Apr 5, 2016
Was there a family resemblance between the 1707 Act of Union between England and Scotland and the constitutional compromise which followed the Hungarian rebellion led by Ferenc Rakoczi II against the Habsburgs between 1703 and 1711? In both cases, the settlement took into account the resilience as well as the vulnerability of the junior partner and in the longer run offered it the possibility of participating in a process of empire building and civilization. But such a union did not ensue in the Hungarian case, and a genuine age of improvement had not set in until the two decades preceding the revolution of 1848, whose defeat inaugurated yet another period of national frustration. In this lecture, Laszlo Kontler accounts for the role of the long Enlightenment in the age of reform in Hungary in the 1830s and 40s, and in particular argues that William Robertson's view of progress was tailor made to the preferences of the contemporary Hungarian public and intellectual science.