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Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, in his Coronation Regalia (after 1790)

In 1790, Leopold II (r. 1790-92) succeeded his brother, the reformer Joseph II (r. 1765-90), as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Leopold’s indebtedness to Enlightenment ideas was already evident in the reforms he had made as Grand Duke of Tuscany from 1765 to 1790. His short reign as emperor was shaped by the legacy of his brother’s hasty reforms, which he partially repealed in the process of suppressing the revolts they had ignited in Hungary and the Austrian Netherlands. His reign coincided with the French Revolution, which he did not initially condemn outright. In 1792, however, he sealed an alliance with Austria’s former archenemy Prussia to protect the faltering French monarchy, whose queen was Leopold’s sister, Marie Antoinette. This image shows Leopold II on October 9, 1790, the day he was crowned emperor in Frankfurt am Main. He wears coronation regalia and the imperial insignia. Etching by Johann Georg Klinger (1764-after 1830) after a drawing by Ambrosius Gabler (1762-1834), after 1790.

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