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Count Johann Anton Pergen's Memorandum to Austrian Co-Regent Joseph II on "the Value of the Imperial Crown" to the House of Austria (1766)

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Ad 5tum: indeed, one can be reasonably assured that the Imperial crown would become highly disadvantageous if a ruling emperor showed disrespect towards the estates, or let them sense any indifference or negligence towards matters affecting the empire's well-being, or dared to openly encroach on the Imperial estates' rights, or gave them cause to suspect that he was thinking of abusing his power to subjugate those estates which did not want to see things his way, or indeed if aggressive intentions come to light via an apparently high and arbitrary [tax] assessment. Given the aforementioned factionalism in the empire, and the inner strength of the Protestants, and the uncertainty in which the Catholics and the well-intentioned find themselves, these would be the cause of the demise of the Most Serene Arch-Ducal House. Considering the first [the Protestants], everything depends on Prussia and Braunschweig, but the Catholics throw themselves into the arms of foreign crowns for the sake of their own security. If Your Imperial Majesty makes himself unpopular inside and outside the empire, and stands without support, then that will give the King of Prussia the power to do all possible damage and thereby weaken the Most Serene Arch-Ducal House. It is indeed, that:

6to Question: Whether, and through which available means, Your Imperial Majesty can win renown and respect, and truly promote Your house's best interests?

Ad 6tum: the available means whereby Your Imperial Majesty, who now gloriously reigns, can still gain the greatest renown and respect, and your Most Serene Arch-Ducal House can gain the most important advantages through the imperial crown. [Although the means are at hand],there is no time to waste, since Your Majesty's well-known great qualities, and especially your eagerness to expand the power of your house, have aroused all kinds of attention. The Protestant side is wise and stands in good shape [militarily] and is bound together ever more closely. The Catholics, however, are weak and are still in poor shape militarily and find themselves in such uncertainty that they either exhibit complacency regarding the growing Prussian power, or they join alliances supported by foreign crowns, so that there won’t be any more of them who depend on their association with Your Imperial Majesty and the Most Serene Arch-Ducal House. Thereby the foreign crowns will be handed the best opportunity to play the master in the empire, and besides eclipsing the supreme eminence of Your Majesty, so to speak, they will force the solicitation of their assent and intermediation in all ventures. These crowns would be thankful for the advantages which Your Imperial Majesty would be otherwise authorized and capable of receiving without the assistance of foreign powers. The very strong efforts of the crowns of England and France to gain greater influence in the cabinets of the states in the empire have recently been redoubled. They are trying to utilize the existing uncertainty, especially among the Catholics. There is reason to worry that they will suddenly appear as guarantors of various alliances of the states in the empire if there is no effort to win the inclination and trust of the latter [i.e., the states in the empire] and preempt the foreign powers.

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