History: Felix Lichnowsky (1814-1848)

Felix Lichnowsky, the 4th Prince, was borned in Hradec nad Moravici, Czech Republic, in April 5 1814. Called by one of his contemporaries "the Last of the Knights" he was at first an ardent supporter of Catholic legitimacy. His personal stationary was decorated with the Bourbon lily. He was the first Lichnowsky to aspire to a political career in Prussia.

A portrait of Felix when he was very youngThe son of the historian Eduard Lichnowsky who had written a history of the Habsburg family. He entered the Prussian army in 1834, but left it in 1838 to enter the service of the Spanish pretender Don Carlos, where he received the rank of brigadier general. He fought a duel with the Spanish General Montenegro and was severely wounded, but recovered.

Felix achieved a certain fame in Europe, an astonishing number of famous contemporaries, such as Alexander Von Humboldt and Hermann Puckler-Muskeu, Lamartine and Victor Hugo, Liszt and Meyerbeer, Bettina Von Arnim and Marie d'Agoult (Liszt' s friend), entered their verses and comments into his autograph album or, as we say in German, his "Poesi album".

Felix himself was a faithful friend and Maecenas to Liszt, who visited him twice (1843 and 1846) on the Silesian states, when he gave concerts in cities like Troppau (Opava) and Ratibor, and also in the Silesian capital, Breslau.
A signature missing in Felix's album was one of the Duchesse de Sagan. Although his senior by twenty six years she was the ardently loved companion of the last five years of his life. On his death bed he called her by name (1).

Prince Felix LichnowskyNo wonder his oratorial gifts and his tendency to mockery got on the nerves of good many contemporaries, such as Heinrich Heine. In his satirical epic " Atta Troll" Heine tried to ridicule him as the Chevalier Chenapanski (Knight of the Road) who now had begun a literary career. Truly, Felix was something of a knight-errand. In 1838, at the age of 28, after 4 years in the Prussian army, he entered the service of the pretender to the Spanish trone, Don Carlos, and for 2 years fought under him in Spain as general of a brigade.

Felix described his adventures in articles he wrote for the " Augusburguer Allgemeine", then the most famous German newspaper. Later on, he turned this articles into a book of reminiscences which won the praise of Hermann Puckler because of the independence of judgement Felix had demosntraded in it, for instance when criticizing his own army or the high aristocracy in Spain (see Ludwig Bergstrasser's excellent essay on Felix (2). Subsequently he lived in Paris, Bruxelles and Berlin.

As a member of the Prussian Diet and, later, an elected representative of the Prussian district of Ratibor in the German National Assembly in St. Paul, Frankfurt, he did not so much astonish by his amazing quickness of repartee (he was famous for that in half of Europe) rather that people marvelled at how thoroughly he was versed in economic and constitutional problems.

As Professor Bergstrasser has pointed out, Felix was not the extremely rightist for whom he has generally been decried. In Parliament, where he belonged to the Right Centre, he gave a vivid description of the misery of the weavers in Silesia. He suggested as practical measures for their assistance " certificates of drawback" (If duties have been paid for the importation of linen yarn, those same duties should be refunded upon the exportation of linen goods woven out of that same yarn, and these reimbursements used for assisting needy weavers).

 Prince Felix lichnowsky
In St. Paul's, he stood for constitutional monarchy, in foreign politics for moderation in the Polish and Sleswig Holstein (Danish) questions. But his way of provoking the left and letting its representatives feel his personal disdain gave rise to his death, when on 18 september 1848, open insurrection broke out in consequence of the parliament's decision regarding the truce of Malmö (in the debate for which Lichnowsky had spoken in very conciliatory terms).

Disdaining all warnings, Felix rode out with General von Auerswald to meet the troops arriving from Württemberg. A mob recognized them on the Bornheimer Highway and gave chase to the defenseless men. They fled, but accidentally went down a dead-end path at the end of which they dismounted and hid in a gardener's hut. The mob found them in the hut, shot von Auerswald to death and beat up Felix who died the next day (18 september 1848) in Baron Bethmann's villa.


(1): Die Bethmanns. Aus der Geschichte eines alten Handels - hauses zu Frankfurt a.M., Wiesbaden, publisher Der Greif, Walther Gericke, 1948, p.91.
(2) Ludwig Bergstrasser, Das unbekante Leben des bekannten Fursten Felix Lichnowsky, periodical, "Hochland" 1933/34, year 31, no.9, pp 233-249.

The text above was written by Leonore Lichnowsky and its part of a lecture (From the History of our Family) given in 1982 in the Ostdeutsche Galerie, Regensburg. The complete text will be upadted soon in the History section our webpage.


Felix's assassination Felix's Funeral
Felix's Assassination________________________________________ Felix's Funeral