The Institutional Consolidation of Absolutism

Another new feature of the Habsburgs' policies towards Transylvania in the 1760s was a wide-ranging modification of the institutions of government. Ever since its creation in 1761, the council of state (Staatsrat), the empire's highest executive organ, had been divided over the question. In 1761, state councillor Egidius Borié speculated that the necessary changes would have to be effected by the application of existing laws. Seven years later, when the Transylvanian court chancellery opined that the monarch could not enact laws without the consent of the estates, Borié accused its members of republicanism; the councillor argued that as soon as Leopold I had taken possession of Transylvania, he began to enact laws without consulting the estates (!), and that there were several later examples of this practice (!). Meanwhile, in 1766, state councillor Stupan called for a wholesale review of Transylvania's laws, arguing that the latter were 'a leftover from barbarian times'. These perspectives inspired the changes that occurred in the structure of government in the 1760s.

Transylvania's diet was convened one last time, in fall 1761. In his bludgeoning and blackmailing of the estates, Buccow far surpassed Czernin, whose actions in 1744 had already aroused bitter criticism. Buccow considered that there was no need whatsoever for the estates to engage in political activity. Soon after the diet convened, it was presented with the draft of a petition to the monarch outlining the planned changes in government. These included shifting László Kemény from the post of governor to that of head of the {2-603.} civil government, and appointing to the Gubernium councillors from the hereditary provinces, among them Friedrich Dietterich, who for some twenty years had been the de facto head of the Transylvanian treasury. A centrally-appointed board would once again assume responsibility for treasury affairs. Buccow also recommended a review of Transylania's public law and the creation of permanent county courts. Ominously, the military commander called for a comprehensive review (productio) of the country's nobility. He clearly hoped that thousands among them would be unable to provide adequate proof of their noble status, whereupon he could review the validity of their grants of property; he further wished to demonstrate that the nobles' privileges pertained only to individuals, not to the class as a whole. Finally, Buccow recommended the establishment of a 7,000-strong Transylvanian frontier guard.

The petition met with a courteous but evasive reception in the Staatsrat. Preferring to delay full consideration until war's end, Stupan proposed that only preparatory work be done, and that, to this end, a councillor from the hereditary provinces be named to the Gubernium. Borié hid behind empty words of praise for the submission. Kaunitz and the crown prince adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

The petition would nevertheless shape the changes in the structure of power. Faced with the prospect of implementing Buccow's proposals, László Kemény resigned as governor, and, in mid-1762, the military commander, bearing the status of royal commissioner, assumed leadership of the Gubernium. Over the next decade, the Gubernium would be headed first by Buccow, then, after the latter's death, by András Hadik, and finally by Karl O'Donel. Transylvania had not experienced such a formal concentration of military and civil authority since 1711 (though an informal one persisted in the 1710s). To be sure, no councillors from the hereditary provinces were appointed to the Gubernium. However, {2-604.} they did appear in the Transylvanian court chancellery, where, in 1775, control over all important affairs save judicial ones passed into the hands of two councillors from the hereditary provinces, Van der Marck and Reichman; the former was made responsible for public finances, the latter for public administration, internal security, and the Commercialia. The Treasury survived as an institution, but when Ignác Bornemissza died in 1770, an non-Transylvanian was appointed to succeed him. The idea of reviewing the nobles' status and property rights was not followed up; the only investigation involved properties acquire as security against loans to the state. With regard to two other proposals made by Buccow, permanent county courts — tabulae continuae — were set up in 1763, and so was a frontier guard.