Military Wiki

The Hofkriegsrat was the Court Council of War of the Habsburg Monarchy. Founded in 1556 in the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I, 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 standing army 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, provided a staff for the emperor, and directed and coordinated field armies.[1] Additionally, it conducted relations with the Ottoman Empire and administered the Military Frontier (Militärgrenze).[2]

Joseph II centralized the body and gave it authority over all branches of the military. When the reforming Archduke Charles became president of the Hofkriegsrat, he divided it into three departments, dealing with military, judicial, and administrative matters.

Following the Napoleonic Wars, 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. However, its bureaucracy was cumbersome and decisions were often arrived at only after much argument and circulation of papers.[3] 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 would later call a civilian "despotism". An additional problem was presented in the fact that in a time when the general staff was growing in importance in other countries (notably Prussia), in Austria it remained only a subordinate section of the Hofkriegsrat.[3]

Amidst the growing nationalist troubles leading up to the 1848 Revolutions, 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 Italian nationalist Young Italy movement were guilty of high treason and were to be court-martialed. In the 1840s it investigated even the traditionally loyal South Slav Grenzer but determined that they would likely act as ordered, especially if in action against the Hungarians.[4]

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 1624–1630
  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 1668–1681
  16. Hermann of Baden-Baden 1681–1691
  17. Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg 1692–1701
  18. Heinrich, Count Mansfeld, Prince of Fondi 1701–1703
  19. Prince Eugene of Savoy 1703–1736
  20. Dominik von Königsegg-Rothenfels 1736–1738
  21. Johann Philipp von Harrach 1738–1761
  22. Count Leopold Joseph von Daun 1762–1766
  23. Count Franz Moritz von Lacy 1766–1774
  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 1801–1809
  29. Count Heinrich von Bellegarde 1809–1813
  30. Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg 1814–1820
  31. Count Heinrich von Bellegarde 1820–1825
  32. Friedrich Franz Xaver Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen 1825–1830
  33. Count Ignaz Gyulai 1830–1831
  34. Count Johann Maria Philipp Frimont 1831
  35. Ignaz Graf Hardegg 1831–1848
  36. Count Karl Ludwig von Ficquelmont 1848

In fiction

In Tolstoy's War and Peace, 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).


  1. Rothenburg, G. The Army of Francis Joseph. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1976. p 4.
  2. Rothenburg 1976, p. 4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Rothenburg 1976, p. 10.
  4. Rothenburg 1976, p. 19.
  • Henry Frederick Schwarz and John Insley Coddington, The Imperial Privy Council in the Seventeenth Century (Oxford, 1943).
  • Lee W. Eysturlid, The Formative Influences, Theories, and Campaigns of the Archduke Carl of Austria (Greenwood, 2000).
  • Gunther E. Rothenberg, The Army of Francis Joseph (Purdue UP, 1999).

Coordinates: 48°12′38″N 16°22′06″E / 48.21056°N 16.36833°E / 48.21056; 16.36833

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