Menyhért Lónyay was born on January 6, 1822 in Nagylónya, Bereg County, in a Reformed, ancient noble family. His father became an all-powerful royal commissioner during the flood of Pest in 1838, and later became an internal secret counselor as a reward for his merits. His wife, Florenina Lónyay, presented it to six children, including Menyhert, who studied as a private student and then with the Piarists in Buda. He studied law and philosophy, but also tried to write poetry and prose.
Madách’s friend, Széchenyi’s admirer
At the university he became friends with Imre Madách. They formed a literary circle with their six companions, where they criticized each other ‘s writings, and Oral solution edited a manuscript newspaper called. Two of the “eight”, Gyula Andrássy and Menyhért Lónyay, later became prime ministers.
Madah courted Menyhért for a short time for his sister Etelka.
Menyhér then soon found that he had more affinity for politics and the economy. After graduating from school, he traveled to most of Hungary and Transylvania and then made major trips abroad. He made a big splash when he returned home The financial interests of our country with his work entitled. He wrote articles for the Pesti Hírlap, edited by László Szalay and then by Antal Csengery.
It exploded into Hungarian public life as a comet. At the age of twenty-one, he was first elected a parliamentary envoy. He was greatly influenced by István Széchenyi, with whom he met several times in person, and often accompanied the count on his domestic journeys. Lónyay considered himself one of Széchenyi’s most enthusiastic admirers. His desire for knowledge was unshakable, he was constantly training himself.
I respect the power of public opinion and I know it is a power that either sweeps away or dusts off. But I also know that in times of excitement, it’s often hard to decide what real public opinion is because every person is willing to consider what he or she wants as public opinion.
The wind of the revolution hit him too. He took an active part in the drafting of the laws of April 1848, and from May 1849 he became the State Secretary for Finance of the government of Bertalan Szemere. After the defeat of the War of Independence, the laying down of light weapons on August 13, 1849, he fled abroad.
The suitors of Emilia Kappel
On September 20, 1845, he married Emilia Kappel, who was not the daughter of Frigyes Kappel, a wealthy Pest banker.
Sándor Petőfi also took a look at the young lady.
The poet Ferenc Liszt noticed a beautiful mistress sitting in the audience at a concert in Pest, and it was not even embarrassing when her friends revealed that her father was one of the richest bankers in Pest. Petofi supposedly selfishly remarked:
What is the rich father’s vile money compared to a poet’s spiritual treasures?
The flaming poet didn’t joke because he really approached the abbot to ask for Emilia’s hand. The banker was a gentleman who not only knew Petőfi’s poems, but also heard about his whims. He therefore politely replied that he would not object to it, as it was up to his daughter to decide the matter. The girl’s request also ran aground at this point.
The couple had four children. The surviving documents testify to the intimate, emotional relationship of the spouses. It was no different in the management of family wealth either. Lónyay always tried to take his wife’s advice into account when starting another estate purchase or other business venture, which often required his wife’s property.
The Minister of Finance for the Compromise
He turned his forced absence after the fall of the revolution into learning. He lived for a time in Paris, where he listened to lectures by the famous French economist Michel Chevalier at the Collège de France. He was able to return home in 1850 by royal mercy.
In the 1950s, it played a significant role in the establishment of domestic financial and credit institutions.
He was a midwife at the birth of several rural associations, savings banks, industry associations and non-profit companies. He also did much to protect the interests of the Protestant Church. At the time of the infamous Thun patent, in 1859, he was among the first to speak out for the municipal rights of Protestant faiths.
As a member of the House of Representatives, he sharply criticized the policies of the absolutist government and, after being re-elected, took part in the compromise talks. He was an unconditional believer in the compromise, because only in this way did he see the preservation of the unity and Hungarian character of Hungary as assured. However, it did not support state centralization.
The more the centralized form of government flourishes somewhere, the relatively higher the costs and the less private activity and real freedom.
In the first government after the compromise, led by Gyula Andrássy, he was given the portfolio of the Minister of Finance, which he ran for four years. According to his colleagues, he was a strong, hard-working leader who demanded a lot from others as well.
And I can assure the gentlemen that, on the one hand, I will not let go of my diligence and my successful service, and, on the other hand, I cannot count on an apologetic and a little zealous official.
As head of ministry, he managed to separate finances from Austria and build a modern, independent financial system. His merit is the introduction of the institution of the budget in Hungary and the laying of the foundations of public finances. The VII. with the adoption of an article of the law, Hungarian inscriptions, Hungarian crowns and coats of arms could once again appear on the coins.
Letter to Charles Darwin
Lónyay’s activity was also noticed in the yard. She was appointed joint Minister of Finance in May 1870, so she moved her headquarters to Vienna, where she soon won the ruler’s favor, the trust of the royal house, and the friendship of the queen. So much so that he was elevated to the rank of Count by Francis Joseph. From the end of 1871, after taking over the joint foreign ministry, Gyula Andrássy became the country’s prime minister for a year.
Under his presidency, he introduced the law on the industry, which abolished guilds and ensured the free practice of industry, and it was then that Article 32 of the 1872 Act establishing the unified capital, Budapest, was enacted. His new electoral proposal, submitted in February 1872, which sought to increase the three-year term to five and reduce the number of voters, failed in the fierce opposition of the opposition and was therefore forced to resign.
After his resignation, he continued to politicize as a Member of Parliament and then as a member of the Main House. Among other things, in 1883 he supported the bill on civil marriage.
He also had timeless merits in the development of science.
From 1866 he was the second president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, from 1871 until his death, and until November 3, 1883, as president. He did a lot to save István Széchenyi’s legacy, and on his initiative he bought the Széchenyi manuscripts of the Academy. As an academic president, he was notified in a letter Charles Darwin was elected an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for his “merits around the natural sciences”.
Why isn’t he among the biggest?
The question can rightly be asked if Menyhért Lónyay did so much for the public, why he is not among the greatest, why his work has been forgotten. One possible answer is historian András Cieger In the footsteps of the Lónyay – Kappel estate in his study It gave you:
Rumors of suspicious real estate purchases, railroad construction, and stock deals have forced him to defend himself on a permanent basis for years to come. However, he has never been able to fully clarify himself in front of the public, but not really in the eyes of later analysts of the era. With regard to the person in the literature, he merely repeats the same few simplistic and condemning sentences, according to which Lónyay was a typical representative of an interest-driven politician who forged significant financial benefits from his political status.
He did not absolve himself of responsibility, tracing the origin of his property back to work, frugality, and “proper, orderly treatment”. At the same time, he admitted in his diary that he had made mistakes.
I could have made mistakes unconsciously with whom they could not occur, but I never, under any circumstances, subordinated the public interest to the interests of others or myself.
Menyhért Lónyay rests in the family tomb in Lónyay, the tomb was declared protected by the National Memorial and Reverence Committee in 2007.
(Cover image: Engraving of Menyhér Lónyay in 1871. Photo: Wikipedia)