{2-728.} Josephinist Policies Regarding the Churches, Education, and Censorship

The impact in Transylvania of the Church and school policies of Josephinism was positive and comparatively coherent. With regard to religious policy, the focus here will be on the general and local features of the great struggle between Josephinism and old-style Catholicism.

The most important manifestation of Josephinist religious policy was the 1781 Edict of Tolerance. The prevailing situation of religion in Transylvania was quite different from that in Hungary. The system of four recognized denominations remained in place, although the rights of the Protestants had been considerably curtailed, and the Orthodox Church enjoyed a degree of tolerance. The question arose whether, in these circumstances, the Edict of Tolerance should be promulgated in Transylvania as well. Anticipating complaints from Catholics, the chancellery advised against it, but, after two rounds of debate, the Staatsrat decided in favour of publication, and this ruling was endorsed by the monarch.

In its application to Transylvania, the Edict of Tolerance did not abrogate earlier laws and decrees concerning the rights of the four recognized religions and the toleration of Orthodoxy. In contrast to the Hungarian version, the Transylvanian edict did not make the establishment of a parish conditional on the number of believers, except in the case of the Orthodox Church, where there had to be at least one hundred parishioners. Nor did it reopen the case of existing mixed marriages; with regard to future mixed marriages involving the four recognized denominations, the decree provided that a child should be baptized in the faith of the parent of the same sex. Only with regard to the Orthodox did the decree show some negative discrimination, and then to a lesser extent than was previously the case. The Edict of Tolerance was followed, in January 1782, by the abrogation of the law prohibiting apostasy in the context {2-729.} of the four recognized religions. However, Catholics who wished to convert to one of the other religions were required to undergo four to six weeks of instruction on the validity of the Roman Catholic faith. Active proselytization remained proscribed.

These provisions did not weaken the preeminent status of the Roman Catholic Church even in multi-denominational Transylvania. However, compared to the preceding decade, Josephinism did bring greater state interference in Church governance. In late 1782, the terms of reference of the Gubernium's committee on Church affairs (Commissio in Publico-Politicis) were broadened; the measure was subsequently characterized by Transylvania's Catholic bishop, Ignác Batthyány, as an appropriation of episcopal authority. The state took control of Church foundations, and the Catholic Church was also affected by restrictions on the foreign relations of the monastic orders and, later, by the dissolution of certain religious orders. Among the more important orders, the proscription struck only at the Jesuits, sparing the Franciscans, Minorites, and Piarists. Of the other orders established in Transylvania, the Trinitarians (with one monastery) were dissolved in 1783, as were the Paulites (with four monasteries) in 1786. As noted, the Catholic bishop was progressively stripped of his worldly political status, until, in 1786, he lost his ex-officio membership of the Gubernium.

The thrust of Josephinism was to reduce and, if possible, eliminate external influences on organized religion in Transylvania, and notably on the Orthodox Church. To prevent the archbishop of Ungrovalachia (Wallachia) from claiming religious authority over any part of the empire, the emperor forbade Transylvania's Orthodox bishop to have any contact with him.

With regard to education, the first initiative in the Josephine era was the promulgation, in 1781, of the Norma Regia, which, as noted, had been developed during the reign Maria Theresa. Super-vision of the reformed educational system was assigned to the {2-730.} Gubernium's newly-formed educational committee (Commissio Litteraria), which thus took over one of the functions of the Commissio in Publico-Ecclesiasticis. The committee's first chairman was the Catholic bishop; the task was then assumed by Governor Bruckenthal until autumn 1785, when a leading Joseph-inist aristocrat, János Esterházy, took over the chairmanship. Al-though Catholics continued to constitute the majority on the committee, the management of educational affairs was essentially inter-denominational.

In this period, the main emphasis fell on the development of public schools. Inevitably, the relevant regulation, issued in 1785, accommodated Transylvanian reality to a greater extent than was the case with the Norma Regia. It confirmed the compulsory schooling of children between the ages of six and thirteen, but specified that villagers' children aged 6–9 should go to school in the summer (thus sheltering them from the winter cold); those aged 9–13 would be schooled in the winter, freeing them for agricultural work in the summer, when they would attend school on Sunday for religious instruction and practice in reading, writing, and arithmetic. The regulation provided for three types of public school: traditional, 'German-type', and so-called principal national schools. The latter were similar to Hungary's scholae normales in that they served as teacher-training schools; however, in Transylvania, only these schools' graduates could move on to the Latin schools. The regulation aimed to free teachers as far as possible from their Church responsibilities. In an interesting reflection on the state of Transylvanian education, the regulation specified that bell-ringers should act as teachers only in case of dire necessity.

The statistics for 1786–90 on school attendance in salt-mining communities, where the Treasury had a direct interest in boosting education, give a measure of the reform's implementation. In the best instance, 70 percent of school-age children were in regular attendance. In other localities, some 50–60 percent did not go to {2-731.} school, and most of the others attended irregularly. It can be assumed that the results were even less impressive in the economically less-developed districts.

The school system was nevertheless expanding. Two factors, the development of Uniate and Orthodox public schools, have already been noted in connection with Gheorghe Şincai and Dimitrie Eustatievici. There was also a noteworthy attempt to organize the teaching of commercial art. Sunday art schools were set up in 1783, and, in 1786, attendance at these was made compulsory for the apprentices and journeymen in free royal boroughs. The indifference or outright hostility of guild craftsmen soon put an end to the experiment.

One Josephinist reform that had a significant impact on cultural life was a major cutback in censorship. A decree on censorship, issued in 1781, removed most constraints on the publication of books and newspapers. Works that propagated immorality were still banned, as were those that attacked Christianity or disseminated cant and superstition. Everyone, including the monarch, could be criticized, but blatant mockery was not tolerated. A certain regression can be observed in the imperial criminal code of 1787, which prescribed forced labour for those who publicly denounced the emperor, orally or in writing, and prison terms for the authors of libelous lampoons. However, the fact that Transylvania's press flourished, as noted, in the period of the Enlightenment is due in large measure to the Josephinist relaxation of censorship.