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Emperor Joseph II’s Toleration Patent for the Lands of the Austrian Empire (1781)

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Fourthly: the jura stolae remain reserved to the Parish Ordinary, as in Silesia.

Fifthly: the jurisdiction in respect of matters affecting the religion of non-Catholics shall be exercised by the administrative officials of the Province, assisted by one of their own pastors and theologians; this Court shall render judgment in accordance with their religious tenets, but appeal shall lie from this to Our Chancellery.

Sixthly: the issue by non-Catholics of the reversals on marriage, hitherto customary, in respect of the upbringing of the children in the Catholic faith is to cease altogether from now on; where the father is a Catholic, all children, of either sex, are to be brought up without question in the Catholic religion, this being to be regarded as a prerogative of the ruling religion; where, however, the father is Protestant and the mother Catholic, the sex of the child shall decide.

Seventhly: non-Catholics are in future admitted under dispensation to buy houses and real property, to acquire municipal domicile and practice as master craftsmen, to take up academic appointments and posts in the public service, and are not to be required to take the oath in any form contrary to their religious tenets, nor, unless they themselves wish it, to attend processions or functions of the ruling religion. The sole criteria in all choices or appointments to official posts are — as has long been the case in Our army, without the least difficulty and with great benefit — to be the candidate’s integrity and competence, and also his Christian and moral way of life; difference of religion is to be disregarded. Dispensations to acquire property, municipal domicile, and master craftsmen’s licences are to be issued by the Kreis authorities in towns under manorial jurisdiction; in Royal and laibgeding boroughs, by the Provincial Cameral offices, where such exist; failing them, by Our Provincial Government. They are to be issued without difficulty. Should, however, the authority find any objection to an application suggesting that it ought to be rejected, a reasoned report is to be sent to the Provincial Government, and thence to the Chancellery, for Our decision.

In cases of the jus incolatus of the upper classes, the Provincial Government is to give its opinion, and the dispensation is to be granted by Our Bohemian-Austrian Court Chancellery.

Provincial Governments are to communicate this Our decision to all Kreis offices, magistrates, and manorial authorities through printed circulars, of which a larger number than the usual is to be run off. Further, printers and publishers in the Province are permitted to hand these printed circulars to any person asking for them and thus secure adequate dissemination thereof also in other Provinces.

Source of English translation: C.A. Macartney, ed., The Habsburg and Hohenzollern Dynasties in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, in Documentary History of Western Civilization. New York, Evanston, and London: Harper & Row, 1970, pp. 269-74. Introduction, editorial notes, chronology, translations by the editor; and compilation copyright © 1970 by C.A. Macartney. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Source of original German text: Gustav Frank, ed. Das Tolerenz-Patent, Kaiser Joseph II. Urkundliche Geschichte seiner Entstehung und seiner Folgen [Emperor Joseph II’s Toleration Patent: Documentary History of its Origin and Consequences]. Vienna: Wilhelm Braumüller, 1882, pp. 37-41.

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