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Emperor Josef II

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
[The Germans of the Community of Feketitsch]
Translated by Brad Schwebler
Table of Contents - page 10-12

    The eldest son of the Empress Maria-Theresia was born on 13 March 1741.  All the trouble and skill of his educators, the Jesuits, would make him a stubborn Catholic.  As a young man he would undertake a great journey to all of the lands that he would one day rule.  He wanted to see everything as it really was, he traveled unknown and everything proved to be good, because he had a sharp eye.  In his distant travels he also came to the region where our ancestors lived.  Soon he knew all their suffering and saw that they were very useful citizens of the states, despite their firm Protestant beliefs.  He valued their industry and good sense.  From them he chose the population for the empty regions of his empire.

   After the death of his father he became the German emperor in 1765.  After the death of his mother he also ascended to the throne of the Austrian empire in 1780.  He began with a feverish activity.  As enlightened people of the best and purest will were inspired, he saw to it to put into effect his convincing, necessary and useful plan.  It was his primary goal to obtain by force a unified German state, which still does not exist today.  In the year 1781 he proclaimed the "Toleranzedikt" (Order of Tolerance) with which he ensured that all Protestant subjects would have religious freedom.  From now on villages with more than 100 Protestant families would be allowed to build a church, though without a tower and without bells and without an entrance from the street.  Protestants may not be restrained from visiting Catholic services, as was the case up to that time.  Protestants could as well occupy offices and honors and acquire real estate, like the Catholics.  In mixed marriages the boys kept the religion of the Protestant father.  These are the most important points of the Order of Tolerance.

   He dissolved 1000 of the monasteries and convents left because they were of no use to society, and from these he established schools and hospitals.  He went against the church of state by directing that all papal orders required his approval.  The Pope came personally to Vienna to get the emperor to take back his orders.  It was in vain. 

Kaiser (Emperor) Josef II

   In the year 1781 the serfdom the rustic population would also be eradicated.  The court would bring an end to the many injustices.  From now on before the law all citizens would be treated the same regardless of their background.  He could not see where a crime should remain unpunished because the guilty is a noble where otherwise the guilty would have been hanged.  For example he left his general slapped into chains and restrained the street sweepers because they had embezzled the pay of the soldiers.  He worked tirelessly day and night and wished that his staff and officials would share his enthusiasm for state work and infect them with a joy for work and a progressive spirit.

   With his reforms he ran into resistance everywhere.  The Catholic church fought him with all the means of  an old established great power.  The nobility were his enemy because he diminished their rights.  Monks, nuns, and priests let no opportunity pass to get the people and farmers, who had so much to thank him for, to agitate against him, by biasing the census in counting the homes and fields, etc.  The officials sought to shake off his strictness because they wanted to live in comfort but they didn't want to work for it.

   His best noble intentions were unappreciated.  Opponents and enemies stirred up the unrest.  As he saw this in his travels he turned back to Vienna, ill and depressed.  In an effort  to offer a last service to his subjects and try to reconcile with them, he retracted all ordnances on his deathbed except the removal of the serfdom and the Tolerance Order remained intact.

   He was 49 years old when he died.  Emperor Josef II was one of the most noble monarchs in world history.  He lived for the welfare of his subjects and had the purest of intentions.  Only he was about 100 years too early with his ideals.  That was the tragedy of this great man who all publicly aware Germans honor as a pioneer of German character. 

During his rule the following communities were settled in the barren Batschka.

In the year's:

1783    Petrovac with Slavs                 
1783 * Pacir  - Hungarians                
1783    Rumenka                           
1783    Temerin                               
1785 * Veprovac  - Germans                    
1785 * Kula                                      
1785 * Palanka                                
1785    Bajscka - Slavs                          
1785    Feketitsch  - Hungarians              
1786    St. Moravica                              
1786    Stanisic with - Germans                   
1786    Bezdan
1786 * Miletitsch 
1786 * Brestovac 
1786 * Conoplja       
1786 * Parabuc  
1786    Cib          
1786 * Baj mok       
1786 * Krnjaja   
In the year with Slavs
1787   Kisac      
1787   Novoselo
1790   Pivnica    

With them came the following 9 German-Protestant communities:

Torscha (1784)


Vrbas (1785)


N. Schowe*

N. Sivac*,

V. Dobropolje-Kischker

Buljkes (1786)

Jarek (1787)

     A national political tendency at this kind of settlement of different nationalities is certainly difficult to derive.  Many who stayed here earlier lived according to the emperor's principle which stated,  

"Where there are no active hands at work and the land lays idle,
the treasury can expect no income."   

Briefly stated a related slogan says,  

"Where there is nothing, the emperor has also lost the right."

About our ancestors he said,

"Plow me the ground, grow Schwabenfaust."

*These communities already existed and only expanded with the new settlers. 

[Published at DVHH.org  by Jody McKim Pharr]

 Last Updated: 19 Sep 2017

Last Updated: 04 Feb 2020

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