January 11, 2013

"The ordinary people were not happy. They loathed the Emperor's interference in every detail of their daily lives."

"Why should they be forbidden to bake ginger-bread just because Joseph thought it bad for the stomach? Why the Imperial edict demanding the breast-feeding of infants? Why the banning of corsets? From these and a thousand other petty regulations, enforced by a secret police, it looked to the Austrians as though Joseph were trying to reform their characters as well as their institutions. Only a few weeks before Joseph's death, the director of the Imperial Police reported to him: 'All classes, and even those who have the greatest respect for the sovereign, are discontented and indignant.'"

From the History of Austria. Joseph II, who ruled from 1780 to 1790.

Austria is our "History of" country today, as we proceed through the 206 countries of the world using the Wikipedia summaries. So much has happened in Austria over the ages. The "History of" project cannot begin to summarize the summary. I merely offer up a snippet, one thing that struck me as something that might have particular resonance. But it is only one of many things. For example, from 25,000 BC:


I'm Full of Soup said...

First....to say now I really know what they mean by history repeats itself cause that guy on the left is a dead ringer for Obama.

Lem said...

Wow... I thought it was a post about Mayor Bloomberg.

David said...

It's amazing that gingerbread woman survived for over 25,000 years.

Plus she was fat. In 25,000 BC? That's a stunner. Guess she was too.

edutcher said...

Hmm, I was prepared to say Austria's last good century was the 18th, but it looks like that goes up in flames.

PS I can understand why he wanted to ban corsets. As the lady from Willendorf can attest, the Austrians have always liked their women bouncy.

Lem said...

Is that a "natural self" statuette of the Dutches?

Chip Ahoy said...

The Batoni oil painting depicts the historic moment that Duke Leopold of Tuscany reached into his brother's chest and pulled out his heart. He quipped dramatically and unemotionally, "Well. I'll be. You do have one of these after all." Whereupon the Emperor fell dead. The duke wiped his hand on his jacket and the red streak look became the fashion of the court thereafter.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ach, those crazy Austrians make their Gingerbread men into fat gingerbread women.

The land of my birth, but not my heart.

Balfegor said...

The land of my birth, but not my heart.

I observed a Christmas mass in Vienna while on holiday one year. Vatican II makes it needlessly difficult to follow the Christians' mass in a language in which one has minimal competency, but I do recall the priest at one point talking about the Hearts of the Habsburgs, in their crypt beneath the church. The crypt is not terribly grand, but I have always liked the image, which (in my imagination) has a faint, pagan tinge of the Emperor sleeping beneath the Kyffhauser, and of Koschei the Deathless.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Joseph and Leopold were the sons of Empress Maria Theresa who initiated the German migration to the eastern lands. My ancestors originated from Hesse as indentured servants, left Hesse by a boat called an Ulmerschatel, in 1720. Those boats brought thousands of Germans up the Danube to the Austria Hungary territories recently won back from the Turks.

I've told the story of how the ethnic Germans left those lands at the end of WW2, so I won't bore y'all with it again.

Calypso Facto said...

Earlier today I read a parallel comment from the anti-federalist "Brutus" debating the broad federal power during the writing of the Constitution.

“This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every corner of the city, and country-it will wait upon the ladies at their toilet, and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert them even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlor, preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bedchamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labor, it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will penetrate into the most obscure cottage; and finally, it will light upon the head of every person in the United States. To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstances, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE! A power that has such latitude, which reaches every person in the community in every conceivable circumstance, and lays hold of every species of property they possess, and which has no bounds set to it, but the discretion of those who exercise it…” The Antifederalist Papers #33

How prophetic. Or perhaps since the same overreach was already taking place in monarchies like Joseph's, merely an astute observation of man's tendency towards despotism, even, or especially, in the little things.

Anonymous said...

Balfegor, in a couple of years when my grandchildren are a bit older, the whole family would like to see more of Austria. I was born in Linz, I haven't been to Vienna, that's on the agenda.

Unknown said...

Lem said...

"Wow... I thought it was a post about Mayor Bloomberg."

No kidding.

Bloomberg, of course, is much smarter than Joseph II; nothing to learn from his example, eh?

Unknown said...

What I really want to know, just for edification, just so you know, is, "who was the David Gregory of Joseph II's reign"?

There had to be at least one.

Don't you think so?

Or were they much more circumspect about who the law applied to, and to whom it did not, back then?

Balfegor said...

Re: Inga:

Balfegor, in a couple of years when my grandchildren are a bit older, the whole family would like to see more of Austria. I was born in Linz, I haven't been to Vienna, that's on the agenda.

I thought Vienna was great for a quick holiday -- fun to walk around even outside the Innere Stadt; my sister also spent a summer there as an intern and loved the city.

Vienna is the only part of Austria I've ever seen. I'd like to visit the rest of the country someday. Preferably after I've had a chance to improve my conversational German though, so I may be waiting a long time.

