Les Schwarzenberg, Une famille dans l'histoire de l'Europe, XVIe-XXIIe siècles, ed. by Olivier Chaline, with the collaboration of Ivo Cerman (Panazol: La Vauzelle, 2012), 395 pp.
The history of a single family is perhaps the most difficult of all to research and to write. The oral practice and sources are certainly privileged over the written; and as Yves Castan proposed in 1974, even the major moments regarding marriages, inheritances and power relations were (are) largely oral. Every family has its secrets, its black sheep, and its silences when one or another member is mentioned.
British historians have set the themes and methods for studying aristocratic family history: origins of course, marriage alliances, lands, offices, honors, local and realm-wide powers, and adaptations from rural to industrial economies on their estates, make up a grid of interesting and significant themes. The works of F.M.L. Thompson, D. Spring, L. Stone, M. James and F. Heale constitute a monument in the history of family histories such as in no other "national" historiography.
In the decades when social history had a privileged status in Britain, virtually all advanced and graduate students learned not only the questions but also the methods of aristocratic family history. For example, Joseph Bergin's principal interest and reading had been in seventeenth-century religious history (his first book), until he accidently found a cache of notarial documents that enabled him to work out how Richelieu built a fortune. He did not have to go back to graduate school to learn how to research the development of an aristocratic fortune; he had learned that as a typical student in Britain. Debates in the field were intense (Cooper v. Stone, in the TLS), and were part of the talk at high table or in pubs. The "field" expanded to include the histories of agriculture, gardening, collecting, architecture, clientage, Upstairs and Downstairs, and Downton Abbey.
On the other side of the Channel there were histories of the nobility and occasional pioneering articles (D. Roche on the Condé), but never enough to constitute a field with its own structure, as in Britain. More recently, Duma on the Penthièvre and Béguin on the Condé, are welcome, exceptionally strong and interesting studies that ought to inspire more histories of single aristocratic families. The same is true for R. Forster's The House of Saulx-Tavannes. While there have been studies of nobles (H.F.K. Van Nierop in the Netherlands, R.J.W. Evans in Austria, and G. Pedlow in Hesse), few studies of single aristocratic families have been made, perhaps because the egalitarian social impulses at work in the twentieth century acted as a brake on them. Then too, so many great families now live so privately that it scarcely seems proper to call attention to them.
It is in this context that Les Schwarzenberg takes on major importance. But first, a warning: Schwarzenberg, not Schwarzenburg, another major, largely German aristocratic family. Olivier Chaline, professor at the Sorbonne, known for his studies of the Battle of White Mountain, Norman parlementaires and eighteenth-century naval history, has pulled together an équipe of Czech historians, plus a retired French colleague; and, sustained by his own enormous learning and energy, he has produced a wide-ranging study of a single aristocratic (princely) family! But before going further, a confession is in order: I have no expertise in the field of East Central European history, nor in the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Historic nobility in the Czech Republic is exactly what it says -- not ennobled by some crowned head. The Schwarzenberg are historic, of course, and come from Franconia, with their twelfth-century ancestors on the same domain near Kitzingen from the fifteenth century. Like the Broglie and the Poniatowski, they are all princes and princesses, intermarried with the higher-still Liechtenstein and Esterazy -- and the Lobkovic too. All four families in their multiple branches (essentially two, for the Schwarzenberg) constitute a platform in the hierarchy of princely families. These had (and have) enormous domains, castles, palaces in Vienna, etc. Did the Habsburgs have still greater domains than these in Bohemia and Hungary, or did the Habsburgs rule essentially by co-optation through these four princely families?
Only after the mid-eighteenth century would the Schwarzenberg develop a stronger Bohemian identity, while continuing, of course, military and administrative service in the Empire. The Schwarzenberg carefully administered their estates and actually lived on them during the nineteenth century. Mésalliances would only rarely appear in simplified genealogies; but since, generation after generation had few children, we do not find them administering monasteries; and prelates were quite rare. We do not learn about their education in later chapters: Jesuit schools? tutors within the household?
When the family's second major branch came into being in the late eighteenth century, it would be culturally more Bohemian and would make fewer truly high-ranking marriages. The senior branch probably acted with a negative power: they could probably put a stop to just about anything they did not wish to happen, in both Prague and Vienna. The second branch was more current politically engaged.
