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.

Balthasar Eggenberger († 1493)

Throughout the Middle Ages it was only possible for members of established nobility to serve at royal courts and thus gain power and influence within the country. But this rigid social order started to change at the end of the Middle Ages and it was suddenly the moment for members of all classes to rise through the ranks. Hard work and efficiency often combined with ruthlessness increasingly enabled men from simple patronage to embark on astonishing careers for themselves. Their experiences in economic and administrative fields proved greatly advantageous to them; after all, the financial needs of the princely courts in the late Middle Ages were constantly on the increase.

And Balthasar Eggenberger was also one of this new, up and coming breed of men. After the death of his father, he received a handsome sum of money and continued carrying out the trading and money transactions, which were so economically profitable. Emperor Friedrich III, who often resided in Graz, appointed Balthasar Master of the Mint of Graz, Ljubljana and St. Veit an der Glan. This key position at the head of the imperial financial system helped him - although not always legally - to amass great wealth. By order of the Emperor, he began to mint debased penny coins, the notorious "Schinderlings", which finally resulted in heavy inflation in the Austrian lands - a period of rapid currency depreciation, which was tantamount to national bankruptcy. To avoid threatening recriminations, Balthasar fled to Venice with his amassed wealth, but was once again appointed Master of the Mint in Graz by the Emperor on his return.

When his relationship with Friedrich III appeared to be heading towards a crisis, he changed sides and entered into the service of Friedrich's most ardent opponent, the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus, as Oberkammergraf (the highest official of the Hungarian mint domains). Matthias Corvinus also elevated him to the rank of nobleman. The new coat of arms of the Eggenberg family - three ravens holding a crown - can probably even be traced to Covinus (corvus is Latin for raven). Despite this meteoric rise, Balthasar spent his last days in the dungeon of Graz Castle. The reason for his imprisonment and the circumstances surrounding his death in 1493 still remain unexplained to this day.

After Balthasar's death, generations of the Eggenberg dynasty established themselves as citizens and merchants in Graz and Southern Styria in the sixteenth century without breaking through barriers of their social class or entering into the public sphere. A significant figure in the Eggenberg family was General Ruprecht von Eggenberg († 1611) from the Ehrenhausen line whose victories against the Turks resulted in the rise of the whole family and its being raised to barony.

However, it was solely due to its most extra-ordinary and successful family member, General Ruprecht's young cousin, Hans Ulrich, from Graz, that the Eggenberg family achieved true importance.

After Balthasar's death, generations of the Eggenberg dynasty established themselves as citizens and merchants in Graz and Southern Styria in the sixteenth century without breaking through barriers of their social class or entering into the public sphere. A significant figure in the Eggenberg family was General Ruprecht von Eggenberg († 1611) from the Ehrenhausen line whose victories against the Turks resulted in the rise of the whole family and its being raised to barony.
However, it was solely due to its most extra-ordinary and successful family member, General Ruprecht's young cousin, Hans Ulrich, from Graz, that the Eggenberg family achieved true importance.

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
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.

Park and Gardens:
November-March: daily, 8am-5pm

April-October: daily, 8am-7pm