The Magyars colonize Hungary
The area of today’s Hungary belonged to the Roman Empire from the 1st to the 4th century. The Romans founded cities like Aquincum. The Huns later invaded, followed by the Ostrogoths, Lombards and Avars.
The Hungarians, the Magyars, probably came to today’s national territory from the eastern Ural Mountains in the 9th century. The Grand Duke Árpád had united the tribes of the Magyars and led them there in 895 after several campaigns. This is also called the Hungarian conquest.
The Hungarians were an equestrian people. At first they weren’t settled yet. They made raids across Europe, but especially in Eastern France. Only the battle on the Lechfeld in 955 could stop them. Otto I consolidated his rule and the Magyars changed their way of life: They settled down. That was also the basis for the creation of the Kingdom of Hungary.
Kingdom of Hungary
On August 20, 1000, Stephen I founded the Kingdom of Hungary. He was a prince from the Árpáden dynasty founded by Árpád. He rose to be king after having obtained the Pope’s approval for it. Stephen’s father had himself and his son baptized, and as King Stephan now Christianized his kingdom. So the previously pagan (non-believing) Hungarians became Christians.
The Mongol storm in 1241/42 devastated large parts of the country. From 1370 until 1386 and again from 1440 to 1444 Hungary was linked to Poland in a personal union. The Ottomans invaded Hungary again and again and were a constant threat.
From 1448, King Matthias Corvinus ruled. During his reign, Hungary became a major political power in Europe. He was also king of Croatia and Bohemia. In 1490 Matthias Corvinus died without heir to the throne. His empire fell apart. The Polish-Lithuanian Jagiellonians ruled Hungary and Bohemia in personal union until 1526.
In 1526 the long efforts of the Ottomans were successful: they conquered Hungary. The Hungarians suffered a crushing defeat in the Battle of Mohács. Most of Hungary came under Ottoman rule. A smaller area in the west (now part of Croatia and Slovakia) was preserved as Royal Hungary and came under Habsburg rule. In the east, Transylvania became a principality that was also under Ottoman control.
Rule of the Austrian Habsburgs
The Ottoman rule could not be ended until 1686 and all of Hungary came under Habsburg rule. There were several uprisings against the harsh rule of the Austrian Habsburgs, for example 1703 to 1711. This uprising was suppressed. The tensions between the Hungarian nobility and the imperial court in Vienna remained. In 1848/49 a revolution finally took place. This was bloodily suppressed, the leaders fled or were executed.
History of Hungary from 1867 to today
In 1867 the Austro-Hungarian Compromise came about: the Austrian Empire became the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. The ruler was now Emperor of Austria and at the same time King of Hungary. Franz Joseph I. had been forced to take this step in order to break the Hungarian resistance, but also to assert himself after the lost war against the German Confederation a year earlier. Franz Joseph remained on the throne until his death in 1916, when he was followed by his great-nephew Karl I.
At that time, Hungary was much larger than today’s territory. It also included Croatia and Slovenia, Transylvania (now in Romania), and Carpathian Ukraine (now Ukraine). Many different peoples lived in Hungary at that time, which repeatedly led to tensions.
Hungary becomes a republic (1918)
As a country starting with H according to Countryaah, Hungary broke away from Austria at the end of World War I, when Hungarian soldiers mutinied on the Italian front. Charles I dissolved the Realunion. After Kaiser Wilhelm II had abdicated in the German Empire, Karl I also declared his retirement on November 13th. The democratic republic of Hungary was proclaimed three days later.
As a result of the First World War, from which Austria-Hungary and the German Empire emerged as the losers, Europe’s borders were completely redrawn. Slovakia, which had belonged to Hungary for a thousand years, joined the Czech Republic. Hungary also had to cede Burgenland to Austria and Transylvania to Romania.
Miklós Horthy becomes head of state
Troubled times followed. A communist council republic followed after a democratic government. Hungary tried to regain Transylvania militarily and waged war against Romania, but was quickly defeated. In November 1919, Miklós Horthy came to power and was finally elected imperial administrator, that is, the representative of a king. Although he formally reintroduced the monarchy, he did not hand over power to Karl, who was in exile. With the peace treaties, Hungary was even forbidden from reintroducing the monarchy.
Horthy was in fact the head of state of Hungary and remained so until 1944. He ruled authoritarian. From 1933 onwards, Hungary came closer to National Socialist Germany, which with two arbitration awards in 1938 and 1940 re-awarded parts of the previously lost territories to Hungary, namely southern Slovakia and northern Transylvania.
During the Second World War, Hungary fought on the side of the German Reich, but after heavy losses, fought on the other side. Thereupon the Germans occupied Hungary in March 1944. The Jewish population of Hungary was deported and killed. Horty tried to surrender in the fall of 1944, but was arrested and deposed. But the Russian Red Army continued to advance and conquered the country in the “battle for Hungary”. The occupation by the Soviet Union was completed on April 4, 1945.
Hungarian People’s Republic
After the Second World War, the communists seized power and Hungary came under Soviet influence. The country became a people’s republic and part of the Eastern Bloc.
In 1956 the Hungarian people’s uprising broke out on October 23, in which the government was finally ousted and a new, democratic government under Prime Minister Imre Nagy was installed. After a few days, the uprising was bloodily crushed by the invading Soviet troops. Nagy was executed.
The new head of state was János Kádár, who held the office until 1988, i.e. for 32 years! The socialism was practiced in Hungary in a somewhat milder form. Politically, economically and culturally they were more liberal than in other socialist countries. This was called “goulash communism”.
The end of communist rule in Hungary
From 1987 opposition groups formed, in 1988 Kádár had to resign. There was no agreement on the further course, but ultimately those who advocated democracy prevailed.
On June 27, 1989, Hungary took an important step towards the dissolution of the Iron Curtain: Together with his Austrian counterpart, the Hungarian Foreign Minister Guyla Horn cut the barbed wire between the two countries. The dismantling of the border fortifications had already started in May. Now a real flow of refugees from GDR citizens to Hungary followed. A symbolic opening of the border fence in August triggered a wave of refugees to Austria. From September 11th, Hungary finally let all GDR citizens wishing to leave the country leave for Austria. All of these measures were an important part of ending the Cold War.
On October 23, 1989, the third Republic of Hungary was finally proclaimed.
Republic of Hungary (since 1989)
Since 1990, there have been changing majorities in the Hungarian parliament. The Hungarian Democratic Forum party was the government until 1994, but then lost its role to the Fidesz party. It is classified as a conservative right of center party.
In 1998 Viktor Orbán became Prime Minister of the Fidesz Party. He remained in office until 2002 and was re-elected in 2010. Orbán refugee policy wants to completely prevent the influx of refugees to Hungary. Hungary’s borders on the Balkan route were heavily fortified to prevent refugees from entering. Orbán is accused of ruling Hungary more and more authoritarian and restricting human rights. In 2012 a new constitution came into force. In March 2020, the parliament in Budapest approved an emergency law due to the corona crisis, according to which Orbán can now govern by decree. This gives him extensive power.