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Emperor Joseph II on the Structure and Political Condition of the Austrian Monarchy and the Holy Roman Empire (1767/68)

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Whatever the fate of justice in the Empire may be: I must not be accused of not having done what I could do on my part to repair the rifts, which already existed before me, and which the powerful have all too much interest in preserving, in recognition that rulings without implementation are always just nice words that remain without results if they do not want them.

I think the same regarding the investitures. As I am an opponent of all the pettiness of unnecessary ceremony and Asiatic pomp, which is no longer suitable for our century or the situations in which we find ourselves, I have already explained to the electors, that in no case will I hold to it, and that if they recognize the vassal oath and actually take it, I do not care whether I see their plenipotentiaries standing upright or kneeling before me, or whether they kiss the sword hilt or not. I have thereby removed the only pretext by which they excused themselves from receiving the investiture during the reigns of the two previous emperors. We will soon see whether this was the only true reason that held them back. To date, the King of England, in his capacity as Elector of Hanover, is the only elector who has, in an extremely appropriate way, spoken out, and who has recognized the absolute necessity of preserving this single and essential bond between the head and the members of a body, and [who sees] that without this there would be no connection. If it is possible to agree with the electors on the necessity and the external form of the investiture, then it will be that much easier to bring back the princes of the old houses, who also make such great claims nowadays and who let themselves be incited by the example of the electors, whatever difference there may be between the one and the other. Nevertheless, no one has received the investiture from me yet, although many of them could one day have a strong need for the protection of their direct superior, if times change.

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