Schönborn (noble family)

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Family coat of arms of those of Schönborn

The family of the Counts of Schönborn is a noble family that has survived to this day , originally from the Rheingau and Taunus , and in the early modern period provided many ecclesiastical dignitaries of the Holy Roman Empire . The Schönborn, especially their church princes , are among the most important builders of the Baroque period in southern Germany.

From 1661 the family held the rule of Heusenstamm in southern Hesse and from 1671 the Würzburg feudal rule Reichelsberg . From 1701 the Schönborn ruled the imperial direct rule Wiesentheid in Lower Franconia, whereby they rose to the high nobility . At the same time as Wiesentheid, rulers in Styria and Carinthia were inherited and soon afterwards through purchase in Lower Austria , from 1726 also in Hungary and towards the end of the 18th century in Bohemia .

Since the 18th century and in art history, the artistic creation in the Hochstift Würzburg between the accession of Prince-Bishop Johann Philipp Franz (1719) and the death of Prince-Bishop Friedrich Karl von Schönberg (1746) has been referred to as Schönborn time . The construction of the Würzburg Residence in particular fell into this era .


Heusenstamm Castle (Offenbach district), built from 1661 for Philipp Erwein von Schönborn
Schönborner Hof (Mainz) , built 1668–1670 for Philipp Erwein von Schönborn
New residence (Bamberg) , built 1697–1703 under Prince-Bishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn
Favorite pleasure palace (Mainz) , built 1700–1722 for Elector Lothar Franz
Wiesentheid Castle , owned by the family since 1701, expanded into a residence by Rudolf Franz Erwein von Schönborn
Weißenstein Castle (Pommersfelden) , owned by the family since 1711, built 1711–1718 under Prince-Bishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn
Würzburg residence , built 1719–1744 by Balthasar Neumann for the prince-bishops Johann Philipp and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn
Bruchsal Castle , built from 1720 for Damian Hugo , Prince-Bishop of Speyer
Reichshof Chancellery - wing of the Vienna Hofburg , built 1723–1730 by Lukas von Hildebrandt under Reich Vice Chancellor Friedrich Karl von Schönborn
Werneck Castle , built 1733–1745 for Prince-Bishop Friedrich Karl
Dikasterialgebaude of castle Philippsburg in Koblenz, 1738-1749 by Balthasar Neumann and Johannes Seiz for the Trier Elector Franz Georg von Schönborn built

The family traces its origins back to a ministerial family that belonged to the Rhenish knighthood before 1180 . The family's home country was in the Rheingau (western Hintertaunus ) and in eastern Hintertaunus . The family's name is derived from the town of Schönborn near Limburg an der Lahn . The first known bearer of this name is said to have been a knight named Eucharius von Schönborn , who is said to have lived in the middle of the 12th century. However, this Eucharius is only mentioned in a secondary source from around 1670. The family first appeared in a document in 1275 with H. von Sconenburne when it was enfeoffed . It is possible that the early ancestors of the family were tied to the lords of the Schaumburg as vassals , but their coat of arms also suggests a connection to the Counts of Diez .

Early possessions

At the end of the 14th century, the Schönborn had split into three lines , of which the "Stroß" was soon extinguished. The older line kept the headquarters of Schönborn (near Katzenelnbogen ) and, as the most important fiefdom, Burgschwalbach with the Katzenelnbog official castle Schwalbach and the Nassau Hahnstätten . Her relatives appear several times as holders of offices for the counties of Katzenelnbogen and Kurmainz . In addition, there is already an accumulation of ecclesiastical dignities: several abbots, a large bailiff of the Order of St. John and, from the 16th century, canons in Trier and Mainz . The third line was a property focal point in the Westerwald . The Westerwald Schönborn were in the service of the Westerburg , Kurtrier , Kurmainz, Nassau-Weilburg and the County of Wied . Two sub-lines of the Westerwald formed in Laubuseschbach and Freienfels . Numerous documents prove the continued close connections between the two remaining lines, which continued until the older Hahnstätter line with the Mainz canon Friedrich Georg died in 1640.


