Essay Preview: Austrian Revolution
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In the year 1848 revolutions were rampant in all over Europe. Revolutions and a general civil unrest became the norm, taking the place of a much more subservient society ruled and controlled by the upper class. This chain of revolutions in Europe was sparked by perhaps the most well known French Revolution in 1789 and 1848, the first of which followed the infamous American Revolution which granted our country autonomy. In Europe with the liberalism and nationalism were sweeping the continent, touching almost every absolutist government and monarchy in its path.
In 1848 the middle class became disenchanted with their governing rulers. Nationalism, not just a lack of satisfaction in the nobility also played a large role in the populaceÐ²Ð‚™s decision to overthrow the government. Within Austria-Hungary there were many troublesome minorities, including the Hungarians, Czechs and Italians each with its own agenda. Liberalism also had a strong influence as those not in the upper class were tired of having their rights trampled and little to no say in which laws and policies were passed. Metternich, one of the most important statesmen and AustriaÐ²Ð‚™s Chancellor of the time felt that this was unacceptable and fought hard against. Akin to France though this desire for a fair government was not what sent the Austrian-Hungarian Empire spiraling into a revolution. The economy in the empire had been steadily declining for a number of years, and with and over-populated countryside in which harvests had failed over the last several years starvation became a serious concern. The nobility however was still doing quite well, and a probably bigger problem than their lack of action in rectifying the crisis was their apparent inability to even recognize the plight of their people. Most of these nobles lived in such seclusion that they did not realize what was happening to the people under them. It was this attitude that caused the lower classes to rebel. Even by the time the nobles realized what was happening it was to late as the revolution was in full swing.
The revolution finally broke out in Vienna in March of 1848. Metternich was forced to leave the capital and soon later the revolution found its way to Hungary when a group of students stormed the Buda fortress to release political prisoners. The Diet, Austria-HungaryÐ²Ð‚™s ruling body, was removed by the lower liberal house and a national government who answered to an elected parliament was put into place on March 22. Count Louis Batthyany became the chairman displacing Metternich. This new Diet approved bills that quickly changed the entire Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Defense and finance were added, a currency was developed as well as a central bank. Nobles were now subject to taxes, some peasants were given the land they worked and freedoms, similar to those listed in the Bill of Rights were established. Transylvania was also annexed, which led to further problems down the road. These were all known as the April Laws.
Unfortunately all the various ethnic groups put a heavy strain on the newly adapted empire. Many minorities were wary of the new Hungarian governments and some even opposed the addition of Transylvania. In Vienna the minorities gathered with plans of overthrowing the Hungarian Government. They enlisted the help of Josip Jelacic, an extreme anti-Hungarian and named him governor of Croatia upon which he cut all ties wit the new Hungarian government. This renewed Austrian power ordered the revolutionary Hungarian diet to dissipate, but this order was ignored. In September Jelaic marched into Hungary in an attempt to quell the revolution. Batthyany resigned, but a Hungarian national army was formed under Kossuth. The army was funded using paper money that was issued specifically for that purpose. On October 30 Austrian troops entered Vienna in order to put down a workerÐ²Ð‚™s uprising, basically crushing the rebellion everywhere with the exception of Hungary where KossuthÐ²Ð‚™s army had beaten back Jalacic and his men. In December Ferdinand gave up the throne and handed his crown to Franz Joesph, who basically threw out the April Laws because he had never made any commitment to them.
The revolutionary government of Hungary declared itself a Republic and named Kossuth governor with dictator like powers. Almost as soon as they had declared themselves autonomous Austrian troops where moved into position to attack Hungary. Then upon Franz JosephÐ²Ð‚™s request Russian troops attacked from the east and together they conquered what was left of the revolutionary forces. The Hungarians surrendered on August 13 and Kossuth fled into the Ottoman empire. After the revolt was finally crushed a period of intense repression followed. Batthyany and roughly one hundred of his followers were rounded up and shot, several women were flogged publicly. The government revoked the right to assembly, and display of nationalism, and strangely beards that had a resemblance to the one worn by Kossuth.
Franz Joseph took complete control of the newly required territory and split it into four concrete territories: Hungary, Transylvania, Croatia-Slavonia and Vojvodina, assumable to prevent further uprisings. Germans played a larger role as they were given the task of managing the government and German became the language of higher education. Little was done to repay the support received by the non Hungarian minorities, and while they were disgruntled, there was nothing they could do about it.
Hungarian citizens had differing opinions on to how they wanted to be related to Austria after the revolution. Some want full separation and their own country with sovereignty; others were willing to remain under Austrian constitution and laws so long as they were left alone. Among this second group was a man named Ferencz Deak. He would become the main advocator for this compromise between the two nations. He claimed the April Laws were still valid and championed passive resistance of what he considered to be illegal demands.
In 1859 Sardinia and France defeated Austria as Solferno and this was really the beginning of the end for Franz JosephÐ²Ð‚™s absolutist rule. He realized that he was not strong to maintain his empire in its present state and so made compromises with the Hungarians in hopes of saving most of his power. In 1866 the Prussians defeated the Austrians weakening the empire further and eventually resulting in the Compromise of 1867. This put into place a dual monarchy known as the Austro-Hungarian