Hungary, officially in English the Republic of Hungary, is a landlocked country in the Carpathian Basin of Central Europe.

After a Celtic and a Roman period, the foundation of Hungary was laid in the late ninth century by the Magyar chieftain Árpád, whose great grandson István ascended to the throne with a crown sent from Rome in 1000.

The Kingdom of Hungary existed with minor interruptions for more than 900 years, and at various points was regarded as one of the cultural centers of Europe.

Hungary gained widespread international attention during its Communist era (1945-1989) regarding the Revolution of 1956 and the seminal move of opening its border with Austria in 1989, thus accelerating the collapse of the Eastern Bloc.


Political map of HungaryTopographic map of HungaryKékes (Northern Hungary), the highest mountain in the Country.

Hungary has 1403 miles (2258 kilometers of boundaries, shared with Austria to the west, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia to the south and southwest, Romania to the southeast, the Ukraine to the northeast, and Slovakia to the north. With a land area of 35,919 square miles (93,030 square kilometers), Hungary is slightly smaller than the state of Indiana in the United States.

Slightly more than one half of Hungary's landscape consists of flat to rolling plains of the Carpathian Basin: the most important plain regions include the Little Hungarian Plain in the west, and the Great Hungarian Plain in the southeast. Transdanubia is a primarily hilly region with a terrain varied by low mountains. These include the very eastern stretch of the Alps, Alpokalja, in the west of the country, the Transdanubian Medium Mountains, in the central region of Transdanubia, and the Mecsek Mountains and Villány Mountains in the south.

The highest mountains are located in the Carpathians: these lie in the northern parts, in a wide band along the Slovakian border (highest point: the Kékes at 3326 feet (1,014 meters)

Hungary has a continental climate, with cold, cloudy, humid winters and warm to hot summers. Temperature extremes are about 110°F (42°C) in the summer and −20°F (−29°C) in the winter. Average temperature in the summer is 81°F to 95°F (27°C to 35°C) and in the winter it is 32°F to 5°F (0°C to −15°C). The average yearly rainfall is approximately 24 inches (600 millimeters). A small, southern region of the country near Pécs enjoys a reputation for a Mediterranean climate, but in reality it is only slightly warmer than the rest of the country and still receives snow during the winter.

Hungary is divided in two by its main waterway, the Danube (Duna); other large rivers include the Tisza and Dráva. The second largest lake in the Carpathian Basin is the artificial Lake Tisza (Tisza-tó).

Despite its relatively small size, Hungary is home to nine World Heritage Sites, including the only historic wine region in the world declared such (Tokaj-Hegyalja), and five UNESCO Biosphere reserves. The country is home to the second largest thermal lake in the world (Lake Hévíz), the largest lake in Central Europe (Lake Balaton), and the largest remaining grasslands in Central Europe (Hortobágy).

Oak is the predominant deciduous tree, and various conifers grow in the mountains. Deer, wild boar, hare, and mouflon abound. A variety of birds breed and migrate from the Great Plain. Natural resources include bauxite, coal, natural gas, fertile soils, and arable land. Environmental issues include the upgrading of Hungary's standards in waste management, energy efficiency, and air, soil, and water pollution to meet European Union requirements.

Budapest, the capital city and the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial and transportation centre, had population of 1,696,128 in 2007.

Left to right:Castle Quarter,Széchenyi Chain Bridge,Danube Promenade,Parliament Building,Saint Stephen's Basilica


Roman Pannonia and surrounding areasAttila the Hun.Pannonia before the Magyars.

Stone Age

Early Paleolithic Vértesszőlős, which contains pebble tools of Homo heidelbergensis, is the oldest archaeological site in Hungary. Mesolithic sites exist in the Jászság area (Latin Jazygia) in northern Hungary (Jászberény). Neolithic settlement began with the Körös culture, carbon-dated to around 6200 B.C.E. Remnants of the Middle Neolithic Western Linear Pottery culture exist in Transdanubia and the Szatmar, and Eastern Linear pottery in the East.

Iron Age

Dacians, who were considered to be the ancestors of the Romanians), were believed to have lived east of the Tisza, while Illyrians (Pannonians) lived west of the Danube. Celts came from the west around 450 B.C.E., and spread over the whole of present-day Hungary in the Late Iron Age, while the Pannonian (in the southwest) and Thracian presence seems to have continued. In the first half of the first century B.C.E., the Dacian king Burebista extended his rule over the Pannonian Plain, as far as present-day eastern Austria, and battled the Boii in present-day southwestern Slovakia around 60 B.C.E.

