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Prague Horse Tram 1876
Czech Republic Regions

 

History of the Czech Republic

The Czech name "Čechy" is derived from the name of the Slavic ethnic group, the Czechs, who settled in Bohemia during the 6th or 7th century AD.

The name of the Czech Republic derives from the Slavic tribe of Czechs (Czech: Češi). The Kingdom of Bohemia existed between 1085 and 1348, and from 1348 to 1918 it is referred to as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. After the break-up of the Habsburg Empire, which the kingdom was part of since the seventeenth century, the new country Czechoslovakia was created by the union of the Czech lands and Slovakia.

The historical English name of the country is Bohemia. This name derives from the Celtic tribe of Boii, which inhabited the area from the 4th century BC. Boiohaemum, as it is known in Latin, comes from the Germanic “Boi-haima,” meaning "home of the Boii." The name survived all the following migrations affecting the area, including the arrival of the Slavs and the creation of the Czech state. In the 9th century, the country became officially known as the Duchy of Bohemia, changing to the Kingdom of Bohemia in the 11th century, and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown in the 14th century. The Bohemian state included the three historical Czech lands: Bohemia (Čechy) in narrower meaning, Moravia (Morava) and Czech Silesia (Slezsko). From the 14th century until 1635 it also included Upper and Lower Lusatia. The higher hierarchical status of the Bohemian region led to that name being used for the larger country, with the people and language of this land being commonly referred to as Bohemian.

During the 19th century national revival, the English word "Czech" (using antiquated Czech or Polish spelling) was adopted to distinguish between the Czech and German speaking peoples living in the country. The Latin form Czechia is attested as early as 1602 and was first used in English in 1841 (Poselkynie starych Przjbiehuw Czeskych - Messenger of the old Fates of Czechia). Other early uses occurred in 1856 and in an 1866 report on the Austro-Prussian War.

After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in the so-called "Velvet Divorce" of 1993, the name "the Czech Republic" (Czech: Česká republika) was created as the official long-form name. The official short-form Czech name for the Czech lands (i.e. Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia) is Česko. While almost all languages adopted variants of Česko for the short-form name at this time, the English equivalent "Czechia" /ˈtʃɛki.ə/, though attested as early as 1841, is still quite rarely used in the English-speaking world, however, its usage is increasing.

 

Czech Language

Czech (/ˈtʃɛk/; čeština Czech pronunciation: [ˈt͡ʃɛʃcɪna]), historically also Bohemian (/boʊˈhiːmiən, bə-/; lingua Bohemica in Latin), is a West Slavic language of the Czech–Slovak group. It is spoken by over 10 million people and is the official language of the Czech Republic. Czech is closely related to Slovak, to the point of being mutually intelligible to a very high degree.

The Czech-Slovak group developed within West Slavic in the high medieval period, and the standardization of Czech and Slovak within the Czech–Slovak dialect continuum emerges in the early modern period. In the later 18th to mid-19th century, the modern written standard was codified in the context of the Czech National Revival. The main vernacular, known as Common Czech, is based on the vernacular of Prague, but is now spoken throughout most of the Czech Republic. The Moravian dialects spoken in the eastern part of the country are mostly also counted as Czech, although some of their eastern variants are closer to Slovak.

The Czech phoneme inventory is moderate in size, comprising five vowels (each short or long) and twenty-five consonants (divided into "hard", "neutral" and "soft" categories). Words may contain uncommon (or complicated) consonant clusters, including one consonant represented by the grapheme ř, or lack vowels altogether. Czech orthography is simple, and has been used as a model by phonologists.

 

English: "Czechia"

It is imperative to recognize the fact that the Czechs decided to create a Constitutional Republic - rather than a democracy or monarchy. The Czechs & Slovaks should both be very proud of their newly created free Republics, and the exile of communism from their countries!

With the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports recommended the use of the name Czechia. Other names proposed in the 1990s included Czechomoravia, Czechovia, Czechistan, and Czechlands. However, a short name has not been fully adopted by Czech authorities. In contrast to this lack of support, the British secretary for press and politics Giles Portman has shown a willingness to accept the name. Portman said: "Czechs still use the name Česká Republika rather than Česko, and the English equivalent, the Czech Republic, rather than Czechia. Were that pattern to change, we would have no problem at all with adapting accordingly. But we feel that the initiative for that change must come from the Czech side and not from us[.]"

In 2013, Czech president Miloš Zeman recommended the wider official use of Czechia, and on April 14, 2016, the country's political leadership agreed to make Czechia the official short name. The new name was approved by the Czech cabinet on May 2, 2016 and was published in the United Nations UNTERM and UNGEGN country name databases on July 5, 2016. On September 23, 2016, the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names began advising Britons to use the name Czechia. On September 26, 2016, the International Organization for Standardization included the short name Czechia in the official ISO 3166 country codes list. Google replaced the Czech Republic with Czechia on Google Maps on January 18, 2017.

Six months after the name Czechia was adopted, The Guardian reported that the new name is hardly in use, even on the official Czech government websites.

 

Prehistoric Prague (Paleolithic Period)

Early modern humans had settled in the region by the Lower Paleolithic period (2,500,000 – 750,000 BC). Several Paleolithic cultures settled here, including Acheulean, Micoquien, Mousterian, and Aurignacian. The Předmostí archaeological site near Brno is dated to between 24,000 and 27,000 years old. The figurines (Venus of Dolní Věstonice) found here are the oldest known ceramic articles in the world.

