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Friday, March 15, 2013

Hungarian National Day March 15

March 15th National Day in Hungary
The Josef Varosi Open is part of the Hungarian National Day celebration. Usually there is a massive firework display on the river bank in the evening.

Brief Historical Background on 15th March-Budapest-tourist-guide
The Habsburg and their allies liberated Buda from the 150-year Turkish occupation in 1686. However Hungary did not become a free country but a province of the Austro-Habsburg Empire. 

Hungarians fought against the Habsburg oppression throughout the coming centuries. The most important anti-Habsburg movements include the Thököly movement, and the War of Independence in 1703-11 lead by Ferenc Rákóczi. 

The Austrians beat down these movements.The first half of the 18th century was a period of compromise between the Austrian rulers and Hungary. 

Influenced by the events of the French revolution a new resistance movement, the Jacobin, emerged in Hungary toward the end of the 18th century. Lead by Ignác Martinovics, the Jacobins' main objectives were the independence of Hungary and transforming the country to a bourgeois society. The Jacobin movement failed too; the Habsburgs arrested and executed the leaders of the organization. 

The Reform Era 
The Hungarian Reform Era started in 1825 when at the diet Count István Széchenyi (1791-1860) offered his 1-year income to establish the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Széchenyi become a prominent figure of this era facilitating great developments in Budapest and the country. The other outstanding personality of this era was Lajos Kossuth.

The spirit of nationalism arose in other European countries and capitals and they only heightened the enthusiasm of Hungarian reformers. On political level Lajos Kossuth's fiery speeches provoked anti-Habsburg feelings while Sándor Petőfi roused common people through his uplifting poems.

The Revolution on 15th March 1848 
The revolutionary wave that had swept over Europe in spring 1848 resulted in a bloodless revolution in Hungary on 15th March. A bunch of Hungarian poets and writers formed the core of the radicals. 

They were preparing for a demonstration on 19th March at their regular meeting place, the Café Pilvax. They heard the news of the revolution in Vienna on the evening of 14th March so they decided to bring forward the demonstration. 

The revolutionaries started to gather people while reciting Petőfi's National Song and reading their demands worded in the 12 points (kids at school has to learn it by heart when they learn about the Revolution). 

The most important demands were: 

  • freedom of press, abolition of censure 
  • freedom of religion 
  • a national bank 
  • jury 
  • abolition of feudal conditions 
The mass lead by Petőfi in the pouring rain occupied a press and printed out the poem and the 12-points. The Habsburgs didn't dare to intervene. Despite the rain an even bigger crowd gathered in the garden of the National Museum by afternoon.

Following the events on 15th March a Hungarian delegation went to Vienna to tell their demands to Ferdinand V. After several discussions the Habsburgs accepted an independent Hungarian ministry lead by Count Lajos Batthyány.

"We swear unto thee - that slaves we shall no longer be!" 
In summer 1848 Vienna decided to take action against the Hungarian revolution. The ethnic minorities living in Hungary weren't happy with the Hungarians' victory. The Croats allied with Austria and their troops attacked and invaded Hungary.

Despite the Habsburgs' more power and larger army they weren't strong enough to defeat Hungarians so Austria convinced Russia to provide support for breaking down the Hungarian War of Independence. Despite being a small country, Hungary humiliated Austria by fighting tooth and nail and she emphasized this by surrendering not to the Emperor but to the Russian Czar in August 1849.

Following the defeat retribution began. Fourteen generals were executed at Arad on 6th October 1849: Count Batthyány Lajos, Hungary's first prime-minister was shot at Pest, and thousands were sentenced to death or prison. The Habsburgs built the Citadel fortress on Gellert Hill at that time with cannons directed at the town below.

The age of terror stifled Hungary in the coming years.

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