« VorigeDoorgaan »
service to the State, to defend the country | dom; next to them in rank were the king's from internal turmoil and foreign invasion; chief retainers, with the holders of fiefs but, like the militia force of England, they under the princes and prelates, with their could not be compelled to go beyond the principal retainers; the third order of magbounds of the country-a useful check, un- nates consisted of the untitled gentry-the doubtedly, on the ambition of adventurous eidelmen, or primal squirearchy of Hungary, spirits. So long as military skill was requi- all of noble descent. The rest of the people site to keep the Magyars in their new govern- were serfs. The privileged classes were exment, their aristocratical political system ceedingly tenacious of their rights and privicame within the moral sense of the term, leges; they yielded military service to the "the government of the apron, or the best;" State, and pecuniary aid, when admitted by but when more settled times enabled leaders themselves to be requisite ; but the sovereign to serve themselves as well as the State, the could exact no aids from his subjects, withwealthiest became the best, territorial lords out an express vote to that effect in the nathe most excellent of the land, and the aris- tional assembly. The comitia or national tocracy of young Hungary degenerated, council was not a representative body, for step by step, into a plutocracy. Geysa, or all members of the privileged classes attendGeyson, the third in descent from Arpad, ed in person; neither could it be termed a embraced Christianity; and his son Stephen, deliberative assembly, for, accompanied as who attained the dukedom in the year 1000, the magnates were by their retainers, the under the proselyting patronage of the Ro- comitia were sometimes attended by eighty man See, exchanged his coronet for a crown. thousand men. Stephen added Transylvania The diadem consecrated by Pope Sylvester, to the Hungarian kingdom. In the course and by him presented to Hungary's saintly of the next two centuries, Sclavonia, Croatia, king, still exists in the dear regards of the Dalmatia, Bosnia, Servia and Gallicia were nation.* But Holy Church is prudent in successively added to the dominions of the her generosity. When she could patronize crown. monarchs, and bestow rich gifts, she expected a tenfold profit. The enrolment of Hungary in the array of Christendom was no exception. Stephen built churches and monasteries, and endowed rich sees. A new, powerful, and ofttimes most troublesome branch was thus engrafted on the original aristocratic stem of the Constitution. Stephen divided the kingdom into seventy-two komitats or lordships, over each of which he placed a chief. The declining aristocracy of merit, under the genial glow of priestly influence, expanded into a more unbending system of class distinction. Three orders of privileged men were instituted in the kingdom: foremost were the princes, the magnate churchmen, and the barons of the king
*The fated stone of Scone, carried off by Edward I. for a coronation-chair for his saintly namesake's chapel at Westminster, was not more devoutly regarded by the Scottish nation, than is Stephen's crown by the Magyars. Joseph II. deeply offended the nation by removing the crown to Vienna. Since it was restored by his successor, it has, till very recently, been preserved with reverent care in the chapel of the palace at Buda. On the advance of the Austrians to attack the capital, in the present war, to save it from the unholy touch of the hands of these Philistines, the crown was taken to Debreczin; and with what a burst of pious horror did the scribes of our oligarchical press narrate that Kossuth had stolen the crown. Peace to their troubled souls! Stephen's crown will probably long outlast his monarchy !
On the death of Stephen without issue, the country for a time lapsed into a state of anarchy; but order was restored by the election of Ladislaus, the representative of a junior branch of the house of Arpad, in 1077. It was during the rule of this prince that Croatia and Sclavonia were added to Hungary.* The march of social refinement made some progress in softening the rude manners of the martial nobles in the twelfth century; especially toward the close of it, when Belas the Second married a daughter of Henry of France.
In the first quarter of the thirteenth century, we come to a marked and interesting era in Hungarian history-namely, to the establishment of the rudiments of a regularly-defined constitutional and representative system. In the reign of Andreas the Second, in the year 1223, eight years after the barons of England had compelled John to grant Magna Charta, the magnates of Hungary obtained a similar charter, under the title of the Golden Bull.
The charter, after recognizing the ancient. privileges of the nobility, in substance provided that the magnates should sit as heredi
* His daughter, the Princess Sophia, married a prince of the house of Hapsburg, the origin of the family connection of the present imperial family with Hungary.
