Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Johann Prokop Schaffgotsch: Das Leben Eines Böhmischen Prälaten in der Zeit Des Josephinismus

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Johann Prokop Schaffgotsch: Das Leben Eines Böhmischen Prälaten in der Zeit Des Josephinismus

Article excerpt

Johann Prokop Schaffgotsch: das Leben eines böhmischen Prälaten in der Zeit des Josephinismus. By Rudolf Svoboda. [Beiträge zur Kirchen und Kulturgeschichte 25.] (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Edition. 2015. Pp. 343. €63.50. ISBN 978-3-631-65740-9.)

In 1785 Johann Prokop Schaffgotsch (1747-1813) was appointed by Emperor Joseph II to the newly founded bishopric of Budweis (České Budějovice), in Bohemia, where he remained for almost thirty years. For Rudolf Svoboda, church historian in the Theological Faculty at the University of South Bohemia, České Budějovice, Schaffgotsch's career provides an opportunity to explore internal church reform in a Central-European Habsburg context. This version of his work, with its useful five-page summary in English, is the second edition of Svodoba's study of Schaffgotsch, with a shorter version first published in 2009 in Czech.

In practice the book falls into three parts. In the first section, which takes up a quarter of his text, Svoboda outlines the broader intellectual, political, and theological context, both thematic and interpretative, of Schaffgotsch's age. He returns to these concepts in the final section of the book, where he places Schaffgotsch within specific streams, as a proponent of the Catholic Enlightenment and of a certain form of Josephinism. The substantial middle section of the book provides an account of Schaffgotsch's life, from his noble origins in Prague and education in Vienna, via his service to the Church in a variety of roles that included vicar general in Königgratz (Hradec Králové) and cathedral canon in Olmütz (Olomouc), to his episcopal duties in Budweis. As bishop of Budweis, Svoboda stresses, Schaffgotsch adopted a modest lifestyle and threw himself into his priestly responsibilities, which included preaching often, participating in processions, distributing the sacraments, and, remarkably frequently, blessing bells.

The extensive archival research on which the study is based enables Svoboda to correct many errors that have found an extended life in earlier studies of Schaffgotsch, while providing a nuanced and judicious narrative of his role as a churchman. …

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