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The family is descended from the clan of "Drslavici", like several other Bohemian families. The first known bearer of the family name was "Comes" and Camerarius regis (1199–1212) Cernin de Chudenic (11?? - 12??). The name of the family refers to the town of Chudenice in western Bohemia, which was in their possession from the 13th century until 1945.
On 18 May 1607, the Czernin family was elevated to the Reichsfreiherrenstand with the title "Freiherr von Chudenitz" (Baron of Chudenitz, svobodný pán z Chudenic) and, on 15 March 1623, to the Reichsgrafenstand with the title of "Reichsgraf von Chudenitz" (Count of Chudenitz, hrabě z Chudenic).
It is said that about 1000 years ago, the King had a conflict with a Bohemian nobleman. He was so angry with him, that he sent his troops into the nobleman's castle. The soldiers murdered the whole family except a baby boy, whose nurse had hidden him in a kettle in the kitchen. When the soldiers withdrew, people found the little child in the kettle and they praised God for this miracle. They called the boy Czernin, which means "The Black" in Czech, because he was black all over his face after having lain in the kettle. The king was so impressed by the people's loyalty that he pardoned the little Czernin.
Notable family members
- Johann Rudolf Czernin von und zu Chudenitz (1757-1845), Austrian civil servant and theater director
- Count Ottokar Czernin von und zu Chudenitz (1872-1932), Austro-Hungarian politician and diplomat
- Count Otto Czernin von und zu Chudenitz (1875-1962), Austro-Hungarian diplomat and brother of Ottokar
- Count Manfred Beckett Czernin (1913–1962), Otto's son; British World War II pilot and spy
- Franz Josef Czernin (born 1951), Austrian poet
- Hubertus Czernin (1956-2006), Austrian journalist
- Countess Michelle Czernin von und zu Chudenitz Morzin (born 1969), award-winning motion picture producer
- Tomáš Czernin (born 1962), Czech politician
- Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Gräfliche Häuser Band XII