Václav Bžek's chapter on the Early-Modern Bohemian nobility begins with some facts about the Schwarzenberg: namely, that the vast lordship came to them as compensation for services to the Habsburg court in Brussels in the mid-seventeenth century.
The quite closed hierarchies of nobles and knights dating from the Middle Ages and legislated by the Diet, remained very strong throughout the period. Foreign nobles continued to seek their fortune in Bohemia and were slowly integrated -- just about the major "mobility" for nobles. Religious cleavages went deep, but they did not follow the noble-knight hierarchies. Only 1-2 percent of the population was noble, and very rural. Did Prague have a season for noble visiting? But the Catholic Reformation became an instrument for increased Habsburg powers, if not quite state-building. Only in 1781, by an Act of Toleration, were Lutherans, Utriquists, Swiss (followers of Zwingli?) and Greek Orthodoxy recognized as part of Bohemian political-religious culture.
Many nobles had life-long careers in military service elsewhere in the Habsburg Empire. It is not clear just how often elite nobles had to attend court in Vienna or Prague; nor do we learn much about the role of noble families in administering dioceses and monasteries in the Catholic Church. As I write this, I think of the magnificent establishments built by the Jesuits in Prague. Certainly some nobles sought to be educated there. Václav Bžek ends his overview of chateau life during the Baroque era, by stressing the general importance, for the nobility, of service in this Imperial-Monarchical culture, and how memory consolidates influence and power and gives legitimacy to nobilities. His chapter serves its purpose well. It introduces us to the larger issues elaborated by the micro-studies of specific prominent Schwarzenberg men who built the family into one of the leading houses of Eastern Europe.
In the next three chapters, Jean Béranger, Rostislav Smíšek and Olivier Chaline center their attention on three leading figures of this family emphasized military and glory and/or service at the court.
Born in 1551 into a family in service to the Archbishop of Cologne, Adolph Schwarzenberg -- the first of these three figures -- spent his early military career in the Low Countries, bearing arms for the Spanish Habsburgs (siege of Mons), after which he became a court servant of a Wittelsbach, canon of Cologne. In 1587, once again in military service, Adolph helped extend the powers of the Catholic League in France. He subsequently became captain of Maréchal Bassompierre's guard, participating in the battles of Chartres and Coutras.
In 1594, he joined Emperor Rudolph II's army in Hungary, as part of a European effort to stop the Ottomans' westward thrust after the fall of Györ in 1594. The shifts back and forth of coalitions, in small victories or in defeats, came to an end when Adolph recaptured Györ at the head of 6,000 cavalry and infantry. No longer a mere local, but a Europe-wide hero, his success laid the groundwork for Rudolph's decision to put more resources into his Eastern domains and to consolidate Imperial powers there for some time to come. This did not mean that the violence had ended. Adolph was killed in 1600, seeking to put down a rebellious garrison in Pápa. A marshal of the Empire, he was laid to rest in a magnificent tomb in Vienna.
The second figure is Ferdinand Schwarzenberg, born in Brussels in 1652. His ambition was to become grand maître at the Imperial court. Caught in the competing clans that had divided over an imperial election (he was on the losing side), only with enormous cleverness and ambition would he survive to become grand maître. Being number one was an obsession, as it had been with the Montmorency and the Lorraines under the late Valois. Army commands and appointments in the church and court gave the holders of these offices enormous patronage. Ferdinand would finally occupy one of the very high offices at court. His journal is the most revealing single source about what it was like to be at the court of Emperor Leopold, as head of his household, prince of the Empire, etc. (Volume I of this journal, for 1686-1688, edited by Jean Béranger, was published by Champion in late 2013.)
Olivier Chaline recounts the monumental success of the third figure, Karl Philipp zu Schwarzenberg, who carried out the military implications of Metternich's diplomacy and created a coalition of Central and Eastern European power to defeat Napoleon. Frederick the Great had been able to knock out his enemies, one after the other. Unified command simply had to be achieved against Napoleon, already somewhat weakened by the autumn of 1813 but by no means defeated. Chaline brilliantly outlines the strategic issues (the Austrian troops would be a pivot on which allied troops could maneuver), and he recounts the four-day battle around Leipzig. At a certain point, Napoleon would lack reserves, and Saxons and Wurtembergers were abandoning the Grande Armée to join the coalition! All great accounts of battles enable the reader to see the action, and Chaline's does just that, with Schwarzenberg (and Radetsky) taking advantage of the French vulnerabilities as they developed. The Battle of Leipzig proved that Napoleon could be defeated. Schwartzenberg became a hero whose name was familiar to all Europeans.