Roman rule

The Roman Empire conquered territory west of the Danube between 35 and 9 B.C.E., and the area became a province of the Roman Empire under the name of Pannonia. The Easternmost parts of present-day Hungary were later (106 C.E.) organized as the Roman province of Dacia (lasting until 271). Romans paid tribute (86-100 C.E.) to the Dacian King Decebalus. The territory between the Danube and the Tisza was inhabited by the Free Dacians, Sarmatians, and Iazyges between the first and fourth centuries C.E., or even earlier (earliest remains have been dated to 80 B.C.E.). The Roman Emperor Trajan officially allowed the Iazyges to settle there as confederates. The remaining territory was in Thracian (Dacian) hands. In addition, the Vandals settled on the upper Tisza in the second half of the second century C.E. The four centuries of Roman rule created an advanced and flourishing civilization. Many of the important cities of today's Hungary were founded during this period, such as Aquincum (Óbuda, now part of Budapest), Sopianae (Pécs), Arrabona (Győr), Salva (Esztergom), Savaria (Szombathely) and Scarbantia (Sopron). Christianity spread in Pannonia in the fourth century, when it became the empire's official religion.

The age of migrations

In 375 C.E., the nomadic Huns began invading Europe from the eastern steppes, instigating the Great Age of Migrations. In 380, the Huns penetrated into the Pannonian Basin, and remained an important factor in the region well into the 400s. Around the same time (379-395), the Roman Empire allowed the groups of "barbarian" Goths, Alans, Huns, Marcomanni and Quadi to settle Pannonia, which still was a Roman territory. These groups moved on to western and southern Europe around 400.

The Huns, taking advantage of the departure of the Goths, Quadi, and others, created a significant empire in 423 based in Hungary, reaching a peak in 453 under the well-known conqueror, Attila the Hun (406-453). The empire collapsed in 455, when the Huns were defeated by the neighboring Germanic tribes (such as the Quadi, Gepidi and Sciri).

Germanic Ostrogoths inhabited Pannonia, with Rome's consent, between 456 and 471. In 476 the West Roman Empire was officially discontinued, although actual Roman influence in Pannonia had begun to decline as early as the arrival of the Huns nearly a century before.

The first Slavs came to the region, almost certainly from the north, soon after the departure of the Ostrogoths (471 C.E.). Along with the Lombards, they were to be the principal inhabitants of the territory until the arrival of the Avars. Around 530, the Germanic Lombards settled in Pannonia. They had to fight against the Gepidi and the Slavs. In 568, pushed out by the Avars, they moved into northern Italy.

The nomadic Avars arrived from Asia in the 560s, destroyed the Gepidi in the east, drove away the Lombards in the west, and subjugated the Slavs, partly assimilating them. The Avars, just as the Huns had decades before, established a big empire. This empire was destroyed around 800 by Frankish and Slavic attacks, and above all by internal feuds. The few remaining Avars were then quickly assimilated by the Slavs.

Around 800, northeastern Hungary became part of the Principality of Nitra, which itself became part of Great Moravia in 833, while southeastern Hungary was conquered by Bulgaria, but was lost in 881 to Great Moravia. Western Hungary (Pannonia) was initially tributary to the Franks, but in 839 the Slavic Balaton Principality was founded in southwestern Hungary, and in 883/884 the whole of western Hungary was conquered by Great Moravia.

Origin of the Magyars

Prince Árpád is crossing the Carpathians. A detail of Árpád Feszty and assistants' vast (1800m²) canvas, painted to celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest of Hungary.

