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The Kingdom of Hungary is a constitutional monarchy in eastern Europe.
The Coming of the Magyars
The Magyars, the dominant ethnic group of Hungary, originated in present-day Russia, between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. In the late 9th century AD, the Magyars began migrating westward. In 895 AD, the Magyars arrived in the Carpathian Basin-the area covered by the present-day Hungarian state. For most of the 10th century, the Magyars lived a tribal existence, raiding Western Europe and the Balkans.
The Early Kingdom
At the beginning of the 11th century, the leader of the Magyars converted to Christianity, taking the name Stephen (Magyar, Istvan) and becoming the first King of Hungary.
In the 13th century, the Mongols attacked Hungary. Although the Mongol forces defeated the Hungarians several times, they never did establish control over Hungary.
In the mid-late 15th century, Hungary flourished under King Matthias Corvinus.
In 1526, the Ottoman Empire defeated the Hungarians and conquered a large part of their territory. The Austrian Hapsburgs claimed the throne of the remainder of Hungary. In the late 17th century, the Hapsburgs managed to push out the Ottomans and claim the entire Kingdom of Hungary. For the next 180 years, Hungary was a part of the Austrian Empire.
The Kingdom Restored
In 1867, the dual monarchy of Austria and Hungary was created to give the Hungarians greater autonomy. The union was short-lived, however-Austria was subsumed by the German Empire in 1871, leaving Hungary on its own. Princess Isabella of the House of Croy (a family of nobles claiming descent from the old royal family of Hungary) became queen of the restored nation at age 15. Hungary allied itself with Germany and Britain. The new state inherited Galicia from Austria.
World War I
In 1915, a rebellion flared up in the Slavic-populated Hungarian province of Bosnia. Russia, siding with the rebels, declared war on Hungary. Germany, honoring its alliance with Hungary, declared war on Russia, starting a chain reaction leading to World War I. It was later revealed that the Slavic insurrection was backed by France.
After World War I, Hungary granted its Slavic minorities greater autonomy in the Edict of Autonomy passed in 1920. The autonomous states of Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia, and Galicia were created.
To Hungary's north, however, trouble was brewing. Hungary's neighbor Poland fell under the sway of the fascists in the mid-1930s. In 1938, the Poles demanded the state of Galicia. Hungary was pressured into ceding the province by Britain and Germany, who did not wish to ignite hostilities.
World War II
The cession did nothing to satiate Poland's hunger for territory. In 1939, Slovakia was forcibly annexed. Eventually, the Poles invaded Hungary and set up a puppet state. The royal family was sent into exile in Switzerland.
In 1941, the Poles began the Final Solution. Hungarian Jews were rounded up and sent to death camps in the Polish heartland.
In late 1944, Hungary was finally liberated by the Soviet Union.
Hungary's troubles were not over yet. The Soviets installed their own communist puppet state, the People's Republic of Hungary. The royal family remained in exile, forbidden from returning by the communists.
In 1956, the Hungarians revolted against Soviet domination. The rebellion failed, and Hungary continued to languish under communism.
In 1989, the Soviets-unable to sustain their communist empire-withdrew their support of the People's Republic of Hungary. The communist regime soon collapsed, and the throne restored on New Year's Day, 1990.
The period from the fall of communism to present is known in Hungary as the Restoration. The transition from communism to capitalism has been rough, yet the morale of the people remains high thanks to the charismatic King Charles IV.