• During the seventeenth century, the expansion of central administration and the confessionalization of court patronage offered able and educated Catholic commoners and lesser nobles increased opportunities for successful careers in the Imperial service and, consequently, for upward mobility. This study will trace the rise of one such man, Clement Radolt, in baroque Vienna. Radolt’s long and successful career in the Imperial service, spanning over fifty years and three successive emperors, secured his family’s fortunes and propelled it solidly into the ranks of the nobility. Looking at his life as a micro-historical case study contributes to our understanding of the political, social, and cultural systems of the Imperial court and the development of its professional elite from the Wendezeit in the early 1620s well into the latter half of the seventeenth century.