In April, 1806, nearly four hundred nobles met in a session of the Közép-Szolnok county assembly in Northern Transylvania. The speaker before them came from a prestigious family whose ancestors had addressed that body for two centuries. None of this was unusual. What was extraordinary was that the speaker was nine years old. In his youthful voice, he announced to them his intention to become a patriot:
Elementary Education and Nationality Acts of 1868.
Article 68: (1) The national and ethnic minorities living in the Republic of Hungary share the power of the people; they are constituent factors in the state; (2) The Republic of Hungary grants protection to national and ethnic minorities, it insures the possibilities for their collective participation in public life and enables them to foster their own culture, use the mother tongue, receive school instruction in the mother tongue and freedom to use their names as spelled and pronounced in their own languages.
Imre Madách, trans. Thomas R. Mark, The Tragedy of Man (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), scene XIII, 121.
Trócsányi, 545-46. Wesselényi's nationality bill provided that: 1) all of Transylvania's Christians, whether Orthodox or related faiths, would be entitled to equal religious treatment; 2) vital statistics kept by religious authorities could be filed in either the Hungarian or Romanian languages; 3) primary school instruction could be in either Romanian or Hungarian; 4) official records which were filed with a notary could be written in either Romanian or Hungarian; 5) documents written in Romanian could be filed in any government office provided those documents were written in Latin, as opposed to Cyrillic, letters. Fónagy, 87-88; Trócsányi, 546.
Wesselényi does refer to a speech given by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia (who was perhaps not a prime candidate to inspire unity among the Slavic peoples), but otherwise deals in more general assertions. Wesselényi, Szózat, 50-51.
Horváth, 2:115-16. Wesselényi's confederation idea was destined for stillbirth and had little chance of serious consideration at the time. In a way, the 1867 Compromise, which gave Hungary essential domestic self-rule, might be seen as a hybrid version of Wesselényi's idea. But in 1843, neither Austria nor Hungary showed any enthusiasm for a confederation, although the idea was resurrected by Kossuth nearly twenty-five years later and by Oscar Jászi after the First World War. Oscar Jászi, The Dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1929) (reprint), 313. Nationalism, not confederation was the dominant theme of Wesselényi's age.
Varga, 46-47. Trócsányi also argues that the liberals made a serious mistake in believing the nationalities would be satisfied with constitutional rights. Trócsányi, 460-61. Yet assimilation was not without its successes. While largely unsuccessful with the Romanians and Croats, it was quite successful among German and Jewish Hungarians. Perhaps one can better understand the liberals' faith in Magyarization if one considers the large numbers of German and Jewish citizens who adopted their new nation in rather large numbers and often became enthusiastic Hungarian citizens.
Szabad, 600; Alan Sked, The Decline and Fall of the Habsburg Empire 1815-1918 (New York: Longman, 1989) 8th ed. 96.
Köpeczi, 498, Miskolczy, 877.
In one speech he reportedly said that the government had sucked the peasants' blood for centuries. In the second, he allegedly asserted that the government had bled white the nation's nine million peasants. C. M. Knatchbull-Hugessen, The Political Evolution of the Hungarian Nation, 2 vols. (New York: Arno Press & New York Times, 1971) (reprint), 1: 295-96; Mérei, 1: 756. The anti-Wesselényi charges may have been defective since he was under political immunity when he spoke. His speeches may have been unwise attacks on both the government and nobility, but may not have been treasonous as he did not criticize the King or advocate overthrow of the Habsburg dynasty. See Asztalos, 16; Barany, Stephen Széchenyi, 301, 347; Szentkúti, 10, 12; Kardos, 1: 191.
Széchenyi, Napló, 814-15, 836, 846. April 10, June 20, August 5 and October 18, 1837 entries.
Asztalos, 16-17; Deák, Lawful Revolution, 32-33.
Miklós Wesselényi, Szózat a magyar és szláv nemzetiség ügyében (Budapest: Európa Könyvkiadó, 1992) (reprint), 17.
Trócsányi, 450-51; Asztalos, 17.
George Barany, "Hungary: The Uncompromising Compromise," Vol, 3, Pt. 1 Austrian History Yearbook (1967), 240.
Varga, 174-76; Francis S. Wagner, "Széchenyi and the Nationality Problem in the Habsburg Empire," Journal of Central European Affairs (1960), 302.
The early twentieth-century Hungarian scholar, Gyula Szekfű described Wesselényi's analysis of the nationality problem as "touchingly naive," and wryly noted that Hungary's late ninth century honfoglalás conquerors would have been acceptable to Wesselényi only had they been endowed with Rousseau-like rationalism. Gyula Szekfű, Három nemzedék és ami utána következik (Budapest: Maecenas, 1983) (reprint), 111-12; See also Varga, 44, 46-47.
