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Joseph II's Reshaping of the Austrian Church

P. G. M. Dickson
The Historical Journal
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Mar., 1993), pp. 89-114
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2639517
Page Count: 26
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Joseph II's Reshaping of the Austrian Church
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Abstract

The article draws on recently discovered manuscript sources to re-examine Joseph II's structural changes to the Catholic and Uniat church in the Austrian central lands between 1781 and 1790. In contrast to the extensive literature dealing with state policy towards church authority, or Josephinism, these changes have traditionally been the subject of guesswork and misstatement. Joseph has been credited with nationalizing the church, ruthlessly cutting down its monastic numbers, placing the secular clergy on fixed stipends, and financing a wholesale increase in bishoprics, parishes and secular clergy by extensive sales of monastic lands. The article presents new figures for clerical numbers and income before and after Joseph's reforms, and argues that while the latter were radical (though not always consistent) in intention, they were much less so in execution, partly because the church's resources, exposed by the emperor's massive investigation, proved less extensive than he had expected.

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