Škvorec Castle is first mentioned in historical sources in 1279 (but more fully documented in 1404). The founder, and maybe the builder too, was probably Domaslav around 1279, an important courtier and landed official, the butler of the Queen (1262) and her food taster (1263–1269, 1279), Lord High Treasurer (1267–1278) and one of the ten Burgraves of the Prague Castle. From the castle he built, only the deep well is now preserved, cut in the granite rock, which was situated near to the early gothic palace - that standing on the site of the present school building.
The coat-of-arms of Domaslav of Škvorec (three vertical stripes), which can’t be found later in the Central Bohemia, proving that the castle must have passed to another noble family not long after . But unluckily the names of the owners until after 1450 are today not known.
In the second half of 14th century, the castle was owned by the Olbramovic family of Prague. One of them, Olbram son of Menhart (died around 1388), installed the priest of the church in Horky, which already belonged to Škvorec by 1354. Olbram son of Menhart was from 1356 the Reeve of Prague New Town and in 1373-1380 the Burgrave of Vyšehrad. In connection with Škvorec he is mentioned only two times: first as Olbram of Škvorec (in Skworzecz) in the records of visitation of the Prague archdeacon Pavel of Janovice from 1380, and as Olbram son of Menhart of Škvorec a document from 1385 (de Skworecz).
After his death, his three sons Olbram, Pavel and Václav became the owners of Škvorec. The most important of them was Olbram: in 1377 he started to study at the Faculty of Law of Prague University. In 1379 he became the canon of Prague and Vyšehrad. Between 1389-1396 he was the provost of St.Apolinar in Prague New Town, and also the chancellor of the king’s brother Jan of Zhořelec. On 31 January 1396, he became the Archbishop of Prague (he was installed by Pope Boniface IX.). His brother Pavel was a Burgrave in Týn nad Vltavou (1397), and Václav earned 500 marks of silver in the king’s service in 1396. These successes of the three brothers had an influence on their building activity at Škvorec, because its early gothic castle didn’t conform to the needs of noblemen at the end of 14th century.
According to the archeological, historical and building research made by architect Jan Žižka, it appears that round 1400 the family of Olbramovic essentially enlarged the area of the castle and added to the buildings. Opposite the old early-gothic palace they built an oblong tower with a pointed-arched gate and with a small wicket, together with drawbridges across the newly dug water-filled moat. Above it, east of the entrance tower, they built another gothic palace with a chapel, whose chaplain called Václav is noted in judgment roll of the Archbishopric of Prague in 1404. Due to the building of the new palace, Škvorec thus had two palaces, as was faithfully recorded in the fideicommissum documents in1654.
The archbishop with his two brothers owned Škvorec castle until 2 May 1402, when he died. His two surviving brothers then divided the property amongst themselves. Next, Jan Nichilen of Prague bought the Václav’s share (the rent from Škvorec Castle, half of the farmyard and some villages) in 1411, and before 1418 the owner of it was Jan of Klučov. The second half of property was still owned by Pavel of Škvorec until his death (after 1418).
His widow Eliška (Elisabeth) married before 1422 Jan Ohnništko of Ohnišťany, who appropriated the second half of the property too. But in 1426 he violated the parliamentary peace, when he killed his ex-neighbor Prokop Trčka of Květnice in a duel in Prague. As a result he was brought to court and then executed. Eliška became a widow again and very soon she had big debts. Because of them, she had to sell the rent from Škvorec, Hostyň and the half of the market-town of Úvaly to Prokop Bervík of Malešice in the same year. But he sold it only a short time after to Vilém of Kounic, from whom it was bought by Petřík Olbrámovic (shortly called Olbrámek), and thanks to this the whole property was again owned by the family of Olbramovic of Prague.
The next important owner of Škvorec castle was Čeněk of Klinštejn the Crown Prosecutor, who bought it from the Olbramovic family in 1462. He was a very significant person in the Bohemia of that time. He was not only the Crown Prosecutor, but also a Burgrave of Prague Castle (1451–1461) and of Vyšehrad (1467–1479) and in the years 1457-1481 he was the Queen's Prosecutor. In the time of his son Jan, in 1497, King Vladislav II. made Škvorec into a market-town. After his death round 1509, his brother Zdeněk inherited the Castle. He had many lawsuits with his neighbours, townsmen and also with his nearest relatives, as did his son Jindřich, who died in the battles against the Turks in Hungary. After that, the Castle passed to brother of Jindřich's mother - Zikmund Smiřický of Smiřice. In about 1545 he started reconstructing the old castle and modernised it into a renaissance seat. During this reconstruction he probably built the western range with arcades and the building on the eastern side of the courtyard.
