This book seeks to analyze the constraints under which Joseph II operated, his attempts to overcome them and the reasons for his failure. A constant theme is his attempt to construct a modern state and the baleful effects this misguided exercise had on the Habsburg monarchy, the Holy Roman Empire and Europe. The book examines full geographical, socio-economic and cultural perspectives, to provide a history of the Habsburg monarchy, as well as a study of Joseph himself, his complex personality and his ill-fated reform programme. "Profiles in Power" series are not biographies, though they contain much biographical material. They aim to be succinct and interpretive essays, analyzing the major features of the career within the context of its own time.