This first chapter introduces the purpose of the book, which is to examine the Counter-Reformation in Styria, one of the provinces of Inner Austria's Habsburg Monarchy, from the beginnings of forcible recatholicisation in the late 16th century to the definite termination of religious persecution by the end of the 18th century. The geographical focus of this study reflects Styria's importance as the administrative and political centre from which the complex of Inner Austrian territories in the south-east of the Monarchy was governed directly (until 1619) or indirectly (after that date). Together with the adjoining Inner Austrian duchies of Carinthia and Carniola and the archduchy of Upper and Lower Austria, early modern Styria belonged to the so-called hereditary lands which formed the territorial core of the Austrian Habsburgs' Monarchy and the bedrock of the dynasty's political power. The terms of the 13th- and 14th-century constitutional settlements by which the Inner Austrian estates had pledged themselves permanently to the service of the Habsburgs as hereditary territorial princes invested the latter with a considerable measure of discretionary authority.
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