Sándor Petőfi, (1823–1849)

Hungarian lyric poet, generally regarded as the most authentic voice in native poetry and the foremost representative of the Romantic school in Hungarian literature

Of Slovak origin, his family name was Petrovich and his father, István, was a butcher and innkeeper. Petőfi called Kiskunfélegyháza his native town but his actual place of birth is still being debated. He attended schools in various locations, seldom staying longer in any one of them than a few months. It was while attending school in the town of Aszód that he began to write poetry; it was there too that he became interested in acting, an interest he never abandoned. While at still another school, he grew tired of his studies, at which point his father ceased to support him. He found temporary refuge at a distant relative’s home in a village, but when he began to write love letters to the daughter of an eminent citizen, he was forced to leave. In 1839 he enlisted in the army, fell ill while on the way to his company in the Balkans, and he was discharged. With nowhere to go, he returned to his by now impoverished parents. His father urged him to learn a trade, but he joined a group of stalking actors for a season.

In 1841, disillusioned with his rootless life, he resumed his academic studies in the town of Pápa. This was when his poems finally began to earn recognition, even acclaim. Unable to make a living, he resumed his wandering ways, but even in his footloose and always destitute condition he attracted the attention of important literary persons. It was not until 1844 that he was able to have a modest collection of his poems published. These represented a sharp departure from the formulaic, classicist style of poetry that the aristocracy, guardians of Hungarian literature, favored. Petőfi’s poems were written in the accents of plebeian democracy, with powerful native motifs, and they incurred the hostility of much of the nobility. He became the target of venomous press attacks, especially after he published his naive but deeply moving epic poem János Vitéz (Hero John). By now, 1845, wherever he went he was received with great affection by the common folk and fellow literati alike.

In an era of ever more assertive Hungarian nationalism, his interests became more political. He also began to read socialist authors, St. Simon in particular, and became convinced of the necessity of a revolution. In September 1846 he met a cultured young lady, Julia Szendrey, but it took a long and disheartening struggle for him to overcome her hesitations and her parents’ opposition. Love conquered and in the happy early months of his marriage he produced some of the great love poems in world literature.

When in March 1848, under the impact of the revolutions in Paris and then in VIENNA, BUDAPEST too rose in revolt, Petőfi was on the barricades. His Nemzeti Dal (Song of a nation), which on March 15 he read to a delirious reception from the steps of the National Museum, became the battle song of the revolution. But his politics were too radical, even to some of his admirers. He continued to write poems, pamphlets, and articles. In June 1848 he stood for election to parliament but was defeated. That same month he joined the rebel Hungarian army as a captain. His son, Zoltán, was born, on December 15 while he was stationed in the town of Debrecen. He asked for transfer to a battle unit and, in January 1849, he left his wife and newborn son and joined a revolutionary army corps under the command of Polish general Josef Bem, who was fighting with the Hungarian forces against the Habsburgs. He continued to move from place to place, had conflicts with the minister of war in the provisional capital of Debrecen, resigned his commission, and returned to Bem’s army corps as a private. After the new Habsburg emperor, FRANCIS JOSEPH appealed to Russian czar Nicholas I to help put down the Hungarian revolt, Petőfi moved his family to a safe place and, urging his nation to resist to the last, went to the front. On July 31, 1849, after a battle near the town of Segesvár, about six in the afternoon, he disappeared. What happened to him was never discovered. Legends arose and in later years many false Petőfis appeared, but the fate of the real Petőfi remains a mystery to this day.

13th Century Mongol Multi-masted Oceanic Junk.

Japanese Junk
Japanese junks differed somewhat from the junks of China, since it was necessary to sail among the islands of Japanese archipelago where the large flat-bottomed Chinese vessels would find it difficult to maneuver in the rough seas.

