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Diet of Hungary

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Diet of Hungary

Diet of Hungary of 1830

The Diet of Hungary or originally: Parlamentum Publicum / Parlamentum Generalye[1] (Hungarian: Országgyűlés) was a legislative institution in the medieval kingdom of Hungary from the 1290s,[2] and in its successor states, Royal Hungary and the Habsburg kingdom of Hungary throughout the Early Modern period. The name of the legislative body was originally "Parlamentum" during the Middle Ages, the "Diet" expression gained mostly in the Early Modern period.[3] It convened at regular intervals with interruptions during the period of 1527 to 1918, and again until 1946.

The articles of the 1790 diet set out that the diet should meet at least once every 3 years, but, since the diet was called by the Habsburg monarchy, this promise was not kept on several occasions thereafter. As a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, it was reconstituted in 1867.

The Latin term Natio Hungarica ("Hungarian nation") was used to designate the political elite which had participation in the diet, consisting of the nobility, the Catholic clergy, and a few enfranchised burghers,[4][5] regardless of language or ethnicity.[6] Natio Hungarica was a geographic, institutional and juridico-political category.[7]


Some researchers have traced the roots of the Hungarian institution of national assemblies as far back as the 11th century. This based on documentary evidence that, on certain occasions under the reigns of King Ladislaus I and King Coloman “the Book lover”, assemblies were held on a national scale where both ecclesiastic and secular dignitaries made appearances.[8] The first written mention of Hungarian Parliament originated under King Andrew II with the Golden Bull of 1222, which reaffirmed the rights of the smaller nobles of the old and new classes of royal servants (servientes regis) against both the crown and the magnates, and to defend the rights of the whole nation against the crown by restricting the powers of the latter in certain fields and legalizing refusal to obey its unlawful/unconstitutional commands (the "ius resistendi"). The lesser nobles also began to present Andrew with grievances, a practice that evolved into the institution of the Hungarian Diet.

An institutionalized Hungarian parliament emerged during the 14th and 15th centuries. Under King Charles I, and still under King Matthias I, the Diet was essentially convened by the king to announce his decisions, and had no significant power of its own.

In 1492 the Diet limited the serfs' freedom of movement and expanded their obligations while a large portion of peasants became prosperous because of cattle export to the West. Rural discontent boiled over in 1514 when well-armed peasants preparing for a crusade against Turks rose up under György Dózsa. Shocked by the peasant revolt, the Diet of 1514 passed laws that condemned the serfs to eternal bondage and increased their work obligations.

When King Vladislaus II died in 1516, a royal council appointed by the Diet ruled the country in the name of his ten-year-old son, King Louis II (1516–26).

List of Diets

Royal Hungary (1527–1699)

Start date End date Location Details
1527 1528 Buda
1532 1532 Buda
1536 1536 Várad
1537 1537 Pressburg (Pozsony, now Bratislava)
1542 1543 Besztercebánya (now Banská Bystrica)
1545 1545 Nagyszombat (now Trnava)
1547 1547 Nagyszombat
1548 1548 Pressburg
1550 1550 Pressburg
1552 1552 Pressburg
1553 1553 Sopron
1554 1554 Pressburg
1555 1555 Pressburg
1556 1556 Pressburg
1557 1557 Pressburg
1559 1559 Pressburg
1563 1563 Pressburg
1566 1566 Pressburg
1567 1567 Pressburg
1569 1569 Pressburg
1572 1572 Pressburg
1574 1574 Pressburg
1575 1575 Pressburg
1578 1578 Pressburg
1581 1581 Pressburg
1583 1583 Pressburg
1587 1587 Pressburg
1593 1593 Pressburg
1596 1596 Pressburg
1597 1597 Pressburg
1598 1598 Pressburg
1599 1599 Pressburg
1600 1600 Pressburg
1601 1601 Pressburg
1602 1602 Pressburg
1603 1603 Pressburg
1604 1604 Pressburg
1608 1608 Pressburg
1609 1609 Pressburg
1613 1613 Pressburg
1618 1618 Pressburg
1622 1622 Sopron
1625 1625 Sopron
1630 1630 Pressburg
1635 1635 Sopron
1637 1638 Pressburg
1647 1647 Pressburg
1649 1649 Pressburg
1655 1655 Pressburg
1659 1659 Pressburg
1662 1662 Pressburg
1681 1681 Sopron
1687 1687 Pressburg

Habsburg Monarchy (1700–1867)

Start date End date Location Details
1708 1715 Pressburg Continuously interrupted
1722 1723 Pressburg
1728 1729 Pressburg
1741 1742 Pressburg
1751 1751 Pressburg
1764 1765 Pressburg
1790 1791 Pressburg First phase not held in Pressburg
1792 1792
1796 1796 In 1796, the diet was convened again to be informed that "attacked by the impious and iniquitous French nation, the king felt the necessity of consulting his faithful states of Hungary, remembering that, under Maria Theresa, Hungary had saved the monarchy." The diet voted to supply a contingent of 50,000 men, and undertook to provision the Austrian army, amounting to 340,000 soldiers. The diet was dissolved after only nineteen sittings.
1802 1802 The diet of 1802 discussed demands on Hungary with regard to the French Revolutionary Wars.
1805 1805 The diet of 1805 resembled that of 1802.
1807 1807 The diet of 1807 was more remarkable. To the usual demands was added the royal proposition that an army should be raised, and ready to march at the first signal.
1811 1812
1825 1827 Pressburg
1830 Pressburg Crowned Archduke Ferdinand as King of Hungary
1832 1836
1839 1840
1843 1844
1847 1847/8

Re-establishment 1867

In the course of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 a diet was called at Pest that was dismissed by decree of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria in October; the next year a Hungarian assembly met at the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen, which declared the new Emperor Franz Joseph deposed and elected Lajos Kossuth regent-president. The revolution was finally suppressed by Austrian troops under General Julius Jacob von Haynau and the assembly dissolved.