The French had lost about 60,000 troops, the allies 60,000; each army raked the other with artillery. Just think of it: Schwartzenberg not only had to mastermind a defeat of the Grande Armée, but he also had to prevent Czar Alexander from countermanding his orders -- no small feat. Schwarzenberg's letter to his wife about the victory is touching in many ways. He recognizes the Tout-Puissant who has given him this victory, and he immediately lists five officers she knew, or knew about, who had fought with great bravery and effectiveness. This letter (there are others) reminds one of Marlborough's letters to his wife -- so revealing and significant about the type of commander-in-chief who was able to pull rank and thereby overcome the challenges of others. Social hierarchy mingling with competence as a general? When Marlborough was momentarily in trouble at Blenheim, he asked Eugene for his reserves; without hesitation, Eugen gave the order. Schwarzenberg no doubt is part of a long but insufficiently studied line of commanding officers who were skilled at coordinating human resources. Eisenhower comes to mind. The single, all-powerful commander from Corsica received the attention of journalists and poets because of the Alexander-Caesar myth-histories.
Zdenk Bezecný's "Friedrich (1799-1870) ...," is a moving account of a Schwarzenberg who perceives the changes coming over Europe, particularly in Austria, that raised doubts about the survivability of the ways of life of the great landed families of Bohemia. Trained for military command, he traveled and fought, approached a political career and sought to understand politics, not only by reading but by observing. He was an admirer of Tocqueville and a critic of modernity, as the destroyer, in 1848, of what he loved the most.
The victor of the Battle of Leipzig (Karl Philipp, d. 1820) and founder of the second "geniture" or branch, fathered three sons: Friedrich, unmarried; Karl II, married with one son; and Edmond, unmarried. At mid-century, it almost seemed to be the turn of a son from the senior branch: this son would be Felix, the first of nine children. Felix (presented by Jean-Paul Bled) served as a diplomat at various courts in Italy, before being brought into the government in Vienna by the aging Metternich. His oldest sister had married Marshal Windishgrätz, who repressed revolutionary movements in Prague and Vienna under strained political circumstances that left division and ambiguity over the use of military force. Felix became the trusted advisor of the youthful Emperor Franz Josef. As the Empire and power of the Habsburgs became threatened by the German unifying impulses of the Frankfurt Parliament, Austrian democratic-egalitarian political groups, and neo-absolutist bureaucrats and courtiers, the conservative Felix led the government by a policy that was grounded on compromise and conservative dynastic principles. No sooner had the worst storm of revolution blown itself out than Felix died abruptly, and surprisingly, of a heart attack in 1852.
In 2010, Stéphanie Burgaud published a major work on Russian-Prussian relations. Thus her particularly well-crafted article focuses on Felix Schwarzenberg's successful policies at Olmutz in 1850, vis-à-vis a destabilizing Prussian policy that challenged the settlements regarding Austria and its relations with the Empire that dated from Vienna, 1815.
I have sensed my incompetence from the very beginning of reading and writing about the history of this remarkable family. But from here on, I feel even less able to be fair to the writers and their subjects. I have read all these chapters about how European and political constraints left fewer and fewer avenues for fulfilment in the usual careers of service in the military, diplomacy, literary-cultural leadership, and political engagement. What to do? The various princes of both branches of the family (before the branches merged in the twentieth century) navigated between Imperial and German Prussian increased powers, centralization vs preservation of the various, often very different parts of the Austrian Empire, democratization in Czech nationalism vs continued support for the Bohemian elite in the Austrian Empire as part of the ancient noble elite. It would seem that, down to and including World War II, the Schwarzenbergs rejected the siren calls from Berlin.
A number of major members of the Schwarzenberg family receive attention in short articles about their careers -- military, diplomatic, courtly and literary. As each is presented, we can imagine the individual leaving the antler-covered walls of one or another family castle, saying au revoir to family, servants and dogs, and then taking a long ride through the parks and forests of the domain, to Prague or Vienna.
