The Flickering Lighthouse: Rethinking the British Judgement on Trianon*
University of Southampton
This article reassesses the official British discourse around the Treaty of Trianon between 1919 and 1921. It studies a range of colorful opinions for and against the treaty, why they emerged at particular times, and why some could prevail over others. Especially it focuses on the rationale of those British parliamentarians or officials who spoke out against Trianon as being unjust to Hungary. These leading voices had varied backgrounds and prejudices, but they all had personal knowledge of Hungary either before or after World War I. The article is divided into three time-periods, thereby highlighting the main shifts in British opinion that were often caused by geo-political changes in Hungary itself. While the key British decisions were taken in 1919 at the time of the Paris Peace Conference, the vibrant and public British debate of 1920–21 also had a long-term impact: it sustained Hungarian hopes and illusions about a future revision of Trianon and about potential British sympathy. In fact, despite the strident voices heard during the British debate, the evidence suggests that there was more agreement among the British elite than some historians have suggested. By 1921, both opponents and supporters of Trianon had reached a certain pragmatic consensus; they recognized both the faults and the fairness of the peace settlement, but most now considered there could be no return to greater Hungary.
Keywords: Trianon, Great Britain, Paris Peace Settlement, revisionism