Merchant and Breeder – Baron von Fechtig

One name pops up again and again, when it comes to the foundation horses of European Arabian horse breeding: Baron von Fechtig. But actually, there is little known about this illustrious merchant, who imported Original Arabs from the Orient, that have decisively influenced many European Studs at the beginning of the 19th century.

Basically, Baron von Fechtig came from Baden in South-West Germany, as he was born 1784 with the naem of Ferdinand Fechtig at Freiburg / Breisgau. His father, Ferdinand Johann Fechtig (sen.) was a judicial officer. Some time later, the course of his father’s work took the whole family to Vienna. There, in 1813, the father received for his services the title of “Baron von Fechtenberg” – and so, he called himself Freiherr Ferdinand Johann Fechtig von Fechtenberg. Fechtig sen. rose within the Austrian judiciary to become First President of Justice (1829) and representative of the judicial section in the State Council, a position which he occupied until his death in 1837.

Trade with the Orient

There is not much known about the professional and personal career of the son, Freiherr (Baron) Ferdinand von Fechtig (jun.), until he married Therese Countess Cassis-Faraone in Trieste, on 28th February 1808. She came from a wealthy merchant family from Trieste; her father was Anton Count Cassis-Faraone, her mother Thekla di Gibarra.
Most likely, it was due to his marriage with Therese Countess Cassis-Faraone, that Baron von Fechtig became a merchant, too. Especially, as his father-in-law was a former general tax collector for the Bey of Egypt, who then bought part of a trading company Balletti, Zaccar & Co. at Trieste a company operating in trade with Egypt.
Thanks to his connections with Arabian countries – Count Cassis-Faraone himself was born in Damascus, his wife came from Egypt -, Count Cassis developed the idea, together with some other lovers of Oriental horses, to buy horses directly in the Arab countries, to sell them in Europe. That’s what we read in Michael Erdelyi’s book*. But Anton Count Cassis-Faraone died already in 1805, whether or not he could realize his idea, we don’t know. When Baron von Fechtig married his daughter in 1808, it took a further five or six years, until the first horses came to Europe by the merchant house of Fechtig. It was finally Fechtig, who carried out the idea of Count Cassis, and according to Erdelyi, before that, he had undertaken several business trips to Aleppo, Damascus and Cairo. However, the first transport of horses from Cairo arrived in 1810 or 1811 in Trieste.
There are contradictory statements about the arrival of the individual horse transports of Fechtig, as well as about the number of horses, that found their way to Europe this way. The first transport of four stallions is said to have arrived 1810 or 1811 in Trieste; the horses were sold to the Counts Esterhazy and Festetics. Another transport arrived in April 1812. This second transport included the flea-bitten grey stallion Tajar Or.Ar., which was purchased for the amount of 1500 Ducats by Count Hunyady for his stud at Ürmeny (see AP 3/2015).
Tajar was considered one of the best stallions, that had ever set foot on Hungary and was famous soon after even beyond the borders. His fame and his quality have certainly helped Baron von Fechtig, to make a name as a horse-importer. As proof of Tajar’s quality, it was mentioned that King William I. of Wurttemberg bought a son of him as a riding horse, the grey Gemil-Tajar out of the Original-Arab mare Gemil Or.Ar.. Also the Duke of Baden and his aid bought a son each of Tajar Or.Ar. with the same name. Even if, in the beginning, it was only the Hungarian nobility which was interested in Fechtig’s horses, soon after the Kings of Württemberg and Bavaria as well as the Emperor of Austria were also among his customers.
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