 

Boii Tribes (500BC–500AD)

The area was settled by the Celts (called Boii, who gave the name to the region: Bohemia, which means more or less "the home of the Boii") from 5th BC until 2nd AC and from 1st century by various Germanic tribes (Marcomanni, Quadi, Lombards). Germanic towns are described on the Map of Ptolemaios in the 2nd Century, e.g. Coridorgis for Jihlava. Those tribes migrated to the West in 5th century and then came Slavs.

 

Samo's Realm (623–658)

According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, some of the Slavs living on what is now Czech territory, mainly in southern Moravia, were exposed for a number of years to violence and marauding raids from the Avars, whose empire stretched across the territory of present-day Hungary. In 623, the Slavic tribes revolted against the oppression of the Avars. During this time, the Frankish merchant Samo allegedly came to the Czech lands with his entourage and joined with the Slavs to defeat the Avars. Thus the Slavs adopted Samo as their ruler. "So it happened that he self-founded the first Slavic empire. He married the then 12 Slavic women, had with them 22 sons and 15 daughters, and happily ruled for 35 years. All other fights, which under his leadership Slavs fought with the Avars, were victorious," the Frankish chronicler Reich (called Fredegar) wrote about Samo in the oldest extant written report by the Slavs in the Czech lands.

Later Samo and the Slavs came into conflict with the Frankish empire whose ruler Dagobert I wanted to extend his rule to the east, but Dagobert was defeated in the memorable battle of Wogastisburg in 631. To this day, historians are searching in vain for this stronghold's actual location. Over the next 5 years Samo and the Slavs undertook raids on Frankish territory, but no one knows exactly how far to the northeast Samo's power eventually reached, probably beyond the boundaries of today's Czech Republic. After Samo's death, his empire seems to have disappeared; in fact there never was a real state structure with solid organization. The empire was created to unite Slavs to defend against Avars and Franks and to facilitate Slavic plundering expeditions against their neighbors. Once the Avar and Frankish danger had passed, the united empire disintegrated and the fragmented territories were ruled by Samo's various followers. These remnants continued their further development and became the core foundation for the future Great Moravian Empire.

 

Samo's Realm (623–658)

According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, some of the Slavs living on what is now Czech territory, mainly in southern Moravia, were exposed for a number of years to violence and marauding raids from the Avars, whose empire stretched across the territory of present-day Hungary. In 623, the Slavic tribes revolted against the oppression of the Avars. During this time, the Frankish merchant Samo allegedly came to the Czech lands with his entourage and joined with the Slavs to defeat the Avars. Thus the Slavs adopted Samo as their ruler. "So it happened that he self-founded the first Slavic empire. He married the then 12 Slavic women, had with them 22 sons and 15 daughters, and happily ruled for 35 years. All other fights, which under his leadership Slavs fought with the Avars, were victorious," the Frankish chronicler Reich (called Fredegar) wrote about Samo in the oldest extant written report by the Slavs in the Czech lands.

 

Great Moravia (833–907)

The Slavic state Great Moravia was created by the ancestors of the Czechs, Slovaks and Poles, and its core area lay on both sides of the Morava river.

Great Moravia (Czech: Velká Morava, Slovak: Veľká Morava), the Great Moravian Empire, (historiographical terms – original formal name is unknown) or simply Moravia, was the first major state that was predominantly Slavonic to emerge in the area of Central Europe.

Its core territories were located on the Morava river which gave its name to the kingdom. "Morava" in both Czech and Slovak refers to both the river and the land of Moravia - the medieval Margraviate of Moravia, which is now the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The river Morava flows south through the whole of Moravia, later forming the present-day border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia before finally becoming the border between Slovakia and Austria (where it is called the March in German). The kingdom saw the rise of the first ever Slavic literary culture in the Old Church Slavonic language.

After the fall of Great Moravia, its core territory was gradually divided between the newly ascending Czech Kingdom (Bohemia) and Hungarian Kingdom: the frontier was originally settled on the Morava river (the Czech Kingdom to its west, and Hungary - present-day Slovakia - to its east). However, from the 12th century, the Czech kings managed to gain more and more of the region on the eastern bank - eventually gaining the whole stretch of the eastern territory from Uherské Hradiště down to Strážnice, and this region retained its non-Czech identity in its designation "Slovácko" as an alternative dialectal for "Slovakia". After this, the Czech-Hungarian border shifted east to the White Carpathians.

The core region of Great Moravia along the Morava river, thus divided between the present-day Moravia and Slovakia, has retained a unique culture in the rich folklore tradition both on the western bank of the Morava (including the southern Záluží region) and the eastern bank - the Slovácko (in Moravia) and Záhorie (in Slovakia). Záhorie also boasts the only surviving building from Great Moravian times - the chapel at Kopčany just across the Morava from the archaeological site of Mikulčice. The core of Great Moravia was established, according to legend, in the early 830s, when Prince Mojmír I ([moimi:r]) crossed the Morava and conquered the principality of Nitra (present-day western Slovakia). The former principality of Nitra was used as the údelné kniežatsvo, or the territory given to, and ruled by, the successor to the throne, traditionally the nephew (sister's son) of the ruling kъnendzь or Prince.

