He inaugurated a regime of enlightened absolutism and instituted a series of reforms from above.
A preliminary edict for the Jews of Galicia was published in 1785 abolishing the Jewish directorate, the position of crown land rabbi, and the independent judicial authority of rabbinic courts.
The edict opened with the declaration that henceforth Jews would be placed on an equal footing with the rest of the population in terms of both rights and duties.
Indeed, the new proclamation permitted the integration of urban Jews, who could now vote and be elected to municipal office.
In 1880, Jews in Kraków numbered 20,000, rising to 32,000 by 1910. During the first period of Galicia’s annexation to the Habsburg Empire, Jewish life was run according to the General Order for the Jews of the Crown Lands of Galicia and Lodomeria (Latin for Volhynia), decreed by Empress Maria Theresa in 1776.