The commonly accepted view of the origin of the Magyars (known as Hungarians in English) is that they were nomadic people, with indeterminate and disputed origin from the Eurasian plains until the end of the ninth century C.E. They were organized as a confederation of seven Magyar and three allied Khazar tribes; the name "Hungary" or "Hungarian" is most probably derived from the Turkish term Onogur meaning "Ten Arrows," signifying united military strength in nomadic symbolism. In 896, they settled in Transylvania from where they took possession of Pannonia. Much of early Hungarian history is recorded in:

  • Anonymi Gesta Hungarorum (Anonymous "Deeds of the Hungarians") by Magister P. (c. 1200)
  • Gesta Hunnorum et Hungarorum or Gesta Hungarorum (II) ("Deeds of the Huns and Hungarians" or just "Deeds of the Hungarians") by Simon of Kéza (late thirteenth century)
  • Chronicon Pictum ("Illuminated Chronicle") (late fourteenth century)
  • Chronicle of the Hungarians by Johannes de Thurocz (1480s)


Árpád.The Holy Right, the right hand of Stephen I.King Stephen's statue in his hometown, Esztergom.Béla III

Árpád (c.850-907) was the son of Álmos and was elected leader of seven proto-Magyar tribes. Although he is not considered the founder of the Kingdom of Hungary - that was his descendant Stephen I -, he is generally thought of as the forefather of Hungarians. After several looting raids into Europe, from the 860s, the proto-Magyars in Etelköz under Árpád, pushed by the Pechenegs from the east, passed the Carpathian Mountains. In 896, about 200,000-250,000 proto-Magyars entered the Pannonian fields.

A later defeat at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, at the hands of Holy Roman Emperor Otto the Great, signaled an end to the raids, friendlier relations with the Holy Roman Empire, and exposure to Christianity and Western culture. The ruling prince (fejedelem) Géza of the House of Árpád, who was the nominal overlord of all seven Magyar tribes, converted to Christianity in 975. He intended to integrate Hungary into Christian (Western) Europe, rebuilding the state according to the Western model. He established a dynasty by naming his son Vajk (later called Stephen) as his successor.

The Árpád dynasty

Stephen I of Hungary (975-1038), the founder of the Árpád dynasty, who defeated a rival claimant, his uncle, in battle, established Hungary as a centralized Christian kingdom. By his marriage to Giselle of Bavaria (c. 995), he became the brother-in-law of the future Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor. Stephen was crowned in December 1000 in the capital, Esztergom, and received recognition as King of Hungary in 1001, when Pope Sylvester II granted him the title "Apostolic Majesty," a title retained by Hungarian kings for more than 900 years.

By 1006, Stephen had solidified his power, eliminating all rivals who either wanted to follow the old pagan traditions or wanted an alliance with the orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire. Stephen divided Hungary into 40 to 50 counties (megyék), each under a royal official called an ispán, who administered its not free population, and collected taxes. Each ispán maintained at his fortified headquarters an armed force of freemen. Stephen set up 10 dioceses, ordering every ten villages to erect a church and maintain a priest. The non-Magyars in his realm were treated as subject races and were forced to work harder and pay more tax. Shortly after Stephen's death, in 1038, healing miracles were said to have occurred at his tomb. Stephen was canonized by Pope Gregory VII as Saint Stephen of Hungary in 1083, along with his son, Saint Imre and Bishop Gerhard (Hungarian: Szent Gellért). The king's right hand, known as "The Holy Right," is kept as a relic.

Stephen's immediate successors had to contend with barbarian and German invasions, as well as a pagan reaction at home. Ladislas I (1040-1095), entered into an alliance with Pope Gregory VII. Béla III (1148-1196) was the King of Hungary from 1172-1196. He was the son of King Géza II and Euphrosyne, the daughter of Grand Duke Mstislav I of Kiev. In 1164, the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus concluded a treaty with Béla's brother, Stephen III, by which Béla was given the Croatian and Dalmatian territories and sent to Constantinople to be educated at the Imperial court. Manuel, who had no legitimate sons, intended that Béla should marry his daughter, Maria Comnena, and eventually succeed him as emperor. But Manuel I Comnenus remarried and produced a son, so Béla's engagement to Maria was cancelled.

Béla succeeded his brother King Stephen III, was crowned under the influence of Emperor Manuel in 1172, and adopted Catholicism. A wealthy monarch, he owned half the land of the kingdom outright, monopolized coinage, customs, and mining, and half of his income was paid in cash. Béla was a warrior by nature and training, and the death of Emperor Manuel in 1180 left him free to expand Hungarian power in the Balkans. Hungarian troops invaded Byzantine territory at some time before 1183. Béla's attempt to recover Dalmatia led the Kingdom of Hungary into two wars against the Republic of Venice.