The Schönborn family lived in their home area until the middle of the 17th century. At this time, the Reformation spread in the Hintertaunus, while many family members continued to be Catholic, as the Schönborn traditionally placed younger sons in cathedral monasteries. The family started their ascent with Johann Philipp von Schönborn , who started with a small canon priest in Würzburg at the beginning of the Thirty Years War , then served as an officer and was elected Prince-Bishop of Würzburg in 1642 because of his diplomatic skills . As such, he played a major role in the negotiations at the peace congresses in Münster and Osnabrück and was therefore elected Archbishop and Elector of Mainz in 1647. His brother Philipp Erwein von Schönborn also left his home and was employed as the Electorate of Mainz in Steinheim . He acquired lands and goods on both sides of the Rhine, on the Main and in the Taunus, including Gaibach in 1650 through inheritance, purchase and lending . He bought the Heusenstamm lordship with the goods belonging to it in the Wetterau in 1661. As early as 1663, Emperor Leopold I appointed him and all his descendants to be noble lords and imperial free . At the same time he was given the great palatinate and extensive privileges. His brother also appointed him to Erbschenken the archbishopric Mainz and Erb Stewards of the Bishopric of Würzburg . He also held the titles of Reichshofrat and Electorate Mainz Privy Council . In 1671 the family was accepted into the Franconian knight circle because of the Reichelsberg rule .

In 1635, Philipp Erwein married Freiin Maria Ursula von Greiffenclau-Vollraths (a close relative of the then Mainz Elector Archbishop Georg Friedrich von Greiffenclau zu Vollrads ), with whom he had 12 children, including Lothar Franz , who became Elector and Archbishop of Mainz in 1695, and Melchior Friedrich Graf von Schönborn-Buchheim . Melchior Friedrich inherited the Heusenstamm lordship . He was the imperial and Electorate of Mainz secret councilor and vice domus of Aschaffenburg , married to Sophie Freiin von Boineburg , and lived in the Schönborn court in Aschaffenburg.

As Elector of Mainz and Arch Chancellor of Mainz, Lothar Franz played an important role in imperial politics. He was one of the reliable pillars of Emperor Charles VI. , whom he had elected and also crowned in 1711. When the emperor put down the rebellion of the Magyar Prince Franz II Rákóczi in the Kingdom of Hungary in the same year , he confiscated his lands around Palanok Castle with the cities of Mukachevo and Tschynadijowo as well as 200 villages with a total area of ​​2,400 square kilometers and gave them to Lothar Franz von Schönborn . He had ordered his Schönborn regiment from Mainz and the Wolfskehl regiment from Würzburg to the Hungarian front, which had made a decisive contribution to the victory. Lothar Franz wanted to cultivate the land that had been destroyed by the war and used tempting offers to attract settlers from Franconia. It was one of the largest estates in Eastern Europe, which the family owned until the 20th century.

Melchior Friedrich had a number of sons, Rudolf Franz Erwein (1677–1754) inherited Gaibach and the palace in Aschaffenburg. Through his marriage to the widowed Countess Eleonore von Dernbach , née Countess von Hatzfeld , the property of the Grafschaft Wiesentheid in Lower Franconia came in 1701 (until today) as well as the rule Arnfels in Styria (until 1912) and the rule Waldenstein in Carinthia (until 1803) to the Schönborn. The countess had inherited these properties from her first husband.

Rudolf's younger brother Anselm Franz (1681–1726) inherited Heusenstamm, which fell to the Wiesentheider branch from his descendants at the beginning of the 19th century. The other four sons of Melchior Friedrich became Prince-Bishops with large sources of income: Johann Philipp in Würzburg, Friedrich Karl in Würzburg and Bamberg, Franz Georg in Trier and Worms and Damian Hugo in Speyer and Constance.

