Esterházy Fényes Miklós


People of Note in Eszterháza: Esterházy Fényes Miklós Prince

Nikolaus Esterházy was the son of Prince Joseph (József Simon Antal) (1688–1721), and the younger brother of Prince Paul Anton (Pál Antal) (1711–1762). He took the title of Prince on his brother's death.

His name is given in various languages: German (the lingua franca of the Habsburg Empire) "Nikolaus Josef", Hungarian (probably his native language) "Miklós Jozsef," and (in English contexts) the English form of his name, "Nicholas".

In early life he was educated by Jesuits. He became a military officer, serving the Austrian Empire. Of his military career, Robbins Landon notes that he achieved, "considerable distinction, particularly as Colonel at the Battle of Kolin (1757) in the Seven Years' War where, with great personal courage, he led the wavering cavalry troops to victory. He was later made a Lieutenant Field-Marshal."

Robbins Landon narrates Nikolaus's marriage thus: "On 4 March 1737, he married Freiin Marie Elisabeth, daughter of Reichsgraf (Count of the Holy Roman Empire) Ferdinand von Weissenwolf".

During the period before his brother Paul Anton's death, Nikolaus held the title of Count. He generally lived apart from his brother, favoring a hunting lodge near the Neusiedlersee in Hungary. The brothers got along well, however, at least as can be determined from their correspondence.

Upon his brother's death in 1762, (Paul Anton having had no children) Nikolaus inherited the title of Prince.

In 1766, Nikolaus began the construction of a magnificent new palace constructed at Eszterháza (now Fertőd), in rural Hungary on the site of his old hunting lodge. This is the most admired of the various Esterházy homes, is often called the "Hungarian Versailles," and is a tourist attraction today. The Prince at first spent only summers there, but gradually came to spend ten months of the year—much to the distress of his musicians; see the tale of the "Farewell" Symphony. Nikolaus evidently did not enjoy Vienna (where most of the Empire's landed aristocrats spent much of their time, and the time he spent away from Eszterháza was mostly at the old family seat in Eisenstadt.

Nikolaus had a very high income; according some sources, he was richer than the Austrian Emperor. However, his expenses were also high, and on his death his son and successor Anton (Antal) (1738–1794) was forced to retrench financially.

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People of Note in Eszterháza: Esterházy Fényes Miklós Prince
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