Revolution in Hungary: 1848 Memorial Day Explained

Saurav Singh
6 Min Read
Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution

The Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution in Hungary stands as a testament to the power of human defiance and the pursuit of democratic ideals. Celebrated annually on March 15, this significant day marks the Hungarian uprising against the Austrian empire. The revolution, fueled by a wave of liberalism sweeping through Europe in 1848, aimed at securing autonomy and introducing political reforms. In this article, we delve into the historical background, key figures, and the enduring importance of this pivotal moment in Hungarian history.

History of Memorial Day

In the early 19th century, Hungary found itself under the rule of the Austrian empire, facing political and administrative reluctance to reform. The absolutist system, established during the Napoleonic wars, did not align with the interests of the Hungarians. The feudal estate-based bureaucratic control from Vienna left Hungary without a convened State Assembly and subjected national opposition to persecution and censorship.

A nationalist movement emerged in the 1830s, driven by liberal intellectuals and politicians, including the prominent Lajos Kossuth. Hungarians, from nobles to peasants, shared a common desire to dismantle the old feudal systems and reform the economy. Kossuth’s passionate speech on March 3, 1848, ignited the revolution, calling for the introduction of a constitution, a government accountable to the parliament, and the immediate implementation of liberal reforms.

March 15 Uprising and Achievements

On March 15, an uprising commenced in Pesta, led by students and liberal activists. While the revolutionaries succeeded in establishing their government and abolishing feudalism, the goals were not fully achieved. The Austrians briefly retreated, only to return with Russian reinforcements in August 1849, crushing the rebellion and executing the 13 generals who led the nationalist forces.

Memorial Day Timeline

  • 1839-1840: The Amnesty for Political Prisoners
  • 1847: The New State Assembly Fails
  • 1848: The Revolution Begins
  • 1849: The Revolution Ends

Commemorating Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution

Lajos Kossuth, a pivotal figure in the revolution, rose from humble beginnings to become the president-regent of Hungary. Delve into his achievements and the impact of his leadership. Symbolizing the revolution and national independence, the cockade or ‘kokárdák’ is a circular ribbon with the colors of the Hungarian flag. Learn about its historical significance.

As the national poet of Hungary, Sándor Petőfi played a crucial role in the revolution. Explore his co-authorship of the “12 Points” and read the patriotic poem, “Nemzeti Dal.”

5 Interesting Facts About Hungarian History

  • One of Europe’s Oldest Countries Hungary was founded in 897 A.D., predating the unification of Anglo-Saxon kingdoms and the separation of France and Germany.
  • Among the Largest States in Europe Around 1000 A.D., the Hungarian kingdom was one of the largest states in Europe, surpassing even France in size.
  • Hungary’s Connection to Rome Once part of the Celtic world, Hungary was absorbed by the Roman empire.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Don’t Clink Your Beer Glasses A historical anecdote reveals that Austrians clinking glasses after each execution of the 13 Hungarian generals in 1848 was considered an insult, a sentiment that persists to this day.
  • Royal Saint: King Stephen I Canonized as a saint in 1083 A.D., King Stephen I of Hungary became their patron saint.

Importance of Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution

The events of 1848 in Hungary underscore the power of human defiance. Despite the failure of the revolution, it instilled in ordinary Hungarians the belief that unity could overcome the most oppressive regimes. The revolution paved the way for democratic parliamentary elections, establishing a representative parliamentary system. Hungary became the third nation in continental Europe to hold democratic elections, a historic achievement. While the separatists didn’t fully depose the Habsburg absolutists, they achieved small gains for the peasants. Hungarian commoners were liberated from serfdom and became landowners.


Why did the Hungarians revolt in 1848?

The revolution in France and other European states influenced the Hungarians to revolt against Austrian rule.

Who ruled Hungary in 1848?

Hungary was under the leadership of Emperor Ferdinand I.

How did Communism end in Hungary?

Communist rule in Hungary ended in 1989 with a peaceful transition to democracy.

Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution Dates

  • 2024: March 15 (Friday)
  • 2025: March 15 (Saturday)
  • 2026: March 15 (Sunday)
  • 2027: March 15 (Monday)
  • 2028: March 15 (Wednesday)

In conclusion, the Memorial Day of the 1848 Revolution in Hungary is a day to reflect on a pivotal moment in history, where the pursuit of autonomy and democratic ideals shaped the nation’s future. From the defiance of the people to the enduring symbols of revolution, this day encapsulates the spirit of resilience and the quest for freedom.

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