emperor joseph ii


More art for the underrated, I say! Joseph II as the real historical figure is seriously fashionable cool, but his character in the Amadeus film? WAY COOL.  I prithee watch it if you haven’t already.
(By the way, this is the best surreptitious catchphrase ever–it’s good for ANY setting when you want to sneak in a quote without anyone ever knowing… then you can be smug about yourself later.)  I totally don’t wish this was a legit meme

Vienna Masked Ball. Max Rabes (German, 1868-1944).

In the 18th century, the wearing of masks and costumes was reserved for the nobility, on private occasions. To compensate for this, Emperor Joseph II opened up the dances in the Redoute Rooms in the Hofburg palace to everyone. This allowed the Viennese to copy the courtly customs of these celebrations, something which they retain to this day.


The wife of the Emperor Joseph II. was taken from him in a few days by an attack of smallpox of the most virulent kind. Her coffin had recently been deposited in the vault of the imperial family. The Archduchess Josepha, who had been betrothed to the King of Naples, at the instant she was quitting Vienna received an order from the Empress not to set off without having offered up a prayer in the vault of her forefathers. The Archduchess, persuaded that she should take the disorder to which her sister-in-law had just fallen a victim, looked upon this order as her death-warrant. She loved the young Archduchess Marie Antoinette tenderly; she took her upon her knees, embraced her with tears, and told her she was about to leave her, not for Naples, but never to see her again; that she was going down then to the tomb of her ancestors, and that she should shortly go again there to remain. Her anticipation was realised; confluent smallpox carried her off in a very few days…..

Memoirs of Marie Antoinette - Madame Campan

The 1782 Toleranzedikt

In 1782, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II issued the Edict of Tolerance, through which he sought to end most persecutory practices towards the Jewish people. The edict allowed for Jews to attend universities and schools, and eliminated a tax that had previously only been levied against Jews and cattle.

However, Joseph II also demanded that Jews give up their languages and banned Hebrew and Yiddish from being published in official documents or taught in schools, in favor of the national language. Judaism was branded the “quintessence of foolishness and nonsense.” Moses Mendelssohn responded to the edict by writing, “Such a tolerance… is even more dangerous play in tolerance than open persecution.“

Louise-Marie of France (15 July 1737 – 23 December 1787) was the youngest of the ten children of Louis XV and his wife, Maria Leszczyńska. As a daughter of the king, she held the rank of a fille de France. From 1740 she was known as Madame Louise.


Louise was born at Versailles on 15 July 1737, and was at first known as “Madame Septième" (one of her seven older sisters died before her birth) or "Madame Dernière”, later “Madame Louise”. She was sent to be raised at the Abbey of Fontevraud with Louis’ three other young daughters, Victoire, Sophie and Thérèse (who died at Fontevraud at the age of eight). On 20 December 1738 she was baptised at Fonevraud; her godfather was François-Marc-Antoine de Bussy, seigneur de Bisé; her godmother was Marie-Louise Bailly-Adenet, first woman of the chamber to her sister Madame Thérèse.When Louise reminded a nun at the convent that she was the daughter of the King, the nun replied: “And I am the daughter of God”.

None of King Louis’ projects for Louise’s marriage came to fruition, and she sought sanctuary from the world in her religion. In 1748, there were rumours that Louis would have her engaged to Charles Edward Stuart, pretender to the throne of England.

Monastic life

In 1770, to general amazement, Louise asked her father to allow her to become a Carmelite nun. She believed that becoming a nun would compensate for her father’s lax morals. Louise joined the convent at Saint-Denis,where the order’s rule was obeyed strictly, taking the name Thérèse of Saint Augustine. On 10 September 1770, she took the habit. On 1 October 1771, she gave her vows and was fully accepted into the order.

Louise became prioress of the convent 25 November 1773. She served as prioress from 1773 to 1779, and a second term from 1785. She interceded with her father to allow Austrian Carmelites persecuted by the Emperor Joseph II to enter France. While at the convent, she tried her best to make sure that the other nuns treated her as an equal rather than the daughter of a king. As a child, she had an accident that affected her knee. As a result, she found it difficult to kneel, but when she was offered assistance, she refused. On 26 May 1774, two weeks after the death of her father, she was visited at Saint-Denis by her nephew, King Louis XVI.

She died at Saint-Denis, suffering from a stomach complaint. Her last words were the following:

Au paradis! Vite! Au grand galop!“ ("To paradise! Fast! At the great gallop!)

Along with other royal tombs at Saint-Denis, her remains were desecrated during the French Revolution. Pope Pius IX declared her venerable on 19 June 1873. Her life is celebrated on 23 December.


