"Lajos Kossuth, the rightful regent-president of Hungary"

Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894) was a Hungarian lawyer and politician. Hungary, at this time, was very much the junior partner in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, subject to the rule of the Habsburg emperors in Vienna.

In 1848, after hearing of the revolution in France, Hungary was also ready for change, and Kossuth seized the moment, calling for parliamentary democracy. However, many of his speeches and actions inflamed tensions within multi-ethnic Hungary, and soon he was forced to defend himself not only against the Austrians, who were reluctant to cede power to Hungary, but also against ethnic minorities in his own country, who were seeking autonomy for themselves. By August 1849 Austria was back in control, and Kossuth fled to the Ottoman Empire, and from there to Britain and America.

In Britain, attitudes to Kossuth varied. Many establishment figures were wary of anyone associated with the widespread revolutions of 1848, in case they encouraged such unrest in their own country; conversely, those who sought change were keen to promote figures such as Kossuth as heroes. Lord Palmerston's support of Kossuth led to a serious political crisis in Britain, as Queen Victoria was furious that a member of the Cabinet could publically support a republican. The Prime Minister Lord John Russell's inability to control Palmerston over his recognition of Kossuth and of the revolution in France led to the fall of the Russell government in December 1851. (See also the bookmark to Page 28, " Lord John Russell, scourge of the Catholics, was no longer Prime Minister, but Leader of the House, whatever that meant ".)