Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg bigraphy, stories - Austrian statesman

Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg : biography

1 June 1568 - 18 October 1634

Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg (1568 – October 18, 1634) was an Austrian statesman, a son of Seyfried von Eggenberg (died 1594) and great-grandson of Balthasar Eggenberger (died 1493) of the House of Eggenberg.


  • Hans Ulrich Fürst von Eggenberg: Freund und erster Minister Kaiser Ferdinand II. By Hans von Zwiedineck-Südenhorst. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2009. (new edition of digitally preserved original German text printed in Vienna in 1880, printed in Leipzig by Amazon Distribution GmbH) ISBN 1-113-02782-7
  • F. Mareš, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Beziehungen des Fursten J. U. von Eggenberg (Prague, 1893)
  • Schloss Eggenberg. By Barbara Kaiser. Graz: Christian Brandstätter Verlag, 2006. ISBN 3-902510-80-3 (English Edition) or ISBN 3-902510-96-X (German Edition) (available in German or English editions through the Universalmuseum Joanneum)
  • The Thirty Years War. By Cicely Veronica Wedgwood. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1961. (Re-issued by NYRB Classics, 2005. ISBN 1-59017-146-2)
  • Die Fürsten und Freiherren zu Eggenberg und ihre Vorfahren. By Walther Ernest Heydendorff. Graz: Verlag Styria, 1965.


Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg may only have been of simple parentage and had a Protestant upbringing, but, by his own means, he succeeded in becoming one of the most influential Catholic princes in the Holy Roman Empire within just a few decades outshining even his successful cousin, Ruprecht von Eggenberg.

His career, however, developed too quickly and too successfully for it to go unnoticed and unenvied. Contemporaries and historians have had differing opinions regarding Eggenberg's character: seeing him as a man ... who is successful at everything he does, a fellow of good fortune, with a reputation of being completely loyal to the Emperor, highly gifted and reliable, but also a corrupt and slippery customer. Both contemporaries and historians are, however, in agreement about his brilliant diplomatic talent, his personal charm and cleverness and his extraordinary manner of dealing with people.

Hans Ulrich von Eggenberg was born in June 1568 in Graz and had a Protestant upbringing, however, little is known about his childhood and youth. In 1583 he traveled to Tübingen, the heartland of German Protestantism, to study at the renowned Protestant university, Tübinger Stift, where he received a profound education. A famous associate of Hans Ulrich's, Johannes Kepler also received a first rate education at the Tübinger Stift and went on to write his first work, Mysterium Cosmographicum, while teaching in Graz. The intellectual dimensions of this education were to later form the basis of the complex programmatic orientations of his new residence, Schloss Eggenberg.

After completing his studies, he embarked on the Grand Tour, a long educational journey undertaken by young noblemen of the period, which took him through the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy. After the death of his father in 1594, he returned to Graz to take over the safeguarding and administration of his estate and then soon began his career at the Court of Archduke Ferdinand in Graz. To be able to serve at court he had had to convert to the Catholic faith and subsequently also supported the strict counter-reformatory policies of the Archduke. Hans Ulrich's influence became ever stronger at the Inner Austrian court due to interventions by the Archduchess Maria of Bavaria, Ferdinand's mother. Although ten years his senior, Eggenberg soon became Ferdinand's closest friend and confidant, a relationship that was to last all his life.

Archduke Ferdinand was elected Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor of the German Nation in 1619. In his positions as the President of the Geheimrat (Privy Council) and Lord Chamberlain to his new Emperor, Hans Ulrich, the son of a merchant family from Graz, had risen to become one of the most significant and influential statesmen of his time during the period of the Thirty Years' War. Being something akin to a prime-minister according contemporary political understanding,Die Fürsten und Freiherren zu Eggenberg und ihre Vorfahren. 1965, p. 90. it is said that between the years of 1619 to 1634 Ferdinand II never made one single significant political decision without seeking the advice of his friend Hans Ulrich,Schloss Eggenberg. 2006, p. 43. who remained loyal to him throughout the whole of this highly confusing and turbulent period and also throughout the rest of his life.

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