Absolutism: doctrine and practice of unlimited power and absolute sovereignty, which formed the basis for the creation of states in the early Modern era, concentrating governing power in one ruler ("princeps legibus solutus"). The Habsburgs developed Absolutism by successfully resisting the Reformation, estate revolts ("Blutgericht" or "Court of Blood" in Wiener Neustadt in 1522, the Battle of the White Mountains in 1620) and the peasants' uprisings. The "nationalisation" of the army in 1635 brought about sole "ius belli ac armorum" for the ruler. The nobility became the court nobility, with a continuing feudal basis. The court and the Catholic church promoted the impressive culture of the court and church (Baroque) as the second pillar of Absolutism. After the state reform of Maria Theresia in 1749, Austria became a bureaucratically organised Bohemian-Austrian core state around which the other Habsburg territories were grouped; the right of provincial estates to approve taxes was abolished, state regions with governorships and local authorities were created. Under the Reformist Absolutism ("enlightened Absolutism") of Maria Theresia and Joseph II, the activities of the state were intensified with a view to enhancing the state's economic performance and general wealth (renewed legitimation of the ruler as the "first servant of the state"). The institutions of Reformist Absolutism remained those of "bureaucratic absolutism" from 1792-1848 without further reform impulses (later returning to reform as Neo-Absolutism from 1851-1906).
Further reading: H. Matis (ed.), Von der Glückseligkeit des Staates, 1981; R. G. Plaschka, G. Klingenstein et al (eds.), Österreich im Europa der Aufklärung, 2 vols., 1985; K. Gutkas, Kaiser Joseph II., 1989.