Josephinism, historical concept referring to a particular development in Austria in 18th -century Europe; the term derives from Emperor Joseph II and his form of enlightened despotism, and refers mainly to his reforms. Early forms are to be found in Maria Theresia´s administrative reforms of 1749. In the forefront was the principle of usefulness for state and society. Josephinism led (primarily) to numerous reforms in law, administration, education, culture, and, in particular, to far-reaching changes in the Catholic Church, reducing its sphere of influence and tightening its organisation. Joseph II granted tolerance to other religious denominations and permitted the peoples of the empire (Czechs, Slovenians, Serbs, and Hungarians) to develop their own languages and literatures. The ideas of Josephinism affected the nobility as well as the bourgeoisie and were also endorsed by parts of the clergy. In the 19th century, Josephinism characterised the attitude of the ruling classes toward the state - in particular government officials and army officers - until the fall of the monarchy.
Literature: E. Winter, Der Josephinismus und seine Geschichte, 1943; F. Valjavec, Der Josephinismus, 1945; F. Maaß, Der Josephinismus, 5 vols., 1951-1961; H. Reinalter (ed.), Der Josephinismus, 1993; H. Klueting (ed.), Der Josephinismus, 1995.
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