Debreczin (Hung. Delreczen), a royal free town of Hungary, county of Bihar, in the N. E. part of the Hungarian Lowland (Alfold), 119 m. E. of Pesth; pop. in 1870, 46,111. It is an open town with long suburbs, ending on a vast heath. The houses are mostly of one story and thatched. There are some fine buildings, of which the principal are the town house, the Catholic church, the Piarist monastery, and the Protestant reformed college, founded in 1792. The last mentioned has a large library and valuable collections, and is the best frequented seat of learning for the Calvinistic youth of Hungary. There are several other higher educational institutions belonging to both Protestants and Catholics, as well as a number of charitable establishments and a house of correction. The principal streets are paved with brick. The inhabitants, who with the exception of a few thousands are Protestants and Magyars, are mostly employed in agriculture. Many of them retire several times in the year with their families and cattle to their distant fields on the plains, where they live for weeks in huts or under tents.
The principal manufactures are coarse woollens, sheepskins for clothing, leather, shoes and boots, saltpetre, soap, various kinds of pottery, cutlery, cooperage, combs, buttons, pearl wreaths, and particularly clay tobacco pipes. The trade of Debreczin is important, consisting chiefly in cattle, horses, swine, hides, bacon, potash, wine, various kinds of oils, cheese, and Vienna haberdashery and colonial articles, for which it is the chief depot for eastern Hungary and Transylvania. • It has four annual fairs held on the surrounding plains, which are attended by many thousands of people. Railway lines connect the town with all parts of the empire. The bread of Debreczin is renowned, but the town suffers from scarcity of water. - During the long wars between the Hapsburg monarchs of Hungary, the Turks, and the princes of Transylvania, Debreczin was often taken, pillaged, and partly destroyed. The Turks finally left it in 1684. Having embraced Protestantism in the first half of the 16th century, and adopted the Helvetian creed in a synod held there in 1567, it suffered bloody persecutions in 1686 from the Austrian general Caraffa. It also suffered greatly during the insurrection under Rakoczy, after the termination of which it was made a free royal town in 1715. In the earlier part of 1849 it was the seat of the Hungarian revolutionary government under Kossuth, and the sessions of the diet were held there from Jan. 9 to May 30, in the most important of which, held in the Calvinist church, on April 14, the independence of Hungary was declared.
On Aug. 2 the flank guard of Gorgey, under Gen. Nagy-Sandor, was surprised by an overwhelming Russian force on the plain before the town, and was dispersed after a short resistance.