Joseph II


Holy Roman Emperor, ruler of the Habsburg lands.

The eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and Francis I, Joseph was born into an expanding empire.

Acceding as Holy Roman Emperor in 1765, Joseph was also appointed as co-ruler of the Austrian Empire.

Contemporaries saw him as impressive, but not necessarily likeable.

Frederick of Prussia described Joseph as ambitious and capable of setting the world on fire.

He may not have achieved this, but Joseph a great proponent of Enlightened Absolutism and attempted huge reform within the Holy Roman Empire.

Often against hard resistance…

He and his reign have been ranked, alongside Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia, as one of the three great Enlightenment monarchs.

His policies are now known as Josephinism.

Joseph II’s reign came to an end with no sons and was succeeded by his younger brother, Leopold.

In this account of Joseph II’s life and reign, Reverend James Franck Bright explores the various aspects of his life with remarkable detail and with incredible resources.

Joseph II is a direct continuation of Franck Bright’s earlier work, Maria Theresa

Reverend James Franck Bright (1832-1920) studied at Rugby and University College, Oxford. He held important roles at a variety of colleges including Master of University College, Oxford. He died in Oxford.

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