Johann Hieronymus Löschenkohl: Life on the Spittelberg in the ‘snug’, copperplate engraving and etching, 1783

The (Virtuous) Souls of the Monarchy


The many reforms of Maria Theresa and Joseph II affected not only the economic, educational and socio-political domain but also the sphere of religion. Under the influence of the Enlightenment, it was the primary aim of both monarchs to bring the Catholic Church under the control of the state. For example, the influential Jesuit Order was banned and parish system reorganized. ‘Tolerance Patents’ confirmed the toleration of non-Catholic denominations in the Habsburg Monarchy, although this was influenced not least by economic considerations, such as the financing of the state budget. A few unpopular innovations, such as the introduction of the ‘economy coffin’, met with protests from large sections of the population and had to be swiftly withdrawn. Equally contentious was the ‘chastity commission’ established by Maria Theresa.

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