But the reign of Andrew II (c. 1175-1235), who was king of Hungary from 1205 until 1235 as a member of Árpád dynasty, was detrimental to the Hungarian realm. He declared that the generosity of a king should be limitless. He gave away everything - money, villages, domains, whole counties - emptying the treasury, thereby rendering the crown, for the first time in Hungarian history, dependent upon the great nobility eager for personal gain. He was directly responsible for the beginnings of the feudal anarchy which led to the extinction of the Árpáds dynasty at the end of the thirteenth century.

The Golden Bull

While the king had a council of nobles, his authority remained absolute, and a strong king could always control a recalcitrant noble by confiscating his estate. The extravagances of Andrew II sparked a revolt, which led to the Golden Bull of 1222. This was an edict, issued by King Andrew II of Hungary, which established the rights of Hungary's noblemen, including the right to disobey the king when he acted contrary to law, in the same way that King John of England was made to sign the Magna Carta in 1215. The nobles and the church were freed from all taxes and could not be forced to go to war outside of Hungary, and were not obligated financing it. The edict was created in seven copies, one for each of the following institutions: to the Pope, to the Knights Templar, to the Knights Hospitaller, to the Hungarian king itself, to the chapters of Esztergom and Kalocsa and to the palatine.

Mongol invasion

Mongol invasion of HungaryHungary in the fourteenth century.Charles I of Hungary.Portrait of Louis the Great.Albert II of Habsburg.John Hunyadi, as imagined by a seventeenth century artist.Matthias Corvinus as depicted in Chronica Hungarorum.

Mongols invaded in 1241. After the defeat of the Hungarian army in the Battle of Muhi on April 11, 1241, King Béla IV (1206-1270) fled, and Hungary lay in ruins. Around a quarter of the population was lost, mostly in lowland areas, especially in the Alföld, where there were hardly any survivors. Only strongly fortified cities and abbeys could withstand the assault. After the Mongols retreated, King Béla reorganized the army, ordered the construction of stone castles, meant to be a defense against a possible second Mongol invasion. These castles proved to be very important later in the long struggle with the Ottoman Empire from the late fourteenth century onwards. But their cost indebted the king to the major feudal landlords again.

Bela brought in settlers to repopulate the country. One group of immigrants, known as Cumans who had fled into Hungary before the Mongols, became so turbulent that Béla had his son, Stephen V (1239-1272), marry a Cuman princess to ensure their loyalty. A new nobility comprising soldiers and settlers who gained land for military service appeared. An assembly in which nobles represented their counties was created. Stephen V died, the country passed to the regency of his wife, his wild son was assassinated. The crown passed to Andrew III (b. 1265).

Angevins and expansion

The Árpád line of kings ended in 1301 with the death of Andrew III. Charles Robert of Anjou was enthroned as Charles I (of Hungary) (1288-1342), on June 15, 1309. His installation was not regarded as valid until he was crowned at Székesfehérvár on August 27, 1310, with the sacred crown, which was at last recovered from the rebellious barons. Charles restored order by absolute rule. The assembly of nobles, or Diet, was still summoned occasionally, but the real business of the state was transacted in the royal council. To impose limitations on the barons, the lesser gentry were protected against the tyranny of the magnates, encouraged to appear at court and taxed for military service by the royal treasury so as to draw them closer to the crown. The court was famous throughout Europe as a school of chivalry. He established the honor system, whereby faithful servants of the king were given an office and control over a number of royal castles. Charles curbed inflation, introducing new coins with a constantly high purity of gold. His marriage to Elizabeth, the sister of Casimir III, King of Poland, ensured the succession of his son Louis to the Polish crown.

Louis I the Great (1326-1382) was King of Hungary, Croatia, and Dalmatia from 1342, and of Poland from 1370, after the death of Casimir III the Great. Louis was one of the Kingdom of Hungary's most active and accomplished monarchs of the Late Middle Ages, extending her territory to the Adriatic and securing Dalmatia, with part of Bosnia and Bulgaria, within the Hungarian crown. He spent much of his reign in wars with the Republic of Venice and in competition for the throne of Naples, the former with some success and the latter with little lasting results. Louis further curbed the power of the feudal lords, and promoted the development of commerce, science, and industry. By the end of Louis' reign, the population reached three million; there were 49 royal free boroughs, more than 500 smaller towns, and 26,000 villages. The economy was rural, but the crafts prospered, trade expanded, and the arts flourished.

