Station: [2] The von Bissingen Family

M: „Farewell, you untroubled days, you carefree pleasures of my early youth! To do my duty honestly as a man, shall from now on be my sole purpose and joy!“

F: The gentleman so sorrowfully lamenting his woes there is Cajetan, Count of Bissingen and Nippenburg, aged twenty. The youthful count‘s future prospects weren’t especially bright. Responsibility weighed heavily on him. His father had made Cajetan head of an extensive family long before he died. Although the dynasty had estates in Hungary and here in Schramberg, the properties were all heavily encumbered by debt, some even on the verge of bankruptcy. Writing about the Schramberg domain, Count Cajetan noted: 

M: „I have never known Schramberg, and yet everything seems so much like home to me. (...) everything is delightful, but gloomy at present, and [my brother-in-law] Enzenberg is unfortunately right when he says that if someone were to offer an award for the best way to ruin a beautiful domain, one would have earned it for Schramberg, (...).“

F: At the time, the young count was in the service of the Austrian Emperor. He started out working as a trainee lawyer at Innsbruck’s city and district court. A few years later, he was appointed governor of Tyrol and Vorarlberg, and finally governor of the province of Venice. But first of all, Count Cajetan met Marie Louise von Warsberg in 1832. An encounter that would not only change his life, but also the future of Schramberg. Because...

M: „The possibility of my taking on Schramberg gave my Louise the greatest pleasure!“

F: The courtship moved slowly at first. A marriage contract had to be painstakingly negotiated, and that could only proceed once the prospective groom provided „satisfactory“ information about his financial circumstances. But on the 8th of August 1834, wedding bells rang out: 

M: „(...) My Louise was so beautiful. She was in the throes of emotion, and yet her “I will” was spoken with determination (...) I feel so happy. (...)“.

F: Seven weeks after the wedding, Cajetan and his brother Ernst signed a momentous family agreement. The contract stipulated that the pair should exchange their estates. Ernst would receive the possessions in Hungary, while Cajetan became lord of the Schramberg domain and sundry other properties.  

M: „Let me, child-like, give thanks yet again, O benevolent God! For all the good things you have granted me this year. After many storms, you united me with my good, good wife, (...) – you brought order to my family’s circumstances this year, so that we may arrive at a more serene view of the future in Württemberg as well as Hungary.“ 

F: Count Cajetan planned to move to Schramberg with his wife and children. But there was a little problem: the old baroque castle had been badly damaged by flooding. Also, the military had been quartered there during the Napoleonic Wars, and that had left its mark. Moreover, the old castle had been rented out since 1820 – to a stoneware factory and a production plant making chicory coffee. 

M: An untenable state of affairs. 

F: To create a home befitting his family’s rank, the count had the castle rebuilt in the late neo-classical style, with work starting in 1840. 

M: And they all lived happily ever after...

F: ... which is why you can still admire their portraits at the town museum today. 

Foto: © Stadtmuseum Schramberg