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Hungary's revolutionary crowd of 1848 was defeated in 1849, but crowds of other kinds and crowd politics remained central to Hungary as it fashioned itself over the next half-century. Nationalism and the Crowd in Liberal Hungary, 1848-1914, describes how the crowd's shifting cast of characters participated in the making of Hungary inside the increasingly troubled Austro-Hungarian empire.
Audiences at theaters, fairs, statue raisings, and commemorations of national figures political rallies ethnic mobs May Day celebrations monarchical festivities and finally war rallies all take up places in this history. Not only insurgent crowds, but festive ones as well have political and material goals, Freifeld finds. "Parading before a spectator crowd may have confirmed noble participants in their claims to be spokespersons of the nation, but the chastened crowd could also feel its presence was instrumental," she writes. "Even as the chastened crowd became an instrument to advance the elite's agenda by rallying support within the nation, it was never a slave to the leaders on the podium or simply manipulated by them, for it, too, demanded deference from its pageant masters." And hope for liberal nationalism, which Hungarian crowds carried from their experience of 1848, thus continued to confront the monarchy, its bureaucracy, and the gentry. The book is an imaginative contribution to the research in nationalism, liberalism, and the crowd, as well.