Similar ships to this one were equipped as warships and composed the fleet of the Mongol emperor of China Kublai-Khan. So in the 13th century a 1000 sea junks with 100 000 soldiers aboard were sent to invade the Japanese archipelago. If this fleet had not been destroyed by a powerful typhoons (Kamikaze-Divine Wind), then the history of these countries would have changed dramatically.

The Kamikaze (Japanese for divine wind), were a pair or series of typhoons that are said to have saved Japan from two Mongol fleets under Kublai Khan that attacked Japan in 1274 and again in 1281. The latter is said to have been the largest attempted naval invasion in history whose scale was only recently eclipsed in modern times by the D-Day invasion of allied forces into Normandy in 1944.

The first invasion devastated the Japanese. The battle took place on the beaches where the two forces met. The Mongols had several advantages; The Japanese were overwhelmed and began to retreat. Not knowing they had won, the Mongols feared the Japanese were coming back with reinforcements and also retreated.

During the time period between the first and second invasion, the Japanese built walls to protect themselves from future invaders.

Seven years later, the Mongols returned. They found themselves unable to find any suitable landing beaches due to the walls. The fleet stayed afloat for months as they depleted their supplies and searched for an area to land. After months of being exposed to the elements, the fleet was destroyed by a great typhoon. The Japanese called it Kamikaze. The Mongols never returned. The Japanese were saved by the walls they had built and nature’s fury.

In popular Japanese myths at the time, the god Raijin was the god who turned the storms against the Mongols. Other variations say that the god Fūjin or Ryūjin caused the destructive kamikaze.

Recent research has found that other causes contributing to the invasion’s failure included:

* Many of the ships were requisitioned river craft with flat bottoms and wobbly masts, and thus unstable in rough sea.

* Some of the ships had been poorly made, perhaps as the result of deliberate sabotage by Chinese shipbuilders who resented their Mongol conquerors.


Hungarian revolutionary, politician, and statesman, who served most of his political career in the House of Habsburg, as prime minister and defense minister of Hungary and later as joint foreign minister

During the revolution of 1848–49 he was a member of KOSSUTH’s radical reform party. He was elected to the Hungarian Diet in 1847. As a batallion commander, he participated in the armed struggle against the Habsburgs in the War of Independence of 1849. After the defeat of the uprising, he fled abroad, was sentenced to death in absentia, and was in fact hung in effigy in VIENNA’s marketplace. During his exile he visited several west European countries and thoroughly familiarized himself with the intricacies of European politics and diplomacy. Amnestied in 1857, he returned to Hungary. Working hand-in-hand with FERENC DEÁK, he was instrumental in drafting the Hungarian terms of the compromise with the Habsburgs that by painful degrees emerged after Austria’s defeat at the hands of Prussia in the summer of 1866. He was later, together with Deák, one of the participants in Vienna in the discussions that led to the conclusion of the AUSGLEICH in February 1867. From that time on he was continually active in political life, in the service first of Hungary and then of the Dual Monarchy. After the Great Compromise he was named, at the recommendation of Deák, prime minister of Hungary. It was he who placed the crown of St. Stephen on the emperor’s head when the latter was crowned king of Hungary on June 8, 1867. As prime minister he relaxed the stringent censorship of the press that since the revolution had hampered free expression; he also mitigated the repressive legislation against the Jews.

Having been born in northern Hungary (in Kassa, in the largely Slovak-populated Uplands), he feared somewhat extravagantly that the Hungarian nation would become submerged in the Slavic sea; for that reason he strongly favored dualism—that is, close links to Austria— as well as alliance or alignment with Germany as a means of keeping Russia, protector of Slavs in the empire and in the Balkans, in check. When plans were developed in Vienna for giving Bohemia with its Czech population equal status with Hungary in the monarchy, he strenuously opposed such a measure.

