1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bohemia
BOHEMIA (Ger. Bohmen, Czech Čechy, Lat. Bohemia), a kingdom and crown land of Austria, bounded N.E. by Prussian Silesia, S.E. by Moravia and Lower Austria, S. by Upper Austria, S.W. by Bavaria and N.W. by Saxony. It has an area of 20,060 sq. m., or about two-thirds the size of Scotland, and forms the principal province of the Austrian empire. Situated in the geographical centre of the European continent, at about equal distance from all the European seas, enclosed by high mountains, and nevertheless easily accessible through Moravia from the Danubian plain and opened by the valley of the Elbe to the German plain, Bohemia was bound to play a leading part in the cultural development of Europe. It became early the scene of important historical events, the avenue and junction of the migration of peoples; and it forms the borderland between the German and Slavonic worlds.
Geography.—Bohemia has the form of an irregular rhomb, of which the northernmost place, Buchberg, just above Hainspach, is at the same time the farthest north in the whole Austro-Hungarian monarchy. From an orographic point of view, Bohemia constitutes amongst the Austrian provinces a separate massif, bordered on three sides by mountain ranges: on the S.W. by the Böhmerwald or Bohemian Forest; on the N.W. by the Erzgebirge or Ore Mountains; and on the N.E. by the Riesengebirge or Giant Mountains and other ranges of the Sudetes. The Böhmerwald, which, like its parallel range, the Sudetes, has a general direction from S.E. to N.W., is divided by the pass of Neumark into two parts. The northern part (Czech Cesky Les) attains in the massif of Czerkov an altitude of 3300 ft., but the southern part (Czech Šumava) is at the same time the highest and the most picturesque part of the range, including on the Bohemian side the Osser (4053 ft.) and the Plöckenstein (4513 ft.), although the highest peak, the Arber (4872), is in Bavaria. The beauty of this range of mountains consists in its pure crystalline torrents, in the numerous blue lakes of its valleys, and above all in the magnificent forests of oak and pine with which its sides are covered. The pass of Neumark, called also the pass of Neugedein, has always been the principal approach to Bohemia from Germany. It stretches towards the east, above the small town of Taus (Czech Domažlice, once called Tuhošt, i.e. the Fortress), and is the place where some of the bloodiest battles in the history of Bohemia were fought. Here in the first half of the 7th century Samo repulsed the invading hordes of the Avars, which threatened the independence of the newly-settled Slavonic inhabitants; here also Wratislas II. defeated the German emperor Henry III. in a two-days' battle (August 22 and 23, 1040). It was in the same place that the Hussites gained in 1431 one of their greatest victories against a German army of crusaders, and another similar German army was vanquished here by George of Poděbrad.
The Erzgebirge (Czech Rudo Horí), which form the north-west frontier, have an average altitude of 2600 ft., and as their highest point, the Keilberg (4080 ft.). The numerous mining villages, the great number of cultivated areas and the easy passes, traversed by good roads, give those mountains in many places the aspect of a hilly undulating plain. Several of the villages are built very near the summit of the mountains, and one of them, Gottesgab (pop. about 1500), lies at an altitude of 3345 ft., the highest place in Bohemia and central Germany. To the west the Erzgebirge combine through the Elstergebirge with the Fichtelgebirge, which in their turn are united with the Böhmerwald through the plateau of Waldsassen. To the east the Erzgebirge are separated from the Elbsandsteingebirge by the Nollendorf pass, traversed by the ancient military route to Saxony; it was the route followed by Napoleon I. after the battle of Dresden (1813). To the south stretches the “Thermopylae of Bohemia,” the scene of the battle of Kulm and Arbesau. A little farther to the east the Elbe escapes into Saxony at the lowest point in Bohemia (alt. 367 ft.). The north-east frontier is formed by the Sudetes, which comprise the Lausitzergebirge (2500 ft.), the Isergebirge (with the highest peak, the Tafelfichte, 3683 ft.), the Jeschkengebirge (3322 ft.), and the Riesengebirge. The Riesengebirge (Czech Kroknosě) are, after the Alps, among the highest mountains of central Europe, and attain in the Schneekoppe an altitude of 5264 ft. The last groups of the Sudetes in Bohemia are the Heuscheuergebirge (2532 ft.) and the Adlergebirge (3664 ft.). The fourth side of the rhomb is formed by the so-called Bohemian-Moravian Hills, a plateau or broad series of low hills, composed of primitive rocks, and attaining in some places an altitude of 2500 ft.
The interior of Bohemia has sometimes been compared to a deep basin; but for the most part it is an undulating plateau, over 1000 ft. high, formed by a succession of terraces, which gradually slope down from south to north. Its lowest-lying points are not in the middle but in the north, in the valley of the Elbe, and the country can be divided into two parts by a line passing through Hohenmauth-Prague-Komotau. The part lying to the south of this line can be designated as highland, and only the part north of it as lowland. The mountain-ranges of the interior of Bohemia are the Brdywald (2798 ft.) in the middle; the Tepler Gebirge (2657 ft.), the Karsbader Gebirge (3057 ft.) and the Kaiserwald (3238 ft.), in the north-west part; while the northern corner is occupied by the Mittelgebirge (2739 ft.), a volcanic massif, stretching on both sides of the Elbe.
Bohemia belongs to the watershed of the Elbe, which rises within the territory and receives on the right the Iser and the Polzen, and on the left the Adler; the Eger with its affluent the Tepl; the Biela and the Moldau. But the principal river of Bohemia, from every point of view, is the Moldau (Czech Vltava), not the Elbe. A glance at the hydrographic structure of Bohemia, which is of such a striking regularity, shows us that the Moldau is the main stem, while the Elbe and the other rivers are only lateral branches; moreover, the Elbe below Melnik, the point of its confluence with the Moldau, follows the general direction of the Moldau. Besides, the Moldau is the principal commercial artery of the country, being navigable below Budweis, while the Upper-Elbe is not navigable; its basin (11,890 sq. m.) is twice as great as that of the Elbe, and its width and depth are also greater. It has a length of 270 m., 47 m. longer than the Upper-Elbe, but it runs through a deep and narrow valley, in which there is neither road nor railway, extending from above Budweis to about 15 m. south of Prague. The Moldau receives on the right the Lužniza and the Sazawa and on the left the Wottawa and the Beraun. The Beraun is formed by the union of the Mies with the Radbusa, Angel and Uslawa, and is the third most important river of the country. There are only a few lakes, which are mostly found at high altitudes.
Climate.—Bohemia has a continental, generally healthy climate, which varies much in different parts of the country. It is mildest in the centre, where, e.g. at Prague, the mean annual temperature is 48.5° F. The rainfall varies also according to the districts, the rainy season being the summer. Thus the mean annual rainfall in the interior of Bohemia is 18 in., in the Riesengebirge 40 in., while in the Böhmerwald it reaches 60 to 70 in.
Agriculture.—Favoured with a suitable climate and inhabited by a thriving rural population, Bohemia is very highly developed in the matter of agriculture. Over 50% of the whole area is under cultivation and the soil is in many parts very fertile, the best-known regions being the “Golden Road” round Königgrätz, the “Paradise” round Teplitz, and the “Garden of Bohemia” round Leitmeritz. The principal products are oats, rye, barley and wheat, but since the competition of Hungarian wheat large tracts of land have been converted to the cultivation of beetroot. The potato crop, which forms the staple food of the people, is great; the Saaz district is celebrated for hops, and the flax is also of a good quality. Fruit, especially plums, is very abundant and constitutes a great article of export. The forests cover 29.01% of the total area; meadows, 10.05, pastures 5.05, and gardens 1.35%. Cattle-rearing is not so well developed as agriculture, but great flocks of geese are reared, especially in the south, and bee-cultivation constitutes another important industry. Pisciculture has been for centuries successfully pursued by the Bohemian peasants, and the attempts recently made for the rearing of silkworms have met with fair success.
Minerals.—Except salt, which is entirely absent, almost every useful metal and mineral is to be found. First in importance, both in quantity and in value, come lignite and coal. Some of the richest lignite fields in Europe are found in the north-east corner of Bohemia round Brüx, Dux, Falkenau, Ossegg and Teplitz. Coal is mined round Kladno, Buschtěhrad, Pilsen, Schlan, Rakonitz, Nürschan and Radnitz, the last-named place containing the oldest coal mines of Bohemia (17th century). Iron ores are found at Krušnahora and Nučic, and the principal foundries are round Kladno and Königshof. Owing to the improvements in refining, Bohemia has become an important centre of the iron industry. Silver is extracted at Přibram and Joachimsthal, but the silver mines near Kuttenberg, famous in the middle ages, are now abandoned. Lead is extracted at Přibram, tin at Graupen in the Erzgebirge, the only place in Austria where this metal is found. Antimony is extracted at Milleschau near Tabor; uranium and radium near Joachimsthal; graphite near Krumau and Budweis; porcelain-earth near Carlsbad. Other minerals found in various places of Bohemia are copper, sulphur, cobalt, alum, nickel, arsenic and various sorts of precious stone, like the Bohemian garnet (pyrope), and building stone. A large amount of peat is collected, especially in the south-west of Bohemia, as well as a great quantity of asphalt.
Bohemia possesses over two hundred mineral springs, but only a few are used for medicinal purposes. Among them are some of the most celebrated mineral springs in the world, such as Carlsbad, Marienbad, Franzensbad, Teplitz-Schönau and Bilin. Other springs of importance are Püllna, Sedlitz and Seidschitz near Brüx; Giesshübl near Carlsbad; Liebwerda, Königswart, Sangerberg, Neudorf, Tetschen, Johannisbad, situated at the foot of the Schneekoppe, &c.
Manufactures and Commerce.—From an industrial point of view, Bohemia takes the first rank amongst the Austrian provinces, and at the same time is one of the greatest manufacturing centres of Europe. Rich as the country is in coal and iron, and in water supplies which can be transformed into motive power, the inhabitants were not slow to utilize these advantages, so that the industry of Bohemia made enormous strides during the last half of the 19th century. The glass industry was introduced from Venice in the 13th century and soon attained a vast importance; the factories are in the neighbourhood of the mountains, where minerals, and especially silica and fuel, are plentiful. The finest product, the crystal-glass, is made round Haida and Steinschönau. The very extensive porcelain industry is concentrated in and around Carlsbad. The textile industry stands in the front rank and is mostly concentrated in the north-east corner of Bohemia, round Reichenberg, and in the valley of the Lower Elbe. The cloth manufacture is located at Reichenberg; Rumburg and Trautenau are the centre of the linen industry; woollen yarns are made at Aussig and Asch. Lace, which is pursued as a home-industry in the Erzgebirge region, has its principal centre at Weipert, while Strakonitz has the speciality of the manufacture of red fezes (Turkish caps). The metallurgic industries, favoured by the abundance of coal and iron, are concentrated round the mines. Industrial and agricultural machinery are manufactured at Reichenberg, Pilsen and Prague, and at the last-named place is also to be found a great establishment for the production of railway rolling-stock. Sugar refining is another industry, which, although of recent date, has had a very great development, and the breweries produce a beer which is appreciated all over the world. Other important branches of industry are:—the manufacture of chemicals at Prague and Aussig; pencils at Budweis; musical instruments at Graslitz and Schönbach; paper, leather, dyeing and calico-printing. Hand-in-hand with the industrial activity of the country goes its commercial development, which is stimulated by an extensive railway system, good roads and navigable rivers. The centre of the railway system, which had in 1898 a length of some 3500 m., or 30% of the total length of the Austrian railways, is Prague; and through the Elbe Bohemia has easy access to the sea for its export trade.