tary legislators in the national diet or as- | Constitution,* and that he shall be invested sembly; and that the inferior nobility, or with all the insignia of royalty. There is untitled gentry, with the body of the clergy, a curious and somewhat anomalous office should be represented by members of their attached and subsidiary to the regal dignity. respective bodies; but all other classes of The Palatin of Hungary discharges the the community were beyond the pale of double functions of viceroy of Hungary citizenship. With the progress of social civilization, there gradually arose a middle class between the nobles and their peasant Hapsburg line, was elected to the throne, he took serfs; and about a century and a half after the following oath, which has been the form of the the Golden Bull was granted, they received act of fealty observed by all his successors down to the coronation of Ferdinand V.: "Nos Ferdinandus, a quasi political recognition. In the reign Dei gratiâ Hungariæ, Bohemiæ, Dalmatia, Croatia, of Sigismund, the representative branch of Scalvoniæ, &c., Rex Apostolicus, Archi-dux Austria, the legislature was increased by a burgess &c. Qua prælibati Regni Hungariæ, et aliorum class, the delegates or deputies from the regnorum, ac partium eidem adnexarum Rex, jufree towns and royal cities. To trace the Genitricem Virginem Mariam, ac omnes sanctos; ramus per Deum vivum, per ejus Sanctissimam exact historical progress and development quod ecclesias Dei dominos, prælatos barones, magof the Constitution, would far exceed our al-nates, nobiles, civitates liberas, et omnes regnicolas, loted space; it is enough to say, that the in suis immunitatibus et libertatibus, juribus, legiConstitution of Hungary, under the rule of bus, privilegiis, ac in antiquis bonis, et approbatis, consuetudinibus, conservabimus, omnibusque justithe imperial dynasty, has been successively tiam faciemus; Serenissimi quondam Andreæ Regis recognized and confirmed by the treaties of decreta: (Exclusa tamen et semota Articula 31 Vienna, in 1606, and Leutz, in 1647; and ejusdem decreti clausula incipienti: Quod si vero by the inaugural diploma of the Emperor nos, &c., usque ad verba in pertutinum facultatem) Joseph the Second, in 1790. And here it observabimus. Fines regni nostri Hungariæ, et quæ ad illud quocunque jure aut titulo pertinent, non may be convenient to anticipate the course abalienabimus, nec minuemus, sed quoad poterimus, of history, and give a brief sketch of the augebimus et extendemus, omniaque illa faciemus, Hungarian Constitution as it existed down to quæcunque pro bono publico, honore et incremento omnium statuum, ac totius Regni Hungariæ juste 1848, when the patriotism of the nation enfacere poterimus; sic nos Deus adjuvet et omnes larged its boundaries, admitting all classes sancti." of the people as free citizens of the commonwealth.
The Constitution may be theoretically described as a mixed form of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy; but practically it was a rigid oligarchy. It had king and lords, with the phantom of a Commons.
The monarchy was limited, and latterly hereditary, in the dynasty chosen by the portion of the nation having legislative power. The person of the king is sacred. He is the executive chief magistrate, by whom all civil appointments are made. He is the temporal head of the Church, appoints to all ecclesiastical dignities, and receives the proceeds of all vacant benefices.* He is the fountain of honor, the head of the army, the arbiter of war or peace; and with him rests the power to call out the Honveds, or national force, to the field; he has also the power to summon and dissolve the States. The Constitution requires that, within six months after his accession, the sovereign shall call together the States of the realm, take the oath of fealty to the
* On failure of heirs, all property in Hungary is ipso facto inherited by the crown.
+ When Ferdinand I., the first prince of the
So important is this ceremony deemed by the nation, that it has been customary, during the reign of the King of Hungary, to crown his succesnand I. of Austria, (the fifth Ferdinand of Hungary,) sor as heir presumptive. The late emperor, Ferdiwho abdicated his Imperial throne last year, was crowned King of Hungary some years before the
decease of his father. His abdication has never been
recognized by the Diet of Hungary; he is, therefore, still, de jure, King of Hungary, and his nephew and imperial successor, the "Boy Emperor," is consequently a usurper within the kingdom of Hungary.
The coronation, which takes place at Presburg, is described as a ceremony of great solemnity and splendor. "Like its counterpart among ourselves," says Mr. Gleig, in his interesting account of a tour in Hungary, in 1837, "it is regarded as the ratification of a covenant between the sovereign and the people, and is performed amid much pomp, both religious and civil. The monarch elect, attended by his magnates and councillors, repairs to the cathedral, where the officiating prelate administers to him the customary oaths. He is anointed with the holy oil, and undergoes the usual routine of enrobing and crowning; after which he proceeds on horseback, the states of the realm in his train, to the Königsberg. It is a circular mound, perhaps fifty feet high, which stands just outside the city, and commands an extensivs view over the plain, both eastward and southward. This the king ascends, his nobles and knights, and dignified clergy, being collected in a mass round its base; and as all are on horseback-as their dresses are picturesque, their arms and housings costly, and their port chivalrous in the extreme-the spectacle is, perhaps, as grand
and to give assent to or reject new laws proposed by the executive power. The Constitution requires that a Diet shall be held once at least in five years. The only other
here is, with respect to the mode of voting. The two Tables vote in four distinct bodies, each of which votes separately on the question proposed. The absolute majority determines the question. There is, or was, we believe, a parliamentary rule to the effect that no member should vote on a question unless he had previously spoken on it; but on this point we do not speak confidently. Of the social working and effects of this political system, we shall have to speak when we come to describe the changes introduced into the constitution, or, more properly speaking, for its popular development, through the liberal and enlightened policy and patriotism of the Diet of 1847-48.