The extent and location of Great Moravia are a subject of debate. Rival theories place the heart of it either south of the river Danube (the river Morava in Serbia) or on the Great Hungarian Plain. The exact date when the Moravian state was founded is also disputed, but it probably occurred in the early 830s under Prince Mojmír I, (r. 820s/830s–846), who is the first known ruler of the united Moravia. Mojmír and his successor, Rastislav ( "Rostislav" in Czech), who ruled from 846 to 870, initially acknowledged the suzerainty of the Carolingian monarchs, but the Moravian fight for independence caused a series of armed conflicts with East Francia beginning in the 840s.

Moravia reached its largest territorial extent under Svätopluk I, (Svatopluk in Czech), who ruled from 870 to 894, and who was occasionally styled as king in contemporaneous sources. Although the borders of his empire cannot be exactly determined, he controlled the core territories of Moravia as well as other neighbouring regions, including Bohemia, most of Slovakia and parts of Slovenia, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine, for some periods of his reign. Separatism and internal conflicts emerging after Svätopluk's death contributed to the fall of Great Moravia, which was overrun by the Hungarians. The exact date of Moravia's collapse is unknown, but it occurred between 902 and 907.

Moravia experienced significant cultural development under Prince Rastislav, with the arrival in 863 of the mission of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Rastislav had asked the Byzantine emperor to send a "teacher" (učitelja) to introduce literacy and a legal system (pravьda) to Great Moravia. The brothers Cyril and Methodius introduced a system of writing (the Glagolitic alphabet) and Slavonic liturgy, the latter eventually formally approved by Pope Adrian II. The Glagolitic script was probably invented by Cyril himself and the language he used for his translations of holy scripts and his original literary creation was based on the Slavic dialect he and his brother Methodius knew from their native Thessaloniki. The language, termed Old Church Slavonic, was the direct ancestral language for Bulgarian, and therefore also referred to as Old Bulgarian. Old Church Slavonic, therefore, differed somewhat from the local Slavic dialect of Great Moravia which was the ancestral idiom to the later dialects spoken in Moravia and western Slovakia.

Later, the disciples of Cyril and Methodius were expelled from Great Moravia by King Svätopluk I. Arriving in the First Bulgarian Empire, the disciples continued the Cyrilo-Methodian mission and the Glagolitic script was superseded by Cyrillic. The Cyrillic script and translations of the liturgy were disseminated to other Slavic countries, particularly in the Balkans and Kievan Rus', charting a new path in these Slavic nations´ cultural development.

 

Moravia (822–1949) Capitol: Brno

Moravia (Czech: Morava; German: Mähren; Polish: Morawy; Latin: Moravia) is a historical country in the Czech Republic (forming its eastern part) and one of the historical Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The medieval and early modern Margraviate of Moravia was a crown land of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown (from 1348 to 1918), an imperial state of the Holy Roman Empire (1004 to 1806), later a crown land of the Austrian Empire (1804 to 1867) and briefly also one of 17 former crown lands of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918. During the early 20th century, Moravia was one of the five lands of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1928; it was then merged with Czech Silesia, and eventually dissolved by abolition of the land system in 1949.

Moravia has an area of over 22,348.87 km2 and about 3 million inhabitants, which is roughly 2/7 or 30% of the whole Czech Republic. The statistics from 1921 states, that the whole area of Moravia including the enclaves in Silesia covers 22,623.41 km2. The people are historically named Moravians, a subgroup of Czechs (as understood by Czechs). The land takes its name from the Morava river, which rises in the northern tip of the region and flows southward to the opposite end, being its major stream. Moravia's largest city and historical capital is Brno, however before being sacked by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years' War, Olomouc was another capital.

In the 7th-8th century, the development of the local Slavs accelerated. The first Slavic fortified settlements were built in present-day Moravia at least in the last decades of the 7th century. From the end of the 7th century, it is possible to register the rise of a new social elite in Moravia, Slovakia, but also Bohemia - the warrior horsemen. The social organization of the local Slavs continued to grow during the 8th century, which can be documented by further building and development of fortified settlements. In Moravia, they unambiguously concentrate around the river Morava. In Slovakia, the oldest Slavic fortified settlements are documented for the last decades of the 8th century. They are known exclusively from areas which were not under direct Avars influence, but probably not only as a protection against them, because some of them are known also from northern territories (Orava, Spiš) Variation in pottery implies the existence of at least three tribes inhabiting the wider region of the northern Morava river in the early 9th century. Settlement complexes from the period were unearthed, for instance, near modern Bratislava, Brno, and Olomouc. Fortresses erected at Bratislava, Rajhrad, Staré Město and other places around 800 are evidence of the development of local centers of power in the same regions.

Though officially abolished by an administrative reform in 1949, Moravia is still commonly acknowledged as a specific land in the Czech Republic. Moravian people are considerably aware of their Moravian identity and there is some rivalry between them and the Czechs from Bohemia.

 

Bohemia (194BC–1969)

Bohemia (Czech: Čechy; German: Böhmen; Polish: Czechy; French: Bohême; Latin: Bohemia; Italian: Boemia) is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

In the 2nd century BC, the Romans were competing for dominance in northern Italy, with various peoples including the Boii. The Romans defeated the Boii at the Battle of Placentia (194 BC) and the Battle of Mutina (193 BC). After this, many of the Boii retreated north across the Alps.

