So far, Alexander Schallenberg has always been loyal to Sebastian Kurz. Even when the current ÖVP club chairman was foreign minister, Schallenberg advised him as chief strategist. That something should now change in his loyal attitude, that Schallenberg could develop ambitions as Federal Chancellor to drink Sebastian Kurz and assert himself at his expense, does not seem to correspond to his nature – especially not with regard to his aristocratic ancestors. Because the Schallenbergs were often in the service of rulers, especially when things got tricky for them and the difficulties had to be solved elegantly. Briefly, it seems, could hardly have made a better choice in this regard.
Christoph von Schallenberg (1561 to 1597), who was initially responsible for the food at the Viennese court, is known to this day. But in 1594 he became regent of the Lower Austrian provinces and for the first time had to compensate for this in this political office. Above all, Christoph von Schallenberg was also the commander of the Danube fleet. In the enduring war with the Ottomans, it was a matter of “keeping the Turks at bay and keeping the emperor in office”, as the German publisher Wolfram Weimer aptly remarked. In addition, this first prominent Schallenberg wrote mocking poems in German and Latin, they are still preserved in the original manuscript.
His son Georg Christoph von Schallenberg (1593 to 1657) also acted as mediator – among other things, between the denominational denominations that were at odds at the time. The Chief Provisioner at the imperial court and Chief Commissioner in Upper Austria had converted to Catholicism as a Protestant. But since he had a poetic streak like his father, he used it to write conciliatory love poems and diplomatic bridge-building texts. In 1656 he was raised to the status of imperial baron.
Count Leopold Schallenberg (1712 to 1800), who made it to the position of Obersthofstabelmeister and thus served as a kind of master of ceremonies at the court of Empress Maria Theresa, is famous to this day. His activity fell at a particularly important time for Austria – after all, numerous reforms were carried out under Maria Theresa. He used it to expand diplomatic relations to France. He was connected to Emperor Franz Stephan – Maria Theresa’s husband – through Freemasonry, which was actually forbidden at the time. Of course, that did not change the fact that important advisers to the Empress were among him.
In 1720, Count Leopold Schallenberg inherited Rosenau Castle in the Waldviertel, which he had expanded generously from 1736 according to the plans of the baroque master builder Joseph Munggenast. In 1747 he set up the first Masonic Lodge in continental Europe in the palace, which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also visited on the way from Vienna to Prague. Today there is a Masonic Museum including the oldest still used Masonic temple in Central Europe.
The grandfather of the new Federal Chancellor was an industrialist and legation councilor. He was given an important mission immediately after the end of the Second World War: Herbert Schallenberg was in charge of the reopening of the Austrian representation in Prague. On May 12, 1945, just four days after the end of the war, the Czechoslovak government decided to make the building that had previously been used available for an Austrian representation. Initially, it served thousands of Austrians who wanted to return to their homeland as temporary accommodation, as did the school building opposite the embassy.
Allexander Schallenberg has been familiar with the fortunes of diplomacy from an early age. His father Wolfgang Schallenberg (born 1930) – was Secretary General in the Foreign Ministry (1992 to 1996) and Ambassador to India, Spain and France, where the current Chancellor also grew up.
Schallenberg can trace his line of ancestors back a long way. The Schallenbergs are first mentioned in a document in 1190 – at that time, however, under the name De Sancto Ulrico. Only later did they name themselves after the castle Schallenberg. Today it only exists as a ruin. It came into the family’s possession in 1260, but was destroyed in 1440 by the Reformation Hussites in protest against the Catholic Church.