In 1871, when Emperor Francis Joseph abandoned his plans for revanche against Germany and sought rapprochement, he dismissed the anti-German FRIEDRICH BEUST as joint foreign minister and, on November 14, 1871, appointed Andrássy in his stead. The brunt of Andrássy’s foreign policy was resistance to Russian expansion in the Balkans and curbing Serbian ambitions to become the center of a South Slav federation. When revolt broke out in BOSNIAHERCEGOVINA against Ottoman rule in 1875, he strongly advocated the absorption of those provinces into the Dual Monarchy, as well as that of the sanjak of Novibazar, which separated Serbia from Montenegro and which in Austrian hands could serve as an Ausfalltor (springboard) for the monarchy into the Balkans toward Saloniki. He achieved these goals at the CONGRESS OF BERLIN in the summer of 1878, following a war between Russia and Turkey.

Pleading ill health, but most likely because he was discomfited by criticisms of his Balkan policy, he resigned as foreign minister on October 8, 1879. First, however, he put his signature to an Austro-Hungarian alliance with Germany, directed chiefly against Russia. He remained a member of the Hungarian upper house to the end of his life.

Battles of Kizugawaguchi


This plate shows the kaizoku pirates of the Murakami navy at the height of their powers when they were in action against Oda Nobunaga at the first battle of Kizugawaguchi in 1576. They are more substantially dressed and armed than the wako who raid China and Korea. Their bodies are protected by simple okegawa-do-style armours as worn by the ashigaru (footsoldiers). The mon (family badge) of the Murakami is lacquered on to the breastplates and they also wear simple shirts and trousers, bare feet in straw sandals, although the energetic bomb hurlers have stripped right down. They are flinging horoku, which consisted of two iron hemispheres fastened together and wrapped round with layers of washi (Japanese paper) glued on to the outside surface. Gunpowder and numerous iron shards were held inside, reached by a fuse timed by its length, while a rope or cord was attached to the outside for throwing in the manner of an Olympic hammer thrower. The weapons used by their comrades include arquebuses and bows, together with the ‘sleeve entangler’, associated with the police of the Edo Period; a mass of spikes constituted the head of this polearm, and about 20cm (8in.) of its upper shaft was also covered with spikes.

The two Battles of Kizugawaguchi were fought during Oda Nobunaga’s attempted sieges of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji in Osaka. The Hongan-ji was the primary fortress of the Ikkō-ikki, mobs of warrior monks, priests, and farmers who opposed Oda’s rule. He ordered one of his admirals, Kuki Yoshitaka, to organize a blockade against the fleets of the Ikki’s allies, who sought to supply the fortress and break the siege. Many of the ruling families of the neighboring provinces opposed Oda, chief among them the Mōri clan.

The first battle

In the first battle, in 1576, the Mōri defeated Kuki Yoshitaka’s fleet, breaking the blockade and supplying the fortress. Both sides fought with firearms, a rather new development in Japanese warfare; but Mōri’s experience and knowledge of naval tactics was ultimately the deciding factor.

The second battle

Two years later, the Ishiyama Hongan-ji was still under siege, and Oda’s fleet, commanded once again by Kuki Yoshitaka, made another attempt to break the Mōri supply lines. Going against convention, Yoshitaka fought with six very large ō-adakebune ships, rather than a combination of small (kobaya), medium (sekibune), and large (adakebune) craft. Normally, adakebune were essentially wooden floating fortresses, covered in gun and bow emplacements. According to some accounts, it may be believed that these six were the first ironclads, and were built such that guns could not penetrate them. However, rather than true ironclads, made primarily or entirely of metal, these craft probably simply had limited iron plating in key locations.

Several Mōri vessels were burned and sunk, and Oda’s fleet ultimately achieved victory. The supply lines were broken, and the Hongan-ji fell soon afterwards. However, during this battle an interesting flaw was discovered in the ō-adakebune design. As Mōri samurai rushed to board the large ship, all the defending warriors ran to that side of the deck, to defend themselves, and the ship capsized as its center of gravity shifted.

Yoshitaka went on to defeat the Mōri once more the following year.