Much later Roman authors refer to the area they had once occupied (the "desert of the Boii" as Pliny and Strabo called it) as Boiohaemum. The earliest mention was by Tacitus' Germania 28 (written at the end of the 1st century AD), and later mentions of the same name are in Strabo and Velleius Paterculus. The name appears to include the tribal name Boi- plus the Germanic element *haimaz "home" (whence Gothic haims, German Heim, English home). This Boiohaemum was apparently isolated to the area where King Marobod's kingdom was centerd, within the Hercynian forest.

Bohemia was a duchy of Great Moravia, later an independent principality, a kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire, and subsequently a part of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Austrian Empire. After World War I and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state, Bohemia became a part of Czechoslovakia. Between 1938 and 1945, border regions with sizeable German-speaking minorities of all three Czech lands were joined to Nazi Germany as the Sudetenland. The remainder of Czech territory became the Second Czechoslovak Republic and was subsequently occupied as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, In 1969, the Czech lands (including Bohemia) was given autonomy within Czechoslovakia as the Czech Socialist Republic. In 1990, the name was changed to the Czech Republic, which become a separate state in 1993 with the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.

Until 1948, Bohemia was an administrative unit of Czechoslovakia as one of its "lands" ("země"). Since then, administrative reforms have replaced self-governing lands with a modified system of "regions" ("kraje") which do not follow the borders of the historical Czech lands (or the regions from the 1960 and 2000 reforms). However, the three lands are mentioned in the preamble of the Constitution of the Czech Republic: "We, citizens of the Czech Republic in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia…"

Bohemia had an area of 52,065 km2 (20,102 sq mi) and today is home to approximately 6.5 million of the Czech Republic's 10.5 million inhabitants. Bohemia was bordered in the south by Upper and Lower Austria (both in Austria), in the west by Bavaria and in the north by Saxony and Lusatia (all in Germany), in the northeast by Silesia (in Poland), and in the east by Moravia (also part of the Czech Republic). Bohemia's borders were mostly marked by mountain ranges such as the Bohemian Forest, the Ore Mountains, and the Krkonoše, a part of the Sudetes range; the Bohemian-Moravian border roughly follows the Elbe-Donau watershed.

After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, the territory of Bohemia remained in the Czech Republic. The new Constitution of the Czech Republic provided for higher administrative units to be established, providing for the possibility of Bohemia as an administrative unit, but did not specify the form they would take. However, a constitutional act in 1997 rejected the restoration of self-governing historical Czech lands and decided for the regional system that has been in use since 2000. Petr Pithart, former Czech prime minister and president of the Senate at the time, remains one of the main advocates of the land system, claiming that the primary reason for its refusal was the fear of possible Moravian separatism.

Bohemia thus remains a historical region, and its administration is divided between the Prague, Central Bohemia, Plzeň, Karlovy Vary, Ústí nad Labem, Liberec, and Hradec Králové Regions, as well as parts of the Pardubice, Vysočina, South Bohemian and South Moravian Regions. In addition to their use in the names of the regions, the historical land names remain in use in names of municipalities, cadastral areas, railway stations or geographical names. The distinction and border between the Czech lands is also preserved in local dialects.

 

Duchy of Bohemia (870–1198)

The Duchy of Bohemia established in the 9th century raised to a Kingdom in 1198. The country reached its greatest territorial extent and this period is considered as the Golden Age.

The Duchy of Bohemia, also referred to as the Czech Duchy, (Czech: České knížectví) was a monarchy and a principality in Central Europe during the Early and High Middle Ages. It was formed around 870 by Czechs as part of the Great Moravian realm. The Bohemian lands separated from disintegrating Moravia after Duke Spytihněv swore fidelity to the East Frankish king Arnulf in 895.

While the Bohemian dukes of the Přemyslid dynasty, at first ruling at Prague Castle and Levý Hradec, brought further estates under their control, the Christianization initiated by Saints Cyril and Methodius was continued by the Frankish bishops of Regensburg and Passau. In 973 the Diocese of Prague was founded through the joint efforts of Duke Boleslaus II and Emperor Otto I. Late Duke Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, killed by his younger brother Boleslaus in 935, became the land's patron saint.

While the lands were occupied by the Polish king Bolesław I and internal struggles shook the Přemyslid dynasty, Duke Vladivoj received Bohemia as a fief from the hands of the East Frankish king Henry II in 1002 and the duchy became an Imperial State of the Holy Roman Empire. The Duchy of Bohemia was raised to a hereditary Kingdom of Bohemia, when Duke Ottokar I ensured his elevation by the German king Philip of Swabia in 1198. The Přemyslids remained in power throughout the High Middle Ages, until the extinction of the male line with the death of King Wenceslaus III in 1306.

 

Kingdom of Bohemia (1198–1918)

The Kingdom of Bohemia, sometimes in English literature referred to as the Czech Kingdom (Czech: České království; German: Königreich Böhmen; Latin: Regnum Bohemiae, sometimes Latin: Regnum Czechorum), was a medieval and early modern monarchy in Central Europe, the predecessor of the modern Czech Republic. It was an Imperial State in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Bohemian king was a prince-elector of the empire. The kings of Bohemia, besides Bohemia ruled also the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, which at various times included Moravia, Silesia and parts of Saxony, Brandenburg and Bavaria.

The kingdom was established by the Přemyslid dynasty in the 12th century from Duchy of Bohemia, later ruled by the House of Luxembourg, the Jagiellonian dynasty, and since 1526 by the House of Habsburg and its successor house Habsburg-Lorraine. Numerous kings of Bohemia were also elected Holy Roman Emperors and the capital Prague was the imperial seat in the late 14th century, and at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries.

