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Károly Leiningen-Westerburg

Károly Leiningen-Westerburg (German: Karl August, Count zu Leiningen-Westerburg; 11 April 1819, Ilbenstadt - 6 October 1849, Arad) was a German honvéd general in the Hungarian Army, and a member of the German princely House of Leiningen. He was executed for his part in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and is considered one of the 13 Martyrs of Arad.

Life and MartyrdomEdit

Count Karl was born into an old noble family in which several members pursued military careers, including his brothers Lajos (1807-1864), Viktor (1821 to 1880), and György (1815-1850), with the Imperial army. His father, Friedrich, Count zu Leiningen-Westerburg (1761-1839), inherited the county of Altleiningen, but had divorced his first wife, Charlotte von Zech und Rautenburg (1777-1841), in 1798 after six years of childless marriage. By the time Count Friedrich remarried Eleonore Breitwieser in 1813 (initially morganatically, whereupon she became known as Frau von Brettwitz) he already had several children by her, legitimised by their parents' marriage. Karl, being born after the wedding, was legitimate from birth.[1][2]

Count Károly married Erzsébet Sissányi de Törökbecse (1827-1898) in 1844, thereby becoming proprietor of the Hungarian estate of Törökbecse. In the autumn of 1848 the Temesvár regiment was mobilized, and Károly volunteered for the campaign waged against the Serbs. By December 1848 he had become a major, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in March 1849, and to colonel in April. He acquired more renown during the spring campaign and was promoted to the rank of general on July 1. Discharged on July 2, along with Louis Benedict Szőny, he joined the Hungarian uprising.[1]

Execution of the Martyrs of Arad. Work by János Thorma.

Before the final defeat, he successfully repulsed a number of attacks. He was captured and sentenced to death by hanging. His last recorded words were: "I have only just learned the tidings blared by the newspapers...I have no documents with which to refute any incident, but I have faith that at the last God's skies will open before all -- and when I come before the throne of God's eternal judgment -- these allegations of me shall be solemnly denounced as low slander." His death by hanging was carried out along with the rest of the partisans.[1]


His wife bore him two children:

  • Elizabeth "Liza" Victoria Constance Frederica Eleanor (1844-1913), who became the wife of the British general William Barwell, and from whom Lilien († 1894), Henriette and her child Richard were born.
  • Armin (Casimir Hermann) (July 11, 1848 - December 1900), who served in the Royal Hungarian army, but due to health issues retired at the rank of captain. After that, he took a position in Titel, Ministerial Commissioner for the Tisza-Danube Belvizszabályozó Society. He published his father's diary and correspondence. His body was moved to its final resting place in 1903 in Titel.[3][4]

Károly's widow remarried in 1854 and with her second husband, Count József Bethlen, bore four more children (István, Béla, Miklós, Anna).

In 1911 a statue to Károly's heroism and martyrdom was erected in Törökbecse.


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ Leiningen-Westerburg (-Alt-Leiningen), Georg zu, gróf (1815-1850), százados a cs. kir. 10. gyalogezredben, Leiningen bátyja. Leiningen-Westerburg (-Alt-Leiningen), Georg zu, gróf (1815-1850), százados a cs. kir. 10. gyalogezredben, Leiningen bátyja.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-10-25. Retrieved 2009-08-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Nekrológját a Vasárnapi Újság közölte, 1898. november 6-ai számában: Özv. gróf BETHLEN JÓZSEFNÉ, szül. Sissány Erzsébet, elhunyt november 2-án Budapesten, 72 éves korában. Az elhunyt kétszer szenvedte át az özvegység fájdalmát. Első férje az aradi vértanúk közt dicsőült meg, gróf Leiningen Károly tábornok. Ifjú özvegye mély fájdalmával elvonult a világtól, mígnem megismerkedett a szabadságharcz egyik vitéz katonájával, gróf Bethlen Józseffel, s másodszor is férjhez ment. Az öreg úrnőt sokan ismerték a fővárosban, de kevesen tudták, hogy Leiningen özvegye. A nyarat még Visegrádon töltötte, hol Görgei tábornok is többször meglátogatta. Holttestét e hó 4-ikén Kolozsvárra szállították.