Bohemia: An Historical Sketch/Chapter VIII< Bohemia: An Historical Sketch
the kings of the house of habsburg from the battle of the white mountain to the present day (1620–1910).
It is certain that the fact that all resistance to the Imperialists ceased in the Bohemian lands very shortly after the battle of the Bila Hora is to a great extent due to the incapacity and cowardice of King Frederick. The negotiations into which the Imperial generals had—as mentioned in the last chapter—entered with Mansfeld soon failed after the battle of the White Mountain, as the victors were no longer prepared to pay the price he demanded for his treachery. Mansfeld, who still held the important town of Plzeň, therefore determined to return to the allegiance of King Frederick, and renewed hostilities against the Imperialists in Bohemia. The campaign was, however, of short duration. Frederick, always an unwilling soldier, refused to join his forces in Bohemia, though he forwarded a large sum of money to Mansfeld. The latter proceeded on a short visit to Heilbronn, where he helped to obtain aid from the German Protestants who were then assembled there. During his absence from Bohemia a mutiny broke out among his troops. On the condition of receiving a large sum of money, and being allowed freely to leave Bohemia, they surrendered the city of Plzeň to the Imperialists. In November 1621 Tabor, and in March 1622 Třeboň, the last towns still held for King Frederick, also capitulated to the Austrians.
As already mentioned, the other lands of the Bohemian crown also offered but slight resistance to the Imperialists. Lusatia had even before the battle of the White Mountain been subdued by the Elector of Saxony. The Lutheran Elector immediately guaranteed to his co-religionists the free exercise of their religion. In the course of the Thirty Years' War Lusatia was ceded to Saxony, and its connection with Bohemia, always a slight one, henceforth ceases entirely. Moravia for a moment appeared inclined to offer some resistance to the Austrians. Count Thurn, after the departure of King Frederick from Bohemia, proceeded to Moravia and endeavoured to induce the Estates to continue their resistance. He met with no success. Charles of Žerotin, the most eminent statesman of Moravia, had remained faithful to the house of Habsburg, even at a moment when the national cause appeared successful. He had done so not without personal risk, as he had at the meeting of the Estates at Brno, which decided to join the Bohemians, been threatened by nationalists with the "fate of Martinic and Slavata." Zerotin now advised unconditional surrender, and hoped that some gratitude would be shown to those Protestants who had risked their lives and estates for the House of Habsburg. The Estates decided to send a deputation to implore the Emperor's mercy. The deputies were indeed received by Ferdinand, but he did not deign to answer their address. The Moravians some days later received a letter from the Imperial chancellory stating that it was only the inexhaustible graciousness of the Emperor which had induced him to condescend to receive the envoys. They were also told that the Emperor had appointed Cardinal Dietrichstein governor of Moravia, and that he had been instructed to punish mercilessly all enemies of Rome and of the house of Habsburg. In Silesia, also, the re-establishment of Austrian rule was carried out almost without bloodshed. The Emperor's ally, John George, Elector of Saxony, entered the country from Lusatia, and in consequence of his conciliatory attitude, occupied it almost without resistance. He promised a full amnesty to all concerned in the recent disturbances, and guaranteed to the Protestants freedom of religious worship. The Elector thus incurred the grave displeasure of Ferdinand, for it had already been decided in the Imperial councils that in future no heretic should be allowed to dwell in the Habsburg dominions. The Emperor also strongly disapproved of the granting of a general amnesty, and he by a special decree excluded from it the Margrave of Jägerndorf. The lands of the margrave, a prince of the House of Hohenzollern, who had been the leader of the Protestants of Lusatia and Silesia, were confiscated and given to one of the Emperor's courtiers. This fact is not without importance, as the wrongs inflicted on his ancestor were one of the reasons—or, as some have called them, pretexts—alleged by Frederick the Great, when he invaded Silesia.
The complete reorganization of Bohemia in accordance to the views of Ferdinand and of the Church of Rome involved so many new laws and enactments, referring to almost all matters connected with the country, that it is not easy to give a brief outline of the "Catholic Reformation,"—to use the official designation. The re-establishment of the Roman Church was the matter that Ferdinand had most at heart, and it deserves to be noticed first because, of all the changes introduced after the battle of the White Mountain, it has proved the most permanent. Bohemia presents the nearly unique case of a country which formerly almost entirely Protestant, has now become almost entirely Catholic. The popular optimistic fallacy which maintains that in no country has the religious belief of a country been entirely suppressed by persecution and brute force is disproved by the fate of Bohemia.
It is a proof of the thorough knowledge of the mind of his master which the victorious Bouquoi possessed that he, but a few days after the battle of the White Mountain, forwarded to Vienna a large case containing all the parchments which recorded the ancient rights and privileges of Bohemia. Among them was of course the famed "Letter of Majesty," the object of Ferdinand's particular hatred. The Emperor greatly rejoiced, and with his scissors cut through the abhorred document, thus indicating that it had become invalid. Ferdinand had in early life vowed to the Madonna of Loretto that he would exterminate all heresies in the lands which he was destined to rule. It must be admitted that he never swerved from the task which he had undertaken. As soon as the messengers of victory arrived, he determined to undertake a pilgrimage to Mariazell. The first celebrations however took place in Vienna itself. The Emperor and the whole court proceeded to the cathedral of St. Stephen, where a Te Deum was sung, and Cardinal Dietrichstein, in an eloquent sermon, celebrated the triumph of the Habsburg arms. Yet more impressive was a sermon preached on the following day by a Capuchin friar, Brother Sabinus, who was a great favourite of the Imperial court. The Emperor was present at this sermon also. Friar Sabinus reminded Ferdinand of all the insults he had endured from the Bohemians, and insisted on his duty now to act mercilessly; he should conform to the words of the Psalmist: "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." The Emperor—Friar Sabinus continued—must exterminate the nobility of Bohemia, and he must deprive the people of all their liberties, and particularly of the "Letter of Majesty"; then would they become faithful and submissive subjects. Should the Emperor show any mercy, greater evils would befall him than those which he had recently undergone. "This moment," the friar continued, "is a decisive one. If the Emperor does not now act with energy the words of the prophet will be applied to him, who said: 'Because thou hast let go out of thy hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people.'" These words greatly impressed the Emperor. As Gindely has well said, the friar here expounded unconsciously the system according to which Ferdinand henceforth ruled Bohemia.
The expulsion from Bohemia of all who did not entirely conform to the Church of Rome was decided as soon as the news of the victory of the White Mountain reached Vienna. Circumstances, however, rendered it necessary that the measures to this purpose should be carried out gradually and consecutively. The members of the Lutheran Church were under the immediate protection of the Lutheran Elector of Saxony, who had been a faithful ally of Ferdinand during the recent campaign. Political reasons rendered an immediate expulsion of the Bohemian Lutherans very difficult, and some of Ferdinand's councillors who became known as the "Politicians" strongly advised moderation. Their influence, however, only occasionally succeeded in persuading the Emperor to delay some of his extreme measures. The principal agents employed by the Emperor to carry out the "Catholic Reformation" were John Lobelius, Archbishop of Prague, and Caspar Questenberg, Abbot of the Strahov Monastery. They were both Germans, and were inspired by a hatred of the Bohemian nation that was founded on racial as well as on religious motives. The first measure suggested by these men was the expulsion from Bohemia of all preachers who professed the Calvinist doctrine or belonged to the community of the Bohemian Brethren. This measure was immediately carried out, and in May 1621, 200 preachers had already been expelled from Bohemia. It would lead too far to enumerate all the consecutive steps of this relentless persecution, by means of which the complete extirpation of all creeds differing from the Church of Rome was finally obtained. It can be stated generally that the policy of Vienna varied in accordance with the fluctuations of the Thirty Years' War. When the Imperial arms were successful, new rigorous measures were introduced in Bohemia. When the Protestant armies were victorious, the "Politicians" persuaded the Emperor to act with more moderation, and not to increase the number of his enemies.
Shortly after the first expulsions of Protestants from Bohemia, the extreme Romanists obtained a very zealous and powerful ally in the person of Carlo Caraffa, the new papal nuncio at Vienna. It is only of late years that the publication of his despatches, preserved in the archives of the Vatican, has proved how great a part Caraffa played in the Catholic Reformation of Bohemia. He visited Prague before proceeding to Vienna, and expressed strong displeasure at the tardiness with which, according to his opinion, the suppression of utraquism was being carried out. He was also very indignant when informed that in many churches of Prague communion was still administered in the two kinds. On the submission of the old-utraquist consistory in 1587 and 1593, when it renounced all Hus's teaching, and somewhat later formally acknowledged the authority of the Pope, the Roman Church admitted communion in the two kinds in Bohemia, as it has indeed done in other countries also. Caraffa's demand was not, therefore, immediately granted. Through his influence, however, Prince Liechtenstein, the Austrian Governor of Bohemia, ceded to the Romanist priesthood numerous churches in Prague—besides those of which they had taken possession immediately after the battle of the White Mountain.
In the summer of the year 1621, Mansfeld's troops—as already mentioned—evacuated Bohemia, and the Austrian arms were at that time also successful in Germany. The result was a new decree—dated December 13, 1621—which expelled from Bohemia all priests and clergymen who did not conform to the Church of Rome. To avoid the displeasure of the Elector of Saxony, the Austrian government informed him that these priests were expelled not because they were opposed to the doctrine of Rome, but because they had taken part in the recent rebellion against the house of Habsburg. At the meeting of the Imperial Diet at Regensburg in 1623, the envoys of the Elector of Saxony and even those of some of the Romanist princes remonstrated against the Imperial decree, which was indeed a direct violation of promises made by the Emperor to the Elector of Saxony. In consequence of the influence of Caraffa these remonstrances had no result.
In Bohemia the policy of Caraffa proved more and more successful. Communion in the two kinds was entirely suppressed. As the devotion of the people to the chalice was still very great, this led to considerable disturbances, particularly at Prague. When by order of the archbishop a Romanist priest accompanied by a large number of soldiers appeared in the Týn church while Locika, the parish priest, was celebrating Mass according to the utraquist rites, Locika refused to interrupt his service, and the people attempted to defend their revered priest. These expressions of the popular feeling were suppressed with extreme severity. Locika himself was arrested and conveyed to the castle of Krivoklat, "where it was said that he was decapitated so that he should in future cause no disturbances amongst the people." The Roman ritual was now re-established in all the churches of Prague. This was done with particular solemnity in the church of St. Martin, where Jacobellus had in 1414 first dispensed the sacrament in the two kinds. At this time also the statue of King George of Poděbrad, which represented him pointing with his sword to the chalice of which he had been so valiant a defender, was removed from the façade of the Týn church as being an "utraquist emblem." The indignation of the citizens, most of whom were still attached to their ancient faith, was naturally very great.
In consequence of the incessant expulsions of the clergy, very few priests for a time remained in Bohemia. In many villages and even small towns the religious services had entirely ceased. Though the Jesuits flocked to Bohemia in great numbers immediately after the defeat of the national cause, they were not able to occupy all the vacant parsonages and curateships. The Archbishop of Prague therefore declared that all utraquist priests could retain their livings, if they consented to administer the sacrament in one kind only, and to conform to the celibacy of the clergy, as established by the Roman Church. As most of the utraquist priests were married men, the archbishop declared that their wives would be allowed to continue to live with them, if they agreed to accept the name of cooks, a word that under the circumstances of course veiled an opprobrious designation. Most of the priests indignantly rejected this insulting suggestion, but, forced by extreme poverty, some were obliged to agree to it. This measure which forced honest women, who had been married according to the rights of their Church, to choose between starvation and disgrace is one of the darkest pages of the very black records of the Bohemian Catholic Reformation.