After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the territory became part of the Habsburg Austrian Empire, and subsequently the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867. Bohemia retained its name and formal status as a separate Kingdom of Bohemia until 1918, known as a crown land within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its capital Prague was one of the empire's leading cities. The Czech language (called the Bohemian language in English usage until the 19th century) was the main language of the Diet and the nobility until 1627 (after the Bohemian Revolt was suppressed). German was then formally made equal with Czech and eventually prevailed as the language of the Diet until the Czech national revival in the 19th century. German was also widely used as the language of administration in many towns after Germans immigrated and populated some areas of the country in the 13th century. The royal court used the Czech, Latin, and German languages, depending on the ruler and period.

The four Prince-Electors of the County Palatine of the Rhine, Saxony, Brandenburg and Bohemia, later also Bavaria (replacing the Palatinate) and Hanover were among the secular Estates of the Roman Empire. Until 1582 the votes of the Free and Imperial Cities were only advisory. None of the rulers below the Holy Roman Emperor ranked as kings, with the exception of the Kings of Bohemia. From 1648 onwards, inheritance of the Estate was limited to one family; a territory inherited by a different family ceased to be an Estate unless the Emperor explicitly allowed otherwise. Finally, a territory could cease to be an imperial Estate by being subjected to the Imperial ban (the most notable example involved the Elector Palatine Frederick V, who was banned in 1621 for his participation in the Bohemian Revolt).

Following the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, both the Kingdom and Empire were dissolved. Bohemia became the core part of the newly formed Czechoslovak Republic.

Bohemians

A Bohemian (/boʊˈhiːmiən/) is a resident of Bohemia, a region of the Czech Republic or the former Kingdom of Bohemia, a region of the former Crown of Bohemia (lands of the Bohemian Crown). In English, the word "Bohemian" was used to denote the Czech people as well as the Czech language before the word "Czech" became prevalent in the early 20th century.

In a separate meaning, "Bohemian" may also denote "a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts" (Bohemianism).

 

Roman Empire (1004–1453)
Holy Roman Empire (800–1806)

The jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Empire was definitively reasserted when Jaromír of Bohemia was granted fief of the Kingdom of Bohemia by Emperor King Henry II of the Holy Roman Empire, with the promise that he hold it as a vassal once he re-occupied Prague with a German army in 1004, ending the rule of Boleslaw I of Poland.

Charles IV became King of Bohemia in 1346. He founded Charles University in Prague, central Europe's first university, two years later. His reign brought Bohemia to its peak both politically and in total area, resulting in his being the first King of Bohemia to also be elected as Holy Roman Emperor.

Bohemia enjoyed religious freedom between 1436 and 1620, and became one of the most liberal countries of the Christian world during that period. In 1609, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, who made Prague again the capital of the Empire at the time, himself a Roman Catholic, was moved by the Bohemian nobility to publish Maiestas Rudolphina, which confirmed the older Confessio Bohemica of 1575.

After Frederick's defeat in the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, 27 Bohemian estates leaders together with Jan Jesenius, rector of the Charles University of Prague were executed on the Prague's Old Town Square on 21 June 1621 and the rest were exiled from the country; their lands were then given to Catholic loyalists (mostly of Bavarian and Saxon origin), this ended the pro-reformation movement in Bohemia and also ended the role of Prague as ruling city of the Holy Roman Empire.

 

House of Luxembourg: King Charles

The House of Luxembourg accepted the invitation to the Bohemian throne with the marriage to the Premyslid heiress, Elizabeth and the crowning subsequent of John I of Bohemia in 1310. His son, Charles IV became King of Bohemia in 1346. He founded Charles University in Prague, central Europe's first university, two years later. His reign brought Bohemia to its peak both politically and in total area, resulting in his being the first King of Bohemia to also be elected as Holy Roman Emperor. Under his rule the Bohemian crown controlled such diverse lands as Moravia, Silesia, Upper Lusatia and Lower Lusatia, Brandenburg, an area around Nuremberg called New Bohemia, Luxembourg, and several small towns scattered around Germany.

King Charles IV: Holy Roman Emperor & King of Bohemia

Prague became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire during the reign of Charles IV. The name of the royal founder and patron remains on many monuments and institutions, for example Charles University, Charles Bridge, Charles Square. High Gothic Prague Castle and part of the cathedral of Saint Vitus by Peter Parler were also built under his patronage. Finally, the first flowering of manuscript painting in Prague dates from Charles' reign. In the present Czech Republic, he is still regarded as Pater Patriae (father of the country or otec vlasti), a title first coined by Adalbertus Ranconis de Ericinio at his funeral.

Charles IV (Czech: Karel IV., German: Karl IV., Latin: Carolus IV; 14 May 1316 – 29 November 1378), born Wenceslaus, was a King of Bohemia and the first King of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor. He was a member of the House of Luxembourg from his father's side and the House of Přemyslid from his mother's side, which he emphasized, because it gave him two saints as direct ancestors.

He was the eldest son and heir of King John of Bohemia, who died at the Battle of Crécy on 26 August 1346. Charles inherited the County of Luxembourg from his father and was elected king of the Kingdom of Bohemia. On 2 September 1347, Charles was crowned King of Bohemia.

