Count Gyula Andrássy and the Compromise

On 17 February 150 years ago, the Austrian Kaiser asked Count Gyula Andrássy to form his government and appointed him prime minister. The first responsible Hungarian government after the Compromise was established on 20 February, 1867. The dual monarchy that was born due to the Compromise consisted of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary, with one emperor Franz Joseph I – Austrian Kaiser and Hungarian King.

Györök Leo fotóhagyatékaThe ministers of the Andrássy government were: Gyula Andrássy (prime minister and minister of defence), Béla Wenckheim (interior minister), Menyhért Lónyay (minister of finance), Boldizsár Horvát (minister of justice), György Festetics (minister around His Majesty the King), József Eötvös (minister of religion and public education), István Gorove (minister of agriculture, trade and commerce), Imre Mikó (minister of public labour and transport) and Kálmán Bedekovich (minister without portfolio). They governed the country until 14 November, 1871.

The ‘hanged man’ who crowned Franz Joseph

Gróf Andrássy Gyula (1823–1890) magyar államférfi fényképe - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDCount Gyula Andrássy (1823-1890) played an important role even during the war of independence of 1848-49. He could not return from abroad after the capitulation, where he was trying to obtain support for the Hungarian cause. During the retorsions in his absence, the empire sentenced him to death, hanged him in effigy and confiscated his properties. He spent his exile mainly in Paris, where he was named ‘the beautiful hanged man’ (le beau pendu) due to his rather attractive appearance. He applied for amnesty several times and finally in 1857 he was allowed to return to Hungary. After having taken his oath to the Kaiser, he was allowed to take part in the political life and diplomacy again. He and Ferenc Deák were trying to prepare the compromise with the Austrian Empire. Empress Elizabeth also sympathized with Andrássy, which promoted negotiations with the Emperor as well. Besides that, the military defeats of the Austrian Empire also urged Franz Joseph to give in to the federal aspirations of Hungary.

Birth of the Monarchy of Austria-Hungary

1867. évi koronázási emlékérem előlapi apatő verőtöve - Jósa András Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDThe Monarchy of Austria-Hungary was born on 8 June in 1867, when Franz Joseph was crowned Hungarian king. The act was ratified by the king on 28 July. During the coronation ceremony, Andrássy was in charge of the palatine duties, thus he and Prince-Primate József Simon together put the crown on Franz Joseph’s head.

For Hungary, dualism meant a relative autonomy, with joint foreign affairs and war department, including the finances related to both. Owing to the customs union and other beneficial measures, the economy and the agrarian sector started soaring. Thanks to the efficient work of the new ministries, the transport and the trade improved significantly – by developing the rail network and increasing the export. A separate Hungarian army and a modern public education system could be created.

Az Appony-Kovarczi Mezőgazdasági- és Szeszipari Rt. törzsrészvénye 200 koronáról - Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, CC -BY-NC-ND

Tiszadob - Jósa András Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDAs soon as Andrássy resigned from the government in 1871, he was appointed to the foreign minister position of the Monarchy of Austria-Hungary. Due to his effective political activities the Monarchy could avoid entering the Prussian-French war, and he initiated the Hungarian-Croatian ‘small-compromise’ too. A nationality act that was unique in Europe was installed, which provided the minorities with lingual and cultural emancipation. As a foreign minister, he often worked in Vienna, but he preferred spending time on his estate in Tiszadob, from where he sent his instructions in telegrams. In 1879, he retired from politics and participated only in social life since then. Later he moved to the coast of the Adriatic Sea – because of his severe illness – and died there in 1890.

Peacetime Budapest

Opera Kávéház - képeslap, Budapest, 1908 - Magyar Kereskedelmi és Vendéglátóipari Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDIn the meantime, Budapest also enjoyed the advantages of the Monarchy and developed into a modern metropolis by the turn of the century. In 1910, the population of the Kingdom of Hungary was 18 million without the joint countries, and the population of Budapest was almost 900 thousand persons; including the suburbs it was 1.3 million. Thus it became the second most populated city in the Monarchy – after Vienna. The cityscape also changed a lot, the Heroes’ Square, the ‘Sugárút’ (avenue) was created and the Opera House and the Western Railway Station were built.

Képeslap, Budapest - Gróf Esterházy Károly Múzeum, CC BY-NC-NDThree bridges were built over the Danube between Pest and Buda: Margaret Bridge, Franz Joseph Bridge (today’s Liberty Bridge) and Elisabeth Bridge. The prosperity of economy allowed the support of arts and the patronage of artists, thus Hungarian artists could go to Western Europe, from where they returned home with the latest trends later on.

In the field of film art, the Monarchy was especially a foregoer: films were screened in Budapest as early as in 1896. The following newsreel from 1917 is a film historical treasure, immortalizing Franz Joseph’s funeral. You can see King Charles IV and Queen Zita in a black veil as they are leading the 4-year-old crown prince Otto at the 7th minute of the 17-minute-long record. Did they think that the Monarchy would break up in less than two years? From the distance of history, the Emperor’s funeral might be regarded as the advanced burial ceremony of the Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.

Zita Aknai

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