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Title: The development of Hungarian political language and the birth of the ancient constitution 1790/91
Author: Barker, Philip
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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The following study of Hungarian political discourse in the late eighteenth century illuminates some of the key constitutive concepts of Hungarian national identity and their circumstances of origin in the intellectual ferment of the Enlightenment. In addition to the official ideology of Habsburg ‘enlightened monarchism’, the thesis also illuminates how other key discourses of the era (including ‘politeness’, ‘republicanism’, ‘ancient constitutionalism’, and some of their other offshoots) were used and combined in an emerging public sphere and at the 1790/91 Diet. A particular focus is given to the emergence of an early ‘national’ oppositional movement in the lead-up to the Diet, and to its ideology of ‘language’, ‘attire’ and ‘law’ as constituent features of the Hungarian nation. Focusing on this ideology, the study subsequently outlines the changing meaning of the term ‘nation’ in the period’s literature (from a class-based to an ethno-cultural concept), and the rise of ‘linguistic nationalism’ in the 1780s. The discourse of ‘linguistic nationalism’ is accompanied by a second discourse of ‘sartorial nationalism’ which lauds an oriental, military form of ‘national attire’ in opposition to the cosmopolitan fashions of the era. The final watchword, ‘law’, focuses on the rebranding of the country’s customary laws as an ‘ancient constitution’, a concept which stood in opposition to the absolutism of Joseph II, but which also distanced the Hungarian polity from the revolutionary tenets of the American and French constitutions. The understanding that ‘language’, ‘national attire’, and the ‘ancient constitution’ were central pillars of Hungarian nationhood persisted into the nineteenth, and even twentieth centuries. By examining the above discourses and the rhetorical developments of the era, this thesis will shed light upon the ways in which political actors negotiated the advent of political modernity in the late eighteenth century by re-thinking, rather than merely reaffirming, some of the key categories used to explain Hungarian political thought.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available