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The Hofkriegsrat was the Court Council of War of the Habsburg Monarchy
Habsburg Monarchy
The Habsburg Monarchy covered the territories ruled by the junior Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg , and then by the successor House of Habsburg-Lorraine , between 1526 and 1867/1918. The Imperial capital was Vienna, except from 1583 to 1611, when it was moved to Prague...

. Founded in 1556 in the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I
Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor
Ferdinand I was Holy Roman Emperor from 1558 and king of Bohemia and Hungary from 1526 until his death. Before his accession, he ruled the Austrian hereditary lands of the Habsburgs in the name of his elder brother, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.The key events during his reign were the contest...

, it was a council of men with military experience who could take charge of the army and its needs, in both war and peacetime. With the establishment of an imperial
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

 in the 17th century, the Hofkriegsrat was the bureaucracy charged with managing the permanent military force. It served as the central military administrative agency and a military chancery
Chancery (medieval office)
Chancery is a general term for a medieval writing office, responsible for the production of official documents. The title of chancellor, for the head of the office, came to be held by important ministers in a number of states, and remains the title of the heads of government in modern Germany,...

, provided a staff for the emperor, and directed and coordinated field armies. Additionally, it conducted relations with the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and administered the Military Frontier
Military Frontier
The Military Frontier was a borderland of Habsburg Austria and later the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which acted as the cordon sanitaire against incursions from the Ottoman Empire...


Joseph II
Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor
Joseph II was Holy Roman Emperor from 1765 to 1790 and ruler of the Habsburg lands from 1780 to 1790. He was the eldest son of Empress Maria Theresa and her husband, Francis I...

 centralized the body and gave it authority over all branches of the military. When the reforming Archduke Charles
Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
Archduke Charles of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of emperor Leopold II and his wife Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain...

 became president of the Hofkriegsrat, he divided it into three departments, dealing with military, judicial, and administrative matters.

Following the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, the Hofkriegsrat, as one of four components of the governing Staatsrat, continued to exert control over the military, subject of course to the will of the Emperor of Austria
Emperor of Austria
The Emperor of Austria was a hereditary imperial title and position proclaimed in 1804 by the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, a member of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and continually held by him and his heirs until the last emperor relinquished power in 1918. The emperors retained the title of...

. However, its bureaucracy was cumbersome and decisions were often arrived at only after much argument and circulation of papers. While the presidents were always officers, section heads were frequently civilians and there was often tension between them. The military men resented interference by what Radetzky
Joseph Radetzky von Radetz
Johann Josef Wenzel Graf Radetzky von Radetz was a Czech nobleman and Austrian general, immortalised by Johann Strauss I's Radetzky March...

 would later call a civilian "despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

". An additional problem was presented in the fact that in a time when the general staff
General Staff
A military staff, often referred to as General Staff, Army Staff, Navy Staff or Air Staff within the individual services, is a group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of information between a commanding officer and subordinate military units...

 was growing in importance in other countries (notably Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

), in Austria it remained only a subordinate section of the Hofkriegsrat.

Amidst the growing nationalist troubles leading up to the 1848 Revolutions
Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas
From March 1848 through July 1849, the Habsburg Austrian Empire was threatened by revolutionary movements. Much of the revolutionary activity was of a nationalist character: the empire, ruled from Vienna, included Austrian Germans, Hungarians, Slovenes, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Ruthenians,...

, the Hofkriegsrat investigated the reliability of units with suspect loyalties. In 1833 it ruled that all soldiers in the imperial army belonging to Mazzini's
Giuseppe Mazzini
Giuseppe Mazzini , nicknamed Soul of Italy, was an Italian politician, journalist and activist for the unification of Italy. His efforts helped bring about the independent and unified Italy in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the 19th century...

 Italian nationalist Young Italy
Young Italy (historical)
Young Italy was a political movement founded in 1831 by Giuseppe Mazzini. The goal of this movement was to create a united Italian republic through promoting a general insurrection in the Italian reactionary states and in the lands occupied by the Austrian Empire...

 movement were guilty of high treason and were to be court-martialed
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

. In the 1840s it investigated even the traditionally loyal South Slav
South Slavs
The South Slavs are the southern branch of the Slavic peoples and speak South Slavic languages. Geographically, the South Slavs are native to the Balkan peninsula, the southern Pannonian Plain and the eastern Alps...

 Grenzer but determined that they would likely act as ordered, especially if in action against the Hungarians.

In 1848 the Hofkriegsrat became part of the Ministry of War.


