Meanwhile the ambition of Catherine of Russia, and the war Russia, Austria and the Ottoman Empire. with Turkey by which the empire of the tsars was advanced to the Black Sea and threatened to establish itself south of the Danube, were productive of consequences of enormous importance to Austria in the East. Russian control of the Danube was a far more serious menace to Austria than the neighbourhood of the decadent Ottoman power; and for a while the policy of Austria towards the Porte underwent a change that foreshadowed her attitude towards the Eastern Question in the 19th century. In spite of the reluctance of Maria Theresa, Kaunitz, in July 1771, concluded a defensive alliance with the Porte. He would have exchanged this for an active co-operation with Turkey, could Frederick the Great have been persuaded to promise at least neutrality in the event of a Russo-Austrian War. But Frederick was unwilling to break with Russia, with whom he was negotiating the partition of Poland; Austria in these circumstances dared not take the offensive; and Maria Theresa was compelled to purchase the modification of the extreme claims of Russia in Turkey by agreeing to, and sharing in, the spoliation of Poland. Partition of Poland. Her own share of the spoils was the acquisition, by the first treaty of partition (August 5, 1772), of Galicia and Lodomeria. Turkey was left in the lurch; and Austrian troops even occupied portions of Moldavia, in order to secure the communication between the new Polish provinces and Transylvania. At Constantinople, too, Austria once more supported Russian policy, and was rewarded, in 1777, by the acquisition of Bukovina from Turkey. In Italy the influence of the House of Austria had been strengthened by the marriage of the archduke Ferdinand with the heiress of the d'Estes of Modena, and the establishment of the archduke Leopold in the grand-duchy of Tuscany.

In internal affairs Maria Theresa may be regarded as the Internal reforms under Maria Theresa. practical founder of the unified Austrian state. The new system of centralization has already been referred to. It only remains to add that, in carrying out this system, Maria Theresa was too wise to fall into the errors afterwards made by her son and successor. She was no doctrinaire, and consistently acted on the principle once laid down by Machiavelli, that while changing the substance, the prince should be careful to preserve the form of old institutions. Alongside the new bureaucracy, the old estates survived in somnolent inactivity, and even in Hungary, though the ancient constitution was left untouched, the diet was only summoned four times during the reign, and reforms were carried out, without protest, by royal ordinance. It was under Maria Theresa, too, that the attempt was first made to make German the official language of the whole monarchy; an attempt which was partly successful even in Hungary, especially so far as the army was concerned, though Latin remained the official tongue of the diet, the county-assemblies and the courts.

The social, religious and educational reforms of Maria Theresa also mark her reign as the true epoch of transition from medieval to modern conditions in Austria. In religious matters the empress, though a devout Catholic and herself devoted to the Holy See, was carried away by the prevailing reaction, in which her ministers shared, against the pretensions of the papacy. The anti-papal tendency, known as Febronianism (q.v.), had made immense headway, not only among the laity but among the clergy in the Austrian dominions. By a new law, papal bulls could not be published without the consent of the crown, and the direct intercourse of the bishops with Rome was forbidden; the privileges of the religious orders were curtailed; and the education of the clergy was brought under state control. It was, however, only with reluctance that Maria Theresa agreed to carry out the papal bull suppressing the Society of Jesus; and, while declaring herself against persecution, she could never be persuaded to accept the views of Kaunitz and Joseph in favour of toleration. Parallel with the assertion of the rights of the state as against the church, was the revolution effected in the educational system of the monarchy.

This, too, was taken from the control of the church; the universities were remodelled and modernized by the introduction of new faculties, the study of ecclesiastical law being transferred from that of theology to that of jurisprudence, and the elaborate system of elementary and secondary education was established, which survived with slight modification till 1869.

The death of Maria Theresa in 1780 left Joseph II. free to Joseph II. and "Josephinism." attempt the drastic revolution from above, which had been restrained by the wise statesmanship of his mother. He was himself a strange incarnation at once of doctrinaire liberalism and the old Habsburg autocracy. Of the essential conditions of his empire he was constitutionally unable to form a conception. He was a disciple, not of Machiavelli, but of Rousseau; and his scattered dominions, divided by innumerable divergences of racial and class prejudice, and encumbered with traditional institutions to which the people clung with passionate conservatism, he regarded as so much vacant territory on which to build up his ideal state. He was, in fact, a Revolutionist who happened also to be an emperor. "Reason" and "enlightenment" were his watchwords; opposition to his wise measures he regarded as obscurantist and unreasonable, and unreason, if it proved stubborn, as a vice to be corrected with whips. In this spirit he at once set to work to reconstruct the state, on lines that strangely anticipated the principles of the Constituent Assembly of 1789. He refused to be crowned or to take the oath of the local constitutions, and divided the whole monarchy into thirteen departments, to be governed under a uniform system.

In ecclesiastical matters his policy was also that of "reform from above," the complete subordination of the clergy to the state, and the severance of all effective ties with Rome. This treatment of the "Fakirs and Ulemas" (as he called them in his letters), who formed the most powerful element in the monarchy, would alone have ensured the failure of his plans, but failure was made certain by the introduction of the conscription, which turned even the peasants, whom he had done much to emancipate, against him. The threatened revolt of Hungary, and the actual revolt of Tirol and of the Netherlands (see Belgium: History) together with the disasters of the war with Turkey, forced him, before he died, to the formal reversal of the whole policy of reform.