The birth of Liechtenstein

January 23, 1718 – The Principality of Liechtenstein is created within the Holy Roman Empire.

Liechtenstein (German: Fürstentum Liechtenstein) is a doubly landlocked German -speaking microstate in Central Europe.  It is a constitutional monarchy with the rank of principality, headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It has an area of just over 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) and an estimated population of 37,000. Divided into 11 municipalities, its capital is Vaduz and its largest municipality is Schaan.

On January 23, 1718, after the lands had been purchased, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, decreed that Vaduz and Schellenberg were united and elevated the newly formed territory to the dignity of principality with the name “Liechtenstein” in honor of “[his] true servant, Anton Florian of Liechtenstein “. It was on this date that Liechtenstein became a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire. It is a testament to the pure political expediency of the purchase that the Princes of Liechtenstein never visited their new principality for almost 100 years.

By the early 19th century, as a result of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the Holy Roman Empire came under the effective control of France, following the crushing defeat at Austerlitz by Napoleon in 1805. Emperor Francis II abdicated, ending more than 960 years of feudal government. Napoleon reorganized much of the Empire into the Confederation of the Rhine. This political restructuring had broad consequences for Liechtenstein: the historical imperial, legal, and political institutions had been dissolved. The state ceased to owe an obligation to any feudal lord beyond its borders.

Modern publications generally attribute Liechtenstein’s sovereignty to these events. Its prince ceased to owe an obligation to any suzerain. From July 25, 1806, when the Confederation of the Rhine was founded, the Prince of Liechtenstein was a member, in fact, a vassal, of its hegemon, styled protector, the French Emperor Napoleon I, until the dissolution of the confederation on October 19, 1813.

Soon afterward, Liechtenstein joined the German Confederation (June 20, 1815 – August 24, 1866), which was presided over by the Emperor of Austria.

In 1818, Prince Johann I granted the territory a limited constitution. In that same year Prince Aloys became the first member of the House of Liechtenstein to set foot in the principality that bore their name. The next visit would not occur until 1842.  (from Wikipedia)

It wasn’t until 1912 that the postal authority of Liechtenstein would print its first stamps.  Displayed here is one of these, a 25-heller stamp with a profile of Prince Johann II:



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