Der Malteserorden im Dekanat Eger – ein Beitrag zur Politik der Gegenreformation in Böhmen




While the presence of the Teutonic Order in the so-called Districtus Egranus has to some extent been researched, the history of the Catholic Chivalric Order of St John in this area hardly features in modern literature. The present paper attempts to fill this lacuna. Herein, it is shown that the establishment of the commandery of this Order in Eger in the 1620s was closely associated with the efforts of the Austrian Court to reimplement Catholicism in the lands of Bohemia. The majority of the possessions belonging to the Eger (Cheb) commandery were originally in the possession of the former commandery of the Teutonic Order, whose local commanders or administrators had converted to Protestantism in the mid-sixteenth century. In the last decades of that century, it became obvious that the Teutonic Order had lost interest in keeping its commandery in Eger alive. After a short intermezzo, during which they were administered by the city of Eger, the possessions were handed over to the Order of St John in 1627/28. The development of the commandery was then influenced by three leading personalities of the Grand Priory of Austria-Bohemia, namely Christoph Simon von Thun, Grand Cross (later Grand Prior) Wilhelm Leopold von Tattenbach-Rheinstein, and Johann Leopold von Kollonitsch, who later rose to the posi¬tions of bishop of Raab and cardinal. Throughout its existence—due to a lack of personnel—the maintenance of most of the parishes in the commanderies’ possession was assured by members of the Societas Jesu. In 1693, the Jesuits took over the commandery due to the Council of the Order of St John finding the upkeep of its possessions in the Districtus Egranus too costly and its location too remote from the headquarters of the grand priory in Prague.

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