Empress Maria Theresa (1740-1780, accomplishment) made part of the Austrian Empire more centralized and bureaucratic by curtailing the role of the diets or provincial assemblies in taxation and local administration. This strengthened the power of the Habsburg state. However, she was staunchly Catholic and conservation, making her unopen to the wider reform calls of the philosophes (failure).

  • Clergy and nobles were forced to pay property and income taxes to royal officials rather than the diets.
  • The Austrian and Bohemian lands were administered by royal officials rather than representatives of the diet.
  • The armed forces were enlarged and modernized.

Joseph II (1780-1790, Failure)

  • abolished serfdom
  • tried to give peasants hereditary rights to their holding
  • abandoned economic restraints by eliminating internal trade barriers, ending monopolies, and removed guild restrictions
  • instituted a new disciplinary code that ended the death penalty and established the principle of equality of all before the law and introduced drastic religious reforms, including complete religious toleration and restrictions on the Catholic church
  • issued six thousand decrees and eleven thousand laws in his effort to transform Austria
  • overwhelming for Austria, alienating the nobility, the church, making the serfs unhappy, and alienating non-German nationalities
  • successors undid many of his reform efforts