Torture by rope, illustration from the *Constitutio Criminalis Theresiana*

Concern for the welfare of the Empire’s subjects

18.6.1757–30.12.1790

Concern for the welfare of subjects was also a concern for the functioning of the state, which was supposed to ‘produce’ faithful subjects. A new work ethic was propagated in the time of Maria Theresa and Joseph II, since only subjects who were willing to work would also guarantee a well-functioning state. Central supervision, control and welfare institutions were directed, in particular, at the poorer levels of society and at the same time excluded such groups from society. By means of a variety of social disciplinary measures, such as workhouses and foundling homes, Joseph II attempted to make marginalized groups of the population useful to the state. And since the dead were of no value to the state, he abolished the death penalty.

Reinforcement of social distinctions, therefore, is already implicit in the idea of social discipline …

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