PRONI: Viennese Calling Cards

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland document of the month for May is a stunning volume of calling cards collected in Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic Wars

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has revealed its document of the month for May 2015, a stunning volume of calling cards collected in Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. View a digitised copy of the book.

'This is a fabulous collection of calling cards, the equivalent of today’s business cards,' explains Brett Irwin of the PRONI Private Records team. The volume of cards dates from 1815 to 1822, and was compiled during a turbulent period in European and world history.

'I particularly like the cards from key figures who reshaped Europe after the chaos of the Napoleonic Wars,' adds Irwin. 'The cards read like a roll call of the European political and royal elite at a time of great political upheaval caused by the ending of the Napoleonic Wars.

'It includes the cards of Prince Metternich of Austria, Tsar Alexander I of Russia, the Duke of Wellington, Count Nugent, an Irishman born in Westmeath who served in the Austrian army.

'It also includes Napoleon’s second wife, Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma and Sir James Wylie, a Scottish military surgeon who served three Russian Czars and has a hospital named after him in St Petersburg.'

The book belonged to the enigmatic Frances Anne Vane-Tempest Stewart, the wealthiest heiress in England when she married Charles Stewart, half-brother of Lord Castlereagh and later the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry.

'The couple were based in Vienna where Charles was British Ambassador from 1814 to 1823,' says Irwin. 'They travelled widely and entertained lavishly.'

The volume is part of the Londonderry Papers at PRONI, which comprise the family, estate and political papers of the Stewart family, Marquesses of Londonderry of Mount Stewart, County Down.

The original volume of calling cards and travel journal are closed for preservation reasons. A copy of both may be ordered and viewed in PRONI’s reading room (catalogue reference D654/B/7/1/1A). View a pdf version of the book.

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