Karl I. von Liechtenstein und die Politik in den böhmischen Ländern (ca. 1590 bis 1627)

Variant title
Karl I of Liechtenstein and politics in the Czech Lands (cca. 1590–1627)
Karel I. z Lichtenštejna a politika v českých zemích (cca. 1590–1627)
Source document: Studia historica Brunensia. 2018, vol. 64, iss. 1, pp. 61-94
  • ISSN
    1803-7429 (print)
    2336-4513 (online)
License: Not specified license
Karl I von Liechtenstein (1569–1627) was the first member of the Liechtenstein family to become a Prince of Liechtenstein, thus he was the founder of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein. Karl was the elder son of Hartmann II, Baron of Liechtenstein (1544–1585) and his wife, Countess Anna Maria of Ortenburg (1547–1601). According to the directives of his father he was brought up in the Protestant faith and attended a school in Moravia, run by the Bohemian Brothers. In 1599 he converted to Catholicism. Shortly afterwards Emperor Rudolf II (1552– 1612) appointed him as Chief Intendant (head of the imperial household), the highest position at court, an office he held, with interruptions, until 1607. In the following power struggles within the House of Habsburg he allied himself with the party of Archduke Matthias (1557–1619), who made him a hereditary prince in 1608. In 1614, Karl added the regency of the Silesian Duchy of Troppau (Opava) to his possessions. As a mark of gratitude for further aid before the Battle of White Mountain near Prague (8 November 1620) Karl was appointed to the positions of governor and "vice-regent" of the kingdom of Bohemia (at first provisionally, in January 1622 permanently) and as the first member of his family he was also bestowed with the Order of the Golden Fleece. As part of his function he led the capture and execution of the leaders of the Bohemian uprising (1618–1620). He did this in close co-ordination with Emperor Ferdinand II. To set an example, twentyseven leaders of the rebellion were arrested and sentenced to death. Ferdinand II confirmed the sentences and Karl presided over the public executions on 21 June 1621. Where possible, Karl recommended clemency to keep the bloodshed to a minimum. And indeed the Emperor commuted some of the death sentences. In 1622 Karl also gained the Silesian Duchy of Jägerndorf (Krnov) along with confiscated "rebel property" in Bohemia and Moravia. Karl was among those who made very large acquisitions. These were partly grants by the Crown in repayment of previous loans, and partly purchases at advantageous prices. At the end of the nineteenth century it was estimated that 41% of the then existing Liechtenstein family property had been acquired between 1620 and 1650. It is difficult to assess the first Prince of Liechtenstein. Little is known about his personality. Such evidence as there is suggests that Karl's disposition was moderate, except for his resolute accumulation of property. Given the standards then prevailing in Western Europe, the public execution of 27 "rebels" might be thought, for the times, a not exceptional retribution for what had occurred in Bohemia. Karl died on 12 February 1627 in Prague.
Summary language