Though from the moment that the battle of the White Mountain had been fought, many Bohemian nobles and citizens had been driven into exile, priests only had in the first years after the battle been expelled from Bohemia solely because they did not conform to the Church of Rome. In 1623, Bethlen Gabor, prince of Transylvania, again rose in arms against the house of Habsburg, and after defeating the Austrian troops, invaded Moravia. Moderation therefore for a time became necessary. In 1624, however, a treaty of peace was concluded with the Prince of Transylvania, and the Vienna official now considered the moment opportune to continue the persecutions in Bohemia. The nuncio, Caraffa, about this time obtained a powerful ally in the Jesuit father, Lamormain, who had just become the Emperor's confessor. Caraffa and Lamormain declared it to be an absolute necessity that all who did not conform to the Roman Church should be expelled from Bohemia. An exception was to be made only in favour of the Bohemian peasants whom serfdom attached to the soil, to the cultivation of which they were necessary. It was stated that by means of imprisonment and corporal punishment they could be forced to become at least nominal Romanists, and that in the course of time they, or at least their children, would become true members of the Roman Church. These suggestions appeared extreme even to such a religious enthusiast as the Emperor Ferdinand was. Lamormain advised him to meditate deeply on this weighty matter, and to prepare for this meditation by receiving communion. Lamormain then, leaving the court for a few days, retired to the Jesuit monastery in Vienna to offer up incessant prayers that his counsels might be favourably received. When he returned to court the Emperor declared to him that after receiving communion the Holy Ghost had enlightened him and ordered him to accept without hesitation all advice that his confessor might give him. By order of the Emperor two new decrees referring to the protestants of Bohemia were then published (May 1624). The first ordered the Imperial officials to pursue with greater energy all preachers whose teaching was not in accordance with that of the Church of Rome. The second practically, though not yet formally, excluded all Protestants from Bohemia. No Protestant was in future to enjoy the rights of citizenship, to own or to inherit land in Bohemia. No marriage which was not celebrated in accordance to the Roman rites, and no marriage of a Protestant was henceforth to be valid. Baptisms and burials without the assistance of a Roman priest were prohibited. These decrees caused great rejoicing in Rome. The nuncio was instructed to express the Pope's special gratitude, and the College of the Propaganda celebrated Ferdinand as a "second Constantine and Theodosius."
It appears that these draconic regulations were not immediately carried out in their whole extent in Bohemia. Warfare with alternating results continued in Germany, and the "Politicians" at the court of Ferdinand may still have thought it advisable not to exasperate too much a once formidable nation. In 1625 the Elector of Bavaria warned Ferdinand that a new confederacy against the House of Habsburg appeared probable. Not entirely to alienate the sympathies of the Germans, Ferdinand decreed that non-Catholics should in the German districts of Bohemia be allowed to hold baptismal, marriage and burial services according to their "heretical" rites, with the tacit connivance of the authorities. To the Slavic majority of the population no such a favour was to be granted," as it was not likely that their complaints would reach Germany."
On August 27, 1626, Tilly decisively defeated, at Lutter, near Wolfenbüttel, the army of King Christian of Denmark, who had come to the aid of the German Protestants, and about the same time Ferdinand's general Waldstein defeated the forces of Bethlen Gabor. These victories, as usual, caused the Catholic reformation to be carried out with greater energy. The Bohemians long opposed a tacit resistance to the efforts of the Romanist priests who strove to win them over to their creed. The Romanist services were held in the presence of only a few people, who were by force driven into the churches. Some of the preachers of the community of the Bohemian Brethren still secretly remained in their country and held secret services in the vast forests of Bohemia. Even many professed Romanists attended these services. Ferdinand was very indignant at this, and by his order a Government official informed the citizens of Kutna Hora, who appear to have been strong opponents of the Catholic reformation—that he considered "as beasts, not men," those who refused to accept the teaching of the only beatifying Church. The Romanist priests also, seeing how firmly the Bohemians clung to their ancient faith, became impatient. Thus the inhabitants of the small town of Žebrák complained that their parish priest insulted them, calling them "donkeys, boobies and fools." Cardinal Harrach, who had succeeded Lobelius as Archbishop of Prague, declared to the Emperor that half-measures had proved unsuccessful and that the extirpation of all dissidents from the Roman faith could restore tranquillity to Bohemia. The "Politicians" again advised moderation, and the Emperor, as was his custom, left the final decision to the Jesuits. The councillors he chose were his confessor, Father Lamormain, and Father Philippi, the tutor of his son. The two Jesuits declared that the suppression of all heresy was the Emperor's first duty. They advised that members of their order should visit all parts of Bohemia and preach the true faith. They were to be accompanied by soldiers, who were to be quartered on the inhabitants till they formally made their submission to the Church of Rome. Should some men subsequently relapse into their former errors, troops should again be quartered on them, that vexations might bring them to their right minds, and they, having thus become wiser, should fulfil their duty.
Ferdinand did not hesitate to accept the advice of his councillors, and he shortly afterwards issued the famed decree of July 31, 1627. The emperor had himself chosen this day, as it was the anniversary of the death of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Its principal and very simple enactment decreed that no one not belonging to the Church of Rome should be allowed to live in Bohemia, or even to enter the country. This decree applied equally to all—nobles, citizens and peasants, men and women. The nobles were granted a delay of six months, within which they were to conform to the Church of Rome. Those who refused to do so were then granted a further term of six months for the purpose of selling their estates. No exceptions were made. Even Charles of Žerotin, a firm adherent of the house of Habsburg, who had risked his life for that dynasty, was obliged to leave Bohemia. Though a few "heretics" still remained in hiding in Bohemia, the "Catholic Reformation" can after this decree be considered as having been accomplished. Bohemia, at least nominally, became an exclusively Romanist State.
Two measures of minor importance are in close connection with this great change in the condition of the land. One is the suppression of the university of Prague, at least as a free and scientific institution. The university had strongly favoured the national cause. Several of the most important meetings of the patriots had been held at the Carolinum, the principal building belonging to the university. The learned physician Jessenius, who had been rector in the year of the defenestration, a man of great talent and eloquence, had been employed by the "Directors" on several diplomatic missions. He was punished by the Imperialists with special cruelty. Before he was executed on the fateful 21st of June his tongue was cut out—as that of Cicero had once been—and was nailed to the scaffold. Some of the Spanish generals in the Imperial army, men such as Balthasar Marradas, Martin Huerta, Caretto del Grano, who were noted for their excessive cruelty, suggested that in consequence of the attitude of the university the Carolinuim should be demolished. The Jesuits, however, opposed this scheme.
Ferdinand I had in 1556 introduced this Order into Bohemia, and the college of St. Clement was founded by it shortly afterwards. Between this new college and the ancient university of Charles IV, which had adopted the utraquist and afterwards the Lutheran teaching, a spirit of rivalry soon sprung up. A struggle between the two learned institutions began, which ended only with the battle of the Bila Hora. After that victory Ferdinand no doubt immediately decided to suppress the ancient university and to transfer its funds and privileges to the Jesuit college. In this case also the great change was only carried out gradually. At the end of the year 1620 the estates belonging to the university were confiscated, and German soldiers, who grievously ill-treated the tenantry, were quartered there. The university vainly endeavoured to avert the blow that threatened it. The prorector Campanus, when Ferdinand arrived in Prague, addressed the victor in flattering Latin verses in a somewhat undignified manner. Neither these verses nor the petitions of other members of the university made any impression on Ferdinand, who had already—on the advice of Father Lamormain—decided to establish the Jesuits in the university. Lamormain disapproved of all delay; he said that the university had for two hundred years been in the hands of the Hussites; teachers and magisters educated there in the atheist doctrine of Hussitism had appeared in all towns and hamlets; many had married rich widows, and the number of heretics had thus become greater. The Emperor finally decided that in consideration of the memory of King Charles the Carolinum should not be destroyed but placed at the disposal of the Jesuits, whose college was to take the place of the old university. The new foundation was to be called the "universitas Carolina Ferdinandëa." All the old magisters and professors were expelled, even Campanus, though he in the last years of his life professed the Roman creed. By the end of the year 1622 all the buildings belonging to the university had been handed over to the Jesuits, and—somewhat later than the teachers—all students who had not conformed to the teaching of Rome were expelled and exiled from Bohemia.
Closely connected with the suppression of all teaching opposed to Rome was the destruction of the ancient national literature of Bohemia. Almost all literature in Bohemia subsequent to Hus had been imbued with the spirit of the great reformer and patriot. All this literature was therefore doomed to destruction, and the Jesuits were certainly to a great extent successful. If we except the classical literatures, there is none to whom belong so many books the existence of which can be proved with certainty, yet of which all trace is lost, as to the older literature of Bohemia. Jesuits accompanied by soldiers—to prevent the possibility of resistance—were empowered to search for heretical books in all Bohemian dwellings from the nobleman's castle to the peasant's hut. The Jesuit Andrew Konias is particularly mentioned as rivalling the fame of Omer or Archbishop Theophilus. He is perhaps the greatest book destroyer known to history, and boasted of having himself burnt 60,000 Bohemian volumes.
To such enthusiastic Romanists as Ferdinand and his Jesuit councillors the re-establishment of the Roman Church in Bohemia and the complete suppression of all so-called heresies no doubt appeared the principal result of the Bila Hora. The complete transformation which Bohemia then underwent included, however, also an entire change in the constitution and even in the language of the country. In the years immediately following the great national defeat Bohemia was under martial law. The German and Spanish generals and the Austrian governor Charles of Liechtenstein wielded unrestricted power. In 1627 only Ferdinand published a new fundamental law known as the "renewed ordinance of the land." Its principal points may here be briefly noted. It had for centuries been a moot point whether the Bohemian crown was an elective or an hereditary one. This point was now settled for ever. The Bohemian crown was declared to be hereditary in the house of Habsburg, both in the male and in the female line. Only in the case of the complete extinction of that dynasty was the right of electing a sovereign to be reassumed by the Estates. The ancient ceremony of the "reception" of the new king, which had continued during the rule of the first Habsburg princes, and which preserved a semblance of a sanction to the presence of the new ruler on the part of the Estates, was abolished. The ceremony of the coronation of the kings was, however, retained. The representative institutions of the land were also remodelled. To the three Estates—the nobles, knights and townsmen—a fourth, the ecclesiastical one was added, and this one was to take precedence over all the others. In Moravia the ecclesiastical Estate had already existed previously. It now obtained there also precedence over the other Estates. It was further decreed that all privileges and rights granted to "acatholics "—as all who did not belong to the Church of Rome now began to be officially called—were revoked. With the exception of the Jews, no one not belonging to the Roman Church was henceforth to reside in Bohemia. A further very important enactment declared that the sovereign henceforth reserved to himself the entire legislative power in the Bohemian lands. Most of the ancient State offices continued to exist, but the most important of them, that of burgrave of the Karlstein, was suppressed. A great change took place with regard to the appointment to the offices of State. The king had hitherto been obliged to be guided in his choice by the opinion of the Estates. He now obtained the power of appointing practically whomever he wished. A further enactment greatly restricted the powers of the Bohemian law courts, and reserved to the sovereign the right of revising and annulling all their decisions. It was further declared that the right of granting citizenship to foreigners, which the Estates had formerly possessed, should in future belong to the king. A last and very important enactment stated that henceforth the German language should in all law courts and Government offices be recognized as having the same value as the national language.
In the preamble to this constitutional enactment Ferdinand declared that he had conquered the Bohemian lands by the force of the sword and that "the whole kingdom had rebelled in forma universitatis"—a statement which, according to the then generally accepted views, involved the loss of all the ancient rights and privileges of the nation. In apparent contradiction to this declaration, the Emperor nineteen days after the publication of the new ordinance issued a decree stating that he allowed the Bohemians to preserve their ancient privileges as far as they had not been suppressed by the new constitutional enactments. This contradiction has often been noticed, and the learned Professor Kalousek—our principal authority on the constitutional history of Bohemia—thinks that Ferdinand's promise was never a genuine one, and that it was only made to pacify the Bohemians. This question has of recent times again been discussed on several occasions—in 1847 when the Bohemian Estates attempted to recover some of their ancient rights, and in 1871 when that talented and able statesman the late Count Hohenwarth made an attempt to re-establish the ancient constitution of Bohemia.
