Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I have been doing a little bit of digging (oh, how I love to dig!) and I have discovered some interesting facts about my family tree.

My grandmother, known to us always as Oma, is an immigrant from Austria (my father should have run for office, he could have used the "first in his family born in America" line to great effect). She is a lovely woman, exactly the way a grandmother should be; she always invites us over for holidays, and can she ever cook!

Anyway, she was brought up outside Vienna as the granddaughter of the Baroness Marie Mottl. She was speaking to my father recently and mentioned that Baroness Marie's mother, the Baroness de Rostenfeld, was before her marriage a member of the von Bartenstein family, descending from Johann Christoph Von Bartenstein, counselor at the Austrian court.

Of course I had to look him up. Baron Von Bartenstein (or, as he is referred to sometimes, Count Von Bartenstein) was born in Alsace-Lorraine, France, in the late 1600s. He was baptized Protestant but converted to Catholicism, supposedly to gain a position at the uber-Catholic Hapsburg court. He was first adviser to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles VI, and then became the Secretary of State for Charles' daughter Maria Theresa and educator of her son, Joseph II. Baron Von Bartenstein is described as a "prickly" person who was rather acidic in his foreign policy dispatches; in other words he was really rude to the other diplomats.

He himself came from common, middle-class stock, but his children seem to have done well (good marriages etc). However, I have yet to pin down which of them we are descended from. It's fascinating stuff. If anyone knows of a Baroness Johanna Von Bartenstein, married name de Rostenfeld, and who her parents were, drop me a line :)


  1. Hey...you're minor nobility!

  2. Very minor; from all I have read Baron is the very very lowest ranking title out of all of them! I think it is one of those doled out to people when they have a lot of money or when they perform some service to the ruler or whatever. In other words, it doesn't have anything to do with having "good blood." It figures that my family has some good examples of the nouveau riche ;)

  3. This is interesting... Only odd thing in my family is that my dad's dad's dad (confused yet?) apparently snuck out of/ ran away from Ireland when he was twelve. We think he changed his name at this point, so my last name might not even by my 'real' last name.

    But very minor nobility is much cooler! ;)