Joseph II., Holy Roman Emperor 1765-90, son of Francis I. (grand duke of Tuscany, emperor, 1745-65) and Maria Theresa (queen of Bohemia and Hungary, archduchess of Austria, 1740-48), was born at Vienna Mar. 13, 1741, and died there Feb. 20, 1790. Austria stands in the front rank of strictly Roman Catholic countries which in the second half of the eighteenth century found themselves compelled to break with their antiquated system to find the way for a new existence. The defeats of Austria, especially in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), had shown Maria Theresa the lack of centralization, of financial, intellectual, and moral power in her country and the necessity of reforms. Although a good Catholic and personally antagonistic to the Enlightenment, she permitted the leaders of this intellectual movement to expand the new views of Territorialism (q.v.) and Febronianism (see HONTHEIM, JOHANN NIKOLAUS VON). Archduke Joseph became one of the most prominent and fervent advocates of the new ideas, and when he became coregent after the death of Emperor Francis (Aug. 18, 1765), ecclesiastical reforms were carried out in a more thorough and independent manner, especially as popes like Clement XIV. (1769-74) and Pius VI. (1775-1799) tried to save the hierarchy by the most far-reaching concessions. On the death of the empress in 1780 Joseph became sole ruler, and now began an entirely new system, which was carried out within a few years. The old feudal order was to make room for the monarchical state of the Enlightenment, in which no privileged classes and estates existed. In the political sphere Joseph continued the centralization of the old Hapsburg countries; in the social sphere he attempted to raise the state of the peasants and of industry. Serfdom was abolished, taxes on landed property were equalized,
Joseph was a pronounced territorialist. All external relations of the Church (i.e., everything outside of the dogmas in the proper sense), the administration of the sacraments, and inner discipline over the clergy, were to be placed under the regulating and supervising power of the State. He thought of the relation of the churches of his countries to Rome entirely in the Febronian sense. The peculiarity of his system of church polity has been styled Josephinism, a term which implies the union of Febronianism, Episcopalianism, and territorialism, with the political viewpoint dominating. He was in no way hostile to the Church; Roman Catholicism appeared to him the historically developed and therefore the natural form of churchdom in his countries; but he did not subject his government to merely ecclesiastical points of view. The Church appeared to him only as the organization of one of the spheres in which the life of the people develops, and which is therefore subordinated to the whole, the State. The ultimate aim of all his reforms was the supremacy of the State. The means was the introduction of the enlightenment to raise up new ethical and intellectual power. Accordfigly, the churches of the Hapsburg countries were to be de tached, as far as possible, from their legal connection with the papacy and consolidated into a uniform organization under the church government of the sovereign. Consequently the Placet (q.v.) for all kinds of papal bulls and briefs was renewed and strictly carried out. The bull Unigenitus was never to be mentioned, and the bull In coena Domini torn out of the books of liturgy. In 1781 all relations were broken off between the religious orders and their superiors and brethren in foreign countries. At the same time, the orders were subordinated to the disciplinary power of the bishops and arch-bishops. Similar ordinances were applied to the whole clergy. Communication with Rome was to be through Austrian ambassadors. Nobody was allowed to ask for papal titles in Rome, or to send money there. The bishops received the right to absolve and dispense, especially in matrimonial matters, and to institute new festivals, devotions, etc. Every appeal to Rome was forbidden. As at many points along the boundaries, Austrian dominions were under the authority of foreign bishops, a new circumscription of the dioceses was necessary. Moreover, the connection of the bishops with the secular ruler was made closer, closer even than that with the pope. There was demanded of them a new oath of subjection to the temporal ruler which preceded that to the pope. Nevertheless, there remained for the pope a certain privilege over the internal and external relations of the Austrian Church; and, when possible, the emperor tried to gain his consent to the ecclesiastical reforms.
The special jurisdiction of the clergy was abolished, the clergy was subjected to the legislative and judicial powers, bishops were to wait for the placet for their consecration and the State assumed matrimonial legislation (1783). As it was the aim of Joseph to bring the clergy into closer connection with the Austrian State and make its representatives more efficient in their profession than had been possible under the old system, he placed their education in the hands of the central authority of civil instruction, the imperial commission of schools. The theological students were forbidden to visit the Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum in Rome (Nov. 18, 1781), which institution was replaced by a Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum in Pavia. In 1783 the theological schools in the monasteries were closed, and "general seminaries" were opened as State institutions under the superintendence of the imperial commission. As the monasteries were regarded as the chief seats of all sentiments inimical to the State, and as they deprived the State of a great number of efficient men that were urgently needed for the multitude of new parishes, a law of Jan. 12, 1782, ordered the dissolution of all religious orders not engaged in preaching, teaching, or nursing the sick. In this way the number of monasteries in Austria and Hungary was reduced from 2,163 to 1,425.
No less comprehensive, and evincing the same character, were the reforms relating to the internal life of the Church. The emperor made the greatest efforts to elevate the cure of souls and to adapt its organization to the needs of the changed conditions. Many of the monastic churches were transformed into parish churches. The emoluments of a religious State fund were used for the foundation of churches, pastorates, and chaplaincies; former monks were employed in pastoral work. At the same time Joseph deeply influenced the order of the church service. His aim was to do away with the merely external and mechanical practise of religion and further the ideal of the Enlightenment, the worship of God in spirit and in truth, and the practical love of fellow men. He paid special attention to preaching, to the instruction of youth, and to congregational singing. On Apr. 21, 1783, there was issued a new church order for Vienna, which served as a pattern for the whole country. All orders of service which went beyond the Roman ritual were done away. The Latin language was abolished, and the German introduced into the services. Rules were given with respect to the luxurious ornamentation of the churches, the magnificent proemiong, the brilliant illuminations, exhibition of relics, pilgrimages, etc. A rational and systematic care of the poor and sick was substituted for begging and the arbitrary giving of alms.
