Golden Carriage

"He took upon himself the role of an extra envoy of the Emperor, to His Holiness the Pope Urban VIII in Rome, which he performed with such grace and lavishness, that his mission became famous all over the world. Even the city of Rome, already accustomed to beauty from pagan days, was never able to forget such majesty, as it had never seen its equal before, and was not likely ever to see it again."

Český Krumlov Castle, Golden Carriage, foto: Libor Sváček

These words were written on a parchment list dated from 1690 which was found in the dome of Český Krumlov Castle tower in August 1991 and replaced two years later. The anonymous author, remembering the important members of the Eggenberg and Schwarzenberg families, described there the famous journey of the Duke Johann Anton I. von Eggenberg to Rome in 1638. The other "witness" to this journey was the Golden Carriage, probably the most interesting exhibit in the castle.

It all began in 1637, when the Emperor Ferdinand II von Habsburg died. His successor, Ferdinand III von Habsburg, had many diplomatic and political duties, one of which was also to make official contact with the Pope, a tradition which had probably originated from the days of the fight for power. This task was given to special envoys, for whom it was a very expensive business. This is probably the reason why the Emperor asked Eggenberg to complete this mission. It was then well known, that his financial situation was very favourable; this could not, however, be said about the State Treasury.

Now brief mention should be made of the history of the Eggenbergs. Originally a burgher family from Styrian Graz, they became members of the nobility through Ruprecht von Eggenberg (+ 1611). His cousin, Johann Ulrich (1568 - 1634) attended the court of the Styrian Duke Ferdinand, who later became Emperor from 1598. After the battle of White Mountain in 1622, he was awarded the Krumlov castle and a year later was given the title of Duke in gratitude for his services. His luck failed him when Waldstein, with whom he was friendly, fell from power. All the land and the title were inherited by his only son Johann Anton I von Eggenberg (1610 - 1649), the hero of our story, for whom the trip to Rome was the climax of his short political carrier.

After the Emperor officially selected him for this mission, he was given the original reports of the envoys of Emperors Rudolf II, Matyas, and Ferdinand II von Habsburg, who had made the same journey. According to the Emperor\'s personal instructions, Johann Anton was supposed to reach Rome as quickly as possible with the help of the Emperor\'s envoy in Rome, Scipio Bozzoli and the auditor Kornelius Heinrich Motmann. It was presumed that the Pope would receive the Duke in a public audience with all cardinals present, and there the date for a private audience would be set. Only then would the Duke inform the Pope of the change of Ruler and assure him that the new Emperor would always remain a loyal catholic Ruler. At the end of his stay in Rome, Johann Anton von Eggenberg would visit some of the cardinals and give them the Emperor\'s regards.

Český Krumlov Castle, Golden Carriage, detail

Johann Anton started his journey on the 21st of March 1638 from Vienna, with 200 people accompanying him. The long procession of knights and carriages set off in the direction of Wiener Neustadt, arrived to Styrian Graz on the 26th of March, and continued to Wildon, Celji, and Lublaň, where they rested from the 10th to the 14th of April. From there, their journey led them to Postojn and Trieste, where they stayed from the 16th to the 26th of April. In Trieste they boarded a ship and sailed to Ancona, which took them three nights and two and half days. They left Ancona on the 3rd of May, and headed for the "Eternal City" via Loreto, Macerata, Tolentino, Foligno, Spoleto, and Terni. They arrived there on the 9th of May. The Emperor\'s special envoy entered Rome through the gate leading to the square Popolo, where the Cardinal of Savoy, as "protector Germaniae", the Cardinals Borghese and Aldobrandini, the Duke Bozzoli, the Spanish Ambassador and many others awaited him. Johann Anton von Eggenberg, accompanied by them, went to the palace Ceri of the Cardinal of Savoy in a silver coach, decorated with red velvet.