Population and Administration.—Bohemia had in 1900 a population of 6,318,280, which corresponds to 315 inhabitants per square mile. As regards numbers, it occupies the second place amongst the Austrian provinces, coming after Galicia, and as regards density of population it stands third, Silesia and Lower Austria, which contains Vienna, standing higher. In 1800 the population was a little over 3,000,000. According to nationality, about 35% are Germans and 65% Czechs. The Czechs occupy the middle of the country, as well as its south and south-east region, while the Germans are concentrated near its borders, especially in the north and west, and are also found all over the country in the large towns. Besides, there are numerous German-speaking enclaves situated in purely Czech districts; on the other hand, the Czechs have shown a tendency to invade the purely German mining and manufacturing districts. Notwithstanding its rich natural resources and its great industrial development, Bohemia sends out a steady flow of emigrants, who either settle in the other provinces of the monarchy, in Germany and in Russia, or cross the Atlantic to America. To the Roman Catholic Church belong 96% of the total population; Bohemia is divided into the archbishopric of Prague, and the three bishoprics of Budweis, Königgrätz and Leitmeritz.
Education is well advanced, and Bohemia has the lowest proportion of illiterates amongst the Austrian provinces. At the head of the educational establishments stand the two universities at Prague, one German and the other Czech.
Bohemia sends 130 deputies to the Reichsrat at Vienna; the local diet, to which belong ex officio the archbishop, the three bishops, and the two rectors of the universities, consists of 242 members. For administrative purposes Bohemia is divided into ninety-four districts and two autonomous municipalities, Prague (pop. 204,478), the capital, and Reichenberg (34,204). Other important towns are Pilsen (68,292), Budweis (39,360), Aussig (37,255), Schönau (24,110), Eger (23,665), Warnsdorf (21,150), Brüx (21,525), Gablonz (21,086), Asch (18,675), Kladno (18,600), Pardubitz (17,029), Saaz (16,168), Komotau (15,925), Kolin (15,025), Kuttenberg (14,799), Trautenau (14,777), Carlsbad (14,640), Přibram (13,576), Jungbunzlau (13,479), Leitmeritz (13,075), Chrudim (13,017), Dux (11,921), Bodenbach (10,782), Tabor (10,692), Böhmisch-Leipa (10,674), Rumburg (10,382), Weipert (10,037).
See F. Umlauft, Die Länder Österreich-Ungarns in Wort und Bild, (15 vols., Vienna, 1881–1889), vol. vii.; Mikowec, Altertümer und Denkwürdigkeiten Böhmen’s (2 vols., Prague, 1859–1865); F. Řivnáč, Reisehandbuch für das Königreich Böhmen (Prague, 1882), very useful for its numerous and detailed historical notes. (O. Br.)
The country derives its name from the Boii, a Celtic tribe which in the earliest historical period inhabited part of the land. According to very ancient traditions accepted by the modern historians of Bohemia, the Boii, whose capital was called Boiohemum, were weakened by continual warfare with neighbouring tribes, and finally subdued by the Teutonic tribe of the Marcomanni (about 12 B.C.). The Marcomanni were afterwards expelled by other Teutonic tribes, and eventually Bohemia was conquered by Slavic tribes, of whom the Čechs (see Czech) were the most important. The date of the arrival of the Čechs in Bohemia is very uncertain, and the scanty references to the country in classical and Byzantine writers are ratherSlav Conquest. misleading than otherwise. Recent archaeological research has proved the existence of Slavic inhabitants in Bohemia as far back as the beginning of the Christian era. The Čechs appear to have become the masters of the country in the 5th century. The first of their rulers mentioned in history is Samo, who is stated to have defeated the Avars, a Turanian tribe which had for a time obtained the overlordship over Bohemia. Samo also defeated the Franks in a great battle that took place at Wogatisburg (630), probably near the site of the present town of Eger. After the death of Samo the history of Bohemia again becomes absolutely obscure for about 130 years. The next events that are recorded by the oldest chroniclers, such as Cosmas, refer to the foundation of a Bohemian principality by Krok (or Crocus) and his daughter Libussa. The latter is said to have married Přemysl, a peasant who was found ploughing his field—a legend that is common in most Slavic countries. Beginning with this semi-mythic ruler, the ancient chroniclers have constructed a continuous list of Přemyslide princes. Neither the deeds attributed to these princes nor the dates of their reigns can be considered as historical.
From the time of the introduction of Christianity into Bohemia the history of the country becomes less obscure. The first attempts to introduce Christianity undoubtedly came from Germany. They met with little success, asChristianity. innate distrust of the Germans naturally rendered the Bohemians unfavourable to a creed which reached them from the realm of their western neighbours. Matters were different when Christianity approached them from Moravia, where its doctrine had been taught by Cyrillus and Methodius—Greek monks from Thessalonica. About the year 873 the Bohemian prince Bořivoj was baptized by Methodius, and the Bohemians now rapidly adopted the Christian faith. Of the rulers of Bohemia the most famous at this period was Wenceslas,Wenceslas surnamed the Holy, who in 935 was murdered by his brother Boleslav, and who was afterwards canonized by the Church of Rome. As Wenceslas had been an ally of Germany, his murder resulted in a war with that country, in which, as far as we can judge by the scanty records of the time. Boleslav, the brother and successor of Wenceslas, was on the whole successful. During the reigns of Boleslav and his son,Boleslav. Boleslav II., Bohemia extended its frontiers in several directions. Boleslav II. indeed established his rule not only over Bohemia and Moravia, but also over a large part of Silesia, and over that part of Poland which is now the Austrian province of Galicia. Like most Slavic states at this and even a later period, the great Bohemian empire of Boleslav II. did not endure long. Boleslav III., son of Boleslav II., lost all his foreign possessions to Boleslav the Great, king of Poland. During his reign Bohemia was involved in constant civil war, caused by the dissensions between Boleslav III. and his brothers Jaromir and Ulrick. Though the prince succeeded in expelling his brothers from the country, his cruelty induced the Bohemians to dethrone him and to choose as their ruler the Polish princeVladivoj. Vladivoj, brother of Boleslav the Great, and son of the Bohemian princess Ďubravka (Dobrawa). Vladivoj attempted to strengthen his hold over Bohemia by securing the aid of Germany. He consented not only to continue to pay the tribute which the Germans had already obtained from several previous rulers of Bohemia, but also to become a vassal of the German empire and to receive the German title of duke. This state continued when after the death of Vladivoj the Přemyslide dynasty was restored. The Přemyslide prince BřetislavBřetislav I. I. (1037–1055) restored the former power of Bohemia, and again added Moravia, Silesia and a considerable part of Poland to the Bohemian dominions. To obviate the incessant struggles which had endangered the land at every vacancy of the throne, Břetislav, with the consent of the nobles, decreed that the oldest member of the house of Přemysl should be the ruler of Bohemia. Břetislav was therefore succeeded first by his eldest son Spitihněv, and then by his second son Vratislav.
In 1088 Vratislav obtained the title of king from the emperor Henry IV., whom he had assisted in the struggle with the papal see which is known as the contest about investitures. Though the title of king was only conferred on VratislavVratislav becomes “king”. personally, the German king, Conrad III., conferred on the Bohemian prince Sobeslav (1125–1140) the title of hereditary cupbearer of the Empire, thus granting a certain influence on the election of the emperors to Bohemia, which hitherto had only obligations towards the Empire but no part in its government. In 1156 the emperor Frederick I. Barbarossa ceded Upper Lusatia to the Bohemian prince Vladislav II., and conferred on him the title of king on condition of his taking part in Frederick's Italian campaigns. It was intended that that title should henceforth be hereditary, but it again fell into abeyance during the struggles between the Přemyslide princes which followed the abdication of Vladislav in 1173.
The consequences of these constant internal struggles were twofold; the German influence became stronger, and the power of the sovereign declined, as the nobility on whose support the competitors for the crown were obliged to rely constantly obtained new privileges. In 1197 Přemysl Ottakar became undisputed ruler of Bohemia, and he was crowned as king in the following year. The royal title of the Bohemian sovereigns was continued uninterruptedly from that date. Wenceslas I. (1230–1253) succeeded his father as king of Bohemia without opposition. The last years of his reign were troubled by internalOttakar II. discord. Wenceslas's son, Přemysl Ottakar II., who under the sovereignty of his father ruled Moravia, became for a time the chief leader of the malcontents. A reconciliation between son and father, however, took place before the latter's death. Přemysl Ottakar II. was one of the greatest of Bohemia's kings. He had during the lifetime of his father obtained possession of the archduchies of Austria, and, about the time of his accession to the Bohemian throne, the nobility of Styria also recognized him as their ruler. These extensions of his dominions involved Přemysl Ottakar II. in repeated wars with Hungary. In 1260 he decisively defeated Bela, king of Hungary, in the great battle of Kressenbrunn. After this victory Ottakar's power rose to its greatest height. He now obtained possession of Carinthia, Istria and parts of northern Italy. His possessions extended from the Giant Mountains in Bohemia to the Adriatic, and included almost all the parts of the present Habsburg empire west of the Leitha. His contemporaries called Ottakar “the man of gold” because of his great wealth, or “the man of iron” because of his military power. From political rather than racial causes Ottakar favoured the immigration of Germans into his dominions. He hoped to find in the German townsmen a counterpoise to the overwhelming power of the Bohemian nobility. In 1273 Rudolph, count of Habsburg, was elected king of the Romans. It is very probable that the German crown had previously been offered to Ottakar, but that he had refused it. Several causes, among others his Slavic nationality, which was likely to render him obnoxious to the Germans, contributed to his decision. As Rudolph immediately claimed as vacant fiefs of the Empire most of the lands held by Ottakar, war was inevitable. Ottakar was deserted by many of his new subjects, and even by part of the Bohemian nobility. He was therefore unable to resist the German king, and was obliged to surrender to him all his lands except Bohemia and Moravia, and to recognize Rudolph as his overlord. New dissensions between the two sovereigns broke out almost immediately. In 1278 Ottakar invaded the Austrian duchies, now under the rule of Rudolph, but was defeated and killed at the battle of Durnkrut on the Marchfeld.
Ottakar's son, Wenceslas II., was only seven years of age at the death of his father, and Otto of Brandenburg, a nephew of Ottakar, for a time governed Bohemia as guardian of the young sovereign. Otto's rule was very unpopular,Wenceslas II. an insurrection broke out against him, and Bohemia was for a time in a state of complete anarchy. The country was at last pacified through the intervention of Rudolph of Habsburg, and at the age of twelve Wenceslas became nominal ruler of the country. All power was, however, in the hands of Zavis of Falkenstein, one of the great Bohemian nobles, who had married the king's mother, Kunegunda. The power of Zavis at last became invidious to the king, by whose order he was beheaded in 1290. Wenceslas, though only nineteen years of age, henceforth governed Bohemia himself, and his short reign was a period of great happiness for the country. Poland also accepted the rule of Wenceslas and the Hungarian crown was offered to him. Towards the end of his reign Wenceslas became involved in war with Albert, archduke of Austria, afterwards king of the Romans. While preparing to invade Austria Wenceslas died suddenly (1305). His son and successor, Wenceslas III., was then only sixteen years of age, and he only ruled over Bohemia for one year. While planning a warlike expedition against Poland, on which country the Bohemian sovereigns now again maintained their claim, he was murdered by unknown assassins (1306). With him ended the rule of the Přemyslide dynasty over Bohemia.
Albert, king of the Romans, declared that Bohemia was a vacant fief of the Empire, and, mainly by intimidation, induced the Bohemians to elect his son Rudolph as their sovereign; but Rudolph died after a reign of only one year. Though the Habsburg princes at this period already claimed a hereditary right to the Bohemian throne, the Bohemians determined to maintain their right of electing their sovereign, and they chose Henry, duke of Carinthia, who had married a daughter of King Wenceslas II. Henry soon became unpopular, as he was accused of unduly favouring the German settlers in Bohemia. It was decided to depose him, and the choice of the Bohemians nowJohn of Luxemburg. fell on John of Luxemburg, son of Henry, king of the Romans. The Luxemburg dynasty henceforth ruled over Bohemia up to the time of its extinction at the death of Sigismund (1437). Though King John, by his marriage to the princess Elizabeth, a daughter of Wenceslas II., became more closely connected with Bohemia, he does not appear to have felt much interest in that country. Most of his life was spent in other lands, his campaigns ranging from Italy in the south to Lithuania in the north. It became proverbial “that nothing could be done in the world without the help of God and of the king of Bohemia.” The policy of John was founded on a close alliance with France, the country for which he felt most sympathy. Fighting as an ally of France he fell at the battle of Crécy (1346).