An edict of Oct. 13, 1781, established religious toleration for the whole Hapsburg monarchy, for the German and Bohemian countries, Hungary and her dependencies, Italy, and the Netherlands. The adherents of the Augsburg and Helvetic confessions, as well as members of the Greek Church, obtained a limited freedom of worship. Each group of a hundred families was permitted to build a meeting-house, but without bells, steeples, or street entrances, and a school
It is self-evident that such an enormous revolution in all spheres met with the strongest opposition, especially from the Curia. On Mar. 22, 1782, Pius VI. paid a visit to Vienna to expostulate with the emperor; but he was received with cold politeness and returned without having accomplished his purpose. In the old countries of the Hapsburg crown the sentiment was very different. Among the bishops Joseph had friends and foes. The Febronian views of the Enlightenment (q.v.) were represented by the archbishop of Salzburg, as well as by the bishops of Königgrätz, Wiener Neustadt, Laibach, Seckau, etc., while the old ecclesiastical views were adhered to by the archbishop of Vienna and the Hungarian episcopate under the leadership of its primate. In the German and Bohemian countries the ecclesiastical reforms as a whole went through peacefully, though the changes in the cultus and in ecclesiastical ethics caused some bitterness. The political-social reforms pleased peasants and citizens, but aroused the opposition of the privileged classes. In Hungary the ecclesiastical reforms were carried out without opposition, but the political and social revolutions necessitated by the centralizing tendency of the emperor, as, for instance, the attempts to break the old constitution of Hungary and Transylvania, to govern the country in a despotic manner by State officers, to introduce German as the official language, and to abolish serfdom with the privileges of the nobility and the clergy, enraged the Magyar nobility in such a way that on Jan. 30, 1790, all political and social reforms had to be repealed. In the Netherlands the edict of toleration was promulgated November, 1781, and was carried out without difficulty, in spite of the opposition of the estates and the clergy. The other ecclesiastical provisions were opposed only by the clergy and the monastic orders. But here, too, the attempt to break the old feudal constitution, the self-government of the estates and the privileged position of the clergy and nobility in city and country, met in 1787 with the most violent opposition in all prominent circles. On Jan. 7, 1790, the provinces declared themselves independent, and the general political condition deprived the emperor of all hope of victory. Disappointed and defeated he died the following month. There is no doubt that the impatience and haste of his reforms greatly injured his work, and yet his reign became the starting-point for a new and higher development of Austria. The system of ecclesiastical legislation continued after his death, except that in the Netherlands his brother and successor Leopold was compelled to sacrifice all ecclesiastical innovations, even the edict of toleration, in order to regain his provinces. In Hungary and Transylvania the main bulk of the ecclesiastical reforms, and especially the edict of toleration, remained in force. In Austria most of the estates required the restitution of the old feudal conditions and the old domination of the Roman Catholic Church; but Leopold refused both. Of the ecclesiastical legislation only the "general seminaries" were discontinued. The bishops were allowed to erect their own institutions and to dispose of the order of church service. The great mass of reforms within the Church remained until 1848. At the time of Napoleon I. Josephinism extended over all the South German states, Bavaria, Württemberg, Baden, and Hesse. It was only in 1848 that it was entirely broken in Austria, as well as in the South German states. Only the edict of toleration remained in force in Austria, and was embodied in the constitution.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Sources are: A. von Arneth, Maria Thereeia und Joseph II., ihre Korrespondenz, 3 vols., Vienna, 1867; J. Kropatschek, Handbuch . . . Verordnungen und Gesetze, 19 vols., Vienna, 1785-91; Codex juris ecclesiastici Josephini, 2 vols., Presburg, 1788; Sammlung der Verordnungen und Gesetze Kaisers Joseph II., 10 vols., Vienna, 1788. Consult: K. Ritter, Kaiser Joseph und seine kirchlichen Reformen, 2 vols., Regensburg, 1867; S. Brunner. Die theologische Dienerschaft am Hofe Josephs II., Vienna, 1868; idem, Die Mysterien der Aufklärung in Oesterreich 1770-1800, ib. 1869; T. von Kern, Die Reformen der Kaiserin Maria Theresia, Leipsie, 1869; A. Wolf, Die Aufhebung der Klöster in Innerösterreich, Vienna, 1871; idem, Oesterreich unter Maria Theresia, Joseph II., und Lwpold ll., Berlin, 1883; E. Friedberg, Die Grenzen zwischen Staat und Kirche, Tübingen, 1872; A. von Arneth, Geschichte Maria Theresia, ix. 1-260, Vienna, 1879; C. von Hock, Der österreichische Staatsrath 1760-1848, ib., 1879; E. Hubert, La Condition des protestants en Belgique depuis Charles V. jusquà Joseph II., Brussels, 1882; G. Frank, Das Toleranzpatent Kaisers Joseph II., Vienna, 1882; L. Leger, Hist. of Austro-Hungary, London, 1889; H. Schlitter, Die Regierung Josefs II., vol. i., Vienna, 1900; F. Frishc, Kaiser Joseph II., ib. 1903; J. Bryce, The Holy Roman Empire, New York, 1904; F. Geier, Die Durchführung der kirchlichen Reformen Josephs II., Stuttgart, 1905; E. Gothein, Der Breisgau unter Maria Theresia und Joseph Il., Heidelberg, 1907; H. Franz, Studien zur kirchlichen Reform Josephs II., 1908.
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