Aristocratic Families in the Český Krumlov Region

The settlement of this South Bohemian region in medieval times is linked with the aristocratic Witigonen Family (The Vítkovci), namely with the Lords of Krumlov and the Lords of Rosenberg, who slowly developed large estates here. Around 1250 they established the Rožmberk castle, and later on the castle in Český Krumlov, in 1259 the Cistercian monks were called to the monastery of Vyšší Brod. The spread of the Witigonen family was halted by king Přemysl Otakar II, who set up a Cistercian Monastery in the centre of their estates in the year 1263, in the town of Zlatá Koruna and also little later on the town of České Budějovice. The Witigonen family also established several small settlements here. After the Krumlov family branch died out in 1302, all the properties became the properties of the Lords of Rosenberg, who decided to settle in Český Krumlov.

The Rosenbergs managed the estates for three hundred years, and it's widest development and expansion is connected to the rule of the last Rosenberg - Wilhelm von Rosenberg and Peter Wok von Rosenberg. Because Peter Wok did not have any heir to his estates, the first transfer of properties are at the beginning of the 17th century , and later the Český Krumlov estates were sold by the last member of the Rosenberg family to the emperor Rudolf II von Habsburg, and the Rožmberk castle with the adjoining estates were left to his nephew, Jan Zrinský of Seryn. After unexpected decease of heir in 1612 passed over the castle and manor Rožmberk to friendly family of the Švamberks. Because Petr of Švamberk was one of the leaders of the Czech noblemen uprising against the Emperor Ferdinand II., possession of the Švambersks family confiscated and given to general of the Emperor´s soldieries , Karel Bonaventura Buquoy. Also during the Thirty Years' War, the major transfers of what was the Rosenberg estates took place. In the year 1622, The Eggenbergs obtained the Český Krumlov estates together with the castle, from the emperor Ferdinand II. von Habsburg. The family died out at the beginning of the 18th century, and the vast estates fell to the relatives The Schwarzenbergs, who managed the estates until the 1947. The castle of Rožmberk was obtained by The Buquoys in the 1620, and stayed in the family until 1945.

Map of the Rosenberg dominion in 1590 and 1611

It is not possible to forget the vast number of lower class aristocrats, that lived in the castles, and fortresses over the whole region of Český Krumlov (Castles, Chateaux, Monasteries and Other Memorials in the Český Krumlov Region). Members of this lower class aristocracy, used to call themselves aldermen, knights or squires. The time, during the 13th and 14th century, is a period when the constitution of lower class aristocrats was developed as well as the building of their country residences and the possibility to obtain coat-of-arms emblems. (Coats-of arms in the Český Krumlov Region).

An important position is taken up by the Bavor family from Strakonice, who gained a great number of estates in this region during the 13th century. From the Bavor family from Strakonice, three local aldermen families also originate, Aldermen from Chlum, Křemže and from Pořešín, who called themselves after their place of residence (Fortified Settlement of Chlum, Little Castle of Křemže, Little Castle of Pořešín). From the well known Markvartic family came a branch of Lords of Michalovice, they owned the Velešín castle, Sokolči castle and Fortified Settlement of Benešov nad Černou. The family of Pouzar from Michnice, who owned the fortified settlement of Michnice, and the family of Višňů from Vetřní, who owned the fortified settlement of Vetřní and later on the fortified settlement of Pasovary are also among the members of the middle class, who settled in this region. Other smaller aristocratic families had their estates in the region of Český Krumlov, but they were not as significant as the ones previously mentioned, or they owned their estates only for a short period of time. On some fortified settlements the owners quickly changed due to some consequences or debt.

During the 13th and 14th centuries many of the middle class entered the services of the Lords of Rosenberg, who belonged to the most prestigious aristocratic family in the Bohemian Kingdom. Traditionally the services of the Rosenberg family were served by the Višňů family from Větřní, the aldermen from Pořešín or the Pouzars from Michnice and others. The contacts with the powerful Rosenberg family brought to the middle class family certain prestige and many advantages in the form of gifts, protection and so on.

Latrán no.  39, Rosenberg Rider, fresco, foto: Ladislav Pouzar During the second half of the 14th century, the Rosenbergs began to buy or obtain by other means small middle class estates in this region, which they attached to their adjoining lands and their dominion kept on expanding. They demolished certain castles and fortresses, so that they could not serve their potential enemies. This trend reached its peak especially during the rule of Ulrich II. von Rosenberg (1402-1463), who stood at the head of the Catholic aristocrats, who because of the strategy of the Hussite war and even later, had several castles and fortresses demolished. A well known example is the Křemže castle, which he obtained in 1447 by craftiness from his enemy and a supporter of Hussites, Jan Smil of Křemže, whom he later on had secretly beheaded. The Rosenberg family initiated the gradual extinction of the Kuklov castle, Velešín castle and little castle of Pořešín, the fortified settlement of Benešov nad Černou, fortified settlement of Bělá and many more. The importance placed on the castles and fortresses is reduced during the second half of the 15th century due to economic-managerial changes.

During the 16th century many members of the smaller aristocratic families in the Český Krumlov region maintained their close connections with the Rosenberg family, they take the form of direct services, exchange of polite correspondence, visits and giving gifts on both sides. The Rosenbergs repaid the loyalty of these middle classes by providing help during property misunderstanding, arranged protection of widows and orphans and so on.

During the 16th century many of the families became poorer, for example the family of Višňů from Vetřní, who had to sell their estates including the Renaissance fortress in Vetřní to the town of Český Krumlov. Thanks to the purchases of certain fortresses, new families arrived into this region during the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century, for example the family of Častolár from Dlouhá Ves or the family of Kořenov from Trešov and others. Some of the settlements with their adjacent lands, came into the ownership of the Eggenberg family. Many of the fortresses lost the importance of a royal seat, but were used mainly for farming. The importance of the middle class aristocrats diminished during the 17th century, which apart from the social changes in the aftermath of the battle of Bílá Hora, was also by a natural reduction in the number of families.