He was succeeded as king of Bohemia by his son Charles, whom the German electors had previously elected as their sovereign at Rense (1346). Charles proved one of the greatest rulers of Bohemia, where his memory is stillKing Charles. revered. Prague was his favourite residence, and by the foundation of the nové město (new town) he greatly enlarged the city, which now had three times its former extent, and soon also trebled its population. He also added greatly to the importance of the city by founding the famous university of Prague. Charles succeeded in re-establishing order in Bohemia. The country had been in a very disturbed state in consequence of feuds that were incessant during the reign of John, who had almost always been absent from Bohemia. Charles also attempted to codify the obscure and contradictory laws of Bohemia; but this attempt failed through the resistance of the powerful nobility of the country. During the reign of Charles, the first symptoms of that movement in favour of church reform that afterwards acquired a world-wide importance, appeared in Bohemia. As Charles has often been accused of undue subserviency to the Church of Rome, it should be mentioned that he granted his protection to several priests who favoured the cause of church reform. In his foreign policy Charles differed from his father. The relations with France gradually became colder, and at the end of his reign Charles favoured an alliance with England; he died in 1378 at the age of sixty-two, prematurely exhausted by arduous work.
Charles was succeeded by his son Wenceslas, who was then seventeen years of age. His reign marks the decline of the rule of the house of Luxemburg over Bohemia. He was a weak and incapable sovereign, but the very exaggeratedWenceslas IV. accusations against him, which are found principally in the works of older historians, are mainly due to the fact that the king and to a larger extent his queen, Sophia, for a time furthered the cause of church reform, thus incurring the displeasure of Romanist writers. During the earlier part of the reign of Wenceslas a continual struggle took place between the king and the powerful Bohemian nobles, who indeed twice imprisoned their sovereign. Wenceslas also became involved in a dispute with the archbishop, which resulted in the death of the famous John of Nepomuk.
The later part of the reign of Wenceslas is a record of incipient religious conflict. The hold of the Church of Rome on Bohemia had already been weakened during the reign of King Charles by attacks on the immorality of the clergy,Huss and the Hussites. which proceeded from pious priests such as Milič and Waldhauser. The church schism, during which the rival pontiffs assailed each other with all the wild threats and objurgations of medieval theological strife, necessarily alienated the Bohemians to a yet greater extent. Almost the whole Bohemian nation therefore espoused the cause of Huss (q.v.). Wenceslas on the occasion of these disputes displayed the weakness and irresolution that always characterized him, but Queen Sophia openly favoured the cause of Huss, who for some time was her confessor. Huss was tried before the council of Constance (q.v.), to which he had proceeded with a letter of safe conduct given by Wenceslas's brother , king of the Romans. He was declared a heretic and burnt on the 6th of July 1415. The inevitable and immediate result of this event was the outbreak of civil war in Bohemia, where Huss was greatly revered by the large majority of the population. The nobles of Bohemia and Moravia met at Prague on the 2nd of September 1415, and sent to the council the famed Protestatio Bohemorum, in which they strongly protested against the execution of Huss, “a good, just and catholic man who had for many years been favourably known in the Kingdom by his life, conduct and fame, and who had been convicted of no offence.” They further declared that all who affirmed that heresy existed in Bohemia were “liars, vile traitors and calumniators of Bohemia and Moravia, the worst of all heretics, full of all evil, sons of the devil.” They finally stated “that they would defend the law of our Lord Jesus Christ and its pious, humble and steadfast preachers at the cost of their blood, scorning all fear and all human decrees that might be contrary to them.” This protest was a declaration of war against the Roman church, and marks the beginning of the Hussite wars. The council, indeed, summoned the nobles before its tribunal, but they refused to appear. A large number of the nobles and knights who had met at Prague formed a confederacy and declared that they consented to freedom of preaching the word of God on their estates, that they declined to recognize the authority of the council of Constance, but would obey the Bohemian bishops and a future pope lawfully elected. Meanwhile they declared the university of Prague the supreme authority in all matters of religion. The members of the confederacy attempted, though unsuccessfully, to induce King Wenceslas to become their leader. The Romanist nobles, who were not numerous, but some of whom owned vast estates, now also formed a confederacy, pledging themselves to support the pope and the council. After the closing of the council in 1418, Sigismund, who—Wenceslas being childless—was heir to the Bohemian throne, sent a letter to his brother, which was practically a manifesto addressed to the Bohemian people. He threatened with the severest penalties all who should continue to resist the authority of Rome. Wenceslas maintained the vacillating attitude that was characteristic of his whole reign, though Queen Sophia still extended her protection to the reformers. By doing this, indeed, she incurred the wrath of the Church to so great an extent that an act of accusation against her was drawn up at the council of Constance. Intimidated by his brother, Wenceslas now attempted to stem the current of religious enthusiasm. Immediately after the death of Huss many priests who refused to administer communion in the two kinds—now the principal tenet of the adherents of Huss—had been expelled from their parishes. Wenceslas decreed that they should be reinstated, and it was only after some hesitation that he even permitted that religious services according to the Utraquist doctrine should be held in three of the churches of Prague. Some of the more advanced reformers left Prague and formed the party known as the Taborites, from the town of Tabor which became their centre. Troubles soon broke out at Prague. When on the 30th of July 1419, the Hussite priest, John of Zelivo, was leading a procession through the streets of Prague, stones were thrown at him and his followers from the town hall of the “new town.” The Hussites, led by John Žižka (q.v.), stormed the town-hall and threw the magistrates from its windows. On receiving the news of these riots King Wenceslas was immediately seized by an attack of apoplexy; a second fit on the 16th of August ended his life.
The news of the death of the king caused renewed rioting in Prague and many other Bohemian cities, from which many Germans, mostly adherents of the Church of Rome, were expelled. Finally a temporary truce wasSigismund. concluded, and, early in the following year, Sigismund, who now claimed the Bohemian crown as successor of his brother, arrived at Kutna Hora (Kuttenberg). Pope Martin V. on the 1st of March 1420 proclaimed a crusade against Bohemia, and crusaders from all parts of Europe joined Sigismund's army. “On the 30th day of June the Hungarian king, Sigismund, with a large army consisting of men of various countries, as well as of Bohemians, occupied the castle of Prague, determined to conquer the city, which they considered a heretical community because they used the sacred chalice and accepted other evangelical truths.” But the attempt of the crusaders to conquer Prague failed, and after an attack by them on the Vitkov (now Zizkov) hill had been repulsed by the desperate bravery of the Taborites, led by Žižka, Sigismund determined to abandon the siege of Prague. An attempt of Sigismund to relieve the besieged garrison of the Vyšehrad fortress on the outskirts of Prague also failed, as he was again entirely defeated at the battle of the Vyšehrad (November 1, 1420).
Royal authority now ceased in Bohemia. At a meeting of the diet at Caslav (June 1, 1421) Sigismund was deposed. It was decided that a Polish prince should be chosen as sovereign, and that meanwhile a provisional government, composed of twenty men belonging to the various parties, should be established. In 1422 Sigismund again invaded Bohemia, but was decisively defeated by Žižka at Nêmecký Brod (Deutschbrod). The Polish prince, Sigismund Korybutovič, now arrived in Bohemia, and was recognized as regent by the large majority of the inhabitants; but through the influence of the papal seeReligious War. he was recalled by the rulers of Poland after a stay of only a few months. After his departure, civil war between the moderate Hussites (Calixtines or Utraquists) and the advanced Taborite party broke out for the first time, though there had previously been isolated disturbances between them. The return of Prince Korybutovič and the menace of a German invasion soon reunited the Bohemians, who gained a decisive victory over the Germans at Aussig in 1426. Shortly afterwards Korybutovič, who had taken part in this great victory, incurred the dislike of the extreme Hussites, and was obliged to leave Bohemia. All hope of establishing an independent Slav dynasty in Bohemia thus came to an end. In 1427 several German princes undertook a new crusade against the Hussites. With the German and other invaders were 1000 English archers, bodyguard to Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, who took part in the crusade as papal legate. The crusaders were seized by a sudden panic, both at Mies (Stříbro) and at Tachau, as soon as they approached the Hussites, and they fled hurriedly across the mountains into Bavaria. Though internal disturbances again broke out, the Bohemians after this success assumed the offensive, and repeatedly invaded Hungary and the German states.
The impossibility of conquering Bohemia had now become obvious, and it was resolved that a council should meet at Basel (q.v.) to examine the demands of the Hussites. The Germans, however, influenced by Sigismund, determined to make a last attempt to subdue Bohemia by armed force. The Bohemians, as usual united in the moment of peril, defeated the Germans at Domažlice (Taus) on the 1st of August 1431, after a very short fight. In the course of the same year negotiations began at Basel, the Hussites being represented by a numerous embassy under the leadership of Prokop the Great. The negotiations proceeded very slowly, and in 1433 the Bohemians returned to their own country, accompanied, however, by envoys of the council. Dissensions had meanwhile again broken out in Bohemia, and they were now of a political rather than a religious nature. The more aristocratic Hussites raised an armed force which was known as “the army of the nobles.” The Taborites also collected their men, who formed “the army of the towns.” The two armies met at Lipan, near Kolin, on the 30th of May 1434. The Taborites were defeated, and the two Prokops and most of their other leaders perished on the battlefield. The victory of the moderate party paved the way to a reconciliation with Sigismund and the Church of Rome. The BohemiansThe “Compacts.” recognized Sigismund as their sovereign, but obtained considerable concessions with regard to religious matters. These concessions, which were formulated in the so-called Compacts, granted to the Bohemians the right of communion in both kinds, and of preaching the gospel freely, and also to a certain extent limited the power of the clergy to acquire worldly goods.
After the Compacts had been formally recognized at Iglau in Moravia, Sigismund proceeded to Prague and was accepted as king. He died in the following year (1437) and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Albert of Austria, whom the estates chose as their king. Albert died after he had reigned over Bohemia less than two years. Though it was known that Albert’s widow Elizabeth would shortly give birth to a child, the question as to the succession to the throne again arose; for it was only in 1627 that the question whether the Bohemian crown was elective or hereditary was decided for ever. The nobles formed two parties, one of which, the national one, had George of Poděbrad. George of Poděbrad (q.v.) as its leader. Ulrich of Rosenberg was the leader of the Roman or Austrian division of the nobility. The two parties finally came to an agreement known as the “Letter of Peace” (list mirný). Those who signed it pledged themselves to recognise the Compacts, and to support as archbishop of Prague, John of Rokycan, who had been chosen by the estates in accordance with an agreement made simultaneously with the Compacts, but whom the Church of Rome refused to recognize. On the other hand, the national party abandoned the candidature to the throne of Prince Casimir of Poland, thus paving the way to the eventual succession of Albert’s heir. On the 22nd of February 1440 Queen Elizabeth gave birth to a son, who received the name of Ladislas. The Bohemians formally acknowledged him as their king, though only after their crown had been declined by Albert, duke of Bavaria. Ladislas remained in Austria under the guardianship of his uncle Frederick, duke of Styria, afterwards the emperor Frederick III., and Bohemia, still without regular government, continued to be the scene of constant conflicts between the rival parties of the nobility. In 1446 a general meeting of the estates of Bohemia together with those of Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia—and so-called “lands of the Bohemian crown”—took place. This meeting has exceptional importance for the constitutional history of Bohemia. It was decreed that at the meeting of the estates their members should be divided into three bodies—known as curiae—representing the nobles, the knights and the towns. These curiae were to deliberate separately and only to meet for a final decision. An attempt made at this meeting to appoint a regent was unsuccessful. The negotiations with the papal see continued meanwhile, but led to no result, as the members of the Roman party used their influence at the papal court for the purpose of dissuading it from granting any concessions to their countrymen. Shortly after the termination of the diet of 1446 George of Poděbrad therefore determined to appeal to the fortune of war. He assembled a considerable army at Kutna Hora and marched on Prague (1448). He occupied the town almost without resistance and assumed the regency over the kingdom. The diet in 1451 recognized his title, which was also sanctioned by the emperor Frederick III., guardian of the young king. Poděbrad was none the less opposed, almost from the first, by the Romanists, who even concluded an alliance against him with their extreme opponents, Kolda of Žampach and the other remaining Taborites. In October 1453 Ladislas arrived in Bohemia and was crowned king at Prague; but he died somewhat suddenly on the 23rd of November 1457. George of Poděbrad has from the first frequently been accused of having poisoned him, but historical research has proved that this accusation is entirely unfounded. The Bohemian throne was now again vacant, for, when electing Ladislas the estates had reaffirmed the elective character of the monarchy. Though there were several foreign candidates, the estates unanimously elected George of Poděbrad, who had now for some time administered the country. Though the Romanist lords, whom Poděbrad had for a time won over, also voted for him, the election was considered a great victory of the national party and was welcomed with enthusiasm by the citizens of Prague.