Lothar Höbelt discusses Schwarzenberg and Austrian politics, down to the October diploma; Jan Wintr's article presents Karl III and Czech parliamentarism (see p. 133 for a general discussion of aristocracy and nineteenth-century political culture; Zdenk Hazdra presents three declarations of the Czech nobility's solidarity with the Czech nation prior to World War II, as it faces a campaign of douceur from Berlin. The names are so evocative: some were already in exile, some were not. The Schwarzenberg princes, especially Karel VI, played a major role in these patriotic "Here we stand" statements. (E. Glassheim's Noble Nationalists, Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 2005, is consulted.)
Zdenk Hasdra's article on Prince František Schwarzenberg (1913-1992) recounts how, having refused to take an oath of fidelity to Hitler when the Germans occupied his country, the prince's not very apparent duties in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enabled him to help people with irregular papers and lack of money. By 1945, he was in the Free Czech army and participated in the 1945 revolt. He was serving as chargé d'affaires at the Vatican at the time of the Communist takeover and Jan Masaryk's death. Exile would be his answer: he became a professor of international relations at Loyola University, Chicago.
František Schwarzenberg spent the long wait for the collapse of the Communist government largely in Austria, and he lived long enough to see it happen and to be honored by Václav Havel for his service to the Czech Republic (he died in 1992). Very devout, František, of the "second geniture," found ways to fulfill his commitment to the rights of man and his country.
The life and career of Karel VII, of the second geniture, brings us to the present. Son of Karel VI and Antonia Furstemberg, born in Prague in 1937, and heir of the heir-less males of the "primogeniture," Karel VII grew up in Austria. He stopped studying law and forestry in order to recover and restore family estates that had been sequestered during World War II.
All over Europe, at least down to World War II, if not beyond, members of prominent aristocratic families usually occupied a post in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, albeit often a minor one that was not well-remunerated. This international world, with its constant attention to history and to préséances, welcomed members of the Schwarzenberg family because of their unquestionable loyalty, their cultural range and, in the Czech example, their participation in the movement for human rights.
Velvet revolution. After the collapse of the Communist regime, the French shadows of 1792 and the Russian ones of 1917 were not allowed to overpower the movement for radical political and social changes, because there was a commitment to democracy and to human rights in the new Czech Republic. Karel VII found a place to serve in the movement led by Havel; and instead of remaining a minor figure in one or another ministry, he became minister of foreign affairs. The elected public could not, however, accept having a single family possess so much wealth; a special law was therefore passed that, although in a sense it was public, was aimed at the many acres and castles privately held by the Schwarzenberg. The arrangement brings to mind the National Trust in Britain.
There was also no small satisfaction in running for office and in actually being elected to the Senate in 2004, thereby becoming a veritable political personality. Will Karl VII be elected president of the Republic? It is not impossible.
In all this, the history of the family has not been neglected, nor has the need to facilitate archival research about the generally tumultuous decades since the collapse of the Austrian Empire. The notes in the book, as well as a quick Google for "Schwarzenberg," confirms that there is an evolution in the historical consciousness in an aristocratic, indeed princely family, a historical consciousness that might weigh heavily on future generations were it not for the record of political and diplomatic service by the Schwarzenberg in their beloved Bohemia. But are there no black sheep? Devout or not, family consciousness or not, there are usually a few. Here each generation is so vulnerable to extinction: despite the fact that the last generation of the "primogeniture" consisted of four brothers, all were childless.
The last two-thirds of the book bears particularly close reading by cultural and social historians. Martin Gaži offers a unique synthesis of overt, intense devotion, rank, and presence through gifts of altars, chapels, pulpits and, no doubt, endowments, will always nourish not just faith, but memories of a devout family spread over many cities and regions in Eastern Europe.
Martin Krummholz recounts the essentially eighteenth-century story of Prince Wilhelm zu Schwarzenberg, who acquired a palace in Vienna that had been built for the Verdenberg and that had recently been occupied by Prince Václav Eusebius Lobkovic -- a sign of a more permanent commitment not only to the Empire but also to a vital, intense, urban culture. Situated on a principal square, it perhaps was not quite worthy of the family's rank; in 1716 Adam Franz Schwarzenberg bought an unfinished garden palace on the edge of the city that juxtaposed the residence of Eugene of Savoy! Here all that was great Baroque art and architecture would be employed to combine true distinction in a princely way of life, with patronage of the creative arts. The urban palace was torn down in 1893/94, but some of the remarkable paneling and furnishings were saved and installed in a castle in southern Bohemia. By contrast, the garden palace still survives, almost intact.
