Austro-Hungarian equalization

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The Austro-Hungarian Compromise is understood as the constitutional agreements through which the Austrian Empire was transformed into the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy .

After losing the German war of 1866 was Emperor Franz Joseph I forced the nationality question in the multi-ethnic state to solve. The obvious restriction of internal autonomy in the countries of the Hungarian crown , as it was determined absolutistically after the suppression of the Hungarian revolution and the war of freedom of 1848/49 , could no longer be maintained because of the passive resistance of the leading Magyar layers against the unified state .

Therefore, in 1866 the Imperial and Royal Government and the Hungarian Parliament met for negotiations. This led in February 1867 to the restoration of the Hungarian Diet of 1848 (instead of a Landtag), to the formation of the constitutional Hungarian Ministry (a royal Hungarian government) and on June 8, 1867 to the coronation of Franz Joseph I in Budapest . The countries of the Hungarian Crown ("Lands of the Holy Hungarian St. Stephen's Crown") were now politically independent from Austria; especially in terms of foreign policy and the military, the monarch had insisted on a real union between Austria (legally and politically often called Cisleithanien there) and Hungary ( Transleithanien ); their institutions were called kuk .

51 years later, this Realunion was terminated by the Hungarian government a few days before the end of the First World War on October 31, 1918 with the consent of King Charles IV , who was also Emperor Charles I of Austria. The monarch was only at the head of Austria and Hungary in personal union.

Division of the Habsburg Monarchy through the settlement of 1867 into an Austrian (red) and Hungarian (yellow) half of the empire - Bosnia-Herzegovina (green) from 1878 under joint administration
Coronation of Franz Joseph and Elisabeth as the royal couple of Hungary


Restoration of the Hungarian state

The plight of the monarchy after the Italian War of 1859 forced the imperial government in Vienna to give in: After Archduke Albrecht had been replaced as Governor General by the Hungarian Benedek , the monarch's October diploma on October 20, 1860, replaced the old constitution of Hungary before 1848 Essentially restored and the state parliament called to deliberate on a new electoral law that should enable representation of all classes. The Hungarian court chancellery, the county administration , the Hungarian judiciary with the Curia regia and the Judex curiae in Pest , the office of the Tavernicus and the Hungarian language as the official language were restored. The foreign officials had to leave the field, the laws prescribed by Vienna were declared repealed.

These concessions were only accepted by the leading layers of the Magyars as part payments; As the price of reconciliation, they demanded the full restoration of the old legal status, including the laws of 1848, and an amnesty for all who had not bowed to the imperial wishes. In February 1861, at the same time as the proclamation of a new constitution for the entire state , the Imperial and Royal Government convened the Landtag according to the electoral law of 1848; this was opened on April 6th. The lower house, in which the main focus of the negotiations lay, split into two parties, the address party under Ferenc Deák , which wanted to address the nation's position in relation to the February constitution in an address to the monarch and thus enter the path of negotiations, and the decision- making party under Kálmán Tisza , who wanted to declare the legal validity of the 1848 laws by simple resolution. After long debates, the address party won on June 5 with 155 votes to 152, but their demand to reduce the Austrian influence on Hungary to a personal union with Austria was supported by the emperor on July 8, 1861 with the demand for the previous revision of the 1848 laws answered.

When the Hungarian state parliament then referred to the pragmatic sanction and the laws of 1848 as the only acceptable basis, which made Franz Joseph's coronation dependent on the reunification of the neighboring countries with Hungary, rejected the appointment of the Reichsrat in Vienna and against any resolution of the same protested, the Vienna government broke off all further negotiations. “Austria can wait,” declared Minister of State Anton von Schmerling in the hope that Hungary would eventually submit to the February constitution. Until then, after the state parliament was dissolved on August 21, 1861, there was again absolutist rule. At the same time, attempts were made to win over public opinion through an amnesty for political prisoners and refugees as well as a donation of 20 million guilders to alleviate a terrible famine (1863). But as early as 1865 the system of government was changed again in Vienna : Schmerling's liberal centralism was followed by the old conservative federalism of Belcredis .