It is significative of the spirit which animated the new rulers of Bohemia that though it had been decided that the "new ordinance of the land" should be published in Bohemian, German and Latin, only the German version was printed. This leads us to consider another great change in the condition of Bohemia, which resulted from the battle of the Bila Hora, but which has proved less permanent than many others. It is probable that with the exception of the earliest period Bohemia always had a certain number of German inhabitants, and the Jews who arrived very early in Bohemia at all times preferred German to the national language. The number of German inhabitants in Bohemia varied according to the political situation of the country, but the Germans were always considered as foreigners dwelling in the land. The Diet of 1615 had recently published new enactments favourable to the national language. Even after the battle of the White Mountain, a German prince, John George, Elector of Saxony, had when writing to Ferdinand stated that a German in Bohemia was to be treated as a "guest and stranger." In this respect a complete change took place. It has already been mentioned that the German language was granted equal rights with the national one, and as the new judges and officials appointed by Ferdinand often knew little or no Bohemian, the German language shortly after it had been admitted obtained preference to that of the country. Another circumstance that contributed largely to the decline of the Bohemian language was the system of land-confiscation which the Imperialists carried out on a gigantic scale. Almost the whole of the ancient nobility of Bohemia was deprived of its estates. The first confiscations touched only those who had—sometimes under compulsion—recognized the government of King Frederick. The later confiscations, however, included all who did not conform to the Roman creed, even if they had always continued faithful to the house of Habsburg. More than half the landed property in Bohemia was confiscated, and of the larger estates in the country only one hundred and forty-seven remained in the hands of their previous owners. These were principally Bohemian Romanists such as Slavata, Martinic, and Waldstein, who at this moment laid the foundation of his vast fortune. The place of the ancient Bohemian nobles who were driven, often penniless, into exile was taken by a very motley company, consisting mainly of Imperial courtiers and generals. We find among these men of various nations—Germans, Spaniards, Walloons, Italians, and, after the fall of Waldstein, Scotchmen and Irishmen. All, however, shared a common devotion to the Church of Rome, and a common hatred of the Bohemian nation. These men were almost all ignorant of the Bohemian language, which indeed they despised as the language of heretics. It was mainly in the interest of these intruders and of the members of the Roman Church on whom vast estates had been bestowed and among whom there were at first hardly any Bohemians, that the new regulations in favour of the German language were established. A yet greater change took place in the Bohemian towns. The numerous Protestants, mostly of the Bohemian nationality, who had inhabited these towns and who had refused to apostatize were driven into exile, and they were replaced by German immigrants belonging to the Church of Rome. Many Bohemian towns such as Litoměřice and Louny, formerly national strongholds during the Hussite wars, now became German and have continued so up to the present day.
While the nobles and citizens, who wished to preserve their religious convictions, were at least allowed to leave their country, though often in a state of complete destitution, no such option was granted to the peasants whom serfdom attached to the soil, for the cultivation of which they were required. They were to remain there, but to remain there as Romanists. Serfdom now only appeared in its full horror. The new landowners punished with fiendish cruelty all who did not regularly attend at Mass or avoided receiving communion according to the Roman rites.
It has already been mentioned that the Imperial arms were generally victorious during the years that immediately followed the battle of the White Mountain. These successful campaigns confirmed Ferdinand in his plan of restoring the Roman supremacy not only in Bohemia, but also in Germany. Recent research proved that the Emperor began about this time to cherish such far-reaching plans. The Imperial power had, in Germany, receded for centuries, and the princes had to an ever-increasing extent assumed the position of sovereign powers. It appears very probable that the Emperor, who knew how completely the Spanish branch of his family had succeeded in establishing absolutism in Spain, hoped to achieve a similar constitutional change in Germany. Ferdinand was greatly encouraged in these ambitious plans by his powerful general Albert of Waldstein.
Though it would be very tempting to search for a new solution of the Waldstein problem—one of the strangest enigmas of history—the purpose and scope of this work preclude an attempt to do so here. Yet the career of the great Bohemian warrior must be briefly delineated here. Albert of Waldstein—born in 1583—belonged to one of the oldest families of the Bohemian nobility, which traced its origin as far back as the thirteenth century. His family had accepted the utraquist creed, but after the early death of his parents he was educated in the tenets of the Bohemian Brethren, by his uncle. Lord Henry of Slavata. After the death of this uncle another relation, who now became his guardian, sent him to the Jesuit school at Olomouc, where he soon adopted the Roman creed. None of these changes of religion appear to have been even to the slightest extent founded on conviction. The fact that Waldstein was a devotee to astrology renders it probable that he was imbued with the spirit of superstition which is so often found in conjunction with religious agnosticism. Waldstein then visited several universities, staying longest at that of Padua. It is hardly fanciful to suggest that the tales of the great Italian adventurers and condottieri of the cinquecento which he must have frequently heard, made a great impression on the mind of a young man so thoroughly imbued with ambition as was Waldstein. On his return to his native land Waldstein married a rich widow and thus became owner of large possessions in Moravia, and a member of the Estates of that country. As he was related to Charles of Žerotin, then the most influential noble of Moravia, Waldstein through his protection was soon able to play a considerable part in the politics of the country. When the Estates of Moravia took up arms against Rudolph II and supported King Matthew, Waldstein was given the command of a cavalry regiment. When, however, in 1619 the Bohemian forces invaded Moravia, Waldstein did not follow the example of the other nobles, most of whom joined the Bohemians, but remained faithful to the Imperial cause. The soldiers whom he commanded, mostly utraquists, joined the Bohemians, and Waldstein was obliged to seek refuge at the Imperial court of Vienna, accompanied only by a few horsemen. He thus laid the foundation of the great favour which he long enjoyed at the court of Ferdinand. He took part in the campaign which ended with the battle of the Bila Hora, and was noted for the great severity, and indeed cruelty, with which he maintained order in Prague after the city had capitulated to the Imperialists.
Waldstein seized the opportunity of the vast confiscations of Bohemian estates which took place after the battle of the White Mountain to acquire an enormous fortune. As a favourite of the Emperor he was able to purchase at an almost nominal price vast estates which had belonged to exiled Protestants. The expense incurred by Waldstein was still further diminished by the fact that he had, together with Prince Liechtenstein, Austrian governor of Bohemia, and other Imperial courtiers, authorized the Jew Bassewi to introduce an adulterated coinage into Bohemia, in which all payments were made by those who enjoyed the favour of the court of Vienna. Though he had thus become a very wealthy man and one of the greatest landowners in Bohemia, Waldstein continued to serve in the Imperial army, which principally through his military talent obtained brilliant victories. Waldstein was successful against the Hungarian army of Bethlen Gabor, and also defeated in Moravia and Silesia the forces of the Margrave of Jägerndorf and of Count Thurn. Through these victories the Imperialists, however, obtained but a short respite. The ever-increasing conviction that the total destruction of Protestantism was the real aim of the Habsburg dynasty, induced all Protestant princes consecutively to oppose Ferdinand. When in 1625 the King of Denmark attacked the Emperor, Waldstein not only undertook the command of the Imperial forces, but he also, by granting Ferdinand a very large loan, enabled him to raise a considerable army. As Gindely has well pointed out, the dependence of the Emperor on Waldstein was a result of the continued financial difficulties that confronted Ferdinand. He was always lavish of gifts to all priests and monks, and even in moments of the greatest financial distress insisted on maintaining a large and expensive court and household. Ferdinand may have been impressed by the example of his Spanish kinsmen who had succeeded in transforming into courtiers the former nobles of their country—a result that of course was favourable to the absolutist policy of the house of Habsburg.
In the new campaign Waldstein was again victorious. He defeated at Dessau the army of Mansfeld, who was acting in alliance with the King of Denmark. Waldstein was now at the acme of his power. He treated the German princes with studied discourtesy, when they attempted to complain of the depredations committed by his troops. This was by no means displeasing to the absolutist courtiers of Ferdinand. In 1625 Waldstein received from the Emperor the title of prince, and in 1627 that of Duke of Friedland. The town of Jičin near Friedland in Bohemia became the centre of his vast dominions. He here exercised almost sovereign power and obtained the right of coining money; disregarding the Imperial decrees, he continued to tolerate Protestants in his territory and even employed them in his service. Of all the fantastic plans attributed to Waldstein, that of becoming King of Bohemia, particularly according to recent research, appears to be the only one that seriously entered into his mind. After the defeat of the King of Denmark the Emperor conferred on Waldstein the two duchies of Mecklenburg, as the rulers of these lands had been allies of the Danes. As Northern Germany was very shortly afterwards overrun by the Swedes this gift proved somewhat a barren honour. It, however, granted to Waldstein the then very extensive rights and powers of a sovereign prince of the empire, and Waldstein's defenders have often laid stress on this when attempting to justify the negotiations with foreign powers into which he afterwards entered.
These repeated successes of the Imperial arms naturally encouraged the extreme adherents of Rome, who were always very powerful at Ferdinand's court. The impetuous confessor Lamormain assured his Imperial master that he would imperil his soul if he did not at least partially introduce in Germany those reforms that had already been carried out so successfully in Bohemia. The result of these counsels was the famed "Edict of Restitution" which the Emperor after considerable hesitation signed on March 6, 1629. This enactment decreed that all monasteries and ecclesiastical possessions of which the Romanists had been deprived since the so-called "interim" of Passau in 1552 and the additional treaty of Augsburg in 1555 should be restored to them. The Romanist owners after their return were to be granted the right then belonging to all territorial lords in Germany, of obliging their new subjects to conform to their creed. During a period of nearly 80 years these possessions had frequently changed hands, and the edict would have reduced thousands of men to beggary and violated the religious convictions of hundreds of thousands. Had such a law been carried out—Gindely writes—North Germany would have been obliged to suffer a system of confiscation and anti-reformation, similar to that under which Bohemia was then groaning. Waldstein did not hesitate openly to blame the edict, and the Jesuits, Lamormain in particular, henceforth became his bitterest enemies. It was largely in consequence of this circumstance that when the German princes at the Diet which was held at Regensburg in 1630 demanded that Waldstein should be deprived of his command, Ferdinand consented to this with very little hesitation. Waldstein made no attempt to retain his command. He retired to Bohemia, where he lived partly in the magnificent palace which he had built at Prague, partly on his vast estates.
The triumph of Catholicism in Northern Germany was short-lived. On July 6, 1630, Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, landed on the island of Usedom and in a very short time subdued a large part of Northern Germany. It is not my purpose to refer here to the events of the Thirty Years' War, except on the not infrequent occasions when they had a direct influence on the fate of Bohemia. After the Elector of Saxony had—abandoning his former allies—joined the Swedish king, the combined Protestant armies decisively defeated the forces of the Imperialists and the German Romanists at Breitenfeld near Leipzig on September 17, 1631.
After his great victory Gustavus Adolphus hesitated what course to pursue. Some of his councillors advised him to march from Saxony directly into Bohemia and Moravia, whence the road to Vienna lay open. Many of Waldstein's generals had followed their chief into retirement and had dismissed their soldiers. The population of Bohemia and Moravia, which had endured ten years of incessant persecution, was bitterly disaffected to the Habsburg dynasty and to the Roman clergy. There is little doubt that an invasion of the Habsburg dominions would at this moment have proved successful. The very numerous Bohemian exiles—sanguine, as all exiles are—believed that their ancient independent kingdom would now be re-established.
For reasons which it is not easy to comprehend, the king of Sweden determined to march into Southern Germany, and to leave the task of occupying Bohemia to his Saxon allies. The Saxon invasion of Bohemia was carried out in a very half-hearted fashion. The Elector, a worthy man of very limited intelligence, disliked the Swedes as being foreigners in Germany, and had reluctantly taken up arms against the Emperor, whom he considered his liege-lord, because of the Edict of Restitution and because of the depredations committed in Saxony by the Imperial troops. In the autumn of the year 1631 the Saxon troops entered Bohemia, and on November 11 they occupied Prague, the city surrendering without offering any resistance. With the Saxon troops many Bohemian exiles. Count Thurn, Venceslas of Ruppa, chancellor during the reign of Frederick, and others returned to Bohemia. One of the first acts of the exiles after their return was to remove the heads of their comrades—executed on June 21, 1621—which the Imperialists had exposed on the bridge tower of the old town. They were then solemnly buried in the Týn church. The Jesuits were again expelled from Bohemia, and eighty clergymen belonging to the Lutheran Church and to the unity of the Bohemian Brethren met at the Carolinum college to deliberate on the re-establishment of the utraquist Church. The Elector of Saxony, who now also arrived at Prague, seems for a moment to have intended to put himself in possession of the Bohemian crown, which, both in his own time and in that of his ancestors, appeared on several occasions to be within the reach of the Protestant princes of the house of Saxony. Should such a scheme, however, prove impracticable, the Lutheran Elector far preferred the continuation of Habsburg rule in Bohemia to the establishment of a Calvinistic kingdom in the immediate neighbourhood of his electorate. The distinctly hostile attitude which Arnim, who commanded the Saxon army, took up with regard to Thurn and the other Bohemian exiles, can be accounted for in this manner only.
