Count István Tisza (1861—1918)


Prime Minister of Hungary 1903—1905 and 1913—1917

His talent and his intellectual and political performance allowed him to step out from the shadow of his father, Kálmán Tisza. He studied at the best universities of his time, in Berlin Heidelberg and Budapest. After opposition within his family subsided, he married his beloved first cousin, Ilona Tisza.

He was deeply religious and disliked luxury. He also took a role within the reformed Church. His contemporaries saw him as stubborn, purposeful and stalwart. He was unwilling to compromise on his principles and was thus fervently hated by his opponents throughout his political career. This is what led to his famous duel with his greatest political opponent Mihály Károlyi. The reason for the duel was Károlyi’s refusal to reciprocate his greeting on account of their political differences.

He committed himself to politics at the early age of 25 and became twice Prime Minister of Hungary. He was convinced that Hungarians could only survive and perform their mission within the framework of the Habsburg Empire. He recognised that the Monarchy would soon be entangled in a military conflict and therefore urged preparations for war.

Despite his initial misgivings, he agreed to the declaration of war in 1914. His life was intertwined with the destiny of the Monarchy. He became the only victim of the otherwise bloodless "Autumn Rose” revolution, when he was assassinated in front of her wife in 1918.

„The catastrophe is only being held back by God’s clemency.”
His speech in the Parliament in 1910
Count István Tisza's speeches in the House of Representatives, volume IV, MTA, Budapest, 1937 pp. 109

„A nation is the sum of individuals who desire and find happiness in uniting an independent and powerful state.”
László Tőkéczki: The ideal, political face of István Tisza, Kairosz, Budapest, 2000 pp. 111

(The quotations are displayed in Room III)


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