Prince Johann I.
Prince Johann I fought against revolutionary France in the Coalition Wars and against Napoleon between 1805 and 1809. In 1806, Napoleon accepted the Principality of Liechtenstein into the Confederation of the Rhine, thus laying the foundation for the country's sovereignty.
Prince Johann I (life dates: 1760-1836) began his career at the age of 22 as a lieutenant in the imperial army. He was quickly promoted and only eight years later took part in the second russian-austrian Turkish War (1787-1792) with the rank of colonel. The Prince also fought in the Napoleonic Wars and exerted not least also a strong influence on Austria's fate at the negotiating table. His work was decisive for the conclusion of the Peace of Pressburg after the Battle of Austerlitz (1805) and led, albeit less successfully, the negotiations that led to the Peace of Schönbrunn after the disastrous defeat of the Austrian army at the Battle of Wagram (1809).
In 1810, he ended his military career with the rank of field marshal and subsequently shifted his activities to the administration and management of the estates.
He arranged for the Princely Collections to be transferred from the City Palace in the Bankgasse to the Garden Palace in Rossau. From 1810, the palace was open to the public for a fee and now called the Gallery Building. Prince Johann I invested in agriculture and forestry, reorganised the administration and created a modern estate.
Fondness for garden art
Prince Johann I also left his mark on the art of gardening. On his estates as well as in Vienna he had park landscapes laid out according to the English model.
Constitution of the Principality of Liechtenstein
In 1806, Napoleon accepted the Principality of Liechtenstein into the Confederation of the Rhine, thereby laying the foundation for the country's sovereignty. At the Congress of Vienna, which decided on the political reorganisation of Europe after the devastation of the Napoleonic Wars, the Principality of Liechtenstein was also admitted as a sovereign member of the German Confederation, which was founded on 8 June 1815 (during the Congress) as a political union of all German states.
Admission to the German Confederation meant a second confirmation of Liechtenstein's state sovereignty. In the country itself, jurisdiction and administration were modernised and in 1818 Prince Johann I gave the principality a Landständische constitution.
Prince Alois II.
1836 – 1858
Prince Alois II was the first reigning prince to visit the Principality of Liechtenstein in person (in the years 1842 und 1847). In 1849, he issued a provisional constitution for Liechtenstein.
Prince Alois II (life dates: 1796-1858) was initially educated by the French priest Abbe Werner. Afterwards, specialist scholars took over his education in various disciplines. Among them was Leopold Trautmann, professor of agriculture at the University of Vienna, and eminent philosopher of history Friedrich von Schlegel.
Like his father and grandfather, the prince continued to modernise his estates and reorganised the administration.
First agricultural school of the monarchy
Thus, the first agricultural school of the Monarchy was established on his property. Prince Alois II was also active in the Imperial and Royal Agricultural Society in Vienna, of which he was president from 1849 to 1858. This activity was also associated with significant innovations and reforms.
Patron, diplomat and art lover
The prince belonged to a total of 74 humanitarian, scientific and industrial associations and spent considerable financial resources annually for charitable purposes. He also developed a considerable travel activity: in 1835 Prince Alois II travelled to London on a diplomatic mission, the following year he took part in the coronation celebrations for Emperor Ferdinand I in Prague, and he was also one of the most regular and knowledgeable participants in the assemblies of the Lower Austrian Estates.
His distinct taste in art was oriented towards English models. This was evident, for example, in the remodelling of Eisgrub Palace in the neo-Gothic style and in the construction of the Palm House on site. In Vienna, from 1836 to 1847, he undertook a comprehensive redesign of the premises in the princely city palace in the Bankgasse in the neo-Rococo style.
Alois I's political stance was essentially conservative. In the aftermath of the revolutionary year of 1848, he gave the Principality at the insistence of the Liechtenstein population a provisional, in comparison with the constitution of 1818 more liberal constitution, but suspended it again in 1852 and returned to the absolutist principle of government.
Prince Johann II.
1858 – 1929
Prince Johann II was an important art collector and patron. Around 1900, for example, he had Vaduz Castle extensively restored.
Prince Johann II. (life dates: 1840-1929) completed his studies in Germany, Brussels and Paris. The social reformer Karl Freiherr von Vogelsang, who had a lasting influence on the Prince’s attitude to social and humanitarian issues, accompanied him.
The Liechtenstein Constitution
In 1858, he took over the leadership of the House and the Principality, which he gave a constitutional constitution in 1862 and in 1921 a modern parliamentary-democratic based constitution. It still shapes Liechtenstein's state system today and was only revised and modernised in essential areas in 2003.
Art connoisseur and patron
Prince Johann II enjoyed the reputation of an exceptional art connoisseur and patron. He initiated a comprehensive restructuring and repositioning of the Gemäldegalerie in Vienna. The eminent Berlin art historian Wilhelms von Bode was at his side in an advisory capacity. Johann II made extensive purchases of high-quality paintings, sculptures and arts and crafts products.
He also developed a lively building activity. The former ancestral castle of the Liechtensteins near Maria Enzersdorf (Liechtenstein Castle) was rebuilt and reconstructed in a historicist style, as was Vaduz Castle. The Prince also supported numerous museums especially in Vienna, Bohemia and Moravia, but also in other parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and beyond, through generous financial contributions and donations of works of art and other objects from his possessions.
Founder of the first fruit and horticultural school
He was also a strong promoter of science. He supported the Pharmacological Institute of the University of Vienna and the Academy of Sciences. As a pioneering act in the Empire, Prince Johann II founded a higher fruit and horticultural school in 1895. Thanks to his financial support, renowned historical and art-historical publications were published, first of all the three-volume History of the Princely House by Jacob von Falke.
His activities in the social and humanitarian field were also remarkable. The Prince introduced progressive social benefits for his staff, but also made generous donations to numerous private individuals, charitable
institutions and various charitable and non-profit organisations.