Joseph II

(Joseph II of Austria)

1741–1790

Joseph II of Austria was the son of Maria Theresa of Austria, and brother of Maria Antoinette, the doomed Queen of France. During his motherís lifetime, he was co-ruler of Austria, and unable to institute the many reforms he desired to make. His mother had determined that neither her husband nor her son would have total control over her native Austria, and she kept to that promise. After her death, Joseph II attempted to completely reform the government, the taxation system, and almost everything else in his country. He ultimately failed for a several reasons, the key of which is that he tried to do too much at one time. Another reason is the fact that he was upsetting several hundred years of ingrained tradition. After his death, he was succeeded by his brother Leopold II.


Key events during the life of Joseph II of Austria:


Year
Event
1741
Born March 13th, during the War of the Austrian Succession.
1760
Marries Princess Isabella of Parma in October.
1762
Birth of daughter, Maria Theresa.
1763
Queen Isabella dies in childbirth.
1765
Marriage to Princess Maria Josepha of Bavaria, daughter of Charles VII, Holy Roman Emperor.
1765
Death of Francis I, Joseph becomes Emperor. Co-ruler with his mother over Austrian dominions.
1767
Death of Queen Maria Josepha from smallpox. Joseph never remarries.
1770
Death of daughter Maria Theresa at age 7.
1778-79
Bavarian War. Joseph irritates his mother by seeking Bavarian territory belonging to the house of Hapsburg.
1780
Visits Catherine II of Russia, against the wishes of his mother.
1780
November 29th, Death of Maria Theresa.
1781
Abolished serfdom.Patent of Tolerance provides limited freedom of religion.
1787
Abolished the death penalty. This reform remained until 1795.
1789
Outbreak of French Revolution. Attempts to save sister Marie Antoinette failed.
1787-91
War with the Turks over territory in the Balkans.
1790
Death of Joseph II, February 20th. His successor was his brother Leopold II.


Contemporary
Short Biography
Maria Theresa Head of Hapsburg Dynasty. Ruled over much of Eastern Europe. Opposed Frederick the Great.
Frederick the Great Great Prussian military leader in the War of the Austrian Succession and Seven Years War.
Catherine the Great German Princess who was proclaimed Empress after the murder of her husband Peter III. Favored modernization and progressive policies.
Maria Antoinette Extravagant Queen of France. Beheaded during French Revolution.
Louis XVI King during the French revolution. Beheaded by republicans who sought to overthrow the monarchy.