Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (1765-1790)
Oldest son of Maria Theresa. His election as king of the Romans, or heir to the Imperial title, became a political issue and was opposed by Prussia when it first came up in 1752, and he was only elected to the title after the end of the Seven Years War (1763). He called himself Emperor from the moment Francis I died (August 1765), and became co-ruler with his mother from December 1765, with a slowly increasing level of power. He was interested in reform, and was even able to produce a financial surplus in Austria by 1775, something almost unheard of in Austria, as well as carrying out a reform of the army. His foreign policy shows him to have been just as land hungry as any of his contemporaries. In 1772 he was the motivating force behind Austrian partition in the First Partition of Poland, much against his mother's wishes, while his attempts to gain control of Bavaria led to the short War of the Bavarian Succession (July 1778-May 1779). The last years of his rule saw war with Turkey in support of Russia. The fighting initially went well for Austria, with the capture of Belgrade in 1789, but a revolt in Belgium forced Austria to move troops away from the Turkish war. Fighting was still going on at the death of Joseph II (20 February 1790). He was succeeded by Leopold II, his younger brother.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (21 November 2000), Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (1765-1790), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/people_josephII.html