On 11 July 1346, the prince-electors chose him as King of the Romans (rex Romanorum) in opposition to Emperor Louis IV. Charles was crowned on 26 November 1346 in Bonn. After his opponent died, he was re-elected in 1349 and crowned King of the Romans. In 1355 he was crowned King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor. With his coronation as King of Burgundy in 1365, he became the personal ruler of all the kingdoms of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1354 Charles crossed the Alps without an army, received the Lombard crown in St. Ambrose Basilica, Milan, on January 5, 1355, and was crowned emperor at Rome by a cardinal in April of the same year. His sole object appears to have been to obtain the Imperial crown in peace, in accordance with a promise previously made to Pope Clement. He only remained in the city for a few hours, in spite of the expressed wishes of the Roman people. Having virtually abandoned all the Imperial rights in Italy, the emperor re-crossed the Alps, pursued by the scornful words of Petrarch, but laden with considerable wealth. On his return, Charles was occupied with the administration of the Empire, then just recovering from the Black Death, and in 1356 he promulgated the famous Golden Bull to regulate the election of the king.

The reign of Charles IV was characterized by a transformation in the nature of the Empire and is remembered as the Golden Age of Bohemia. He promulgated the Golden Bull of 1356 whereby the succession to the imperial title was laid down, which held for the next four centuries.

He also organized the states of the empire into peace-keeping confederations. In these, the Imperial cities figured prominently. The Swabian Landfriede confederation of 1370 was made up almost entirely of Imperial Cities. At the same time, the leagues were organized and led by the crown and its agents. As with the electors, the cities that served in these leagues were given privileges to aid in their efforts to keep the peace.

 

Lands of the Bohemian Crown (1526–1918)

Bohemian Estates vs. Habsburg Dynasty (1526–1648)

Ferdinand II, who ruled 1619–1637, sharply curtailed the power of the largely Protestant representative assembly known as the "Bohemian Estates". He confiscated lands of Protestant nobles and gave them to his Catholic friends and to the generals who led the foreign mercenaries he employed.

The Dark Age and National Revival (1648–1867)

The Czech lands, then also known as Lands of the Bohemian Crown, were largely subject to the Habsburgs from the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648 until the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. There were invasions by the Turks early in the period, and by the Prussians in the next century. The Habsburgs consolidated their rule and under Maria Theresa (1740–1780) adopted enlightened absolutism, with distinct institutions of the Bohemian Kingdom absorbed into centralized structures. After the Napoleonic Wars and the establishment of the Austrian Empire, a Czech National Revival began as a scholarly trend among educated Czechs, led by figures such as František Palacký. Czech nationalism took a more politically active form during the 1848 revolution, and began to come into conflict not only with the Habsburgs but with emerging German nationalism.

Austro-Hungarian Empire (1867–1918 WW1)

The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 established the Dual Monarchy of Austria-& Hungary (also known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire).

The two parts of the empire were united by a common ruler, by a joint foreign policy, and, to some extent, by shared finances. Otherwise, Austria and Hungary were virtually independent states, each having its own parliament, government, administration, and judicial system.

Despite a series of crises, this dual system survived until 1918. It made permanent the dominant position of the Hungarians in Hungary and of the Germans in the Austrian parts of the monarchy. Although both halves of the empire had parliamentary systems, in the Austrian half a series of franchise reforms, culminating in universal manhood suffrage in 1907, allowed the Czechs to play an increasingly active role in the political life of Austria. In the last decades before 1914 a succession of governments included a number of non-German ministers and even one Polish Minister-President, but Austria's Germans dominated the political power at the imperial level until the end of the state. At the local level the various nationalities gained a great deal of control over provincial and municipal affairs after a series of reforms in local government in the 1860s and 1870s. The Monarchy's inability or unwillingness to come to terms with its nationalities problems weakened the parliamentary system at a time of escalating international crises.

In Austria, German liberals held political power in parliament from 1867 to 1879. They were determined to maintain German dominance in the Austrian part of the empire. The Czech leaders, subsequently labeled Old Czechs, favored alliance with the conservative and largely Germanized Bohemian nobility and advocated the restoration of traditional Bohemian autonomy. In essence, they wanted a reconstituted Bohemian Kingdom (including Moravia and Silesia) with a constitutional arrangement similar to Hungary's. In 1871 the Old Czechs seemed successful, because the government agreed to the Fundamental Articles, which would have reinstated the historic rights of the Bohemian Kingdom. Violent protest from both German and Hungarian liberals ensued, however, and the articles were never adopted.

Objecting to an increase of Slavs in the empire, the German liberals opposed the 1878 Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The emperor, stung by the rejection of his foreign policy, dismissed the liberal government and turned to Count Eduard Taaffe's conservative "Iron Ring" cabinet (1879–83). The Taaffe government took the Slavic element into greater account than the liberals had and, in turn, was supported by the Old Czechs. Czech cooperation with Taaffe led to several important gains. A language decree promulgated in 1880 put Czech on an equal footing with German in the Bohemian "inner service" (the language government officials spoke to one another) and law. In 1882 Charles-Ferdinand University in Prague was divided into two separate institutions: one Czech and the other German. These concessions, however, seemed insufficient to a newly developing Czech commercial and industrial bourgeoisie. Intense conflict ensued as Czechs and Germans attempted to control local administration and education. When some of the Old Czechs attempted to work out a compromise with the Bohemian Germans in 1890, they were denounced by a younger and more radical intelligentsia. The next year the Old Czechs were soundly defeated by the Young Czechs, ending a period of attempted compromises.