After a months sojourn, on the 8th of June Johann Anton set off for the Vatican palace for his first public audience, accompanied by 50 coaches drawn by six horses each. At this audience there arose several misunderstandings, which complicated the whole mission and nearly grew into a diplomatic incident. Johann Anton von Eggenberg complained to the Emperor, mainly about four ceremonial errors, made by the host\'s party: For example nobody told him to remove his gloves during the audience and he was left waiting in the hall accompanied only by the butler, not by the Cardinals. Nobody assisted him to stand up when he was kneeling in front of the Pope, and then he was left to stand, while all the Cardinals and other envoys were seated. On top of all this, the Pope kept him waiting quite a long time, when he knew Eggenberg was the Emperor\'s special envoy. He also did not like Pope Urban VIII referring to the Emperor Ferdinand III as merely the King.

The Papal nuncio was obliged to go to Vienna and sort out the misunderstandings. He explained that the mistakes had been caused by the Pope\'s clerks and differences of ceremonial etiquette at the Pope\'s and Emperor\'s court. The Emperor\'s envoy Bozzoli was found guilty of most of the things that had occurred, as he was responsible for the ceremony. The resolution of these differences took five months. During this period Johann Anton did not lead any social life and he stayed at the palace Ceri, which was at the bottom of Qurinal. Only the narrower back part of it survives until today. The large front part of the palace was demolished in the 18th century, when via del Tritone was built. In the second half of the 18th century the beautiful fountain di Trevi was built at the rear of the palace.

Český Krumlov Castle, Golden Carriage, detail

The house, where the Duke von Eggenberg stayed in Rome, was full of the best examples of Baroque luxury. According to his contemporaries, the walls of the rooms and the large hall were covered with brocade curtains, there were tapestries on the doors, and on the cupboard there was an embroidered canopy with the Eggenberg coat of arms, which can be seen at the main staircase at Hluboká castle. The Emperor\'s instructions recommended that the special envoy stay in Rome. He took advantage of this time to organise a new procession, so that the first audience might be forgotten. His priority was to make a special carriage for the Emperor\'s gifts. The final result of the plan of the Roman master Giuseppe Fiochini and of his workshop was the Golden Coach, now resting in the Eggenberg Hall of the Český Krumlov castle.

This coach was made of gilded walnut wood and the metal parts were covered with gold plated silver. Art historians believe that the shape of the coach is an imitation of the victory coaches of the Renaissance period. The interior of the coach was upholstered with black velvet with golden embroidery. The four poster is decorated by four golden wreaths, one in each corner, and a large one in the middle. There were four upholstered chairs standing in the coach.

Český Krumlov Castle, Golden Carriage, ceremonial clothing of royal footman

On the 7th of November 1638 the Duke Johann Anton von Eggenberg repeated the entry to the city of Rome by the gate leading to the square Popolo. At the front of the procession were four messengers dressed in scarlet robes. Behind them 60 footmen leading 60 mules, divided into five groups. In each group there were 12 animals with blankets over their backs, decorated similarly with the Eggenberg coats of arms, but of different colours and materials. All the mules had silver horseshoes. The procession continued with 12 servants dressed in scarlet robes with silver borders. Behind them walked 7 trumpeters, similarly dressed, playing silver trumpets hung with squares of material bearing the Eggenberg coats of arms. The other members of the procession were the 25 soldiers of the Duke\'s personal guard, with Gleinitz leading them. Their clothes were also scarlet with silver borders. They were followed by two regiments of the Pope\'s guard, the Cardinals on their mules, and 24 Pages, all in scarlet and silver robes. Behind them were four thoroughbred horses, followed by many representatives of the nobility, clergy, and ordinary citizens of different nationalities. Then came the city drummers, the Pope\'s trumpeters, and 30 Eggenberg footmen, who formed the introduction to the best part of the procession, The Duke Bozzoli, with two Cardinals, and at the end Johann Anton von Eggenberg himself, accompanied by the Pope\'s hoffmeister and the Swiss guard. The Duke\'s robe was embroidered with gold and his horse had golden horseshoes. At the end of the procession was a carriage decorated with green velvet. The whole procession went from the square Popolo with a detour through piazza Pasquino close to piazza Navona, to the Ceri palace.

