Princely Family of Liechtenstein
The noble Liechtenstein Family is considered one the oldest families of Austria. Hugo of Liechtenstein was first mentioned in 1136. He named himself after Liechtenstein Castle, which is south of Vienna. The noble ancestors of Hugo are descendants from the Lords of Donauworth as well as a line of descendants from the Lords of Machland who are also known as the Haderichs.
Hugo as well as Albrecht of Liechtenstein owned property south of Vienna as well as property on the lower northeast boarder of Austria. The expansion of the Liechtenstein name started in the generation after Albrecht, but the exact relationship of those people to Hugo and Albrecht has not been established.
In 1249, Heinrich of Liechtenstein acquired the free property of the Lordship of Nikolsburg in South Moravia. That acquisition gave the family a substantial amount of property within the territory known as Wenzel crown. The importance of this land acquisition became obvious when Johann I of Liechtenstein, Chamberlain of the Royal Household of the Habsburg Duke Albrecht III, lost almost all family holdings as well as personal possessions south of the Danube when the Hapsburg's asserted their political power.
It took the family decades to rebuild and acquire more land in lower Austria. The land around Moravia was of particular interest and the family's land holdings were expanded in that area.
The family was divided into three lines in the 13th century: the Liechtenstein, the Petroneller and the Rohrauer lines. The last two became extinct in the next generation, and a sizable amount of family land was lost what that happened. The same sort of scenario took place in the 16th century when the family Covenant of 1504 established three lines: a Steerage, a Nikolsburger and a Feldsberger line. The Feldsberger line survived for a couple of generations but disappeared along with the Nikolsburger line, although the property remained in the family.
The Liechtensteins started an Anabaptism religious movement in the 16th century, but by the 17th century the family had converted to Roman Catholicism. That change in faith was orchestrated by the three sons of Hartmann of Liechtenstein: Karl, Gundaker and Maximilian. The brothers were instrumental in acquiring more property for the family, and with their new political titles brothers Karl and Maximilian were able to form an alliance with the Habsburgs. The House of Liechtenstein was instrumental in helping the Habsburgs defeat Bohemian rebels in 1620.
When Prince Johann Adam purchased the territories of Schellenberg and Vaduz in Swabia 1699 and 1712 the next step was raising their land holdings to the rank of Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein and that happened in 1799.
The male line of Karl became extinct in 1712 so Anton Florian, a descendant of Gundaker, became the ruling prince. Most of the family lived in Austria until the principality was granted sovereignty in 1806. By the 20th century all the ruling princes lived in Liechtenstein.
All the members of the royal family are descendants of Prince Johannes I (1760-1836). Prince Franz Josef II (1906-1989), moved his residence to Vaduz in 1938. Prior to his father's death in 1989, Prince Hans-Adam II consolidated the family assets, and as deputy of the ruling succession he took control from his ailing father in 1984.
Prince Hans-Adam II is involved in all the social and political activities of Liechtenstein and is especially concerned with the financial and economic plans and problems of the state and other countries. He is deeply involved in foreign policy and is a credible voice in the future of Europe.