Hans Ulrich

1568-1634

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.

 

Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg was born in the June of 1568 in Graz and had a Protestant upbringing, however, little is known about his childhood and youth. In 1583 he travelled to Tübingen, the heartland of German Protestantism, to study at the renowned Protestant university, Tübinger Stift, where he received a profound education. The intellectual dimensions of this education were to later form the basis of the complex programmatic orientations of his new residence.

After completing his studies, he embarked on the Grand Tour, a long educational journey undertaken by young noblemen of the period, which took him through the Netherlands, Spain and Italy. After the death of his father in 1594, he returned to Graz to take over the safeguarding and administration of his estate and then soon began his career at the Court of Archduke Ferdinand in Graz. To be able to serve at court he had had to convert to the Catholic faith and subsequently also supported the strict counter-reformatory policies of his master. Hans Ulrich's influence became ever stronger at the Inner Austrian court due to interventions by the Archduchess Maria, Ferdinand's mother. Although ten years his senior, Eggenberg soon became Ferdinand's closest friend and confidant, a relationship that was to last all his life.

 

Archduke Ferdinand was elected Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation in 1619. In his positions as the President of the Privy Council and Lord Chamberlain to his new Emperor, Hans Ulrich, the son of a mercantile family from Graz, had risen to become one of the most significant and influential statesmen of his time during the period of the Thirty Year's War. It is said that between the years of 1619 to 1634 Ferdinand II never made one single significant political decision without seeking the advice of his friend Hans Ulrich, who remained loyal to him throughout the whole of this highly confusing and turbulent period and also throughout the rest of his life.

 

The grateful Emperor rewarded his loyal advisor by bestowing on him the highest honours and ranks of the realm. In 1598 he was awarded the title of baron and in 1628 he became Duke of Krumau, after having been honoured with the Golden Fleece in 1620. Eggenberg reached the pinnacle of his career in 1625 when he was appointed Governor of Inner Austria by the Emperor. Hans Ulrich would now reign with absolute power throughout the Inner Austrian patrimonial lands (the duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola) in lieu of the Emperor in respect of matters pertaining to politics, the law and the military. This was a singular distinction for someone with no family ties to the archducal house. He would also remain the sole appointee ever to this Inner Austrian post. This office also prompted him to commission the conversion of the old castle at Eggenberg into a new and glorious residence to appropriately represent his new status, but he died of severe gout in October 1634 before the palace was completed. Alongside his four daughters, Prince Hans Ulrich also produced a male heir to the Eggenberg dynasty, Johann Anton.

 

As an imperial minister he had skilfully succeeded in guiding his master to the throne despite facing numerous dangers and constant upheavals during these times of great change. He slowly and consistently worked on his ideas of "empire", which he saw as a strengthened central Imperial power, at the expense of the feudal interests of the old noble families and the desire for autonomy of the princes of the realm. This way he became one of the major architects of the absolutist Habsburg state, which was to dominate and shape the century to come.

Schloss Eggenberg and Gardens

Eggenberger Allee 90
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9532
F +43-316/8017-9555
eggenberg@museum-joanneum.at

 

Opening Hours


State Rooms:
1 April - 31 October 2017
24 March -  31 October 2018   
admission with guided tour only

Guided Tours: Tues-Sun and public holidays at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (exceptions may apply), and additionally by appointment.
Group visits (7 people or more) by appointment only. 

Park and Gardens:
1 April - 31 October: daily, 8am-7pm

1 November - 23 March: daily, 8am-5pm  
1 January 10am-5pm
24 March -  31 October 2018: daily, 8am-7pm
November - March: daily, 8am-5pm