This contribution situates the numerus clausus law in the process of the transformation of Hungarian nationalism, which started around the 1890s. The law was a transitory piece of legislation, consciously worded not as a radical break with, but rather a continuation of the emancipatory aspects of liberal nationalism. Its more immediate foundations can be traced to the transformation of citizenship through the welfare and redistribution attached to group membership, as well as the idea that higher education provided entry into the authentic leading strata of the nation, the middle class. Both were ideas that gained in prominence during World War I.

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