Joseph II: Volume 1, In the Shadow of Maria Theresa, 1741-1780

Overview

The emperor Joseph II (1741-90) tried to carry through something like a 'revolution from above' in the vast, varied, and mainly backward provinces of the Austrian Monarchy. This volume carries the story down to 1780. It describes the claustrophobic atmosphere, in which Joseph was trained to rule, his tragic marriages, and his attempts after 1765 as co-regent with his formidable mother, empress Maria Theresa, to dictate the domestic and foreign policy of the monarchy. The author shows that previous historians have...

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Overview

The emperor Joseph II (1741-90) tried to carry through something like a 'revolution from above' in the vast, varied, and mainly backward provinces of the Austrian Monarchy. This volume carries the story down to 1780. It describes the claustrophobic atmosphere, in which Joseph was trained to rule, his tragic marriages, and his attempts after 1765 as co-regent with his formidable mother, empress Maria Theresa, to dictate the domestic and foreign policy of the monarchy. The author shows that previous historians have been deceived by false sources and that the picture they have given of the emperor, his strange character, his tempestuous relationship with his mother, and his political aims, needs drastic revision.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Claimed as the first full and reliable biography of this ``classical example of a monarch who tried to transform society from above,'' Beales's magisterially smooth and scholarly study covers Joseph's upbringing and education at the stuffy Viennese court, his tragic marriages and his 15 years as co-regent, with his formidable mother Maria Theresa, of the vast and ramshackle remnants of the Holy Roman Empire. Beales (The Risorgimento and the Unification of Italy, etc.) reduces a bewildering array of material to lucid order as he examines Joseph's complex and not altogether attractive personality, his stormy relations with his mother and his partially successful attempts to assert himself in both domestic and foreign policy. Together with its projected sequel, the book should prove invaluable to students of the period. Illustrations. (April)
Library Journal
This first of two volumes is an inten sive study of the 18th century's most celebrated enlightened despot. The book is researched to the point of ex haustion; Beales draws heavily on the private correspondence of Jo seph, Maria Theresa, and their clos est confidantes to give a comprehen sive picture of Joseph's formation as a ruler. Including a wealth of materi als neglected by earlier biographers, Beales loads his text with primary ex tracts that sometimes slow the narra tive to a crawl. Particular emphasis is given to Joseph's extensive travels, both within the Empire and through out Europe, and significant insight is also provided into the genesis of his provocative foreign policy. Though sometimes too copious in detail, this is a fine work, recommended for all academic libraries.Joseph W. Con stance, Jr., Boston Coll. Lib., Chest nut Hill, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521525886
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2008
  • Series: Joseph Ii Ser.
  • Pages: 568
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Table of Contents

List of plates; List of maps and figures; Preface; List of abbreviations; Introduction; 1. The Austrian succession; 2. Upbringing and education; 3. Marriages, 1760-1767; 4. Introduction to government, 1760-1765; 5. King of the Romans and Holy Roman Emperor, 1764-1780; 6. Mother, son and minister: the early years of the co-regency, 1765-1768; 7. The later years of the co-regency, 1768-1780: the royal family and the central administration; 8. Early travels: the Banat and Italy, 1768-1769; 9. Foreign policy during the co-regency: I. The eastern question, 1765-1776; 10. The man; 11. Bohemia: travel and reform, 1769-1777; 12. Further travels: eastern provinces and France, 1773-1777; 13. Foreign policy during the co-regency: II. War and diplomacy, 1776-1780; 14. Joseph and Josephism under Maria Theresa; Conclusion; Bibliography; Bibliographical index; General index.

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