Friedrich Karl spent most of his life in Vienna, where his uncle Lothar Franz had appointed him as Reich Vice Chancellor and he exercised considerable influence at the court, even after he was elected Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg. He was also active as a builder in Vienna and acquired several palaces and country estates, including in 1710 the lords of Göllersdorf , Mühlberg and Aspersdorf (with which his father was initially nominally enfeoffed) and in 1714 from the Counts of Puchheim (or Buchheim, who died soon afterwards) the rule of Weyerburg . The family was then accepted into the Austrian nobility . In 1727 he inherited the Pommersfelden Castle and the Hungarian possessions from his uncle Lothar Franz. However, he did not succeed in being elected Archbishop of Mainz as his successor.

At the end of the 18th century, three brothers, great-grandson Rudolf Franz Erwein, founded the three lines of the family that still exist today: Franz Philipp (1768–1841) the Schönborn-Buchheim line in Austria, Franz Erwein (1776–1840) the Franconian line Schönborn- Wiesentheid and Friedrich (1781–1849) established the Bohemian line Schönborn in Prague. Count Hugo Damian auf Wiesentheid etc. also acquired a Fideikommiss in Bohemia in 1794 : Unter-Lukawitz (Dolní Lukavice) with 18 villages, Přeštice and Žehrovice with 3 villages and Příchovice with 6 villages. Since he was childless, his brother Klemens (1810–1877), who lived in Gaibach, continued the Wiesentheider line. The Bohemian line, based in the Schönborn Palace (Prague) (1794 to 1918), also acquired the Skalka Castle in 1796 , which they owned until 1945.

The family achieved a high level of influence in the Catholic Church over several generations. In 1743, sons of the family at the same time the prince bishops of Bamberg, Würzburg, Constance, Speyer and Worms, another sat on the Trier Erzstuhl - and (previously occupied already by two Schönborns) on the Erzstuhl of Mainz was sitting by Ostein Johann Friedrich Karl a close relative of the family. Also in the 19th and 20th / 21st In the 19th century, the House of Schönborn provided one cardinal archbishop each from Prague and Vienna.

The rise of Schönborn and services as builders

The founder of Schönborn's household power was Johann Philipp (1605–1673), who as Bishop of Würzburg and Worms and as Archbishop of Mainz, thus also as Elector and Arch Chancellor of the empire, was the first to achieve important ecclesiastical dignities. Mainly because of his outstanding role at the peace congresses in Münster and Osnabrück , he was elected archbishop by the Mainz cathedral chapter on November 19, 1647, already bishop of Würzburg since 1642 . At that time the Schönborns threatened to die out in the male line, he and his brother Philipp Erwein were the last male namesake. Aware of this, the two brothers decided to proceed as follows: The older, clever and diplomatic, strived for high spiritual dignity, which not only ensured political influence, but also ensured the family's livelihood through income and benefices. Philipp Erwein, for his part, married appropriately and had twelve children - seven daughters and five sons. He underpinned the development of the family fortune through secular offices, viticulture and enlargement of the property. The sons of Philipp Erwein were brought up in a clearly formulated performance and moral ethos so that they could again enter spiritual offices through the protection of their uncle. The daughters were married into respected noble families. The daring political and social development of the family network worked so successfully that the nephews of the second and third Schönborn generations, despite considerable competition from the high Catholic nobility, obtained many important ecclesiastical offices in the empire. Although they had to prove themselves through performance and success, they had fewer obligations and dependencies on their rise than many rivals from the established Rhenish-Franconian pen nobility.