During the earlier and more prosperous part of his reign the policy of King George was founded on a firm alliance with Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, through whose influence he was crowned by the Romanist bishop of Waitzen. The reign of King George, whose principal supporters were the men of the smaller nobility and of the towns, was at first very prosperous. After a certain time, however, some of the Romanist nobles became hostile to the king, and, partly through their influence, he became involved in a protracted struggle with the papal see. It was in consequence of this struggle that some of George’s far-reaching plans—he endeavoured for a time to obtain the supremacy over Germany—failed. After the negotiations the estates at Prague in 1452 and declared that he would to his death remain true to the communion in both kinds, and that he was ready to risk his life and his crown in the defence of his faith. The Romanist party in Bohemia became yet more embittered against the king, and at a meeting at Zelena Hora (Grünberg) in 1465 many nobles of the Roman religion joined in a confederacy against him. In the following year Pope Paul II. granted his moral support to the confederates by pronouncing sentence of excommunication against George of Poděbrad and by releasing all Bohemians from their oath of allegiance to him. It was also through papal influence that King Matthias of Hungary, deserting his former ally, supported the lords of the league of Zelena Hora. Desultory warfare broke out between the two parties, in which George was at first successful; but fortune changed when the king of Hungary invaded Moravia and obtained possession of Brünn, the capital of the country. At a meeting of the Catholic nobles of Bohemia and Moravia at Olmütz in Moravia, Matthias was proclaimed king of Bohemia (May 3, 1469). In the following year George obtained some successes over his rival, but his death in 1471 for a time put a stop to the war. George of Poděbrad, the only Hussite king of Bohemia, has always, with Charles IV., been the ruler of Bohemia whose memory has most endeared itself to his countrymen.
George of Poděbrad had undoubtedly during the more prosperous part of his reign intended to found a national dynasty. In later years, however, hope of obtaining aid from Poland in his struggle against King Matthias induced him to offer the succession to the Bohemian throne to Vladislav (Wladislaus, Ladislaus), son of Casimir, king of Poland. No formal agreement was made, and at the death of George many Bohemian nobles supported the claim of Matthias of Hungary, who had already been proclaimed king of Bohemia. Protracted negotiations ensued, butVladislav of Poland. they ended by the election of Prince Vladislav of Poland at Kutna Hora, the 27th of May 1471. This election was a victory of the national party, and may be considered as evidence of the strong anti-clerical feeling which then prevailed in Bohemia; for Matthias was an unconditional adherent of Rome, while the Polish envoys who represented Vladislav promised that he would maintain the Compacts. At the beginning of his reign the new king was involved in a struggle with Matthias of Hungary, who maintained his claim to the Bohemian throne. Prolonged desultory warfare continued up to 1478, when a treaty concluded at Olmütz secured Bohemia to Vladislav; Matthias was to retain the so-called “lands of the Bohemian crown”—Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia—during his lifetime, and they were to be restored to Bohemia after his death. Though Vladislav was faithful to his promise of maintaining the Compacts, and did not attempt to prevent the Bohemians from receiving the communion in both kinds, yet his policy was on the whole a reactionary one, both as regards matters of state and the religious controversies. The king appointed as government officials at Prague men of that section of the Utraquist party that was nearest to Rome, while a severe persecution of the extreme Hussites known as the Bohemian Brethren took place (see Hussites). Serious riots took place at Prague, and the more advanced Hussites stormed the three town halls of the city. The nobles of the same faith also formed a league to guard themselves against the menaced reaction. A meeting of all the estates at Kutna Hora in 1485, however, for a time restored peace. Both parties agreed to respect the religious views of their opponents and to abstain from all violence, and the Compacts were again confirmed.
As regards matters of state the reign of Vladislav is marked by a decrease of the royal prerogative, while the power of the nobility attained an unprecedented height, at the expense, not only of the royal power, but also of the rights of the townsmen and peasants. A decree of 1487 practically established serfdom in Bohemia, where it had hitherto been almost unknown. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this measure for the future of Bohemia. The rulers of the country were henceforth unable to rely on that numerous sturdy and independent peasantry of which the armies of Žižka and the Prokops had mainly consisted. Various enactments belonging to this reign also curtailed the rights of the Bohemian townsmen. A decree known as the “regulations of King Vladislav” codified these changes. It enumerated all the rights of the nobles and knights, but entirely ignored those of the towns. It was tacitly assumed that the townsmen had no inherent rights, but only such privileges as might be granted them by their sovereign with the consent of the nobles and knights. Civil discord was the inevitable consequence of these enactments. Several meetings of the diet took place at which the towns were not represented. The latter in 1513 formed a confederacy to defend their rights, and chose Prince Bartholomew of Münsterberg—a grandson of King George—as their leader.
Vladislav was elected king of Hungary in 1490 and many of the events of his later life belong to the history of Hungary. He married in 1502 Anna de Candale, who was connected with the royal family of France. He had two childrenLouis. by her, Anna, who afterwards married the archduke Ferdinand of Austria, and Louis. Vladislav died in Hungary in 1516. His successor was his son Louis, who had already been crowned as king of Bohemia at the age of three. According to the instructions of Vladislav, Sigismund, king of Poland, and the emperor Maximilian I. were to act as guardians of the young king. The Bohemian estates recognized this decision, but they refused to allow the guardians any right of interference in the affairs of Bohemia. The great Bohemian nobles, and in particular the supreme burgrave, Zdeněk Leo, lord of Rožmital, ruled the country almost without control. The beginning of the nominal reign of King Louis is marked by an event which had great importance for the constitutional development of Bohemia. At a meeting of the estates in 1517 known as the diet of St Wenceslas—as the members first assembled on the 28th of September, the anniversary of that saint—they came to terms and settled the questions which had been the causes of discord. The citizens renounced certain privileges which they had hitherto claimed, while the two other estates recognized their municipal autonomy and tacitly sanctioned their presence at the meetings of the diet, to which they had already been informally readmitted since 1508. At the first sitting of this diet, on the 24th of October, it was declared that the three estates had agreed henceforth “to live together in friendly intercourse, as became men belonging to the same country and race.” In 1522 Louis arrived in Bohemia from Hungary, of which country he had also been elected king. On his arrival at Prague he dismissed all the Bohemian state officials, including the powerful Leo of Rožmital. He appointed Charles of Münsterberg, a cousin of Prince Bartholomew and also a grandson of King George, as regent of Bohemia during his absences, and John of Wartenberg as burgrave. The new officials appear to have supported the more advanced Hussite party, while Rožmital and the members of the town council of Prague who had acted in concert with him had been the allies of the Romanists and those Utraquists who were nearest to the Church of Rome. The new officials thus incurred the displeasure of King Louis, who was at that moment seeking the aid of the pope in his warfare with Turkey. The king therefore reinstated Leo of Rožmital in his offices in 1525. Shortly afterwards Rožmital became involved in a feud with the lords of Rosenberg; the feud became a civil war, in which most of the nobles and cities of Bohemia took sides. Meanwhile Louis, who had returned to Hungary, opened his campaign against the Turks. He requested aid from his Bohemian subjects, and this was granted, by the Rosenberg faction, while Rožmital and his party purposely delayed sending any forces to Hungary. There were, therefore, but few Bohemian troops at the battle of Mohács (August 29, 1526) at which Louis was decisively defeated and perished.
The death of Louis found Bohemia in a state of great disorder, almost of anarchy. The two last kings had mainly resided in Hungary, and in spite of the temporary agreement obtained at the diet of St Wenceslas, the Bohemians had not succeeded in establishing a strong indigenous government which might have taken the place of the absentee monarchs. Archduke FerdinandOrigin of the Habsburg dynasty. of Austria—afterwards the emperor Ferdinand I.—laid claim to the Bohemian throne as husband of Anna, daughter of King Vladislav. King Sigismund of Poland, the dukes Louis and William of Bavaria, several other German princes, as well as several Bohemian noblemen, of whom Leo of Rožmital was the most important, were also candidates. The diet resolved to entrust the election to twenty-four of their members, chosen in equal number from the three estates. These electors, on the 23rd of October (1526), chose Ferdinand of Habsburg as their king. This date is memorable, as it marks the permanent accession of the Habsburg dynasty to the Bohemian throne, though the Austrian archdukes Rudolph and Albert had previously been rulersFerdinand. of Bohemia for short periods. Though Ferdinand fully shared that devotion to Rome which is traditional in the Habsburg dynasty, he showed great moderation in religious matters, particularly at the beginning of his reign. His principal object was to establish the hereditary right of his dynasty to the Bohemian throne, and this object he pursued with characteristic obstinacy. When a great fire broke out at Prague in 1541, which destroyed all the state documents, Ferdinand obtained the consent of the estates to the substitution of a charter stating that he had been recognized as king in consequence of the hereditary rights of his wife Anna, in the place of the former one, which had stated that he had become king by election. This caused great dissatisfaction and was one of the principal causes of the troubles that broke out shortly afterwards. Ferdinand had in 1531, mainly through the influence of his brother the emperor Charles V., been elected king of the Romans and heir to the Empire. He henceforth took a large part in the politics of Germany, particularly after he had in 1547 concluded a treaty of peace with Turkey, which assured the safety of the eastern frontiers of his dominions. Charles V. about the same time concluded his war with France, and the brothers determined to adopt a firmer policy towards the Protestants of Germany, whose power had recently greatly increased. The latter had, about the time of the recognition of Ferdinand as king of the Romans, and partly in consequence of that event, formed at Schmalkalden a league, of which John Frederick, elector of Saxony, and Philip, landgrave of Hesse, were the leaders. War broke out in Germany in the summer of 1546, and Charles relied on the aid of his brother, while the German Protestants on the other hand appealed to their Bohemian co-religionists for aid.
Since the beginning of the Reformation in Germany the views of the Bohemian reformers had undergone a considerable change. Some of the more advanced Utraquists differed but little from the German Lutherans, while the BohemianStruggles
in the war against German Protest-
antism. Brethren, who at this moment greatly increased in influence through the accession of several powerful nobles, strongly sympathized with the Protestants of Germany. Ferdinand’s task of raising a Bohemian army in support of his brother was therefore a difficult one. He again employed his usual tortuous policy. He persuaded the estates to vote a general levy of the forces of the country under the somewhat disingenuous pretext that Bohemia was menaced by the Turks; for at that period no armed force could be raised in Bohemia without the consent of the estates of the realm. Ferdinand fixed the town of Kaaden on the Saxon frontier as the spot where the troops were to meet, but on his arrival there he found that many cities and nobles—particularly those who belonged to the community of the Bohemian Brethren—had sent no men. Of the soldiers who arrived many were Protestants who sympathized with their German co-religionists. The Bohemian army refused to cross the Saxon frontier, and towards the end of the year 1546 Ferdinand was obliged to disband his Bohemian forces. Early in the following year he again called on his Bohemian subjects to furnish an army in aid of his brother. Only a few of the Romanists and more retrograde Utraquists obeyed his order. The large majority of Bohemians, on the other hand, considered the moment opportune for recovering the ancient liberties of Bohemia, on which Ferdinand had encroached in various ways by claiming hereditary right to the crown and by curtailing the old privileges of the land. The estates met at Prague in March 1547, without awaiting a royal summons,—undoubtedly an unconstitutional proceeding. The assembly, in which the influence of the representatives of the town of Prague and of the knights and nobles who belonged to the Bohemian Brotherhood was predominant, had a very revolutionary character. This became yet more marked when the news of the elector of Saxony’s victory at Rochlitz reached Prague. The estates demanded the re-establishment of the elective character of the Bohemian kingdom, the recognition of religious liberty for all, and various enactments limiting the royal prerogative. It was decided to entrust the management of state affairs to a committee of twelve members chosen in equal number from the three estates. Of the members of the committee chosen by the knights and nobles four belonged to the Bohemian Brotherhood. The committee decided to equip an armed force, the command of which was conferred on Kaspar Pflug of Rabenstein (d. 1576). According to his instructions he was merely to march to the Saxon frontier, and there await further orders from the estates; there seems, however, little doubt that he was secretly instructed to afford aid to the German Protestants. Pflug marched to Joachimsthal on the frontier, but refused to enter Saxon territory without a special command of the estates.
