Place of Publication: Pest (across the Danube from Buda [comprising modern Budapest]), Hungary
Volume and Issue Data: At least one extant copy: December 19, 1836
Size and Format: Folio, single column
Editor/Publisher: Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894)
Title Changes and Continuation: (English: Municipal Government Report) also published Országgyűlési tudósítások or Parlimentary Report
General Description and Notes:
Lajos Kossuth (1802-94), editor of this handwritten newspaper, is one of Hungary’s most famous lawyers, journalists, Protestants, and national heroes, who challenged the Habsburg Empire’s Roman Catholic dynasty and fought for the independence for his country.
Hungarian nationalism, fueled in part by Protestant chaffing under the Habsburg’s Roman Catholic-leaning policies, increased early in the 19th century. Certain reforms were introduced: the replacement of Latin, the official language of administration, with Hungarian; a law allowing serfs alternative means of discharging their feudal duties; and increased Hungarian representation in the Council of State in Vienna. For nationalists, the reforms were too few and too late. The Hungarian Diet rose up to defy the emperor just as a wave of more radical revolutions swept Europe.
Kossuth, raised a Lutheran and studied at a Calvinist university, had served as a reporter on Diet proceedings. A growing readership soon prodded him to publish a gazette (Országgyűlési tudósítások; Parlimentary Report) in direct defiance of the government. The Habsburg government, fearing further spread of popular dissent, banned all printed reports. However, the popularity of Kossuth’s reports led nationalists groups to circulate them in manuscript form. Kossuth organized a group to act like a medieval “scriptorium,” which hand lettered the papers and distributed them clandestinely. Because of his journalistic efforts and leadership in the nationalist movement, Kossuth was imprisoned by the Habsburgs on Castle Hill for three years (1837-40).
In the 1848 uprising, the Hungarians hastily formed a national defense commission and moved the administrative seat of government from Pest to Debrecen, where Kossuth was elected leader. The parliament declared Hungary’s full independence and rejected the authority of the Habsburgs over the country. The nation’s new freedom was short-lived, however.
The new Habsburg emperor, Franz Joseph (the end of whose reign in 1916 precipitated the First World War), sent in troops with assistance from Russian tsar Nicholas I. The nationalist partisans were defeated by August 1849 and martial law was declared. The Habsburg reprisals were brutal. Most of the nationalist leaders were summarily executed. Kossuth went into exile in Turkey.
Kossuth is still hailed today by Hungarians as a national liberator. His name is a symbol of independence from foreign domination and was quietly invoked throughout the Soviet era.
(An interesting aside and coincidence: while writing this entry, I learned that Archduke (Crown Prince) Otto von Habsburg, son of the last Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles, died July 4, 2011, at age 98.)
Bibliography: See hungaria.org. This site includes the following bibliography:
Authentic Life of His Excellency Louis Kossuth, Governor of Hungary: His Progress From His Childhood to His Overthrow by the Combined Armies of Austria and Russia, With a Full Report of the Speeches Delivered in England. . .. London: Bradbury & Evans, 1851. 136 p.
Deák, István. The Lawful Revolution: Louis Kossuth and the Hungarians, 1848-1849. NY: Columbia U, 1979. 415 p.
De Puy, Henry W. Kossuth and His Generals: With a Brief History of Hungary, Select Speeches of Kossuth, etc. Buffalo: Phinney, 1852. 408 p.
Kossuth and the Hungarian War: Comprising a Complete History of the Late Struggle of the Hungarians For Liberty: . . .. New Haven, CT: Mansfield, 1852. 288 p.
Kossuth, Lajos. Kossuth’s First Speech in Faneuil Hall, Thursday Evening, April 29, 1852. Boston: Dir Old South Work, 1902. 20 p.
Officer of the Army. The Life and Achievements of Gov. Louis Kossuth, and a Complete History of the Late Hungarian War of Independence. NY: Hutchinson, 1852. 56 p.
Spencer, Donald S. Louis Kossuth and Young America: A Study of Sectionalism and Foreign Policy 1848-1852. Columbia: U of MO, 1977.
Whitridge, Arnold. Men in Crisis; the Revolutions of 1848. NY: Scribner’s, 1949. 364 p.
Locations: National Archives, Budapest, Hungary