proper, during the absence of the king. While the sovereign is in the kingdom, the palatin acts as a kind of mediator for the whole country, between king and people, with a view of preventing an encroach-legislative feature that requires to be noticed ment on the popular liberties and regal prerogatives on or by either side.* The palatin is elected for life by the Diet, from one of a list of four persons presented to the king. Till the Reform Act of 1848, the administration of the kingdom was conducted through the Hungarian Court of Chancery at Vienna. The States or Diet of Hungary are divided into two Chambers or Tables as they are termed the Lords and the Commons of the kingdom. The first Table is composed of the royal barons, the high officers of the crown, the prelates, counts, and free landlords of the kingdom. The house is hereditary, and the members number from six hundred to seven hundred. The palatin is president of this assembly. The second Table consists of the deputies from the komitats, (that is, the representatives of the untitled gentry,) and from the enfranchised cities and towns. There is a third and very singular element, viz: the elected representatives of those nobles who do not personally attend in the upper house. These members are termed "ablegati absentium." The total number of deputies does not exceed two hundred and fifty. The representatives were paid by their constituents. The Speaker or President of this House of Commons, whose official title is "Personalis presentatiæ Regiæ in judiciis locum tenens," as far as respects the double offices of president of a legislative house and of one of the supreme courts, resembles our Lord High Chancellor.
The legislative functions of these two bodies are these: the election of a new sovereign, in the event of the extinction of a dynasty, or of the confirmation of a successor in the case of an ordinary demise by death; the election of Palatin of Hungary; the granting of subsidies and imposing taxes,
as can be met with in any part of Europe. Meanwhile, the king has ridden to the crest of the hill, where, before the bishops, he again gives the pledges which had been exacted from him in the cathedral. Finally, he draws his sword, and making a cut towards each of the cardinal points, thereby denotes that, let danger come from what quarter it may, he will repel it. Then are medals scattered among the crowd; then is the air rent with shouts; and the princely cavalcade returns to the city in the same order which attended its outward progress."
* In Croatia and Sclavonia, the viceregal chief or governor is called the Ban; in Transylvania, the Vayvóde.
We must now resume our narrative, and briefly state the leading events of Hungarian history subsequent to the grant of the Golden Bull by Andreas II. In 1301, the male line of Arpad became extinct in the person of Andreas IV. The crown then passed into the house of Anjou, by election of the States. Through the female line, these princes claimed descent from Arpad thus: Charles le Boiteux, son to Charles the first Count of Anjou, and King of Sicily, and the younger brother of Louis IX. of France, married the Princess Maria, daughter of Stephen IV., King of Hungary. His eldest son, Charles Martel, (who pre-deceased his father,) was elected king by the states of Hungary, on failure of the male line of Arpad. On the death of this prince, who
dissensions of the country, invaded Hungary, and seized Nicopolis, on the Danube. Sigismund having applied for foreign aid, France sent a fine army to his assistance, commanded by the son of the Duke of Burgundy, and comprising the Count D'Eu the constable, Jean de Vienne admiral, and Jean le Maingre Boucicaut, marshal of France, and the flower of her chivalry. Men of other nations and all arms joined the host of 100,000 soldiers which Sigismund led against the Turk.
This failure of issue male involved the king-
"Ils firent du commencement des actions d'une valeur incroyable," says the historian Mezeray, when alluding to this enterprise of his countrymen, "mais leurs folies et leur dissolution les rendirent ridicules aux Turcs mêmes."* The Christians met with some partial successes at first, which they abused by murdering the prisoners whom they had captured. Having besieged Nicopolis, Bajazet the Thunderbolt marched to its relief; and in the battle of Nicopolis, on the 28th of September, 1396, the allies were signally defeated. Bajazet made terrible reprisals on his captives. Sigismund, instead of making exertions to repair this disaster, sank into luxurious repose, which further alienated his nobility to such an extent that, in 1401, they seized and detained him prisoner. In 1410, the captive, having gained the ears of his guards, succeeded in escaping into Bohemia; whence he soon returned, with a force which enabled him to remount his throne. Sigismund was one who profited by the bitter lessons of misfortune, for the remainder of his Hungarian rule was characterized by moderation and justice. His election to the head of the Germanic Empire in 1411, belongs to general history. Hungary continued to be ravaged by the Turks; and Sigismund's last military achievement was to lead the Hussites against the infidels, with considerable success. By his second queen, Barbara of Cilley, whose gallantries are celebrated in story, Sigismund left one daughter, Elizabeth, married to Albert, Duke of Austria. The nomination of this prince made by Sigismund as his successor, was confirmed by the States. Amurath, the Turkish Sultan, having entered Bulgaria, and laid siege to Sideravia, Albert marched against him; but a violent dysentery put an end to his short reign, in 1439. He left his queen pregnant with Ladislas the Fifth, commonly called Ladislas Posthumus.
