Diet of Hungary of 1830
This article is missing information about the Diet between 1918 and 1946. Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page. (March 2024)

The Diet of Hungary or originally: Parlamentum Publicum / Parlamentum Generale[1] (Hungarian: Országgyűlés) was the most important political assembly in Hungary since the 12th century, which emerged to the position of the supreme legislative institution in the Kingdom of Hungary from the 1290s,[2] and in its successor states, Royal Hungary and the Habsburg kingdom of Hungary throughout the early modern period until the end of World War II. The name of the legislative body was originally "Parlamentum" during the Middle Ages, the "Diet" expression gained mostly in the early modern period.[3] It convened at regular intervals with interruptions from the 12th century to 1918, and again until 1946.

The articles of the 1790 diet set out that the diet should meet at least once every 3 years, but, since the diet was called by the Habsburg monarchy, this promise was not kept on several occasions thereafter. As a result of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, it was reconstituted in 1867.

The Latin term Natio Hungarica ("Hungarian nation") was used to designate the elite which had participation in the medieval and early modern era political life of Hungary (at local level as members of the assemblies of the counties, or nation-wide level as members of the Parliaments). The members of the parliament consisted the envoys of the Roman Catholic clergy, the elected envoys of the nobility from the county assemblies of the Kingdom, and the envoys of cities who were elected by the people of the Royal Free Cities[4][5] regardless of mother tongue or ethnicity of the person.[6] Natio Hungarica was a geographic, institutional and juridico-political category.[7]


Further information: Kingdom of Hungary (1000–1526)

Some researchers have traced the roots of the Hungarian institution of national assemblies as far back as the 11th century. This based on documentary evidence that, on certain "important occasions" under the reigns of King Ladislaus I and King Coloman "the Learned", assemblies were held on a national scale where both ecclesiastic and secular dignitaries made appearances.[8] The first exact written mention of the word "parlamentum" (parliament) for the nationwide assembly originated during the reign of King Andrew II in the Golden Bull of 1222, which reaffirmed the rights of the smaller nobles of the old and new classes of royal servants (servientes regis) against both the crown and the magnates, and to defend the rights of the whole nation against the crown by restricting the powers of the latter in certain fields and legalizing refusal to obey its unlawful/unconstitutional commands (the "ius resistendi"). The lesser nobles also began to present Andrew with grievances, a practice that evolved into the institution of the Hungarian Diet.

An institutionalized Hungarian parliament emerged during the 14th and 15th centuries. Beginning under King Charles I, continuing under subsequent kings through into the reign of King Matthias I, the Diet was essentially convened by the king. However, under the rule of the two heavy handed kings like Louis the Great and during reign of the early absolutist Matthias Corvinus, the parliaments were often convened to announce the royal decisions, what the members of the parliament had to vote for [to meet the formal constitutional requirements], thus it had no significant power of its own. However since the reign of the Jagiellonian dynasty, the parliament has regained most of its traditional power.

In 1492 the Diet limited all serfs' freedom of movement and greatly expanded their obligations while at the same time only a few peasant families were prospering because of increased cattle exports to the West. Rural discontent boiled over in 1514 when well-armed peasants preparing for a crusade against Turks rose up under György Dózsa. Shocked by the peasant revolt, the Diet of 1514 passed laws that condemned the serfs to eternal bondage and increased their work obligations still further.

When King Vladislaus II died in 1516, a royal council appointed by the Diet ruled the country in the name of his ten-year-old son, King Louis II (1516–26).

In 1608 the Diet divided into two houses: House of Magnates and House of Representatives. From next Diet in 1609, the members of the House of Representatives elected by nobles of the Counties, by civics of the free royal cities and by members of the cathedral chapters.[9]

List of legislative sessions

Early legislative assemblies, 11th century

Further information: Kingdom of Hungary (1000–1301)

Start date End date Location Details
1057 1057 Székesfehérvár The first known nationwide legislative assembly[10]
1060 1060 Székesfehérvár
1061 1061 Székesfehérvár
1064 1064 Székesfehérvár
1074 1074 Székesfehérvár