Jana Franková explores musical and theatrical traditions at the major Schwarzenberg seat, the castle of eský Krumlov. Two hunting-horn players and a lute player, throughout the better part of the eighteenth century! No doubt additional musicians were hired for the family festivities, but it is interesting to note the continued value placed on the lute, long after it had gone out of fashion in many parts of Europe.
The shift from occasional theatrical performances to more frequent ones occurred when one or another member of the family took more than a casual interest; but the real Baroque theater dates from 1765-1766. The curved public part, with its princely loge, is separated from the stage by a pit that can hold up to thirty musicians. The scenery, which is original, consists of eleven scenic tableaux: the forest, the garden, the town, a military camp, a bourgeois chamber, a cabinet, a salle (probably a stube?) and a prison -- a wonderful surviving monument that can only be compared with Drottninghom and Versailles.
Were Northern and Eastern European princesses better educated than their Italian, Spanish and French counterparts? To attempt to answer this question here would take us well beyond the themes of the book under review; but reading Jitka Radimaská's article on the culture of Marie Ernestine d'Eggenberg (née Schwarzenberg), 1649-1719, wife of Johann Christian, duke of Krumlov, brings the issue to mind. Born in Brussels where her father was grand chambellan to the Habsburg archduke, Marie Ernestine traveled to Vienna at age seven and was raised for a life at court. Married to Eggenberg in 1666 (the wedding cost 40,000 florins!), she instead took up residence with her husband in Krumlar castle. While he assumed the task of managing the estate, she devoted herself to modernizing the castle by adding a theater and extending the gardens. Childless, she devoted herself to reforming and rebuilding all the local convents, a manifestation of her piety.
An avid reader and purchaser of books, Marie Ernestine bought for Krumlar just about everything published in French during the late seventeenth century, with a distinct emphasis upon the literary. She had the books bound in white parchment marked with her initials and crest. A thematic-chronological analysis might yield a more individual profile of the duchess, especially her devotional acquisitions.
Jitka Radimaská asks whether Marie Ernestine would have preferred a life at court rather than in the country, surrounded by books and keeping accounts. The deep attachment to books and to local charitable activities suggest that occasional trips to Vienna to attend a wedding or some other function, created a sense of well-being and fulfilment.
At the very heart of this book (pp. 197-215 of the 395 total pages), are chapters about two princely women who lived roughly a century apart, one in the country, the other in the city (Vienna); one childless and the other the mother of ten who was burned to death while pregnant with her eleventh child; one pious, the other an admirer of Rousseau; one a born Schwarzenberg, the other married into the family. Milena Lenderová's portrait of Pauline, princess Schwarzenberg (née Arenberg), prompts many reflections about how family life and the political order changed, circa 1700 to circa 1800. Like Marie Ernestine, Pauline was born in Brussels (1774), but she spent most of her life in the palace on the New Market in Vienna, and in the family castles in Styria and Germany. The principal language of both women was French, but Pauline probably did not know German well; she had no Czech at all. Deeply attracted to the art of drawing, Pauline took lessons and at the same time carried on a lively correspondence with family members, householders and high-ranking Christian families. She also kept a journal. The changing seasons brought hunting, salons, concerts, receptions, balls, and so forth. She was pregnant for most her married life. In 1791 she made a pilgrimage (my word) to Ermenonville, to sense the presence of the late Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Attentive to the upbringing of her children, and particularly solicitous of her handicapped daughter, Pauline's career suggests that the new model of the child-centered family discerned in British aristocratic and French bourgeois culture by R. Trumbach and P. Ariès, extended eastward as well.
Simon Schama's article on the more private, even bourgeois life-style characteristic of the British royal families of the early and mid-nineteenth century, might be confirmed by a study of the Schwarzenberg portraits! However, Pauline's portrait (posthumous) has nothing bourgeois about it. The French empire-dress, the shawl, and the attributes (landscapes and classical figures) bring Ingres to mind. The bust of a dead or sleeping woman recalls Pauline's tragic death at a ball given in Paris at the residence of the Austrian ambassador, to honor Napoleon in July 1810. A fire broke out, and Pauline was burned to death trying to save her daughter.
