Sonnenfels, Joseph von (1733–1817)
Sonnenfels was born of Jewish parents who shortly afterwards converted to Catholicism; the family moved in 1744 from Moravia to Vienna, where the father taught oriental languages. Joseph first served in the army from 1749 to 1754, when he began to study law and literature at Vienna University. A prominent member of the Enlightenment literati, he was in late 1763 appointed to the newly founded chair in ‘Police and Cameralistic Sciences’ at the University of Vienna. Until his death he was prominent in constitutional reform, also engaging in a campaign for the abolition of torture and of usury. The textbook which he wrote for his own teaching, the Grundsätze der Polizei Handlungs- und Finanzwissenschaft (1765, 1769, 1776), remained the official text in the Austrian Empire until 1848, running to eight editions and several abbreviated teaching editions.