Deák, "Széchenyi, Wesselényi and Kossuth, 70 (citing Elek Fényes, Magyarország statisztikája, 3 vols. Pest: Trattner Károly tulajdona, 1842-43), Vol. 1, 64, 118.
Wesselényi, Szózat, 87.
Wesselényi, Szózat, 199; Trócsányi, 461.
Mihály Horváth, trans. Josef Novelli, Fünfundzwanzig Jahre aus der Geschichte Ungarns von 1823-1848, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1867), 2: 114-15.
Wesselényi, Szózat, 51-54; Trócsányi, 455.
Wesselényi, Szózat, 51-55.
Wesselényi, Szózat, 33-35; Horváth, 2:114.
Endre Arató, A magyarországi nemzetiségek ideológiája (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1983), 130-31.
Hans Kohn, Pan-Slavism: Its History and Ideology (Notre Dame, Ind.: Notre Dame Press, 1953), 4-5, 99; Despalatovic, 116-17, 119-20.
Fónagy, 11-12. His victory, however, was Pyrrhic. Kemény suggested that had the peasant legislation passed, Transylvania might have been spared bloodshed which resulted thirty years later. Kemény, 56. Wesselényi publicly admitted his mistake in an 1846 newspaper article. Fónagy, 44-53.
Peter E. Sugar, "The Rise of Nationalism in the Habsburg Empire," Austrian History Yearbook, Vol. 3, Pt., (1967), 91-120, 96; Elinor Murray Despalativic, Ljudevit Gaj and the Illyrian Movement, East European Monographs, No. 12 (New York: Columbia, 1975) 13-14; Hitchins, 33-37.
Kemény, 59-60; István Széchenyi, Gyula Viszota (ed.), Széchenyi István Napló (Budapest: Gondolat, 1978), 238.
Trócsányi suggests that in 1831, the nationality issue was not as important for Wesselényi as it would become a decade later; and therefore, he gave the ethnic controversy only limited treatment in Balítéletekről. Trócsányi, 129. See also Asztalos, 25.
Kossuth, 125; Barany, Stephen Széchenyi, 290-91 (much, but not all of Barany's translation of the Sybil speech is used in this quotation); See also Trócsányi, 127.
István Deák, "István Széchenyi, Miklós Wesselényi, Lajos Kossuth and the Problem of Romanian Nationalism," Austrian History Yearbook, 12-13 (1976-77), 69-77, 71; Asztalos, 25.
The problem is compounded because the most common modern version of the book contains only excerpts from the original work. Quite frequently a secondary source will refer to a passage from Balítéletekről, yet that passage is not included in the excerpts. In this article, a citation contained in the excerpts will be identified as Balítéletekről. But where a secondary source refers to a Balítéletekről reference which is not found in the excerpts, the secondary source will be cited and, if that secondary source cites a page in Balítéletekről, the notation "Original Balítéletekről," will also appear.
Köpeczi, 498 (citing Miskolczy, 878).
Sugar, "Rise of Nationalism," 91, 110, 120.
Wesselényi, Szózat, 78. See also Dániel Veress, Wesselényi Miklós (Budapest: Móra Ferenc Könyvkiadó, 1983), 162.
Samu Kardos, Báró Wesselényi Miklós élete és munkái, 2 Vols. (Budapest: Légrády Testvérek Könyvnyomdája, 1905), 1:71; Zoltán Fónagy, Wesselényi Miklós. Válogatta, a bevezetést és a jegyzeteket írta Fónagy Zoltán; Magyar Szabadelvűek (Budapest: Uj Mandátum Könyvkiadó, 1998-1999), 161.
Zsolt Trócsányi, Wesselényi Miklós (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1965), 148. See also Gyula Barla, Kemény Zsigmond föbb eszméi 1849 előt. (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1970), 41. Trócsányi claims that Széchenyi was more a traditionalist with liberal economic views than a classical liberal. For a contrary view see Mihály Szegedy-Maszák, "Enlightenment and Liberalism in the Works of Széchenyi. Kemény and Eötvös, "in György Ránki (ed.), Hungary and European Civilization, Indiana University Studies of Hungary. Budapest: Adadémiai Kiadó, 1989), 12.
But even during this second period he began to think about the nationality question and to formulate in embryo some of the solutions he would later propose in Szózat.
Domokos Kosáry, trans. Zsuzsa Béres and Christopher Sullivan, Culture and Society in Eighteenth-Century Hungary (Budapest: Corvina, 1987) (reprint), 17, 22.