Meanwhile the great victory of the imperialists at Mühlberg had for a time crushed German Protestantism. The Bohemians were in a very difficult position. They had seriously offended their sovereign and yet afforded no aid to the German Protestants. The army of Pflug hastily dispersed, and the estates still assembled at Prague endeavoured to propitiate Ferdinand. They sent envoys to the camp of the king who, with his brother Charles, was then besieging Wittenberg. Ferdinand received the envoys better than they had perhaps expected. He indeed always maintained his plan of making Bohemia a hereditary kingdom under Habsburg rule, and of curtailing as far as possible its ancient constitution, but he did not wish to drive to despair a still warlike people. Ferdinand demanded that the Bohemians should renounce all alliances with the German Protestants, and declared that he would make his will known after his arrival in Prague. He arrived there on the 20th of July, with a large force of Spanish and Walloon mercenaries, and occupied the city almost without resistance. Ferdinand treated the nobles and knights with great forbearance, and contented himself with the confiscation of the estates of some of those who had been most compromised. On the other hand he dealt very severely with the towns—Prague in particular. He declared that their ancient privileges should be revised—a measure that practically signified a broad confiscation of lands that belonged to the municipalities. Ferdinand also forced the townsmen to accept the control of state officials who were to be called town-judges and in Prague town-captains. These royal representatives were given almost unlimited control over municipal affairs. The Bohemian Brethren were also severely persecuted, and their bishop Augusta was imprisoned for many years.
Ferdinand’s policy here was as able as it always was. The peasantry had ceased to be dangerous since the establishment of serfdom; the power of the cities was now thoroughly undermined. Ferdinand had only to deal with the nobles and knights, and he hoped that the influence of his court, and yet more that of the Jesuits, whom he established in Bohemia about this time, would gradually render them amenable to the royal will. If we consider the customs of his time Ferdinand cannot be considered as having acted with cruelty in the moment of his success. Only four of the principal leaders of the revolt—two knights, and two citizens of Prague—were sentenced to death. They were decapitated on the square outside the Hradčany palace where the estates met on that day (August 22). This diet therefore became known as the “Krvavy‛sneěm” (bloody diet). In one of the last years of his life (1562) Ferdinand succeeded in obtaining the coronation of his eldest son Maximilian as king of Bohemia, thus ensuring to him the succession to the Bohemian throne. As Ferdinand I. acceded to the Hungarian throne at the same time as to that of Bohemia, and as he also became king of the Romans and after the death of Charles V. emperor, many events of his life do not belong to the history of Bohemia. He died in 1564.
Maximilian succeeded his father as king of Bohemia without any opposition. Circumstances were greatly in his favour; he had in his youth mainly been educated by Protestant tutors, and for a time openly avowed strong sympathyMaximilian. for the party of church reform. This fact, which became known in Bohemia, secured for him the support of the Bohemian church reformers, while the Romanists and retrograde Utraquists were traditionally on the side of the house of Habsburg. The reign of Maximilian did not fulfil the hopes that met it. Though he published new decrees against the Bohemian Brethren, he generally refused to sanction any measures against the Protestants, in spite of the advice of the Jesuits, who were gradually obtaining great influence in Bohemia. He did nothing, however, to satisfy the expectations of the partisans of church reform, and indeed after a time began again to assist at the functions of the Roman church, from which he had long absented himself. Indifference, perhaps founded on religious scepticism, characterized the king during the many ecclesiastical disputes that played so large a part in his reign. In 1567 Maximilian, who had also succeeded his father as king of Hungary and emperor, visited the Bohemians for the first time since his accession to the throne. Like most princes of the Habsburg dynasty, he was constantly confronted at this period by the difficulty of raising funds for warfare against the Turks. When he asked the Bohemians to grant him supplies for this purpose, they immediatelyAbolition of the “Compacts.” retorted by bringing forward their demands with regard to matters of religion. Their principal demand appears somewhat strange in the light of the events of the past. The estates expressed the wish that the celebrated Compacts should cease to form part of the laws of the country. These enactments had indeed granted freedom of worship to the most moderate Utraquists—men who, except that they claimed the right to receive the communion in both kinds, hardly differed in their faith from the Roman church. On the other hand Ferdinand I. had used the Compacts as an instrument which justified him in oppressing the Bohemian Brethren, and the advanced Utraquists, whose teaching now differed but little from that of Luther. He had argued that all those who professed doctrines differing from the Church of Rome more widely than did the retrograde Utraquists, were outside the pale of religious toleration. Maximilian, indifferent as usual to matters of religious controversy, consented to the abolition of the Compacts, and these enactments, which had once been sacred to the Bohemian people, perished unregretted by all parties. The Romanists had always hated them, believing them not to be in accord with the general custom of the papal church, while the Lutherans and Bohemian Brethren considered their suppression a guarantee of their own liberty of worship.
In 1575 Maximilian, who had long been absent from Bohemia, returned there, as the estates refused to grant subsidies to an absentee monarch. The sittings of the diet that met in 1575 were very prolonged. The king maintained a vacillating attitude, influenced now by the threats of the Bohemians, now by the advice of the papal nuncio, who had followed him to Prague. The latter strongly represented to him how great would be the difficulties that he would encounter in his other dominions, should he make concessions to the Protestants of Bohemia. The principal demand of the Bohemians was that the “ConfessionConfessio Bohemica. of Augsburg”—a summary of Luther’s teaching—should be recognized in Bohemia. They further renewed the demand, which they had already expressed at the diet of 1567, that the estates should have the right of appointing the members of the consistory—the ecclesiastical body which ruled the Utraquist church; for since the death of John of Rokycan that church had had no archbishop. After long deliberations and the king’s final refusal to recognize the confession of Augsburg, the majority of the diet, consisting of members of the Bohemian brotherhood and advanced Utraquists, drew up a profession of faith that became known as the Confessio Bohemica. It was in most points identical with the Augsburg confession, but differed from it with regard to the doctrine of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Here the Bohemian profession agreed with the views of Calvin rather than with those of Luther. This is undoubtedly due to the influence of the Bohemian Brethren. The Confessio Bohemica was presented to Maximilian, who verbally expressed his approval, but would not consent to this being made public, and also refused his consent to the inclusion of the Confessio among the charters of the kingdom. Maximilian rejected the demand of the Bohemian estates, that they and not the king should in future appoint the members of the consistory. He finally, however, consented to exempt the Lutherans and advanced Utraquists from the jurisdiction of the consistory, and allowed them to choose fifteen defenders—five of whom were to belong to each of the estates—who were to have supreme control over the Lutheran church. These defenders were to appoint for each district a superintendent (moderator), who was to maintain order and discipline among the clergy. As the Bohemian Brotherhood had never recognized the consistory, that body now lost whatever influence it had still possessed. It became, indeed, subservient to the Romanist archbishopric of Prague, which had been re-established by Ferdinand I. Its members henceforth were men who on almost all points agreed with Rome, and sometimes even men who had joined the Roman church, but continued by order of their superiors to remain members of the consistory, where it was thought that their influence might be useful to their new creed.
The results of the diet of 1575 were on the whole favourable to the estates, and they seem to have taken this view, for almost immediately afterwards they recognized Maximilian’s eldest son Rudolph as his successor and consented to hisRudolph. being crowned king of Bohemia. Maximilian died in the following year, and Rudolph succeeded him without any opposition. The events of the last years of the reign of Rudolph have the greatest importance for Bohemian history, but the earlier part of his reign requires little notice. As Rudolph had been educated in Spain it was at first thought that he would treat the Bohemian church reformers with great severity. The new sovereign, however, showed with regard to the unceasing religious controversy the same apathy and indifference with which he also met matters of state. He had been from his early youth subject to fits of melancholia, and during several short periods was actually insane. Rudolph was a great patron of the arts, and he greatly contributed to the embellishment of Prague, which, as it was his favourite residence, became the centre of the vast Habsburg dominions. In 1600 the mental condition of Rudolph became so seriously impaired that the princes of the house of Habsburg thought it necessary to consider the future of the state, particularly as Rudolph had no legitimate descendants. Matthias, the eldest of his brothers, came to Prague and pointed out to Rudolph the necessity of appointing a coadjutor, should he be incapacitated from fulfilling his royal duties, and also of making arrangements concerning the succession to the throne. These suggestions were indignantly repelled by Rudolph, whose anger was greatly increased by a letter of Pope Clement VIII. The pope in a forcible though formally courteous manner pointed out to him the evil results which his neglect of his royal duties would entail on his subjects, and called on him to appoint one of the Habsburg princes his successor both to the imperial crown and to the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary. It is probable that the fear that the pope might make good the threats contained in this letter induced Rudolph, who had hitherto been indifferent to matters of religion, to become more subservient to the Roman church. The papal nuncio at Prague, in particular, appears for a time to have obtained great influence over the king. Under this influence, Rudolph in 1602 issued a decree which renewed obsolete enactments against the Bohemian Brethren that had been published by King Vladislav in 1508. The royal decree was purposely worded in an obscure manner. It referred to the Compacts that had been abolished, and was liable to an interpretation excluding from tolerance all but the Romanists and the retrograde Utraquists. It appeared therefore as a menace to the Lutherans—and all the more advanced Utraquists had now embraced that creed—as well as to the Bohemian Brethren. The estates of Bohemia met at Prague in January 1603. The discussions were very stormy. Budovec of Budova, a nobleman belonging to the community of the Bohemian Brethren, became the leader of all those who were opposed to the Church of Rome. He vigorously attacked the royal decree, which he declared to be contrary to the promises made by King Maximilian. He, however, advised the estates to vote the supplies that King Rudolph had demanded. Immediately after this vote had been passed, the diet was closed by order of the king. Though the royal power was at that period very weak in Bohemia, the open partisanship of the king encouraged the Romanist nobles, who were not numerous, but among whom were some owners of large estates, to attempt to re-establish the Roman creed on their territories. Some of these nobles committed great cruelties while attempting to obtain these forcible conversions.
Strife again broke out between Rudolph and his treacherous younger brother Matthias, who used the religious and political controversies of the time for the purpose of supplanting his brother. The formal cause of the rupture between the two princes was Rudolph’s refusal to sanction a treaty of peace with Turkey, which Matthias had concluded as his brother’s representative in Hungary. The Hungarians accepted Matthias as their ruler, and when his forces entered Moravia the estates of that country had, by Charles, lord of Žerotin, also renounced the allegiance of Rudolph. Matthias then invaded Bohemia, and invited the estates of the kingdom to meet him at Časlav (Ceslau). In consequence of a sudden revolution of feeling for which it is difficult to account, the Bohemians declined the overtures of Matthias. The estates met at Prague in March 1608, and, though again submitting their demands concerning ecclesiastical matters to Rudolph, authorized him to levy troops for the defence of Bohemia. The forces of Matthias had meanwhile entered Bohemia and had arrived at Libeň, a small town near Prague now incorporated with that city. Here Matthias, probably disappointed by the refusal of the Bohemians to join his standard, came to an understanding with his brother (June 25, 1608). Rudolph formally ceded to Matthias the government of Hungary, Moravia, and Upper and Lower Austria, but retained his rights as king of Bohemia.
