The House of Hildprandt von und zu Ottenhausen
Per Angusta, Ad Augusta - Through Anguish, to Glory - as the motto reads on the coat of arms of the family that calls Castle Blatna home. The Free Lords of Hildprandt, a Tyrolean noble family originating from the Upper-Austrian township of Ottenhausen, received their title of nobility by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in 1530, followed by Imperial Knighthood in 1579. Confirmation of Knighthood by the Bohemian Crown came in 1739, while Jan Reinhard Hildprandt von und zu Ottenhausen served as imperial counselor to Emperor Rudolf II and supervised the accounts for the Bohemian crown.
In 1794 the family acquired the Blatna estate and Baron Wenzel Karl (Václav Karel) with his wife Maria Anna McMurrough Cavanagh of Ballyane were the first Hildprandts to settle in Blatna in 1799. His oldest son made extensive improvements to the castle, built a bridge, sheep paddocks, riding stables, and transformed the game park into an English-style park and added a pond. The next heir to the estate, Ferdinand, was tutored by the later famous scientist and academic Jan Evangelista Purkyně. After Ferdinand’s death in 1845 his son Robert, born of his marriage to Karolina, née Nostitz, inherited the estate. Robert was also involved in public life, becoming a member of the Bohemian Provincial Council (Landtag) and life peer in the Upper House.
Upon his death in 1884, his estate passed to his son Ferdinand, who married Josefina, Countess of Thun. He was responsible for building a school in Blatna and the Strakonice – Blatna – Březnice railway line, which had a major impact on life in Blatna and the surrounding area. He also served as mayor of Blatna during World War I. In 1936 Ferdinand’s son Friedrich (Bedřich) "Fido" married the daughter of the Czechoslovak ambassador to the United States at the time, Cornelia "Nella" Veverka. The Hildprandts’ property was seized during the Communist takeover and despite the promise that they could live out their lives in the castle, the family was forcibly removed in 1952. The government at the time decreed that they could not live within 11 kilometers of Blatna. The Hildprandts took their two daughters (fourteen-year-old Josefina and five-year-old Jana) and settled in Rojice, a nearby village, while Fido worked in a power plant in nearby Pisek and Nella taught foreign languages.
When Haile Selasie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, visited Czechoslovakia in 1959, he asked President Novotny to allow the Hildprandts to legally emigrate to Ethiopia. The Emperor knew Nella's father, Dr. Ferdinand Veverka, through their former diplomatic ties. Dr. Veverka had also had his property confiscated in 1948, the chateau in Dolni Lukavice, and informed the Emperor of the plight of his daughter and her family after he himself had emigrated to Ethiopia and worked as adviser to the Emperor thereafter. Upon settling in Ethiopia, Fido was given charge of supervising the imperial stud farm in Addis Abeba, while his wife Nella worked as an interpreter at the UN center in the city. After the Emperor’s rule was toppled in a Soviet-backed coup, Fido and Nella moved to the Balearic Island of Ibiza in 1975 and later to Gauting in the outskirts of Munich, where Fido died in 1981.
The castle and surrounding estate were returned to the Hildprandt family through restitution in 1992, when Baroness Nella returned to Blatna to live with her daughter Jana and Jana's husband, Greek architect Spyridon Germenis. At first the family lived in the castle but, preferring smaller and more practical living quarters, later moved to the park residence, a renovated Empire-style house in the estate grounds, which was once home to Nella’s brother-in-law, Heindrich Hildprandt, a well-known sculptor.
Following the passing in 2014 of both Nella and Spyridon, Jana Germenis-Hildprandt continues to manage the castle to this day, while her sister Josefina has been managing the castle distillery.