Since their first documentation, the family have been primores (magnates) of the Szekler people in Transylvania.
They are styled as Count Kálnoky Baron of Kőröspatak since 1697 when a Kálnoky was chancellor of Transylvania at the court of Vienna.
At the beginning of the 18th century, through multiple marriages, the Kálnoky's became close to Prince Constantin Brancoveanu, ruler of Wallachia. An entire generation grew up in Bucharest at the prince's court, and held public functions there.
To support Austria's Empress Maria Theresia in the Erbfolgekrieg (war of succession), the family established a regiment of hussars in 1741 which bore their name. The daughter of the Austrian empire's first chancellor married into the Kálnoky family, who thus inherited some of the chancellor's possessions in Moravia.
Two hundred years of military and political careers followed for the family in Austria. The Kalnoky's had a hereditary seat in the House of Lords in Vienna. Under Emperor Franz Joseph I, Count Gustav Kalnoky presided over the joint (Austrian and Hungarian) council of ministers, was minister of the Imperial House and of Foreign Affairs. Effectively, he was the emperor's right hand between 1881 and 1895.
Besides their outstanding military and political careers, the Kálnoky's have been known for their advantageous wedding strategies. Several members married heiresses of aristocratic families on the verge of extinction, thus considerably increasing the Kálnoky's assets and influence in central and western Europe. Count Hugo Kálnoky married countess Marie Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein, a niece of British Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert. Countesses Kálnoky also married into the Houses of Habsburg, Hohenzollern, Liechtenstein and others.
- Ingeborg Countess Kálnoky's The Guest House - The Witnesses at Nuremberg (Bobbs-Merrill, 1974), co-written with Ilona Herisko, is a memoir of her time between September 1945 and January 1947 as the hostess of the houses set up by the Americans for the witnesses who were to appear before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg. People housed under her supervision included everyone from Hitler's personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann and Gestapo founder Rudolf Diels to members of the German resistance and concentration camp survivors.
- Christiane Kohl's Das Zeugenhaus (Goldmann, 2005), mines similar territory as Ingeborg Kálnoky's The Guest House but is based on both Kalnoky's guest book and personal recollections as well as the recollections of Bernhard von Kleist, who worked as an interpreter for the Americans at the Nuremberg trials, and the guest book entries of his wife, Annemarie von Kleist, who took over the witness house after Countess Kálnoky. An English-language version was published in 2010, titled The Witness House: Nazis and Holocaust Survivors Sharing a Villa During the Nuremberg Trials (Other Press).
- Boris Kálnoky's German language Ahnenland - oder die Suche nach der Seele meiner Familie (Droemer Knaur, 2011), originally intended as a biography about his staunchly anti-communist and anti-fascist grandfather, Húgo Kálnoky, who worked as a journalist, chronicles the storied Kálnoky family history based on old records, personal letters, diaries and newspaper articles from its beginnings in 13th-century Transylvania all the way up to modern times.
- In February 2013, it was officially announced that a movie based on Christiane Kohl's Das Zeugenhaus would go into production for Germany's ZDF television. The project is to be directed by Matti Geschonneck and produced by Oliver Berben, with his famed mother/actress, Iris Berben, cast as Ingeborg Countess Kálnoky.
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Male descendants live today in Australia, the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania (Transylvania).
- Gustav Kálnoky (Hungarian: gróf Kőröspataki Kálnoky Gusztáv Zsigmond, means "from Sepsikőröspatak" (Romanian: Valea Crișului, now Covasna County)), an Austro-Hungarian statesman (1832–1898)
- Sámuel Kálnoky, chancellor of Transylvania (1640–1706)
- Antal Kálnoky, general of the Kálnoky hussar regiment Nr 2 (1707–1783)
- Dénes Kálnoky, a Transylvanian politician, writer and freedom fighter (1814–1888)
- Boris Kálnoky, a German-Hungarian journalist and writer (1961- )
- Tibor Kálnoky, a conservationist in Romania (1966- ), Trustee of The Prince of Wales's Foundation in Romania and host of the prince at his yearly visits to Transylvania
- Lindi Kálnoky, an Austrian politician (1935- )
- Lindi Kálnoky, on German Wikipedia
- List of wedding guests of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, Tibor Kálnoky at Prince William's wedding
- Deutsches Adelsarchiv, C.A. Starke (Firm), Deutscher Adelsrechtsausschuss, Genealogisches Handbuch des Adels, Volume 105, C.A. Starke, 1993, p. 278 
- Péter Pál Váradi, Váradi Péter Pál - Lőwey Lilla, Lilla Lőwey, Sepsziszentgyörgy és vidéke, Erdély Fotóalbumok, 2005, p. 21 
- Magyar Heraldikai és Genealógiai Társaság, Közlöny, Volumes 9-11, 1891, p. 83-84 
- "Forced Together, Nazis And Victims Bear 'Witness'".
- "Verschlungene Pfade - Boris Kálnoky sucht in seinem Buch "Ahnenland" die Seele seiner Familie".
- "Familie Berben: Sohn produziert, die Mutter spielt".
- "The White Knight of Transylvania".
- "Count Kalnoky's Estate in Transylvania".