Family history

The history of the Eggenberg family



The history of the Eggenberg family is equally as unusual as their residence. Their stellar rise from peasantry to becoming ranked among the most important families in the Holy Roman Empire is mainly due to their outstanding daringness, cleverness and financial skills.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the Eggenberg family, who were originally bankers, brought forth one of the most significant and influential statesmen in the history of Styria - Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg. The Eggenberg family were provincial merchants, masters of the mint and town magistrates, but it was Hans Ulrich who was to receive the highest honours of the realm and turn his dynasty into the richest and most distinguished family in the land. Power and fame soon paled after the early end of the Eggenberg dynasty in the 18th century and Hans Ulrich slowly turned into a legendary figure.  





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Simple Beginnings

Despite numerous attempts, the ancestry of the Eggenberg family has, to this day, still not been completely traced. The first traceable member of the family is Ulrich Eggenberger († 1448), who was first mentioned in a document dating back to 1432 in his position as town magistrate of Graz. Ulrich's family split into two branches: He had two sons, Hans († 1481) who founded the Radkersburg (later Ehrenhausen) line and Balthasar († 1493), who founded the main Eggenberg dynasty in Graz.








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Balthasar Eggenberger († 1493)

Hans Ulrich


Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg may only have been of simple parentage and had a Protestant upbringing, but, by his own means, he succeeded in becoming one of the most influential Catholic princes in the Holy Roman Empire within just a few decades. His career, however, developed too quickly and too successfully for it to go unnoticed and unenvied. Contemporaries and historians have had differing opinions regarding Eggenberg's character: seeing him as a man ... who is successful at everything he does, a fellow of good fortune, with a reputation of being completely loyal to the Emperor, highly gifted and reliable, but also a corrupt and slippery customer. Both contemporaries and historians are, however, in agreement about his brilliant diplomatic talent, his personal charm and cleverness and his extra-ordinary manner of dealing with people.



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His life and work

Johann Anton


Hans Ulrich’s only son, Johann Anton I, Holy Roman Prince of Eggenberg, studied at the Jesuit University of Graz.  In 1627 he undertook an extensive Grand Tour throughout Europe, accompanied by the Jesuit scholar, Philippe Allegambe. He finally returned to Graz in 1632, immediately concerning himself with the extension of the palace at Graz. Nonetheless, his preferred residences were the Eggenberg townhouse on the Sackstrasse in Graz and the Residence in Český Krumlov.




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A noble grand seigneur

Johann Seyfried


With two sons in one generation for the first time, the succession of the family seemed to be more secure than ever before. However, the brothers Johann Christian and Johann Seyfried were not very successful in dealing with the family’s fortunes. After taking up their studies at the university in Graz, they both embarked on a Grand Tour throughout the whole of Europe. Serious disputes began, however, after both brothers came of age.



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Two brothers

The end

After the death of Johann Seyfried in 1713, the presence of male descendents meant that the continuation of the Eggenberg dynasty still seemed secure. However, in 1716, Johann Seyfried’s only son, Johann Anton II, died suddenly, aged just 47. Just one year later, Johann Anton II’s only son, the last Prince of Eggenberg, Johann Christian II, died from appendicitis at the age of only 13. With his death, the male line of the Eggenberg family had come to an end in 1717. And this resulted in the start of the break-up of the wide-spread Eggenberg estates and territories with both sisters of the last prince, Maria Eleonora and Maria Theresia, quickly agreeing upon how to best separate the remaining estate.



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Both heiresses, Maria Eleonora and Maria Theresia von Eggenberg were married in a ceremonial double wedding to the two Counts of Leslie in 1719. In 1754, after the death of their mother, they quickly agreed upon how to best separate the Eggenberg estate. Maria Eleonora received the estate in Eggenberg, the City Palais in Graz and Oberradkersburg. Her younger sister took over the estates of Strass and Ehrenhausen.



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Maria Eleonora and Maria Theresia von Eggenberg

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