Hrvatska vojnička obitelj – Kneževići od Svete Helene

Historical Contributions; Vol.33 No.33
Source: OAI


The nearly constant wars against the Turks resulted in a pervasive militarization of the Croatian population. An example of this process is offered by the history of the hitherto little known family: Knežević of Saint Helena. In just two generations around the turn of the nineteenth century, this family produced eight officers of the imperial army, five of whom rose to high-ranking generals. Two of them, Martin Knežević and his son Vinko, were invested with the highest Austrian military decoration, Military Order of Maria Theresa. Martin Knežević (1708–1781) distinguished himself as a cavalry officer in Carlstadt Hussar Regiment during wars against the Ottomans, in the War of Austrian Succession and in the Seven Years War. He earned the Knight Cross of Maria Theresa in the action by Landshut in June 1761. Just eight of his 15 children with Helena Vukasovich survived into adulthood. The six sons and two daughters included: Juraj (1733–1805), Anton (1737–1809), Petar (1746–1814), Marijana, Cecilija, Leopold (?– 1788/89) and Vinko (1755–1832). Juraj, Ivan, Petar and Vinko became generals and the youngest, Vincent, earned a Knight Cross of Maria Theresa in the 1799 battle of Cassano. The daughters married military officers. One of them, Cecilija, became a grandmother of the famous Croatian Banus Josip Jelačić.

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