Early legislative assemblies 12th century

Start date End date Location Details
1131 1131 Arad
1174 1174 Székesfehérvár

Parliamentary sessions of Kingdom of Hungary, 13th century

Further information: Kingdom_of_Hungary § Middle_Ages

Start date End date Location Details
1222 1222 Székesfehérvár The first assembly which was called as "Parlamentum"[11]
1231 1231 Székesfehérvár
1245 1245 Székesfehérvár
1267 1267 Székesfehérvár
1272 1272 Székesfehérvár
1277 1277 May First phase at Rákos
1277 1277 August Second phase at Székesfehérvár
1289 1289 Székesfehérvár
1291 1291 Székesfehérvár
1299 1299 Székesfehérvár

Parliamentary sessions of Kingdom of Hungary, 14th century

Further information: Kingdom_of_Hungary § Middle_Ages

Start date End date Location Details
1305 1305 Székesfehérvár
1307 1307 Rákos
1308 1308 Buda
1310 1310 Székesfehérvár
1320 1320 Székesfehérvár
1342 1342 Székesfehérvár
1351 1351 Buda
1382 1382 Székesfehérvár
1384 1384 Buda
1385 1385 Pest
1385 1385 Székesfehérvár
1386 1386 Székesfehérvár
1387 1387 Székesfehérvár
1397 1397 Temesvár

Parliamentary sessions of Kingdom of Hungary, 15th century

Further information: Kingdom_of_Hungary § Middle_Ages

Start date End date Location Details
1435 1435 Latin: Posonium (Hungarian: Pozsony, German: Pressburg, now Bratislava)
1438 1439 Székesfehérvár
1440 1440 Székesfehérvár
1445 1445 Székesfehérvár
1459 1459 Szeged
1463 1463 Tolna
1464 1464 Székesfehérvár
1467 1467 Buda
1492 1492 Buda

Parliamentary sessions of Kingdom of Hungary, 16th century

Further information: Kingdom_of_Hungary § Middle_Ages

Start date End date Location Details
1505 1505 Rákos
1506 1506 Székesfehérvár
1510 1510 Tata
1510 1510 Székesfehérvár
1525 1526 Székesfehérvár[12]

Diets of Royal Hungary – 1527–1699 (the most important diets)

Further information: Royal Hungary

Start date End date Location Details
1527 1528 Buda
1532 1532 Buda
1536 1536 Várad
1537 1537 Pressburg (Pozsony, now Bratislava)
1542 1543 Besztercebánya (now Banská Bystrica)
1545 1545 Nagyszombat (now Trnava)
1547 1547 Nagyszombat
1548 1548 Pressburg
1550 1550 Pressburg
1552 1552 Pressburg
1553 1553 Sopron
1554 1554 Pressburg
1555 1555 Pressburg
1556 1556 Pressburg
1557 1557 Pressburg
1559 1559 Pressburg
1563 1563 Pressburg
1566 1566 Pressburg
1567 1567 Pressburg
1569 1569 Pressburg
1572 1572 Pressburg
1574 1574 Pressburg
1575 1575 Pressburg
1578 1578 Pressburg
1581 1581 Pressburg
1583 1583 Pressburg
1587 1587 Pressburg
1593 1593 Pressburg
1596 1596 Pressburg
1597 1597 Pressburg
1598 1598 Pressburg
1599 1599 Pressburg
1600 1600 Pressburg
1601 1601 Pressburg
1602 1602 Pressburg
1603 1603 Pressburg
1604 1604 Pressburg
1608 1608 Pressburg
1609 1609 Pressburg
1613 1613 Pressburg
1618 1618 Pressburg
1622 1622 Sopron
1625 1625 Sopron
1630 1630 Pressburg
1635 1635 Sopron
1637 1638 Pressburg
1647 1647 Pressburg
1649 1649 Pressburg
1655 1655 Pressburg
1659 1659 Pressburg
1662 1662 Pressburg
1681 1681 Sopron
1687 1687 Pressburg

Diets during the Habsburg ruled Kingdom of Hungary (1700–1867)

