Kossuth, Louis

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Kossuth, Louis

Louis Kossuth (kŏsōōth´), Hung. Kossuth Lajos, 1802–94, Hungarian revolutionary hero. Born of a Protestant family and a lawyer by training, he entered politics as a member of the diet and soon won a large following. His liberal and nationalist program did not avoid the possibility of dissolving the union of the Hungarian and Austrian crowns. He was arrested in 1837, but popular pressure forced the Metternich regime to release him in 1840. Kossuth, a fiery orator, was one of the principal figures of the Hungarian revolution of Mar., 1848. When, in April, Hungary was granted a separate government, Kossuth became finance minister. He continued and intensified his anti-Austrian agitation. His principles were liberal, but his nationalism was opposed to the fulfillment of the national aspirations of the Slavic, Romanian, and German minorities in Hungary and was particularly resented in Croatia. When the Austrian government, supported by the ban [governor] of Croatia, Count Jellachich de Buzim, prepared to move against Hungary, Kossuth became head of the Hungarian government of national defense. His government withdrew to Debrecen before the advance of the Austrians under Alfred Windischgrätz. In Apr., 1849, the Hungarian parliament declared Hungary an independent republic and Kossuth became president. The Hungarians won several victories, but in 1849, Russian troops intervened in favor of Austria, and Kossuth was obliged to resign the government to General Görgey. The Hungarian surrender at Vilagos marked the end of the republic. Kossuth fled to Turkey. He visited England and the United States and received ovations as a champion of liberty. Kossuth lived in exile in England and (after 1865) in Italy. He was dissatisfied with the Ausgleich [compromise] of 1867, by which the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy was created, and he refused an offer of amnesty in 1890. After his death at Turin, Italy, his body was returned to Budapest and buried in state.

See biography by P. C. Headley (1971); I. Deak, The Lawful Revolution (1979).

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