Path of light • Bohemian Lands in the 18th Century
Bohemian Lands in the 18th Century
Queen Marie Theresa ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire between 1743 and 1780, becoming the only woman who ever sat on the Bohemian throne. She could never officially become an Empress, although we tend to call her that even today. Her husband, Francis I, the Duke of Lorrain, on the other hand, became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1745. Together, they had sixteen children, of whom nine reached adulthood and seven ascended to European thrones. Marie Theresa turned the existing feudal empire into a centralized state. She introduced mandatory school attendance, built hospitals, army barracks, and manufacturing facilities. Her reforms established many basic state functions that remain in place even today. Through Marie Theresa’s son, Emperor Josef II, new concepts of classicism and truly radical state reforms materialised. He limited serfdom and, in 1781, issued the Patent of Toleration that permitted the Evangelical and Jewish faiths alongside Catholicism. He also closed over seventy monasteries, the property of which was mostly irreplaceably destroyed.
The Diamond Cut
When at the turn of the 18th and 19th century the clientele began preferring richly engraved lead glass from England to Bohemia crystal, glassmakers from the heart of Europe were not left behind. Since 1798 they had decorated Bohemia crystal with the “English” diamond cut and, during the first third of the 19th century, some glassworks began smelting hollow lead crystal. The diamond cut remains popular today. During the 1860’s it became one of the basic decors of the crystalerie phenomenon – pressed glass, particularly vanity and office items, were produced in the Jizera Mountains in enormous quantity.