First Battle of Kizugawaguchi Part of the Sengoku period
Date August, 1576
Location Kizugawaguchi, off the coast of Osaka
Result Oda Nobunaga’s blockade broken


Fleet loyal to Oda Nobunaga

Fleet of allies of Ikkō-ikki


Kuki Yoshitaka

Unknown, most likely a member of the Mōri clan


300 ships?



Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi Part of the Sengoku period
Date 1578
Location Kizugawaguchi, off the coast of Osaka
Result Mōri clan fleet defeated.


Fleet loyal to Oda Nobunaga

Fleet of allies of Ikkō-ikki


Kuki Yoshitaka

Unknown, most likely a member of the Mōri clan


Six ships


The Cheops ship

The Cheops ship, the oldest preserved ship from antiquity, was found in 1954 close to the Great Pyramid in Egypt. It is built almost entirely of imported cedar. The ship was clearly a ceremonial vessel, yet compression marks of rope show that it was definitely used in the water.

Dating from 2500 Be, the ‘shell-first’ design of the Cheops ship shows that the hull was shaped before the internal members were added. It has no keel, and the side planking is lashed with rope for security. Built as a ceremonial vessel, rope compression marks show that it was used on water. Two cabins stand on the ship’s deck, the two-roomed main one covered by a canopy for added coolness. The ship was equipped with oars plus steering oars. Contemporary Egyptian warships were of similar construction.


In 1954 two intact Egyptian ships were found at the foot of the Great Pyramid.

Around 2600 BC, during the Old Kingdom, the two planked ships were dismantled and buried in two pits, just outside the great pyramid of Pharaoh Cheops (Khufu). Each pit is 30 m long, carved in the rock and covered with a lid of large stone blocks.

Cheops 1 was assembled 1969-71 and is on public display at the Cheops pyramid outside Cairo, where a museum building was created for the ship in 1982.

The pit believed to contain the second ship, Cheops 2, is still not excavated, but there are plans to open the pit and assemble that ship in the future, when there is enough experience from the treatment of the first ship.

The pits were found intact and all pieces of the first ship carefully recovered. The ships are nowdays known as the “Cheops ships”, “Khufu ships”, “Solar ships” or “Cheops boats”. They may have been the private ships of the pharaoh, buried in the pyramid.

Length: 43.6m (143ft)

Beam: 5.7m (18ft 7in)

Depth: 1.45m (4ft 9in)

Displacement: 94t

Rigging: single mast

Complement: 12 plus officers




Rebellions broke out across Europe during 1848, inspired by the success of the French in abolishing their monarchy in February. The Habsburgs faced rebellions in Hungary and in the Italian cities of Milan and Venice, which were supported by Piedmont. Although the revolutions in Italy, Germany and Hungary were all defeated, the liberal constitutions, unification and independence they were seeking did eventually come about.


By 1848 many of the European countries were suffering from an economic crisis; the failure of the potato and grain crops in 1845-46 was reflected in the price of food. There was political discontent at different social levels: peasants demanded total abolition of the feudal system, industrial workers sought improvements in their working conditions, and middle-class professionals wanted increased political rights. In Italy and Germany there were growing movements for unification and independence. Revolutionary agitation began in Paris in February 1848, forcing the abdication of Louis Philippe and the establishment of the Second Republic. It then spread across central Europe. The Habsburg Empire, faced with demands for a separate Hungarian government, as well as demonstrations on the streets of Vienna, initially gave in to the demands of the Hungarian nationalists and granted them a separate constitution. This, however, was annulled some months later, leading to a declaration of independence by Hungary. The Austrian response was to quell the revolt in 1849 with the help of Russian forces. Discontent in Austria spilled over into the southern states of the German Confederation, and liberals in Berlin demanded a more constitutional government. As a result, the first National Parliament of the German Confederation was summoned in May 1848.


