Schwarzenberg Grenadiers´ Guard

(as recorded in 1934)
Whoever visits Český Krumlov certainly can not help but to take a look at one of its numerous historical sights, the Schwarzenberg dukes guard on the IInd Courtyard of the age-old Castle. It\'s as though you have found yourself in bygone ages: by the side of the ancient Rosenberg and Schwarzenberg cannons there is a grenadier, dressed in his old military uniform, standing at the watch. Behind him are the grenadiers´ so-called "medvědice" (she-bearskins), guns, and sabres hanging on the wall. It is the only private guard in the Republic, and undoubtedly there are not too many of them in the rest of the world.

Inspection of Schwarzenberg grenadier guard, II. courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, picture from 1900

The origin of the guard comes from the first years of the 18th century. The preserved record at the princely Archives is about its foundation, specifically a letter from Ondřej Schwark-Frankstaedter addressed to "hejtman" (a district administrator) Zákorek of Drahonice dated the 24th of July 1704. It says: "His princely Grace Adam Franz of Schwarzenberg, Lord of Ours the most merciful, was so kind as to create, to his greater reputation, his guard composed from substantial loyal 10 men at the local Castle (e.g. in Hluboká)..." And for that reason, Záhorka had to look for some fit sturdy men in the Vodňany surroundings. They had to be in particular veterans, but still in a good form, with a large body structure and no visible handicaps. The guard\'s seat was in Hluboká at the first castle gate where the younger toll-collector and musketeer remained. The grenadiers had their own hospital at Hluboká as well. It was naturally still that old Hluboká castle, not at all the present Castle built up on the place of the old one during the 1840-1856 years of remodeling performed by the prince Johann Adolf (1799-1888) and his art-loving spouse Eleonora. So there, in the old Hluboká castle, the grenadiers had their home. Their first duty was to be on guard. In addition, they had to diligently exercise in arms, take care of their arsenal and keep the fortifications around the castle in good condition. The guard, however, had more service duties than this. Whenever the prince or the princess arrived to some estate in Bohemia, the grenadiers, in a given number, marched there to provide private services.

Schwarzenberg grenadiers' guard at cannon on 2nd castle courtyard in  Český Krumlov, early 20th century, historical photo by Josef Seidel, foto: J.Seidel In those days, it used to be a slightly different financial situation than nowadays. The princely court kept the cashbox with them when traveling, and for its safety, particularly trustworthy grenadiers left to Vienna then escorted it on the way back. In 1714 the plague was raging at the Louny area, and 15 grenadiers with their "hejtman" were sent to Postoloprty to guard the city against the plague\'s infection. Nowadays, we would say that they were to keep the city under quarantine. It was very strict. No correspondence was allowed, and personal contact was limited at the very most. All roads and footpaths were carefully watched over. The danger of infection raged especially in Louny and Slaný, but we do not know whether or not the plague was frightened away by the princely grenadiers and spared Postoloprty of its deadly visit. Another of the grenadiers´ priviledge was to let off fireworks. So they let off big fireworks in Krumlov, in presence of the reigning prince and the margrave of Baaden on the 3rd of April 1732. It cost 300 "zlatých" (gold-coins). At that time it used to be a rule to have fireworks and magnificent illuminations at the ceremonies. The grenadier who was trained in a certain craft could perform it during their leisure time and that way earn a little extra money, but sometimes they had annoyances with guild craftsmen. Once, when the grenadiers were already living in Krumlov, the following incident happened. The local hair-dressers who normally took care of wigs complained about one grenadier who was walking across the city and combing the people\'s wigs. From their point of view, he was taking the opportunity from the honest hairdressers to earn any money. It ended up that the grenadier was thus prohibited, with an admonition to take more care of his proper service than of combing wigs.

As was already mentioned, the grenadiers were originally ten, but in the next year, in 1705, they consisted of 24 ordinary men, 1 drummer, 2 corps, and even a lieutenant. Jan Jakub Muth, "hejtman" was selected to the head of the guard in 1706. The leader of grenadiers kept this rank of hejtman permanently until the present time. The number of enlisted men varied, for example, in 1728 the guard consisted of 35 men, in 1732 again only of 10 men. The highest number was reached in 1768 with 49 men. The grenadiers usually consisted of around 25 people. Nowadays the guard has 13 men.

