Hungary’s revolutionary crowd of 1848 was defeated in 1849, but crowds of other kinds and crowd politics remained central to Hungary as it fashioned itself over the next half-century. Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848–1914 describes how the crowd’s shifting cast of characters participated in the making of Hungary inside the increasingly troubled Austro-Hungarian empire.

Audiences at theaters, fairs, statue raisings, and commemorations of national figures; political rallies; ethnic mobs; May Day celebrations; monarchical festivities; and finally war rallies all take up places in this history. Not only insurgent crowds, but festive ones as well have political and material goals, Freifeld finds. “Parading before a spectator crowd may have confirmed noble participants in their claims to be spokespersons of the nation, but the chastened crowd could also feel its presence was instrumental,” she writes. “Even as the chastened crowd became an instrument to advance the elite’s agenda by rallying support within the nation, it was never a slave to the leaders on the podium or simply manipulated by them, for it, too, demanded deference from its pageant masters.” And hope for liberal nationalism, which Hungarian crowds carried from their experience of 1848, thus continued to confront the monarchy, its bureaucracy, and the gentry. The book is an imaginative contribution to the research in nationalism, liberalism, and the crowd, as well.

Alice Freifeld is an assistant professor of history at the University of Florida. She has lived in Budapest in 1972, 1979–80, and 1994–1995. She was a research scholar of the East European Studies program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 1994.


1. The Chastened Crowd

2. The Crowd as Threshold of the Nation

3. Crowds Shaking Nations

4. The Martyrology of Revolutionary Defeat

5. The Unquiet Wait

6. The Emergence of the Chastened Crowd

7. The Celebration of Compromise

8. The Exhibition of Liberalism

9. Memorializing

10. The Loss of the Streets

11. Epilogue: 1989


Winner of the Barbara Jelavich Book Prize given by the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and the American Association for the Study of Hungarian History Award

“An important and highly readable contribution to Hungarian and Habsburg history.”—Robert Nemes, Austrian Studies Newsletter

“Freifeld brings liberal Hungary to life by focusing her attention on ‘the chastened crowd’ that replaced the revolutionary crowd of 1848–1849.”—Lee Congdon, American Historical Review

“Freifeld’s subject is the cohesive power of nationalism; the people in her book are essentially supportive of authority, provided it can be seen to represent the purposes of the nation.… A refreshing work, written with verve and wit.”—R.J.W. Evans, English Historical Review

“Freifeld not only discusses the actions and sentiments of the politicians, as is done in most of the works on this period, but she discusses the efforts of the common people who sought to change the system in which they lived.… Nationalism and the Crowd most certainly deserves acclaim for its research, originality, and presentation.”—Judith Fai-Podlipnik, History

“Freifeld’s book stands as a rich panoply of public action in nineteenth-century Hungary.”—Paul Hanebrink, Journal of Modern History