Schama emphasizes the family portrait. No group portraits of the Schwarzenberg, either conjugal or extended family, are reproduced in this volume. Perhaps none were painted. The Hohenzollern family portraits (including the deceased in the Jagd Schloss, Berlin) and Mignard's and de Troy's portraits of the Bourbons, merit far more study than art historians usually give them. Alas, portraits are not high in the hierarchy of painting genres. The Spanish Habsburgs and various lesser princely families in Italy were more fortunate: a Titian is a Titian, even if it is a portrait. The same is true for a Velasquez or a Goya!
The more deeply historical family life is, the less anxiety about rankings, marriages and successors. A sense of the order of Nature becomes stronger as well; and while I am not at all familiar with the history of the Schwarzenberg family, they do seem to have felt an increased and deepening interest in family history. Some families turn to history (and genealogy) to enhance their prestige; others are interested in the record of accomplishments; others strive to assure continuities in public life. In Western Europe, the marriages, deaths and births in great families used to be front-page news. But now, only a few specialized slick-paper magazines are devoted to how aristocrats live. A privatization has taken place that must affect these persons, in their new obscurity.
The genealogies of the Schwarzenberg presented in this volume are "simplified." Does that mean that individuals, and even branches of the family, are absent? Over the centuries, and generation after generation, the public presence of an aristocratic-princely family was enhanced by having high-ranking clergy who bore the family name -- the women as abbesses, the men as abbots, bishops and cardinals. Few clergy appear in the simplified genealogies of the Schwarzenberg, and it would seem that most of the people listed had married.
The great exception is Cardinal Friedrich, the last of ten children born to Pauline Arenberg and Joseph II zu Schwarzenberg. Born in 1809, educated in theology, the future archbishop of Salzburg, then of Prague, and then cardinal, was the third (and last) son of the senior branch of the family. Family survival therefore depended on one son, because the other son, Felix, did not marry. While noting the prelate's human side (mountain climbing), Václav Grubhoffer's portrait of Cardinal Friedrich is a careful account in both church and state, refracted in the life of one whose firm synthesis of learning, experience and faith resulted in a profile of leadership. It would prove impossible to please simultaneously nationalists, strong government pro-Viennese, and ultramontanists. Only a clear notion of jurisdiction and established practice could eventually ensure respect, honor and pious example. The Cardinal's early opposition to pressure from Rome to declare papal infallibility as a dogma in 1870, is indicative of his concept of the Church as concerned less about authority and more about community -- in a society where Hussite doctrines remained part of the religious culture. It must have been very painful for Cardinal Friedrich of Prague to accede to pontifical power on occasion.
The construction of a gothic-revival, romantic castle by a member of the Schwarzenberg family was to be expected. Princess Eleonore's Hluboká seemed almost like clay to be molded, broken up, remodeled, according to the changing taste of a strong-willed woman whose search for perfection required tearing down and rebuilding two or three times. Admittedly influenced by what she saw in France, the romantic castle was built by a domineering princess for whom money was of no consequence. Jindich Vybíral's brief but brilliant article captures a moment and a world that we have lost. There was immense variety in these dream-inspired structures (Thoresby Hall comes to mind, as does Roquetaillade, south of Bordeaux) that are more whimsical than Pierrefonds or Haut Koenigsberg!
Václav Grubhoffer synthesizes an extremely complex history of the numerous burial sites of the Schwarzenberg family. He has traced the history of the sites chosen for family burial chapels, and why they were selected. I know of no other study so erudite and original about burials for an aristocratic European family. With its lower Franconian origins, it is not surprising to find numerous generations of the family interred in Franconia in family chapels, particularly at Astheim. Others were buried in Augsburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Sienna, Rome, Vienna, and Raab. Settled in Bohemia, the family constructed chapels near their preferred castral residences, notably at Tebo, Orlík and St. Egidius de Domanin. There were instances when choosing between burial sites was so difficult that, rather than choose, a new site was selected. Like many other princely families, the Schwarzenberg practiced separating bodies from hearts and entrails, each destined for a specific burial site.
What is perhaps the first reference in this book to how a lack of funds influenced decisions, involves the founder of the "second geniture." Karl Philipp, the field marshal who defeated Napoleon, temporarily lacked the resources to build a funeral chapel worthy not only of they themselves but of their descendants as well.