Lydia said...

were they much more circumspect about who the law applied to, and to whom it did not, back then?

Serfdom didn't end until the 1840s in the Austrian Empire, so I don't think equal application of the law was a big deal before then.

chickelit said...

I've only been to the extreme western part of Austria. I drove through it once the way to Germany while living in Zurich. That part was as beautiful as anywhere in Switzerland.

chickelit said...

The story of the Siege of Vienna nicely compliments the "western" defense of Christendom against Islam that Althouse was describing earlier under Andorra. Those Moslems have been relentless for centuries and may finally prevail.

Kevin Walsh said...

"In Vienna, Mozart became a regular at the court of Emperor Joseph II (1741-1790), where he wrote much of his greatest music."


wwww said...

I read up recently about the movie, The City Without Jews.

That movie was shown in Vienna in 1924, just a few years before the Anschluss and the Kristallnacht.

Vienna is hard to see through all the ghosts and absences.

JAL said...

We drove from Salzburg east all the way across Austria to Lichenstein and Switzerland when we were there a couple years ago.(Not far really, considering how small Austria is!) No time to wander, though we ducked off the main drag a bit and went over the Arlberg Pass (it was open, though quite a bit of snow). Made me wish I'd planned ahead better and got in a half day of skiing. Sigh.

Stayed in a B&B above Salzburg. Lovely. All of it.

Clyde said...

Emperor Bloomberg? Is that you?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


To think that at one time Germany and Austria were a haven to eastern European Jews. They were considered enlightened and tolerant countries. Goes to show what can happen to "civilized" societies.

I think that Germans and Austrians will forever carry that shame.

Methadras said...

How many times must history repeat itself before someone gets a fucking clue?

wwww said...


Yes -- the golden age seems to have started about 1848 and lasted till the early 30s.

I can't imagine. Some things are beyond my ability to put into words.

Another book I want to read is Last Waltz in Vienna by George Clare.

Palladian said...

How many times must history repeat itself before someone gets a fucking clue?

Until the end of the human race, I'm afraid.

Human history is mostly the repetition of ancient mistakes.

bagoh20 said...

What a tempting morsel of a lede. I'm in. Don't disappoint me.

Gahrie said...

Or were they much more circumspect about who the law applied to, and to whom it did not, back then?

No, in fact they were quite open about it. They gave the protected class a name....aristocracy.

bagoh20 said...

We have no proof otherwise, so wouldn't it be logical to assume the women looked just like that back then. What did they feed those gals, mammoth belly casserole?

MayBee said...

Amen, Methadras.

furious_a said...

One must visit Graz (Ahhhnold"s birthplace): the Landeszeughaus, the regional armory for the Turkish Wars with floors and racks of arms and armor; Schloss Eggenberg with its gardens and Bronze Age antiquities; Mariatrost Church; and the Schlossberg in the center of town. Worth the short train ride south from Vienna.

Alex said...

Emperor Joseph II the same guy who told Mozart that his new opera had "too many notes".

virgil xenophon said...

People don't realize how small Austria actually is. I once heard a Forrestry Minister from Austria state that the entire nation--all its mountains, lakes, rivers and cities--could fit inside the Grand Canyon.

Mitch H. said...

Hmm, I was prepared to say Austria's last good century was the 18th, but it looks like that goes up in flames.

It was, 1680-1780, or thereabouts. Austria's period as a pillar of the anti-French European alliances, and also those years wherein they led the reconquista against the Turk, under Prince Eugen. The last siege of Vienna, the wars against Louis XIV.

But also the partions of Poland and the Hapsburg loss of Spain to the Bourbons. Of course, by that point, to talk of Hapsburg was once again, to merely talk of Austria, and not truly a Pan-European monarchy. Austria was so strongly tied up in the dynastic blood of the Hapsburgs, the modern Austria has never really found its rationale, its purpose. It is the state which was riven from its empire by nationality, but has no sole claim to a nation, being a cousin-german of Germany proper, and yet the Germanic remnant of the Hapsburg's multinational feudal empire. Once the Czechs and slovaks took away the northern provinces, and Magyar Hungary took her divorcee's half, and then lost most of it dicing with the Serbs, what was left of proud, cultural Empire, but in-bred, feckless, foppish Austria? Too proud to associate with the lumpen, crass Bavarians or barbaric Prussians, too isolated and weak to be anything of import on his own. And when he finally killed his pride and submitted to the family reunion, the shame that Anschluss brought! The state will never live that experiment in nation-statedom down, not for Hitler's thousand years.

"All the world has its burdens to bear,
From Cayenne to the Austrian whips;
Forth, with the rain in our hair
And the salt sweet foam in our lips;

In the teeth of the hard glad weather,
In the blown wet face of the sea;
While three men hold together,
The kingdoms are less by three."

Sydney said...

