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HISTORY OF THE SLATIŇANY CHATEAU
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SLATIŇANY CHATEAU
First written records of Slatiňany are dated to the end of the 13th century. In 1294, a simple medieval manor was towering on a rock promotory above the Chrudimka river and Francis of Slatiňany was the owner.
Since then, there was a succesive chain of over 30 different owners. Reasons behind these frequent changes were various and very interesting, from sudden and premature deaths, losses of fortune to whole estate confiscations - just to name a few. The initially timber manor burned to the ground several times.
In 1575, the estate was bought by Bohuslav Mazanec of Frymburk, a scribe of lesser Czech lands tables. This loyal crown officer was for his excellent services knighted by king Ferdinand in 1561 and with his new found status and wealth decided to improve his county residence. He called up Ulrico Aostalli de Sala, an italian architect and master builder, already working in Bohemia for the emperor Rudolph II. and other wealthy czech lords, to rebuild Slatiňany manor into a comfortable chateau a modern Renaissance style. Therefore a two winged, two storied structure was built, covered in typical sgrafito ornaments, visible on the eastern wing to present days.
In 1732, the estate was purchased by an upcoming officer, the Vice Royal Hunts Master of the Czech lands, count Joseph Francis of Schönfeld. He carried out house adaptations in Baroque style. He already owned several other estates in the region – namely Nasavrky, Žleby, Zaječice, Seč and Bojanov. His only daughter married Prince Johann Adam of Auersperg on 14th November 1746 and her dowry remained in the hands of this prominent family until World War II.
The Auerspergs carried out further adaptations of the chateau, most singificantly in the 19th century, when a whole new wing was added and a small staircase tower and the main square tower were built. It was the Auerspergs who gave the chateau in Slatiňany today‘s appearance. In 1942 the last member of the Žleby and Slatiňany branch of the family died and the estates were passed onto his nephew, count Josef Karel Trauttmansdorf. In 1945 the chateau became a property of the state.
THE AUERSPERG OWNERS OF SLATIŇANY
1. PRINCE JOHN ADAM (1721-1795)
The first Auersperg in possesion of Slatiňany was Prince John Adam. His first wife was a wealthy heiress and he inherited her fortune upon her death. As a result, by the end of 18th century, he ranked among the 20 wealthiest noblemen in the Kingdom of Bohemia. His second wife was a famous beauty who became a lover of the Emperor Francis I. John Adam outlived both his wives and all of his children. On his death his wealth was passed onto his younger nephew, Prince Carl.
2. PRINCE CARL (1750-1822)
Prince Carl grew up under the mighty protection of his grandfathers, both important court officials. At the age of 15, he was made a sole heir of the Trautson family fortunes and 20 years later he inherited that of his uncle, John Adam. In 1796 he founded English landscape park in Slatiňany. His military career came to an infamous end in 1805 when he failed to defend Vienna against the French troops. This failure even made it onto the pages of Tolstoy's War and Peace. He was imprisoned and banned from the court at first, but later made the Imperial Huntmaster. His wife was the daughter of Prince Lobkowicz, the Imperial Ambassador to St. Petersburg. Their marriage did not produce any children, so he adopted his grand-nephew Vincenc Carl, who became the next owner.
3. PRINCE VINCENC CARL (1812-1867)
Prince Vincenc Carl made neo-gothic alterations to the Slatiňany chateau in the mid 19th century. His main building project though was a castle in nearby Žleby. It was changed into a medieval knight's dream house with towers, turrets and filled with arms collection, valuable paintings, prints, furniture and other family treasures. Slatiňany were used as an occasional summer seat and a base during the hunting season. Princ Vincenc Carl held an important position of the Grand Chamberlain to the Emperor Franz Joseph I. in Vienna, where he spent most of his time. His wife was a famous beauty, princess Wilhelmine, born Colloredo-Mansfeld. She enriched the Auersperg family fortunes by her dowry, consisting a lavish palace in Prague and a castle Zelená hora in western Bohemia. There she lived till her death in 1898, while her eldest son took over the main seats, including Slatiňany.
4. PRINCE FRANZ JOSEPH (1856-1938)
Franz Joseph Prince of Auersperg was the most important owner of Slatiňany. He was well known as a loving father, attentive husband, excellent businessman and a passionate horseman. He inherited the estate upon his father's passing in 1867 and died here in 1938. During that long period of time, Slatiňany became a comfortable family home, where the children were born and raised, where most of the summers were spent and where friends and relatives often came to visit. Most importantly, he had the house filled with modern technologies of the era, such as electricity, running water, central heating or flushing toilets. Next to it he had large stables built, counting among the most modern in the entire monarchy. His marriage to countess Wilhelmine Kinsky was a very happy one. It produced 5 children for whom a miniature educational farm and a playtime "Cats castle" were built and still stand in Slatiňany.
5. PRINCE FERDINAND (1887-1942)
He was the apple that fell far from the tree. Never married, spending his father's money in "gentlemen clubs" in Vienna and on Safari hunting trips to Africa, he was the last member of the Slatiňany-Žleby branch of the Auersperg family. Upon his death the Auersperg fortunes inherited his younger sister, then already married to count Trauttmansdorff, who became the last private owner until 1945.