as indulgences, processions, confraternities, and pilgrimages. The policies of Joseph II between 1780 and 1790 accentuated the statist characteristics of these reforms, but the bishops were not always united behind the decisions of this monarch. Even if they approved the suppression of monasteries, convents, and confraternities and the strengthening of parish life, they were opposed to any drastic interventions by the emperor in liturgical, religious or devotional practices, areas in which the state generally retreated after the death of Joseph II in 1790.
In a territory which contained such a patchwork of religions, comprising not only royal Hungary but also Transylvania and the so-called Triple Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia, the bishops assumed great cultural influence, especially after the Habsburg reconquest following the siege of Vienna in 1683. This was true partly because of their training which often took place at the German-Hungarian College in Rome; and partly because of the considerable political weight accrued from sitting ex officio in the upper House, where their allegiance to the reigning dynasty was conjoined with a solid feeling of Hungarian 'nationality'. In 1776 Maria Theresa responded to the growth of the population and pressure from Catholics by creating several new dioceses out of the primate's archdiocese of Esztergom. Other dioceses were established in the following years, reaching a total of twenty-one by the end of the century, a number largely in line with the standards of western Europe. Through its suppression of the institutions of the regular clergy, Josephism undoubtedly strengthened the dioceses and the parishes, especially in Hungary, but this trend was the result of the directives of the state, not of the bishops. Indeed, the reaction of the Hungarian nobles and peasants against the Josephist reforms was reinforced by a strong reaction of both the bishops and the church in general.
In the mid-seventeenth century the Polish-Lithuanian episcopate consisted of nineteen dioceses and the two archbishoprics of Gniezno (the primate's see) and Lwow. All Catholic bishops were nominated by the king, as were those of both the Eastern Orthodox Church (with one metropolitan and six bishops) and the Greek Catholic 'Uniates' (with one metropolitan and seven bishops). The Roman bishops were chosen from the ranks of the lower nobility (szlachta), which also had a monopoly on the high offices and canonries of the cathedral chapters. But in other respects, their social and political positions were scarcely replicated in any other European country. Not only were they senators of the 'royal republic' (unlike the Uniate bishops), but their control of large estates assimilated them into the great land-owning classes. Their studies in Rome exposed them to western culture, while their links with the
Was this article helpful?