In his desperate position the Emperor decided to appeal again to Waldstein. The latter had left Prague before the arrival of the Saxons in that city and retired to his estates, which the enemy did not occupy. Arnim, the Saxon commander, had formerly served under Waldstein's orders and had remained on terms of intimacy with him. Before retiring to his estates Waldstein had an interview with Arnim at the castle of Kounic, between Prague and Nymburk. Waldstein informed the Emperor of this interview, but we have no reliable account of the conversation between the two generals. Several letters addressed by Waldstein to Arnim at this time have indeed been preserved, but they have no great importance, and contain little except requests that palaces belonging to Waldstein should not be injured by the Saxon soldiers. From Prague Waldstein first proceeded to Jičin, the capital of his Bohemian territory, and then to Znoymo in Moravia. He here met Prince Eggenberg, one of the most trusted councillors of Ferdinand. Eggenberg, in the name of the Emperor, begged Waldstein to resume the command of the Imperial forces. A similar proposal had already been made to him in a less formal manner at the beginning of the Saxon invasion. Waldstein finally consented, but only after the Emperor had agreed to sign a document which enumerated and accepted all the conditions which the Duke of Friedland had made. The document was destroyed after the death of Waldstein, and this transaction, like so many other facts concerning the last years of the Duke of Friedland, is shrouded in impenetrable mystery. It is supposed that the Emperor granted Waldstein unlimited command over all the Imperial armies and the right of concluding peace with the enemies of the empire, and that he promised to grant the Duke of Friedland one of the lands in possession of the house of Habsburg, if he was not able to recover the duchies of Mecklenburg. The land referred to can only have been Bohemia, a considerable part of which was already in Waldstein's hands.
I do not belong to those writers who have recently attempted to defend Waldstein—some because they see in him a friend of German unity, others from the directly opposite reason that they believe him to have been at heart a Bohemian patriot. I can see no solid foundation for either conjecture. We have evidence to prove that Waldstein attempted to enter, through the mediation of Count Thurn, into negotiations with King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, though these negotiations were soon broken off. It is equally certain that through Count Kinský, one of the principal Bohemian exiles, Waldstein promised Feuquières, the French minister at Dresden, that he would abandon the Imperial cause if the French Government recognized him as King of Bohemia. It must be admitted, in justice, that Waldstein was confronted by treachery as deep as his own. If Father Lamormain and the other Jesuits who, far more than his official councillors, were the real advisers of Ferdinand, approved of his conferring such extensive powers on the Duke of Friedland, they undoubtedly did so with the mental reservation that the duke could, when the danger of a Swedish invasion had passed, again be deprived of his command, or be "removed," should he offer any resistance. There was nothing in the Spanish policy then pursued by the court of Vienna which was in contradiction to such a plan.
Immediately after Waldstein had resumed his command, the Imperial armies obtained brilliant successes. Entering Bohemia in April 1632, Waldstein attacked Prague on May 22, and recaptured the town after a very slight resistance. The enemies evacuated the whole of Bohemia except part of the mountainous district close to the Saxon frontier. From Prague Waldstein marched to Cheb, and his army was here joined by the forces of the Elector Maximilian of Bavaria. The united Catholic armies now attempted to stem the advance of Gustavus Adolphus. The King of Sweden, after his victory at Breitenfeld, had victoriously overrun almost all the south German lands. Numerous German princes, among them Frederick of the Palatinate, had joined him. Through the influence of the former King of Bohemia numerous English volunteers had taken service in the Swedish army. Waldstein unsuccessfully attempted to storm the Swedish fortifications at Nürnberg, and he was also defeated at the battle of Lützen (Nov. 6, 1633) when Gustavus Adolphus fell. The great confusion in the Swedish army, which was a natural consequence of the death of the king, enabled Waldstein to retire with his army in good order into Bohemia. He took up his winter quarters at Prague, and apparently taking no further interest in the progress of the war, busied himself with the administration of his duchy of Friedland, which he appears to have considered as the nucleus of his future Bohemian kingdom. Even when spring began and Waldstein should, according to the then usual system of warfare, have resumed hostilities, he for a considerable time hesitated to do so. At this moment the intrigues against Waldstein at the court of Vienna had already become very persistent. The Jesuits bitterly blamed the Duke of Friedland's indifference to religious matters and his reluctance to free Southern Germany from its Protestant oppressors.
Other meaner motives also influenced many of Waldstein's enemies. The generals and courtiers of Ferdinand viewed with envy the vast fortune and the numerous estates of the Duke of Friedland. They had decided to divide them among themselves as soon as Waldstein had been convicted of treason. The latter was thoroughly aware of these machinations, which, according to his views, justified him in continuing his negotiations with the enemies of the Emperor.
In consequence of the repeated remonstrances of Ferdinand, Waldstein, on May 3, at last left Prague and, marching by way of Kralové Hradec, entered Silesia, which was then occupied by Swedish and Saxon troops under Thurn and Arnim. Waldstein's army was considerably superior in number to that of his opponents, and the Catholics looked forward with certainty to a great victory. They were, however, disappointed. Waldstein sent Count Trčka, one of his confidants, to the Saxon camp with the order to suggest to Arnim an interview between the two commanders. Waldstein and Arnim met on June 6, but it does not appear that the generals arrived at an understanding. The Duke of Friedland, however, declared himself in favour of religious freedom both in Bohemia and in Germany. An armistice of a fortnight was concluded, and it was afterwards prolonged to July 16. This naturally caused great indignation in Vienna. The Emperor sent new envoys to remonstrate with Waldstein, and these agents succeeded in obtaining from two of his eminent generals—Piccolomini and Gallas—the promise that they would remain faithful to the Emperor "should Waldstein for reason of health, or other causes, give up the command of the Imperial armies." On August 22, Waldstein had another interview with Arnim. He here appears to have spoken very openly. He declared that it was his intention to rise in arms against the Emperor and to restore to the Bohemian Estates the free right of electing their sovereign. He also offered to assist the Swedes should they attack the Elector Maximilian of Bavaria—Waldstein's old enemy.
It is a proof of the tortuous policy of the Duke of Friedland that, after having spent the summer of the year 1633 in negotiating with the enemies of the Emperor, he should have attacked them in the autumn of that year. It is probable that the "perfidia plus quam Punica" of Waldstein which was noted even at a period when treachery and statesmanship were almost identical, caused the Protestant leaders to meet his overtures with some distrust. It appears certain that Oxenstierna, who since the death of the king directed the foreign policy of Sweden, distrusted the Duke of Friedland. The latter, thinking it advisable to show that his skill and strength had not decreased, attacked the Swedish forces in Silesia that were then commanded by Count Thurn. Waldstein was again victorious. He defeated the Swedish forces at Steinau on October 11, and then returned to Bohemia to winter there. His success for a time silenced his enemies, but when it became known that the Swedish and German Protestant forces under Duke Bernhard of Weimar had on November 15 obtained possession of the important city of Regensburg, Waldstein, who had refused to march to the aid of his old enemy the Elector of Bavaria, was doomed. The Emperor, not entirely unmindful of the great services formerly rendered to him by the Duke of Friedland, determined to make an attempt to induce him voluntarily to resign his command. For this purpose he sent Father Quiroga, the Empress's confessor, to Waldstein's camp, but the latter absolutely declined to give his demission. He had at this moment undoubtedly already decided to join the Emperor's enemies. He, however, well knew how important it was for his future plans that he should join the Saxons or Swedes as leader of a powerful and devoted army and not as a friendless fugitive. On January 12, 1634, Waldstein gave a great banquet to his principal generals and officers at Plzeň, which was then his headquarters. He requested all present to sign a document which stated that Waldstein was tired of his command, but that his generals formally declared that they would accept him only as their commander up to the moment when the Emperor had fully satisfied all the claims of Waldstein and his generals on the Imperial treasury. This declaration was signed by all present. Even if we interpret it in the most lenient fashion the document declared that the Emperor's right of dismissing his commander-in-chief was dependent on certain conditions. This undoubtedly constituted an act of mutiny.
Though the declaration was signed by all present, a considerable number of Waldstein's generals had previously entered into negotiations with the court of Vienna. Waldstein seems to have felt that he was not so sure of his army as he had previously believed. The negotiations with Ferdinand's enemies also proceeded but slowly, as Arnim, Waldstein's principal confidant, had great trouble in obtaining definite assurances from the irresolute Elector of Saxony. Waldstein therefore endeavoured to gain time, and to allay the suspicions of the Emperor. At a second banquet at Plzeň on February 20, a paper was signed by the generals declaring that they would continue to be faithful to Waldstein and to obey his orders, and that they—together with him—would continue loyally to serve the Emperor.
It was, however, too late. On February 13 all communications between the Emperor and his general ceased. On February 18 the Emperor declared Waldstein and his generals Illo and Trčka to be traitors and ordered the army to obey only Gallas, Piccolomini and Maradas. At the same time the preachers in Vienna received the order to denounce Waldstein from their pulpits as a "traitor and tyrant." At the last moment Waldstein's new allies also began to move. On February 18 the Elector of Saxony agreed to a treaty of alliance with Waldstein and sent Arnim to Plzeň. Waldstein had, however, left Plzeň before the Saxon envoy could arrive there. On February 1, King Louis XIII of France instructed Feuquières, his minister at Dresden, to inform Waldstein that if he definitely broke with the Emperor, France would grant him an annual subsidy of a million livres and support his claim to the Bohemian throne. Before De la Boderie, Feuquières' secretary, who was entrusted with this message, could reach Bohemia, Waldstein was dead.
The Duke of Friedland had undoubtedly intended to march on Prague as soon as the complete rupture with the Emperor had taken place. A born Bohemian, he knew the veneration which all Bohemians felt for the capital of their country, and—no doubt rightly—believed that his prestige would be greatly increased by the occupation of Prague. He had recently shown himself more favourable to the national cause and had entered into negotiations with the very numerous Bohemian exiles, who up to the end of the Thirty Years' War hoped once more to return to their native land. The successive desertions of most of his troops obliged Waldstein to change his plans. He sent a message to Duke Bernhard of Weimar, begging him to send a small force to Cheb which he would join with all the troops that were still true to him. Waldstein himself proceeded to that town on February 23, accompanied only by ten squadrons of cavalry and 300 musqueteers. The departure from Plzeň appeared to the contemporary writers rather as a flight than as the march of an organized army. At the decisive moment of his life, when only full bodily and mental power rendered possible the success of Waldstein's perilous adventure, he was prostrated by a violent attack of gout. On his arrival at Cheb he was unable to come to a decision with regard to his future plans. An Imperial decree had meanwhile set a price on the head of Waldstein, and a conspiracy was immediately formed among the—mostly Scotch and Irish—officers of the garrison of Cheb. These men, of whom Butler, Gordon, Leslie and Devereux were the leaders, determined to invite the principal officers still faithful to Waldstein—Kinský, Trčka and Illo—to a banquet at the castle. When they arrived there the castle was immediately surrounded in every direction by the Irish dragoons, and Waldstein's officers were attacked and murdered after a short but valiant defence. Waldstein, who was still suffering from gout, had not taken part in the banquet, but immediately after the murders Colonel Butler and Captain Devereux hurried to his residence. He was quite unprepared and was immediately assassinated by Captain Devereux (February 25).
The fall of Waldstein was followed by a new series of extensive confiscations in Bohemia. The numerous estates of the Duke of Friedland and his principal adherents were seized by the Imperial government and were granted to the generals of Waldstein who had remained faithful to the Emperor, and to the officers who had taken part in the murder of Waldstein. We now find several Irish and Scotch names among the new owners of Bohemian estates. The events that immediately followed the death of the Duke of Friedland certainly speak for the wisdom of the Jesuits who had demanded his recall. King Ferdinand III, son of the Emperor Ferdinand, took the command of the Imperial armies, and it was decided to pursue an energetic policy against Sweden and France while endeavouring to negotiate with the Elector of Saxony. The Swedish chancellor Oxenstierna attempted meanwhile to unite the Protestant principalities and free towns of Germany for the purpose of combined action. Their representatives met under his presidency at Frankfurt on April 7, 1634. All parts of Protestant Germany were represented, and the Bohemian exiles also sent envoys who requested aid against Ferdinand. The Elector of Saxony was also represented, but his envoys maintained an attitude of distrust to Sweden, endeavouring to separate that country from its German allies. Whatever hopes Oxenstierna may have had were dissipated by the great victory which the Romanists, led by two princes of the house of Habsburg—King Ferdinand III and the Cardinal Infanta Don Fernando—obtained at Nordlingen on September 5 and 6, 1634. For a moment it appeared as if all the results of the victories of Gustavus Adolphus had been lost.
The Elector of Saxony, always secretly opposed to the interference of Sweden in the affairs of Germany, had even before the battle of Nordlingen begun to negotiate with the Emperor in view of a treaty of peace. His representatives met those of the Emperor at Litoměřice on June 15. These negotiations did not, however, put an immediate stop to the hostilities between the two countries, and the Saxons united with the Swedes attacked Bohemia a few weeks later. The Swedish general Baner marched as far as the White Mountain near Prague, but the news of the battle of Nordlingen obliged him to retreat hastily from Bohemia.
