The guns were not yet silent when Habsburg Austria, certain of victory, began preparations to restore its rule. In late summer 1849, emerging from the gravest crisis in the empire's three-century long history, court and government found themselves in an uncommonly advantageous position: by giving a strong impetus to economic and social liberalization, the failed revolutions had laid the foundations for a modernization of the empire. The Habsburgs had prevailed in the Hungarian war of independence and over other revolutionary movements, and both British policy and the czar's armies helped to preserve the status quo in Europe. There remained no major impediment, internal or external, to the reorganization and consolidation of the empire. Vienna was free to forge a centralized state which, if it managed to extend its hegemony to the German principalities, could become the mightiest power in Europe.

Initially, both high politics and daily life were governed by uncertainty. Bedraggled survivors of the national guard begged for alms from the victors in the streets of some Hungarian towns; large numbers of them were forcibly recruited into the imperial army. At Torda, the Hungarian civil militia's weapons were returned so that it could maintain public order. The imperial forces paid for their official purchases in Kossuth banknotes, then court-martialled those who secretly hoarded such currency. People who had played only a minor role in the independence war felt free to join delegations that submitted grievances to the occupier, not realizing that they too might soon be arrested.

Once the European revolutionary wave had passed, a deadly calm fell over the eastern half of the empire. General Haynau proudly reported: 'For a century, there will be no more revolutions {3-334.} in Hungary; I will stake my head on it, for I will pull out the weed by its roots.'[1]1. General Haynau's letter of 24 August 1849 to Lieutenant General K. von Schönhals, in Az aradi vértanúk, ed. and introd. by T. Katona (Budapest, 1979), Vol. II, p. 70.