- House of Cseszneky
House of Cseszneky Country Ancestral house Clan Bána Titles Founder Jakab, Lord of Csesznek Current head Count Miklós Cseszneky Founding 1260
The House of Cseszneky (pronounced [tʃɛsnɛki]) was one of the most prominent noble families in the Kingdom of Hungary. The Counts Cseszneky de Milvány et Csesznek have produced many individuals notable in Hungarian and general European history and culture.
Name and origin
According to the tradition the Cseszneky family has descended from the Clan Bána, whose origin - in György Györffy's opinion - traces back to the 10th century. Another notable historian, Erik Fügedi suggested that the Clan Bána was a collateral branch of the Clan Katapán (Koppán) descending from the princely house of the Pecheneg Talmat tribe. According to the medieval Gesta Hungarorum, Ketel Cuman (in fact Pecheneg) khagan joined the people of Hungarian Grand Prince Álmos at Kiev in 884 CE. After the conquest of Hungary, one part of Ketel's clan settled down between Sátorhalom and Tolcsva river, whilst the other part where the Vág river falls into the Danube. At the bank of Vág Ketel's son, Alaptolma constructed the castle of Komárom, where later they were buried in a Pagan way. Other historians think that the relationship between the Katapáns and the Bánas was not agnatic rather matrilineal, and the Bánas descended from the Counts of Bana, who were vassals of the Avar Tudun, and as such subvassals of Charlemagne. The Clan Bána had its primeval estates around Bana village and in the Bakony mountains. They were hereditary Wildgraves of Bakony. 
The direct forefather of the Cseszneky family, Count Apa from the Clan Bána, is mentioned in a document from 1230. In accordance with this record, Pope Gregory IX investigated the complaint of Pannonhalma Abbey, since Count Apa and his son, Jakab had occupied the Benedictines' possessions and fishing places around Gönyű. Another son of Apa, Mihály was mentioned in 1225 as King Andrew II's equerry, and later he rendered great service to King Béla IV during the Mongol invasion. Mihály's son, another Jakab, who was royal swordbearer and lord of Trencsén Castle, constructed Csesznek Castle around 1260. He and his descendants took the name Cseszneky after ther ancestral home.
Coat of arms and motto
King Ferdinand II by a royal patent dated on 8 March 1626 in Vienna granted to Benedek Cseszneky, his wife, Sára Kánya de Budafalva, also to Jakab Patonyi and his wife, Anna Kánya, furthermore to Boldizsár Kánya and his sister, Erzsébet a different coat of arms showing a pelican feeding her young with her blood. Nevertheless, most of the family members continued using some sort of the ancient coat of arms with the dove.
The Cseszneky family have generally been known as a Hungarian noble family. However, their nationality has been an object of controversy. The controversy largely stems from the fact that during the lives of numerous family members the modern concept of nationality based on ethnicity had not yet been fully developed and the term Hungarian had a much broader geographic meaning than it does now. Many family members had been brought up in the culture of the Kingdom of Hungary, a multicultural state that had encompassed most of what today are known as Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, Vojvodina, Transylvania, Subcarpathia, Transmurania and Burgenland. As a result of their ethnicity the principal language used at their homes and in private correspondence was Hungarian, but Csesznekys living in parts of the Kingdom of Hungary where other languages were spoken by the population also spoke those languages, especially German and Slavic languages.
In pre-Christian Hungary the ancestors of the Cseszneky family followed Tengrism, the ancient religion of the steppic equestrian civilizations. Tengrism was fundamentally a monotheistic religion, though its followers revered the spirits of ancestors and nature as well.
In the Middle Ages, the Csesznekys practiced Roman Catholicism, and often sacrificed their lives in the defense of Christendom by taking part in the Crusades or fighting the Mongol and Ottoman invaders. Several churches were built and patronized by the family all over the Kingdom of Hungary, they founded the Benedictine Abbey of Koppánmonostor and had strong ties with Pannonhalma Archabbey.
In the late 16th century the family supported the Reformation, and many of its members became Protestant. Count György Cseszneky was an ardent supporter of Lutheranism and he built one of the first Protestant prayer houses in Hungary in his estates in Kisbabot. Erzsébet Cseszneky, mother of the famous Lutheran theologian Mátyás Bél, is highly respected today in the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Hungary and the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia as their benefactress.
During the Counter-Reformation the main line of the Csesznekys re-embraced Catholicism. In recent times most family members have been christened Roman Catholic and some in the Reformed or Unitarian Churches.
Count Gyula Cseszneky, Macedonian Grand Voivode, himself a Catholic, in 1943 founded the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church, which was shortly abolished by the Greek ecclesiastical hierarchy, but then re-established in 1959 in the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Several prominent family members have been involved in domestic and foreign political arenas. They took an active part in the political life of the Kingdom of Hungary and held high military and court positions. They reached their splendour during the interregnum after the extinction of the Árpád dynasty, when they ruled vast regions as de facto sovereign counts of Csesznek and even declared war on King Wenceslas almost capturing him in the royal palace.
The Ottoman invasion left most of their estates devastated and many family members felt the obligation of defending the Crown of Saint Stephen with their swords, and their braveness was respected even by the Turks.
After the expulsion of Turks, the most important event in the history of Csesznekys was Rákóczi's War for Independence, in which the members of the family played an active role. Following Francis II Rákóczi's defeat, the glory of Cseszneky family also was on the decline, and their goods were confiscated.
In spite of their diminished riches, the family supported financially the famous Hungarian poet, Mihály Vörösmarty's election to the parliament following the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and many family members also took part in the war of independence.
Over the generations the family members have resided in some notable historic homes and seats. Some of the more prominent of these are:
- In present-day Burgenland, Austria
- In present-day Vojvodina, Serbia
Notable family members
- Count Jakab Cseszneky, royal swordbearer, lord of Trencsén Castle, builder of Csesznek Castle
- Count Miklós Cseszneky, Count of Maróca, knight of the Order of Saint George
- Count Lőrinc Cseszneky, medieval magnate, knight of the Order of Saint George
- Count György Cseszneky, castellan of Tata and Győr, benefactor of the Lutheran Church
- Count János Cseszneky, infantry commander
- Count Mihály Cseszneky, vice-castellan of Várpalota
- Count Mátyás Cseszneky, cavalry commander
- Count Benedek Cseszneky, office holder, diplomat
- Countess Erzsébet Cseszneky, mother of Mátyás Bél, benefactress of the Lutheran Church
- Count Imre Cseszneky, agriculturalist, horse breeder
- Count Ferenc Cseszneky (1876–1924) inventor, politician
- Count Gyula Cseszneky (1914-ca 1970) poet, translator, Macedonian Voivode
- Count Mihály Cseszneky (1910–1975), industrialist
Comital House of Cseszneky
HIllH The Dowager Countess
- HE Countess Ágnes
- HIllH The Count