From Emperor Joseph's Wiki page:

His real education was given to him through the writings of Voltaire and the Encyclop├ędistes
a true progressive.

Sydney said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllenS said...

Man, those were some bad hair styles back then. They look like they might be..., you know what I mean.

Astro said...

This project is like a really slow 'parade of nations' walking into Olympic Stadium.

Bob Costas: "You know, Emperor Joseph the Second banned gingerbread and corsets back in the 1780s..."

Is the last entry going to be the host nation, the Etats Unis / United States?

Ambrose said...

If anyone is interested Frederic Morton's Thunder at Twilight is a fine book on Vienna right before WWI. He writes about the last Hapsburgs but also the young Trotsky, Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Tito - all of whom lived or spent considerable time in Vienna all at the same time.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

You cannot legislate morality.

Yes, most humanity seems in accord about murder, bearing false witness, and so forth.

But when the enforcing authority begins stretching too far into sumptuary and dietary laws, the people become rightfully resentful.

Both Government and Church tend to do this. They should mind their own business.

(A good reason to have both a Government and a Church - two authority centers that the People can play off against eachother and thus preserve their Liberty. Didn't always and forever work for the Roman Republic with the two Consuls, but ...)

Anyhow, second time such thoughts surfaced in this morning's news cycle (Drudge > Instapundit > Althouse > Lucianne). The first was at the first column top of Drudge: "Michael Savage: 'Nationalist' third party to challenge Republicans..."

My first thought: Jesus Christ! National Socialists???? WTF!!! A very ill chosen name.

Second thought, apropos balancing moral and legal authority centers - church and state: the weakness of the GOP, and this includes the TEA Party, is they want too much moral control.

What's needed is a Libertarian Party.

The Drill SGT said...

i've spent a number of vacations in Austria. i'd recommend the following to anyone:

1. The Abbey at Melk
2. wine tasting, biking, marille liquer sipping (apricot) in the Wachau Valley (particularly Durstein)
3. the Salzkammergut (lake district south of salzburg) particularly Hallstatt and St Wolfgang
4. Salzburg of course. Don't miss the Dom and its cemetery and Mirabell
5. Vienna. The music, Hofburg, Schonbrunn, Neuwein in Grinzing, schnitzels at Figlm├╝ller's, the crypts.
6. make a point to spend at least an hour in a cafe watching people in either / both Vienna and Salzburg.

My favorite times?

May Day, you aren't a proper village in Austria unless your Freiwillige Feuerwehr (volunteer fire dept) taps a keg on May Day and puts you up a Maypole at least as big as those clowns in the nearby Dorf. 70 feet plus in my experience :)

Spring in the high Alps

Saint Nicholas Eve (Dec 5th) when Krampus comes out and gives coal to bad kids and whips the young women while swilling free beer :)
I very much enjoyed the Innsbruck version...

all of Dec, and Christmas markets

Christmas in a country village

New Years in Vienna.

The Drill SGT said...

Chickelit spoke of the Seige of Vienna. Ther was another in 1683, when the Muslims had again reached the wals of the city. Vienna was saved by Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland, and the largest cavalry charge in history. Jan led 20,000 heavy horse from the front to break the Turks...

Martel the Hammer, reborn as it were :)

madAsHell said...

Vienna during Christmas.
It will restore your faith.

kcom said...

"How many times must history repeat itself before someone gets a fucking clue? "

n+1 times

Where n is the current iteration. Wisdom is always soooo close...yet so far.

Anonymous said...

There's a small town in Austria called [sexual intercourse]. People keep stealing the road signs with its name.


The Drill SGT said...


Phil 314 said...

Little known aspect of the Austrian/Ottoman battles

Baron Zemo said...

I thought you were reading from Nanny Blomberg's autobiography.

Amartel said...

Hey look, it's Obama and Biden!

Re: the statue - Prehistoric fertility goddess statues like this one (ie., fat lady w/ giant boobs and some truncated limbs) have been found all over the world. Didn't see this one on the Austria wikipedia. Per Wikipedia, Austria comes from Osterreich - eastern kingdom. Germans had designs on Austria for a long time.

Amartel said...

Inga, so in your world blame and shame for historical wrongs are inherited, "forever." So why just Germans and Austrians, then?

buddy larsen said...

the Swinburne verses remind of Matthew Arnold's closing verses of Dover Beach:


The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.


Funny that at the same time in London town where humble civil servant and school teacher Arnold was working two jobs and hard-put to squeeze in a little writing time wherein he'd zoom in through those big natural spaces to a small individual shape, then ride right on in to the protoplasm inside where the whole new next cosmos was always waiting to be love-borne.

While just across town, cooped up inside squinting in the pall and covered with skin eruptions, sat scrawling a wealthy double heir (wife a Stuart from the King James line), deliverer of the masses Karl Marx, avoiding work and commerce, ignoring his wife and kids, and finishing up his abstract expressionist tome of solidarity with the masses.