In the following year the prolonged negotiations between the Emperor and the Elector of Saxony were at last brought to a conclusion. Lusatia was definitely ceded to Saxony, and the Edict of Restitution was, as far as it concerned the Lutherans, greatly modified. No provisions were made to secure toleration for the Calvinists as their bitter enemy, the court chaplain Hoe, still had great influence with the Elector. As regards the Bohemian Protestants, Ferdinand assumed the intransigent attitude which he afterwards maintained during the negotiations which preceded the peace of Westphalia. The Emperor positively refused to allow the presence of any Protestant in Bohemia or Moravia. In Silesia the Protestants were to remain unmolested and to retain the use of a few churches. These assurances were, with the tacit connivance of the court of Vienna, frequently violated by the local officials. The agreement between Austria and Saxony was signed at Prague on May 30, 1635, and was followed immediately by a treaty of alliance between the two countries.
Ferdinand II died early in the year 1637, and was succeeded by his son Ferdinand III, who had during his father's lifetime been crowned as King of Bohemia. The Thirty Years' War continued with alternating success during the first twelve years of the reign of the new ruler. In 1639 the Swedes under their able general Baner again invaded Bohemia. A considerable number of Bohemian exiles again accompanied the Swedish army, and when Baner declared that he entered Bohemia as a protector of the freedom of the Protestants, he was enthusiastically welcomed by many Bohemian peasants. After capturing Podmokli, Ústí and Litoměřice, Banēr advanced on Prague. The "Catholic Reformation" had, however, during the many years that had elapsed since the battle of Bila Hora made great progress, and the Swedes were not in all parts of Bohemia received as well as they had perhaps expected. Though Banēr in the year 1639 twice encamped before Prague, he did not attack the city. The Swedish troops committed great depredations in Bohemia. They spared only the property of the Bohemian Protestants, already a minority of the population, though many returned to their ancient faith as soon as they were able to do so with impunity. The events of the Thirty Years' War shortly afterwards obliged the Swedes to retire from Bohemia, and the "Catholic Reformation" was now carried out with renewed vigour. A war broke out between Sweden and Denmark in 1644 and obliged the Swedes to devote their attention to lands nearer to their home. In 1645, however, Bohemia was again invaded by a Swedish army under General Torstensohn. Sweden had then concluded an alliance with George Rakoczy, Prince of Transylvania, who was marching on Vienna. Should the Swedish forces join him before that city it would be possible—to use a well-worn expression—"to strike a blow at the heart of the Habsburg empire." Torstensohn decided to march from Saxony on Vienna through Southern Bohemia, and he obtained a great victory over the Imperial forces at Jankov, near Tabor, on March 6, 1645. The few Protestants who still remained in Bohemia again joined the Swedes, but their far-reaching plans at this moment prevented them from intervening in the affairs of Bohemia. Torstensohn succeeded in joining the forces of Rakoczy before Vienna, but Austria was saved by the intervention of the Porte. The Ottoman Empire forced Rakoczy to come to terms with the Emperor by menacing him with an attack on Transylvania should he refuse to do so. In 1648 the last events of the Thirty Years' War took place at Prague—the city where the war had begun. A Swedish army under General Königsmark entered Bohemia, and by treachery obtained possession of the Mala Strana, the part of the town situated on the left bank of the Vltava. The repeated attempts of the Swedes to obtain possession of the other parts of the city were, however, unsuccessful. The bridge of Prague was bravely defended by the numerous Jesuits and Capuchins who had established themselves in Bohemia. They were aided not only by the Imperial troops, but also by numerous German immigrants, and even by citizens of Prague who had recently joined the Roman Church and were more mindful of their new religion than of their ancient country. The siege only terminated when the news of the peace of Westphalia reached Prague. The last warlike occurrences in that city, though very insignificant, had a very serious political consequence. The late Professor Rezek was the first to point out that the fact that Bohemians had themselves taken up arms against those who defended their religious liberty, greatly weakened the case of those who at Münster and Osnabrück upheld the cause of the Bohemian Protestants.
The peace negotiations which had begun in 1643 only terminated at the end of the year 1648 by the treaty of Westphalia. It is here only necessary to mention that all attempts made in favour of the Bohemian exiles entirely failed. Though Ferdinand III was by the treaty of Westphalia obliged to make many concessions, he resolutely declared that they would continue the war rather than allow the presence of a single Protestant in Bohemia or Moravia. The slight privileges granted to the Protestants of Silesia were, however, confirmed.
The rapidly decreasing band of Bohemian patriots who through all turns of weal and woe had remained faithful to their national Church rightly saw in the treaty of Westphalia the ending of all their hopes. Komensky has recorded their despair in his touching "Last will of that dying mother the unity of the (Bohemian) Brethren." "I cannot," he writes, "oh Bohemian and Moravian nation, my dear country, forget thee now that I leave thee for ever." … "I believe before God that when this storm of wrath—which our sins have brought on us—has subsided, thou wilt, oh Bohemian people, again obtain the control over thy destiny." With that intense devotion to the national language which is so characteristic of the Bohemians, Komensky writes, "I leave to thee (the community of the Brethren) and thy sons the task of refining, purifying and developing the beloved graceful language of our ancestors, for the care which our sons devoted to this matter is known from the time when all sensible men said that there was no better Bohemian than that spoken by the Brethren and written by them in their books."
There are few darker pages in the world's history than those in which the state of Bohemia after the Thirty Years' War is recorded. Almost every part of the country had been devastated during that war. Many towns and countless villages had been destroyed, and even at the present day many now deserted spots are known to have once been inhabited. The population of Bohemia, which at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War had exceeded 3,000,000, had dwindled to 800,000 at the end of that war. The country had suffered more during this war than even during the Hussite campaigns. The towns had lost the larger part of their population. Among the exiled Protestants had been almost all the prominent merchants and tradesmen, who now sought refuge in distant countries. As of France after the edict of Nantes, it can be said of Bohemia after the Thirty Years' War that it suffered by the loss of its best citizens, in such a manner that it can even now hardly be said to have recovered. It is true that within the last generation national industry and commerce have again begun to flourish. Prague, recently the capital of a vast empire, after the treaty of Westphalia acquired the aspect of a provincial town, and this continued throughout the eighteenth century. The new nobility of Bohemia rarely visited Prague, and resided mainly in Vienna in the vicinity of the court. The new nobles, mostly men of modest and often mean birth, who owed their fortune to the Thirty Years' War, were greatly attracted by the splendour of that court, which in splendour rivalled the court of Madrid. New titles were widely distributed among these men. The ancient nobility of Bohemia had been somewhat averse to the bearing of titles of duke, count, or baron, considering them as German dignities, and they had usually been merely described as "pan" (lord). The generals and courtiers who now replaced them naturally had no such repugnance. The fate of the Bohemian peasantry in the period subsequent to the peace of Westphalia was an unspeakably miserable one. Frequent insurrections, which were repressed with merciless cruelty, were the consequence. I rejoice that the extent of this book relieves me from the duty of giving a detailed account of the cruelties committed by an alien soldiery against almost unarmed peasants. In a petition which the peasants of the district of Časlav addressed to the Imperial authorities at Prague they stated that "their fate was worse than that of the slaves of the Tartars or Turks." It is but too true that there was a considerable amount of truth in their complaint. The agents whom the new Bohemian nobles—almost always absentees—entrusted with the control of their peasants were probably more cruel than the overseer of Russian moujiks or the slave-driver of the southern States in America. In Russia both master and man were generally Slavs and members of the orthodox Church; the southern slave-driver often treated his slaves with contemptuous good nature. But the agent of the German and Romanist nobles of Bohemia both hated and despised the peasants—who were Slavs, and often still secretly heretics. The Bohemian peasants have since the year 1848 enjoyed complete liberty, and the present organization of the village communities grants them overwhelming power—often to the detriment of the landowner. Yet the evil seed of hatred and distrust sown by the oppressors of the seventeenth and eighteenth century bears evil fruit up to the present day. Bohemian peasants even now instinctively distrust the nobles of their country, even if they belong to their own race, and are in full sympathy with the national cause. This antagonism has frequently contributed to the failure of the attempts of the Bohemians to recover their autonomy.
The wars and negotiations of the court of Vienna at the end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century cannot be considered as forming part of Bohemian history. Some large Bohemian landowners played a considerable part in the government of the empire, but their only connection with Bohemia consisted in the fact that they drew very large revenues from their estates situated in that country. Every trace of municipal self-government gradually disappeared both in the cities of Prague and in the other towns of the kingdom. The scanty contemporary references to the internal condition of Bohemia record only successfully repressed revolts of the peasantry, and occasional religious persecutions when it was believed that Protestants had secretly entered Bohemia. The extreme zeal of the Jesuits, who sometimes extended their persecutions to Silesia—where the Protestants possessed a limited amount of independence—occasionally directed the attention of Europe to the almost forgotten lands of the Bohemian crown. When King Charles XII of Sweden had defeated King Augustus of Poland and pursued his enemy to his hereditary Saxon electorate, he took up his quarters for a considerable time at Alt-Ranstädt near Leipzig. It was here brought to his notice that the Romanist priests had closed the churches in Silesia which the treaty of Westphalia had guaranteed to the Protestants. Charles, who was by inheritance a guarantor of the treaty of Westphalia, was very indignant at this breach of faith, and, impetuous as he always was, he immediately meditated on a march on Vienna. The envoys of the Austrian government who visited him, however, succeeded in pacifying him, and a treaty between Austria and Sweden was signed at Alt-Ranstädt, which assured to the Protestants of Silesia the preservation of their former privileges.
About the middle of the eighteenth century a great constitutional change affecting all the lands subject to the house of Habsburg took place. Ferdinand III had in 1567 been succeeded as Roman Emperor by his son Leopold I, who had previously already been crowned as King of Bohemia. Leopold's successors were Joseph I, and after his short reign Leopold's second son Charles VI—or II—as King of Bohemia. Charles was a very worthy prince, quite devoid of the cruelty which had stained the reign of his father Leopold. A good father and husband he was, according to the spiteful description of Frederick the Great, not exempt from superstition. As he was the last male representative of the house of Habsburg, the principal purpose of his life was to assure the succession to his throne to his daughter and to obtain general consent to the future indivisibility of the Habsburg domains. This had not always been the custom of that house. Thus Ferdinand I had divided his dominions among his three sons. In 1713, only two years after his accession, Charles issued a decree stating that in default of a male heir all the Habsburg dominions should devolve undivided, and according to primogeniture to his female descendants. In 1716 a son was born to the Emperor, but after his early death Charles again devoted his whole energy to the purpose of assuring the succession to his throne to his daughter Maria Theresa.
However absolutist the Habsburg rule was at this period, it was yet considered necessary to obtain the consent of the Estates of Hungary, Bohemia, and even the so-called "hereditary lands," to this constitutional change. The matter was brought before the Estates of Bohemia in 1720. The "renewed ordinance of the land" had already established the hereditary right of the house of Habsburg in the female as well as in the male line. The new rule as to the succession to the throne, therefore, involved no change in Bohemia, and the Estates retained their right of electing a king, should the Habsburg dynasty become extinct. The decree which declared the indivisibility of all the Habsburg dominions also found no opposition in an assembly consisting mainly of Imperial courtiers and generals. On October 16, 1720, the Estates of Bohemia unanimously accepted the Imperial decree, which after it had also been accepted by the German Imperial Diet became known as the "pragmatic sanction." Charles VI, who had also obtained the recognition of the pragmatic sanction by all European powers, was at the moment of his death, in 1740, justified in believing that he had assured the succession to his daughter Maria Theresa, who had married Francis, Duke of Lorraine, and afterwards Grand Duke of Tuscany.
The Electors of Saxony and Bavaria, however, who had both married daughters of the Emperor Joseph I, immediately refused to recognize Maria Theresa as Queen of Hungary and Bohemia. They were, in accordance with the traditional Bourbon policy, strongly supported by France, which believed that the extinction of the male line of the house of Habsburg would inevitably be followed by the complete ruin of that dynasty. The court of Spain, closely connected by relationship with that of France, also opposed Maria Theresa, who found in England her only ally. A considerable time was, however, required before these numerous countries, whose interests were in so many respects antagonistic, could determine on a joint action. Only one prince, acting quite independently, decided to strike immediately, and he alone eventually obtained great and permanent advantages by means of the Austrian war of succession.
