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Germany and the Holy Roman EmpireVolume II: The Peace of Westphalia to the Dissolution of the Reich, 1648-1806$
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Joachim Whaley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693078

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693078.001.0001

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Decline or Maturity? the Reich From Charles VII to Leopold II, c.1740–1792

Decline or Maturity? the Reich From Charles VII to Leopold II, c.1740–1792

(p.345) IV Decline or Maturity? the Reich From Charles VII to Leopold II, c.1740–1792
Germany and the Holy Roman Empire

Joachim Whaley

Oxford University Press

The accession of Frederick the Great as king of Prussia in 1740 has been regarded as the start of Austro-Prussian dualism and the beginning of the end of the Reich. The years 1740-1763, culminating in the Seven Years War, were dominated by Austria's unsuccessful efforts to regain Silesia, but these conflicts strengthened the Reich. After the short and disastrous rule of the Bavarian emperor Charles VII, the princes turned to the Habsburgs again and elected Maria Theresa's husband as Francis I; he restored equilibrium in the Reich. Joseph II's efforts to reform the Reich and plans to exchange the Austrian Netherlands for Bavaria aroused intense opposition. A league of princes (Fürstenbund) opposed him but Prussia was unable to exploit this. The Reich's central and intermediate institutions (Reichstag, Kreise, law courts) functioned well; this inspired S.J. Pütter to define the Reich as a state ‘composed of other particular states’.

Keywords:   Charles VII, Francis I, Maria Theresa, Joseph II, Frederick the Great, Silesia, Seven Years War, Austrian Netherlands, Bavaria, Fürstenbund, Reichstag, Kreise, imperial law courts, S.J. Pütter

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