In the 12th century the widespread Piast dynasty added Silesia to the four duchies of Poland. In 1329 the Silesian Piast-Dukes pledged allegiance to the Kingdom of Bohemia with acceptance and disclaimer of the polish king. Due to dynastic succession Silesia, as a geographic part of Bohemia, came under the reign of the Habsburg-dynasty in 1526. The Reformation gathered many supporters in large parts of Silesia, but subsequently lost influence due to the counter-reformation that was supported by the Habsburgs.
Johann Praetorius (1611-1664), son of Tobias, received the Bohemian knighthood in 1661. Along with an addition to the family´s coat of arms went the title “von Richthofen”, with reference to the original last name “Schultheiß”, which had previously been latinized to “Praetorius”. Thereafter, the family name was “Praetorius von Richthofen” and has partially been kept until today. As a result of skillful and prosperous acting, Johann Praetorius managed to purchase further properties in the counties of Striegau, Jauer and Landeshut. His two sons Samuel (1656-1721) and Johann (1661-1739) established the two main lineages of the Richthofen family.
His oldest grandson of the first lineage, Samuel (1713-1786) was ennobled to Bohemian barony in the year of 1735. Extensive land holdings and his expertise enabled him to become head of the district authority. Furthermore, he was curator of an orphanage in Bunzlau.
His son Johann augmented his inherited property by adding several estates, namely the estate of Kohlhöhe in Striegau. This estate should become of significant importance for our family. His son Samuel (1700-1754), who was named after the adoptive son of Paulus Pratorius, was ennobled to Prussian barony and given the title “von Richthofen” in the year 1741, right after the beginning of the First Silesian War that was started by Friedrich II. the year before. The reasons for this ennoblement were the new Prussian sovereign´s attempt to win over the Silesian nobility and pay tribute to the family, whose roots were in Brandenburg. With this improvement in the social standing of the second lineage, the history of the family under the rule of Prussia began.
Despite the religious restrictions, which the family had to endure under the reign of the Habsburgs, the family always stayed true to the protestant beliefs of their ancestors from Brandenburg. Prussia´s religious tolerance as well as its efforts to win over the protestant nobility in Silesia for the new sovereign confirmed the family in their religious commitment.