Bureaucracy, enlightenment, and Habsburg Central Europe: Joseph Brigido and Austrian bureaucracy in Galicia, 1777-1794

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This article describes the career and work of Joseph Karl Brigido, the governor of Austrian Galicia between 1780 and 1794. Through the prism of Brigido and his services in Galicia, it analyzes the functioning of the Austrian bureaucracy at the turn of the eighteenth century. Even though the scholarship of Austrian administration and bureaucracy is a continually expanding field in historiography, people like Joseph Brigido-middle- and low-ranking officials in the provinces-remain practically unknown to historians. This gap in scholarship creates certain methodological problems. Historians tend to describe the Austrian bureaucracy as an abstract institution, formed of German officials who imposed the will of the central government on the non-German elites in the provinces. Such a vision of permanent conflict and reciprocal antagonism, however, does not reflect the reality of bureaucratic organization in Galicia and in the Habsburg monarchy at large. An emotionally detached and politically neutral bureaucracy was indeed an ideal, which Habsburg enlightened rulers hoped to achieve during the late eighteenth century. It never became a reality. By placing the Austrian bureaucracy in its historical context, this article presents it as a highly heterogeneous institution, formed of men who had different social and career backgrounds and different understandings of government and administration. Local Austrian bureaucrats were often more reflective of particular political and economic reality than their sovereigns in Vienna.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)792-812
Number of pages21
JournalEast European Politics and Societies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Bureaucracy
  • Enlightenment
  • Galicia
  • Habsburg monarchy


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