While relations between Czechs and Germans worsened in Bohemia, they remained relatively tranquil in Moravia. Although the separate administrative status of Moravia had been abolished in the 18th century, the area was reconstituted as a separate crown land in 1849. In Moravia, unlike in Bohemia, a compromise was reached by Karel Emanuel v. Zierotin, in 1905, between the Czech majority and the German minority. Although the German language retained a slight predominance, the preservation of Czech language and culture was legally guaranteed. The compromise seemed to work reasonably well until the end of Habsburg rule in 1918.

During the final decade of the empire, obstructionism by both Czechs and Germans rendered parliamentary politics ineffectual, and governments rose and fell with great frequency. The importance of the Young Czech Party waned as Czech politics changed orientation. Political parties advocating democracy and socialism emerged. In 1900 Tomáš Masaryk, a university professor and former Young Czech deputy who was to become president of the Czechoslovak Republic, founded the Czech Progressive Party. Basing its struggle for national autonomy on the principle of popular sovereignty, the Czech Progressive Party supported parliamentary politics, advocated universal suffrage, and rejected radicalism.

At the turn of the century, the idea of a "Czechoslovak" entity began to be advocated by some Czech and Slovak leaders.

The cause of Czech self-government was greatly advanced by the First World War, during which, in 1917, the Manifesto of Czech writers, signed by over 200 leading Czechs, was published. This favored the concept of Czech autonomy.

 

Czechoslovakia (1918–1993)

Czecho-Slovak Republic (1918–1938)

The Kingdom of Bohemia officially ceased to exist in 1918 when the Czecho-Slovak Republic was declared, a merger of the lands of the Bohemian Crown, Slovakia, and Carpathian Ruthenia. Prior to WW2, Czechoslovakia remained the only Free Republic in central and eastern Europe.

2nd Czechoslovak Republic / Occupation (1938–1945)

The large German population of the Czech lands was expelled after fall of Nazi Germany and of its occupation of Czechoslovakia. The Czechoslovakians were now almost homogenous in their composition, dominated by ethnic Czechs and Slovaks.

3rd Czechoslovak Republic (1945–1948)

During World War II, Czechoslovakia disappeared from the map of Europe. The Third Czechoslovak Republic which emerged as a sovereign state was not only the result of the policies of the victorious Western allies, France, the United Kingdom and the United States, but also an indication of the strength of the Czechoslovak ideal embodied in the First Czechoslovak Republic. However, at the conclusion of World War II, Czechoslovakia fell within the Soviet sphere of influence, and this circumstance dominated any plans or strategies for postwar reconstruction. Consequently, the political and economic organization of Czechoslovakia became largely a matter of negotiations between Edvard Beneš and Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) exiles living in Moscow.

In February 1948, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized full power in a coup d'état. Although the country's official name remained the Czechoslovak Republic until 1960, when it was changed to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, February 1948 is considered the end of the Third Republic.

Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1948–1990)
Communist Occupation

Czechoslovakia (Czech/Slovak: Československo), officially the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (Czech/Slovak: Československá socialistická republika, ČSSR), refers to the period of Czechoslovakia under communist rule from July 11, 1960 until following the 1989 Velvet Revolution, when the name was changed on April 23, 1990. It has been regarded as a satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Following the coup d'état of February 1948, when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized power with the backing of the Soviet Union, the country was declared a people's republic after the Ninth-of-May Constitution became effective. The traditional name Československá republika (Czechoslovak Republic) was changed on 11 July 1960 following implementation of the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia as a symbol of the "final victory of socialism" in the country, and remained so until the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Several other state symbols were changed in 1960.

 

Velvet Revolution (1989) & Velvet Divorce (1993)

The Velvet Revolution (Czech: sametová revoluce) or Gentle Revolution (Slovak: nežná revolúcia) was a non-violent transition of power in what was then Czechoslovakia, occurring from November 17 to December 29, 1989. Popular demonstrations against the one-party government of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia combined students and older dissidents. The result was the end of 41 years of one-party rule in Czechoslovakia, and the subsequent dismantling of the planned economy and conversion to a parliamentary republic.

On November 17, 1989 (International Students' Day), riot police suppressed a student demonstration in Prague. That event sparked a series of demonstrations from November 19 to late December. By November 20, the number of protesters assembled in Prague grew from 200,000 the previous day to an estimated 500,000. A 2-hour general strike involving all citizens of Czechoslovakia was held on November 27. On November 24, the entire top leadership of the Communist Party, including General Secretary Miloš Jakeš, resigned.

In response to the collapse of other Warsaw Pact governments and the increasing street protests, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced on November 28 that it would relinquish power and dismantle the one-party state. Two days later, the legislature formally deleted the sections of the Constitution giving the Communists a monopoly of power. Barbed wire and other obstructions were removed from the border with West Germany and Austria in early December. On December 10, President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948, and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28 and Václav Havel the President of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989.

In June 1990, Czechoslovakia held its first democratic elections since 1946.

The term Velvet Revolution was coined by Rita Klímová, the dissidents' English translator who later became the ambassador to the United States. The term was used internationally to describe the revolution, although the Czechs also used the term internally. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Slovakia used the term Gentle Revolution, the term that Slovaks used for the revolution from the beginning. The Czech Republic continues to refer to the event as the Velvet Revolution.