During the inheritance procedure after his death, his sons divided the large family property so that Jaroslav became the owner of Škvorec, Albrecht received Náchod and Miletín and Jindřich got Hrubá Skála and Hořice. But not much earlier than 1560, Albrecht is also mentioned as the owner of Škvorec. His son Václav Jaroslav spent a long time in Škvorec, where he died in 1593. His son, Albrecht Václav, died in 1614 and the Castle was inherited by his uncle, Albrecht Jan.
As the fideicommissum records from 1618 tell, Albrecht Jan Smiřický of Smiřice had a vaulted hall known as “the stone hall”, lord’s apartment and also an armoury in the Castle. In other parts of the Castle there were the offices and rooms of members of his estate government and on the ground floor there was some economic establishment.
During the confiscation of his property in 1621 Škvorec Castle fell into the hands of Albrecht of Valdštejn, because his mother was from the Smiřický family. He sold it to Karel of Liechtenstein in 1623.
In the second half of the 17th century Jan Adam of Liechtenstein ordered his officials Šimon Karel Svoboda and Jan Kašpar Ouvalský to elaborate the urbary of his domain. So in 1677 The Golden Book (Zlatá kniha,), which was written in Czech, was finished.
The preserved records of the 'hejtman' of Černý Kostelec, Captain Přech Svatkovský of Dobrohošť, shows that the Swedes plundered the Castle and set it on fire on the 27 November 1639. During the fire the ceilings in some rooms in both palaces collapsed (in one of them – in the upper palace – was the jail for the retainers in that time). The repair works appear to have been minimal: until 1654 only the upper palace was covered by a temporary thatched roof and no more reconstruction then continued. So for the rest of 17th century the Castle was known as a ruin.
From the records of the Uhříněves Estate (to which Škvorec belonged at that time) it is known that the first part of the Castle was repaired by Kristian Minedi in 1710, when he submitted accounts for repairing six rooms to the Estate government. This northern part of the Castle became the seat of Princess Maria Theresa of Savoy, born of Liechtenstein (died 1772) after 1729. Škvorec Castle was still habitable in 1794, but in the years that followed it started to decay again. Instead of reconstruction, the Castle was largely dismantled in 1860-1884.
The dilapidated north-western range of the old Castle was demolished first, then the western two-storied wing was taken down in 1883.On the site of the ruin of the old gothic palace, the local school was built in 1890. Of the whole castle only the rebuilt baroque south-eastern part with the gatehouse tower was left - and also the old Castle well in the courtyard. The so-called 'New Castle' stands opposite the old one. It comprises a large baroque one-storey building with a courtyard of farm buildings, the remains of an old fountain and a baroque gate. As the plans of the architect Josef Jägr from the Liechtenstein family archive in Vaduz testify, this new part of Škvorec Castle was built soon after 1791.
Olbram of Škvorec
Olbram of Škvorec was a nephew of the Prague archbishop Jan of Jenštejn. Jan of Jenštejn had to abdicate because of long-lasting arguments with the Bohemian King Wenceslaus IV, who occupied his lands in 1395. As a satisfaction, the archbishop sued out, that his successor on the archbishop seat would be his nephew Olbram of Škvorec.
The attacks against the Bohemian King Wenceslaus IV, led by many enemies from Bohemia but also abroad, caused that in 1401 the King Wenceslaus had to give the rule in Bohemia to the council of four noblemen: one of them was the archbishop of Prague Olbram of Škvorec. The council should reign in Bohemia instead of the King. Afterwards the King was even captured by his brother Zikmund in Vienna and his henchmen liberated him at the end of the year 1401. After that he took the rule in Bohemia again and the council was disbanded.
Olbram became the archbishop on 2 July 1396 and he was directed direct by the king Wenceslaus. He was installed by his uncle Jan of Jenštejn, for whom it was the last public appearance. Before he became archbishop, Olbram was a chancellor and private mentor of Jan Zhorelecký (the younger brother of King Wenceslaus). Since 1382 he was a canon by St. Vitus Cathedral and in 1389 he became a provost of a collegiate canonry of St. Apolinar (Apolinár). He was very well-educated theologian and a big lover of fine arts. He was an expert in recognizing of man-characters. It was him who appealed to the King Wenceslaus, to take care of welfare of the Church and warned him against spread of heresy in Bohemia.
