Aufseß, Christoph Wilhelm Count von
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Aufseß, Herr von Winklarn, Schönsee, Frauenstein und Reichenstein, Christoph Wilhelm Graf und Herr von
Franconian General-Feldwachtmeister (1692-1697), Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (1697-1704)
Imperial Feldmarschall-Lieutenant (1702-1704)
born 30 May 1650
died 3 December 1704, Regensburg
A general from another ancient family from the Franconian Reichsritterschaft (Free Imperial Knights), incorporated in the canton Gebürg. Christoph Wilhelm, son of Hans Wilhelm von Aufseß and Eva Johanna Fuchs von Wallburg, belonged to the junior branch of the family. He had five sisters and three brothers, of whom one, Friedrich Ernst, died young. Julius Heinrich became Bavarian lieutenant-colonel and died in Hungary and Johann Friedrich made it Bavarian colonel and proprietor of a regiment of foot.
On 21 April 1686, Aufseß married Anna Sophia von Schreyer. Their only child Maria Ernestina Philippina, born 16 February 1692 married Reichsvizekanzler Johann Adolph Count Metsch and after his death a comparatively humble Franz Ludwig de Marschall, a Bavarian lieutenant-colonel.
Aufseß‘ father had got into disputes both with Bamberg and Brandenburg-Culmbach. So it is no wonder, that his sons turned to Bavaria and acquired estates in the Upper Palatinate.
Coming from a protestant family, Christoph Wilhelm and his brothers reverted to Catholicism, which surely made it easier to succeed in Bavarian service, where he became captain of dragoons in 1682 (regiment Degenfeld in 1683) and lieutenant-colonel in 1685 (Aufseß, Geschichte, obviously is in error when naming the year 1695).
Aufseß sold the estates in Freienfeld and Wüstenstein, which he posessed together with his brothers and acquired the fiefs of Plankenstein, Neidenstein, Castle Reiffenberg and Windekerberg. In 1690 Aufseß bought estates in Stamsried from the von Knörringen; after his death, his widow sold it to the counts Khevenhüller. The present mansion was built after his death in 1715.
As a Bavarian officer, Aufseß obviously took part in the campaigns in Hungary. In 1687, maybe during or after the siege of Belgrade, he obtained two Ottoman prisoners, the couple Mehmet and Hatschin. Both were christened ten years later on his estates in Stamsried, Mehmet being named Christoph Wilhelm Schönhauser, the new name of his wife is not known. Their further fate is lost in the dark of history.
Obviously chances of promotion in Bavarian service were not as good as expected, so Aufseß took up a Brandenburg-Ansbach commission as a colonel (the proprietorship of an Ansbach company and a Franconian commission as a colonel, to be exact) in the newly raised Franconian regiment of dragoons in 1691 (on 7 March), at the same time becoming proprietor of the regiment. Nearly two years later, on 22 December 1692, he was promoted major-general “in recognition of his good services.” But as it seems, the general‘s pay at first was to be divided unto three newly promoted generals: Aufseß, Hedesdorff (later of unfortunate Heidelberg fame) and Erffa. But Bamberg intervened insistently on Aufseß‘ behalf, so he at last got the full 280 fl. major-general‘s pay.
Discipline in his new regiment seems to have not been enforced strictly enough at first, as there were complaints about dragoons plundering and even shooting civilians in October 1691. Maybe supply had been worse than usual: in September 1692 Aufseß still had to report from Frankenthal, that “the officers are perishing and the soldiers are dying.”
Aufseß was in command of the left wing of the second line in an ordre de bataille under FZM Count Lippe in July 1693. One year later we find him under FML La Tour.
On 24 March 1695 Aufseß and his brothers were made counts of the Empire (Reichsgrafen).
An ordre de bataille from June 1696 has Aufseß on the right wing with a brigade of four regiments of cavalry and one of hussars, same as in September 1696 (five regiments of cavalry).
In September 1697 Aufseß was posted in the Kinzig valley.
Nearly at the end of the Nine Year‘s War, on 14/4 February 1697, Aufseß once more was promoted and became FML. The same rank he was granted by the Emperor on 11 October 1702.
During the War of Spanish Succession, Aufseß at first was campaigning on the Upper Rhine under Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden, later under Limpurg-Styrum on the upper Danube.
In 1702 Aufseß took part in the first siege of Landau.
In 1703 there followed his second siege. After Major-General Jahnus had repulsed an attempt of Maffei to lift the siege of the Bavarian Fortress of Rothenberg, Aufseß took command of the siege from mid June. He proved patience and leniency on the nearby estates of General San Bonifacio, the fortresses gouvernor. On 19 September, San Bonifacio capitulated on lenient terms. Aufseß even granted the fortress not to be destroyed, a promise the Franconians revoked as Aufseß had had no permission for such a concession.
Officially ordered to support Herbéviller in the siege of Amberg, Aufseß instead advanced to the Danube, driving back Bavarian attacks and levying contributions. Showing such great independence met with little approval with the Austrian command. The same was the case when he tried to assert winter quarters for the Franconian regiments in the Upper Palatinate, thus supporting Franconian claims for taxes and contributions from there.
In 1704, Aufseß had to block Ingolstadt on orders from Prince Eugène. With only 3,000 men chosen from five regiments of cavalry, he was forced to retreat when Bavarian Lieutenant-General Weickel advanced against him with seven bataillons and 22 squadrons in mid-September. Without any supporting infantry, his corps was shattered at Pfünz (a small town seven km east of Eichstätt) on 16 September. Luckily, losses were small, as the Bavarians didn‘t pursue their advantage. Soon Aufseß united his squadrons with Herbéviller and both, now 5,000 strong, in October 1704 laid siege on Straubing. As before, Weickel advanced against them with 7,000 men, but the ceasefire on October 28 put an end to all fighting and Straubing (same as Passau) was evacuated by the Bavarians. Aufseß returned to Regensburg, where he died on 12 December 1704. He was buried in Stamsried, a tiny village in the Upper Palatinate. Neither his grave nor any other memorial have survived. His regiment was transferred to Heinrich Carl von Bibra.
Aufseß, Otto von und zu: Geschichte des uradelichen Aufseß‘schen Geschlechtes in Franken. Berlin 1888, pp. 296-298.
Biedermann, Johann Heinrich: Geschlechts-Register Der Reichs-Frey unmittelbaren Ritterschaft Landes zu Francken Löblichen Orts Gebürg. Nürnberg 1748, Taf. XXIII.
Documents from the Bavarian state archives at Nuremberg.
Heller, Hartmut: Türkentaufen um 1700 – ein vergessenes Kapitel der fränkischen Bevölkerungsgeschichte. In: Heller, Hartmut / Schröttel, Gerhard (eds.): Glaubensflüchtlinge und Glaubensfremde in Franken. Würzburg 1987, pp. 255-271.
Willax, Franz: Der Kampf um die Veste Rothenberg 1703. Schnaittach 1992, pp. 277-278.
Klaus Roider for the initial version of this article