It is essential to mention how the guard was dressed. In the pictures, preserved at the princely general Archives in Český Krumlov, the grenadiers had a white tail-coat with blue lining, blue facings and epaulettes in the same color, and white tight trousers legs into dark gaiters. Two crosswise slings on the chest held a sabre and a cartridge case. Their heads were covered by the so-called "medvědice" (she-bearskin caps), with the princely coat-of-arms on the front peak, and on the back lined with blue. Later the grenadiers received gray-blue tight trousers legs, while the overcoat remains the same. The above described dress uniform was called the "large". The other so-called "small" was basically more simple and did not require the guard to wear the heavy "medvědice". The gala uniform of today has also white overcoats, but without the long tails, gray-blue trousers, white slings with the sabre and the cartridge case, and the medvědice. The grenadiers use the old "stuffing" guns even today.

In 1742, when the Hluboká castle was taken over by the French garrison, the prince Joseph Adam gave instructions to move the guard to Krumlov, and it has remained there until today. The grenadiers´ occupation in Krumlov was similar as in Hluboká. In particular they used to guard over the floating logs. And those of you who think their service had been always easy, you would be mistaken. They very often held a function of the real army. During the War for the Austrian Inheritance, their "hejtman" of Dembek with an assisting militia, collected from the Krumlov and neighbors estates, went all the way to Domažlice. On the 15th of December 1744, he gave a report to the prince about his campaign that the positions at Domažlice and at Klenčí were being held. They made there kerfs, palisades, and "redutas". Under his leadership, he also had 300 men of land defense to protect the borders. On the 27th of January 1745, they began to march back, and Krumlov was reached on the 6th of February. The grenadiers were also very often used for security guards, to escort criminals. Their lives used to be quite often in danger. This is confirmed by the following story:

Schwarzenberg grenadiers' guard on duty on the 2nd castle courtyard in Český Krumlov, historical photo, foto: J.Seidel

On the 20 of January 1844, the military guard was pursuing Matěj Edra, a dangerous robber and murderer. Due to the fact that the terrain was unknown to them, 6 grenadiers joined them. Soldiers and grenadiers tegether then divided into patrols of 6 men to follow the murder. One of these groups, with the grenadier Jedlička, reached a pub of Zátoň during a big snowstorm. Suddenly two men ran out in front of them and started to make a break for it. One crossed the frozen Vltava river and tore to the village Elbenau. He ran into the house where the whole gang of smugglers was hiding, and here the real war started. Jelička was wounded on his knee and later, during the retreat in front of the gang\'s superior forces, shot in the head by chopped lead. He dropped to the ground immediately. Although found later still alive, he succumbed to his wound on the 3rd of February.

As long as we are telling stories, here is another one for you and, its hero is still alive. It happened on the 16th of June 1866. in those days the 12th company of the 11th pedestrian regiment marched to fight against the platoons of Garibaldi, from the Italian village Storo to Caffaro. Hejtman Růžička commanded František Lusk, trumpeter, to go to a nearby height and sound the signal. Růžička, a captain, was busy observing the terrain while caught unawares by the enemy. Lusk ran to help him while two enemy officers jumped on the hejtman. Lusk took his weapon from his side and courageously went fight. He killed one officer, and the other did not stay around to wait for his. Růžička dropped from exhaustion from the blows and fighting. Dear Lusk did not have another choice than to take his hejtman on his shoulders and run with him as best he could. Hardly having run partway, he clashed with the enemy again, this time numbering at about 10 men. The hejtman told Lusk to leave him there and run away to save his own life. Lusk, as a brave soldier, did not want to hear about it and stood up with courage against the superior force. He fought bravely until he finally fell down and lost consciousness. They were both captured, treated, and later exchanged for other prisoners of war. The old veteran is still active today, he likes sitting in the sun, smoking a pipe, and even his well-known humor has not left him.Sometimes, a naive Krumlov Castle visitor might be deeply thinking about the puzzle of how such big stone balls of the old catapults could be crammed into the tight cannon barrels standing nearby. The prankster Lusk, if he is around, with his serious face advises the uninformed person that the balls have to be boiled down until they are soft enough to be stuffed into those cannons!

Schwarzenberg grenadiers' guard during ceremonial gunfire on the 2nd courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, historical photo, foto: J.Seidel

Certainly you have also heard about the grenadiers´ music, how couldn\'t you! After all it was very famous music in these entire large surroundings, and they even used to go to Budějovice to play in the balls. And how about the glorious balls at the princely casino of the Castle, where the princely clerical workers with their daughters would arrive in their coaches from far away. During the grenadiers´ music, they would press around, all dancing beautifully on a little courtyard gallery close to the ceiling at the hall of casino. Where have those days gone! Nowadays, in that hall, where masques and agile young men used to jump and romp around, entire rows of central Archives document volumes dream about long bygone days.

