Antone Svoboda

From Svobodapedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Antone Svoboda (1796-1878) was a Viennese crystal merchant born in Osijek (Croatia), who left Vienna early in the nineteenth century heading for the Ottoman Empire and ultimately going via Istanbul to Baghdad. Upon his arrival, he rented a house within the city walls near to Christian churches and the European consulates. In time, he permanently established a business in Baghdad importing crystal from Bohemia and Istanbul. As a sign of his business, he wore a signet ring inscribed AS and Co. His business activities and closeness to the European diplomatic community combined with his proficiency in a number of languages including Italian, French, German, English and Arabic resulted in close relations between Antone Svoboda and envoys and missionaries from Europe and local dignitaries. These relations lasted during his lifetime and were continued by his sons and daughters. In February of 1825, he married native Chaldean Catholic girl named Euphemie Joseph Muradjian (d. 1868) from an Armenian trading family. With this marriage, Antone Svoboda founded the Svoboda family in Iraq and particularly in Baghdad. Subsequent generations of this family lived there, intermixing with and marrying members of the local Christian, resident European and Muslim communities.

With his business flourishing, Antone Svoboda bought the first house he rented upon settling in Baghdad. Subsequently, seeking healthier environment for raising his large family, he built a house in a most favorable location outside the city’s south gate overlooking Tigris River amid a vast green expanse of extensive farmlands and groves of date and fruit trees. Referring to an old irrigation system, known as kard, which was widely used on river banks in this particular part of Baghdad, the district where the Svoboda house was located bore the name Kard-al-Pasha for many decades. With the passing years, the house underwent several changes but it remained occupied by Svoboda family members for more than a century down to its last occupant, the famous Baghdad architect Prof. Henry-Alexandre Louis Svoboda (1928-2005).

Antone Svoboda had four sons, Alexander Sandor Svoboda, Thomas Svoboda, Joseph Mathia Svoboda, and Henri Charles Svoboda, and seven daughters, Sophie Elizabeth, Therese Catherine, Adelina, Emilia Josephine, Madeleine Francisca, Adelaide Maria, and Carolina Rosa, born of his marriage to Euphemie Muradjian.