Tuesday 1 November 2011

The Royal-Hungarian Lifeguards

A member of the Royal Hungarian Lifeguards, wearing the magnificent uniform with leopard skin

The Royal-Hungarian Lifeguards (koniglich-ungarische Leibgarde) was the most elite military corps in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was founded in 1760 by Empress Maria Theresa, who, enamoured of the Hungarian nobility, decided that a select corps of Hungarian aristocrats should provide her with a guard of honour.

Membership of the Lifeguards was restricted to 120 Hungarian officers of high military distinction and blood. The role was purely honorific and representative, and members of the guards had the privilege of accompanying the Empress (later the Emperor) on festive occasions; actual protection of the monarch was not possible for many members, owing to their great age. More is to be found on the Austrian Wikipedia article: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/K.u._Leibgarde

In 1847, in the last list of the member of the Lifeguards to be compiled before they were disbanded in 185o due to the Revolution (but re-instituted in a slightly change form in 1867), we find in this elite corps five members, two of whom were from Kis-Joka, and three from Rethe and Senec. These are:

His Excellency the Lord Albert Udwarnoky von Kis-Joka, Major and Premier Wachtmeister of the Lifeguards and Royal Colonel

The Lord Geysa (Géza) Udwarnoky von Kis-Joka, Guard of the Lifeguards

The Lord Aloys von Urbanovics (of Réthe), Captain (Rittmeister) of the Lifeguards

The Lord Anton von Bagi, Auditor of the Lifeguards and Captain of the Royal Cavalry

The Lord Ferdinand von Klempa, Guard of the Lifeguards

In the 1844 list of Lifeguards, but not the 1847 one, we find listed Alex von Asztalos, from the Bratislava county family branches of which lived in Jelka. Also, in the 1870 Austro-Hungarian Schematismus, one Alexius von Agoston de Kis-Joka is included as a member of the Royal Hungarian Lifeguards. All in all, this is a very impressive roster for so many individuals from one village to be members of this corps.

Another interesting member of the Hungarian Lifeguards in the list is one "Lord Georg von Klapka", who joined the corps in 1842. It is none other than General Gyorgy Klapka, the most distinguished Revolutionary Hungarian general during the 1849 uprising. The Lifeguards were officially disbanded in 1850, but the reality was that by then it had not a single member: in 1849, all memberd of the Lifeguards, inspired by the revolutionary events, deserted their posts in the Imperial court to join the Hungarian rebels.

Source: Hof- und-Staats Handbuch des Oesterreichischen Kaiserthumes (1 Theil, 1847) page 127.

Also the corresponding Schematismi from 1840 and 1870.