mperor Joseph II.

born March 13, 1741 in Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna
died on February 20, 1790 in Vienna

He was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Archduke of Austria, King of Germany, King of Hungary, and King of Bohemia.

Reference to the Goldener Adler

On July 29, 1777, he was incognito in our house as Count of Falkenstein. He arrived at our house in Innsbruck in the afternoon from a visit to his sister in Paris, Queen Marie Antoinette.

On July 30, 1777, he performed his devotions in the parish church in front of the Mariahilf picture, then made his confession in the Court Church with the Franciscans and received Holy Communion there.

Later he visited the Hofburg, the Collegium Nobilium, the new university building, the Redouten Hall and went back on foot to the Goldener Adler. Here he had lunch and then left for Vienna.


xcursion tip

With his domestic inspection tours, Emperor Joseph II. followed the example of Frederick II. of Prussia, and with his trips abroad that of Peter I. of Russia.

According to the historian Derek Beales, he was on the road for a quarter of his reign (1765-1790), traveling in a horse-drawn carriage a distance that exceeds the circumference of the earth.

And since he often travelled incognito as Count of Falkenstein he was usually nothing more than a tourist who liked to travel.

Our today’s excursion tip leads you to Merano in South Tyrol, which is about 2 hours away. Here you will find the Touriseum, an enjoyable journey through 200 years of alpine tourism history.

The fusion of the terms tourism and museum results in the name: The Touriseum is the first museum in the Alpine region to the Alps that focus on the history of tourism on a grand scale.

The Touriseum is in restored rooms of the Trauttmannsdorff Castle, where Empress Sissi spent much of her free time. After your visit to the museum, you can enjoy South Tyrol’s most popular excursion destination.

On an area of 12 hectares, you will find more than 80 garden landscapes with plants from all over the world.

The strength of the gardens of Trauttmannsdorff Castle lies in the unique combination of art and nature, for example, through ten artists’ pavilions, there are diverse experience stations, series of events designed especially for the gardens and striking flowering highlights in the change of the seasons.

Life and facts

Emperor Joseph II. was the eldest son of Maria Theresia and Emperor Francis I. Stephen. After the empress gave birth to three daughters, two of whom died early, Joseph’s birth was enthusiastically celebrated.

Joseph was highly intelligent and preferred a simple lifestyle from an early age.

In 1764 he was elected German king and, after the unexpected death of his father, was crowned emperor a year later.

He remained co-regent in Austria until the death of his mother in 1780. He created the Patent of Tolerance (free exercise for all religions), abolished serfdom and reduced the rights of landlords.

He founded the General Hospital in Vienna, then the largest hospital in Europe.

In 1785 Joseph had the Josephinum opened and made the private gardens at Schönbrunn and the imperial hunting grounds in the Prater and Augarten accessible to the people as recreational areas.

Joseph was nicknamed the “people’s emperor,” and it was thanks to him that the igniting spark of the French Revolution did not spread to Austria.

In 1760 Joseph was married to Princess Isabella of Parma. The couple had one daughter, Maria Theresia. After three years of marriage, Isabella died of smallpox with her newborn second child.

Joseph refused to marry a second time, but Empress Maria Theresia forced him to marry the Bavarian princess Maria Josepha in 1765. This marriage was extremely unhappy, and when Maria Josepha also died of smallpox two years later, the emperor did not marry again.

Because Joseph was usually ruthless in enforcing his reforms, many of his contemporaries could not understand him. Growing opposition forced him to revoke most of his decrees just before the end of his life.

He was faced with the ruins of his reign when he died in Vienna on February 20, 1790, at the age of 49.


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Zoller. Geschichte von Innsbruck. II. S. 237–239. 1365, Unterkircher Chronik

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