Further information: History of Hungary 1700–1919

Start date End date Location Details
1708 1715 Pressburg Continuously interrupted
1722 1723 Pressburg
1728 1729 Pressburg
1741 1742 Pressburg
1751 1751 Pressburg
1764 1765 Pressburg
1790 1791 Pressburg First phase not held in Pressburg
1792 1792
1796 1796 In 1796, the diet was convened again to be informed that "attacked by the impious and iniquitous French nation, the king felt the necessity of consulting his faithful states of Hungary, remembering that, under Maria Theresa, Hungary had saved the monarchy." The diet voted to supply a contingent of 50,000 men, and undertook to provision the Austrian army, amounting to 340,000 soldiers. The diet was dissolved after only nineteen sittings.
1802 1802 The diet of 1802 discussed demands on Hungary with regard to the French Revolutionary Wars.
1805 1805 The diet of 1805 resembled that of 1802.
1807 1807 The diet of 1807 was more remarkable. To the usual demands was added the royal proposition that an army should be raised, and ready to march at the first signal.
1811 1812
1825 1827 Pressburg
1830 Pressburg Crowned Archduke Ferdinand as King of Hungary
1832 1836
1839 1840
1843 1844
1847 1847/8

Re-establishment in 1867

In the course of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 a diet was called at Pest that was dismissed by decree of Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria in October; the next year a Hungarian assembly met at the Protestant Great Church of Debrecen, which declared the new Emperor Franz Joseph deposed and elected Lajos Kossuth regent-president. The revolution was finally suppressed by Austrian troops under General Julius Jacob von Haynau and the assembly dissolved.

Since 1902 the diet has been assembling in the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest

The Habsburgs again approached the Hungarian estates after the disastrous defeat at the 1859 Battle of Solferino and the loss of Lombardy. In 1860 Emperor Franz Joseph issued the October Diploma, which provided a national Reichsrat assembly formed by delegates deputed by the Landtage diets of the Austrian crown lands, followed by the February Patent of 1861, promising the implementation of a bicameral legislature. The Hungarian magnates however rejected being governed from Vienna and insisted on a parliamentary assembly with comprehensive autonomy in Hungarian affairs. The negotiations failed, predominantly due to the tough stance of Austrian Minister-President Anton von Schmerling.

Finally in the course of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the emperor appointed Gyula Andrássy Hungarian minister-president and the re-established national assembly convened on 27 February.

The legislative power was vested in this parliament, consisting of two houses: an upper house titled the Főrendiház ([føːrɛndihaːz], House of Magnates), and a lower house titled the Képviselőház ([ˈkeːpviʃɛløːhaːz], House of Representatives). From 1902 on parliament assembled in the Hungarian Parliament Building on the Danube in Budapest.

House of Magnates

Assembly hall of the House of Magnates

Main article: House of Magnates

The House of Magnates (Főrendiház) was, like the current British House of Lords, composed of hereditaries, ecclesiastics, and, unlike the House of Lords, deputized representatives from autonomous regions (similar to Resident Commissioners of United States territories). The House had no fixed membership size, as anyone who met the qualifications could sit in it. The official list:

See also List of speakers of the House of Magnates

House of Representatives

Since the beginning until the 1848 revolution in Hungary, the members of the house of representatives were elected noble envoys from the members of the counties of the kingdom of Hungary, the elected envoys of the free royal cities of the kingdom, and the envoys of the lower clergy.

Assembly hall of the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives (Képviselőház) consisted of members elected, under the Electoral Law of 1874, by a complicated franchise based upon property, taxation, profession or official position, and ancestral privileges. The House consisted of 453 members, of which 413 were deputies elected in Hungary and 40 delegates of Croatia-Slavonia sent by the parliament of that Kingdom. Their terms were for five years and were remunerated.

The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition considered the franchise "probably the most illiberal in Europe". The working classes were wholly unrepresented in the parliament, only 6% of them, and 13% of the small trading class, possessing the franchise, which was only enjoyed by 6% of the entire population.