The Surviving Sisters of Marie Antoinette in no parituclar order

Daughters of Marie Theresa of Austria & Francis I Holy Roman Emperor: 11 daughters in all - eight surviving - 16 children total

A N N A : second daughter, but eldest surviving. reportedly the least respected and loved by Maria Theresa. she was highly intelligent but physically disabled and suffered from bad health.  In 1757 she contracted pneumonia and almost died. she survived, but her breathing capacity was permanently damaged, and she developed a fusion of her spine which caused her to have a lump on her back. since that time, she formed a close relationship with her father, and apparently became Francis I’s favourite child. she shared his interest in science and conducted experiments in chemistry and physics, something higher nobility ostracized her for. she was also a talented artist, and was heavily praised by the art world. she was made an honorary member of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna in 1767 and elected member of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze in 1769. despite being disabled, Maria Anna often played important roles in major events of state, and wrote a book on her mother’s politics. she never married due to her deformities and became an abbess instead.

C H R I S T I N A : the fourth daughter but only second surviving, she was her mother’s favourite child because they shared the same birthday. the doting that the Empress showed her caused intense jealousy between her brothers and sisters, especially Emperor Joseph II. however, his first wife, Isabella of Parma, became her best friend, and named her second daughter after her. Maria Christina was reportedly quite beautiful and talented as well as a very intelligent woman who knew how to manipulate her parents, especially her mother. the sudden death of her father, Francis I, and the depression that overcame Maria Theresa following her widowhood meant that Maria Christina was able to convince her vulnerable and sentimental mother into permitting her to marry for love rather than for reasons of state. she was the only child allowed to do so, and married a cousin who had neither a vast wealth or grand throne to offer. the marriage was happy. in Pozsony, they hosted a luxurious court life with frequent parties and visits home to Vienna. they managed to make themselves popular among the Hungarian nobility, and devoted themselves to their common interest in art, which made Pozsony a culture center during their time there; it was here they began their art collection, which was to become the famous Albertine Art Collection.  

Maria E L I S A B E T H : the sixth child, she was regarded as being very attractive - especially during her early youth - and was considered the most beautiful of all her sisters. therefore, there were high hopes to ensure her a marriage of the highest possible status. however, during the period of 1756–1763 when she would’ve normally married, there were difficulties finding a match considered suitable in age and status because of the political complications during the Seven Years’ War. as an adult in the Imperial Court, her mother was somewhat troubled by Maria Elisabeth’s reputation as a “coquette”. in 1768, the recently widowed Louis XV of France considered marrying her, yet smallpox would then mar her beautiful face, making her “unfit” for marriage and destroying any chance she had at becoming Queen of France. Maria Elisabeth was thus appointed cannoness of the Convent for Noble Ladies in Innsbruck by her mother, but unlike her sister Maria Anna who had a similar position, she did not  live in the convent and continued to stay at the Imperial Court. After the death of their mother in 1780, she and some of her sisters were asked by their brother Joseph II to leave court, because he he wanted to break up what he referred to as his sister’s Women Republic. 

Maria A M A L I A : the eighth child of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, she was raised like her sisters to be the ideal consort. of all  her sisters, she was reported to have had the worse relationship with her mother, partly because Maria Amalia had fallen in love with Prince Charles of Zweibrücken, and though she openly expressed her wish to marry him (much in the same manner her sister Maria Christina had been permitted to marry for love) Maria Theresa forbade it and instead forced her into an arranged marriage. Aa her new husband, Ferdinand, was of a passive nature and content with occupying himself with his religious duties and raising his children, he left the state affairs entirely to her, and after excessive cabinet change, Maria Amalia was therefore the ruler of Parma, and as ruler, referred to by the public as La Signora and La Mata. she defended the independence of the Duchy of Parma from France, Spain and Austria, strengthened its inner sense of nationality, benefited art, culture and literature and worked efficiently with her ministerial cabinet. Ferdinand did not have political influence, and she openly changed and contradicted his orders and had him sign official state documents for her, including her name in his orders as if they were co-rulers. meanwhile, Maria Amalia caused a scandal with her personal lifestyle.she used the economic funds from her mother upon her wardrobe, a grand court and parties; she replaced most of her ladies-in-waiting with an entourage of Royal Guards composed of handsome young men, she cross-dressed as a male and spent her nights unaccompanied incognito on the streets, gambled her money on the officers’ club and, while Ferdinand took mistresses among the peasantry, she herself enjoyed affairs with members of his guard. she was greatly disliked by the Parmesan nobility, but popular amongst the public, known for her great and genuine generosity toward the poor. 

Maria J O H A N N A : she was described as likeable and good-natured, but died aged 12 of smallpox.

