|Birth Day:||September 21, 1791|
|Death Date:||Apr 8, 1860 (age 68)|
As per our current Database, Istvan Szechenyi died on Apr 8, 1860 (age 68).
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He first rose to political prominence in the mid 1820s, when he vocally and financially supported Prime Minister Nagy's proposal to create a Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Equally memorable was his famous ride, through the enemy's lines on the night of 16–17 October 1813, to convey to Blücher and Bernadotte the wishes of the two emperors that they should participate in the battle of Leipzig on the following day, at a given time and place. In May 1815 he was transferred to Italy, and at the battle of Tolentino scattered Murat's bodyguards by a dashing cavalry charge.
From September 1815 to 1821, Széchenyi traveled extensively in Europe, visiting France, England, Italy, Greece and the Levant, and studying their institutions. He also established important personal connections. The rapid modernization of Britain fascinated him the most, and strongly influenced his thinking. He was also impressed with the Canal du Midi in France, and began to envision ways to improve navigation on the lower Danube and Tisza.
Széchenyi gained a wider reputation in 1825, by supporting the proposal of the representative of Sopron county, Pál Nagy, to establish the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Széchenyi donated the full annual income of his estates that year, 60,000 florins, towards it. His example brought donations of 58,000 florins from three other wealthy nobles, and they gained Royal approval for the Academy. He wanted to promote the use of the Hungarian language in this effort. This was an important milestone in his life and for the reform movement.
He left the service as a captain in 1826 (after his promotion to major was turned down) and turned his interest towards politics.
In 1827, he organized the Nemzeti Kaszinó, or National Casino, a forum for the patriotic Hungarian nobility. The Casino had an important role in the reform movement by providing an institute for political dialogues.
Széchenyi (with the help of Austrian ship's company Erste Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft (DDSG) ), established the Óbuda Shipyard on the Hungarian Hajógyári Island in 1835, which was the first industrial scale steamship building company in the Habsburg Empire.
In 1836 at the age of 45, Széchenyi married Countess Crescence Seilern in Buda. They had three children:
In his 1841 pamphlet People of the East (Kelet Népe), Count Széchenyi responded to Kossuth's reform proposals. Széchenyi believed that economic, political and social reforms should proceed slowly and with care, in order to avoid the potentially disastrous prospect of violent interference from the Habsburg dynasty. Széchenyi was aware of the spread of Kossuth's ideas in Hungarian society, which he took to overlook the need for a good relationship with the Habsburg dynasty.
His relations with Lajos Kossuth were not good: he always thought Kossuth was a political agitator who overplayed his popularity. Széchenyi, although in a minority, continued to counsel for caution in the Diet and other meetings. In March 1848, he accepted the portfolio of ways and communications "in the first responsible Magyar administration" under Lajos Batthyány, but he feared the disruption of revolution.
Still suffering from depression, Széchenyi committed suicide by a gunshot to his head on 8 April 1860, in his 68th year. (April 8 was the anniversary of the death of the Hungarian national hero Francis II Rákóczi, a century earlier). All Hungary mourned Széchenyi's death. The Academy was in official mourning, along with the most prominent persons of the leading political and cultural associations (including counts József Eötvös, János Arany, and Károly Szász). His rival Kossuth said he was "the greatest of the Magyars".
Kossuth, for his part, rejected the role of the aristocracy, and questioned established norms of social status. In contrast to Széchenyi, Kossuth believed that in the process of social reform it would be impossible to restrain civil society in a passive role. He warned against attempting to exclude wider social movements from political life, and supported democracy, rejecting the primacy of elites and the government. In 1885, he labeled Széchenyi a liberal elitist aristocrat, while Széchenyi considered Kossuth to be a democrat.
Béla Széchenyi became known for his wide travels and explorations in the East Indies, Japan, China, Java, Borneo, western Mongolia, and the frontiers of Tibet. In 1893, he published an account of his experiences, written in German.
Currently, Istvan Szechenyi is 231 years, 4 months and 17 days old. Istvan Szechenyi will celebrate 232nd birthday on a Thursday 21st of September 2023.
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