About this book
they represented a congeries of varied languages, cultures and traditions. Moreover the status of Germany, in theory ruled by the Hapsburgs in their capacity of Holy Roman Emperors, had since the conclusion of the Thirty Years War been in some doubt. In practice the Hapsburgs could count on obedience always in their family dominions, not particularly extensive and mostly concentrated in the West (Vorderosterreich); sometimes in the South German Catholic states; and virtually not at all in the Protestant North. Then, too, in the second half of the seventeenth century Prussia had emerged as a power, which although still technically a part of the Empire, was increasingly capable and willing to pursue a thoroughly independent course. The position of Charles VI was thus not an entirely happy one. The long run alternatives which would seem to have confronted him were either to acquiesce in the continuing erosion of Hapsburg influence in Germany, which ultimately might well have resulted in his ruling over a Danubian Empire with a German-speaking minority; or to try to buttress his position in Germany, which would have required eventually a viable modus vivendi between his German and non-German subjects.
Europe German Joseph II diplomacy eighteenth century