Count Julius Andrássy

The Hungarian statesman Count Julius Andrássy (1823-1890) served as prime minister of Hungary and later as foreign minister of Austria-Hungary. He negotiated the Austro-German Dual Alliance of 1879.

Julius Andrássy was born into a distinguished Hungarian aristocratic family at Kassa (now Košsice in Slovakia) on Mar.3, 1823. As a young man, he supported the policies of the moderate reformer Count Stephen Széchenyi. Later, however, he switched to the more radical Louis Kossuth, who opposed Austrian control of Hungary and advocated Hungarian nationalism. In 1848 Andrássy took part in the Hungarian revolution against Austria. After Hungary's defeat he lived in exile in Paris and London. By the mid-1850s Andrássy had become an advocate of a Hungarian compromise with Austria. Receiving amnesty in 1857, he returned to Hungary and joined forces with the middle-of-the-road liberals. Together with Francis Deák and Count Beust, he participated in the preparation and execution of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. This agreement established the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, or Dual Monarchy.

Andrássy was appointed prime minister and minister of defense of the new Hungarian government. He was convinced that Hungary's territorial integrity was gravely endangered by Russian-supported nationalistic stirrings among the empire's Slavic minorities and by Russia's own designs on the Balkans. He sought to neutralize this danger by strengthening and perpetuating the German-Hungarian leadership in the monarchy and by increasingly relying on Germany's support. In 1871 Andrássy became foreign minister of the Dual Monarchy, and he worked with much success to strengthen the empire's international position. In the interest of this policy, he agreed to a partial rapprochement with Russia in the form of the Three Emperors' League (1872), but he made certain that Austria-Hungary's interests would be protected in the Balkan entanglement that followed the crisis of 1875.

At the Congress of Berlin (1878) Andrássy secured the right to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina. From his viewpoint this action was aimed at counterbalancing Russia's increased role in the Balkans, while also taking account of his compatriots' wish to limit the number of Slavs in the empire. Although this "occupation" (turned into "annexation" in 1908) satisfied Austria-Hungary's immediate political interests, in the long run it proved to be a serious mistake, which contributed much to the eventual dissolution of the empire. For Andrássy personally, its ill effects were more immediate. Domestic dissatisfaction with the policy of expansion, coupled with the difficulties of the occupation itself, led to his resignation in 1879. But before he left office, he capped his career with the conclusion of the Dual Alliance (1879), which united Germany and Austria-Hungary and thus was the ultimate fulfillment of his foreign policy. (It remained the cornerstone of the foreign policies of both empires until 1918.)

Following his resignation, Andrássy withdrew from most political activity and died on Feb. 18, 1890, at Volosca in Istria. He was a man of culture, refinement, aristocratic charm, and broad European outlook. His younger son of the same name (with whom he is often confused) was a distinguished statesman in his own right.


Further Reading on Count Julius Andrássy

There is no acceptable biography of Andrássy in English. The only major work that includes him is by his son, Count Julius Andrássy, Jr., Bismarck, Andrássy, and Their Successors (1927). Among the excellent books in English that deal extensively with Andrássy's foreign policy are Alfred F. Pribram, The Secret Treaties of Austria-Hungary, 1879-1914 (1920; trans., 2 vols., 1920-1921); William L. Langer, European Alliances and Alignments, 1871-1890 (1931; 2d ed. 1950); and George H. Rupp, A Wavering Friendship: Russia and Austria, 1876-1878 (1941).