Goulash – a tasty history (7)

Goulash - a tasty history (7)
To get back to the Hungarians: their integration passed off a little less smoothly. The rumbling and grousing continued, and in the revolutionary year 1848, that gripped the whole of Europe, the storm broke. The Austrians sent in their army to restore order, took a nasty beating and had to withdraw after which, -in 1849- independence was proclaimed. That did not last long, because Europe was sick and tired of the wave of revolutions and no one was prepared to recognize the new state. The Russians, afraid that a Hungarian success would put funny ideas in the heads of the Poles oppressed by them, came to the aid of the Austrians. Their united forces crushed the Hungarian army in less than two months. Followed a period of violent repression that finally ended in 1867 with the “Ausgleich” by which Hungary was given an equal status to that of Austria. And so, the Austrian Empire became the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy.

That had major consequences for the residents of the Kingdom of Hungary. The state occupied a territory which was about four times larger than it is today, with a population that -besides a minority of Hungarians- consisted of Slovaks, Germans, Jews, Romanians, Serbs, Croats, Ukrainians, Ruthenians and Slovenes, all with their own language and culture. Contrary to the Austrian part of the Dual Monarchy, where in the different crown lands the national language was used besides German, the Hungarian government followed a rigid policy of “Magyarization”. Throughout public life Hungarian was to become the only authorised language. In all government affairs, in the judiciary and in all schooling above the elementary level of the village schools, Hungarian was from now on the only permitted language. It went so far that a lot of family and place names were magyarized, and even religion preferably had to be confessed in Hungarian. Hungarian culture became the norm, and with it the Hungarian culinary traditions.

After Austria-Hungary came out of the Great War of 1914-1918 as one of the losers, the monarchy was disbanded. The Hungarian half of that Dual Monarchy thereby lost 71% of its territory and 66% of its inhabitants to its neighbouring countries. Slovakia joined with Bohemia and Moravia to become Czechoslovakia. Transylvania and two thirds of the Banat were attached to Romania. The old Austrian duchy of Carniola was from now on called Slovenia and received, in addition to the southern half of Styria, also the Hungarian province of Prekmurje. Croatia, which -with the exception of Dalmatia- after some misty wrangling had been part of Hungary since 1868, became an independent state. Croatia and Slovenia united with Serbia -which had helped itself to a portion of Hungarian territory too- as the “Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes” under the Serbian King Peter I. This included -whether or not voluntarily- Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia. In 1929 the name was changed to “Kingdom of Yugoslavia”. After W.W.II it became a republic until the unsavoury war of the early 1990s, when it was taken apart again. No wonder that we find in each of its neighbouring countries the national dish of Hungary as part of the national, traditional cuisine.

© 2016, Marcellus Wick



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