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Ljubljana, 175 years ago

Reports by Franz Franz to Baron Joseph Kalasanz Erberg


Ljubljana, May 6 and 8, 1837

Original, 3pp.


Reference code: SI AS 730, Dol Seigniory, fasc. 47.



Baron Joseph Kalasanz Erberg (Ljubljana, 1771 – Dol, 1843) is without a doubt one of the most interesting and versatile personalities of pre-March Carniola. Having finished his studies in Vienna he first worked for the Carniolan Provincial Estates before he and his wife Josephine, born Attems, were employed by the Austrian Emperor Franz I himself to tutor his children in Vienna between 1808 and1815. When the health of his own children and later also his wife deteriorated after 1815, Joseph Kalasanz withdrew to his mansion Dol and devoted his time to arranging and compiling his collection of books, antiques, works of art and his extensive collection of archives. At the start of his residence in Dol he had frequent contacts with other figures in Carniolan cultural life, but ever since the end of 1820 he left Dol only occasionally – once or twice a year he made a journey to Vienna and Ljubljana on business. However, he still liked to be in touch with what was going on which is why he hired a retired officer Franz Franz who from 1832 until his death in 1840 kept him informed about the events that took place in Ljubljana and Carniola as well as in the entire monarchy and its neighbouring countries. This was the base for the extensive collection comprised of about 1800 letters which several times a week for almost eight years made a journey to Dol. These letters give us an insight into the social life of nobility and officials in Ljubljana during the pre-March period.


In the spring, 175 years ago, Franz reported on everything that might be of interest to Erberg: news about who arrived in Ljubljana or departed from it, about the officials that were being promoted, about social events – from theatre performances to tombola and soirées – marriages and births, but also news of illnesses, weather and the unusual events and rumours that kept the people of Ljubljana busy. Only exceptionally he wrote about church ceremonies, such as the April visit of Baraga, a missionary among the native Americans. Apparently, so many people wanted to hear his sermon delivered in the Carniolan language at the Franciscan Church of Annunciation in Ljubljana that the police had to intervene. Franz also made a detailed report about the events that took place in Vienna from where he obviously received written reports. He also stated whether he himself was a witness to these events, or whether it was just a report, newspaper notice or mere rumours.


He diligently numbered his letters within each year. For example, in his letter no. 57 of May 6 he reported being informed by his agent from Vienna that the Empress had been feeling better but that Minister Kolowrat had been ill for some time. There was some talk about a medicine that had been submitted to the Vienna University by Lallich, a teacher from Vrbosko in Zagreb County. The medicine was supposed to work against rabies in humans and animals but could also be effective as antidote for snakebite. Franz also gave account of the cholera in Bosnia which had been such shock to the Turks that they had named it “Krattetta”, meaning “quick death”.


Two days later he included some news from Ljubljana in his unsent letter. The concert at the German House was well attended. Countess Pepi Welsersheim was playing Czerny’s potpourri on pianoforte, accompanied by Mrs. Wagner, wife of the Ljubljana Gubernium’s councillor, and the baroness Mathilde Schmidburg. “Turkish music” in park Tivoli drew quite a crowd as well.

He also reported about the arrest of the notorious prisoner Košir who was chased away from Kleče to the other side of the river Sava and was finally found hiding under the straw in some barn.


At the end of his letter, Franz Franz informs his employee about the members of the Ljubljana upper class: baron Abfaltern left for Graz, count Welsperg departed for Carinthia and Tyrol where he was to spend the following six weeks, count Aichelburg fell ill with fever. He concludes his letter with the news of count Blagai’s familiy moving to the countryside in Polhov Gradec.




- Umek, Ema: Erbergi in dolski arhiv, 1. del. Publikacije Arhiva Republike Slovenije. Inventarji. Serija Graščinski arhivi, zv. 5. Ljubljana: Arhiv Republike Slovenije, 1991.

- Vodopivec, Peter: Prispevek k zgodovini mentalitete na Slovenskem v času biedermaierja. In: Mednarodni kulturnozgodovinski simpozij Modinci 1990, zv. 22. Szombathely: Železna županija, 1994, pp. 79-101.



Andreja Klasinc Škofljanec