Updated Sunday 15 May, 2011 12:18 PM

   Headlines  |  Alternate Histories  |  International Edition

Home Page


Alternate Histories

International Edition

List of Updates

Want to join?

Join Writer Development Section

Writer Development Member Section

Join Club ChangerS


Chris Comments

Book Reviews


Letters To The Editor


Links Page

Terms and Conditions



Alternate Histories

International Edition

Alison Brooks



Other Stuff


If Baseball Integrated Early


Today in Alternate History

This Day in Alternate History Blog








What if Hungary refused to declare war?

In 1914, Austria and Hungary were not a single country, but not quite disunited, either.  The compromise of 1867 (Augsleich) had established two technically independent governments and a third entity for co-ordinating between the two.

One of the constitutional powers that the Hungarian government had was the ability to declare war and peace…without regard to Austria!  After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Hungarian government of Count Tisza Istvan was extremely anti-war, and even contemplated not joining in the war; however, German support for Austria, and the (undoubtedly correct) argument that the Dual Monarchy could not survive Hungary’s taking so independent course, convinced him to throw Hungary’s fate into the balance.

What if Tisza had not been convinced (or had been overborne by other, more chauvinist politicians)?  Let us feign that, in July 1914, as the ultimatum to Serbia is being composed, Tisza announces that Hungary, although reserving its freedom of action against Serbia, will not participate in a German-Austrian attack upon it.  Franz Ferdinand’s elder son is declared king of Hungary as Maximilian II, and the Dual Monarchy comes to an end.

What then?  I see two possible scenarios:

I.      Austrian realists recognize, however reluctantly, that war against Serbia is now impossible, even with German support.  The Austrian ultimatum to Serbia is much moderated; the complicity of Serbian officials, and of the Serbian government as a whole, is debated in a series of diplomatic exchanges and congresses (perhaps those ad hoc congresses evolve into an International Criminal Court, although I think this unlikely).

The situation won’t go away, however.  The Austrian government will not love the Magyars for dissolving the Dual Monarchy.  Serbia will be in a peculiar position; although there will neither be any love lost between them and either Austria and Hungary, either or both may seek co-operation with Serbia against the other, on the theory that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

That possibility suggests to me the whole diplomatic position that Hungary will find itself in.  Hungary will have no friends, but many other nations will be interested in taking its part (or using it) against Austria.

II.     The imperialist faction in Austria decides that Hungary cannot be allowed to go its own way.  War with Serbia will have to wait (or maybe not; the Ostreich über Alles faction in Vienna was not known for taking reality into account); Hungary must be brought back into the fold, will she or nihil she.

A slightly alternative World War I takes place, with Hungary ranked (however reluctantly) among the Allies, rather than the Central Powers.  How does that play out?

 Franz Ferdinand had three children by his marriage to Countess (later Duchess) Sophie Chotkowa; Sophie (1901-1990), Maximilian (1902-1962), and Ernst (1904-1954).  His children, as products of a morganatic marriage, were excluded from the succession in Austria and Hungary…but any port in a storm.  Maximilian has the additional “recommendation” as king of being not quite twelve years old at this time; obviously a regency will be needed, and obviously that regency will be conducted by Magyar aristocrats…

John W. Braue, III



  Hit Counter