House of Habsburg, Joseph II., 1780-1790, Ducat 1787 A
Joseph II, King from 1764 and Emperor from 1765-1790 belonged to one of the most important royal houses in Europe - the House of Habsburg. A thousand-year-old dynasty that occupied the throne of the Holy Empire without interruption between 1438 and 1740.
Joseph II. was the eldest son of the famous Austrian regent Maria Theresa and the Grand Duke Francis Stephen of Lorraine. In March 1741 Joseph II was born at Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna; as the continued existence of the Habsburg monarchy was severely threatened at the time, the birth of a male heir was Maria Theresa's hope.
At the age of 25, Joseph was crowned emperor, but Maria Theresa held the reins of political affairs firmly in her hands. In the end, Joseph was only able to exert greater influence on the military, which he reformed along Prussian lines. The abolition of torture (1776) was also primarily due to him, who as a "co-regent" was able to assert his opinion from time to time.
Joseph II is one of the best-known representatives of enlightened absolutism. He was a monarch committed to the ideas of enlightened rationalism, who carried out numerous, sometimes far-reaching reforms in the Habsburg Monarchy in the interests of "utility". In the fields of law, medicine, administration and religious policy, but also in the area of theatre and musical theatre, he set important impulses, some of which continued to have an effect for a long time.
On the occasion of his death in Vienna in February 1790, Ludwig van Beethoven composed his Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II (WoO87) for orchestra, choir and solo voices.