Soon after the conclusion of this temporary settlement, the estates of Bohemia again brought their demands before their king. Rudolph had declined to discuss all religious matters during the time that the troops of his brotherDiet of 1609. Demand for religious liberty. occupied part of Bohemia. The diet that met on the 20th of January 1609 is one of the most important in the history of Bohemia. Here, as so frequently in the 17th century, the religious controversies were largely influenced by personal enmities. Rudolph never forgave the treachery of his brother, and was secretly negotiating (at the time when he again appeared as champion of Catholicism) with Christian of Anhalt, the leader of the German Protestants. This was known to the court of Spain, and the Bohemians also knew that the king could therefore rely on no aid from that quarter. They were therefore not intimidated when Rudolph, vacillating as ever, suddenly assumed a most truculent attitude. The estates had at their meeting in March of the previous year drawn up a document consisting of twenty-five so-called Articles, which formulated their demands with regard to matters of religion. The king now demanded that this document, which he considered illegal, should be delivered up to him for destruction. The “articles” expressed the wish that the Confessio Bohemica should be recognized as one of the fundamental laws of the kingdom, and that complete religious liberty should be granted to all classes. They further demanded that the Protestants—as it now became customary to call jointly the Utraquists, Lutherans and Bohemian Brethren—and the Roman Catholics should have an equal right to hold all the offices of state, and that the power of the Jesuits to acquire land should be limited. They finally asked for redress of several grievances caused by the misrule of Rudolph. This document had remained in the hands of Budova, who refused to deliver it to the king. The estates then chose twelve of their number—among whom was Count Henry Matthias Thurn—who were to negotiate with the king and his councillors. Protracted discussions ensued, and the king finally stated, on the 31st of March, that he could grant no concessions in matters of religion. On the following day the estates met under the leadership of Budova. They decided to arm for the defence of their rights, and when the king immediately afterwards dissolved the diet, it was resolved to meet again after a month, even without a royal summons. When they returned to Prague, Adam of Sternberg, the burgrave, again informed Budova that the king would grant no concessions in ecclesiastical matters. Bohemia appeared to be on the verge of a revolution. It is unnecessary to record the frequent and contradictory resolutions of the king, influenced now by the extreme Romanists, now by those of his councillors who favoured a peaceful solution. Finally—on the 9th of July 1609—Rudolph signed the famed “Letter of Majesty” which gave satisfaction to all the legitimate demands of the Bohemian Protestants. In the “Letter of Majesty” Rudolph recognized the Confessio Bohemica. He further granted to the Protestant estates the control over the university of Prague, and authorized them to elect the members of the Utraquist consistory. They were further empowered to elect “defenders” chosen in equal number from the estates of the nobles, knights and citizens, who were to superintend the execution of the enactments of the Letter of Majesty and generally to uphold the rights of the Protestants. On the same day the Romanist and the Protestant members of the diet also signed an agreement by which they guaranteed to each other full liberty of religious worship and declared that this liberty should be extended to all classes of the population.
In 1611 the peace of Bohemia was again disturbed by the invasion of the archduke Leopold of Austria, bishop of Passau, who probably acted in connivance with his cousin King Rudolph. Leopold succeeded in obtainingMatthias. possession of part of the town of Prague, but his army was defeated by the troops which the Bohemian estates had hurriedly raised, and he was obliged to leave Bohemia. Matthias considered his hereditary rights menaced by the raid of Leopold and again occupied Bohemia. Mainly at his instigation the estates now formally deposed Rudolph, who survived his dethronement only a few months, and died on the 20th of January 1612. Though Matthias had allied himself with the Bohemian Protestants during his prolonged struggle against his brother, he now adopted that policy favourable to the Church of Rome which is traditional of the Habsburg dynasty. His relations with the Bohemian Protestants, therefore, soon became strained. In 1615 Matthias convoked a general diet, i.e. one that besides the Bohemian representatives included also the representatives of the “lands of the Bohemian crown.” At the meeting of this diet the question of nationality, which through the constant religious controversies had receded to the background, again became predominant. Former enactments enforcing the use of the national language were reaffirmed, and it was decreed that Bohemian should be the “authorized” (i.e. official) language of the country.
As Matthias was childless, the question as to the succession to the Bohemian throne again arose. The king wished to secure the succession to his cousin Ferdinand, duke of Styria. Ferdinand was known as a fanatical adherent of the Church of Rome and as a cruel persecutor of the Protestants of Styria. None the less the state officials of Bohemia, by not very scrupulous means, succeeded in persuading the estates to accept Ferdinand as heir to the throne and to consent to his coronation, which took place at Prague on the 17th of June 1617. No doubt through the influence of Ferdinand, the policy of Matthias henceforth assumed a yet more pronouncedly ultramontane character. The king’s councillors, all adherents of the Church of Rome, openly expressed their hope that the Catholic Church would soon recover its ancient hold over Bohemia. On the other hand the Bohemian Protestants, led by Count Thurn, one of the few nobles who had refused to vote for the recognition of Ferdinand as heir to the throne, did not wish to defer what they considered an inevitable conflict. It appeared to them more advantageous to encounter the weak Matthias than his younger and more fanatical successor. A comparatively unimportant incident precipitated matters. In December 1617, the archbishop of Prague and the abbot of Břevnov (Braunau) ordered the suppression of the Protestant religious services in churches that had been built on their domains. This was a direct infringement of the agreement concluded by the Romanist and Utraquist estates on the day on which King Rudolph had signed the Letter of Majesty. The defenders took immediate action, by inviting all Protestant members of the diet to meet at Prague. They assembled there on 21st of May 1618, and decided to proceed in full armour to the Hradčany palace to bring their complaints to the knowledge of the councillors of Matthias. On the following day, Thurn, Wenceslas of Ruppa, Ulrich of Kinsky, and other members of the more advanced party held a secret meeting, at which it was decided to put to death the most influential of Matthias’s councillors. On the 23rd the representatives of the Protestants of Bohemia proceeded to the Hradčany. Violent accusations were brought forward, particularly against Martinic and Slavata, the king’s most trusted councillors, who were accused of having advised him to oppose the wishes of the Bohemians. Finally these two councillors, together with Fabricius, secretary of the royal council, were thrown from the windows of the Hradčany into the moat below—an event known in history as the Defenestration of Prague. Both Martinic and Slavata were but little injured, and succeeded in escaping from Prague. The Bohemians immediately established a provisional government consisting of thirty “directors,” ten of whom were chosen by each of the estates. They also proceeded to raise an armed force, the command of which was given to Count Thurn. Hostilities with Austria began in July, when an imperial force entered Bohemia. The troops of Matthias were, however, soon repulsed by the Bohemians, and in November Thurn’s army entered Austria, but was soon obliged to retire to Bohemia because of the lateness of the season.
In the following March the Bohemian crown became vacant by the death of Matthias. On the 31st of July the Bohemian estates pronounced the formal deposition of Ferdinand, and on the 26th of August they elected as their kingWar
with the emperor Ferdinand. Frederick, elector palatine. The new king and his queen, Elizabeth of England, arrived in Bohemia in October, and were crowned somewhat later at St Vitus’s cathedral in Prague. Warfare with Austria continued during this year—1619. Thurn occupied Moravia, which now threw in its lot with Bohemia, and he even advanced on Vienna, but was soon obliged to retreat. In the following year events took a fatal turn for Bohemia. The powerful duke Maximilian of Bavaria joined his forces to those of Ferdinand, who had become Matthias’s successor as emperor, and who was determined to reconquer Bohemia. Ferdinand also received aid from Spain, Poland and several Italian states. Even the Lutheran elector of Saxony espoused his cause. A large imperialist army, under the command of the duke of Bavaria, Tilly and Bouquoi, entered Bohemia in September 1620. After several skirmishes, in all of which the Bohemians were defeated, the imperial forces arrived at the outskirts of Prague on the evening of the 7th of November. On the following morning they attacked the Bohemian army, which occupied a slightly fortified position on the plateau known as the “Bila Hora” (White Hill). The Bohemians were defeated after a struggle of only a few hours, and on the evening of battle the imperialists already occupied the port of Prague, situated on the left bank of the Vltava (Moldau). King Frederick, who had lost all courage, hurriedly left Prague on the following morning.
Bohemia itself, as well as the lands of the Bohemian crown, now submitted to Ferdinand almost without resistance. The battle of the White Hill marks an epoch in the history of Bohemia. The execution of the principal leaders of the national movementSubmission of Bohemia. (June 21, 1621) was followed by a system of wholesale confiscation of the lands of all who had in any way participated in the national movement. Almost the entire ancient nobility of Bohemia was driven into exile, and adventurers from all countries, mostly men who had served in the imperial army, shared the spoils. Gradually all those who refused to recognize the creed of the Roman church were expelled from Bohemia, and by the use of terrible cruelty Catholicism was entirely re-established in the country. In 1627 Ferdinand published a decree, which formally suppressed the ancient free constitution of Bohemia, though a semblance of representative government was left to the country. The new constitution proclaimed the heredity of the Bohemian crown in the house of Habsburg. It added a new “estate,” that of the clergy, to the three already existing. This estate, which was to take precedence of all the others, consisted of the Roman archbishop of Prague and of all the ecclesiastics who were endowed with landed estates. The diet was deprived of all legislative power, which was exclusively vested in the sovereign. At its meetings the diet was to discuss such matters only as were laid before it by the representatives of the king. The estates continued to have the right of voting taxes, but they were specially forbidden to attach any conditions to the grants of money which they made to their sovereign. It was finally decreed that the German language should have equal right with the Bohemian one in all the government offices and law-courts of the kingdom. This had indeed become a necessity, since, in consequence of the vast confiscations, the greatest part of the land was in the hands of foreigners to whom the national language was unknown. Though these enactments still left some autonomy to Bohemia, the country gradually lost all individuality. Its history from this moment to the beginning of the 19th century is but a part of the history of Austria (q.v.).
Bohemia was the theatre of hostilities during a large part of the Thirty Years’ War, which had begun in its capital. In 1631 the Saxons for a time occupied a large part of Bohemia, and even attempted to re-establish Protestantism,Bohemia under Austrian domination. During the later period of the Thirty Years’ War Bohemia was frequently pillaged by Swedish troops, and the taking of part of Prague by the Swedish general Königsmark in 1648 was the last event of the great war. The attempts of the Swedish envoys to obtain a certain amount of toleration for the Bohemian Protestants proved fruitless, as the imperial representatives were inflexible on this point. At the beginning of the 18th century the possibility of the extinction of the male line of the house of Habsburg arose. The estates of Bohemia, at a meeting that took place at Prague on the 16th of October 1720, sanctioned the female succession to the Bohemian throne and recognized the so-called Pragmatic Sanction which proclaimed the indivisibility of the Habsburg realm. The archduchess Maria Theresa, in whose favour these enactments were made, none the less met with great opposition on the death of her father the emperor Charles VI. Charles, elector of Bavaria, raised claims to the Bohemian throne and invaded the country with a large army of Bavarian, French and Saxon troops. He occupied Prague, and a large part of the nobles and knights of Bohemia took the oath of allegiance to him (December 19, 1741). The fortune of war, however, changed shortly afterwards. Maria Theresa recovered Bohemia and the other lands that had been under the rule of the house of Habsburg. During the reign of Maria Theresa, and to a greater extent during that of her son Joseph II., many changes in the internal administration of the Habsburg realm took place which all tended to limit yet further the autonomy of Bohemia. A decree of 1749 abolished the separate law-courts that still existed in Bohemia, and a few years later an Austro-Bohemian chancellor was appointed who was to have the control of the administration of Bohemia, as well as of the German domains of the house of Habsburg. The power of the royal officials who constituted the executive government of Bohemia was greatly curtailed, and though the chief representative of the sovereign in Prague continued to bear the ancient title of supreme burgrave, he was instructed to conform in all matters to the orders of the central government of Vienna. Yet more extreme measures tending to centralization were introduced by the emperor Joseph, who refused to be crowned at Prague as king of Bohemia. The powers of the Bohemian diet and of the royal officials at Prague were yet further limited, and the German language was introduced into all the upper schools of Bohemia. Some of the reforms introduced by Joseph were, incidentally and contrary to the wishes of their originator, favourable to the Bohemian nationality. Thus the greater liberty which he granted to the press enabled the Bohemians to publish a newspaper in the national language. After the death of Joseph in 1790 the Bohemian estates, whose meetings had been suspended during his reign, again assembled, but they at first made but scanty attempts to reassert their former rights. During the long Napoleonic wars, in which the house of Habsburg was almost continuously engaged, Bohemia continued in its previous lethargic state. In 1804 a merely formal change in the constitutional position of Bohemia took place when Francis I. assumed the hereditary title of emperor of Austria. It was stated in an imperial decree that the new title of the sovereign should in no way prejudice the ancient rights of Bohemia and that the sovereigns would continue to be crowned as kings of Bohemia.