After a new visit by Emperor Franz Joseph to Pest , the leaders of the old conservative party in Hungary , Count Mailath and Baron Sennyey , were placed at the head of the Hungarian government. On December 14, 1865, the Hungarian Parliament was reopened. The speech from the throne promised the restoration of the integrity of the Hungarian crown, recognized the legal continuity and the formal validity of the laws of 1848, but called for their revision before their introduction. Negotiations on this and on the establishment of common affairs for the entire monarchy had not yet reached a conclusion when the state parliament was closed on June 26, 1866 because of the Austro-Prussian war .

Austro-Hungarian equalization

In the dispute that broke out in Austria over the reorganization of the empire after the Peace of Prague , the Hungarians, led by Ferenc Deák , took a clear and definite position from the beginning and thereby achieved most of their goals. In order to prevent the dissolution of the monarchy into five kingdoms and the rule of the Slavs , Prime Minister Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust decided, with the consent of the German liberals , for dualism , for the division of the previous Austrian Empire into a western half, where the Germans , and an eastern half where the Magyars should have the preponderance. Von Beust came to an understanding in personal negotiations with the leaders of the Deák party on the terms of the compromise between Austria and Hungary.

On February 17, 1867, Count Gyula Andrássy was appointed Hungarian Prime Minister by Franz Joseph I. On February 18, 1867, the Reichstag, as the Landtag was called again, was notified of the restoration of the 1848 constitution, for which only a few modifications were stipulated. Two days later, Count Andrássy formed his government. Transylvania and the Banat were reunited with Hungary. On February 27, 1867, the Hungarian Diet was restored. On March 15, Count Andrássy and his government in Ofen took the oath of allegiance to King Franz Joseph I.

At the same time, the regulations of the Austro-Hungarian compensation de facto came into force; They were published de jure in Hungary (after the solemn coronation of Franz Joseph I on June 8th) with Article XII of June 12th, 1867 and in Austria as part of the December constitution of December 21st, 1867, unofficially called Delegation Act ( law on all countries matters common to the Austrian monarchy and how they are dealt with ) .

Joint ministries, delegations, central authorities

The negotiations between the Austrian Prime Minister Friedrich von Beust and the Hungarian politicians Ferenc Deák and Gyula Andrássy resulted in Hungary becoming practically independent domestically. In addition to the person of the monarch, who was also King of Hungary and Emperor of Austria, only the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Ministry , the War Ministry and the Reich Ministry of Finance (this only to finance foreign policy, army and navy ) remained common ( pragmatic ) matters. The first kuk Foreign Minister was Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust (1867–1871), followed by Count Gyula Andrássy (1871–1879).

See also: Chairperson of the Council of Ministers for Common Affairs

It was important to Hungary that the three joint ministries did not appear to be the superordinate government. After Beust, therefore, no one held the title of Reich Chancellor; After 1900 the term Reich was also omitted from the designation of the War Ministry and the common Ministry of Finance. These changes were not stipulated by law, but can be found in the monarch's letters of appointment for ministers.

The three common ministries - “ imperial and royal ” (kuk) - were represented by the delegations that meet annually , separate committees of the Austrian Reichsrat and the Hungarian Reichstag, which were sent by both houses of the respective parliament. The delegations, empowered to make unanimous decisions under Austrian and Hungarian law, were the same size, each with 60 members, and met at the same time in the same city (alternately in Vienna and Budapest), but separately from one another. A joint decision could only be reached if the proposal was accepted by a majority in each of the two delegations. The overriding of the majority of one delegation by a minority who voted with the majority of the other delegation would have been possible in an emergency under the Delegation Act in a joint plenary session, but was de facto excluded for political reasons. The decisions of the delegations had to be sanctioned (= approved) by the monarch in order to be binding.

Other common central authorities were:

For the common affairs, two deputations (also committees of the two parliaments, but only 15 people each) established a cost allocation between Cis and Transleithania, which had to be revised every ten years. From 1867 this was 30% of the total costs for Hungary. This quota was increased to 31.4% in the compensation negotiations in 1888 and to 36.4% in 1907. In 1917 it was no longer possible to agree on changes.

Council of Ministers for Common Affairs

The Council of Ministers for Common Affairs was the body in which the three joint ministers and the prime ministers of both halves of the empire coordinated the foreign and defense policy of the entire monarchy. Since 1869, in addition to the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister as chairman and the war and joint finance ministers , the Austrian and Hungarian Prime Ministers have also participated with voting rights, as well as ministers from both halves of the empire and specialist officials, if necessary. Usually the chief of staff was also present, who had the right to speak directly to the monarch. The monarch himself was present at his discretion.

