King of Bohemia and Hungary
Joseph II (b. 1741, d. 1790) was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa, the ruler of Austria, Bohemia and Hungary, and her husband, Francis I of Lorraine, the Holy Roman Emperor. Joseph II is considered to be one of the most significant European representatives of enlightened despotism. After the death of his father in 1765, Joseph became the Holy Roman Emperor. At the beginning he had no real power and his mother had sovereign control in the empire. After her death in 1780 he took charge of the empire, and was elected King of Bohemia and Hungary. In this period he issued his most significant edicts that reformed the empire. One of the most important was the Patent of Tolerance, which abolished the monopoly of the Catholic religion in Austrian crown lands and provided limited guarantee of freedom of worship. The second major edict was the decree abolishing serfdom. Pursuant to the edict the serfs were free to move, marry, learn and be educated without necessitating the approval of their lords. Freer movement facilitated migration of people to towns and opened the way for industrial revolution. However, his reign was in certain respect detrimental to the Czech lands. Joseph II strived to build a strong, internally united monarchy. This led him to the curbing of the influence of the Czech estates and to enforcing the German language as the only unifying language. By this he unwillingly gave an impulse – or one of impulses – to the start of the struggle for the protection of national languages, known in Bohemia as The National Revival.
Limited edition 500 pcs.