After the re-establishment of European peace in 1815 the long-suppressed national aspirations of Bohemia began to revive. The national movement, however, at first only found expression in the revival of Bohemian literature.Revival of national aspirations. The arbitrary and absolutist government of Prince Metternich rendered all political action impossible in the lands ruled by the house of Habsburg. In spite of this pressure the estates of Bohemia began in 1845 to assume an attitude of opposition to the government of Vienna. They affirmed their right of voting the taxes of the country—a right that was due to them according to the constitution of 1627. To obtain the support of the wider classes of the population, they determined in 1847 to propose at their session of the following year that the towns should have a more extensive representation at the diet, that the control of the estates over the finances of the country should be made more stringent, and that the Bohemian language should be introduced into all the higher schools of the country. The revolutionary outbreak of 1848 prevented thisCollapse in 1848. meeting of the estates. When the news of the February revolution in Paris reached Prague the excitement there was very great. On the 11th of March a vast public meeting voted a petition to the government of Vienna which demanded that the Bohemian language should enjoy equal rights with the German in all the government offices of the country, that a general diet comprising all the Bohemian lands, but elected on an extensive suffrage, should be convoked, and that numerous liberal reforms should be introduced. The deputation which presented these demands in Vienna received a somewhat equivocal answer. In reply, however, to a second deputation, the emperor Ferdinand declared on the 8th of April that equality of rights would be secured to both nationalities in Bohemia, that the question of the reunion of Moravia and Silesia to Bohemia should be left to a general meeting of representatives of all parts of Austria, and that a new meeting of the estates of Bohemia, which would include representatives of the principal towns, would shortly be convoked. This assembly, which was to have had full powers to create a new constitution, and which would have established complete autonomy, never met, though the election of its members took place on the 17th of May. In consequence of the general national movement which is so characteristic of the year 1848, it was decided to hold at Prague a “Slavic congress” to which Slavs of all parts of the Austrian empire, as well as those belonging to other countries, were invited. The deliberations were interrupted by the serious riots that broke out in the streets of Prague on the 12th of June. They were suppressed after prolonged fighting and considerable bloodshed. The Austrian commander, Prince Windischgrätz, bombarded the city, which finally capitulated unconditionally. The nationalist and liberal movement in Bohemia was thus suddenly checked, though the Bohemians took part in the Austrian constituent assembly that met at Vienna, and afterwards at Kroměřiž (Kremsier).
By the end of the year 1849 all constitutional government had ceased in Bohemia, as in all parts of the Habsburg empire. The reaction that now ensued was felt more severely than in any other part of the monarchy; for not only were all attempts to obtain self-government and liberty ruthlessly suppressed, but a determined attempt was made to exterminate the national language. The German language was again exclusively used in all schools and government offices, all Bohemian newspapers were suppressed, and even the society of the Bohemian museum—a society composed of Bohemian noblemen and scholars—was for a time only allowed to hold its meetings under the supervision of the police.
The events of the Italian campaign of 1859 rendered the continuation of absolutism in the Austrian empire impossible. It was attempted to establish a constitutional system which, while maintaining to a certain extent the unityAustrian constitu-
tional changes. of the empire, should yet recognize the ancient constitutional rights of some of the countries united under the rule of the house of Habsburg. A decree published on the 20th of October 1860 established diets with limited powers. The composition of these parliamentary assemblies was to a certain extent modelled on that of the ancient diets of Bohemia and other parts of the empire. This decree was favourably received in Bohemia, but the hopes which it raised in the country fell when a new imperial decree appeared on the 26th of February 1861. This established a central parliament at Vienna with very extensive powers, and introduced an electoral system which was grossly partial to the Germans. The Bohemians indeed consented to send their representatives to Vienna, but they left the parliament in 1863, stating that the assembly had encroached on the power which constitutionally belonged to the diet of Prague. Two years later the central parliament of Vienna was suspended, and in the following year—1866—the Austro-Prussian war caused a complete change in the constitutional position of Bohemia. The congress of Vienna in 1815 had declared that that country should form part of the newly formed Germanic Confederation; this was done without consulting the estates of the country, as had been customary even after the battle of the White Hill on the occasion of serious constitutional changes. The treaty with Prussia, signed at Prague on the 23rd of August 1866, excluded from Germany all lands ruled by the house of Habsburg. As a natural consequence German influence declined in the Austrian empire, and in Bohemia in particular. While Hungary now obtained complete independence, the new constitution of 1867, which applied only to the German and Slavic parts of the Habsburg empire, maintained the system of centralization and attempted to maintain the waning German influence. The Bohemians energetically opposed this new constitution and refused to send representatives to Vienna.
In 1871 it appeared probable for a moment that the wishes of the Bohemians, who desired that their ancient constitution should be re-established in a modernized form, would be realized. The new Austrian prime minister, CountRenewed struggles of Bohemian nationalism. Karl Hohenwart, took office with the firm intention of accomplishing an agreement between Bohemia and the other parts of the Habsburg empire. Prolonged negotiations ensued, and an attempt was made to establish a constitutional system which, while satisfying the claims of the Bohemians, would yet have firmly connected them with the other lands ruled by the house of Habsburg. An imperial message addressed to the diet of Prague (September 14, 1871) stated that the sovereign “in consideration of the former constitutional position of Bohemia and remembering the power and glory which its crown had given to his ancestors, and the constant fidelity of its population, gladly recognized the rights of the kingdom of Bohemia, and was willing to confirm this assurance by taking the coronation oath.” Various influences caused the failure of this attempt to reconcile Bohemia with Austria. In 1872 a government with a pronounced German tendency took office in Vienna, and the Bohemians for a time again refused to attend the parliamentary assemblies of Vienna and Prague. In 1879 Count Eduard Taaffe became Austrian prime minister, and he succeeded in persuading the representatives of Bohemia to take part in the deliberations of the parliament of Vienna. They did so, after stating that they took this step without prejudice to their view that Bohemia with Moravia and Silesia constituted a separate state under the rule of the same sovereign as Austria and Hungary. The government of Count Taaffe, in recognition of this concession by the Bohemians, consented to remove some of the grossest anomalies connected with the electoral system of Bohemia, which had hitherto been grossly partial to the German minority of the population. The government of Count Taaffe also consented to the foundation of a Bohemian university at Prague, which greatly contributed to the intellectual development of the country. On the fall of the government of Count Taaffe, Prince Alfred Windischgrätz became prime minister. The policy of his short-lived government was hostile to Bohemia and he was soon replaced by Count Badeni.
Badeni again attempted to conciliate Bohemia. He did not indeed consider it feasible to reopen the question of its autonomy, but he endeavoured to remedy some of the most serious grievances of the country. In the beginningThe language question. of 1897 Count Badeni issued a decree which stated that after a certain date all government officials who wished to be employed in Bohemia would have to prove a certain knowledge of the Bohemian as well as of the German language. This decree met with violent opposition on the part of the German inhabitants of Austria, and caused the fall of Count Badeni’s cabinet at the end of the year 1897. After a brief interval he was succeeded by Count Thun and then by Count Clary, whose government repealed the decrees that had to a certain extent granted equal rights to the Bohemian language. In consequence troubles broke out in Prague, and were severely repressed by the Austrian authorities. During the subsequent ministries of Körber and Gautsch the Bohemians continued to oppose the central government of Vienna, and to assert their national rights.
See generally Count Lützow, Bohemia, a Historical Sketch (London, 1896). The valuable collection of historical documents entitled Fontes Rerum Bohemicarum, published at Prague in the latter part of the 19th century, has superseded earlier ones such as Freherus (Marquard Freher), Rerum Bohemicarum Antiqui Scriptores. Similarly, the earlier historical works of Pubitschka, Pelzl and De Florgy are superseded by František Palacký’s Geschichte von Bohmen (Prague, 1844–1867), which, however, ends with the year 1526. Rezek, Gindely and others have dealt with the history of Bohemia posterior to the year 1526. Professor Adolf Bachmann published (vol. i. in 1899, vol. ii. 1905) a Geschichte Bohmens up to 1526, which has a strongly marked German tendency. Of French works Professor Ernest Denis’s Jean Hus, et la guerre des Hussites (Paris, 1878), Fin de l’independance bohème (2 vols., 1890), and La Bohême depuis la Montagne Blanche (2 vols., 1903), give a continuous account of Bohemian history from the beginning of the 15th century.
The earliest records of the Bohemian or Čech language are very ancient, though the so-called MSS. of Zelena Hora (Grüneberg) and Kralodvur (Königinhof) are almost certainly forgeries of the early part of the 19th century. The earliest genuine documents of the Bohemian language comprise several hymns and legends; of the latter the legend of St Catherine and that of St Dorothy have the greatest value. Several ancient epic fragments have also been preserved, such as the Alexandreis and Tandarias a Floribella. These and other early Bohemian writings have been printed since the revival of Bohemian literature in the 19th century. Of considerable historical value is the rhymed chronicle generally though wrongly known as the chronicle of Dalimil. The author, who probably lived during the reign of King John (1310–1346), records the events of Bohemian history from the earliest period to the reign of King Henry of Carinthia, the immediate predecessor of John. A strong feeling of racial antipathy to the Germans pervades the chronicle.
It is undoubtedly to be attributed to the high intellectual level which Bohemia attained in the 14th century that at that period we already find writers on religious and philosophical subjects who used the national language.Old Czech literature. Of these the most important is Thomas of Štitný (c. 1331–1401). Of his works, which contain many ideas similar to those of his contemporary Wycliffe, those entitled O obecnych vecech Krestanskych (on general Christian matters) and Besedni reči (in a rough translation “learned entertainments”) have most value. Štitný and some of his contemporaries whose Bohemian writings have perished are known as the forerunners of Huss. Huss, like many of his contemporaries in Bohemia, wrote both in Bohemian and in Latin. Of the Bohemian writings of Huss, who contributed greatly to the development of his native language, the most important is his Výklad viry, desatera Boziho prikazani, a patere (exposition of the creed, the ten commandments and the Lord’s Prayer) written in 1412. Of his numerous other Bohemian works we may mention the Postilla (collection of sermons), the treatises O poznani cesty prave k spaseni (the true road to salvation) and O svatokupectvi (on simony), and a large collection of letters; those written in prison are very touching.
The years that followed the death of Huss formed in Bohemia a period of incessant theological strife. The anti-Roman or Hussite movement was largely a democratic one, and it is therefore natural that the national language rather than Latin should have been used in the writings that belong to this period. Unfortunately in consequence of the systematic destruction of all Bohemian writings which took place through the agency of the Jesuits, after the battle of the White Hill (1620), a large part of this controversial literature has perished. Thus the writings of the members of the extreme Hussite party, the so-called Taborites, have been entirely destroyed. Of the writings of the more moderate Hussites, known as the Calixtines or Utraquists, some have been preserved. Such are the books entitled Of the Great Torment of the Holy Church and the Lives of the Priests of Tabor, written in a sense violently hostile to that community. A Bohemian work by Archbishop John of Rokycan has also been preserved; it is entitled Postilla and is similar though inferior to the work of Huss that bears the same name.
