2004 | 46 | 3/4 | 241-295
Article title

The right of the estates of Hungary to vote for the tax and the development of eighteenth century system to vote for the tax

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The political life of eighteenth century Hungary can still be described in the terms of the dualism of ruler and estates, and Diet was the most important theatre for their interactions. Their bargain centered around the voting for the tax and the estates' grievances. In the eighteenth century the Diet had the prerogative to vote for the contribution, but it only voted for the augmentation of its amount that was then collected automatically each year. The study wants to describe the making of this system, thus exploring the long-term evolution of the estates' right to vote for the tax. After 1526 the Diet had to vote for raising tax each single time, then it become customary to vote for a contribution that could be collected two times. Later the Diet voted for certain taxes that were to be raised until the next Diet: but these were only of minor importance. After 1670 the estates lost their prerogative to vote for the contribution, it was assessed by the king and collected by the army using force. At the turn of the century representatives of the prelates and magnates (and occasionally of the counties) of Hungary also took part in its repartition. Part of the contribution was paid by the privileged, in accordance with the earlier (albeit not unbroken) usage. As a result of the war of independence led by Prince Ferenc II Rákóczi, the estates of Hungary regained their right to vote for the annual tax, although not by the Diet but by a narrower representative institution (and it happened sometimes that the king assessed a higher tax than the one voted for), the amount of the contribution fell significantly (from something like 4-7 million forints to 1,5-2 millions in the 1710s), and the privileged were not any more liable to pay this. When at the Diet of 1722-1723 the later system was established with the Diet voting for the tax again (but exclusively its augmentation, and this amount was then collected yearly), this was already a sign of the shifting of power from the estates to the king. The development of the estates' right to vote for the tax serves as a long-term indicator of their power relations. The development of these fit into the trends of the region (with seemingly decisive shift of the balance for the king) until the war of independence set the clock back at the beginning of the eighteenth century: the estates of Hungary acquired really strong political positions, which - despite their gradual weakening - could maintain the dualism of king and estates of Hungary in politics, which came to be an exception both in the region and in the whole of Europe.
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  • I. Szijarto-M, no address given, contact the journal editor
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