In June 1848 struggles between the moderate and the radical republicans culminated in three days of rioting on the streets of Paris. In crushing the rioters the more conservative factions gained control, a trend that was repeated in Prussia, where royal power was reaffirmed. The second half of 1848 was marked by waves of reaction that spread from one city to another. The restoration of Austrian control over Hungary was achieved partly by playing off against each other the different ethnic groups within the empire. However, despite the suppression of the 1848 revolutionaries, most of the reforms they had proposed were carried out in the second half of the century, and at least some of the nationalist movements were successful.

Count István Széchenyi

Hungarian politician and statesman, the chief reformer in the years preceding the revolution of 1848

Son of Count Ferenc Széchenyi, founder of the Hungarian National Museum. As a young soldier Széchenyi had participated in the campaigns against Napoleon I, fought in the Battle of Nations at Leipzig in 1813 and participated in the social whirl of the CONGRESS OF VIENNA in 1815. After the war he traveled widely and returned with the impression that his homeland was far behind west European states in culture and social development. He decided to devote himself to uplifting Hungary to a worthy place among European nations. He made his first public political appearance in 1825, when Emperor FRANCIS I reconvened the Hungarian Diet after an 11-year absence. The initiative for a cultural revival did not come from him; the noble estates of the Diet, in order to strengthen Hungarian national feeling and consciousness, urged the establishment of a scientific association, or, preferably, a national academy. The financial means for such an undertaking were not readily available and Széchenyi volunteered to donate a year’s income from his estates toward that end. Many others offered financial support and the academy became a reality. Széchenyi intended much more, however, than merely a cultural upswing. In a series of books (Credit, World, Stadium) he explored the reasons for Hungary’s backward state.

He sent several reform proposals to the imperial chancellor KLEMENS VON METTERNICH, but the latter, in the grip of postrevolutionary conservatism, had little interest in reformist ideas. Széchenyi then launched his own initiatives, usually on the English model; he organized horse races, wrote a popular book about horses, established in Budapest a casino in which nobles of a progressive bent congregated, and soon casinos sprang up in many provincial cities.

The 1830 revolution in Paris and the Polish uprising against Russian rule of the same year deeply affected Széchenyi and gave impetus to his hitherto tentative ideas for the necessity for reform. He became ever more outspoken in his criticism of the feudal system, but his chief interest remained the promotion of native culture. He recognized that a national revival made the development of the Hungarian language, which had been losing ground to the Latin and the German, imperative, and he became a champion of neology, the Magyarization of foreign terms, the Hungarian version of which either did not exist or had fallen into disuse.

It was in 1830 that he published his book Credit, which attracted immediate attention. In 1828, he had applied for a bank loan to modernize his estate but was refused because of a hostile reaction from many conservative nobles to whom any measure curtailing feudal privilege, a measure Széchenyi advocated, was anathema. In his book he analyzed the adverse effects of the lack of investable capital for lack of credit. More progressive-minded landowners welcomed Széchenyi’s ideas and some, especially the young Wesselényi, even proposed going beyond them, advocating, for instance, the involvement of peasants in the legislative process. Széchenyi, who above all wanted to avoid a confrontation with the government in VIENNA, turned his attention to politically less explosive activities. He planned, after sailing down the Danube as far as he could, to make Hungary the eastern end of a continuous waterway, connecting it to the west. It was at his legislative initiative that the first bridge between the cities of Buda and Pest, the Chain Bridge, was built and in the process he breached the nobility’s freedom from all taxation by providing that nobles as well as commoners pay tolls when crossing the bridge. The Vienna government, honoring Széchenyi’s moderate reforming activities, appointed him to various prestigious positions in the fields of transportation and communication. In the 1840s his political star began to sink as a much more radical reform movement, spearheaded largely by the gentry, began to gain ground and to attract to itself large numbers of the middle nobility.