Český Krumlov Castle, Golden Carriage, detail of embroidery work of the royal footman

On the 9th of November the new public audience took place in the Vatican. Pope Urban VIII apologised for the July misunderstanding, and both parties settled on the date for a private audience. It was on the 16th of November 1638 and the procession going from the Ceri palace to the Vatican was equally as grand as that of the 7th of November. There was only one difference: the golden coach pulled by six horses going behind the envoy crowned not only the procession, but also the whole mission.

When the Emperor\'s envoy began his journey home on the 3rd of January 1639, he took the coach with him. He wanted to present it to the Empress Maria Anna, but finally decided against it, and the "Roman Coach", as it was then known, remained at the Eggenberg castle near Styrian Graz. The castle inventory from 1652 describes it under the title "The Roman Audience Coach with richly embroidered black velvet". A detailed description follows. There is also an interesting remark that the velvet was not only decorated by gold but also by silver and silken threads.

The mention of the coach in the inventory from 1665 is basically similar. It also remarks that two beds have been made from the carriage, so only the gilded construction remains. It is necessary to state that this does not infer that the carriage was converted into a sleeping coach, nor served as a bed. The fabric parts were used to make curtains and throws over the duke\'s bed.

Český Krumlov Castle, Golden Carriage, detail of gold engraving

In 1674 the Golden Coach and some of the other reminders of the journey to Rome were transferred to Český Krumlov, which in 1664 became the residence of the elder son of Johann Anton, Johann Christian I von Eggenberg (1641 - 1710). The remains of the coach then rested for nearly two centuries at the castle in a room called the Roman chamber, thus called as a reminder of its origins. The other reminders from 1638 were used to decorate the castle interior.

This was nearly the end of the Eggenberg epoch. The childless Johann Christian I von Eggenberg, in the 17th paragraph of his last will, left all the tapestries, blankets, chairs, and curtains from the diplomatic mission of his father to Rome, to his nephew Johann Anton II (1669 - 1716). After the sudden death of Johann Christian II in 1717, all the land and possessions were inherited by Marie Ernestine née zu Schwarzenberg (died 1719), the childless widow of Johann Christian I, and after her death, all the Eggenberg heritage was passed on to the Schwarzenbergs.

In 1719 there were some pieces of the "Roman Heritage" remaining: the 6 large blankets from yellow material decorated by golden embroidery and the Eggenberg\'s coat of arms, 2 large blankets made of red velvet embroidered with golden and coloured threads, 6 large blankets of red material with golden embroidery, 8 pieces of wall paper made of yellow damask with white flowers, curtains and throws over beds made of black velvet, black velvet harnesses for six horses, and many robes and tunics.

In 1854, only the Golden Coach, upholstered with red velvet and one yellow blanket with golden embroidery of the Eggenberg coat of arms, remained in the Roman chamber. In 1892 this was transferred into the riding school of Hluboká castle, where it remained until the 1950\'s when it was returned to the Český Krumlov castle. Now, after the recent reconstruction, it is displayed in its original glory among the portraits of all the Eggenbergs.

As for the decorative textiles that have survived, we refer to the canopy which is now at the main staircase of the Hluboká castle, the two blankets with the Eggenberg coat of arms displayed in the audience room of the Eggenberg castle near Styrian Graz, and two similar blankets in the Oratory of the castle chapel. At the Český Krumlov castle there are also several servants\' outfits, which were worn in 1638 during the visit to Rome.

The words quoted at the beginning, which mention the glory Rome will never see again, proved to be partly true. The ceremonial journey in 1638 was the last one of its kind. Subsequent Emperors chose to complete this mission in a purely diplomatic manner.