This year’s Museum Night called “Possible Impossible,” which took place this year under ‘COVID’ circumstances, was the occasion for opening the forthcoming permanent exhibition, a sarcophagus estate at Klanjec Cultural Center.
Although not everything is completed. The exhibition brings a documentary about the noble Erdody family about sarcophagi, about the deceased, Croatian Ban Sigismund, and his nephew Emmerich (Mirko) Erdody. The collection accompanies the multimedia story Memento mori – Remember death, on the universal theme of human life’s transience.
We peeked for you and brought the story…
The counts Erdödy were patrons of the church and monastery, with a couple of dozen members of this Croatian noble family of Hungarian origin finding their final resting place in the crypts inside and outside the church. So far, two sarcophagi – those of the Croatian Ban (Viceroy) Sigismund (1596 – 1639) and Emmerich Erdödy (1620 – 1690), Grand Prefect of Varaždin County, have been removed from the crypts for restoration. These pewter sarcophagi are precious monuments of Baroque sepulchral art. They are a unique presence in Croatia. The sarcophagus of Emmerich Erdödy, which is supported by four deer figures, is a notable example of a European funerary sculpture. The sarcophagi are adorned with reliefs, which are symbols of the Erdödy family and spirituality and piety, evoking the transience of humans’ lives.
The Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Franciscan monastery, in Klanjec (Hrvatsko Zagorje), were established in 1630 by Sigismund and Nicholas Erdödy.
Begone, ye wicked A good man rests here. A Ban, no less. And a good Ban at that
Who were Erdödys
Sigismund Erdödy took the oath as Ban in 1628. while he served as Captain of the Kingdom. He participated in quelling the Second Revolt of the Stibrenses (Kaptol serfs) from 1632 to 1636. He took care of refugees who had fled Bosnia from the Ottomans by housing them on his Novigrad estate (on the Sava River). He was a benefactor to the Catholic religious orders.
Together with his cousin Nicholas II, the son of his uncle Peter III, he founded the Franciscan monastery and the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Klanjec and gave land for upkeep and serfs to the Franciscans in 1630. When the Church of Saint Catherine in Zagreb was consecrated in 1631, he donated a small organ. He had the first main altar erected in 1633. In 1638. his wife Ann Mary bequeathed funds to establish the Franciscan monastery in Krapina in her will. He died without issue.
Emmerich Erdödy (1620 – 1690)
Emmerich (Mirko I), following his uncle Sigismund’s death in 1639, inherited the Cesargrad Castle, where he resided for the rest of his life. He was Prefect of Varaždin County and Captain of Petrinja (1645 – 1665) and Koprivnica (aprox.1676). Emmerich came into conflict with the residents of the market town of Jastrebarsko (1646 – 1670) due to his violent actions and the imposition of new taxes. It resulted in a rebellion instigated by his own serfs on the Novigrad estate in Posavina and caused a mass revolt in the area (1653 – 1659); another revolt was in 1670/71. In 1670/71, he was a member of the Judicial Council, which tried the accused in the Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy. From 1681 to 1687, he was Master of the Treasury for Hungary, Royal Chamberlain and Advisor, and Grand Prefect of Varaždin County from 1682 to 1690. He resumed the construction of the church and monastery in Klanjec. He built a slew of chapels and churches on his estate – the Church of the Three Kings, the Chapel of St. Lucy at the cemetery in Klanjec. He also donated the Pauline monastery in Lepoglava, the Franciscan monastery in Jastrebarsko, the Jesuit monastery in Zagreb, and the Church of Saint Mary of the Snows in Volavje near Jastrebarsko. Emmerich founded the Brotherhood of Saint Anthony of Padua, whom he had worshipped greatly, and ordered the construction of the side chapel of St. Anthony by breaking through a wall in the already completed single-nave church in Klanjec. He had built a crypt in front of the altar in which he was buried.
Restoration of the sarcophagi
The sarcophagi restoration began in 1992, when Joseph Ziegler was invited, an academically trained restorer from Vienna. He specializes in metals to assess the sarcophagi condition. The coordinator for this complex project was Ksenija Petrić from the Directorate for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, who holds an MSc in Archaeology.
The museological display of the sarcophagi is the first stage of the planned project of renovating and turning the Visitor center Along the Trails of Our Beautiful Homeland and the House of European Anthems into a museum tourist attraction.
The entire sacral complex will be restored under expert guidance and co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia, with support provided by the Croatian Franciscan Province of Saints Cyril and Methodius.
Peek into the past
This monastery was founded by the Erdődy noble family, one of the most influential aristocratic families in Late Medieval and Early Modern Croatia.
They had vast fiefdoms in Hungary and Croatia. They were members of the Central European elite, which orchestrated political processes and promoted the Christian people’s culture in Europe at the time. The family had also acquired substantial lands in Hrvatsko Zagorje and have been linked to this region since 1521 when they obtained the Cesargrad estate. They also made generous donations to the church. The monumental Franciscan monastery with the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary was funded by this noble family’s financial support.
The church was constructed from 1630 to 1655, while the monastery itself was not completed until 1686. Since then, the monastery has been a significant spiritual, economic and cultural center of Zagorje.
Erdödy noble family
The Erdödys are a noble family of Hungarian origin that owned lands in Hungary, Slavonia, and Croatia’s parts north of the Kupa River. The family has produced numerous Bans of Croatia and state, military, and public officials. One of the most distinguished family members is Thomas II, who was commander at the Battle of Sisak in 1593. The Erdödys owned vast lands in Croatia and Hungary – Moslavina, Jelengrad, Dijanovac, Plodin, Kutina, Okić, Lipovec, and Jastrebarsko.
They arrived in Klanjec in 1521, when the Cesargrad Fort and the surrounding estate were bestowed upon the family. Cesargrad was severely damaged in the Peasants’ Revolt in the 16th century, with only the stone ruins bearing witness to what was once a formidable castle.
After the Ottomans no longer posed a threat, Thomas II Erdödy ordered the construction of Novi Dvori Cesargradski, one of the first early Baroque Croatian castles, south of Klanjec.
At the Franciscans’ request, whose monastery in nearby Radakovo was destroyed in a fire in the early 17th century, cousins Sigismund and Nicholas Erdödy founded a monastery and church in Klanjec in 1630.
It was this church in Klanjec that numerous members of the noble family chose as their final resting place.