Georg Emanuel Opitz: The Polish Jews and the heavy goods carter in Vienna, coloured aquatint, c. 1810

Social change in the Enlightenment


One of the political goals of the Enlightenment – known primarily as an intellectual and artistic movement in the eighteenth century – was the expansion of central state administration. The reforms implemented by Maria Theresa and Joseph II were thus wholly influenced by considerations of usefulness. The ‘Tolerance Patent’ of 1781, for example, secured access to Jewish capital. Since many of these reforms unilaterally favoured state interests, they could only be partially implemented.

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