A refrain in the princely biographies for the later years of the mid-nineteenth century, centers on the difficulty of adapting to the radically changing social and political-cultural environment, not only in Bohemia but also in Austria. I doubt if a rigorous regime of merit rather than birth closed down appointments in the officer corps, or in diplomacy. The rise of journalism and the creation of more democratic institutions seemed to open choices; but the reality was often otherwise. The House of Lords in Westminster is only now, in the twenty-first century, moving to exclude membership by aristocratic right.
The chapter on Karel VI by Martin C. Putna deftly traces the major activities of a remarkable conservative who was deeply engaged in the life of his country during a period of intense trials at the hands of fascism and sovietism, secularism and egalitarianism. Engaged through journalism, researching into family history and genealogy, but always supporting the Czech national identity and the exiled Roman church, Karel VI is unique, as a creative, thoughtful, engaged individual; but at the same time he is typical of hundreds, perhaps thousands of aristocratic sons and daughters who maintained their moral and civic selves in times of incredible shock, barbarism and violence.
Throughout the book there are numerous allusions to the Schwarzenberg landed estates; but as if he had read Laurence Stone, Olivier Chaline pulls together the strong decisions that led to holdings of 450,000 hectares in arable land, forests and lakes in Bohemia. The Schwarzenberg also had estates in Styria, Lower Austria, Tyrol and, still, the principality of Schwarzenberg in Franconia. Seigneurialism was abolished in 1848, but through leases and a variety of arrangements, the estate administrators managed to generate an enormous annual income. In addition to the usual sources of income from a landed estate, the Schwarzenberg increased their income by mining, saw mills, canal building, brewing, and so forth. In 1914, on the 176,146 hectares of landed property that remained to them, there were 1,300 horses, 9,000 oxen, 14,000 cows, 2,000 pigs. Wood production totaled 600,000 cubic meters, with 30,000 workers on all the domains and 1,600 householders-employees. The second branch of the family was more modest: 24,527 hectares.
The agrarian reform of 1919 further reduced the estates of the senior branch to 52,500 hectares; the second branch dropped to 12,690. Further reductions occurred, down to almost nothing under the Communist regime. Only Orlik castle, 10,000 hectares of forest and 400 hectares of ponds and arable land have been returned since the fall of the regime. The two branches of the family came together, when the senior branch died out in 1962. Throughout these reductions to their estates and the turmoil in the Czech Republic, the family maintained its holdings in Austria and the Federal Republic.
Very well known for his Finances et absolutisme autrichien dans la second moité du XVIIe siècle (Paris, 1975), Jean Béranger's article offers not only many precise facts abut the Schwarzenbergs' dramatic rise to wealth in the seventeenth century, but also a comparative perspective on other great Habsburg fortunes. Loans to the government are also particularly interesting, with some families actively participating and others not (e.g., the Lobkovic). The great 1696 account is presented here pretty much as the prince wrote it, in just about the same vague double-entry presentation of his father and his grandfather. There is a loan of 178,000 florins to his Eggenberg brother-in-law, and 62,271 florins, 27 kreutzer "dans la caisse"! Béranger briefly traces out the sources of this fortune and concludes that, in addition to concentrating their wealth, no doubt accidentally through having few children, they were hands-on managers. Václav Bžek's article on eský Krumlov castle explores the very interesting adaptation of old spaces behind thick walls, to Baroque style. Attention is paid to the order and purpose of the rooms. A fully regular gallery was simply not possible, owing to the windowless great stone walls. Furnishings are noted, almost too briefly. Portraits attracted the Schwarzenberg much more than did their important Italian works of art. The rhythms of family life -- births, weddings and funerals -- considerably influenced redecoration. Once again, there are very interesting details about the rituals of mourning.
Philippe Roy's chapter on the Schwarzenberg as hunters concentrates on venerie, that is, hunting with hounds -- an elaborate process that involves cornering a wild animal with beaters and dogs, after which the aristocratic hunters come in for the kill with hunting swords. There is wonderful information here on the great horn-players and their hunting music. The Krumlov chapel-master, Andreas Anton, composed a series of fanfares that are reproduced in the book! Dogs carefully selected in England and France were imported, to hunt in the Schwarzenberg forests of Bohemia.
