House of Kolowrat
The Kolowrat family is among the oldest and most prominent of Bohemian noble families, having played an important role not just in the history of Bohemia, but also throughout Central Europe. Among members of the family we may find Field Marshal Generals, Prime Ministers, High Chancellors, Royal Governors, Ambassadors, Archbishops as well as active supporters of the Czech National Revival. Many of them were patrons of the arts, culture, education, participating in the economic and social development of the nation.
The first written records of the Kolowrat family date back to the 13th century. Nevertheless, the first historically documented Kolowrat, recognised by historians as the founder of the family, is Albrecht of Kolowrat the Elder († 1391). He was marshal to empress Anne of Schweidnitz (wife of emperor Charles IV.), an assessor at the provincial and royal feudal court, later becoming the governor of Vogtland. Lord Albrecht the Elder first entered history books in 1347 when he appeared as a witness in the sale of Rožmitál. He was thrice married and fathered eight children, six of them sons, laying the foundations of one of the most ramified among Czech aristocratic families.
During the 14th and 15th century the Kolowrat family divided into eight family lines:
- Kornhauzsky (Mšec)
- Žehrovicky (Zehrowicz)
- Bezdružicky (Weseritz)
- Nowohradsky (Neuschloß)
- Mašťovsky (Maschau)
- Černonicky (Cernonitz)
- and the last surviving – Krakowsky
The Kolowrat-Krakowsky line derives its name from the Krakovec Castle near Rakovník, which was bought in 1443 by Lord Albrecht the Younger (1422–1470). In 1671 Leopold I., the Holy Roman Emperor, bestowed the hereditary title of Imperial Count to Vilém Albrecht Kolowrat-Krakowsky (1600–1688), the High Chancellor, adding the Bohemian equivalent 3 years later.
A prominent member of the Krakowsky line was undoubtedly the educated and capable politician, highly regarded even by the Holy Roman Empress Maria Theresa, Count Leopold Vilém (1727–1809). The height of his political career was between 1796–1808 when he acted as the Interior Minister, Conference Minister, and the First Minister. Leopold Vilém was married twice and had 17 children. The youngest of them, František Xaver (1783–1855), became the common ancestor of all living descendants of the Kolowrat family today.
The present day ancestral legacy has been borne by Count Jindřich Josef (1897–1996) who returned to the former Czechoslovakia from exile after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. He was accompanied by his son Count František Tomáš to retrieve the family properties.
The current successors of the ancient Bohemian aristocratic family are Count Maximilian Alexander and Francesca Dominika Kolowrat-Krakowsky, the children of Count František Tomáš Kolowrat (1943–2004).
Besides Leopold Maria’s branch of the Kolowrat family, descendants of his younger brother, Count Theodor Kolowrat (1806–1875), currently reside in Rychnov nad Kněžnou. The Rychnov-Černíkovice manor is presently managed by Count Jan Egon Kolowrat-Krakowsky-Liebsteinsky, who returned to Czechoslovakia with his father from Austrian exile.