Abrégé Chronologique de l'Histoire de France,
At this period the famous name of John | gained new dominions, and regained several Hunnyades appears in history. This chival- provinces lost by his predecessors; and one rous soldier was a Wallachian, surnamed of his achievements was the expulsion of the Corvinus, from the place of his birth. Hav- Turks from Bosnia. Matthew died in 1490; ing rendered Hungary essential service in the and Wladislas, of Bohemia, grandson of Aldefense of the borders against the Turks, he bert and Elizabeth, was elected king by the acquired high reputation and influence in the States. His reign was unfortunate, and the nation. The Turks again ravaged Hungary country was sorely troubled by internal disand alarmed Christendom. Through the in- sensions and Turkish invasion. An attempt finence of Hunyades, Wladislas, king of Po- was made in 1505, by Count Zapoyla, a powland, was raised to the throne, and Hunnya- erful magnate, to pass an act in the assemdes was made Vayvóde of Transylvania and bly of the States to revive an ancient law, to chief leader of the army. A solemn truce, the effect, that in the event of the failure of the concluded between Wladislas and the Sultan, royal line, the choice of a sovereign should for ten years, having been broken at the in- be limited to natives of Hungary. The opstigation of Julian, the papal legate, and on position of the royal party led to an insurthe papal morality that "no faith is to be rection, which was not quelled till 1512, nor kept with heretics," the fatal battle of War- without the aid of the emperor. Wladislas nau, in Moldavia, was fought in 1444, in was succeeded by his son Louis, a youth who which the Polish and Hungarian host were fell at the battle of Mohacs, in 1526, when completely worsted, and Wladislas perished. Solyman defeated and drove the elite of the Hunnyades was elected captain-general and Magyar chivalry into the fatal swamp of governor of the kingdom, which he ruled Czetze. On this event, the party which had gloriously for ten years. In the mean time, supported Zapoyla now declared for his sucthe emperor Frederic III., to whom the cession to the throne. This nobleman had guardianship of the young Ladislas, son of previously persecuted the Protestants, who King Albert, had been committed, delaying had become a numerous denomination in the to restore his ward to the Hungarian nation, State; and they now threw their influence Hannyades marched against the emperor at into the scale in favor of Ferdinand of AusNeustad, and compelled him to come to tria, brother to the emperor Charles V., who terms of accommodation; by which the had acquired a family connection with Hunprince was placed under the guardianship of gary, through marriage with the Princess his maternal uncle, the Count Ulric of Cilley; Anna, daughter of Wladislas.* A civil war but Ladislas tasted little of the sweets or bit- ensued, in which Ferdinand was the victor, ters of power, for he died at Prague in his and at an assembly of the States, in 1547, 18th year. Hungary was again ravaged by he was placed on the throne, which ever the Turks, under Mahomet I., the successor since has been occupied by his descendants, of Amurath. Then it was that Hunnyades the emperors of Germany or Austria, &c., marched to the relief of Belgrade, and gained and Kings of Hungary. his celebrated victory; and the "joyful nations," to quote the words of Gibbon, "celebrated Hunnyades and Belgrade as the bulwarks of Christendom." But a month after that event Hunnyades died, in 1456; and two years later the nation elected his son, Matthias Corvinus, to the throne.* The character of Matthew has been painted in glowing colors by the historians of his court.t Learning was patronized, and flourished; the country enjoyed much prosperity; Matthew
*This occurred on the death of Ladislas, in the preceding year. Matthew was not a complete constitutional king for some years, inasmuch as the Emperor Frederic, a pretender to the Hungarian throne, held the insignia of royalty, which he had obtained from Ladislas.
See Bonfinius III., 1, and Galeotti, (librarian to King Matthew,) "De Jocose dictis ac factis regis Matt, Corvini."
The history of the Hungarian monarchy is, from this point, included in that of Austria. On the history of the Hungarian nation it is not necessary that we should here dwell. It presents a long series of invasions by their active enemies, the Turks, and of bold encroachments on the national liberties on the
The marital fortunes of this lucky house were celebrated in a popular Latin couplet
Bella gerant alii, tu fœlix Austria nube;
The gender is not, perhaps, historically correct; but it is so constitutionally. The "moriamur pro rege nostro Maria Theresa" of the enthusiastic nobility has been laughed at as a Hungarian bull; but it was in reality a legal or constitutional expression, which probably had its origin in the tradition of the preference given to the male line, in the compact made with Arpad.