He went down in history as the great moderniser. During his life, Archduke Johann had a close connection to Styria, its people and the country and always made an effort to be a progressive model. He displayed his love of Styria visually by always wearing the Upper Styrian frock coat with a green fringe.
He studied the land and the people intensively and could therefore make significant contributions to development; primarily, but not exclusively, to that of the rural population. Here are just a few examples of his great achievements: In 1811, he laid the foundation for the Joanneum in Graz, the precursor to the Technical University. He founded the Styrian State Library, the State Archive, the savings bank, a mutual fire insurance institution, the Landesoberrealschule (State Upper Secondary School) and the Historical Association.
But, above all, he lent a helping hand himself: During the famine of 1816/17, he personally distributed potatoes and also made sure that they were planted. He introduced farmers to new plants, seeds and varieties. He propagated new methods of livestock breeding and of orchard and crop plantation. He also developed the excavation of iron ore on Styria's Erzberg.
In 1840, he bought the lands around Stainz Castle, where two exhibitions can now be seen.
In addition, he was a great patron of the railway. For a long time, the line between Mürzzuschlag and Graz was known as the "Erzherzog Johann Bahn" ("Archduke Johann Train").
Archduke Johann was married to Anna Plochl, the daughter of a postmaster. The love and marriage of the Habsburg aristocrat and his middle class wife were, and still are, the stuff of romantic stories. The two had one son, Franz.