Home ° 2017

International Harbors


Hungary became a Christian kingdom in A.D. 1000 and for many centuries served as a bulwark against Ottoman Turkish expansion in Europe. The kingdom eventually became part of the polyglot Austro-Hungarian Empire, which collapsed during World War I.

In the 18th century, the harbour towns of Trieste and Rijeka began to develop very rapidly.

Trieste became the principal port of the Hapsburg monarchy, where all major eastern Adriatic steamshipping companies had their seats. With the development of Trieste, Slovene territory became an important intersection of trade routes. Trieste and other coastal towns were being increasingly inhabited by Slovenes, who sought jobs in dockyards and shipping trade as well as in the merchant navy as officers and sailors.

1802. Germany, Hungary.

1802 Germany, Hungary.

Some of them invested on their own or together with partners into the purchase of ships.

Barques, brigs, brigschooners and brigantines were owned by Danijel Polak, Nikolaj Valu nik, Marija, Leopold and Valentin Dolenec, Matej Gasser, Franc Jelovcek, Ivana Muha n e Gorup, Anton and Peter Maera, the Miklavcic family, Henrik and Angel Jazbec, Josip Gorup, and others.

The 19th century brought about development of not only the merchant navy but also the military navy in the Austrian and Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The Austrian military navy was in the 18th century still in a rather poor shape and was systematically developed only after the defeat of the French Napoleon army in 1814.

The centre of the military development was at the beginning in Venice but after the proclamation of the Independent Venetian Republic in 1848 it was moved to Trieste where the Military Navy Academy was active for the period of ten years.

August 16, 1849, Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Hungarian Female Soldiery.

The Evening Post has the following communication: By the last steamer I received some particulars of the glorious success achieved by the Hungarian nation in the war with the Austrians -- a war conducted with all the genius of the Hungarian leaders. A German paper, the Didaskalia of Frankfort, informs us that Hungarian ladies are fighting with the same enthusiasm for freedom as their countrymen. Among one hundred and forty Hungarian captives taken by Gen. Simouish, there were nineteen Hungarian ladies, with muskets in their hands and dressed in military uniform. A countess of the highest rank has raised a regiment at her own expense, and her sister is the commander of this regiment.

After 1856 Pulj became the most important Austrian military port. The ports of ibenik and Boka Kotorska also hosted military navy bases. Among the seamen of different nations serving in the military navy there were also the Slovene seamen. Most of them were drafted in the navy as national servicemen but some of them also decided to attend navy schools for the non-commissioned officers and military navy academies.

November 2, 1856, The Wide West , San Francisco, California

How Hungary is Governed.

The following is from a correspondent in Hungary, and gives a fearful insight as to how the Austrians are acting in that unfortunate country:

"-- On the 28th of last month an agent of Kossuth, who had been for some months in prison, was hanged at Pesth. This was done so quietly that I only found one panel besides my informant who was aware of the circumstance, on the same authority I believe that he richly deserved his fate. On the other hand, the conduct of the Emperor and of his Minister Bach, is as bad towards unhappy Hungary as that of the King of Naples is towards that wretched country. Hungary is treated as a conquered country, pillaged and insulted. Soldiers are sent into the villages, who are quartered on all the inhabitants, except on the nobles who are in lhe employment of the Emperor. They insult the people, they break all the furniture, and throw out of window anything tbey do not think good enough for them. The taxes are levied at the will of the tax-gatherer. On I asking for an explanation of this, my informant, a nobleman in moderate circumstances, told me that the last demand made upon him by the taxgatherer exceeded that which had ever previously been made. He remonstrated with the head-office, and the only answer he received was that if the sum was not immediately paid, some of his goods would be seized and sold; yet this gentleman has some relatives and friends connected with the Government, both in Hungary and at Vienna.

"The ancient colors of Hungary are three stripes of green, red. and white. The first had been erased from their banner. At this all are furious, and even those in the employment of the frown barely conceal their indignation, for there is probably no people so madly attached to their country as the Hungarians. To avenge and resist this insult as much as they dare, they have all kinds of ludicrous devices. Among others in one town I was told of three young ladies who walked together arm-in-arm, one in a green dress, one in a pink, and another in a white, amid the applause of the people, and the consternation of the Austrian officers. The hatred of all to the Austrians in general, and especially to the Emperor and his Minister Bach, is as inveterate as it is in Italy, and scarcely any disguise their wish that the Russians had kept possession of the couutrv, and that they might never have gone back under the hated rule of the treacherous House of Hapsburg; but they are not Republicans.

"The persons who are most angry with the Concordat are the Roman Catholic laity, who speak of the Emperor as a weak, bigoted boy of whom advantage was taken, when he had received a slight wound in the neck, by his mother's Jesuit and confessor, to vow that he would give his empire again into the hands of the Pope, although his ancestors, the Emperors of the Romans, had contended against so doing for many centuries."

Chain Bridge over
The River Danube, Budapest, Hungary

River Danube. Chain Bridge.

