Austrian State institutions

Personal union

What is most important to note about the Austrian state is the fact that it was not a unified state like France, England and later the United Kingdom were. The only bound that united territories like the duchy of Salzburg, the county of Moravia, the kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary and the archduchy of Austria was that Leopold I was the 'sovereign' of all of them. This meant that all these territories had their own administration. They also still had their own 'Stände' (representative institutions) that had to agree to taxation, and thus limited the sovereignty of Leopold. (This in marked contrast to absolutist France where most Stände/états had been disbanded)

The income of Leopold I

The sovereign thus had four sources of income:

The income this generated was completely inadequate. It led to state-bankruptcy in 1703. Attempts to open a credit line for the state like the Dutch had and the English had in the Bank of England of course failed because no one freely wanted to lend money to the Austrian state.


In 1700 the Austrian state was not only anachronistic in its structure, but also in the way it was managed. While in France and the seapowers civilians experts used to administrate the government Austria still held to having the higher nobility in charge in the government with little regard for competence. There was also an incredible amount of public servants that cost a lot (but did not always get paid), had little to do, or did not know what to do. The bureaucracy was very corrupt and always succeeded in embezzling a lot of the taxes that were brought in. The state of affairs of the Austrian administration can characterized as anachronistic, chaotic and impotent.

'Old Court' and 'Young Court'

There were people that desperately wanted to change this state of affairs, and while changing the 'constitution' of the state would be very difficult, they would at least succeed in improving the management of the state. These men were called the 'young court'. The leader of the young court was crown prince Joseph I 'king of Romans'. Other members were: Josef's former governor Fürst Salm, Vice-president of the Hofkammer Gundaker Starhemberg, and Prinz Eugen, while it got support from the imperial supreme commander the margrave of Baden and Johann Wilhelm the Elector Palatine.

The 'Old Court' was built by the emperor Leopold I, the president of the Hofkammer Graf Salaburg, the president of the Hofkriegsrat Graf Mansfeld, 'Obersthofmeister' Graf Harrach and the Jesuits. As a consequence of the state-bankruptcy Salaburg and Mansfeld were replaced June 1703 by Gundaker Starhemberg as president of the Hofkammer and Prinz Eugen as president of the Hofkriegsrat. The old court then lost much influence to the young court but was not completely driven from the scene, Josef even being excluded from politics in February 1705. In May 1705 Leopold I died and was replaced by Josef I which finally got the reform party into power.

The Hofkammer

The Hofkammer was the institution that administrated the income and expense of the crown. There were however also autonomous institutions in Graz and Linz.

The Hofkriegsrat

The Hofkriegsrat administrated the affairs of the army. There were however also autonomous institutions in Graz and Linz.