1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Esterházy of Galántha
ESTERHÁZY OF GALÁNTHA, a noble Magyar family. Its origin has been traced, not without some uncertainty, to Salamon of Estoras, whose sons Péter and Illyés divided their patrimony in 1238. Péter founded the family of Zerházy, and Illyés that of Illyesházy, which became extinct in the male line in 1838. The first member of the family to emerge definitely into history was Ferencz Zerházy (1563–1594), vice lord-lieutenant of the county of Pressburg, who took the name of Esterházy when he was created Freiherr of Galántha, an estate acquired by the family in 1421. His eldest son, Dániel (d. 1654), founded the house of Czesznek, the third, Pál (d. 1641), the line of Zólyom (Altsohl), and the fourth, Miklós, that branch of the family which occupies the most considerable place in Hungarian history, that of Fraknó or Forchtenstein.
This Miklós [Nicholas] Esterházy of Galántha (1582–1645) was born at Galántha on the 8th of April 1582. His parents were Protestants, and he himself, at first, followed the Protestant persuasion; but he subsequently went over to Catholicism and, along with Cardinal Pázmány, his most serious rival at court, became a pillar of Catholicism, both religiously and politically, and a worthy opponent of the two great Protestant champions of the period, Gabriel Bethlen and George I. Rákóczy. In 1611 he married Orsolyá, the widow of the wealthy Ferencz Mágocsy, thus coming into possession of her gigantic estates, and in 1622 he acquired Fraknó. Matthias II. made him a baron (1613), count of Beregh (1617), and lord-lieutenant of the county of Zólyom and magister curiae regiae (1618). At the coronation of Ferdinand II., when he officiated as grand-standard-bearer, he received the order of the Golden Fleece and fresh donations. At the diet of Sopron, 1625, he was elected palatine of Hungary. As a diplomatist he powerfully contributed to bring about the peace of Nikolsburg (1622) and the peace of Linz (1645) (see Hungary: History). His political ideal was the consolidation of the Habsburg dynasty as a means towards freeing Hungary from the Turkish yoke. He himself, on one occasion (1623), defeated the Turks on the banks of the Nyitra; but anything like sustained operations against them was then impossible. He was also one of the most eminent writers of his day. He died at Nagy-Heflán on the 11th of September 1645, leaving five sons.
See Works of Nicholas Esterházy, with a biography by Ferencz Toldi (Hung.) (Pest, 1852); Nicholas Count Esterházy, Palatine of Hungary (a biography, Hung.) (Pest, 1863–1870).
His third son Pál [Paul] (1635–1713), prince palatine, founded the princely branch of the family of Esterházy. He was born at Kis Marton (Eisenstadt) on the 7th of September 1635. In 1663 he fought, along with Miklós Zrinyi, against the Turks, and distinguished himself under Montecuculi. In 1667 he was appointed commander-in-chief in south Hungary, where he defeated the malcontents at Leutschau and Györk. In 1681 he was elected palatine. In 1683 he participated in the deliverance of Vienna from the Turks, and entered Buda in 1686 at the head of 20,000 men. Thoroughly reactionary, and absolutely devoted to the Habsburgs, he contributed more than any one else to the curtailing of the privileges of the Magyar gentry in 1687, when he was created a prince of the Empire, with (in 1712) succession to the first-born of his house. His “aulic tendencies” made him so unpopular that his offer of mediation between the Rákóczy insurgents and the government was rejected by the Hungarian diet, and the negotiations, which led to the peace of Szatmár (see Hungary: History), were entrusted to János Pállfy. He died on the 26th of March 1713. He loved the arts and sciences, wrote several religious works, and was one of the chief compilers of the Trophaeum Domus Inclytae Estoratianae.
See Lajos Merényi, Prince Paul Esterházy (Hung.) (Budapest, 1895).
Prince Pál Antal, grandson of the prince palatine Pál, was a distinguished soldier, who rose to the rank of field-marshal in 1758. On his death in 1762 he was succeeded by his brother.
Prince Miklós József [Nicholas Joseph] (1714–1790), also a brilliant soldier, is perhaps best remembered as a patron of the fine arts. For his services in command of an infantry brigade at Kolin (1757) he was specially mentioned by Count Daun, and became one of the original members of the order of Maria Theresa. In 1762 he was appointed captain of Maria Theresa’s Hungarian bodyguard, in 1764 Feldzeugmeister, and in 1768 field marshal. His other honours included the Golden Fleece and the grade of commander in the order of Maria Theresa. Joseph II. conferred the princely title, which had previously been limited to the eldest-born of the house, on all his descendants, male and female. Esterházy died in Vienna on the 28th of September 1790. He rebuilt in the Renaissance style Schloss Esterházy, the splendour of which won for it the name of the Hungarian Versailles. Haydn was for thirty years conductor of his private orchestra and general musical director, and many of his compositions were written for the private theatre and the concerts of this prince.
