Hungary's Long Nineteenth Century

Constitutional and Democratic Traditions in a European Perspective


László Péter, whose fourteen carefully selected essays are edited in this posthumous collection, was an indefatigable seeker of the most appropriate terminological modelling and narrative reconstruction of Hungary’s late nineteenth and early twentieth century progress from an essentially feudal entity into a modern European state. The articles examine thorny subjects, such as the growing tensions between the nationalities living within the multi-ethnic kingdom; language rights; autocracy, democracy and civil rights in Hungary perceived in a wider European context; the concept of the ‘Holy Crown’; the army question; church-state relations; the role of the intellectuals; and the changing British perception of Hungary. The central focus of the author’s microscope is reserved for a substantive re-evaluation of the Settlement between Hungary and the Austrian Empire in 1867, which had a decisive impact on the eventual fate of the old kingdom of Hungary and of the rest of Central Europe.

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László Péter (1929-2008), author, D.Phil. (1965) in History, University of Oxford. Lecturer in, later professor of, Hungarian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London (1963 to 1994, the year of his retirement). He published extensively on nineteenth-century Hungarian constitutional history, including "Die Verfassungsentwicklung in Ungarn" in Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848-1918 series (Der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2000.)

Miklós Lojkó, editor, Ph.D. (2001) in History, University of Cambridge. Associate Professor of Modern History at the Central European University and at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. He has published widely on British diplomacy and economic policy towards Central and South-eastern Europe during the interwar years, including Meddling in Middle Europe: Britain and the ‘Lands Between’, 1919–1925, (Central European University Press, 2006).
"Twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain the time has come for historians of Hungary and the surrounding countries to reflect on the conclusions of this thoughtful life’s work in their own research. An edition of the author’s collected essays could provide help in this project."
András Cieger, in The Hungarian Historical Review 1, no. 1–2 (2012): 245-252.

"An emigré of the 1956 revolution, László Péter, master of Hungarian constitutional history did not live long enough to see this volume published. Its publication is the result of the devoted and meticulous work of his younger Hungarian colleague, Miklós Lojkó.
Comprised of fourteen chapters, all published earlier but re-written, in cases extensively, this volume is somewhat surprisingly Péter’s first English-language book. Most of the essays address the constitutional development in nineteenth-century Hungary. One way or another, Péter’s writings were diametrically opposed to contemporary Hungarian historiography, having a social historical character, influenced or even dominated by Marxism. He questioned some established myths of Hungarian history, but Hungarian historians of the nineteenth century have been reluctant to accept his interpretations."
Istvan Szijarto in Austrian Studies, November 2013
Editorial Preface


The traditional vocabulary – The conversion of the constitution – Two historians

1. The Holy Crown of Hungary, Visible and Invisible
The cult of St Stephen’s Crown - The visible and the invisible crown compared-
Rex and corona: the incumbent and the institution - Corona regni - Werbőczy on the Holy Crown - Reincorporation with the crown and the ország - The Holy Crown uses in statute laws and government instruments - The Lands of the Hungarian (Holy) Crown - The inveterate crown uses - The extension of the Holy Crown membership - The Holy Crown, the nation and the constitution - Limited versus mixed monarchy in the jurists’ works - The making of the doctrine of the Holy Crown - Hungarian exceptionalism - The impact of the doctrine - The utility of the doctrine - Against the current: Eckhart - Revival - Conclusions

2. Ius resistendi in Hungary
Resistance as a right - Werbőczy and the ius resistendi - Contractualism - Conclusions

3. The Irrepressible Authority of Werbőczy’s Tripartitum
Decreta regni - Legislation and Consuetudo - The ascendance and the
eclipse of the Tripartitum - Jurists and the two–track view of
legal sources - Werbőczy reclaimed

4. Montesquieu’s Paradox on Freedom and Hungary’s Constitutions 1790–1990
The paradox - Montesquieu and the Hungarian constitution - The ‘kinship theory’- The Communists - After Communism
5. Language, the Constitution, and the Past in Hungarian Nationalism
Language - The Constitution - Epilogue

6. Lajos Kossuth and the Conversion of the Constitution
The ancient constitution – The national movement and the building of a unitary Hungarian state – Lajos Kossuth and proposals for a new Hungarian constitution: radical or moderate? – The April Laws, a new social order: ország into nation – The emancipation of the peasantry – Independent and responsible government – The imperial constitution of March 1849 – Gesamt-Monarchie as opposed to magyar álladalom

7. The Dualist Character of the 1867 Hungarian Settlement
The quasi-legal character of politics in the monarchy and the gloss on the 1867 Settlement - The statutory view of public law - The concept of the State - The concept of legal sovereignty: the doctrine of the Holy Crown - Political crises and the 1867 Settlement - The ősi (ancient) and the korszerű (modern) Constitution - The dualism of crown and ország - The Habsburg Empire and the conversion of the rights and duties of crown and ország into constitutional laws - Deák’s May programme of 1865 - The ‘outline’ of the subcommittee of fifteen - Law XII of 1867 - The nature of the Settlement - The Ausgleich with the Other Lands - The Monarch and the union of the Lands

8. The Autocratic Principle of the Law and Civil Rights in Nineteenth-Century Hungary
The rights of the individual - The autocratic principle of the law - Property rights and legal equality - Personal rights - Civil rights - The right of association - Regulation of associations by the Ministry of the Interior - Ministerial regulation of public assembly - Conclusions

9. The Aristocracy, the Gentry and Their Parliamentary Tradition in Nineteenth-Century Hungary
Introduction - Social reform and the landowning élite - The character of political reform - Aristocracy versus gentry - The political traditions of the aristocracy and the gentry - The influence of the aristocracy on political issues - Conclusions

10. Law XLIV of 1868 ‘On the Equality of Nationality Rights’ and the Language of Local Administration

11. The Army Question in Hungarian Politics 1867-1918
The constitutional question - The army question and the constitution - The 1867 constitutional Settlement and the Army - After the 1867 Settlement - The army question and Apponyi - The watershed: the 1889 Great Defence Debate - The Army crisis of 1903 - The swing of the pendulum - Conclusions

12. Intellectuals and the Future in the Habsburg Monarchy 1890–1914 (with Robert Pynsent).
The German culture – The culture of the Lands – The fin-de-siècle

13. Church-State Relations and Civil Society in Hungary: A Historical Perspective
The need for a historical perspective - The autocratic principle of the law - The legal position of the Churches - Equality of religion in legislation - The three classes of religion - Received religions - Tolerated religions - Recognised religions - The balance-sheet of church-state relations - Church-state relations under the communist system - Church-state relations in crisis - The reconstruction of church-state relations

14. R. W. Seton-Watson’s Changing Views on the National Question of the Habsburg Monarchy and the European Balance of Power
Germanophile - Hungarian independentist - Defender of the nationalities - Epilogue and conclusions

Teachers, researchers, students and general readers in European (especially Central and East European) history. Specialists in late 18th to late 19th century legal, constitutional and church history and in the history of ideas.
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