Principality of Auersperg
|Principality of Auersperg
|State of the Holy Roman Empire|
Coat of arms
|Historical era||Early modern era|
|-||To Habsburg Further Austria||1522|
|-||Auersperg raised to princely status||17/18 September 1663|
|-||Joined Council of Princes||1664|
The House of Auersperg (Slovene: Auerspergi or Turjaški) is an Austrian noble family with its roots in Carniola (present-day Slovenia). Former ministeriales in the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy, they rose to princely status in 1653 and were appointed Dukes of Münsterberg one year later. From 1663 the Princes of Auersperg also held immediate estates around Tengen (in modern Baden-Württemberg, Germany).
House of Auersperg
The former edelfrei family was first mentioned as Ursperch in a 1162 deed issued by Duke Herman II of Carinthia at his residence St. Veit. Their ancestral seat was Turjak Castle in the March of Carniola, according to an engraving on site built in 1067 by one Conrad of Auersperg. The family name may derive from Ursberg in Swabia, their ancestors probably settled in Lower Carniola after the victory of King Otto I of Germany over the Hungarian forces at the 955 Battle of Lechfeld. The Auersperg coat of arms originally displayed an aurochs (German: Auerochs(e) or Ur), they held large estates from Grosuplje in the north down to Velike Lašče and Ribnica, rivalling with the Meinhardiner counts of Görz, the Carinthian Ortenburg dynasty and the Patriarchs of Aquileia.
In the 13th century, the high noble line became extinct and was succeeded by a dynasty of ministeriales. Turjak Castle in the Duchy of Carniola was held by one Pankraz of Auersperg (1441–1496), married with Anne of Frankopan, his son Trojan (1495–1541) served at the Habsburg courts in Ljubljana and the Austrian capital Vienna as a Carniolan chamberlain and regent, Imperial Hofrat and commander during the Ottoman Siege of Vienna in 1529. Trojan's son Herbard VIII von Auersperg (1528–1575), called Hervard Turjaški in Slovene, was Carniolan Landeshauptmann and commander of the Croatian and Slavonian Military Frontier, he played a vital role as a patron of Primož Trubar, Jurij Dalmatin and the Protestant Reformation in the Slovene Lands. He received the noble rank of an Imperial Freiherren (Barons) in 1550, his descendants were elevated to Imperial Counts (Reichsgrafen) in 1630.
Count Johann Weikhard of Auersperg (1615–1677) from 1640 onwards served as a member of the Reichshofrat council, as an envoy of Emperor Ferdinand III in the negotiations preparing the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, and as a tutor to young King Ferdinand IV. Emperor Ferdinand III elevated him to a hereditary Prince of the Holy Roman Empire in 1653 and enfeoffed him with the Silesian Duchy of Münsterberg in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown the next year. In 1663 Johann Weikhard received in pawn the lands of the extinct Counts of Tengen (Thengen), a Habsburg possession in Further Austria since 1522, and reached Imperial immediacy as Gefürsteter Graf with a seat in the Imperial Diet the next year.
The Duchy of Münsterberg was conquered by Prussia in the course of the First Silesian War with Austria in 1742, nevertheless the Auerspergs at first could retain their possessions as a Silesian state country. In 1791 Charles Joseph of Auersperg finally sold Münsterberg to King Frederick William II of Prussia. The Auersperg territory at Tengen upon the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 was mediatised to the Grand Duchy of Baden.
Princes of Auersperg (1653–present)
- Johann Weikhard (1653–77), Count of Auersperg, Duke of Silesia-Münsterberg
- Johann Ferdinand (1677–1705), Duke of Silesia-Münsterberg
- Franz Karl (1705–13), Duke of Silesia-Münsterberg
- Heinrich Joseph Johann (1713–83), the 4th Fürst von Auersperg, Duke of Silesia-Münsterberg
- Karl Josef (1783–1800), Duke of Silesia-Münsterberg, Duke of Gottschee from 1791
- Wilhelm I (1800–06), Duke of Gottschee
- Wilhelm II (1815–1827), Duke of Gottschee
- Karl Wilhelm Philipp (1827–1890), the 8th prince of Auersperg, Minister-President of Austria 1867-68
- Karl (1890–1927)
- Karl Adolf (1927–2006), Duke of Gottschee, Princely Count of Wels;
- Adolf (*1937) Duke of Gottschee, Princely Count of Wels
Other family members
- Herbard VIII von Auersperg (1528–1575), Habsburg general in the wars against the Ottoman Empire
- Andreas von Auersperg (1556–1593), the "Carniolan Achilles", a leader in the Battle of Sisak in 1593
- Joseph Franz Auersperg (1734-1795), Austrian count, prince bishop of Passau, cardinal
- Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg (1806–1876), Austrian poet ("Anastasius Grün") and liberal politician from Carniola
Turjak Castle and all the other Slovenian property was seized by the government of Czechoslovakia in 1946. It has never been returned to the head of the family. Other branches however still own property in Austria and Southern Tyrol (Italy):
Ernegg Castle, Scheibbs District, Lower Austria
Weitwörth Castle, Salzburg
Wald Castle, Pyhra, Lower Austria
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