The Schönborns sought to manifest this political and social influence and the resulting claim to power at a time of beginning change from absolutism to enlightenment : in culture, education and architecture. As children of the Catholic Baroque, they looked politically to the Habsburg imperial family, but primarily to Versailles in terms of representation . After the end of the Thirty Years War , Elector Johann Philipp still had security issues in mind and built the Mainz fortress between 1655 and 1675 with 16 bastions , which formed a star-shaped belt around Mainz, and the Mainz citadel as the commandant's office as well as the Petersberg citadel in Erfurt , so his nephew, Elector Lothar Franz , was able to focus more on representative buildings, although he had the fortress builder Johann Maximilian von Welsch build a second fortress ring with five far forward forts around the city of Mainz (1710-1730) during the War of the Spanish Succession . But Welsch was also commissioned to build the Favorite pleasure palace near Mainz (1700–1722) and expanded the Kurmainzische Lieutenancy in Erfurt to a four-wing complex (1713–1720), Johann Baptist Ferolski built the Rochusspital in Mainz from 1721–1729. Above all, however, the Dientzenhofer brothers became Lothar Franz's court architects: Leonhard Dientzenhofer designed the New Residence in Bamberg and several monasteries from 1697–1703 , Johann Dientzenhofer 1711–1718 Weissenstein Castle in Pommersfelden, the latter as a private country estate, which is still owned by Count Schönborn from Wiesentheid to this day (Lothar Franz's library can also be viewed there, as well as Germany's largest private collection of Baroque paintings with over 600 exhibits, including paintings by van Dyck , Rubens , Brueghel, Giordano , Tizian , Artemisia Gentileschi and Dürer ). The plasterer Antonio Giuseppe Bossi and the sculptor Johann Wolfgang van der Auwera are among the most important sculptors of the Schönborn period who contributed to the design of Würzburg buildings .

Balthasar Neumann (1687–1753), master builder for four Schönborn bishops

In 1719 Lothar Franz's nephew Johann Philipp Franz was elected Prince-Bishop of Würzburg. He appointed the engineer and architect Balthasar Neumann as building director and in 1720 gave him the building of the Würzburg residence , which became his great life's work. He was assisted by Johann Dientzenhofer as well as the fortress and palace builder of Mainz and Bamberg, Maximilian von Welsch, and also Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt , the builder of Johann Phillip Franz's brother Friedrich Karl , who was then Imperial Vice Chancellor in Vienna. Neumann became the most sought-after building director and engineer in the lands of the Hochstifte Würzburg and Bamberg . He was responsible not only for the palaces, but also for churches (over 100, including the Würzburg Court Church - one of the most important spatial creations of the German Baroque -, the hardly less important pilgrimage church Vierzehnheiligen , furthermore the Gößweinstein Monastery , St. Mauritius zu Wiesentheid and St. Cäcilia zu Heusenstamm ), as well as numerous residential and office buildings, bridges, streets and fountains. According to the bold design for the Würzburg residence, Neumann's specialty was his stately stairwells, including the one for Cardinal Damian Hugo , another brother in Bruchsal Castle (built 1720–1731 by Welsch) . He also commissioned the Kislau hunting lodge and the Hermitage in Waghäusel and completed the New Meersburg Palace , also with a staircase and palace chapel by Balthasar Neumann, who also designed St. Peter zu Bruchsal as his burial place . Neumann built Werneck Castle for Prince-Bishop Friedrich Karl from 1733 to 1745 and completed the Würzburg Residence under him. During his time in Vienna, Friedrich Karl had already commissioned Lucas von Hildebrandt to build the Schönborn Garden Palace , the reconstruction of the Schönborn-Batthyány Palace and the Secret Court and State Chancellery (today's Federal Chancellery), and from 1723–1730 also the Reichshof Chancellery wing of the Vienna Hofburg , also the Blauer Hof in Laxenburg as well as the palace and church in Göllersdorf . He was also the builder or renovator of around 100 church buildings, including the Münsterschwarzach Abbey . The youngest brother from the third generation, Franz Georg , built the church of St. Paulin in Trier from 1734 , which he financed from his own resources by Christian Kretzschmar , with interior decoration by Balthasar Neumann. From this he also had the St. Laurentius Church built on his summer residence in Dirmstein , and according to Neumann's plans, he expanded Philippsburg Castle in Koblenz to include the dicastery building and the Prüm Abbey with new abbey buildings, made Baroque castle ob Ellwangen and built the Schönbornslust hunting lodge in Kesselheim .