The latter movement gained an exceptionally gifted and eloquent champion in the person of LOUIS KOSSUTH and for several years, until the outbreak of the revolution of 1848, the two men engaged in a spirited and not always friendly press debate over constitutional and other questions. One point of lively contention was that Széchenyi still trusted the high nobility to spearhead a gradual but persistent reform movement, whereas Kossuth regarded the aristocracy as hidebound and reactionary and put his faith in the lower nobility with whom the preservation of the old order never became an article of faith. Although it was Kossuth who dubbed Széchenyi “the greatest Hungarian,” he also took issue with the latter’s readiness to envision Hungary’s future in close alliance with and under the aegis of the Habsburg monarchy. Kossuth mapped a far more independent course, and his bold visions culminated in Hungary’s armed challenge to the Habsburgs in 1848 and 1849.

Széchenyi’s role in the tumultuous March days of 1848 was an ambiguous one; although he championed a never clearly defined national independence, he was also ready to work together with Vienna and his vision of Hungary’s future was within the imperial structure; had it not been for the presence of Kossuth and the radical elements around him, he may have had a salutary restraining influence on the headlong rush toward confrontation with the Habsburgs. In the short-lived Batthyány government of March 1848 Széchenyi was minister of finance. In September of that year he experienced an apparent mental collapse and was taken to the medical facilities at Döbling in Austria, where he remained for the next decade. In 1857 the interior minister ALEXANDER BACH, confident that imperial authority had been firmly reestablished, issued a pamphlet titled Rückblick auf die jüngste Entwicklungsperiode Ungarns (A retrospective glance at the most recent developmental phase of Hungary) Széchenyi responded to the pamphlet the next year with a pamphlet of his own, titled, Ein Blick auf den Anonymen Rückblick (A glance at the anonymous retrospective glance), assailing not only Bach but the person of the emperor as well. The writing was published in London. When it became known in Vienna, the government ordered a search of Széchenyi’s house and, in the process, a good part of his papers were impounded. This action produced a new crisis in his mental and emotional condition. On April 8, 1860, he ended his life with a pistol shot in the head. The requiem for his salvation was attended by 80,000 people and was an occasion for new demonstrations against Habsburg rule. In death Széchenyi became a symbol of national independence.


Artúr Görgey painted by Miklós Barabás

Görgey, Artur (1818–1916) Hungarian military officer, commanding general of the Hungarian Honvéd army during the revolution of 1848–49

Son of an impoverished noble, he began his military studies in the sapper school at age 14; at age 21 he was promoted to lieutenant in the bodyguard; in 1842 he became first lieutenant in the cavalry. After his discharge in 1845 he studied chemistry at Prague University. When revolutionary events in March 1848 took a sudden turn toward Hungarian independence from Habsburg rule, he offered his services to the new government. On June 13 he was promoted to captain, and a month later to major. In November the National Defense Committee of the Hungarian parliament, at the recommendation of LÁJOS KOSSUTH, promoted him to general. That winter he made his mark by employing quick maneuvers against the invading Habsburg army and with his skill he succeeded in demolishing the enemy line with concentrated artillery fire. Politically, however, he promoted compromise with the Habsburgs, a course that favored the interests of the middle nobility to which he belonged against the high aristocracy that owned immense estates and wielded dominant political influence. He defied Kossuth’s order to engage the enemy in open battle and, in a pronouncement at Vác in January 1849, announced his readiness for compromise. By doing so he isolated himself from the National Defense Committee and that winter he acted independently. By spring military realities compelled him to join up with an army on the Upper Tisza, which acted in concert with the Defense Committee. After spectacular military successes that spring, he made common cause with the peace party and placed himself in open opposition to Kossuth and the radicals who strove for a complete break with the Habsburgs. His position gained enough support for him to be named minister of defense from May 7 to July 14. He entered the field again after the Russian army, which the new emperor FRANCIS JOSEPH had invited to help put down the Hungarian rising, invaded the country. Realizing the overwhelming odds against his forces, on August 13, at the town of Világos, he unconditionally surrendered to the Russian army. During the heavy reprisals that followed, he was a prime candidate for being tried for treason but, at the intercession of Czar Nicholas I, he was spared and exiled to Klagenfurt in Austria.