His grandson, Prince Miklós [Nicholas] (1765–1833) was born on the 12th of December 1765. He began life as an officer in the guards, subsequently making the grand tour, which first awakened his deep interest in art. He quitted the army for diplomacy after reaching the rank of Feldzeugmeister, and was employed as extraordinary ambassador, on special occasions, when he displayed a magnificence extraordinary even for the Esterházys. He made at Vienna an important collection of paintings and engravings, which came into the possession of the Hungarian Academy at Budapest in 1865. At his summer palace of Kis Marton (Eisenstadt) he erected a monument to Haydn. His immense expenditure on building and the arts involved the family in financial difficulties for two generations. When the French invaded Austria in 1797, he raised a regiment of 1000 men at his own expense. In 1809, when Napoleon invited the Magyars to elect a new king to replace the Habsburgs, overtures were made to Prince Nicholas, who refused the honour and, further, raised a regiment of volunteers in defence of Austrian interests. He died at Como on the 24th of November 1833.
His son, Prince Pál Antal [Paul Anthony] (1786–1866), entered the diplomatic service. In 1806 he was secretary of the embassy in London, and in 1807 worked with Prince Metternich in the same capacity in Paris. In 1810 he was accredited to the court of Dresden, where he tried in vain to detach Saxony from Napoleon, and in 1814 he accompanied his father on a secret mission to Rome. He took a leading part in all the diplomatic negotiations consequent upon the wars of 1813–1815, especially at the congress of Châtillon, and on the conclusion of peace was, at the express desire of the prince regent, sent as ambassador to London. In 1824 he represented Austria as ambassador extraordinary at the coronation of Charles X., and was the premier Austrian commissioner at the London conferences of 1830–1836. In 1842 he quitted diplomacy for politics and attached himself to “the free-principles party.” He was minister for foreign affairs in the first responsible Hungarian ministry (1848), but resigned his post in September he could see no way of reconciling the court with the nation. The last years of his life were spent in comparative poverty and isolation, as even the Esterházy-Forchtenstein estates were unequal to the burden of supporting his fabulous extravagance and had to be placed in the hands of curators.
The cadet branch of the house of Fraknó, the members of which bear the title of count, was divided into three lines by the sons of Ferencz Esterházy (1641–1683).
The eldest of these, Count Antal (1676–1722), distinguished himself in the war against Rákóczy in 1703, but changed sides in 1704 and commanded the left wing of the Kuruczis at the engagements of Nagyszombat (1704) and Vereskö (1705). In 1706 he defeated the imperialist general Guido Stahremberg and penetrated to the walls of Vienna. Still more successful were his operations in the campaign of 1708, when he ravaged Styria, twice invaded Austria, and again threatened Vienna, on which occasion the emperor Joseph narrowly escaped falling into his hands. In 1709 he was routed by the superior forces of General Sigbert Heister at Palota, but brought off the remainder of his arms very skilfully. In 1710 he joined Rákóczy in Poland and accompanied him to France and Turkey. He died in exile at Rodosto on the shores of the Black Sea. His son Bálint József [Valentine Joseph], by Anna Maria Nigrelli, entered the French army, and was the founder of the Hallewyll, or French, branch of the family, which became extinct in the male line in 1876 with Count Ladislas.
See Count Esterházy’s Campaign Diary (Hung.), ed. by K. Thaly (Pest, 1901).
Count Bálint Miklós (1740–1805), son of Bálint József, was an enthusiastic partisan of the duc de Choiseul, on whose dismissal, in 1764, he resigned the command of the French regiment of which he was the colonel. It was Esterházy who conveyed to Marie Antoinette the portrait of Louis XVI. on the occasion of their betrothal, and the close relations he maintained with her after her marriage were more than once the occasion of remonstrance on the part of Maria Theresa, who never seems to have forgotten that he was the grandson of a rebel. At the French court he stood in high favour with the comte d’Artois. He was raised to the rank of maréchal de camp, and made inspector of troops in the French service in 1780. At the outbreak of the French Revolution, he was stationed at Valenciennes, where he contrived for a time to keep order, and facilitated the escape of the French emigrés by way of Namur; but, in 1790, he hastened back to Paris to assist the king. At the urgent entreaty of the comte d’Artois in 1791 he quitted Paris for Coblenz, accompanied Artois to Vienna, and was sent to the court of St Petersburg the same year to enlist the sympathies of Catherine II. for the Bourbons. He received an estate from Catherine II., and although the gift was rescinded by Paul I., another was eventually granted him. He died at Grodek in Volhynia on the 23rd of July 1805.
See Mémoires, ed. by E. Daudet (Fr.) (Paris, 1905), and Lettres (Paris, 1906).
Two other sons of Count Ferencz (d. 1685), Ferencz and József, founded the houses of Dotis and Cseklész (Landschütz) respectively. Of their descendants, Count Móricz (1807–1890) of Dotis, Austrian ambassador in Rome until 1856, became in 1861 a member of the ministry formed by Anton Schmerling and in 1865 joined the clerical cabinet of Richard Belcredi. His bitter hostility to Prussia helped to force the government of Vienna into the war of 1866. His official career closed in 1866, but he remained one of the leaders of the clerical party.
See also Count János Esterházy, Description of the Esterházy Family (Hung., Budapest, 1901). (R. N. B.)