The Compromise of 1867 is one of the most important events in the history of modern Hungary. It is a catch-all term used for the agreements which re-established 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 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. The .925 silver one is struck in proof quality, weighs 77.76 grams and is limited to 5,000 pieces.
They have identical designs. The front bears a portrait of Ferenc Deák inspired by the work of Ede Telcs, linking a partially covered Hapsburg coat-of-arms with the coat-of-arms of the Kingdom of Hungary. Ferenc Deák’s name in small letters forms the lower border of the portrait, with his famous quote “I am more able to love my homeland, than to hate my enemies” around the bottom. The reverse has portraits of Queen Elizabeth and Franz Joseph I with the coat-of-arms of the house of Hapsburg connecting the portraits to the Austrian coat-of-arms. Their names are below, with the script ‘KIEGYEZÉS’ (Compromise) around the bottom. On the upper half of the reverse, the year of the Compromise and the year of minting are located one above the other, with the last digit of these two years linked, denoting the occasion of this commemorative coin. The coin was designed by István Kósa.
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 towards 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 their power, 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 which would be renewed every ten 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 8 June 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 moral lesson of the Compromise of 1867 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 which is 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.