Maria J O S E P H A : she was the ninth but six surviving daughter of her parents. Empress Maria Theresa wanted to marry her fourth eldest surviving daughter, Archduchess Maria Amalia, to Ferdinand of Naples and Sicily for political reasons. After Ferdinand’s father Charles III of Spain objected to the five-year age difference however, Maria Josepha, as the next eldest daughter, was left as the obvious candidate for Ferdinand’s hand in marriage. She and Ferdinand were the same age, and better yet, Maria Josepha was considered "delightfully pretty, pliant by nature,” and the favorite of her brother Joseph. Maria Josepha had been terrified of dying of smallpox ever since the death of her older sister Archduchess Maria Johanna in 1762. hrer fears were realised when she died of smallpox on the very day she was to have left Vienna for her journey across the Alps to marry Ferdinand, at the age of sixteen years old.

Maria C A R O L I N A : she, as her parents thirteenth child, was a namesake of her elder sisters — Maria Carolina, who died two weeks after her first birthday, and Maria Carolina, who died several hours after being baptised —, but she was called Charlotte by her family. of all her sisters, she resembled her mother the most. Maria Carolina would go on to marry Prince Ferdinand as part of an Austrian alliance with Spain, where Ferdinand’s father was king. she reportedly reacted badly to the news of her engagement, crying, entreating and saying that Neapolitan marriages were unlucky, but went on to marry him nine months later anyways. the marriage was not particularly happy, and both bride and bridegroom were not quite taken with each other. nevertheless, the marriage was somewhat successful as Maria Carolina would go on to bear 18 children in total, only seven of whom survived into adulthood. As a mother she was adoring and caring, and, much like her own mother, took great pains to make politically advantageous marriages for her children. Maria Carolina promoted Naples as a centre of the arts, patronising painters such as Jacob Philipp Hackert and Angelica Kauffman as well as academics like Gaetano Filangieri, Domenico Cirillo, and Giuseppe Maria Galanti. 

Emperador Rodolfo II del Sacro Imperio Romano Germánico y Archiduque de Austria
Imperator Rudolphus II Sacri Imperii Romani et Archidux Austriae
Kaiser Rudolf II. des Heiligen Römischen Reiches und Erzherzog von Österreich
Emperor Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire and Archduke of Austria
Empereur Rodolphe II de le Saint Empire Romain Germanique et Archiduc d'Autriche

Joseph Heintz der Ältere (1564-1609), 1594.


Mozart/Grieg - Sonata no.16, K.545 [arr. two pianos]

Mozart’s C major piano sonata is famous for being a simple piece, its simplicity specially for Mozart’s own students. Like Beethoven’s Für Elise Bagatelle, this piece is considered a mile stone for piano students everywhere, one of the first pieces by a “major composer” that is charming enough for anyone to enjoy. Grieg took it upon himself to add a second piano part, to include more texture and color to the work, as well as elevating the Classical sonata with more Romantic harmonies. The idea makes me smile because I remember the famous quote from Emperor Joseph II in the 1984 film Amadeus, “There are simply too many notes…just cut a few and it will be perfect” [to which Mozart’s character replies, “Which few did you have in mind?”]. While the sonata is balanced on its own, including a second piano and “extra notes” really does produce something…magical. I don’t know, maybe it’s my own bias for the niche repertoire of piano duos. 


1. Allegro

2. Andante

3. Rondo

On this day in history, 29th of November 1780, death of Empress Maria Theresa (Maria Theresia) at the age of 63, in Hofburg Palace, Vienna. She was the was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg. She was the sovereign of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Mantua, Milan, Lodomeria and Galicia, the Austrian Netherlands and Parma. By marriage, she was Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Holy Roman Empress.

Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen children, including the Queen of France, the Queen of Naples and Sicily, the Duchess of Parma and two Holy Roman Emperors, Joseph II and Leopold II. Out of the sixteen, nine or ten of them did not make it to adulthood. She had eleven daughters, ten of which were named Marie, and five sons. Though she was expected to cede power to Francis and Joseph, both of whom were officially her co-rulers in Austria and Bohemia,Maria Theresa was the absolute sovereign who ruled by the counsel of her advisers. Maria Theresa promulgated financial and educational reforms, with the assistance of Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz and Gerard van Swieten, promoted commerce and the development of agriculture, and reorganised Austria’s ramshackle military, all of which strengthened Austria’s international standing.

Pictured: Herzog Albert und Erzherzogin Marie Christine shows to the family painting they brought from Italy (Maria Theresa is in black), 1776. Friedrich Heinrich Füger

According to the memoirs of the Prince de Ligne, the Emperor [Joseph II] was astonished that considering the ‘surroundings of the Queen and the air of license which reigned at the Court, she had preserved her virtue. Her tact impressed him as much as her majesty. It was as impossible to forget it as to forget himself. In her presence too much freedom [of behavior] could not be risked, nor too naughty a story be told.’

–Marie Antoinette by Dorothy Moulton Mayer