The “Compromise of 1867,” which describes one of the most important events in the history of modern Hungary, is a catch-all term used for the agreements that reestablished the political, legal, and economic relations between the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary at the beginning of 1867. It was negotiated between the head of the house of Hapsburg, King Franz Joseph I, and a Hungarian delegation headed by Ferenc Deák and Gyula Andrássy.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the compromise, the National Bank of Hungary is issuing Hungary’s largest coins: a 20,000-forint silver and a 2,000-forint copper-nickel. Both commemorative coins are 52.5 millimeters (2.07″) in diameter, and the mintage for each version is limited to 5,000 pieces. The 20,000-forint, .925 silver coin is struck in Proof quality and weighs 77.76 grams. The 2,000-forint copper-nickel coin is in Uncirculated quality and weighs 66.9 grams. The coins were designed by István Kósa.
The two versions have identical designs, both presented on clean, plain fields. At the left of the obverse is a right-facing portrait of Ferenc Deák inspired by the work of Ede Telcs (scroll down to see an original bas-relief likeness by Telcs). The portrait partially overlaps a small Hapsburg coat of arms at the center, which is linked with the larger coat of arms of the Kingdom of Hungary to the right. Ferenc Deák’s name appears in tiny letters around the lower border of the portrait, and his famous quote, JOBBAN TUDOM SZERETNI A HAZÁT, MINT GYÜLÖLNI ELLENSÉGEINKET (“I am more able to love my homeland, than to hate my enemies”), appears around the lowermost edge of the field, below MAGYARORSZÁG (Hungary) in larger letters. The denomination, 2000 / FORINT, appears in two lines above the main design, with the date, 2017, just below. A beaded border surrounds all but the lowermost portion of the obverse.
The reverse elements are placed in a mirror image of the obverse elements. Right-facing, jugate portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Franz Joseph I are at the right of the field, partially overlapping a small coat of arms of the house of Hapsburg at the center, which in turn is linked to the larger Austrian coat of arms at the left. Their names appear in tiny letters around the lower border of the portrait, with the word KIEGYEZÉS (Compromise) in large letters at the bottom. Within an oval, sun-like device above the main design, the year of the compromise (1867) and the year of minting (2017) are located one above the other, with the last digit of these two years sharing a large numeral 7, emphasizing the occasion of this commemorative coin. As on the obverse, a beaded border surrounds all but the lowermost portion of the coin.
This and other coins of Hungary are available from the Hungarian Mint’s North American representative, Coin & Currency Institute, and other fine retailers.
The Historic Compromise of 1867
In the spring of 1848, the revolution that succeeded in Austria and Hungary resulted in the abolition of feudal relations in the Hapsburg Empire and a shift toward a more modern society. However, after the Hungarian revolution was suppressed in 1849, the Austrians attempted to move forward under martial law with modernization while also stressing the Germanic aspects of their rule. The Austrians overestimated themselves, because by that time they were no longer a great power, but only a regional one. The Hapsburg Empire had strongly resisted the calls for self-government of its national minorities living within its territories for more than half a century, but after severe military defeats in 1859 and 1866, the emperor and his advisers saw that restoring peace in Hungary was one of the key prerequisites for the continued existence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The negotiations led to the adoption of Law-Article XII of 1867, which stated that the person of the sovereign and the Sanctio Pragmatica united the two sovereign nations. Based on the latter (specifically the hereditary lands of the Hapsburg provinces), so-called common matters arose, such as foreign and military policy and the related financial aspects. The budget for the three joint ministers acting in these fields was to be negotiated by delegations from both parts of the empire, and Hungary also agreed to assume part of Austria’s national debt. It would furthermore conclude a compromise with Austria that would be renewed every 10 years and would unite the monetary systems of the two states (the Hungarian government concluded a separate compromise agreement with Croatia, which entered into effect in 1868). The ceremonial high point of the compromise occurred on June 8, 1867, when Franz Joseph I was crowned king of Hungary in a lavish ceremony at the Matthias Church in Buda. According to the prevailing opinion at the time, Queen Elizabeth played a key role in the compromise, exerting her influence in favor of the Hungarian interests.
The Compromise of 1867’s moral lesson, which endures to this day, is that the political forces of two groups with serious conflicts of interests were able to reach a peaceful compromise thanks to their tireless efforts. There is essentially no political situation so complicated that the parties to the conflict cannot reach an agreement if they are able to subordinate short-term gains to the long-term goals of building a community. ❑
This post is based on a press release courtesy of the Coin & Currency Institute.