Reign of Leopold II

Hungary Table of Contents

As the Habsburgs gained control of the country, the ministers of Leopold I argued that he should rule Hungary as conquered territory. One even said Vienna should first make the Hungarians beggars, then Catholics, and then Germans. At the Diet of Pressburg in 1687, the emperor promised to observe all of Hungary's laws and privileges. Hereditary succession of the Habsburgs was recognized, however, and the nobles' right of resistance was abrogated. In 1690 Leopold began redistributing lands freed from the Turks. Protestant nobles and all other Hungarians thought disloyal by the Habsburgs lost their estates, which were given to foreigners. Vienna controlled Hungary's foreign affairs, defense, tariffs, and other functions, and it separated Tranyslvania from Hungary, treating it as a separate imperial territory.

The repression of Protestants and the land seizures embittered the Hungarians, and in 1703 a peasant uprising sparked an eight-year national rebellion aimed at casting off the Habsburg yoke. Disgruntled Protestants, peasants, and soldiers united under Ferenc Rakoczi, a Roman Catholic magnate who could hardly speak Hungarian. Most of Hungary soon supported Rakoczi, and the joint Hungarian-Transylvanian Diet voted to annul the Habsburgs' right to the throne. Fortunes turned against the rebels, however, when the Habsburgs made peace in the West and turned their full force against Hungary. The rebellion ended in 1711, when moderate rebel leaders concluded the Treaty of Szatmar, in which the Hungarians gained little except the emperor's agreement to reconvene the Diet and to grant an amnesty for the rebels.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress