The Charmed Circle
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In late eighteenth-century Vienna a remarkable coterie of five aristocratic women, popularly known as the "five princesses," achieved social preeminence and acclaim as close associates of the reforming Habsburg Emperor Joseph II. They were Princess Maria Josepha Clary (1728-1801); Princess Maria Sidonia Kinsky (1729-1815); Princess Maria Leopoldine Liechtenstein (1733-1809); Countess, subsequently Princess, Maria Leopoldine Kaunitz (1741-1795); and Princess Maria Eleonore Liechtenstein (1745-1812). The group assumed a stable form by 1772, by which time Joseph II and two of his closest male associates, Field Marshal Franz Moritz Lacy and Count Franz Xavier Orsini-Rosenberg, had become accepted members of the circle as well. During the Viennese social season, members of the group made their way several times each week to the inner city palace of one of the "Dames," as members of the group called themselves. During the summer months, when the women dispersed to visit country estates in Bohemia and Moravia or to travel, group members corresponded regularly. These were exciting, restless years in the Habsburg monarchy, as reforms were implemented to help the monarchy withstand threats to its stability and international stature from without and within. With assured access to the emperor and his closest advisors, the Dames enjoyed both a unique view of events and a chance to participate in public affairs (albeit informally and discreetly) as steadfast, acknowledged friends of the emperor. Through analysis of the correspondence of these women and of the published and unpublished commentaries of their contemporaries, this study scrutinizes the activities of this select group of women during the co-regency period (1765-1780) when Joseph shared responsibility with his mother, Maria Theresia, and during Joseph's decade as sole ruler (1780-1790) after Maria Theresia's death-years during which the women enjoyed their special position.



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Date de parution 15 janvier 2015
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781612493701
Langue English

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The Charmed Circle Joseph II and the “Five Princesses,” 1765-1790
Central European Studies
Charles W. Ingrao, founding editor Gary B. Cohen, editor Howard Louthan, editor Franz A. J. Szabo, editor Daniel L. Unowsky, editor
The Charmed Circle Joseph II and the “Five Princesses,” 1765-1790
Rebecca Gates-Coon
Purdue University Press West Lafayette, Indiana
Copyright © 2015 by Purdue University. All rights reserved.
Gates-Coon, Rebecca.
The Charmed Circle: Joseph II and the “Five Princesses,” 1765-1790 / Rebecca Gates-Coon.
     pages cm. -- (Central European Studies)
  Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-55753-694-5 (paperback)
ISBN 978-1-61249-369-5 (ePDF)
ISBN 978-1-61249-370-1 (ePub)
1. Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1741-1790. 2. Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, 1741-1790—Friends and associates. 3. Princesses—Austria—Vienna—Biography. 4. Austria—Court and courtiers—Biography. 5. Princesses—Austria—Vienna— Correspondence. 6. Women—Austria—Vienna—Correspondence. 7. Aristocracy (Social class)—Austria—Vienna—History—18th century. 8. Vienna (Austria)— Social life and customs—18th century. 9. Austria—History—1740-1789. I. Title.
DB74.5.G38 2015
Cover image: Carl Shütz (1745-1800). Schloss Schönbrunn gegen den Garten. Wiener Strassenbilder im Zeitalter des Rokoko . p. 20. 1914. Engraving. Print Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
To my family, immediate and extended .
Chapter 1: Aristocrats: Ancestry and Posterity
Chapter 2: Court and Society
Chapter 3: Origins of la société
Chapter 4: 1765-1780: The Damenkreis during the Coregency
Chapter 5: 1780-1790: Politics under Joseph II’s Sole Rulership
Chapter 6: Joseph II’s Foreign Policy and the End of an Era
Chapter 7: Conclusion
Abbreviations EL Eleonore Liechtenstein FR Franz Rosenberg JII Joseph II JC Josepha Clary LK Leopoldine Kaunitz LL Leopoldine Liechtenstein ML Moritz Lacy MT Maria Theresia SK Sidonia Kinsky HA SB Habsburgisch-Lothringische Hausarchive (12. Jh.-1918), Hausarchiv, Sammelbände HHStA Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv KA NL Kabinettsarchiv, Staatsrat, Nachlaß Franz M. Lacy KLA, FAR Familienarchiv Rosenberg in the Kärntner Landesarchiv, Klagenfurt, Austria LRRA Lobkovicové Roudni č tí, Rodinný Archiv, Nelahozeves, formerly at Žitenice NM, RAŠM Rodinný Archiv Šternberk-Manderscheid, Národní Muzeum, Prague NRAS, DHP National Archives of Scotland, Edinburgh, Douglas Home Papers SOAL-D, RACA Rodinný Archiv Clary-Aldringen ů (Teplice), Státní Oblastní Archiv v Litom ĕ ř icích, Pobo č ka D ě č ín SÚA, RAM AC Rodinný Archiv Metternich ů , Acta Clementina, Státní Úst ř ední Archiv, Prague ZT Zinzendorf Tagebücher, Reprosammlungen [microfilm], Kabinettsarchiv
During the early stages of this project I was assisted by several Short-Term Travel Grants from the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) for visits to archives in Litom ě ř ice, D ě č ín, and Prague, for which I am grateful. The friendliness and professionalism with which I was treated there and in Vienna, Klagenfurt, Brno, and Edinburgh really cannot be overstated. The Liechtenstein archivist (Hausarchiv der regierenden Fürsten von Liechtenstein) of Vienna and Vaduz sent copies of additional materials relating to the lives of Leopoldine and Eleonore Liechtenstein, and the Hohenzollern-Hechingen archive in the State Archive of Sigmaringen, Germany provided supplementary documents pertinent to the lives of princesses Clary and Kinsky, members of that family prior to their marriages. I have met with kindness from so many individuals that it would not be possible to mention all of them here. I am particularly thankful for the Lobkowicz family’s permission to access the Liechtenstein-Kaunitz correspondence in the Lobkowicz archives. I also wish to acknowledge Professor Derek Beales’s kind assistance with source material at the outset of the study.
No Habsburg monarch has been treated by so many biographers as Joseph II, sometimes styled the “revolutionary Emperor.” Over the more than two centuries since his death, however, a marked feature of the bulk of these biographies has been the instrumentalization of the emperor for the political agendas of the times in which they were written. Substantial studies based on significant archival research have, until recently, been few and far between, and the two most important—those by Henrik Marczali (1885-1888) and Pavel Mitrofanov (1907)— were more major studies of aspects of Joseph’s reign rather than conventional biographies. In many respects, therefore, the recent completion of an extensive two-volume biography by Derek Beales is not only a milestone in the Joseph II historiography, but the most ambitious and exhaustive biography of the emperor ever attempted. Though Beales’s work will no doubt serve as a standard reference work for all students of this monarch’s reign for decades to come, there is nevertheless still substantial scope for scholarly engagement with many aspects of both his policies and his personality.
One of the many strengths of the Beales biography is its analysis of the curious mixture of affability and irascibility, of engaging warmth and contemptuous coldness, of touchiness and insensitivity of Joseph’s personality. Among the sources used by Beales to illuminate this dimension of the study was the exchange of letters among five aristocratic women who formed Joseph’s inner social circle for most of his adult life. This archival material has now been more exhaustively mined by Rebecca Gates-Coon in the volume to hand. What emerges is not only further revealing insight into the personality of Joseph II, but a richly textured study of aristocratic life in the Habsburg monarchy during the second half of the eighteenth century. Though the Habsburg nobility is receiving increasing attention in contemporary Habsburg historiography, this study of a unique group of noble women adds significantly to our understanding of the experience of noble life from a female perspective. It simultaneously sheds new light on court life under Joseph II, as well as uncovering the many layers of related topics, such as attitudes toward marriage and children, land-holding and privilege, and social habits and norms.
In addition to contributing to current debates on nobility and court life in the later eighteenth century this volume confronts us with the rather curious spectacle of reforming emperor finding social solace in a circle of women totally out of sympathy with his reforms, and of a group of high society ladies proud of their special relationship with a monarch of whose political engagement and personality they were highly critical. In analyzing why both parties would find the arrangement mutually beneficial, the author adds further depth to the portrait of Joseph II drawn by Beales. The pronounced strain of misogyny combined with the desperate need for some form of female companionship allowed an obviously very lonely and isolated emperor to find emotional fulfillment in this circle of acquaintances despite not taking any of the women’s political or social views seriously. Although Joseph’s association with the group he affectionately referred to as “la société” began with an unrequited romantic interest in one of its members, it remained entirely platonic—the emperor preferring to find fleeting sexual fulfillment with lower-class women or ladies of the theater. After the early death of two successive wives, Joseph remained a confirmed bachelor, and it is noteworthy that his two closest male associates, who also formed part of this exclusive social group, were life-long bachelors as well. But bachelorhood notwithstanding, in stark contrast to the court of Frederick II of Prussia, women—and women of suitable social status—were clearly so central to sociability in Joseph’s mental universe, that the frequently reiterated rather severe but perceptive view of his brother and eventual successor, Leopold II, that these women were bigoted and knew as much about politics as about Chinese, never shook his commitment to them or his apparent need for them.
Equally intriguing is the ongoing commitment of these women to Joseph. None of their husbands played any important political role in the enlightened absolutist regime of the emperor, and the women apparently never overstepped the bounds of their association with him to attempt to further the political careers of their husbands—something which Joseph would in any case have never countenanced. Although the women frequently stressed that their association with a clearly difficult and frequently distressing emperor was motivated by a sense of duty, this study shows the degree to which it went well beyond that. On the one hand the ambivalent attitude of the women to Joseph did not lack genuine personal attachment. On the other hand, aristocratic women were as much custodians of family interests as their husbands, and of those interests the saf

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