On the 15th of March, Hungary celebrates the anniversary of the revolution of 1848 against the Habsburg Empire. The revolution and war for independence is celebrated with state organized festivities and traditional Hussars procession in front of the Budapest Parliament. This day Hungarians pin on their coats above their hearts a cockade of national colours.
The fist cockade in 1848 was actually not a cockade, but a mob! This mob was made by Júlia Szendrei, wife of the martyr poet Sándor Petőfi. Petőfi write in his diary: „while I was working ont he National Song manuscript, my sweet little wife prepared a mob from the most blessed national colours …” We do know about another famous cockades of the revolution: on the evening of 15th March 1848 the „Bánk Bán” of József Katona was on program in the new National Theater of Pest, and at the end of the drama actors and actresses mixed up with the audience, pinning national cockades above their hearts. According to the urban legends this is how the big novel writer (that time only 26) Mór Jókai and his future wife, the famous actress of the reform age, Róza Laborfalvi met each other. They stayed together for almost 50 years.
The revolution started in the Pilvax coffee palace at Pest, which was a favourite meeting point of the young extra-parliamentary radical liberal intellectuals in the 1840s. On the morning of 15th March 1848, revolutionaries marched around the city of Pest, reading Sándor Petőfi’s National Song and the 12 points (the twelve demands of theirs) to the crowd, which swelled to thousands. Declaring an end to all forms of censorship, they visited the printing presses of Landerer and Heckenast and printed Petőfi’s poem together with the demands. A mass demonstration was held in front of the newly built National Museum, after which the group left for the Buda Chancellery in Buda Castle. The bloodless mass demonstrations forced the Imperial governor to accept all twelve of their demands. But soon the revolution in the Kingdom of Hungary grew into a war for indepence. After a series of serious Austrian defeats in 1849, the Austrian State came close to the brink of collapse, thus the new young emperorFranz Jospeh I had to call for Russian help. Czar Nicholas I answered, and sent a 200,000 men strong army with 80,000 auxiliary forces. Finally, the joint army of Russian and Austrian forces defeated the Hungarian forces. After the restoration of Habsburg power, Hungary was placed under brutal martial law.