, Socialist regimes in Eastern and Central Europe fail one after another.)

23 October 1989

The republic is proclaimed.
12 March–30 June 1990
The Soviet troops leave the country.

25 March–8 April 1990

The first free multi-party parliamentary elections, to be followed by the elections of 1994 and 1998. The new National Assemblies and the coalition governments formed after the elections commit themselves to the establishment and stabilisation of the political, economic and legal foundations of the systemic change.

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