In the nineteenth century, the kingdom of hungary was a multidenominational society without a clear ethnic majority that had one of the largest jewish communities in europe. The kingdom was a constituent part of the habsburg empire with significant levels of autonomy that emerged as a nationalizing state upon the compromise of 1867. How did the public contest over the legal standing and societal role of the jews develop in such a special environment? how were major debates on jewish matters related to the redefinitions of the hungarian nation? was there a specific “jewish question” with a dynamic of its own in the nineteenth century or were such debates embedded in broader discussions? to answer these questions, this paper will discuss the three most important hungarian debates of the epoch, namely those of the 1840s, 1860s and 1890s. Drawing on a growing body of secondary literature particularly in hungarian, it aims to offer an overall interpretation of the hungarian jewish move towards emancipation and therefore will fill a significant gap in the scholarly literature of the period.