Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (1765–1790), co-regent of Maria Theresa in the Habsburg Monarchy (1765–1780), sole regent (1780–1790)
Born 13 March 1741 in Vienna
Died 20 February 1790 in Vienna
Motto: ‘Virtute et Exemplo – By valour and example’
Joseph II is one of the best-known representatives of Enlightened Absolutism. As a monarch he was indebted to the ideas of Enlightenment rationalism and implemented numerous reforms in the Habsburg Monarchy, some of them far-reaching, in the name of ‘usefulness’. In doing so, he provided the impetus for changes, some enduring, in the judicial system, medicine, the administration and religious policies and even in the sphere of theatre and music.