History of the Princely House

An Overview


Emblem of Prince
Karl I. 1615

The Princely House of Liechtenstein is one of the oldest noble families. A bearer of this name is first mentioned around 1130 as Hugo of Liechtenstein.

He called himself after the Liechtenstein Castle, situated in the south of Vienna. The early Liechtenstein Family had properties in the vicinity of the family castle and at the north-eastern border with Lower Austria. The uninterrupted family line of the Liechtenstein Family began with Heinrich (I) (died 1265/66) of Liechtenstein, who obtained Nikolsburg in South Moravia as free property from Ottokar Přemysl King of Bohemia.

The acquisition was of great political importance, because resulting from this, the family acquired a substantial possession within the territory of the Wenzel Crown.


The importance of this acquisition was demonstrated in 1395, when Johann I of Liechtenstein, Chamberlain of the Royal Household of the Habsburg Duke Albrecht III, and his entire family lost all the family possessions south of the Danube, probably as the result of the Habsburg's aspiration for regional political and economic control. During the following decades, the family strove, by means of new acquisitions, to consolidate its possessions north of the Danube in Lower Austria and South Moravia.

In the thirteenth century ... 

In the thirteenth century the family divided into three lines, the Liechtenstein, the Rohrauer and the Petroneller. The two last named lines became extinct already in the next generation and in consequence a great deal of the family property was lost. At the Family Covenant of 1504, the three then existing lines (the Steyregger, the Feldsberger and a Nikolsburger) agreed upon an inheritance agreement. Only the Feldsberger line survived, but this time, well designed family laws ensured that the property of the lines becoming extinct devolved upon the surviving members of the Liechtenstein family.

At the turn of the 16th to the 17th century there were the three brothers Karl, Maximilian, and Gundaker, who initiated a new period in the history of the family. They converted to the Catholic belief. Karl acquired the Great Count Palatinate in 1607 and in 1608 the rank of Hereditary Prince of the Holy Roman Empire.

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The geometrician and cartographer Johann Jacob Heber (1667-1725) was the first who mapped Liechtenstein in 1721.


His brothers Maximilian und Gundaker were named in the rank of Hereditary Prince in 1623. The three brothers, Karl, Maximilian and Gundaker succeeded to substantially enlarge the Liechtenstein Family property. They signed another Family Covenant in 1606, which dictated, among others, that the first born of the loldest descendent line should have the right to the hereditary title and the main property of the House and that he should represent the entire House as a regent.

The provisions of this treaty as well as other provisions were summarised in 1993 in the new house law, which represents the basis for the right to throne succession valid in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Contract of sale of
18. January 1699



Banner of the house
of Liechtenstein (1606)

From the time of bestowing of the title of Hereditary Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, the House of Liechtenstein strove to acquire territory within the confines of the Holy Roman Empire. However, it was nearly one hundred years before Karl's grandson, Prince Johann Adam I (1657-1712) purchased the territories Schellenberg and Vaduz in 1699 and 1712 respectively. By a diploma dated on the 23rd of January 1719, these were raised to the rank of Principality of Liechtenstein. After the male line of Prince Karl l became extinct in 1712, Anton Florian , a descendant of Gundaker, became the Prince Reignant.

Whereas in the 18th century the Principality of Liechtenstein tended to be rather of peripheral interest - at that time the family was still residing in Feldsberg/Valtice (today the Czech Republic) and Vienna (Austria), it occupied an increasingly central position following the maintenance of its sovereignty after the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. In the 20th century it became the residence of the Prince Reignant. Prince Franz Josef II (1906-1989) moved his permanent residence to Vaduz in 1938. All the members of the family living at the present time descend from Prince Johann I (1760-1836).


Ansprache Seiner Durchlaucht Erbprinz Alois von und zu Liechtenstein anlässlich der Landtagseröffnung am 21. Januar 2016
Ansprache Seiner Durchlaucht Erbprinz Alois von und zu Liechtenstein anlässlich des Staatsfeiertages 2015
Speech by H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein
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