St. Michael's Parish Church is one of the largest burgh churches in the Church of Scotland. King David I of Scotland granted a charter for the establishment of the church in 1138. The church was built on the site of an older church and was consecrated in 1242. Following a fire in 1424, most of the present building dates from the mid-15th century, with extensive restorations in the 19th century. Parts of the Church of St Michael were brought into use as they were completed, and the church was completed in 1540.
Built immediately to the south of Linlithgow Palace, the church was much favoured as a place of worship by Scottish Kings and Queens. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born in Linlithgow Palace on 8 December 1542 and was baptised in St Michael’s Church.
In 1559, at an early stage of the Scottish Reformation, the Protestant Lords of the Congregation destroyed the statues adorning the exterior and interior of the church as signs of 'popishness', and defaced the statue of St Michael which formed part of the structure.
Following the Reformation, the interior of the church was reordered. Some traces of pre-Reformation artefacts can still be detected. In 1646, Oliver Cromwell's troops stabled their horses within the nave. Following the departure of the troops, considerable restoration was required.
By the early 19th century the church was in a very poor physical condition. Although repairs were made, many of the historic features of the church were destroyed, the interior walls were whitewashed, a plaster ceiling replaced a fine 16th-century one and in 1821 the stone Crown Tower (a crown steeple similar to that of St Giles' Cathedral) had to be dismantled.
While other repairs were completed and the church was rededicated in 1896, the tower was too weakened for restoration of the original crown steeple.
By the late 19th century tastes had changed radically, with the installation of the church's first post-Reformation stained glass windows. In 1964, an aluminium crown was installed.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.