Count Wenzel Anton Kaunitz
Kaunitz, Count Wenzel Anton
(from 1764, Prince Wenzel Anton von Kaunitz-Rietberg). Born Feb. 2, 1711, in Vienna; died June 27, 1794, in Vienna. Austrian statesman and diplomat.
Kaunitz was minister to Turin from 1742 to 1744, ambassador to Paris from 1750 to 1753, and chancellor of state from 1753 to 1792. Under Maria Theresa, who reigned from 1740 to 1780, Kaunitz directed all Austrian policy. He viewed it as his main task to fight against Prussia, whose power was on the rise. Toward this end he strove for rapprochement with France, Austria’s old rival. He brought about the conclusion of an Austrio-French alliance in 1756, facilitating the formation of an anti-Prussian coalition during the Seven Years’ War (1756–63). He also promoted rapprochement between Austria and Russia. Kaunitz was an advocate of enlightened absolutism and bureaucratic centralization and supported a degree of modernization of the feudal-absolutist system through reforms from above. Kaunitz’s influence on Austrian policy declined markedly during the reign of Emperor Joseph II (1780–90).