György Szabad, "Hungary's Recognition of Croatia's Self-Determination in 1848 and its Immediate Antecedents," in Béla Király (ed.) East Central European Society and War in the Era of Revolutions: 1775-1856, War and Society in East Central Europe, vol. 4, no. 13 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 599-609; Ambrus Miskolczy, "Társadalmi és nemzeti kérdés az utolsó erdélyi rendi országgyűlésen," Századok (1979), 851-883.
Zsigmond Kemény, "A két Wesselényi Miklós," Báró Kemény Zsigmond munkáiból (Budapest: Franklin Társulat, 1905), 27-29, 43-44.
Keith Hitchins, The Rumanian National Movement in Transylvania: 1780-1849 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1969), 127-28.
Miklós Asztalos, Wesselényi Miklós az első nemzetiségi politikus (Pécs: Karl Könyvesbolt Kiadása, 1927), 21.
Andrew C. János, The Politics of Backwardness in Hungary, 1825-1945 (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1982), 63; György Spira, trans. Zsuzsa Béres, The Nationality Issue in the Hungary of 1848-49 (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1992), 13; Professor Spira's estimates on population of Hungary (except from Transylvania) are generally corroborated by estimates of Professor Kosáry Kosáry, Culture and Society, 17.
Spira, 13; See also Hitchins, 9.
Robert A. Kann, A History of the Habsburg Monarchy (Berkeley, Cal.: University of California Press, 1974), 174, 199-202.
Kosáry, Culture and Society, 22.
Gyula Szekfű, in introduction to Domokos Kosáry's, A History of Hungary (New York: Arno & New York Times Press, 1971) (reprint), ix; Spira, 22.
Béla Köpeczi (ed.). trans. Adrienne Chambers-Makkai, History of Transylvania (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994), 415.
George Barany, Stephen Széchenyi and the Awakening of Hungarian Nationalism, 1791-1841 (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1968), 104-105.
Mérei, 2: 1266; Barany, Stephen Széchenyi, 313.
Kardos, 1:109-110; Fónagy, 211.
Kornél Szentkúti, Művelödési viszonyok báró Wesselényi Miklós műveiben (Budapest: Grafika Nyomdavállalat, 1937), 89 (citing Gyula Szekfű, Három nemzedék és ami utána következik, 113).
Gyula Mérei (ed.), Magyarország története, 1790-1848, 2 Vols., (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1983), 2: 669.
László Csorba and Ferenc Velkey, Reform és forradalom (1790-1848) (Debrecen: Csokonai Kiadó, 1998), 93, 105-06.
István Deák, The Lawful Revolution: Lajos Kossuth and the Hungarians, 1848-49 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1978), 27-28.
Erzsébet Andics, trans. Zoltán Jókai, Metternich und die Frage Ungarns (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1973), 70. Metternich told French delegates he only wished to "intimidate, rather than punish" Wesselényi and terrorize Hungary as an object lesson. Barany, Stephen Széchenyi, 344-45.
János Varga, trans. Éva Pálmai, A Hungarian Quo Vadis: Political Trends and Theories of the Early 1840s (In Hungarian Helyét kereső Magyarország: Politikai eszmék és koncepciók az 1840-es évek elején) (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1993), 26, 33, 36, 47-48.
Fónagy, 85 (citing Original Balítéletekről, 80); Trócsányi, 145.
The five confederative units would include: 1) the German lands (Upper and Lower Austria, Styria, Tirol and Silesia, together with the mixed population of Carinthia and Carniola; 2) the Italian lands (Lombardy, Venetia and Istria); 3) the Czech lands (Bohemia and Moravia); 4) the Polish lands (Galicia and Austrian Lesser Poland); and 5) the Hungarian lands (Central and Northern Hungary, Croatia, Transylvania and Slavonia). Wesselényi, Szózat, 186-89; Knatchbull-Hugessen, 1: 324 (footnote 3); Horváth 2: 116; Trócsányi, 460.
Asztalos, 22 (citing Original Balítéletekről, 57, 282).
Miklós Wesselényi, Balítéletekről. Válogatta, a bevezető tanulmányt írta és a jegyzeteket összeállította Veress Dániel (Bucureşti: Kriterion Könyvkiadó, 1974), 120-23; Trócsányi, 145-46, citing Wesselényi, Balítéletekről (original version), 99-101, not all of which was translated in the Romanian-printed excerpts; Lajos Kossuth, Országgyűlési tudósítások (reprint), (Budapest: Magyar Történelmi Társulat, 1948), 1: 290-91.