What’s the connection between 15th of March and Hungary?
The 15th of March is one of the most memorable and celebrated date in the history of Hungarians. The date’s significance actually goes back to the year 1848.
What happened on the 15th of March 1848 in Hungary?
Well, according to the records it was a rainy Wednesday but more importantly it was actually the start date of the revolution for independence. The whole movement started back in 1830 with Count Széchenyi’s visions of modernization of Hungary but that’s another story, let’s see the events that occurred on the actual date;
On the 15th of March 1848 at 5:30 am the “Youngsters of March” were meant to meet Petőfi (a famous Hungarian Poet) at the Pilvax cafe. He was late so they went to his house to pick him up, then together they went to Jókai (a famous Hungarian writer) to discuss the details of the revolution.
In the mean time near the Pilvax cafe Károly Sükei editor gathered about 500 people by distributing the 12 point demands of the revolutionists that was put together by Jozsef Irinyi 4 days earlier on the 11th of March and looked like this:
What the Hungarian Nation Wants
Let there be peace, freedom and compliance!
1. We want the freedom of press and the abolition of the censure
2. A responsible ministry in Budapest
3. A yearly parliament gathering in Budapest
4. Equality in the eyes of the law in civil and religious matters
5. National guard
6. Common share of the burden
7. Abolition of feudal relations
9. National bank
10. The army to swear on the constitution, do not send Hungarian soldiers abroad and do not bring foreign soldiers to Hungary
11. The release of the currently held political prisoners
Equality, Freedom, Brotherhood!
So by the time Jókai and the others arrived here they’ve had quite a large group waiting to follow them. From the cafe they marched to the university where the group suddenly grew into a 10,000 strong mass. Petőfi performed the “National Song” then read the 12 point demands in front of these people.
After this the constantly growing mass proceeded to the Landerer-Hackenast printing house and forced the workers of the company to print the 12 point commands and the “National Song”. The prints then were distributed among those present. This was about it for the morning, by midday most of the people were back at home.
It wasn’t over yet
The happenings continued at around 3:00pm at the building of the National Museum where the revolutionists organized a hustings. Here they’ve come to a decision to proceed to the town hall of Pest where the general assembly was called together already due to the emergency situation in town.
At this point on the lead of the revolutionists were Pál Nyáry and Gábor Klauzál who were official politician leaders arriving from the County Hall of Pest. At the town hall of Pest Nyáry handed over the 12 point demands document to the major of Pest, Lipót Rottenbiller.
After the handover the revolution committee was formed which consisted of the following: 3 members of the “Youngsters of March”, 3 liberal noblemen, and 6 city councillors.
The main event of the revolution however happened after the above mentioned, and that was when the mass marched up to the Buda Castle to present the 12 point demands document to the officials of the pro-consulate.
After the quick review by the officials some of the demands were granted straight away like the abolition of the press censure and they also received a freedom pass for Mihály Táncsics who was a famous freedom fighter beloved by the nation and imprisoned in 1846.
Táncsics was freed and taken back to Pest in celebration on the shoulders of the mass.
The evening party
The catharsis and at the same time the closure of Budapest events of 15th of March was the evening programme at the National Theatre.
The original programme was meant to be an Anton Hocebo play however, in the light of the events it was changed to “Bánk Bán” (The Viceroy) by József Katona, because the story line is more of a political nature and fitted better to the current situation.
Just before the play Jokai has addressed those present and said:
“The revolution has succeeded! We gained freedom of press, formed the revolution committee, and abolished the noble prefixes.”
On the same night about 300 law students left for Vienna on boats to support the revolution over there.
So, these were the starting events of the Revolution of 1848 in Hungary on the 15th of March and it has ever since been a significant date in Hungarian history and celebrated publicly or in their hearts by most of the Hungarians as the beginning of a new era in their nation’s history.
This date represents the freedom, the progress, the modernization and the feeling of national consciousness.
The era that began on this day brought the birth of their national hymn, the legalization of the red, white and green colours of the Hungarian national flag, the change of the capital of Hungary from Bratislava to Budapest, and the change of the official language from Latin to Hungarian.