Joseph I (Joseph Jacob Ignaz Johann Anton Eustachius; July 26, 1678 – April 17, 1711) was Holy Roman Emperor from 1705 until his death in 1711. He was the eldest son of Emperor Leopold I from his third wife, Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg, a Wittelsbach Princess and the oldest of 17 children born from Philipp Wilhelm, Count Palatine of Neuburg and Duke of Jülich-Berg (since 1685 Elector Palatine) and his second wife Landgravine Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia and Archduke of Austria
Although he was the first son and child born of his parents’ marriage, he was his father’s third son and seventh child and Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg was his third wife. Previously, Joseph’s father, Emperor Leopold, was first married to Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain (1651–1673) in 1666. She was the daughter of King Felipe IV of Spain, from his second marriage with his niece Mariana of Austria. Her mother, Mariana of Austria, was nearly thirty years younger than her father. This made Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain both her husband’s niece and his first cousin.
Margaret Theresa’s paternal grandparents were King Felipe III of Spain and his wife Archduchess Margaret of Austria. Her maternal grandparents were Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor and his wife Infanta Maria Anna of Spain, the daughter of her paternal grandparents.
Emperor Leopold and his first wife Infanta Margaret Theresa of Spain had four children, one of whom survived infancy.
Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary and Bohemia and Archduke of Austria.
Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg
Emperor Leopold I then married Claudia Felicitas of Austria. Claudia Felicitas was born in Florence on May 30, 1653. She was the first child and eldest daughter of Ferdinand Charles, Archduke of Further Austria and Count of Tyrol, by his wife and first-cousin Anna de’ Medici. On her father’s side, her grandparents were Leopold V, Archduke of Further Austria and his wife Claudia de’ Medici (after which she received her first name); on her mother’s side, her grandparents were Cosimo II de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and his wife Archduchess Maria Magdalena of Austria. Claudia Felicitas gave him two short-lived daughters. Thus, Joseph had six half-siblings.
In April 1676 after Claudia Felicitas died, almost immediately began Leopold began to search for a new wife, urged by the need of a male heir. This time Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg was chosen, over Duchess Maria Anna Victoria of Bavaria (later Dauphine of France), Princess Ulrika Eleonora of Denmark (later Queen consort of Sweden) and many other potential candidates.
The first meeting between Leopold I and Eleonore took place two days before the wedding and they made a favourable impression on each other. The wedding took place in Passau on 14 December 1676, and was somewhat private as ambassadors of foreign countries were not invited.
The new Empress soon proved her fertility, and within months she became pregnant with her first child, future Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor. In total, Eleonore gave birth to ten children, of whom only five survived to adulthood.
Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph was crowned King of Hungary at the age of nine in 1687 and King in Germany at the age of eleven in 1690. He succeeded to the thrones of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire in 1705 after his father died.
Joseph continued the War of the Spanish Succession, begun by his father against Louis XIV of France, in a fruitless attempt to make his younger brother Charles (later Emperor Charles VI) King of Spain. In the process, however, owing to the victories won by his military commander, Prince Eugene of Savoy, he did succeed in establishing Austrian hegemony over Italy. Joseph also had to contend with a protracted revolt in Hungary, fomented by Louis XIV. Neither conflict was resolved until the Treaty of Utrecht, after his death. Although he never formally ceased to be a Roman Catholic, Joseph (unlike his parents and most of his other relatives) was not particularly devout by nature.He had two great enthusiasms: music and hunting.
Joseph also endeavoured to strengthen his position in the Holy Roman Empire – as a means of strengthening Austria’s standing as a great power. When he sought to lay claim to imperial rights in Italy and gain territories for the Habsburgs, he even risked a military conflict with the Pope over the duchy of Mantua. Joseph I was threatened with excommunication by Pope Clement XI on 16 June 1708.
Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg
On February 24, 1699, he married Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg in Vienna. She was the youngest daughter of Johann Friedrich, Duke of Brunswick-Calenberg, and Princess Benedicta Henrietta of the Palatinate. Early on, the Holy Roman Empress Eleonore Magdalene of Neuburg decided that Wilhelmine Amalia would be her daughter-in-law.
Prince Salm was instrumental in speaking for her candidacy. The adviser of Eleonor, Marco d’Aviano, had convinced her that Wilhelmine Amalia, being pious and older than Joseph, could act as a tempering influence and discontinue his sex life outside of marriage, and to Leopold, he claimed that he had a vision that the pair would be happy. She was subjected to medical examination to establish if she was fertile, and though she was senior to Joseph, which was initially to her disadvantage, it was decided that her mental maturity would benefit fertilization.
Maria Josepha of Austria, Queen of Poland
Maria Amalia of Austria, Holy Roman Empress
They had three children and their only son, Archduke Leopold Joseph, died of hydrocephalus before his first birthday. Their eldest daughter was Maria Josepha of Austria (Maria Josepha Benedikta Antonia Theresia Xaveria Philippine, Polish: Maria Józefa; December 8, 1699 – November 17, 1757) was the Queen of Poland by marriage to Augustus III. Their last child was Maria Amalia of Austria (Maria Amalie Josefa Anna; October 22, 1701 – December 11, 1756) was herself Holy Roman Empress, Queen of the Germans, Queen of Bohemia, Electress and Duchess of Bavaria as the spouse of the Wittelsbach Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII. Charles VII (1697-1745) was the Prince-elector of Bavaria from 1726 and Holy Roman Emperor from January 24, 1742 until his death in 1745.
Emperor Joseph had a passion for love affairs (none of which resulted in illegitimate children) and he caught a sexually transmittable disease, probably syphilis, which he passed on to his wife while they were trying to produce a new heir. This incident rendered her sterile.
In 1710, came a decision that would leave a black mark on his reign. Joseph I, issued an edict against the Romani (Gypsies), ordering “that all adult males were to be hanged without trial, whereas women and young males were to be flogged and banished forever.” In addition, in the kingdom of Bohemia, Romani men were to have their right ears cut off; in the March of Moravia, the left ear was to be cut off. In other parts of Austria, they would be branded on the back with a branding iron, representing the gallows. These mutilations enabled authorities to identify the individuals as Romani on their second arrest. The edict encouraged local officials to hunt down Romani in their areas by levying a fine of 100 Reichsthaler for those failing to do so. Anyone who helped Romani was to be punished by doing a half-year’s forced labor. The result was mass killings of Romani across the Holy Roman empire.
Despite such viciousness Emperor Joseph reversed many of the authoritarian measures of his father, thus helping to placate opponents. He began the attempts to settle the question of the Austrian inheritance by a pragmatic sanction, which was continued by his brother Charles VI.
During the smallpox epidemic of 1711, which killed Louis, le Grand Dauphin and three siblings of the future Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, Joseph became infected. He died on April 17, in the Hofburg Palace at the young age of 32. He had previously promised his wife to stop having affairs, should he survive.