This book is not about how present-day Hungary has recently lost so much of the prestige it won with its heroic uprising in 1956 and its role in the fall of the communist satellites in 1989. Rather, it is the story of the formation of Hungary's image abroad before and during World War I. That contributed to the exceptionally harsh terms the 1920 Trianon Peace Treaty meted out to Hungary: the historic kingdom was reduced to one third of its territory and population, leaving 3.5 million Hungarians outside the new borders. Despite the constant discrimination the Hungarian minorities have faced in most of Hungary's neighbours in language use, education and administration, today they number about 2.5 million and they want to enjoy all the rights international law recommends and local self-government would provide.
Géza Jeszenszky chronicles how the very favourable reputation of Hungary and the Hungarians, established in their 1848-49 war for a liberal constitution and independence from Habsburg absolutism, was seriously damaged in the decade preceding the First World War. He shows its causes: the internal political crisis in 1904-06 undermined the notion that Hungary was a stabilizing and liberalizing factor in the Habsburg Monarchy; the almost daily London Times reports by its extremely well-informed correspondent, H.W. Steed, exposed the short-sighted social and electoral policies of Hungary's political elite; and increasing awareness of the unfair treatment of the non-Hungarian national minorities, as revealed (with bias and exaggeration) by the political writer R.W. Seton-Watson. All of which coincided with the ascendancy of progressive social and political reforms in Britain, in the light of which Hungary appeared "backward". Finally, what counted most, was that despite its strong Anglophile sympathies Hungary found itself among the enemies of Great Britain in the Great War, on the side of Germany, the power which was seen as a threat to the British Empire and its command of the seas.
Chapter One: The Relationship Between Britain and Hungary
Chapter Two: The Development and Political Significance of the British Image of Hungary Before 1918
Chapter Three: An Increase in Prestige (1894-1904)
Chapter Four: Prestige on the Wane (1904-1906)
Chapter Five: Lost Prestige (1907-1910)
Chapter Six: The Captive of a Foreign-Policy Setup (1910-1914)
Chapter Seven: Reaping the Consequences: the Great War and the Peace Conference (1914-1919)
Chapter Eight: The Echo of the Lost Prestige
Index of Names