Frederick II, King of Prussia, ascended the throne a very short time before the death of Charles VI, and—as he tells us in his Histoire de mon temps—he immediately determined to seize the opportunity which presented itself. Prussia had long coveted some parts of the lands of the Bohemian crown. A prince who, like Frederick, repeatedly expressed his contempt for the German language in very strong words could find no objection to the acquisition of lands in which a large part of the population did not speak the language. The Prussian sovereigns had to a certain extent favoured the Bohemian exiles who sought refuge in their state, and Bohemian books were printed at Berlin, at a time when it would have been impossible to do so at Prague. These facts had not been forgotten, and Frederick found friends and secret sympathizers not only in Silesia, but also in Bohemia itself, when he afterwards invaded that country. Though himself an agnostic, Frederick the Great was far too keen an observer not to have perceived how greatly the religious difficulties in the Habsburg dominions favoured his venturesome enterprise. The treaty of Westphalia had granted the Protestants of Silesia certain privileges, but the Jesuits constantly encroached on these privileges. After the treaty of Alt-Ranstadt and during the reign of Joseph I, the Protestants had remained unmolested, but during the last years of the rule of Charles VI—and with his tacit approval—the Protestants of Silesia had been forbidden to build schools, and their churches had been coverted into barracks. Prussia had also hereditary rights on parts of Silesia. The Margrave of Jägerndorf, a prince of the house of Hohenzollern, had been deprived of dominions at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War, and Leopold I had in 1675 taken possession of the duchies of Liegnitz, Brieg, and Wohlan after the death of the last Duke. Leopold declared the duchies to be vacant fiefs of the Bohemian crown, though a treaty concluded by a former Duke of Liegnitz assured the succession to the house of Hohenzollern. Though Frederick the Great did not omit to allude to his hereditary rights, his principal motive for immediate action was probably the opportunity of the moment.
Charles VI died on October 20, 1740, and on the 13th of December of the same year Frederick and his army crossed the borders of Silesia while negotiations were still proceeding and without a formal declaration of war. It was customary among historians of the older school to denounce this act with a flood of virtuous indignation. It is certain that Prussia had adhered to the pragmatic sanction, but very recent events have proved that few statesmen attach much importance to treaties in the absence of an army sufficient to enforce their enactments. Since the times of Frederick the Great, Charles Albert of Sardinia in 1848, and the Japanese empire in 1904—to quote but two examples—have opened hostilities without a formal declaration of war. It is probable that in consequence of the exigencies of modern warfare this will in the future become more and more customary. Silesia fell an easy prey to Frederick. He immediately decreed that the Protestants should enjoy complete equality of rights, but that the Romanists should not be in any way molested. The Silesian Protestants enthusiastically welcomed the Prussian troops, and the Roman Catholics seeing that Frederick, whose agnosticism assured his impartiality, did not intend to pursue a policy of retaliation, soon found it advisable to accept the rule of Frederick. Only the Austrian government officials, and some members of the nobility who were closely connected with the court of Vienna, left Silesia. The country had but a small Austrian garrison, and with the exception of a few fortresses fell almost immediately into the hands of the King of Prussia, who, on January 3, 1741, made his solemn entry into Breslau. In the following spring the Austrians made an attempt to recover Silesia, but after a complete defeat at Mollwitz on April 16, they were obliged to retire into Moravia.
The armies of France, Saxony and Bavaria had meanwhile began to move against the Habsburg States. Frederick in a masterly diplomatic campaign, which has perhaps only been rivalled by his countryman Bismarck, proved that he had no wish to establish a French hegemony in Germany in succession to the Austrian one, or to increase largely the power of Saxony—Prussia's old rival. He therefore chose this moment for concluding an armistice with Maria Theresa. Under the mediation of England a treaty was signed at Klein Schnellendorf on October 9, 1741, by which Lower Silesia and some smaller districts were ceded to Frederick. The agreement was insincere on the part of both contractors. Frederick was determined, should the enemies of Maria Theresa prove successful, to secure the whole of Silesia and perhaps other parts of the lands of the Bohemian crown as his share of the spoils. The Queen of Bohemia and Hungary had firmly resolved, should her armies be victorious, to drive the Prussians out of Silesia. As was under these circumstances inevitable, the truce was of very short duration.
In the autumn of the year 1741 the armies of France, Bavaria and Saxony entered Bohemia from various directions. Their armies joined before Prague and took the town by assault on November 26. The Elector of Bavaria immediately assumed the title of the King of Bohemia and was solemnly crowned by the Archbishop of Prague in St. Vitus's cathedral on December 19. A general meeting of the Estates also took place and members of most of the families of the Bohemian nobility, such as Černin, Kolovrat, Kinský, Lützow, Lažanský, Waldstein and many others did homage to their new king. On this occasion great festivities took place at Prague, and the contemporary records of them are not dissimilar to those which describe the festivals on the accession of the equally ill-fated Frederick of the Palatinate. The new king—Charles III, as King of Bohemia—soon after his coronation at Prague left Bohemia and proceeded to Frankfurt. He was here elected German Emperor and assumed the title of Charles VII.
Almost from the moment that Charles had been crowned as Emperor, his armies and those of his allies were unsuccessful, and Maria Theresa, principally through the aid of the Hungarians, was able to recover part of the lands which she claimed. King Frederick of Prussia, feeling that the Austrian victories might endanger his possession of Silesia, determined to end the short-lived armistice which he had concluded with Maria Theresa. He entered the county of Glatz, then an integral part of the kingdom of Bohemia, and took Glatz, the capital of the county, by assault. From here he marched through Eastern Bohemia to Moravia, and joined the Saxon forces there. Saxony was at that moment already more suspicious of Prussia than of Austria—with which country it soon afterwards concluded a treaty of peace that was at a short interval followed by an alliance between the two countries. Seeing that no advantage could be obtained by the junction with the Saxons, Frederick returned to Eastern Bohemia, where he obtained a signal victory over the Austrian forces under the Duke of Lorraine, at Chotusic, near Časlav. Maria Theresa, still menaced by numerous enemies, again decided to free herself from the one who appeared most dangerous. After preliminary negotiations at Breslau, a treaty between Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa was signed at Berlin, which ceded to Prussia the county of Glatz and the whole of Silesia, with the exception of the duchies of Teschen, Jägerndorf and Troppau. A third of the lands of the Bohemian crown thus became subject to the house of Hohenzollern.
Frederick the Great, who knew perhaps better than his Austrian antagonists that even after the constitutional revolution of 1627 the Estates of Bohemia still possessed a certain legislative power, demanded that the treaty of Berlin should declare that all lands belonging to Prussia, which had been held as fiefs of the Bohemian crown, should be freed from that dependence, and that the Estates of Bohemia should give their consent to the cession to Prussia of the lands that had formerly belonged to the Bohemian crown. On July 16, 1743, the Bohemian Diet gave its sanction to these cessions, and it could hardly have acted differently. The fact is none the less important for the constitutional history of Bohemia.
As will be mentioned presently, peace between Frederick the Great and Maria Theresa was again of short duration. Principally in consequence of the aid she had obtained from Hungary, Maria Theresa was everywhere victorious. The Saxons, giving up all their former claims, had concluded an alliance with the Queen of Hungary. Prague, however, was still occupied by a large French garrison which held the town for Charles of Bavaria. The troops of Maria Theresa besieged the city, and Marshal Belleisle, who commanded the French garrison, cut off from all communications with his own country, was in a desperate position. He, however, succeeded in retiring to Cheb (Eger) after a difficult and perilous march across Bohemia in mid-winter. A small French garrison under Chevet, which for a time remained in Prague, was finally obliged to capitulate, but as the French general threatened to blow up the town, together with his own positions within it, he obtained favourable conditions. He was allowed to retire with his forces to Cheb and secured the promise of an amnesty for the adherents of Charles VII—a promise that was not kept by the Austrian authorities. On September 7, 1743, the French evacuated Cheb, the last Bohemian town that had remained in their possession.
Even before that date Maria Theresa determined to visit Bohemia. She well knew the great importance which Bohemians attach to the coronation of their sovereigns, and she was therefore crowned at Prague on May 11. The Queen declared the capitulation signed on Chevet's departure to be invalid, and a considerable number of Bohemian noblemen and citizens were arrested. The principal adherents of King Charles were severely punished, but it is uncertain whether any capital executions took place. Maria Theresa's experiences at the beginning of her reign in Bohemia undoubtedly influenced her mind against the inhabitants of that country, which she always somewhat neglected in favour of her beloved Viennese. This dislike to the Bohemians can be traced in all the new regulations and enactments which the Queen published during the later years of her reign. During her short stay at Prague the Queen received the news of great victories of her armies. After driving the enemy from Lower and Upper Austria the—mainly Hungarian—forces of Maria Theresa had victoriously occupied Munich and the whole of Bavaria. Charles VII had sought refuge in Frankfurt, and the French troops were gradually retiring across the Rhine. Frederick the Great thought a new intervention on his part necessary. He had never wished to increase the French influence in Germany nor to render assistance to the dynastic ambitions of Bavaria or Saxony, but he rightly thought if the series of Austrian victories continued, that country might endeavour to regain Silesia also. When therefore Charles VII appealed to Prussia for help, Frederick concluded a treaty with him by which he promised to assist him in recovering the kingdom of Bohemia, while the Emperor promised to cede to Prussia the part of the kingdom situated on the right bank of the Elbe—a plan with which we here meet for the first, but by no means for the last time in the annals of Prussian politics. Frederick's action was as rapid as it always was. Crossing through the territory of Saxony, that was now allied with Austria, Frederick entered Bohemia on August 15, 1744, declaring that he appeared there to re-establish the rule of the legitimate sovereign, Charles VII. He occupied Prague after a short resistance and then marched into Southern Bohemia, perhaps intending to menace Vienna. The Austrian armies, that had been engaged in a campaign against France, near the Rhine, were, however, now recalled, and Frederick's position in Bohemia became a dangerous one. He was also threatened in his rear by a Saxon army. Frederic therefore determined to evacuate Prague and to retire into Silesia through the North-eastern districts of Bohemia. He successfully accomplished this difficult task, not without the aid of the secretly Hussite peasants of Bohemia, who sympathized with Prussia. The war between Frederick the Great and the allied forces of Austria and Saxony still continued for some time, but after Frederick's victories at Hohenfriedberg and Kesselstadt a treaty of peace was signed at Dresden on December 25, 1745. Its contents were similar to those of the treaty of Berlin. Prussia retained possession of the greatest part of Silesia and of the county of Glatz.
Almost immediately after the treaty of peace, Maria Theresa—who became Empress when her husband, Charles of Lorraine, was, after the death of Charles VII, chosen as Emperor—decided to reorganize and centralize the administration of the states over which she ruled. To the great autonomy and independence which some of these lands still possessed, she largely attributed the troubles which had marked the beginning of her reign. These constitutional changes were, however, necessarily delayed by the outbreak of the Seven Years' War.
Though the results of the Seven Years' War affected Bohemia very little, as at its close the stipulations of the Treaty of Berlin remained unchanged, yet as this war was, particularly in the two first years, fought principally on Bohemian soil, it cannot remain quite unmentioned here. In 1756 Frederick the Great, having received information that a large coalition of the European powers against him was being formed, determined, with his habitual resolution to anticipate his enemies. On August 26, 1756, the Prussian army entered Saxony, where it met with no resistance, as the Saxon army retired to a strongly fortified position between Pirna and Königstein. They here awaited the arrival of their Austrian allies; but Frederick, entering Bohemia, defeated the Austrians at Lovosic, and then, returning to Saxony, forced the Saxon army to capitulate. In the following spring he again attacked Bohemia, and, marching on its capital, won the famed "Battle of Prague," which was really fought at the village of Stěrbohol, five miles from the city. The Austrians hastily retired to Prague. Frederick besieged and bombarded the town, but the Austrian victory at Kolin obliged him to raise the siege. Frederick then marched westward to encounter the French armies, and the Austrians availed themselves of his absence to invade Silesia. Aided by the Roman Catholic part of the population they obtained possession of a considerable part of the country, including Breslau. Frederick's brilliant victory at Leuthen, on December 5, 1575, obliged the Austrians again to evacuate Silesia. During the later period of the Seven Years' War only outlying districts of Bohemia were on rare occasions the scene of a war that was mostly waged in Germany. The peace of Hubertsburg, which in 1763 ended the war, confirmed the Prussian conquest of Silesia and the county of Glatz.
