The Nobles of the Czech Lands in European Diplomacy

Jan 1, 2018 till Dec 31, 2018

The Nobles of the Czech Lands in European Diplomacy is part of the long-term programme of the Czech National Heritage Institute entitled In the Footsteps of Noble Families. The aim of this programme is to research and present the cultural historical heritage of the noble families whose former residences fall under the care of the National Heritage Institute. Annually, the project focuses on either a particular family (for example, the Rosenbergs in 2011; the Lords of Kunštát in 2014), or reflects a certain theme associated with nobles (Year of the Renaissance Aristocracy, 2017).

In the year of 2018 the project is to focus on the theme of nobles within diplomacy, and for three essential reasons:

  1. Due to their privileged social position nobles have naturally participated in diplomacy since as far back as the middle ages and important aristocrats have worked in the diplomatic service even in the era of civic society beginning in the 19th century including the period of the Czechoslovak Republic after 1918.
  2. The National Heritage Institute has in its care an exceptionally valuable and extensive collection of artefacts, documents, and other materials associated with the diplomatic activities of nobles.
  3. The diplomatic activities of nobles have left an indelible footprint in European and world history, and so represent an exceptionally appropriate theme for 2018, the European Year of Cultural  Heritage, as announced by the European Commission.

The main aim of the project is the creation of a new exhibition at the chateau of Jindřichuv Hradec with the title of The Perfect Diplomat and the subtitle of The Czernin Family – Ambassadors, Travellers, Collectors. The title of the project comes from the eponymous book The Perfect Diplomat, which from the 17th Century onwards was the foundational textbook of diplomacy. Its Italian edition from the year 1649 was dedicated to Humprecht Johann Czernin, the ambassador of Leopold I to Venice and the builder of the Czernin Palace in Prague, the present headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The exhibition presents the diplomatic and associated travel and collecting activities of the Czernin family, the former owners of the chateau of Jindřichuv Hradec. One of the main exhibits is to be the unique Turkish Tent, a gift received by Hermann Czernin of Chudenitz in 1644 from diplomats of the Ottoman Empire.

At chosen premises of the National Heritage Institute further activities connected to “the year of diplomacy” will take place according to the character of preserved artefacts and themes associated with the respective locations. For example, at the chateau of Český Krumlov there will be a new presentation of the story of the Eggenberg Golden Carriage which the imperial diplomat Johann Anton I of Eggenberg had built in 1638 for the ceremonial procession of the diplomatic mission to Rome on the occasion of the announcement of the election of Ferdinand III of Habsburg as Holy Roman Emperor to Pope Urban VIII. At the chateau of Kynžvart there is to be a homage to the work of Prince Klemens Metternich, at the chateau of Lysice an exhibition focused on the diplomatic activities of Count Erwin Dubský is to be held. Similar activities will take place at more than thirty premises of the National Heritage Institute.

Apart from events taking place in the Czech Republic there will also be events held abroad, particularly at locations where significant diplomatic activities of nobles from the Czech lands took place. At these locations the National Heritage Institute will, in cooperation with heritage institutes abroad, organise panel displays, workshops, and colloquia in order to research and popularise the theme of diplomacy. At the same time the National Heritage Institute will use this opportunity to present the theme of cultural heritage care in the Czech Republic. In this further sense of the project, and in the context of the European Year of Cultural Heritage, the National heritage Institute aims to present itself as an “ambassador” of cultural heritage care in the Czech Republic.

In August 2018 the chateau of Kynžvart, the former residence of the Austrian chancellor Klemens Metternich, will become the centre of a Castle and Chateau Night with an event programme focused upon the role of the Metternich family in European diplomacy.

In tandem with the exhibitions and presentations popular publications and publicity materials will be issued, the theme of the diplomatic activities of nobles in relationship to the premises and artefacts in the care of the National Heritage Institute will be summarised in a special publication issued by the National Heritage Institute in cooperation with renowned academics and university experts.