Count Gyula Andrássy of Csíkszentkirály and Krasznahorka – after whom Andrássy avenue Budapest was named – served as prime minister of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarch between 1867 and1871, and subsequently as foreign minister from 1871 up to 1879. From the village of Oláhpatak, where he was born in 1823, to the highest position of Hungary there was a long march.
The son of a very liberal father, who belonged to the political opposition, at a time, when to be in oppose to the government was very dangerous, Andrássy at a very early age threw himself into the political struggles of the days, adopting at the outset of the patriotic side. He started his career as parlamentarian of Zemplén-shire at age 24. Andrássy always considered Count István Széchenyi, the „greatest patriotic of Hungary” as his role model, and the famous sentence – „Andrássy is a clever young man, anything can become of him, even the prime minister of Hungary” – actually origins from just from Széchenyi.
Andrássy actively participated in the revolution against the Habsburg Empire in 1848-1849, as a major of the Hungarian Revolutionary Army, but the Independent Goverment appointed him for another task. As he was noble, educated, versed in diplomacy, and spoke several languages, he was sent to Turkey to obtain at least the neutrality of Ottoman Empire during the struggles, and negotiate the acceptance of Hungarian refugees in case the freedom fight falls. He got the buzz of the catastrophe of the battle of Világos, wich meant the suppression of the Hungarian revolution, and left directly into emigration, first London, then to Paris.
For his share in the Hungarian revolt Andrássy was convicted by the that time Austrian goverment, and in effigy was hanged in the Neuegebaude caserne of Pest on 21st September 1851 . In the exile he was the „mascot” of Paris’s saloon, whom the ladies just called „de belle pendeau de 1848”, the „nice hanged man of 1848”. At the same time all his fortune was confiscated. According to the memoir’s of his friends in exile, when he learn about his execution from the Paris newspapers, he just shaked his shoulders saying: „What a nice necrolog, I could not write better either myself”. As for loosing his fortune, he noted:” I will get it back, just God give me strength and occasion!”.
He employed his ten years of exile in studying politics – in what was then the centre of European diplomacy -, and strategy. Andrássy returned home from exile in 1858, but his position was very difficult. He had never petitioned for an amnesty, steadily rejected all the overtures both of the Austrian government and of the Hungarian Conservatives (who would have accepted something short of full autonomy), and clung enthusiastically to question of the Commitment. On 17 February 1867 the Franz Joseph I appointed him the first constitutional Hungarian premier. It was on this occasion that Ferenc Deák (the „father of the idea of the Commitment) called him “the providential statesman given to Hungary by the grace of God.” On the 8th June 1867 he was the person, who placed the Holy Crown of Hungary on the head of the royal couple. Not a bad career for a hanged man!
Count Gyula Andrássy arm-in-arm with Frigyes Podmanicky was the „motor” of Budapest’s reshape in the 19th century. Beside, he was the first Magyar statesman for centuries, who had occupied a European position. It has been said that he united in himself the Hungarian magnate with the modern gentleman. His motto was: “It is hard to promise, but it is easy to perform.” The count did not survive up to the Millenium Celebration to see his biggest work, Budapest, but in the same year his statue was erected next to the Hungarian Parliament.