  1. Ritter Ehrenreich von Königsberg 1556–1560
  2. Gebhard Freiherr von Welzer 1560–1566
  3. Georg Teufel, Freiherr von Guntersdorf 1566–1578
  4. Wilhelm Freiherr von Hofkirchen 1578–1584
  5. David Ungnad, Freiherr von Weißenwolf 1584–1599
  6. Melchior Freiherr von Redern 1599–1600
  7. Count Karl Ludwig Sulz 1600–1610
  8. Hans Freiherr von Mollard 1610–1619
  9. Johann Kaspar von Stadion 1619–1624
  10. Ramboldo, Count of Collalto
    Ramboldo, Count of Collalto
    Ramboldo XIII, Count of Collalto was an Italian Imperial commander.-Biography:Born at Mantua into an ancient noble Venetian family , dating back to the 10th century, he was the son of Venetian general Antonio IV of Collalto. Expelled from the Republic of Venice, he joined the Imperial Army and...

  11. Hans Christoph Freiherr von Löbel 1630–1632
  12. Count Heinrich Schlick 1649–1665
  13. Wenzel Fürst Lobkowitz, Duke of Sagan 1649–1665
  14. Annibale (Hannibal), Prince Gonzaga 1665–1668
  15. Raimondo Montecuccoli
    Raimondo Montecuccoli
    Raimondo, Count of Montecúccoli or Montecucculi was an Italian military general who also served as general for the Austrians, and was also a prince of the Holy Roman Empire and Neapolitan Duke of Melfi....

  16. Herrmann Markgraf von Baden 1681–1691
  17. Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg
    Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg
    Count Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg was the army commander of Vienna during the second siege of Vienna in 1683, imperial general during the Great Turkish War and President of the Hofkriegsrat.Starhemberg fought in the 1660s under Raimondo Montecuccoli against the French and the Turks.In 1683 he...

  18. Heinrich, Count Mansfeld, Prince of Fondi 1701–1703
  19. Prince Eugene of Savoy
    Prince Eugene of Savoy
    Prince Eugene of Savoy , was one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history, rising to the highest offices of state at the Imperial court in Vienna. Born in Paris to aristocratic Italian parents, Eugene grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV...

  20. Dominik von Königsegg-Rothenfels
    Dominik von Königsegg-Rothenfels
    Lothar Joseph Dominik Graf von Königsegg-Rothenfels was an imperial Fieldmarshal.Lothar was the youngest son of Count Leopold Wilhelm von Königsegg-Rothenfels and Maria Polyxena, Countess Scherffenberg. His parents sent him to the Jesuit school in Besançon, to become a priest. At the age of 16...

  21. Johann Philipp von Harrach 1738–1761
  22. Count Leopold Joseph von Daun 1762–1766
  23. Count Franz Moritz von Lacy
    Franz Moritz von Lacy
    Graf Franz Moritz von Lacy , , was the son of Count Peter von Lacy and a famous Austrian field marshal. He served Maria Theresia, was a close friend to Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, and became one of his advisers...

  24. Count Andreas Hadik von Futak 1774–1790
  25. Count Michael Joseph Wallis 1791–1796
  26. Friedrich Moritz, Count Nostitz-Rieneck 1796
  27. Count Ferdinand Tige 1796–1801
  28. Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
    Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
    Archduke Charles of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of emperor Leopold II and his wife Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain...

  29. Count Heinrich von Bellegarde 1809–1813
  30. Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg
    Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg
    Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg Karl Philipp Fürst zu Schwarzenberg (or Charles Philip, Prince of Schwarzenberg (April 18, 1771 – October 15, 1820) was an Austrian field marshal.- Life :...

  31. Count Heinrich von Bellegarde 1820–1825
  32. Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen
    Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen
    Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen was an Austrian general. He joined the Austrian military and fought against the Kingdom of Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, and the First French Republic. He was promoted to the rank of general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars...

  33. Count Ignaz Gyulai
    Ignaz Gyulai
    Ignaz Gyulai von Máros-Nemeth und Nádaska, Ignácz Gyulay, Ignác Gyulay, or Ignjat Đulaj born 11 September 1763 – died 11 November 1831, joined the army of Habsburg Austria, fought against Ottoman Turkey, and became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. From 1806 he held the...

  34. Count Johann Maria Philipp Frimont
    Johann Maria Philipp Frimont
    Johann Maria Philipp Frimont, Count of Palota, Prince of Antrodoco was an Austrian general.Frimont was born at Fénétrange, in what is now French Lorraine...

  35. Ignaz Graf Hardegg 1831–1848
  36. Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont
    Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont
    Karl Ludwig Graf von Ficquelmont was an Austrian aristocrat, statesman and general of the Austrian Imperial army of French noble origin.-French nobleman:He was born Gabriel-Charles-Louis-Bonnaventure, Count de Ficquelmont at the Castle of...


In fiction

In Tolstoy
Tolstoy, or Tolstoi is a prominent family of Russian nobility, descending from Andrey Kharitonovich Tolstoy who served under Vasily II of Moscow...

's War and Peace
War and Peace
War and Peace is a novel by the Russian author Leo Tolstoy, first published in 1869. The work is epic in scale and is regarded as one of the most important works of world literature...

a retired Russian officer, Prince Nikolai Andreevich Bolkonski, calls it the Hof-kriegs-wurst-schnapps-rat, mocking it by adding the well-known German words Wurst (sausage) and Schnapps (booze).