House of Waldstein

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The primal family coat of arms
The family coat of arms at the end of the 16th century

The House of Waldstein (Czech: Valdštejnové) is a Czech noble family, originally from the old early mediaeval Bohemian clan Markvartici. Its most famous members include Albrecht von Wallenstein, the Imperial general during the Thirty Years' War, and statesman Ferdinand Gabriel von Waldstein, the patron of Ludwig van Beethoven.


Formerly a poor and less significant family, it gradually acquired large properties in the territory of the Crown of Bohemia (especially in Bohemia and Moravia), received prominent positions and – since the 17th century onward – produced many statesmen and civil servants. In 1628 the family was one of the first among the Bohemian nobility to be promoted to Graf (count) status, then to Reichsgraf (imperial count) two years later. After uniting with the line of another Bohemian family, the lords of Vartenberk (German: Wartenberg), the present family title is "Count of Waldstein, lord of Wartenberg". In 1945 the Waldsteins, then almost completely Germanized, were expelled from Czechoslovakia and their possessions were confiscated. They then moved to Salzburg and Vienna in Austria, where parts of the family live to this day, others however returned to Bohemia.

Valdštejn Castle was the historical main seat of the family (until 1821). In 1582 they purchased the lands of the secularized monastery of Třebíč. Mnichovo Hradiště Castle was acquired by Wallenstein in 1623, he was buried there and it remained in his family until expropriation in 1945; so did Wallenstein's Prague city palace, Wallenstein Palace. In 1622 he had also purchased the lordship of Bělá pod Bezdězem which was owned by the family until 1945. Duchcov Chateau passed into the family by inheritance from the House of Lobkowicz in 1642, together with Horní Litvinov, Dolní Litvinov and Dolní Jiřetín, and the Duchcov branch kept it until 1921. In 1945 all properties in Czechoslovakia were confiscated. In the same year however, a branch of the Waldstein-Wartenberg family inherited Karlslust Castle near Hardegg in Austria, together with Burgruine Kaja and the estate of Niederfladnitz, all located directly at the Czech border and still today owned by the family.

Notable family members[edit]

Wallenstein (Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Waldstein), 1583-1634
  • Albrecht von Wallenstein (24 September 1583 – 25 February 1634) Duke of Friedland (Frýdlant), Mecklenburg & Fürst (Prince) of Sagan (Żagań), was a famous Imperial general during the Thirty Years' War, known for his immense ambitions and tragic end.
  • Jan (1508 – 15 June 1576) was the nejvyšší zemský sudí (Supreme Land Judge) of Bohemia from 1554 to 1570 and, until 1576, the nejvyšší komorník (Supreme Chamberlain). He was a follower of the utraquist (Hussite) faith.
  • His son, Adam the Younger (8 June 1570 – 24 August 1638), was also appointed Supreme Land Judge (1608) and later (1611) became zemský hofmistr (Land Hofmeister). He was a faithful Catholic supporter of the Holy Roman Emperor during the anti-Habsburg Bohemian Revolt and for these services he was granted more lands and posts in 1621. In 1627 was appointed Supreme Burgrave (viceroy) of Bohemia and a year later was elevated to the status of Reichsgraf of the Holy Roman Empire. These distinctions were received with mixed feelings – as a Bohemian šlechtic (nobleman), he still recognized old Bohemian statehood and rules, which banned foreign ranks and titles. With the support of other Bohemian noblemen, he brought about the abandonment of the policy of appointing more and more reichsgrafs. He wished to be allowed to die as a Bohemian pán (lord).
  • Ladislaus Burian (1591 – 8 October 1645) was a general.
  • Karl Ernst (Karel Arnošt) (4 May 1661 – 7 January 1713) was the Austrian ambassador to Spain, Savoy and Brandenburg. When in 1703 he returned from a diplomatic mission to France and Portugal on a Portuguese ship, he was captured by the French and held at Vincennes for nearly a year. His release came as a prisoner exchange for the French marshal François de Neufville, duc de Villeroy.
  • Franz de Paula Adam von Waldstein (14 February 1759 – 24 May 1823) was an Austrian soldier, explorer and naturalist.
  • Ferdinand Ernst Gabriel von Waldstein (1762–1823) was the patron of famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
  • Emmanuel Ernst von Waldstein was the 6th Bishop of Litoměřice, a patron of art and science.
  • Dr. Michael Waldstein was the founding president of the International Theological Institute of Trumau, Austria and translator of Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.

Further reading[edit]

  • Koukal, Pavel (2005). Duchcov v zrcadle dějin = Dux im Spiegel der Geschichte [Duchcov in Mirror of History] (in Czech and German) (2nd ed.). Duchcov: Kapucín. ISBN 80-86467-10-4. 

External links[edit]