Only the first chairman of the joint council of ministers, Friedrich Ferdinand von Beust , carried the title of Chancellor , in accordance with the wishes of the emperor and the top Austrian politicians; later the Hungarians were interested in avoiding the imperial term for common affairs. The sphere of activity of the joint Council of Ministers was limited to foreign policy and warfare as well as both financing , as well as constitutional principles and participation in the negotiations between Austria and Hungary, which take place every ten years, to adapt the equalization regulations.

Since the joint Council of Ministers only had to take care of that part of the affairs of government which the monarch regarded as his prerogative , it cannot be described as the government of Austria-Hungary. Above all, it was the monarch's highest advisory body, the main function being oral pronunciation. In the later course of the First World War , the joint Council of Ministers lost its importance: Emperor Charles I / IV. Area of ​​power and powers were increasingly transferred to the person of the foreign minister and his “clique”.

Separate ministries, common currency

All other departments were separate: in Austria “ imperial-royal ” (kk), in Hungary “royal Hungarian” (k. Or ku). Each half of the empire had its own prime minister. The internal constitution of the Austrian ( Cisleithanien ) and that of the Hungarian half of the empire ( Transleithanien ) differed significantly, among other things, the right to vote was regulated differently. However, they agreed on a trade and customs union (dualistic matters) as well as the mutual automatic recognition of patents and similar rights and kept the guilders - and later the krona currency together ( Austrian-Hungarian bank ).

Royal coronation in Buda

With all the pomp of earlier centuries, the solemn coronation of the King and Queen Elisabeth took place on June 8, 1867 in the Matthias Church of Buda (previously known in German as Oven , later right-angled part of Budapest ) , which is said to have been particularly committed to the compensation . On the occasion of the coronation, the royal couple received Gödöllő Castle from the Hungarian state for personal disposal. This sealed the reconciliation of the Magyars with the dynasty. The returning refugees honestly embraced the new order of things. The people confirmed their loyalty at every opportunity , and the Reichstag, in which the moderate Deák party initially still had a decided majority, willingly accepted the Defense Act in the version of the government in 1868. Not only the standing army, but also the Landwehr for the time being, was placed under the command of the Reich Ministry of War in the Joint Army , the latter, however, being specially organized as the Honvéd Army under the command of Archduke Joseph .

Magyarization efforts in Hungary

The other population groups of the monarchy did not benefit from the Austro-Hungarian balance; only Hungary was now recognized as an independent state. The Austrian half of the empire bordered the Hungarian half (with Croatia , the Free City of Fiume and Transylvania ) in the north ( Bucovina , Galicia ), west ( Moravia , Austria under the Enns , Styria ) and south-west ( Carniola , Dalmatia ). Since the Leitha flowed on the border between the two core countries Austria and Hungary (today the border runs further east), from Vienna's point of view people soon spoke of Cisleithanien (Latin cis = this side) and Transleithanien (Latin trans = beyond).

The regulation of nationality issues was now left to the governments in Vienna and Budapest on their own responsibility (“You take your hordes, we will take ours”). The result was tensions, especially with the Slavs who settled in both halves of the empire . The two governments had to very different concepts: Was Cisleithania officially a multiethnic state, the leaders in Transleithania had now in a few decades intention of the non-Magyar half of the population Magyarize . Topographical names, the Hungarian school system and the electoral system for the Reichstag in Budapest have now been coordinated.

Hungarian-Croatian equalization

Croatia , which was loyal to the Habsburgs as in the 1848 revolution , was promised a separate settlement with Hungary, which finally came about on September 20, 1868. Croatia's expectations were not met. Although it was able to achieve a sub-dualism within Hungary ( Hungarian-Croatian compromise ) , it was dependent on the government in Budapest for all important matters .

