František Antonín Špork and Kuks Hospital
František Antonín Špork was a Czech nobleman and patron of art. He was born on March 9, 1662 in Lysá nad Labem, where he also died on March 30, 1738. His father Johann von Sporck came from a poor peasant backgrounds. As a young man he entered the army. By the side of his brother in 1620, he fought first in the Battle of the White Mountain. In the Habsburg imperial army he was successful during the fighting against the Turks. For this he was ennobled with the title of Imperial Count and received estates in Bohemia. František Antonín was twice married, for the second time in 1686 with 20-year-old Franziska Apollonie born von Swéerts zu Reist.
It is interesting that František Antonín graduated from the Jesuit Gymnasium in Kutná Hora where, for his disobedient and liberal nature, he gained a lifetime aversion to the Jesuits. He acted as a sharp critic of the social and religious affairs of the monarchy, and as a proponent of the ideas of religious tolerance, he was a follower of free Masons. In support of these thoughts, he published books in his secret private printer. But the printer was blurred and all books destroyed. Thanks to his influential friends, Spork was out just with a fine. He introduced to Bohemia parfors hunts and founded two orders – hunter Saint Hubert and Eagle with the cross. Besides, he was a great lover of music. At his invitation, Antonio Vivaldi arrived in Prague, Sebastian Bach sent his music to him.
In today’s article, however, it is most important for us that Count Špork decided to establish a home for veterans from his neighborhood at his castle estate. Without him, no Kuks would probably never exist. In 1696, he decided to build this place, and from 1707, according to the plans of the Italian architect Giovanni Battista Alliprandi, the Church of the Holy Trinity was built. The church was consecrated on August 20, 1717. In this church is still a tomb of the Sporks. At the same time, buildings were built on both sides of the temple – a hospital and a wing designed for the occupants of the hospital. There is also a hospital garden, where later a cemetery with a chapel was built.
František Antonín died on March 30, 1738, but the activity of the hospital started in 1743, therefore unfortunately he did not live up to it. Operation was done by the brothers merciful. They established a pharmacy here. In the shelves of this second oldest preserved Baroque apostate in Central Europe, we find today scaffolds of dragon blood, crayfish or powder from the skull of the hangman.
Hospitallers (= Kuks inmates) have seen death everywhere – in the form of images of people just before death, on which there was always a skeleton symbolizing death. You did not go to the hospital here to heal but to live “the rest of your time”. Some paintings can be found here even today. There are plenty of tours. Visit the website for details. I highly recommend this place to visit. It has an interesting atmosphere, you can find here not only attractions about the apathy, there are statues of virtues and vices from the sculpture master Braun. Nature is breathtaking.