When Gabor Baross was appointed Minister of Trade and Transportation in 1883, and then again in 1886, a new era began in Hungarian transport policy, which entailed favorable changes for the railway and navigation. The modernization of Hungary's sea port in Fiume (Rijeka) began in this period. The regulation of the Upper Danube resumed in 1886, followed by that of the Iron Gate in 1890. Baross established the Navigation Company of the Hungarian State Railways in 1888 in order to "extend the tracks of M V to the water" and to at least partly fulfill the country's public transportation needs on water.

This company shipped 166,000 passengers, 1,200 wagons of swine and nearly two million tons of bulk cargo in 1893, using 12 steamboats and 40 barges.

Act 36 of 1894 was passed regarding the establishment and government sponsoring of a Hungarian river and ocean shipping company. The law, which governs the relationship between the new shipping company and the state, as well as the obligations of the company due to Hungarian national interests, the Hungarian River and Sea Shipping Co. (MFTR) held its founding general meeting on January 24, 1895. The founding of the company was sponsored with equity capital of HUF 10 million, half of the amount in shares and the other half in preference bonds, by the Hungarian General Credit Bank and the Hungarian Clearing and Currency Exchange Bank.

July 25, 1899, The Daily Journal, Freeport, Illinois, U.S.A.

Hungarian Gypsy Minstrels.

Hungarian Gypsies.

The gypsy minstrels form a caste by themselves. Their appearance is always more swarthy than that of other Hungarian musicians, their dress is sometimes purposely fantastic, and their manner of life is far more Bohemian than tho most liberal minded artist would care to own to. Every hotel and restaurant in Budapest possesses its gypsy band, and the method of payment is as free and easy as the music itself aud their life.

The hotel keeper is not bound by any contract, but at various intervals throughout the performance one of his gypsies takes a dinner plate and goes round among the various guests in the hall from table to table, receiving in the plate what the latter like to put there. The favorite coin deposited there is the nickel 10 kreutzer piece, answering to our twopence. I have not often seen a florin or a kronen (half a florin). The whole collection is, as a rule, made up of two pences. ~ Good Words.

Budapest. Hungarian pilgrims procession, Pesth, Hungary. Danube Donau, 1840

The 20-year contract the company signed with the government provided it with HUF 400,000 in state subsidies each year. The ships of M V were transferred to MFTR, which also gradually acquired the boats of several smaller companies - including the Gyor Steamboat Company, established in 1865 - and was also building its own boats at a fast pace, mainly in shipyards in jpest. The company launched a series of boat lines and soon expanded its activities to the entire Danube and its navigable tributaries, emerging as a serious competitor to market leader DDSG. The boats of MFTR shipped 595,000 passengers and 557,000 tons of goods a year on average in the period between 1895 and 1917. The company owned a fleet of 38 passenger boats, 54 cargo steamboats, 389 barges and two tankers in 1918.

The uninterrupted growth of the company slowed down during World War I and was broken entirely following Hungary's defeat.

As a result of the economic crisis at the end of the 19th century, until the outbreak of World War I, more than three million people emigrated from the territory of the Austro Hungarian Monarchy to America, hundreds of thousands of whom were Hungarians. The emigration-fever reached Hungary as early as the beginning of the 1880s. According to statistical accounts, between 1899 and 1913, 1,390,525 persons emigrated from the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary, among them 400,000 Hungarians, mostly through the seaports of Fiume (now Rijeka, Croatia) and Hamburg. More than 86% of the emigrants settled down in the USA.

Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916)

by Miklos Barabas (1810-1898), a Hungarian painter known for his portraits. In 1829 Barabás studied at the Academy of Arts in Vienna. For him the most important lessons were to be learned not in the classroom but in observing nature, from independent creative work, and through friendships with fellow painters. 

His subjects included Emperor  Francis Joseph, the composer Franz Liszt, the poet Janos-Arany, the social and economic reformer István, Gróf (count) Széchenyi, and the writer-politician József, Báró (baron) Eötvös. Barabás was elected a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at the age of 26, and in 1862 he became president of the Hungarian Fine Art Association.

Emperor Franz Joseph.

Left: Wearing the dress uniform of an Austrian Field Marshal with the Great Star of the Military Order of Maria Theresa. 1864

Bear Hunt, Russia, 1874.
Franz Joseph I.

Engraving: Samuel E. Waller.

Franz Joseph. Bear Hunt.

The Making of Eastern Europe.Eastern European History: A Selection of WorksThe Making of Eastern Europe.
including Philip Longworth's The Making of Eastern Europe. In the revised edition of this controversial book, Philip Longworth argues that their predicament is only partly due to the imposition of the Soviet system but rather that they are the heirs of misfortune which dates back centuries. In exploring the origins of current problems, this sweeping history ranges from the present day to the time of Constantine the Great, the Urals to the Mediterranean and the Baltic, and emphasizes culture and society, as well as politics and economics. In an additional new chapter Philip Longworth analyses the collapse of Communism and the advent of postcommunism. This book will be of immense value to all who want to understand Eastern Europe's past and present. The book is considered a "first-rate piece of historical analysis."

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

Kindly Kindly Donate.


DALevy @


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.