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Archduke John

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1782-1859

A member of the Habsburg dynasty, Austrian field marshal and brother to Holy Roman Emperor / Austrian Emperor Francis II., John has to be given lots of credit for the fact that the first Austrian railway was built trough Maribor. That way he contributed greatly to its economic rise. By donating his own personal collection he contributed to the founding of the first Styrian regional museum in Graz, today known as the Joanneum. He is also responsible for the fact that in 1817 the Styrian regional archive was founded, as well as the mining and ironworks school in Vordernberg. He took part in founding the Styrian Savings Bank and Anna’s hospital for children in Graz. In 1828 he founded the Grazer wechselseitige insurance company, which today in Slovenia is known as Grawe. By creating a new insourance company John was trying to economically improve Styria. Also he had farming in mind. In order to improve in he created the so called Farming Society, which first came into existence in 1819 in Graz. Still in 1819 the society got its branches in Celje and Maribor. Winegrowing in Styria was, at that time, in quite a backward state, vineyards were full of poor quality vines, and their care mostly unprofessional. John, who had firsthand knowledge of winegrowing in the Rhineland decided to import many sorts of vine to Styria. As a center for new kinds of winegrowing he chose the Limbuš-Pekre area in the vicinity of Maribor, apparently for its ideal climate. There he bought an estate in 1822 which today is known as Meranovo. He then began planting the new sorts of vine, the amazing success of which already showed at the first vintage in 1826. Later in life he often stopped at Meranovo for short periods of time. There also the first ever Styrian winegrowing school was formed.