A quite independent religious writer who belongs to the period of the Hussite wars is Peter Chelčicky (born in the last years of the 14th century, died 1460), who may be called the Tolstoy of the 15th. His dominant ideas were horror of bloodshed and the determination to accept unresistingly all, even unjust, decrees of the worldly authorities. Though a strenuous enemy of the Church of Rome, Chelčicky joined none of the Hussite parties. His masterpiece is the Sít víry (the net of faith). Among his other works his Postilla and polemical writings in the form of letters to Archbishop John of Rokycan and Bishop Nicolas of Pelhřimov deserve mention.
The Hussite period is rather poor in historical works written in the language of the country. We should, however, mention some chroniclers who were contemporaries and sometimes eye-witnesses of the events of the Hussite wars. Their writings have been collected and published by František Palacký under the title of Stare česke letopisy.
In the 16th century when Bohemia was in a state of comparative tranquillity, the native literature was largely developed. Besides the writers of the community of the Bohemian Brethren, we meet at this period with three historians of merit. Of these far the best-known is Wenceslas Hajek of Libočan. The year of his birth is uncertain, but we read of him as a priest in 1524; he died in 1553. His great work Kronika česka was dedicated to the emperor Ferdinand I., king of Bohemia, and appeared under the auspices of government officials. It has therefore a strong dynastic and Romanist tendency, and its circulation was permitted even at the time when most Bohemian books were prohibited and many totally destroyed. Hajek’s book was translated into several languages and frequently quoted. We find such second-hand quotations even in the works of many writers who had probably never heard of Hajek. His book is, however, inaccurate and grossly partial. Very little known on the other hand are the works of Bartoš, surnamed “pisář” (the writer), as he was for many years employed as secretary by the city of Prague, and those of Sixt of Ottersdorf. The work of Bartoš; (or Bartholomew) entitled the Chronicle of Prague has great historical value. He describes the troubles that befell Prague and Bohemia generally during the reign of the weak and absentee sovereign King Louis. The year of the birth of Bartoš is uncertain, but it is known that he died in 1539. The somewhat later work of Sixt of Ottersdorf (1500–1583) deals with a short but very important episode in the history of Bohemia. It is entitled Memorials of the Troubled Years 1546 and 1547. The book describes the unsuccessful rising of the Bohemians against Ferdinand I. of Austria. Sixt took a considerable part in this movement, a fact that greatly enhances the value of his book.
Though the life of Chelčicky, who has already been mentioned, was an isolated one, he is undoubtedly the indirect founder of the community of the “Bohemian Brethren,” who greatly influenced Bohemian literature. Almost all their historical and theological works were written in the national language, which through their influence became far more refined and polished. Before referring to some of the writings of members of the community we should mention the famed translation of the Scriptures known as the Bible of Kralice. It was the joint work of several divines of the brotherhood, and was first printed at Kralice in Moravia in 1593. Brother Gregory, surnamed the patriarch of the brotherhood, has left a large number of writings dealing mainly with theological matters. Most important are the Letters to Archbishop Rokycan and the book On good and evil priests. After the death of Brother Gregory in 1480 discord broke out in the community, and it resulted in very great literary activity. Brothers Lucas, Blahoslav and Jaffet, as well as Augusta, a bishop of the community, have left us numerous controversial works. Very interesting is the account of the captivity of Bishop Augusta, written by his companion the young priest Jan Bilek. We have evidence that numerous historical works written by members of the brotherhood existed, but most of them perished in the 17th century when nearly all anti-Roman books written in Bohemia were destroyed. Thus only fragments of Blahoslav’s History of the Unity (i.e. the brotherhood) have been preserved. One of the historians of the brotherhood, Wenceslas Brezan, wrote a History of the House of Rosenberg, of which only the biographies of William and Peter of Rosenberg have been preserved. The greatest writer of the brotherhood is John Amos Komensky or Comenius (1592–1670). Of his many works written in his native language the most important is his Labyrinth of the World, an allegorical tale which is perhaps the most famous work written in Bohemian. Many of the numerous devotional and educational writings of Comenius,—his works number 142,—are also written in his native tongue.
The year 1620, which witnessed the downfall of Bohemian independence, also marks the beginning of a period of decline of the national tongue, which indeed later, in the 18th century, was almost extinct as a written language. Yet we must notice besides Comenius two other writers, both historians, whose works belong to a date later than 1620. Of these one was an adherent of the nationalist, the other of the imperialist party. Paul Skála ze Zhoře (1582–c. 1640) was an official in the service of the “winter king” Frederick of the Palatinate. He for a time followed his sovereign into exile, and spent the last years of his life at Freiberg in Saxony. It was at this period of his life, after his political activity had ceased, that he wrote his historical works. His first work was a short book which is a mere series of chronological tables. Somewhat later he undertook a vast work entitledcirkevni (history of the church). In spite of its title the book, which consists of ten enormous MS. volumes, deals as much with political as with ecclesiastical matters. The most valuable part, that dealing with events of 1602 to 1623, of which Skála writes as a contemporary and often as an eye-witness, has been edited and published by Prof. Tieftrunk. A contemporary and a political opponent of Skála was William Count Slavata (1572–1652). He was a faithful servant of the house of Habsburg, and one of the government officials who were thrown from the windows of the Hradčany palace in 1618, at the beginning of the Bohemian uprising. In 1637 Slavata published his Paměty (memoirs) which deal exclusively with the events of the years 1618 and 1619, in which he had played so great a part. During the leisure of the last years of his long life Slavata composed a vast work entitled Historické Spisovani (historical works). It consists of fourteen large MS. volumes, two of which contain the previously-written memoirs. These two volumes have recently been edited and published by Dr Jos. Jirěcek.
After the deaths of Skála, Slavata and Comenius, no works of any importance were written in the Bohemian language for a considerable period, and the new Austrian government endeavoured in every way to discourage the19th-century revival. use of that language. A change took place when the romantic movement started at the beginning of the 19th century. The early revival of the Bohemian language was very modest, and at first almost exclusively translations from foreign languages were published. The first writer who again drew attention to the then almost forgotten Bohemian language was Joseph Dobrovský (1753–1829). His works, which include a grammar of the Bohemian language and a history of Bohemian literature, were mostly written in German or Latin, and his only Bohemian works are some essays which he contributed to the early numbers of the Časopis Musea Království Českého (Journal of the Bohemian Museum) and a collection of letters.
It is, however, to four men belonging to a time somewhat subsequent to that of Dobrovský that the revival of the language and literature of Bohemia is mainly due. They are Jungmann, Kolar, Šafařík and Palacký. Joseph Jungmann (1773–1847) published early in life numerous Bohemian translations of German and English writers. His most important works are his (history of Bohemian literature), and his monumental German and Bohemian dictionary, which largely contributed to the development of the Bohemian language. John Kolar (1793–1852) was the greatest poet of the Bohemian revival, and it is only in quite recent days that Bohemian poetry has risen to a higher level. Kolar’s principal poem is the Slavy dcera (daughter of Slavia), a personification of the Slavic race. Its principal importance at the present time consists rather in the part it played in the revival of Bohemian literature than in its artistic value. Kolar’s other works are mostly philological studies. Paul Joseph Šafařik (1795–1861) was a very fruitful writer. His Starožitnosti Slovanské (Slavic antiquities), an attempt to record the then almost unknown history and literature of the early Slavs, has still considerable value. Francis Palacký (1798–1876) is undoubtedly the greatest of Bohemian historians. Among his many works his history of Bohemia from the earliest period to the year 1526 is the most important.
Other Bohemian writers whose work belongs mainly to the earlier part of the 19th century are the poets Francis Ladislav Čelakovský, author of the Růže stolistova (the hundred-leaved rose), Erben, Macha, Tyl, to mention but a few of the most famous writers. The talented writer Karel Havlíček, the founder of Bohemian journalism, deserves special notice.
During the latter part of the 19th century, and particularly after the foundation of the national university in 1882, Bohemian literature has developed to an extent that few perhaps foresaw. Of older writers Božena Němcova, whose Babička has been translated into many languages, and Benes Třebizky, author of many historical novels, should be named. John Neruda (1834–1891) was a very fruitful and talented writer both of poetry and of prose. Perhaps the most valuable of his many works is his philosophical epic entitled Kosmicke basne (cosmic poems). Julius Zeyer (1841–1901) also wrote much both in prose and in verse. His epic poem entitled Vyšehrad, which celebrates the ancient glory of the acropolis of Prague, has great value, and of his many novels Jan Maria Plojhar has had the greatest success. Of later Bohemian poets the best are Adolf Heyduk, Svatopluk Čech and Jaroslav Vrchlický (b. 1853). Of Svatopluk Čech's many poems, which are all inspired by national enthusiasm, Václav z Michalovic, Lesetinsky Kovar (the smith of Lesetin) and Basne otroka (the songs of a slave) are the most notable. While Vrchlický (pseudonym of Emil Frída) has no less strong patriotic feelings, he has been more catholic in the choice of the subjects of his many works, both in poetry and in prose. Of his many collections of lyric poems Rok na jihu (a year in the south), Poute k Eldoradu (pilgrimages to Eldorado) and Sonety Samotare (sonnets of a recluse) have particular value. Vrchlický is also a very brilliant dramatist. Bohemian novelists have become very numerous. Mention should be made of , also a distinguished dramatic author; Jacob Arbes, whose Romanetta have great merit; and Václav Hladík, whose Evzen Voldan is a very striking representation of the life of modern Prague. Like so many Bohemian authors, Hladík also is a copious dramatic author.
Bohemia has been very fruitful in historic writers. Wenceslas Tomek (1818-1905) left many historical works, of which his Dějepis miěsta Prahy (history of the town of Prague) is the most important. Jaroslav Goll (b. 1846) is the author of many historical works, especially on the community of the Bohemian Brethren. Professor Joseph Kalousek has written much on the early history of Bohemia, and is also the author of a very valuable study of the ancient constitution (Statni pravo) of Bohemia. Dr Anton Rezek is the author of important historical studies, many of which appeared in the Journal of the Bohemian Museum and in the Česky Časopis Historický (Bohemian Historical Review), which he founded in 1895 jointly with Professor Jaroslav Goll. More recently Dr Václav Flajšhans has published some excellent studies on the life and writings of John Huss, and Professors Pic and Niederle have published learned archaeological studies on the earliest period of Bohemian history.
See Count Lutzow, A History of Bohemian Literature (London, 1899); W. R. Morrill, Slavonic Literature (1883); A. N. Pypin and V. D. Spasovič, History of Slavonic Literature (written in Russian, translated into German by Trangott Pech, Gesch. der slav. Literaturen, 2 vols, Leipzig, 1880–1884). There are modern histories of Bohemian literature written in the national language by Dr Karel Tieftrunk, Dr Václav Flajšhans and Mr Jaroslav Vlaek. (L.)
- As a guide to the English-speaking reader, the following notes on the pronunciation of Bohemian names are appended. The Czech (Čech) alphabet is the same as the English, with the omission of the letters q, w and x. Certain letters, however, vary in pronunciation and are distinguished by diacritical marks, a device originated by John Huss. The vowels a, e, i, (y), o, u, are pronounced as in Italian; but ě = Eng yě in “yet," and ů = Eng oo. The consonants, b, d, f, k, l, m, n, p, r, v, z, are as in English; g= Eng g in “gone”; s = Eng initial s. But ň = Span. ñ (in cañon); ř = rsh; š = sh; ž = zh (i.e. the French j); k before d = g; v before k, p, s, t = f. Of the other consonants c = Eng. ts; č = ch; ch= Germ. ch; j = Eng. y, but is not pronounced before d, m, s. Accents on vowels lengthen them; on d and t they are softening marks. H is always pronounced in Czech. At the end of words and before k and t it = Germ. ch; in other places, as in bahno (morass) its pronunciation is somewhat softer.
- Protestatio Bohemorum, frequently printed in English and German, as well as in the Latin original.
- Laurence of Březova's (contemporary) Kronika Husitská.
- This work has been translated into English by Count Lützow for the “Temple Classics.”