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Where Joseph differed from great contemporary rulers, and where he was very close akin to the Jacobins, was in the fanatical intensity of his belief in the power of the state when directed by reason, of his right to speak for the state uncontrolled by laws, and of the reasonableness of his own reasons.
Joseph, by threatening to resign his place as co-regent, could induce his mother to abate her dislike to religious toleration.
Ihr Briefwechsel (1869); and Maria Antoinette, JosephII.
Josephs main piece of legislation was the abolition (1781) of serfdom and feudal dues; he also enabled tenants to acquire their own lands from the nobles for moderate fees and allowed peasants to marry whom they wished and to change their domicile.
Josephs plan to annex Bavaria to Austria and thus to consolidate his state was frustrated in the War of the Bavarian Succession (177879); his project to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria was thwarted (1785) by King Frederick II of Prussia, who formed the Fürstenbund [princes league] for that purpose.
Joseph allied himself with Czarina Catherine II of Russia (whom he accompanied incognito on her Crimean journey), hoping to share in the spoils of the Ottoman Empire.
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