The return of peace enabled the Empress Maria Theresa to carry out the plans she had previously formed of reorganizing the vast Habsburg dominions. Even during the reign of Charles VI, the Empress's father, these various racially and historically distinct countries were, to a great extent, governed according to their ancient laws and traditions. Beside the high officials of Prague, no longer indeed elected by the Estates, but appointed by the Austrian Government, Bohemia was administered by the "Bohemian secret court chancellery" (Böheimische Geheime Hof Kanzlei). The financial affairs of the lands of the Bohemian crown were under the direction of a council (Haupt Commission derer drey Böheimischen Landen in cameralisticis). A supreme law-court (Obriste Justiz Stelle in Böhemicis) was the highest tribunal for Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia. Though these three ministries, as we may call them, all had their offices in Vienna, their sphere was entirely limited to the Bohemian lands. Other officials were charged with the administration of Flanders, Milan, Hungary, Transylvania, and the so-called German hereditary dominions of the House of Habsburg. This system of government was undoubtedly a complicated one, but it was certainly in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the population of states between whom the dynasty formed the only genuine connecting link. Maria Theresa, however, as already mentioned, attributed the failures of the Austrian armies at the beginning of her reign to the autonomy which the Austrian Netherlands, Hungary, and to a limited extent Bohemia also still possessed. The equipment of the armies was, to a certain extent, still dependent on the grants of money made by the different Estates. As the events during the reign of Maria Theresa's son afterwards proved, it was dangerous to encroach on the liberties of Hungary and of the Netherlands. The councillors of Maria Theresa, therefore, determined first to devote their attention to Bohemia. Of the Empress Maria Theresa it can be truly said that she was the creator of what is now usually, though not officially, called "Cisleithania," a term which describes the non-Hungarian parts of the Habsburg domains. An imperial decree in 1749 abolished the separate law courts of Bohemia and Austria (i. e. the hereditary lands of the House of Habsburg) and established at Vienna a central tribunal for all the Bohemian and Austrian territories. Somewhat later the administration of the two previously separate countries was also united, and a common chancellor for Bohemia and Austria was placed at its head. At Prague also the authority of the Estates was still further limited, and the custom that the State officials, though appointed by the Government of Vienna, were chosen among the Bohemians, fell into desuetude. These administrative changes, which all tended to place Bohemia in closer dependence on Vienna, continued with increasing energy during the reign of Maria Theresa and her son Joseph, who in the year 1765 became her co-regent. An important measure which imperilled the national language even more than the decrees published after the battle of the White Mountain, was the new system of education which was introduced by Joseph II. He founded a large number of new schools, in all of which—even in the village schools of the lowest category—the teaching was to be exclusively in the German language. This decree, whose brutality is perhaps only equalled by the recent Prussian school-regulations in Posen, deprived the wretched Bohemian peasants even of the consolations of religion; for the religious instruction also was to be given in German to children, few of whom knew any language but their own. It should be stated to the honour of the Bohemian priesthood that they, in those districts where German was totally unknown, generally disregarded the imperial decree. About the same time a new regulation decreed that the German language should in future be exclusively used in all, even the lowest law courts in the Bohemian lands. The many Bohemians who, particularly in country districts, had no knowledge of German, were thus exposed to constant vexations and frauds.
While the new regulations of Maria Theresa had been without exception injurious to Bohemia, the more extensive and more far-reaching plans of her son Joseph II, who, after her death in 1780 succeeded her as King of Bohemia and Hungary, included some reforms that were very favourable to Bohemia. Among these the most important was the abolition of the system of serfdom, which still oppressed the Bohemian peasants. This great reform was carried out in the first year of Joseph's rule, who on this occasion still acted in accordance with the Diet of Bohemia. In the later years of his reign Joseph entirely suppressed these meetings of the Estates. Though the peasantry of Bohemia even now did not obtain complete freedom—this was only granted them in 1848—their state was greatly improved by this reform.
Of Joseph's policy generally it can be said that it was founded on the conception of "enlightened despotism" which Frederick the Great's example had rendered fashionable among the sovereigns of the eighteenth century. He determined to consolidate the wide and variegated lands over which he ruled into one vast monarchy, whose only language was to be the German one. The historical traditions of Hungary and Bohemia Joseph treated with unconcealed contempt. Thus he had planned to turn the time-honoured palace of the Bohemian kings, on the Hradčany at Prague, into barracks. Joseph was entirely free from the ultra-clerical tendency that has been so harmful to many princes of his line. He proved this by issuing in 1781, the first year in which he became sole ruler, the famed "decree of tolerance" (Toleranz Patent). This decree granted full freedom to the "Helvetic and Augsburg Confessions," a description which included Lutherans and Calvinists. All other Christian creeds, even the unity of the Bohemian Brethren, which had in the last years before the battle of the White Mountain almost become the national Church, were excluded. Fearing that this unexpected amount of liberty, granted so suddenly, might lead to disorders, very draconic laws were issued against other "sectarians." Still the "Toleranz Patent" was an enlightened measure for which the people of Bohemia—many of whom had secretly remained Protestants—were very grateful to their otherwise unpopular ruler.
It was also in accordance with the traditional policy of the enlightened despots of the eighteenth century that Joseph II relaxed to a certain extent the extreme coercive regulations which had hitherto rendered impossible in the Habsburg dominions the appearance of any newspaper or book that was not published—directly or indirectly—by order of the Government. Thus Joseph allowed the publication in Prague of a paper in the national language, though such a permission has, since his time, frequently been refused by the Austrian ministers. It was only a consequence of this comparative freedom that new editions of ancient Bohemian works, and translations from foreign languages into the national one now began to appear. It was also during the reign of Joseph II that the Bohemian Society of Sciences was founded, and professorships of the Bohemian language were established at the university of Vienna, and somewhat later at that of Prague. As the existence of Bohemia as an autonomous country may be said to stand and fall with that of the national language, the policy of Joseph II—certainly very much against the wishes of its originator—prepared the way for the revival of the Bohemian language in the following century.
The so-called reforms of Joseph II ended in a complete failure. The population of the Austrian Netherlands rose in arms against the Government, and that of Hungary was on the point of doing so when, on the death of Joseph at the beginning of the year 1790, his successor, Leopold II, withdrew almost all the reforms of his brother. In Bohemia also there had been great discontent, but the disunited people was incapable of action. The nobles had become mere courtiers, the citizens were powerless and servile, and the peasants, of all Joseph's reforms, were interested only in the agricultural measures, that had undoubtedly improved their condition.
During his short reign Leopold II endeavoured to conciliate the different nationalities whom the hasty and headlong policy of his brother and predecessor had deeply offended. Only a few weeks after the death of Joseph, Leopold assembled the estates of Bohemia who during the later years of the reign of Joseph had never been allowed to meet. He also ordered the Bohemian crown, which by order of Joseph had been transported to Vienna, to be restored to Prague, and he was crowned with it at St. Vitus's Cathedral on September 6, 1791. Leopold II died after a reign of only two years.
The earlier part of the reign of his son and successor Francis I, which concludes the period from 1792–1815, was almost entirely absorbed by the prolonged and obstinate contest of the house of Habsburg with revolutionary France. In consequence of this struggle Francis became, and continued during his long life, a bitter enemy of all liberal and progressive ideas, and indeed of all changes. He was at the beginning of his reign crowned at Prague as King of Bohemia, and received a deputation of the Estates, who begged that a small part of the former autonomy should be restored to their country. The Emperor, who was during his whole life influenced by his dread of the French revolution, replied by a decree which merely stated that all administrative changes in Bohemia must be postponed till the termination of the foreign wars. The almost uninterrupted series of wars with France was with few exceptions waged outside of the frontiers of Bohemia. The country which gave to the empire its best and most numerous soldiers none the less suffered grievously, and the hopeless state of the Austrian finances caused the complete ruin of a considerable part of the population of Bohemia.
During the whole revolutionary period absolute internal tranquillity prevailed in Bohemia, as in other parts of the Habsburg empire. The reactionary ministers of other countries regarded with envy the conditions of these countries where all expressions of liberal opinion could be entirely and successfully suppressed. Austrian ministers also, as Baron Helfert has well said, never even appear to have taken into consideration the possibility that the desire for liberal laws and institutions which showed itself so strongly in neighbouring countries might finally manifest itself in a very vehement manner in the Habsburg dominions also. Two important constitutional changes in Bohemia belong to this period. In 1804 Francis I assumed the hereditary title of Emperor of Austria. It was however declared that he would continue to bear the titles of King of Bohemia and Hungary, and that his successors would as heretofore continue to be crowned as kings of those countries. In 1815 the Germanic confederacy began its inglorious career which ended only in 1866. Not only the German hereditary lands of the house of Habsburg, but also Bohemia with Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia were included in this confederacy. It was not considered necessary to submit this important constitutional innovation to the Diet or meeting of the Estates of Bohemia. There was indeed no danger that that body, then entirely lacking independence and initiative, would venture to criticize, far less reject, any measure brought before it by the government, but it was in accordance with the policy then pursued at Vienna to suppress all semblance of representative government.
The administration of the Habsburg dominions—with the exception of Hungary—was founded on a system of severest absolutism during the years that followed the general pacification of 1815. The liberty of the subject became entirely dependent on the arbitrariness of an omnipotent police. Countless government spies watched over even the most insignificant acts of the citizens. A double system of "censure," one political, the other ecclesiastical, rendered it impossible to express in print any opinions that were not in strict accordance with the views of the government of Vienna.
While the despotism of Vienna pressed heavily on all parts of the empire, its oppression was felt more heavily in Bohemia than elsewhere; for not only were individuals deprived of all liberty, but the national language—so sacred to all Bohemians—was excluded from every school, law-court, or government office in the country. The fact that in spite of all these and of other obstacles the first half of the nineteenth century witnessed a revival of the Bohemian language is an almost unique one. This event is mainly due to a small group of literary men of whom Jungmann, Kolár, Šafařík, and Palacký were the most prominent. They obtained the support of the more enlightened members of the Bohemian nobility. As the Austrian police had at that time the power of expelling from any town those who were not either resident there or able to prove that they had sufficient means of livelihood, the patriots who were poor, and some of whom had come to Prague from other parts of the empire, were exposed to constant persecution on the part of the police. Several patriotic noblemen assured the safety of the young enthusiasts by conferring on them appointments as librarians or tutors in their families. Palacký himself was appointed "historiographer to the Estates of Bohemia," an appointment to which the government of Vienna after much delay at last gave a reluctant consent. The development of the national language was greatly furthered by the foundation in 1818 of the "Society of the Bohemian Museum." In this museum many ancient monuments of the period of Bohemia's greatness were collected. Many historical MSS. of great value also found a place in it and were afterwards printed by the Matice Česká, a society founded in connection with the museum. The foundation of the museum was mainly due to the efforts of Counts Sternberg and Kolovrat, the latter of whom held high office in the government of Vienna and was therefore able to overcome the resistance which that government always opposed to all Bohemian enterprise. Many Bohemian nobles of the Klebelsberg, Kinský, Černin, Thun, Lützow, Waldstein, Wratislaw families immediately joined the new association. The acquaintance with the ancient history of their country contributed largely to revive the patriotism of the people. Many ancient songs were rediscovered, and—as happens so easily in a musical country—new ones treating of the old and glorious time of Bohemia were improvised and were soon in the mouths of all.
It is not my purpose to repeat here what I have previously written on the revival of the Bohemian language and literature. One point, however, deserves notice. The Germans were at that time free from that racial hatred of the Slav which has lately been so prominent. The great Göthe became a member of the Society of the Bohemian Museum. German poets rivalled the Bohemians themselves in celebrating the ancient glories of the nation. It may, however, be suggested that this fairness was founded on the supposition that Bohemia, as a political individuality, was dead for ever; the fact is none the less noteworthy.