 

Czech Republic (1993–Present)

On January 1, 1993, the Velvet Divorce occurred, whereby two separate states were created out of the former Czechoslovakia: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The Czech Republic became a member of NATO in 1999, and the European Union in May 2004 (although most Czechs don't like being EU members and they do NOT use Euros).

The Dissolution of Czechoslovakia (Czech: Rozdělení Československa, Slovak: Rozdelenie Česko-Slovenska), which took effect on January 1, 1993, was an event that saw the self-determined split of the federal state of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, entities which had arisen before as the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic in 1969 within the framework of Czechoslovak federalization.

It is sometimes known as the Velvet Divorce, a reference to the bloodless Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the end of the rule of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the formation of a free republic.

 

Czech Republic Wars

Year War Allies Enemies
1999 Kosovo War NATO Yugoslavia
2002-2014 War in Afghanistan (10 killed) Czech Republic Insurgents
2003-2009 Iraq War (1 killed) Czech Republic Insurgents
2004 Unrest in Kosovo Czech Republic Kosovo Albanians
2011 Libyan Civil War NATO Libya
2013-2015 Northern Mali Conflict Czech Republic Azawad Islamists

 

Stalin Monument (1955-1962) Metronome Skatepark

Stalin's Monument was a massive granite statue honoring Joseph Stalin that was unveiled on May 1, 1955 after more than 5½ years of work in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It was the world's largest representation of Stalin. It was destroyed in 1962!

The monument was located on a huge concrete pedestal, which can still be visited in Letná Park. It was the largest group statue in Europe, measuring 15.5 m (51 ft) high and 22 m (72 ft) long. The sculptor was Otakar Švec, who killed himself the day before the unveiling.

The process of de-Stalinization began shortly after the unveiling of the monument. The monument, therefore, became an increasing source of embarrassment to the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and was taken down with 800 kilograms (1,800 lb) of explosives!

In 1990, pirate radio station Radio Stalin operated from a bomb shelter beneath the statue's plinth. The same shelter was also the home of Prague's first rock club in the early 1990s. Since 1991 the marble pedestal has been used as the base of a giant kinetic sculpture of a metronome. In 1996 the pedestal was briefly used as a base for a 35-foot-tall (11 m) statue of Michael Jackson as a promotional stunt for the start of his HIStory World Tour.

The Metronome, the work of sculptor Vratislav Karel Novák, was erected in 1991 atop the massive stone plinth that originally served as the base for the monument to Soviet leader Josef Vissarionovich Stalin. Work began on Prague's Stalin monument towards the end of 1949, and in May 1955, it was finally unveiled. The largest group sculpture in Europe during its existence, the monument had a reinforced-concrete structure faced with 235 granite blocks, weighing 17,000 tons and costing 140 million crowns to complete. The gigantic composition, by sculptor Otakar Švec and the architects Jiří and Vlasta [his wife] Štursa, did not tower for long over the medieval center of Prague: in connection with Soviet criticism of Stalin's "cult of personality," the work was dynamited and removed towards the end of 1962.

The City of Prague has been considering several options for redevelopment of the site for years, including a plan to build an aquarium. The remaining socle is a popular meeting point and skatepark for skateboarders.

 

Romani "Gypsies" (Cikán)

The Romani (also spelled Romany; /ˈroʊməni/, /ˈrɒ-/), or Roma, are a traditionally nomadic ethnic group, living mostly in Europe and the Americas and originating from the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, presumably from where the states Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab exist today. The Romani are widely known among English-speaking people by the exonym "Gypsies" ("Gypsy" or "Gipsies"), which some people consider pejorative due to its connotations of illegality and irregularity.

Romani are dispersed, with their concentrated populations in Europe – especially Central, Eastern and Southern Europe including Turkey, Spain and Southern France. They originated in Northern India and arrived in Mid-West Asia, then Europe, around 1,000 years ago, either separating from the Dom people or, at least, having a similar history; the ancestors of both the Romani and the Dom left North India sometime between the sixth and eleventh century. There are 300,000 Romani speakers in the Czech Republic (but only 40,370 are documented), representing 2% of the total population.

In Czechoslovakia, Gypsies were labeled a "socially degraded stratum," and Romani women were sterilized as part of a state policy to reduce their population. This policy was implemented with large financial incentives, threats of denying future welfare payments, with misinformation, or after administering drugs.

Czechoslovakia carried out a policy of sterilization of Romani women, starting in 1973. The dissidents of the Charter 77 denounced this policy as a genocide in 1977–78, but the practice continued through the Velvet Revolution of 1989. A 2005 report by the Czech government's independent ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, identified dozens of cases of coercive sterilization between 1979 and 2001, and called for criminal investigations and possible prosecution against several health care workers and administrators.

An official inquiry from the Czech Republic, resulting in a report (December 2005), concluded that the Communist authorities had practiced an assimilation policy towards Romanis, which "included efforts by social services to control the birth rate in the Romani community... The problem of sexual sterilization carried out in the Czech Republic, either with improper motivation or illegally, exists," said the Czech Public Defender of Rights, recommending state compensation for women affected between 1973 and 1991. New cases were revealed up until 2004, in both the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland "all have histories of coercive sterilization of minorities and other groups".

 

Holy Roman Empire Map

 

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