History –Finanz- und Hofkammerarchiv

The Hofkammer

The Hofkammer was founded in 1527, it was the central financial authority of the Habsburg monarchy. Originally, it was in charge of administering the princely estates and financing the royal household. Later, it was increasingly responsible for raising the funds required for administration and a regular army. In the 18th century, the Hofkammer turned into a kind of "mega-ministry" for finance, trade, economy, mining and transport.

The "memory" of financial administration

In the late middle ages and early modern age, finances and property were managed very prudently already; expenditure, income and assets were carefully documented.

In 1578 the amount of older records that had accumulated at the Hofkammer was so large that they had to be stored in a separate location, the "Alte Registratur"not far from the aulic chancellery in the imperial Hofburg palace, at the "Kaiserspital"in the area of today’s Ballhausplatz/Minoritenplatz squares. This is how the Hofkammerarchiv was created.

For decades, the understaffed division at the Kaiserspital put enormous efforts into structuring the wealth of materials. In the middle of the 18th century, the structure of the Hofkammerarchiv was considered exemplary.

During the first half of the 19th century valuable archival holdings, including more than 8 000 acts and charters, had to be transferred to the Hofbibliothek (court library), the Kriegsarchiv and especially to the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, which reduced the holdings considerably.

Franz Grillparzer as a director of the archive

The Austrian dramatist Franz Grillparzer (1791 to 1872) held the position of director of the Hofkammerarchiv from 1832 to 1856.

During his tenure, in the Year of Revolution 1848, the archive was relocated from the "Kaiserspital"premises to a new functional building erected specifically to house an archive. The building designed by the architect Paul Sprenger (1798 to 1854) was situated at Johannesgasse 6 (replacing the Stadthof, or urban distribution centre, of the monastery of Kleinmariazell).

In 1848 access to the archive was granted to "literary" (i.e. historical) research.

The building at Johannesgasse is a protected monument and a veritable gem of Viennese Biedermeier architecture; since then it has continuously served as the home of the Hofkammerarchiv. The building and archive form a historical ensemble which was extensively renovated in the years 1980 to 1984.

The Hofkammerarchiv after 1848

After more than 300 years, the revolution of 1848 and the ensuing restructuring of the entire administration of the state led to the end of the Hofkammer. Its broad range of tasks was assigned to several ministries and agencies.

Nevertheless, the Hofkammerarchiv kept its traditional name for the time being. It was only in 1867, the year of the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, that the archive was subordinated to the (common) financial archive and consequently renamed into "k. u. k. Reichsfinanzarchiv"(Imperial and Royal financial archive of the Austro-Hungarian empire).

Starting in 1875, attempts were made by Hungary to divide the archival holdings up between the two parts of the empire; these were unsuccessful but the political fights hampered the scholarly work of the archive.

The old name "Hofkammerarchiv"continued to exist, one reason being to avoid confusion with the new "Finanzarchiv"reporting to the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance (in charge of the "kingdoms and countries represented in the Reichsrat, the Imperial Assembly," only). When the dual monarchy collapsed in 1918, the name was again used officially.

From the collapse of the dual monarchy to World War II

During the years after 1918 archival holdings were reduced due to transfers to successor states and winners of the war, especially the Czechoslovak Republic (which received more than 1 000 bundles). However, there was also an influx of material – more than were 1 200 bundles of files and more than 1 000 books from the archive of the Supreme Court of Audit.

In 1922 the Hofkammerarchiv was subordinated to the Federal Chancellery. Scholarly activities flourished during the interwar years. During the years 1935 to 1941 five volumes entitled "Veröffentlichungen des Wiener Hofkammerarchivs"were published, Friedrich Walter (1896 to 1968), who worked as an archivist at the Hofkammerarchiv during the years 1930 to 1945, continued the publication project "Österreichische Zentralverwaltung".

After the "Anschluss", the Hofkammerarchiv was integrated into the Reichsarchiv Wien in 1940. No holdings were lost in World War II.

The Finanzarchiv

At the end of the 19th century, the registry of the Imperial and Royal Ministry of Finance (which only held files for the "Austrian" half of the empire) was bursting at the seams. The records dated back to the 18th century but it had been processed insufficiently and was therefore hardly useable.

In 1892, the so-called "Mittleres Archiv", which had been created in the framework of the Hofkammer in 1833 and held records starting in the 1820’s, was turned into the "Finanzarchiv", which was then merged with the Hofkammerarchiv as late as in 1947, to become a department of Austrian State Archives.

The "Finanzarchiv" was housed at the Ministry of Finance, the winter palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy at Himmelpfortgasse. The problems arising there due to lack of space were eventually solved when it was relocated to the Central Archives building in the third district of Vienna in the years 1995 to 2000.

In the course of 2006 the Finanzarchiv and Hofkammerarchiv were merged at their new location.

As from 1 December 2006 the department "Finanz- und Hofkammerarchiv" was incorporated in the "Allgemeines Verwaltungsarchiv".


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