Since 1902 the diet has been assembling in the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

The Habsburgs again approached toward the Hungarian estates after the disastrous defeat at the 1859 Battle of Solferino and the loss of Lombardy. In 1860 Emperor Franz Joseph issued the October Diploma, which provided a national Reichsrat assembly formed by delegates deputed by the Landtage diets of the Austrian crown lands, followed by the February Patent of 1861, promising the implementation of a bicameral legislature. The Hungarian magnates however rejected to be governed from Vienna and insisted on an own parliamentary assembly with comprehensive autonomy in Hungarian affairs. The negotiations failed, predominantly due to the tough stance of Austrian Minister-President Anton von Schmerling.

Finally in the course of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the emperor appointed Gyula Andrássy Hungarian minister-president and the re-established national assembly convened on 27 February.

The legislative power was vested in this parliament, consisting of two houses: an upper house titled the Főrendiház (, House of Magnates), and a lower house titled the Képviselőház (, House of Representatives). From 1902 on parliament assembles in the Hungarian Parliament Building on the Danube in Budapest.

House of Magnates

Assembly hall of the House of Magnates

The House of Magnates (Főrendiház) was, like the current British House of Lords, composed of hereditaries, ecclesiastics, and, unlike the House of Lords, deputized representatives from autonomous regions (similar to Resident Commissioners of United States territories). The House had no fixed membership size, as anyone who met the qualifications could sit in it. The official list:

  • Princes of the royal house who have attained their majority (16 in 1904)
  • Hereditary peers who paid at least 3000 florins a year land tax (237 in 1904) (at its 1896 exchange rate, £1 was worth 12 florins, so this comes to £250)
  • High dignitaries of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches (42 in 1904)
  • Representatives of the Protestant confessions (13 in 1904)
  • Life peers appointed by the Crown, not exceeding 50 in number, and life peers elected by the house itself (73 altogether in 1904)
  • Various state dignitaries and high judges (19 in 1904)
  • Three delegates of Croatia-Slavonia

See also List of Speakers of the House of Magnates of Hungary

House of Representatives

Assembly hall of the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives (Képviselőház ) consisted of members elected, under the Electoral Law of 1874, by a complicated franchise based upon property, taxation, profession or official position, and ancestral privileges. The House consisted of 453 members, of which 413 were deputies elected in Hungary and 43 delegates of Croatia-Slavonia sent by the parliament of that Kingdom. Their terms were for five years and were remunerated.

The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition considered the franchise "probably the most illiberal in Europe". The working classes were wholly unrepresented in the parliament, only 6% of them, and 13% of the small trading class, possessing the franchise, which was only enjoyed by 6% of the entire population.

The parliament was summoned annually by the king at Budapest. While official language was Hungarian, the delegates of Croatia-Slavonia were allowed to use Croatian language in the proceedings. The Hungarian parliament had power to legislate on all matters concerning Hungary, but for Croatia-Slavonia only on matters which concern these provinces in common with Hungary. The executive power was vested in a cabinet responsible to it, consisting of ten ministers, including: the president of the council, the minister for Croatia-Slavonia, a minister ad latum, and the ministers of the interior, of national defence, of education and public worship, of finance, of agriculture, of industry and commerce, and of justice.


The democratic character of the Hungarian parliament was reestablished with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist dictatorship. Today's parliament is still called Országgyűlés just like in royal times, but in order to differentiate between the two phases is referred to as National Assembly of Hungary now, as opposed to the historical royal diet.

See also


  1. ^ András Gergely, Gábor Máthé: The Hungarian state: thousand years in Europe (published in 2000)
  2. ^ Elemér Hantos: The Magna Carta Of The English And Of The Hungarian Constitution (1904)
  3. ^ Cecil Marcus Knatchbull-Hugessen Brabourne (4th Baron): The political evolution of the Hungarian nation: (Volume I. in 1908)
  4. ^ John M. Merriman, J. M. Winter, Europe 1789 to 1914: encyclopedia of the age of industry and empire, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006, p. 140, ISBN 978-0-684-31359-7
  5. ^ Tadayuki Hayashi, Hiroshi Fukuda, Regions in Central and Eastern Europe: past and present, Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, 2007, p. 158, ISBN 978-4-938637-43-9
  6. ^ Katerina Zacharia, Hellenisms: culture, identity, and ethnicity from antiquity to modernity, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 237 ISBN 978-0-7546-6525-0
  7. ^
  8. ^ Dr. Zoltán SZENTE: The Historic Origins of the National Assembly in Hungary| [1]
  • István Szijártó (2007). "The Diet: The Estates and the Parliament of Hungary, 1708–1792". In Gerhard Ammerer, William D. Godsey Jr., Martin Scheutz, Peter Urbanitsch und Alfred Stefan Weiss. Bündnispartner und Konkurrenten des Landesfürsten? Die Stände in der Habsburgermonarchie. Wien – München. p. 125. The Diets of our period [1708-1792] were held from 1708 to 1715, then between 1722 and 1723, 1728 and 1729, in 1741, 1751, 1764–65, 1790–91 and 1792 .
  • The Living Age. 1849. p. 554. Retrieved 28 May 2011. In 1796, the diet was called together again... the diet met in 1802... the diet of 1805... the diet of 1807...  Some material from this work is included directly above.
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