Ottomans advance

Sigismund, aged approximately 50, depicted by unknown artist in the 1420s.

Towards the end of the reign of Louis I, however, the Ottoman Empire, had become established in several of Hungary's southern buffer provinces. Territorial losses in the south marked the reign of Sigismund (1368-1437), a prince from the Luxembourg line who succeeded to the throne in 1387. By marrying Louis's daughter, Queen Mary, in 1433, he became Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor. He faced defeat in a crusade against the Ottoman Turks at Nicopolis in 1396, the open dissent of feudal landlords, the Hussite rebellion in the Czech kingdom (which was under his rule) and partly in the territory that is now Slovakia, and a major peasant rebellion in Transylvania. Turks again threatened during the two-year reign of Sigismund's Habsburg son-in-law and successor, Albert II (1397-1439), after whose death a bitter contest for the throne developed. Hungary was saved from the Turks chiefly through the capable military leadership of János Hunyadi (1387-1456. Acclaimed as a national hero, Hunyadi broke the Turkish siege of Belgrade in 1456.

The last strong king was the Renaissance king Matthias Corvinus (1443-1490), the son of the feudal landlord and warlord John Hunyadi. Building on his fathers' vision, the aim of taking on the Ottoman Empire with a strong enough background, Matthias set out to build a great empire, expanding southward and northwest, while he also implemented internal reforms, and promoted the commercial and cultural development of the nation. As a brilliant military leader, he created a standing army, called the 'Fekete Sereg' (black army), which accomplished a series of victories also capturing the city of Vienna in 1485. Other territorial acquisitions, which included Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia, made Hungary for a time the strongest kingdom of central Europe.

Peasant rebellion

Dózsa's peasant war

But after Matthias's death in 1490, the weak king Ladislaus II (1456-1516) of the Polish/Lithuanian Jagiellon line nominally ruled the areas he conquered except Austria, but real power was in the hand of the nobles. In 1514, two years before Ladislaus' death, there was a peasant rebellion in the Pannonian lowlands and parts of Transylvania. The Dózsa Insurrection, so named after its Transylvanian leader, also called the Hungarian Peasant's War, was crushed barbarously by the nobles. As central rule degenerated, the stage was set for a defeat at the hands of the Ottoman Empire.

Ottoman occupation

Turkish soldiers in Ottoman HungaryHungary around 1550

Ottoman Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566) captured Belgrade in 1521, and did not hesitate to launch an attack against the weakened kingdom of Hungary, whose smaller (approximately 26,000 compared to 100,000 strong), badly led army was defeated on August 29, 1526, at the Battle of Mohács. Süleyman's semi-vassal, named János Szapolyai (1487-1540), and his enemy Ferdinand I (1503-1564) both claimed the throne of Hungary. Suleyman went further and tried to crush Austrian forces, and laid siege to Vienna in 1529, but failed to take that city after the onset of winter forced his retreat. The title of king of Hungary was disputed between János Szapolyai and Ferdinand until 1540. After the seizure of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the west and north recognized a Habsburg as king ("Royal Hungary"), while the central and southern counties were occupied by the Sultan and the east was ruled by the son of Szapolyai under the name Eastern Hungarian Kingdom which after 1541 became the Principality of Transylvania.

During the Ottoman rule, peace was fragile. Transylvania became the centre of the Magyar movement against Turkish and Habsburg (Austrian) domination. The Magyars had abandoned the Catholic Church during the Protestant Reformation, a movement that began in 1517 initially to reform-then split from-the Catholic Church. The Habsburgs pursued plans to liberate the land from the Muslim invaders, and to promote the Counter-reformation. Strife between the Protestant Magyars and the Catholic Habsburgs became increasingly violent. At the end of the Long War (1593-1606), Emperor Rudolf II granted the Magyars of Transylvania autonomy, and additional territory. Using Ottoman Hungary as their base, the Ottomans attempted to use this religious division of their Christian opponents in 1620, and again in 1683 when they laid siege to Vienna for the second time.