Not surprisingly, a special hunting castle was built at Ohrada between the years 1708-1713 -- not a small bijou like the Jagd Schloss in the Grunewald of Berlin, but a major edifice inspired by the Palazzo Chigi in Rome. Ivan Ivanega has profited from the surviving correspondence between Prince Adam Franz and his architect. (Christina of Sweden just may have resided temporarily in the Palazzo Chigi in 1675, p. 336, n. 43; but wasn't her usual residence the Palazzo Corsini, also called the Riario?) The interior decor included a major artistic effect by Andrea Pozzo, who depicted the gods at rest. Ivanega characterizes the great roof as Mansard-inspired, which it may be; but then, the drawing of the building (p. 342) did not show what was actually built.
As if all of this were not enough, in the remaining three chapters brilliantly and seductively introduce the reader to the canal begun in 1789; then to the castle of Orlik; and finally to Johann Adolph II, "prince of the forests."
Jií Dvoák tells of the canal designed and built by the engineer Josef Rosenauer, How to transport large tree trunks out of the Bohemian forest, not only to Prague but to Vienna. Sleds had been used for ages in winter, as were every available stream or river deep and broad enough to float wood. Beginning at 916 meters altitude, southeast of St. Oswald and zigzagging through hazardous terrain to Dreisesselberg in the West, the canal transported an estimated 8,000,000 cubic meters of firewood to Vienna. Operations ceased in 1892, with the arrival of rail transport. Neglected during the decades of war and political turmoil, the canal has very largely been restored for walkers and cyclists. Its name is, of course, the Schwarzenberg Canal.
Olivier Chaline writes about Orlik castle and its domains, which came to the cadet branch in 1718, through an inheritance. Originally situated in a dark, rocky ravine, the Vitava valley, a hydroelectric dam left it at the end of a tiny strip of rock surrounded by water. A deep sentimental attachment developed over the generations, particularly in the nineteenth century, when the castle was restored and adapted, and gardens and woods were carefully laid out and planted. Rousseau's celebration of nature, and the fashion for the English garden, inspired a sense of happiness and contentment in these very grand "natural" gardens. A list dating from 1817 indicates that 460,000 exotic trees had been planted, and that another 149,108 were becoming sufficiently mature to be replanted. Hunting continued, of course, and 210 hectares of the woods were fenced off for raising wild boars and chamois.
After a terrible fire destroyed the castle's roofs, an additional floor was added to accommodate guests and servants. An updating in a Renaissance style was followed by a Baroque and Rococo update; western-European decorative arts continued to arrive in the neo-gothic setting. Marshal Karl Philipp's library of 8,000 volumes is still in its place, along with memorabilia from generation upon generation of Schwarzenberg. Chaline very effectively expresses what a castle and a domain can become for a family -- it remains a great source of contentment for the current head of the family, Karel VII.
Of all the members of the family presented here, none is really quite like a great English landholder except Johann Adolph II (1799-1888), the focus of Raimund Paleczek's article. A visitor to Britain, and an astute observer of the more productive agrarian practices, the prince undertook to modernize some 120 of his farms. He took the Revolution of 1848 in stride; market ups-and-downs were mitigated by continuing payments in kind. His taste was expressed by the desire to build a Tudor-style country house that was better situated for managing his estates and attending to political and court duties in Prague and Vienna. This chapter on Johann Adolph II concludes by listing some of his major titles, a veritable gallery of honors.
In the final chapter, Václav Rameš reviews the history of the Schwarzenberg landed properties, in order to help readers grasp the tremendous dislocation not only for the family but for their employees and their economic roles. Anti-Nazi, The former estate personnel in some instances became not only anti-Nazi but Leftist; uneasy about the immensity of the Schwarzenberg fortune and estates, and they simply took over some of the property. It seems that none of the properties of the senior branch were returned after World War II. The 1948 putsch lead to the confiscation of much of the cadet branch's estate. Readers may find additional details in other chapters.
In his Postface, Jean-Paul Bled makes two points. First, while there has been a lot of research on the Schwarzenberg family, it is thanks to Olivier Chaline that a work of synthesis has finally appeared. Second, prior to the Velvet Revolution, an aristocratic family would simply not have been a subject for Czech historians. Here, thirteen historians have made major contributions to this work.
What a splendid adventure this has been for me!