Hungarian reforms

The awareness of the political victory achieved through perseverance and prudence drove the Magyars to complete the liberal development of the state as quickly as possible. Political equality for Jews was adopted in parliament on December 20, 1867, without significant opposition. Furthermore, there were provisions on optional civil marriage , an elementary school law and the like. a. The Nationalities Act of November 29, 1868 stipulated that all residents of Hungary form the unified and indivisible Hungarian nation, and that the Hungarian language should be the state language. The preponderance of the Magyars, who made up around 50% of the population, in the elections was maintained through the distribution of electoral districts and voting rights. Above all, they wanted to promote the material development of the country through railways.

The king in Buda

One of the outward symbols of the equalization was the annual stay of several weeks of the emperor and king Franz Joseph I in Buda (later Budapest ). As King of Hungary, he resided at Buda Castle and during this time - dressed in the Hungarian language and in a Hungarian uniform - he held his Hungarian offices with the ministers of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Royal Hungarian Diet. His wife, Empress and Queen Elisabeth (Hungarian Erzsébet királyné ), frequented the Hungarian aristocracy and liked to stay in Gödöllő Palace near Budapest, which the Hungarian state had made available to the royal couple.

The last monarch of the Danube Monarchy, Emperor Karl I , was solemnly crowned King of Hungary as Charles IV in Budapest in 1916. After his withdrawal from state affairs on November 13, 1918, Reich Administrator Miklós Horthy prevented two attempts by Charles IV to take over state affairs again in 1921. Hungary remained a kingdom without a king until 1944.

End of compensation

The Hungarian government terminated the settlement in mid-October 1918 with the approval of King Charles IV (of Hungary). It formally ceased to be in force on October 31, 1918. This made the activities of the delegations just as obsolete as the fact that Cis and Transleithania disintegrated at the end of October. In practice, the compensation had already become obsolete at this point in time due to the withdrawal of Bohemia , Moravia , Galicia , Lower Styria , Carniola , the coastal region and Dalmatia from the Austrian state association and Croatia from the Hungarian state association. Joint institutions such as the Council of Ministers formally remained in force until November 2, 1918.


  • Count Julius Andrassy: Hungary's settlement with Austria from 1867 . Leipzig 1897.
  • The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 , published by the Research Institute for the Danube Region, 1967.
  • The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 , Book Series of the Southeast German Historical Commission 20, 1968.
  • Gordon C. Craig: History of Europe 1815–1980. From the Congress of Vienna to the present . Munich, 1995 (pp. 174-176).
  • Historical events in the mirror of the present, Austria-Hungary 1867–1967 , Institute for Austrian Studies, 1970.
  • Anton Vantuch, L̕udovít Holotík (ed.): The Austro-Hungarian Compromise 1867: Materials (presentations and discussions) of the international conference in Bratislava 28.8.-1.9.1967 . Publishing house of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, 1971.
  • Gerhard Seewann : Compensation, Austro-Hungarian . In: Konrad Clewing, Holm Sundhaussen (Ed.): Lexicon for the history of Southeast Europe . Böhlau, Vienna et al. 2016, ISBN 978-3-205-78667-2 , p. 99-101 .

Web links

Original documents:

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Bertrand Michael Buchmann: Court, Government, City Administration: Vienna as the seat of the Austrian central administration from the beginnings to the fall of the monarchy. (Austrian Archive series: series of publications by the Working Group for Austrian History ). Oldenbourg Verlag, 2002, ISBN 978-348656541-6 , p. 127 ( limited preview in the Google book search)
  2. Günther Kronenbitter: "War in Peace". The leadership of the Austro-Hungarian army and the great power politics of Austria-Hungary 1906-1914 . Verlag Oldenbourg, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-56700-4 , p. 150.
  3. Ludwig von Flotow : November 1918 on Ballhausplatz , edited by Erwin Matsch, Böhlau-Verlag, Graz 1982, ISBN 3-205-07190-5 , p. 385, note 75
  4. Miklós Komjáthy (Ed.): Protocols of the Joint Council of Ministers of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (1914–1918) . Budapest 1966, p. 82ff.
  5. József Galántai: The foreign policy of Austria-Hungary and the ruling classes of Hungary . In: Austria-Hungary in world politics 1900 to 1918 . Berlin / GDR 1965, pp. 255–266, here: p. 266.
  6. Miklós Komjáthy (Ed.): Protocols of the Joint Council of Ministers of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (1914–1918) . Budapest 1966, pp. 61 and 132.