Hungary began to undergo changes. Vast lands remained unpopulated and covered with woods. Flood plains became marshes. The life of the Turkish occupiers was unsafe. Peasants fled to the woods and marshes from their cruel masters, forming guerrilla bands, the Hajdú troops. Eventually, maintaining a long chain of border forts in Hungary was a drain on the Ottoman Empire. Some parts of the economy flourished. In the huge unpopulated areas, townships bred cattle that were herded to South Germany and northern Italy-up to 500,000 animals per year. Wine was traded to the Czech lands, Austria and Poland. Pozsony (Pressburg, today: Bratislava) became the new capital (1536-1784), coronation town (1563-1830), and seat of the Diet (1536-1848) of Hungary. Trnava in turn, became the religious center in 1541.

Anti-Habsburg uprisings

Jan III Sobieski at the Battle of Vienna.Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I.Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, who was Charles III of Hungary.Empress Maria Theresa.Joseph II.

Between 1604 and 1711, there was a series of anti-Habsburg (i.e. anti-Austrian) and anti-Catholic uprisings, which - with the exception of the last one - took place on the territory of present-day Slovakia. The uprisings were usually organized from Transylvania. The Transylvanians sided against the Habsburgs during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), led at first by Gabriel Bethlen (1580-1629), Prince of Transylvania and King of Hungary. After George II Rákóczy (1621-1660) became Prince of Transylvania, in 1648, the Turks extended their influence into Transylvania. Meanwhile, Habsburg missionary efforts won many people back into the Roman Catholic Church, causing them to abandon the nationalist fight against Habsburg overlordship. Protestants were increasingly repressed, sparking a further revolt led by Count Imre Thököly, backed by the Turks in 1682.

Ottoman forces defeated

The defeat of Ottoman forces led by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa Pasha at the Second Siege of Vienna in 1683, at the hands of the combined armies of Poland and the Holy Roman Empire under Jan III Sobieski (1629-1696), ultimately swung the balance of power in the region. Under the terms of the Treaty of Karlowitz, which ended the Great Turkish War in 1699, the Ottomans ceded nearly all the territory they had taken from the Kingdom of Hungary.

Habsburg rule

At the Diet of "Royal Hungary" in Pressburg (today Bratislava), in 1687, Leopold I promised to observe all Hungarian laws and privileges, although the Hungarian Diet was made to declare the crown of Hungary forever hereditary in the House of Habsburg, 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 the foreign affairs, defense, tariffs, and other functions.

The repression of Protestants and the land seizures embittered the Hungarians, and in 1703 a peasant uprising sparked an eight-year rebellion aimed at casting off the Habsburg yoke. In Transylvania, disgruntled Protestants, peasants and soldiers of different ethnicities (Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak) united under Francis II Rákóczi (1676-1735), a Roman Catholic magnate who could hardly speak Hungarian. 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 them. The rebellion ended in 1711, when moderate rebel leaders concluded the Treaty of Szatmár, where they gained little except the emperor's agreement to reconvene the Diet and to grant an amnesty for the rebels.

Leopold's successor, Charles III of Hungary (1711-1740), began building a workable relationship with Hungary after the Treaty of Szatmár. Charles asked the Budapest Diet's approval for the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, which rewrote succession law to arrange for his daughter, Maria Theresa (1717-1780), to succeed him. Part of that agreement was that the Habsburg monarch would rule Hungary as a king subject to the restraints of Hungary's constitution and laws. The Diet approved the Pragmatic Sanction in 1723, and Hungary thus agreed to become a hereditary monarchy under the Habsburgs for as long as their dynasty existed. In practice, however, Charles and his successors governed almost autocratically, controlling Hungary's foreign affairs, defense, and finance but lacking the power to tax the nobles without their approval.

Charles organized the country under a centralized administration and in 1715 established a standing army under his command, which was entirely funded and manned by the non-noble population. This policy reduced the nobles' military obligation without abrogating their exemption from taxation. Charles also banned conversion to Protestantism, required civil servants to profess Catholicism, and forbade Protestant students to study abroad.

Maria Theresa faced an immediate challenge from Prussia's Frederick II (1712-1786) when she became head of the House of Habsburg in 1740. In 1741, she appeared before the Diet of Budapest holding her newborn son and entreated Hungary's nobles to support her. They stood behind her and helped secure her rule. Maria Theresa later took measures to reinforce links with Hungary's magnates.

Francis II Rákóczi.

Under Charles and Maria Theresa, Hungary d