The parliament was summoned annually by the king in Budapest. While the official language was Hungarian, the delegates of Croatia-Slavonia were allowed to use the Croatian language in the proceedings. The Hungarian parliament had the power to legislate on all matters concerning Hungary, but for Croatia-Slavonia only on matters which it shared with Hungary. Executive power was vested in a cabinet responsible to it, consisting of ten ministers, including: the president of the council, the minister for Croatia-Slavonia, a minister ad latum, and the ministers of the interior, of national defence, of education and public worship, of finance, of agriculture, of industry and commerce, and of justice. The King had the power to veto all legislation passed by the Diet and also to dissolve it and call new elections. Additionally, before any bill could be presented to the Diet, the Emperor-King had to give his Royal Assent. All this shows that the Head of State still had huge power, which however he chose not to use in order to give the Hungarians more control over their own affairs.

According to Randalph Braham, the increasingly illiberal nature of the Diet, leading into World War II, over the period from 1867 and 1944, continues to be a sticking point in regional cultural and political conflicts to this day. The population fluctuated from 6.7% having the franchise in 1848, to 5% having the franchise in 1874, reaching a peak of 8% at the beginning of World War I, with significant police and other pressure on the vote to remain highly partisan. By the start of World War I in 1910, despite the region having a population that was approximately 54.5% Magyar 16.1% Romanian and 10.6% Slovak, 405 out of 413 representatives were of Hungarian descent, with 5 Romanian and 3 Slovak representatives making up the difference.[13]

The Austro-Hungarian compromise and its supporting liberal parliamentary parties remained bitterly unpopular among the ethnic Hungarian voters, and the continuous successes of these pro-compromise liberal parties in the Hungarian parliamentary elections caused long lasting frustration among Hungarian voters. The ethnic minorities had the key role in the political maintenance of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in Hungary, because they were able to vote the pro-compromise liberal parties into the position of the majority/ruling parties of the Hungarian parliament. The pro-compromise liberal parties were the most popular among ethnic minority voters, however i.e. the Slovak, Serb and Romanian minority parties remained unpopular among their own ethnic minority voters. The coalitions of Hungarian nationalist parties – which were supported by the overwhelming majority of ethnic Hungarian voters – always remained in the opposition, with the exception of the 1906–1910 period, where the Hungarian-supported nationalist parties were able to form a government.[14]

See also

Further reading

Free English language book about the history of parliamentarism in Hungary (Content: 22 pages, PDF format, link to the book: [2] )


  1. ^ András Gergely, Gábor Máthé: The Hungarian state: thousand years in Europe (published in 2000)
  2. ^ Elemér Hantos: The Magna Carta of the English And of the Hungarian Constitution (1904)
  3. ^ Cecil Marcus Knatchbull-Hugessen Brabourne (4th Baron): The political evolution of the Hungarian nation: (Volume I. in 1908)
  4. ^ John M. Merriman, J. M. Winter, Europe 1789 to 1914: encyclopedia of the age of industry and empire, Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006, p. 140, ISBN 978-0-684-31359-7
  5. ^ Tadayuki Hayashi, Hiroshi Fukuda, Regions in Central and Eastern Europe: past and present, Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University, 2007, p. 158, ISBN 978-4-938637-43-9
  6. ^ Katerina Zacharia, Hellenisms: culture, identity, and ethnicity from antiquity to modernity, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2008, p. 237 ISBN 978-0-7546-6525-0
  7. ^ "Transylvania - the Roots of Ethnic Conflict".
  8. ^ Dr. Zoltán SZENTE: The Historic Origins of the National Assembly in Hungary| [1]
  9. ^ "1608. évi (K. U.) I. Törvénycikk - 1.oldal - Ezer év törvényei".
  10. ^[bare URL PDF]
  11. ^ 1222. április 24. | II. András kiadja az Aranybullát Fehérváron
  12. ^ székesfehérvári királyválasztó és koronázó országgyűlés
  13. ^ Randolph L. Braham: The Politics of Genocide, Volume 1 – Third revised and updated edition; p.5-6; published 2016; ISBN 9780880337113
  14. ^ András Gerő (2014). Nationalities and the Hungarian Parliament (1867–1918) Archived 25 April 2019 at the Wayback Machine.