Albrecht von Waldstein – controversial figure of the Czech history

Now there is an interesting exhibition about Albrecht of Waldste in Prague, but who exactly he was? That is a hard question. Lets have a brief look on him.

He was born in 1583 into poor protestant branch of Protestant family. Both of his parents died when he was still a child, so his uncle raised him, he got a good education, he even spent some time at prestigious Bologna university. At the age of 21 he started to make his career in the army, fighting against the Ottoman Turks and Hungarian rebels. In the beginning he was just the lowest soldier, but he was very brave, so he went up fast. For his bravery and extravagance he even got a nickname “der dolle von Wallenstein” (foolish Waldstein). But since his childhood he was also often sick, he did not like loud noises, was very nervous and had to keep a strict diet because of his health. But he was very ambitious so he got a good position in the army. In 1606 he converted to the Catholicism. Later he came back to Bohemia to marry a rich widow Lucretia Nikossie von Landeck, who possessed the estates in Moravia. Lucretia died in 1614, so Abrecht married in 1917 for the second time, to Isabella Catharina von Harrach, with whom he had two children, a son who died very young and a daughter.

But Albrecht became a really powerful man only because of Thirty Years´ war. On it´s beginning, the Catholics were fighting with Protestants in Bohemia, and Albrecht stood on the side of the Catholics, which was also the side of the Habsburgs and the emperor, so when they won, he got some of the estates confiscated to Protestants. Then he ruled over the territory of Friedland (Frydlant) in northern Bohemia, he was a capable ruler so his land became very economically successful. He also managed that the enemy army commands avoided his land, so it was known as Terra felix (a Latin expression, which in English means Happy land).

Later the emperor Ferdinand the Second and other Habsburgs got into troubles, when their enemies made an anti-Habsburgs ally. So Albrecht offered to help the emperor, to build for him a strong and powerful army. So he said it happened. But as Albrecht was becoming more and more powerful and rich, more and more people becoming jealous on him, probably even the emperor himself. But Albrecht also was not innocent, later he was even considering the possibility to join the part fighting against the emperor. In 1934 he was accused of perfidy by the prominent generals of his army and according to their initiative murder in town of Cheb. Interesting is that during his lifetime, the famous astrological Johannes Kepler made a horoscope for Albrecht, and in this quite accurate horoscope was the year 1634 indicated as a very unhappy one.

Albrecht of Waldstein is definitely a very controversial figure of the Czech history. Was he a hero or a traitor? Or maybe both?

Feb 7, 16:29 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

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