However, the Franconian historian Andreas Flurschütz da Cruz presented new critical research results on the otherwise almost unprecedented and unrestrained rise of the von Schönborn family in an essay in 2013 that portrayed a dispute among the Franconian and Austrian nobility from 1716, in which the imperial family was also involved , makes the basis for the fact that the von Schönborn family's request for admission to the imperial princes was refused by the imperial head in 1717 - a detail in the family history that the extremely extensive Schönborn research seems to have neglected so far.

Images of church buildings by the Schönborn bishops

Over 100 churches were built under the Schönborn bishops (in the so-called Schönborn period), including:

coat of arms

Blazon of the heraldic coat of arms :
"In red a two-tailed, blue-crowned and blue-tongued golden lion walking on three silver tips." Crest: "On a pot helmet in side view with red-silver covers, the lion standing between two red buffalo horns."

Secular bearers of names

Clergy from the Schönborn family

Altarpiece by Franz Lippold in the parish church of Gaibach (around 1745): Three generations of the Schönborn family

The altarpiece in the Gaibach parish church is a family memorial. It shows three generations of male members of the Schönborn family who made careers in the imperial church and in the secular area (the insignia in the foreground serve as references to the spiritual and secular rule they served - imperial church, holy see and emperor). The commissioner of the work, Friedrich Karl von Schönborn (Prince-Bishop of Bamberg and Würzburg), kneels as the founder on the left in the foreground. Behind this is a relatively systematic representation of the members of three generations. The representatives of the first generation (bowing) on ​​the left Johann Philipp (Elector of Mainz, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg and Worms), on the right Philipp Erwein (Mayor of Mainz). Behind this on the right leaning forward slightly his son Melchior Friedrich (Mainzer Obermarschall and Vizedom von Aschaffenburg ). Behind this, in turn, the next generation with Anselm Franz (far right in the back, imperial general) and next to him Rudolf Franz Erwein (Mainz Vizedom, represented with the Order of the Golden Fleece ), the two founders of the Wiesentheid and Heusenstamm lines . On the left side of the picture, the spiritual representatives of the house are shown. In the far left far left Johann Philipp Franz (Prince-Bishop of Würzburg), next to him Lothar Franz (Bishop of Bamberg and Archbishop of Mainz), to the right of this Franz Georg (Elector of Trier, Prince-Bishop of Worms). In the middle of the picture Cardinal Damian Hugo (Prince-Bishop of Speyer and Konstanz) and on the right behind this still Marquard Wilhelm ( Provost of Bamberg and Eichstätt). In Würzburg there is a Baroque-style burial chapel belonging to those of Schönborn.

Other possessions

Among the possessions of the Frankish line of the Counts of Schönborn-Wiesentheid, are still today the locks in Wiesentheid (private residence), Pommersfelden (Castle Museum and Art Gallery, gastronomy and summer residence), which in 1650 acquired the Castle Gaibach (school) since 1805 and Castle Geisenheim (winery and gastronomy), since 1806 Hallburg Castle (winery and gastronomy) and since 1896 the domain with winery in Hattenheim . Furthermore over 1,600 ha of forest, 900 ha of arable land and approx. 90 ha of ponds.

The possession of the Austrian line, the Counts of Schönborn-Buchheim, still includes Schönborn Castle (Göllersdorf) in Lower Austria with agriculture and forestry and a golf course, Weyerburg Castle and the Schönborn-Batthyány Palace in Vienna.

The Bohemian line owned the Schönborn Palace (Prague) until 1918 and Skalka Castle until the expulsion and expropriation in 1945 . The present Cardinal Christoph Schönborn from Vienna was born there in 1945 .