So, I will say a bit about the music. Originally, the guard used to have a drummer and a piper, and they used to play for a march. It used to be at that time and ages before that a military formation was accompanied by now-strange combination of flute and drum. Naturally, the prince didn\'t want just any kind of musicians, so in 1713 he called up a special piper from Vienna while the grenadiers\' drummer could be properly taught to play. The pipers used to be young boys, usually 14 years old. In 1729 such a boy was sent by the prince to Vienna to become a capable piper.

Piper and drummer - you do not think, perhaps, that it is too little for music? Nevertheless, the prince did not have them for his amusement, they served only for the guard. The princely house kept its own court orchestra, which had its own musical director. It would take us too far if I would talk a little about the court orchestra - this is a full subject in itself. Just for now I will mention that the princes of Schwarzenberg were great fans of music. Joseph, a prince, played violin himself in a quartet and prince Arnošt, Bishop of Raab, was a musical composer. His extensive valuable music collection is still preserved in Krumlov. In the older ages, cantatas used to be played at the Castle, and its scores were marked for the princely family members.

Based on the old custom, music used to be played a lot during the hunts, and extraordinary fanfares used to welcome the guests. Various music was performed in the course of different kinds of hunts. For this special hunters\' music, there were extra forest adjuncts trained, who then created the particular hunters\' music for the princes of Schwarzenberg. These adjuncts were trained by Antons, excellent French horn players, the father and his son. Twelve adjuncts were always mastered while 6 were still in learning. By 1850 the hunter\'s orchestra had already 35 members. The famous hunts, however, soon became a thing of the past with the approaching of the new age. The adjuncts should have been more concerned about the forest economy than about playing French horn. The hunters\' band slowly dissipated until it finally disappeared. Nevertheless, in those days, another band began to arise in the princely court, the grenadiers´ band.

In the 70\'s of the previous century, the prince Jan Adolf commended that those with musical knowledge would be recruited to the guard. The band would then be established to play, above all, during the hunts in Hluboká. Those grenadiers´ musicians were a total of 7 in 1876. It was in the guard a new element, a restless guild of artists, and so the hejtman used to have all sorts of troubles. He even had to complain in front of the prince. They used to play in pubs and neglect their duties of services. Following the custom of that time, they would run through the streets and play many serenades.

Schwarzenberg grenadiers' band on 2nd courtyard of Český Krumlov Castle, early 20th century, historical photo, foto: Micko

Both bands, the hunters\' orchestra and the newly created grenadiers\' band, were relieved side by side in the 70\'s. The grenadiers´ band more and more often and stronger supplied the hunters orchestra until it took over its role completely. The former court orchestra disappeared a long time ago, and the hunters\' orchestra was hardly surviving. It is no wonder then that the new grenadiers´ band used to play even to amuse the gentlefolk and their guests, particularly during the hunts. At these times in the so-called Billiard room, they used to play and sing mostly in the evenings after the banquets, around 8 p.m. French horns, however, were not the only instruments, as their usage is quite limited. Other musical instruments were also used, mostly home-produced at the beginning. In 1886 the grenadiers received French horns from the former hunters\' orchestra, so now we can consider this as a complete ending. This year Krumlov consisted of : 7 French horns, 2 valve horns, 2 flugelhorns, 2 baritone horns, 2 small horns in F, 2 bass French horns, and 8 French horns. Anton, as he used to train hunters\' adjuncts, trained grenadiers to play French horns. Those days they played fanfares during the hunts, and fanfares were newly modified by Schantel, a court musician from Vienna. Those mentioned fanfares are played even today.

Schwarzenberg grenadier band at the beginning of the 20th century, historical photo

After the temporary stagnation during the World War, nowadays, thanks to the prince\'s interest and favor, the grenadiers´ orchestra is growing up. Due to the purchase of new instruments, new note material, as well as the recruit of new members, the ground for a new flourish is being laid once again. The old tradition of grenadiers´ music is reawakening. The grenadiers´ jazz, consisting of band members, appeared last year as interesting news and a typical sign of the age. It seems to be alive and kicking, and with the cast of excellent musicians, it plays well with enthusiasm. Welcome to the terrace of Hotel Růže in the summer evenings! You would definitely agree with me ! Saxophones, pistophones, sophisticated rhythms of modern dances - where are you drummers and pipers of the old dukes guard with your monotonous songs and marches ?!

(vhas)