Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor
Birthday: May 5, 1747
Died At Age: 44
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Peter Leopold Joseph Anton Joachim Pius Gotthard
Born Country: Austria
Born in: Vienna, Austria
Famous as: Holy Roman Emperor
Emperors & Kings
Spouse/Ex-: Maria Luisa of Spain (m. 1764)
father: Francis I, Holy Roman Emperor
mother: Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia
siblings: Archduke Maximilian Francis of Austria, Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II, Marie Antoinette
children: Albrecht Johann Joseph Erzherzog von Österreich, Archduchess Maria Amalia of Austria (1780-1798), Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1770–1809), Archduchess Maria Clementina of Austria, Archduke Albrecht Johann Joseph, Archduke Alexander Leopold of Austria, Archduke Anton Victor of Austria, Archduke Charles; Duke of Teschen, Archduke John of Austria, Archduke Joseph; Palatine of Hungary, Archduke louis, Archduke Maximilian Johann Joseph, Archduke Rainer Joseph of Austria, Archduke Rudolf of Austria, Ferdinand III; Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francis II; Holy Roman Emperor, Maria Theresa of Austria (1767–1827), Maximilian Johann Joseph Erzherzog von Österreich
Died on: March 1, 1792
place of death: Vienna
City: Vienna, Austria
awards: Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece
Knight Grand Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa
Leopold II was the Holy Roman Emperor from 1790 to 1792. He is regarded as one of the most capable and sensible 18th-century monarchs. He also reigned as the king of Hungary and Bohemia and was also the grand duke of Tuscany and archduke of Austria. The son of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa, Leopold earned the title of duke of Tuscany upon his father’s death in 1765. Just like his elder brother and then-emperor, Joseph, he proposed the theory of enlightened absolutism. Following his brother’s death in 1790, Leopold became the Roman emperor and eventually the king of Hungary. He also ruled Tuscany and rationalized the nation’s taxation and tariff systems during his reign. During 1789, he dealt cautiously with the situations created by the French Revolution. He later issued the Declaration of Pillnitz to ensure preservation of monarchical rule in France. Leopold died suddenly in1792 before France declared a war on Austria.
Childhood & Early Life
Leopold II was born on 5 May 1747, in Vienna, Austria, Holy Roman Empire, to Francis I and Maria Theresa.
He was initially trained for priesthood. In 1753, Leopold II was engaged to be married to Maria Beatrice d'Este. However, their marriage never happened as Beatrice went on to marry one of his brothers.
Following his father’s death in August 1765, he succeeded him as the grand duke of Tuscany.
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Role as Grand Duke of Tuscany
As the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopold II exercised a little more authority than nominal for five years. He exercised wise and consistent administration and rose to a good state of material prosperity.
He enlarged the Museum of Zoology and Natural History (La Specola) by installing medical waxworks. This was done with the aim of educating Florentines.
The Grand Duke also approved a new political constitution that encouraged harmony between the legislative and executive powers. However, the constitution was not put into effect.
He also implemented several social reforms, including introduction of smallpox inoculation and ban on inhumane treatment of mentally ill people.
On 23 January 1774, a new law titled "legge sui pazzi" (law on the insane) was established under his reign. This law was proposed to hospitalize people deemed insane. Leopold also banned the use of physical punishment and chains during treatment of individuals with mental health issues.
In 1786, he broadcast a penal code that eradicated the death penalty and torture.
His last years in Tuscany were marked by extra cautiousness due to the disturbances in Hungary and Germany that resulted because of his brother Joseph II’s harsh governing methods.
Leopold II, who was emotionally attached to his brother, frequently met him. Despite his affection for him, he wanted to succeed him and evaded his request of acquiring the title of co-regent in 1789. Leopold II left Tuscany only after his brother’s death in 1790. Following his departure, he entrusted the title of the Grand Duke to his son Ferdinand III.
Rule As Holy Roman Emperor
Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, started his reign by making large concessions to those who had previously been offended by his brother’s policies. He recognized all the territories under his rule as pillars of a single monarchy.
After his accession, he faced threats from both the east and the west. From the east, he faced opposition from Catherine II of Russia who wanted Austria and Prussia to stand against each other.
Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, also faced threats because of the rising revolutionary disorders in France that troubled his sister Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, as well. He lent her a helping hand by appealing to the European courts to aid the French monarchy.
Within six weeks of his accession, Leopold II broke the treaty of an alliance laid by his mother years ago and collaborated with Britain to keep an eye on Prussia and Russia.
During 1791, he remained preoccupied with his affairs with France. That year, he also met the king of Prussia and they together signed the Declaration of Pillnitz to lend their helping hands in the matters of France.
Family & Personal Life
Leopold II, Holy Roman Emperor, had many siblings, including elder brothers Charles and Joseph, and a sister, Marie Antoinette. He also had a brother named Archduke Ferdinand who married his fiancée Maria Beatrice.
He married Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain, a daughter of Charles III of Spain, on 5 August 1764. They had sixteen children, including Emperor Francis II who became his successor.
Some of his other children were Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen; Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany; Archduke Johann of Austria; and Archduchess Maria Clementina.
On 1 March 1792, Leopold II died suddenly in his hometown. He was believed to have been secretly murdered.