After his mother's death in 1780, Joseph was at last in an unfettered position to introduce a general patent of toleration into the empire and to embark on an unprecedented policy of reforming the church: banning the entry of papal bulls, closing monasteries, rationalizing the organization and number of seminaries to form six general seminaries, with the state assuming the task of educating its parish clergy. The latter would be turned into servants of the state, whatever their personal preferences and irrespective of the provincial privileges which apparently invalidated such centralizing plans. Religion would be the cement of empire, and Jansenist works would be permitted as well as textbooks minimizing papal authority. For Joseph, conversion to Catholicism was in principle desirable but coercion was inadmissible. It was to be a matter of charity and persuasion and he reserved special clerical preferment for those priests who acted according to these guidelines.7
The emperor's controversial agenda had plenty of defenders, especially when Pius VI made his visit to Vienna in 1782 to plead unsuccessfully with the emperor to modify his policies. Was there a danger of a second German Reformation? Pius's anxiety was acute that Joseph's extreme Erastianism was converging with Febronian tendencies in Germany and that his own powerbase outside Italy looked close to collapse. Joseph visited Rome in 1783 in a bid to force his claim to appoint all bishops in Milanese territory, a breach of traditional papal prerogatives. Pius tried to save face by making concessions, and a concordat followed in 1784 without fully resolving the jurisdictional dispute. Another bone of contention was Joseph's intent on making his ally Johann Karl von Herberstein Archbishop of Ljubljana, an archdiocese Joseph had created himself. Only the candidate's death in 1787 forestalled outright schism between the emperor and Pius. It was at this middle point of Joseph's reign that opposition began rising over the emperor's ecclesiastical policies. Numerous pamphlets drew attention to the hesitancy and inconsistency in his idiosyncratic approach, such as his refusal to discard clerical celibacy. Confronted with this avalanche of criticism, Joseph brought back censorship and tried to silence the opposition. His heavy-handedness only increased his problems and gave the clergy increased confidence to urge their flocks to resist him. It was a salutary reminder that no eighteenth-century monarch could ever take the good offices of either lower or higher clergy for granted.
The point is well made by Jeremy Black that, 'it is important not to ignore the relationship between "reforming" governments and clerics, and the attempt to adjust the ideologies and practices of Church-State co-operation to new aspirations and circumstances'.8 What is striking in the long eighteenth
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