- Historical event
- 2 January 1776
- Among the advocates of the abolition of torture was the son of Maria Theresa – the future Emperor Joseph II.
On this day in 1776, an official decree abolishing torture in Austria, Bohemia, Galicia, and the Banate was issued. It was one of the measures of the so-called enlightened absolutism in the time of Empress Maria Theresa. Enlightened rulers sought to introduce a more humane attitude towards defendants and convicts, and one of the main theorists of this movement was the Italian Cesare Beccaria, who also opposed the death penalty (one of the first opponents of the death penalty in the early modern period).
Maria Theresa’s chancellor – Prince Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz-Rietberg – was particularly credited for the introduction of these reforms. The chancellor was particularly influenced by the opinion of mentioned theorist Beccaria, and also among the advocates of the abolition of torture was Maria Theresa’s son and future emperor, Joseph II.