The Age Of Entitlement
The small village of Doba, northwest of Lake Balaton, is home to the Doba Erdődy Castle. This fine example of neo-classicism has the look and feel of a giant manor house.
The stately façade and bright white exterior make it look like it could be set in Western Europe rather than a forgotten village in western Hungary. Is it any wonder that the designer was French?
The castle, constructed between 1836 and 1839, was designed by Frenchman Charles Moreau a leading architect in the classicism. He had been instrumental in the redesign of Schloss Esterházy, still one of the grandest palaces in Austria today.
The Erdődy’s being friends of (and in social competition) with the Esterházy’s co-opted Moreau to design the residence.We often see only the structure not the humanity behind such grand façades, but who exactly were the Erdődy’s?
In short they were one of the oldest and most noble families in the Kingdom of Hungary. They first obtained their noble titles in the 15th century for service to the Kingdom of Hungary in what is today Croatia.
In future centuries they were rewarded by the Habsburg’s for their loyalty to the Austrian royal family. The early Erdődy’s fought with valor and courage against the Turks. As such they were given many large tracts of land.
Over the centuries, the Erdődy’s became less warriors and more socially refined aristocrats. Their power and wealth was based upon their vast estates. From the Middle Ages up until the latter half of the 19th century land was total power.
It would not be hyperbole to state that prior to the industrial revolution those who controlled the land, had almost complete power over the people.Viewing the Erdődy castle at Doba it is easy to imagine that such a massive manor would be more than enough of a home for an entire family.
Yet it is shocking to discover that Doba Erdődy castle was built to be used as a summer residence. In today’s terms we might say this was a wealthy person’s villa, obviously they don’t make villas like they used to.
The castle is part of an entire complex that included 260 acres of landscaped gardens and woods. And this was one of many estates the family owned, across what are today three ancient and noble countries, Hungary, Croatia and Austria.
The nobility were in turn impressed or wanted to impress their fellow aristocrats. They were influenced by each other’s tastes and whims of fancy. This was not only an age of excess, but also of entitlement.
The famous House of Esterházy was a direct influence upon the Erdődy’s. Besides sharing one of the same architects for their palaces and castles, the famous Esterházy court musician Joseph Haydn also had patrons among the Erdődy clan. He even composed an Erdődy quartet.
Like the Esterházy’s though, the Erdődy’s power declined as radical social movements took hold. The liberation of people’s and the liberation of land were in many ways one and the same.
The Erdődy’s eventually fled westward. Men such as István Erdődy who mediated the historic Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 were forgotten in the maelstrom of social change. One of the last famous Erdődy’s, Tamás was fittingly an aide to Emperor Karl IV, the final Habsburg Emperor.
Today the Doba Erdődy castle is almost forgotten along with the village it is named after. Visiting the castle reminds us of an age that was so different from our own, an age that was still alive and well only a hundred years ago.
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