Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Radical transformations came about in Vienna during the 1780s, as intellectuals in the city embraced the Enlightenment and explored ways in which the movement could be spread. In 1781, Joseph II and his state reformed censorship. In an instant, the Viennese had access to the great scholarly works of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe. In an instant, Vienna spawned a multitude of writers, publishing houses, reading rooms and all the accoutrements of a culture of print. The newly generated intellectual culture produced an amazing amount of pamphlets, an era termed the Broschürenflut in Austrian history. Public debate on the state, religion, and society accompanied the flood of short tracts, bringing together a group of intellectuals in support of Enlightenment. These men of letters quickly consolidated their energies to bring rational reform to the people of the Habsburg state through the methods of print and association. Their first project was a weekly literary review focusing exclusively on the domestic press called the Realzeitung. The editors worked in association to promote the development of a more profound, internationally acclaimed publishing center in Vienna and to seek to overcome the years of intellectual isolation and Catholic repression. The Viennese also adopted freemasonry in their attempt to become a center of Enlightened progress; scholars, poets, reformers, and musicians joined together in a lodge modeled on Western Academies. Zur Wahren Eintracht pushed members to produce academic works, music or poetry for special, semi-public lodge meetings whose purpose was to spread specialized knowledge and foster debate. The lodge did not stop at producing lectures; it also issued several successful periodical publications. Vienna thus quickly became a center of the Republic of Letters generating a remarkable amount of Enlightenment activity in a few short years. The ideas and methods of the Viennese Enlightenment were a product of and a response to the reforms of Joseph II. It would also be the king’s wariness and lack of support that would cause the Enlightenment movement to recede; by the end of the decade freemasonry came under state regulation, secret police dampened public debate, and the press became less free.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Suzanne Marchand



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History Commons