The book provides an in-depth study of enlightened absolutism in action—of the way rulers, officials, and subjects negotiated and implemented policies. It shows both maria Theresa and Joseph II as pragmatic state-builders who developed new policies of toleration for Jews and other religious minorities. The book also emphasizes the commitment by Trieste Jews to the new norms of acculturation, enlightenment, and civil inclusion—in contrast to the wariness expressed by other European Jews to enlighteneed absolutist programs of societal transformation.
The author seeks to counter the usual teleological readings of eighteenth-century Jewish history that sees civil-political improvement only in terms of the French Revolution's granting of legal emancipation. The example of Habsburg Trieste demonstrates the possibility and parameters of change within an Old Regime corporate-estates society and state, under which most Jews lived through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
eBook The Port Jews of Habsburg Trieste