Individual evidence

Schönborn Chapel at the Cathedral of St. Kilian in Würzburg, grave place of Schönborn
More prince-bishop's coat of arms on a gate of the Marienberg Fortress
  1. ^ Max H. von Freeden : Würzburg's residence and Fürstenhof at the time of Schönborn. Amorbach 1961, especially p. 5.
  2. Stefan Kummer : Architecture and fine arts from the beginnings of the Renaissance to the end of the Baroque. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes; Volume 2: From the Peasants' War in 1525 to the transition to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1814. Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1477-8 , pp. 576–678 and 942–952, here: pp. 647–666 ( Die Schönborn- Time ).
  3. ^ Gerhard Köbler : Historical Lexicon of the German Lands. The German territories from the Middle Ages to the present. 7th, completely revised edition. CH Beck, Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-406-54986-1 , p. 637 ( limited preview in the Google book search).
  4. R. Knipping, The Regest of the Archbishops of Cologne in the Middle Ages III 2, 1913, No. 3533.
  5. ^ Rudolf Distler: The forgotten "Schönborn Franks" in the Mukatschewo / Ukraine region. Inaugural dissertation in the Faculty: History and Geosciences at the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg. In: . January 17, 2002, accessed December 19, 2017 .
  6. ↑ On this and the following: Monuments Online: In the Service of the Absolute, the Schönborns and Balthasar Neumann
  7. Stefan Kummer : Architecture and fine arts from the beginnings of the Renaissance to the end of the Baroque. In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes; Volume 2: From the Peasants' War in 1525 to the transition to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1814. Theiss, Stuttgart 2004, ISBN 3-8062-1477-8 , pp. 576–678 and 942–952, here: pp. 664 f.


  • Max Hermann von Freeden (Ed.): Sources on the history of the baroque in Franconia under the influence of the house of Schönborn. Part I: The time of Archbishop Lothar Franz and Bishop Johann Philipp Franz von Schönborn 1693–1729 , second half volume, commission publisher F. Schöningh, Würzburg 1955
  • Max Domarus : The education system in Würzburg under Friedrich Karl von Schönborn , Diss. Würzburg 1943.
  • Max Domarus: Würzburg church princes from the house of Schönborn . Domarus, Wiesentheid 1951.
  • Max Domarus: Rudolf Franz Erwein v. Schönborn . Domarus, Wiesentheid 1954.
  • Max Domarus: Abbess Eva Theresia von Schönborn and the aristocratic women's monastery for Saint Anne in Würzburg . Schöningh [on commission], Würzburg 1964.
  • Hellmuth Gensicke: On the history of the Nassau nobility. The one from Schönborn. The beginnings of the Count House . In: Nassauische Annalen, 91 (1980), pp. 259-283.
  • Constantin von Wurzbach : Schönborn, the lords and counts, genealogy . In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich . 31st part. Kaiserlich-Königliche Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Vienna 1876, pp. 131–136 ( digitized version ).
  • Constantin von Wurzbach : Schönborn, coat of arms . In: Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich . 31st part. Imperial-Royal Court and State Printing Office, Vienna 1876, p. 139 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Genealogical manual of the nobility : Adelslexikon Volume XIII, Volume 128 of the complete series, CA Starke Verlag, Limburg (Lahn) 2002, ISSN  0435-2408
  • Sylvia Schraut : The Schönborn House - a family bibliography. Catholic imperial nobility 1640–1840. Schöningh, Paderborn 2004, ISBN 978-3-506-71742-9 .
  • Andreas Flurschütz da Cruz: The end of a family career. That prevented the Würzburg coadjutor election of 1716 and its consequences for the Schönborn family . In: Jahrbuch für Regionalgeschichte 31 (2013), pp. 17–43, ISSN  1860-8248
  • Peter C. Hartmann (ed.): The Mainz Electors of the House of Schönborn as Imperial Arch Chancellor and Lords (= Mainz Studies on Modern History), Peter Lang: Frankfurt am Main 2002.
  • Peter Stephan: "In the shine of the majesty of the empire" - Tiepolo and the Würzburg residence: The imperial idea of ​​Schönborn and the political iconology of the Baroque , Konrad Verlag: Weißenhorn 2003
  • Philipp Thull: The Schönborn dynasty - the most brilliant representatives of the imperial church . In: Mainfränkisches Jahrbuch für Geschichte und Kunst 65 (2013), 131–144.

See also

Web links

Commons : House of Schönborn  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files