Clary und Aldringen

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Clary und Aldringen
Country Banner of the Holy Roman Emperor with haloes (1400-1806).svg Holy Roman Empire
Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Austrian Empire
Flag of Austria-Hungary (1869-1918).svg Austro-Hungarian empire
Ethnicity Austrian, Austro-Hungarian
Founded 1634
Founder Hieronymus von Clary
Anna Maria von Aldringen
Current head Hieronymus, 9th Prince of Clary und Aldringen (b. 1944)

Clary und Aldringen, also known as Clary-Aldringen, is one of the most prominent Austro-Hungarian princely families. Of dual Bohemian and Catholic Dutch noble origin, the family possessed enormous riches and extended estates in Bohemia and Lower Austria, and it produced several notable Austro-Hungarian statesmen, military officers and diplomats.


The Bohemian princes of Clary und Aldringen descend from two noble families of the Holy Roman Empire. On the one side, the von Clarys, lords of Riva del Garda, are Upper-Italian nobles who entered the Bohemian nobility in the 14th century. On the other side, the von Aldringens are a catholic noble family from the Spanish Netherlands, who sided with the Habsburgs during the Reformation and the subsequent religious wars.

In 1622, Countess Anna Maria von Aldringen, sister and heiress of the Thirty Years War's Austrian general Reichsgraf Johann von Aldringen, married Count Hieronymus von Clary, son of Bohemian lord Franz von Clary. Their descendants were allowed by imperial decree to adopt the name and arms of both families. Ever since, the family has been known as Clary und Aldringen (or Clary-Aldringen).


Elisabeth-Alexandrine de Ficquelmont, princess von Clary und Aldringen and her daughter, Edmée, countess di Robilant e Cereaglio
Count Manfred von Clary-Aldringen

In the Austrian Empire[edit]

The princes of Clary und Aldringen have been one of the most prominent families of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Bohemia.

The rise of the family started when Franz von Clary left his ancestral lands in Trentino to settle in the Kingdom of Bohemia, where his family was known since the 14th century. In 1623, Clary bought properties in the Ústí nad Labem region. However, it was the inheritance of Johann von Aldringen's estates through Franz's son's wife, Anna Maria von Aldringen, that made the Clary-Aldringens one of the most influential and wealthy Bohemian noble families.

Indeed, in 1634, Johann von Aldringen had received from Emperor Ferdinand II the ownership of lands in and around the wealthy city of Teplitz (Teplice),[1] only to die the same year without any heir but his sister Anna Maria. The inheritance was disputed, but Emperor Ferdinand II recognized the Clary-Aldringens as the legitimate heirs of Teplice, making them the most powerful nobles of the Sudetes. Consequently, the rise of the family sped up and, in 1666, the Clary-Aldringens were raised to the rank of Count of the Holy Roman Empire by Emperor Joseph I. Soon after, they bought huge estates in Tyrol. In 1693, they were acknowledged there as a Landmann (de) family – without noble ancestry, but deserving of respect because of the extent of their possessions.

In 1767, Reichsgraf Wenzel von Clary und Aldringen, the Imperial Treasurer (and Emperor Joseph II's private council member), was raised to princely rank. Members of the family became hereditary members of the Austrian Reichsrat (Imperial Council). From that date, the princely title of Fürst (Prince) von Clary und Aldringen was borne by the head of the family, who was styled as Durchlaucht (Serene Highness). Junior members bore the title of Graf (Count) or Gräfin (Countess) von Clary und Aldringen and were styled as Erlaucht (Illustrious Highness).

During the Napoleonic Wars, the family's Teplitz castle was the headquarters of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon, uniting Austria, Prussia and Russia. There was first signed the triple alliance against Napoleon I that led to the coalition victory at the nearby Battle of Kulm and eventually instated the Holy Alliance, officially signed in Paris on September 26, 1815.

During the rest of the century, the family hosted royalty several times at their Teplitz castle: in 1835, they received King Frederick William III of Prussia, Emperor Nicholas I of Russia and Emperor Franz I of Austria; in 1849, they received Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and Kings Frederick William IV of Prussia and Frederick-August II of Saxony; in 1860, they received Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and the Prince-Regent William of Prussia.

During the late 19th century, the princely family maintained great influence within Austro-Hungarian elites (the 100 Hoher Adle Familien). It thus played an important role in politics and diplomacy, as illustrated by prominent Austro-Hungarian diplomat Prince Siegfried (1848–1929) and his brother, the prominent Austrian statesman Count Manfred (1852–1928).

Recent history[edit]

Since 1945, when the Czechoslovak government confiscated their Bohemian ancestral estates, the family has lived in Frankfurt, Germany, and in Venice, Italy. Since March 2007, the head of the family is Hieronymus, 9th Prince of Clary und Aldringen (born 1944).

Notable members[edit]


Teplice Palace (main residence of the family from 1634 to 1945)
Palazzo Clary, Venice
Herrnau castle, Salzburg

The Clary-Aldringens were great landowners, therefore they possessed enormous estates in Bohemia, Tyrol and Lower Austria.

The most important of all of their estates was that of Tepliz, which comprised the eponymous city as well as more than 70 towns and villages. It was one of the larger noble estates of the Sudetes and one of the largest private properties of Bohemia before its confiscation according to the Beneš decrees.

In consequence, the Clary-Aldringens had many residences, the grandest being:

  • Schloss Teplice (Teplice Palace), the primary seat of the family from the 16th century until its confiscation in 1945;
  • Palais Mollard-Clary, the family palace in Vienna;
  • Palais Clary in Prague;
  • Palazzo Clary in Venice, to this day owned by the present prince;
  • Schloss Herrnau (Herrnau Castle) in Salzburg, to this day owned by a younger branch of the counts of Clary-Aldringen.

Dubí's St-Mary's Church was built on the order of the Clary-Aldringens between 1898 and 1906 as a copy of the Venice church Santa Maria dell'Orto, to become their new family church.


The Clary und Aldringen family is related by marriage to many other prominent families, including the following: Radziwill, Glam Gallas, Mensdorff-Pouilly, Ficquelmont, Pejácsevich, de Baillet-Latour, Kinský, Stromberg, Donnersmarck, and Hohenzollern[-Hechingen].


  • Alfons Clary Aldringen, History of an old Austrian, Ullstein, Frankfurt, 1977, ISBN 3-550-07474-3
  • Diana Mosley, Prince and Princess Clary. Loved Ones, London 1985, pp. 132-153, ISBN 0-283-99155-0
  • Genealogy of princes Clary-Aldringen since the early 19th centyury on Gotha website


  1. ^ the Emperor had taken these lands away from the protestant Kinsky family