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Why didn't the Kingdom of Hungary have a king? (Short Animated Documentary)

3 minutes 30 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:22

Altogether, there have been 2 Kingdoms of Hungary. The first 1 lasted for almost a thousand years and formed an important part of the Habsburg domain. And the second 1 is famous for not actually having a king. It did have a regent, whose job it was to find a king, and there were many people who were happy to take the job. But notably he never did this, and the Kingdom of Hungary remained without a monarch until its dissolution in 1946.

Speaker 1

00:00:22 - 00:01:07

So the Kingdom of Hungary was reborn after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I. Hungary was briefly declared a republic, broke down into civil war, was declared a Soviet Republic, invaded Romania, lost, and broke down into civil war again, before returning to a democratic republic where it would stably remain, and never mind, there was another civil war. This eventually saw Miklos Horthy, a very well-respected admiral named regent of the landlocked country at the head of a conservative coalition, and Horthy then reluctantly signed Hungary's surrender document. But this wasn't until after some of the members of his government had asked if Britain was willing to install 1 of its princes to the Hungarian throne, and this was offered on the condition that Hungary lose less land, but unsurprisingly Britain said no. So as regent it was Horthy's job to make himself redundant by replacing himself with a king.

Speaker 1

00:01:07 - 00:01:34

This seemed like a pretty easy job at the time since the last king of Hungary, Charles Hapsburg, was still active and living in Switzerland. But not for long though since he soon snuck into Hungary to relieve Horthy of his job. Horthy refused though because France and the little entente surrounding Hungary had made it clear that a Habsburg on the throne meant war. Charles bided his time and later in 1920 he returned to Budapest with an army of volunteers. He had promised this army that his return would be greeted with cheers, but when it was greeted with bullets his army mostly gave up and he was forced to leave the country forevermore.

Speaker 1

00:01:34 - 00:01:50

With the last Habsburg claimant gone that meant that Horthy needed to pick another king. So Horthy's initial plan was to wait for Hungary in the international landscape to stabilise before choosing a new monarch. But as you'll know, no king was ever chosen. So why not? Well, there were several candidates that held some support for taking the throne.

Speaker 1

00:01:50 - 00:02:30

The first and most prominent was King Ferdinand of Romania. The reason that Ferdinand had some support was that Romania now controlled Transylvania which was majority Hungarian, and there was a belief that having Ferdinand be king of both would protect the rights of Hungarians in Romania, and it also likely meant that Hungary could shake off some of the worst terms of its surrender. The answer was an obvious no, since a year previous Ferdinand's armies had invaded and occupied much of Hungary, and all of the other candidates were minor princes from basically every European royal family, and very few of them had much support, which left 1 last potential candidate, Horthy himself. There were some who wanted a Hungarian royal family, and since Horthy was so well respected, he would do. Horthy of course would never accept the title for 2 reasons.

Speaker 1

00:02:30 - 00:02:59

The first was that his allies supported him as a regent who would 1 day restore a monarchy, but not as a monarch himself. And second, by becoming king he would become a constitutional monarch which would mean he would wield less power than he did as a regent, which he didn't want because everybody loves power. And with that, he simply remained as regent, with dictatorial powers which he could prop up with the 1 day soon, I totally promise, any minute now guarantee that he would restore the crown of St. Stephen. And with that and Hungary's eventual loss in World War II, its days of being ruled by a monarch were over.

Speaker 1

00:03:00 - 00:02:59

I hope you enjoyed this episode and a special thanks to my patrons... Marvin Casale, Camoon Yoon, Winston K. Wood, Boogily Woogily, Daniel Tobien, Miss Isette, Matthew Shipley, Aaron the White, Corey Turner, The McWhopper, Alex Schwin, Anthony Beckett, Copper Tone, Maggie Paskowski, Shuenin, Spinning 3 Plates, and Charles the First. You