The arguments between the King Wenceslas and the Union of Lords lead to the establishment of conciliation commission in 1399. It had 8 members – 4 of the king’s side and 4 of the side of the Union of Lords. One of the members of the king’s side was Olbram. They should discuss and solve the problems in Bohemia.
Zikmund Smiřický of Smiřice
Zikmund Smiřický was a Lutheran. On his estates in Eastern Bohemia, which included Hrubá Skála and Malá Skála, he had to control fierce disputes amongst the villages and manors which panned for gold and silver on the river Jizerka. The Smiřický family was for a time one of the wealthiest in the kingdom, with vast holdings in North Bohemia. Albrecht Jan ze Smirnic (born 1594) was Ambassador to the Court of the Emperor and personally participated in the Prague Defenestration. He cast his lot with Bedrich Faldsky and by the time of the Battle of the White Mountain he had died (1618) childless - ending his family line and all his property was confiscated in 1622. Škvorec and other estates of Albrecht Jan were gained by Albrecht of Wallenstein, whose mother was a Smiřický, as war booty from the Emperor.
Maria Theresia (Anna Felicita), Princess von und zu Liechtenstein, was born on 11 May 1694. She was the heiress to the Dukedom of Troppau (Silesia) (now Opava in Moravia). Her father was Furst Johann Adam Ulrich von Liechtenstein - who had purchased the counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg, which is now the modern state of Liechtenstein (although the first Prince to visit Vaduz did so only in 1844). Her mother, Edmunda Marie Theresa von Dietrichstein was the great granddaughter of Adam von Dietrichstein (1527–1590), Hofmeister to the Court of Rudolf II and buried in St Vitus Cathedral, Prague Castle. Maria Theresia’s father had died in 1712 - and both her brothers before that.
In Vienna on 24 October 1713 Maria Theresia married Thomas Emmanuel, Compte de Soissons and Governor of Antwerp (born on 8 December 1687). By this marriage she also became Duchess of Savoy-Carignan. Carignano had been raised by Charles Emmanuel I of Savoy into a principality as an appanage for his third son, Thomas Francis (1596–1656). The house of Carignano developed two junior branches, those of Soissons and Villafranca. In 1662 the town of Yvois in the Ardennes was raised by Louis XIV into a duchy in his favour, its name being changed at the same time to Carignan. The famous Prince Eugene was the second son of the first Duke of Carignan.
Prince Eugene was Thomas Emmanuel’s uncle. Eugene served under Leopold 1st of Austria - and for his leadership at the battle for Vienna (against the Turks) in 1683 he became known as ‘The Atlas of the Austrian monarchy’. In 1697, as Field Marshal and chief of Austria’s armies, he defeated the forces of the Ottoman sultan, Mustafa II, at the decisive battle of Zenta in Hungary.
After her husband died in Vienna on 28 December 1729, Maria Therese made Škvorec Castle her seat.
On 20 February 1772 Maria Theresia died in Vienna. She was a descendant of Georg Hartmann who had become Lutheran c. 1540, while her great grandfather, Karl, a Stattholder of Bohemia had found it wise to become a Catholic in 1599. Maria Theresa’s son, Eugene Jean Francois, Compte de Soissons and Duke of Troppau (born 23 September 1714; died at Mannheim on 24 November 1734) had died at only 20 years old, thus her estate passed to Franz Joseph I, Prince of Liechtenstein - great grandson of Furst Hartmann von Liechtenstein (1613–1686). The title of Compte de Soissons became extinct with the young son’s death.
On his deathbed, on 10 November 1734, Eugene had married by proxy Duchessa Maria Teresa di Massa, Principessa di Carrara - who was only 9 years old at the time. Her second marriage was to Ercole III Rinaldo d’Este, Duke of Modena and Reggio and a descendant of Lucrezia Borgia. Their daughter married Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, whose descendant was Archduke Ferdinand d’Este, heir to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and who was murdered at Sarajevo in 1914.
- "Škvorec" (in Czech). Hrady.cz. 17 July 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
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