By the end of the 18th century even the central European region was affected by the ideas, which were more fully developed during the next century, equality of the citizens and national consciousness. In the public life and culture of Hungary Latin language had maintained a dominant position for a long time. But both of the Enlightenment rulers, Maria Theresa and Joseph II, tried to strengthen the monarchy by implementing the use of the German language. The Hungarian nobility, however, repudiated Joseph II policy and the use of German and tried to replace it with Hungarian. During this period, the majority of the nobility, which ruled the political and public life of Hungary and which spoke various languages and had different ethnic allegiances, began spontaneously to identify themselves with the Hungarian environment.

Thanks to the support of the state the Hungarian nationality had good prerequisites for their own national emancipation. But for the Slovaks conditions were not very favorable. Except for the short period of Great Moravia, they lacked their own tradition of statehood, ecclesiastical autonomy and especially the support of the political powers. In the absence of the nobility, the transmitters of their national life were primarily the lesser intellectuals, teachers and clerics, who supported the equality of people, equal civic rights and human dignity. In light of the political weakness, the question of the joining of culture and language played a great role in the Slovak national movement. Particular political ambitions and requirements only gradually moved to the foreground. Weak feelings of national unity and a barrier to magyarization, which in the fourth decade of the nineteenth century already resulted in radical expressions, had to be strengthened by the idea of Slavonic solidarity and by patient cultural work.

In 1787 Anton Bernolák (1762-1813) first codified Slovak as a literary language which, however, was utilized only among Catholics. The Lutheran intellectuals continued to employ the Czech language which had been the liturgical language of Slovak evangelicals for more than two centuries.

It was the next generation of national revivalists, led by Ľudovít Štúr (1815-1856) which overcame this division and discord concerning the codification of the Slovak language. In 1846, Ľudovít Štúr issued the Slovak grammar. Adoption of literary Slovak language was not only lingual, but also an important political declaration. Štúr’s Slovak created the basis of modern standard literary Slovak.

In Austria, the revolution began in March 1848. The Slovak national movement developed a mature political and constitutional program – It accepted the ideals of revolution, demanded the abolishment of serfdom, and general suffrage, which would have guaranteed the participation of the nation in the political administration of a federalized Hungary in which Slovaks would have been an autonomous unit.

The demands of the Slovaks as well as those of Serbians, Rumanians, Ruthens and the Germans met with the opposition of the leaders of the Hungarian revolution and the Hungarian state. The Slovak and the Hungarian national movements developed into open conflict, which revealed itself most clearly in the unsuccessful September uprising of 1848.

During the revolt, however, the Slovak national council (Ľudovít Štúr, Jozef Miloslav Hurban and Michal Hodža) developed as the first representative Slovak political body in modern history. During the whole year of 1849, its members endeavored through cooperation with imperial Vienna to effect the separation of Slovakia from Hungary and its incorporation as an autonomous entity within the system of a federal Habsburg monarchy. Despite the fact that this constitutional effort of 1848-1849 was practically without result, the Slovak national movement permanently adopted, up to the year 1918, the idea of an autonomous position of Slovakia within the framework of Hungary. It was best expressed in the Memorandum of the Slovak Nation of 1861.

Map of Slovakia’s part of Austria-Hungary Empire in 1850:
Map of Slovakia's part of Austria-Hungary Empire in 1850