About the year 1840 we perceive the beginning of a political activity in Bohemia. It appeared at first only among the Estates, as indeed there only a semblance of independence still existed. After the end of the Napoleonic wars the Diets or meetings of the Estates again took place. These meetings had however become a mere formality. The governor ("high burgrave") stated what sums the government required and these were immediately and unanimously voted without debate. It had become proverbial to describe a dull party as having been "as quiet as a meeting of the Estates." When the Emperor Ferdinand in 1835 succeeded his father Francis the meetings of the Diet took place somewhat more frequently, and were after a time less insignificant. An unimportant circumstance produced the first note of opposition. In 1845 Count Chotek, then governor, disposed of a house at Prague, the property of the Estates, without waiting for the mere formality of asking their consent. Count Frederick Deym, a strong nationalist who had begun to be known as the "Bohemian O'Connell," strongly protested against this arbitrary act. Count Chotek was recalled mainly through the influence of Count Kolovrat who, himself a Bohemian, sympathised with the Bohemians as far as his official position as Austrian minister permitted. Henceforth, however, the claim of the Bohemian Estates to exercise some control over the finances of their country became ever more pressing. At the meeting of the Diet in 1845 Count Frederick Deym proposed "that the Estates should appoint a committee which was to determine in what efficient but respectful manner they could defend their menaced rights and privileges." In 1847 the Diet again met. The committee mentioned above had drawn up a statement declaring that the constitution of 1627 had still left the Estates considerable powers. They still, it was maintained, had the right of electing their king should the Habsburg dynasty become extinct both in the male and female line. The document further asserted the exclusive right of the Estates to levy taxes in Bohemia, and declared that if the Estates voted no taxes, none could be raised in the kingdom of Bohemia. This document gave rise to a very animated debate that lasted from the 3rd to the 11th of May. The hall at the Hradčany castle in which the meetings of the Estates took place had by no means its usual somnolent appearance. Some of the members ventured to defend the absolutist policy of the government of Vienna. Among them was Joseph Müller, mayor (starosta) of Prague, who, according to the then existing regulations, was a nominee of the government of Vienna. Count Bouquoi interrupted him by saying: "You are servile by your origin, servile by your education, servile by your official position; nothing else could be expected of you." This occurrence undoubtedly constitutes one of history's little ironies; for at the present time the liberal papers of Bohemia—perhaps generalizing rather unfairly—accuse the nobility of servility, while the present mayor of Prague is a strong upholder of the autonomy and nationality of Bohemia. The declaration proposed by the committee was finally voted by a large majority, and the members of the Diet before separating resolved that at their next meeting—which would, it was supposed, take place in 1848—they would petition the Austrian government to consent to the increase of the number of town-representatives at the Diets, to grant the Estates full control over the road-making in the kingdom, and to allow the introduction of the national language in the schools. In consequence of the events of 1848 this meeting of the estates never took place.
The beginning of the year 1848 was in Bohemia, as in almost all continental Europe, marked by a revolutionary outbreak. After the total failure of this movement it, particularly in Bohemia, for a long time became fashionable to overwhelm the idealistic and unpractical reformers with a torrent of virulent abuse and cheap derision. Now that the events of the "year of revolution" have risen from the level of contemporary controversy to the calm heights of history, the judgment of many will probably be different; they will think that these strivers who heedless of all difficulties and dangers attempted to establish "government of the people, by the people, for the people" undertook no ignoble task.
It has already been mentioned that since the year 1840, the formerly somnolent Estates had shown some tendency to opposition. This attitude at first but slightly interested the Bohemian people. The aloofness which to a great extent separates the Bohemian nobility from the other classes of the population caused the citizens—very unjustly, it must be admitted—to believe that the nobles were only endeavouring to obtain for themselves further favours from the government of Vienna. It was only the talented young journalist, Charles Havliček (or "Havel Borovsky") who drew the attention of the public to the attitude of opposition taken up by members of that class which had been considered unconditionally devoted to the government of Vienna. Havliček's paper, the "Prazské Noviny" ("news of Prague") attacked the Austrian Government with great ingenuity. As the "censor-office" prohibited all allusions to the internal affairs of Bohemia, Havliček published in the form of reports on the condition of Ireland sharp criticism on the government of his own country. Thus originated the comparison between Ireland and Bohemia which has since become one of the commonplaces of political controversy.
It was also with reference to Ireland that a patrotic association in Bohemia, formed shortly before the year 1848, assumed the name of "repeal." Sometime before the beginning of the year 1848, the impressionable Bohemians believed that that year would be of great importance to their country. It was pointed out that in that year occurred the fifth centenary anniversary of the foundation of the university and of the "new town" of Prague. Even the fact that the spring of that year was an early and very fine one was interpreted in a mystical manner. The actual outbreak of the liberal movement in Prague, as elsewhere, only occurred when the news of the revolution in Paris arrived. The news reached Prague on February 29, and on March 11, a large popular meeting in the hall of the so-called "baths of St. Venceslas" took place under the direction of the "repeal" society. It was presided over by Dr. Aloysius Trojan, afterwards a well-known member of the parliaments of Prague and Vienna. The assembly resolved to elect a committee comprising members of all classes of the population, who were to present to the Emperor the demands of the Bohemian people. These were formulated in fourteen articles. The principal requests were that the national language be granted complete equality with German, that the detestable system of "censure" be abolished, that Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia be again joined to Bohemia as being lands of the Bohemian crown, and that a thorough reform of the land-laws should alleviate the distress of the Bohemian peasantry. The first deputation which presented these demands in Vienna obtained no result, as the court was then entirely absorbed by the revolutionary movement that had just broken out in Vienna. A second deputation which proceeded there somewhat later was more successful. It brought back the Emperor's answer in the shape of a letter addressed by him to Baron Pillersdorf, then head of the Austrian government. It was stated in this important document that the Emperor would shortly convoke a Bohemian Diet in which not only the nobility and clergy but also the towns and country districts would be adequately represented. The Emperor would grant this assembly full legislative power. He further promised that the Bohemian language should in future enjoy complete equality with the German one, and that the demands of the Bohemians with regard to freedom of the press and personal liberty would be granted. The claim of the landowners to demand forced labour ("robota") from the peasants on their estates was abolished and the landowners were to receive an indemnity. The right of lower jurisdiction possessed by the owners of certain large estates () that could then only be held by nobles was abolished. With regard to the reunion of Moravia and Silesia to Bohemia, the matter was to be left to the decision of a general assembly of representatives of all parts of the Habsburg dominions. This Imperial decree was enthusiastically received at Prague, and the elections to the new Diet, which would practically have had the character of a constituent assembly, took place shortly afterwards. This Bohemian parliament, however, never met.
The events in Bohemia are at this moment so closely connected with those in Germany that it is necessary to refer briefly to the condition of Germany at the beginning of the year 1848. The only link between the numerous German states had hitherto consisted in a meeting of representatives of all the states which formed part of the confederacy. This assembly which met at Frankfurt under the presidency of Austria had long become intensely unpopular. All Germans complained that no work, except the occasional passing of reactionary measures, was done by the worthy diplomatists, who met at Frankfurt. In consequence of the revolutionary movement of the year 1848, the German Governments found themselves obliged to give their reluctant consent to the meeting of a national parliament at Frankfurt, at which all countries forming part of the Germanic confederacy— therefore Bohemia also—were to be represented. Before this parliament met it was settled that fifty prominent men, belonging to all parts of Germany should meet to deliberate on the organization of the new parliamentary assembly. It was agreed that six of these men should be chosen among the subjects of the house of Habsburg, and the historian Palacký was invited to take part in the deliberations as one of their number. Palacký, on April 11, replied to this proposal in a letter that remained, and indeed still is, famous in Bohemia. He wrote: "I am not a German but a Bohemian, belonging to the Slav race. Whatever talent I may possess is at the service of my own country. My nation is certainly a small one, but it has always maintained its historical individuality. The rulers of Bohemia have often been on terms of intimacy with the German princes, but the Bohemian people have never considered themselves as Germans." These eloquent words of Palacký, who now became, and continued to the end of his life, the leader of the Bohemian people, found a general echo in the country. Only a few representatives of Germanized districts of Bohemia took part in the deliberations of the German parliament at Frankfurt.
The meeting of this assembly was, however, one of the causes of an event that had a large and disastrous influence on the future of Bohemia. I refer to the Slavic congress at Prague. The fact that Germans from all parts of their country had, though they were subjects of various rulers, met in one large assembly naturally suggested to the Slavs of Austria, and particularly of Bohemia, the idea of meeting in one great assembly. The men who undertook to organize this assembly were by no means enemies of the Habsburg dynasty. The fact that numerous members of the Bohemian nobility, which since the time of Maria Theresa has been traditionally loyal, took part in the proceedings bears sufficient witness to this. On April 30, a considerable number of Slavic politicians—here also following the example of Germany—met at a preliminary conference to discuss the conditions under which a Slavic congress could be held. It was decided to invite representatives of all the Slavs who were under the rule of the house of Habsburg, but to admit as guests all who belonged to the Slavic race. The plan of the Slavic leaders placed the government of Vienna in a very difficult position. The Hungarian government which was at that moment, as in the present day, almost independent of Vienna, raised an energetic protest against the meeting of any assembly, at which the Slavs of Hungary should be represented. The attitude of the German and liberal cabinet which had taken office in Vienna in March was one of hatred and fear of the Hungarians, of hatred and contempt of the Slavs. The cabinet of Vienna was, however, entirely powerless, as several government officials and generals, of whom Prince Windischgrätz—who at this moment became commander of the Imperial forces in Bohemia—was the most important, had already planned a return to the former absolutist system of government. In spite of the dangers that threatened them, the Bohemian patriots determined to hold their congress. About the end of May numerous Slavs from all countries began to arrive at Prague. The principal leaders met at the house of Baron Neuberg, an ardent patriot, on May 27 and 28. The meeting had by no means a revolutionary character. Count Leo Thun, who was at that moment at the head of the government (Zemský president) acted as chairman. Most of the Bohemian patriots were present as well as several Servian guests, among whom was General Zach, who afterwards became known as leader of the Servian armies. On May 30 numerous other patriots arrived from the country districts of Bohemia, from Croatia, Servia, Poland, Moravia, and the Slavic parts of Hungary. They were received with great enthusiasm by the National Guard, which in Prague, as in most continental cities, had been formed in the revolutionary year. At a meeting which took place at the National Museum on June 1, Palacký was elected president of the congress, and on the following day, after a solemn mass at the Týn church, the first general assembly took place on the Sophia island. From the first moment, however, dark clouds, as Tomek writes, appeared on the horizon. Though the Russian Government had forbidden its subjects to attend the congress, several Russian revolutionists of a very advanced school were present. Here, as so often before and since that time, the extremists proved the worst enemies of liberty's true friends. On the other hand, the attitude of the troops at Prague was a menacing one from the beginning of the congress. On June 5, Prince Windischgrätz, commander of the garrison of Prague, held a great review. The soldiers, all alien to Bohemia, already professed an intense hatred of the citizens and particularly of the students. It also appears that here, as on so many occasions, the Austrian Government employed the evil services of secret agents. Prince Windischgrätz's political views were well known. He had almost alone, when even Prince 's colleague Count Kolovrat declared the ancient chancellor's demission necessary, expressed the wish that Mettemich should retain office and that the garrison of Vienna should immediately attack the people. The reception of Windischgrätz on the occasion of this review, when he was greeted with enthusiasm by his soldiers, had almost the character of a pronunciamento. On the following day Windischgrätz ordered to Prague the garrisons of all the smaller towns of Bohemia. The conflicts between the soldiers and the people daily became more frequent.
The Slavic congress had meanwhile continued its deliberations. Several committees had been elected which were to report on the condition of the Slavs in the different countries in which they reside. It had also been determined under the influence of two agitators, Bakunin, a Russian, and Libert, a Prussian Pole, to publish a manifesto which, almost ignoring the national question, expounded in the then customary phraseology the theory of the sovereignty of the people. Palacký and Tomek, firm upholders of the historical rights of the Bohemian people, could not approve of this unpractical and doctrinaire resolution. Wishing, however, to avoid discord among the members of the congress, they finally consented to its being passed. Palacký had previously obtained the insertion of a passage which laid stress on the equality of the Slavic races with the Teutonic and Latin ones that had so long oppressed them.
June 11 was in that year Whitsunday. The Slavic congress interrupted its sittings for a few days, and many members left Prague for the country. The assertion afterwards made by Government officials that a vast conspiracy was planned at this moment is undoubtedly untrue. On Whitmonday a solemn mass was said in St. Venceslas's place, where prayers were offered up for the success of the congress. After the end of the service some of those who had been present on their way home passed through the Celetná ulice, where the palace of the military commander was then situated. On passing the residence cries were raised which the soldiers on duty there—who were all ignorant of the Bohemian language—believed, or pretended to believe, to be insults against their commander. The large force of soldiers which was concentrated in the vast courtyard of the palace immediately marched out into the street and began to fire on the passers-by. A panic ensued, as a rumour that Prince Windischgrätz was planning forcibly to re-establish absolutism, had been widely circulated. Barricades were hurriedly erected in various parts of the town, and desultory fighting took place in several directions. Some houses belonging to Bohemian patriots were plundered, and the soldiers made an attempt to destroy the collections contained in the National museum. There was no organized resistance to the troops, as no revolution had been planned. Even the students, who had slightly fortified the university buildings known as the Clementinum, immediately released Count Leo Thun, whom they had made a prisoner. As he had not hitherto proved hostile to the national cause, it was hoped that he would act as mediator. The thought of retaining a hostage, so familiar to more recent and more ferocious revolutionists, was never conceived by these youthful and enthusiastic patriots.
When the news of the troubles at Prague reached Vienna the Austrian Government immediately attempted to mediate. Composed as it then was of men of liberal views, it well knew that Windischgrätz's plans extended far beyond the borders of Bohemia. Count Mensdorf was sent to Prague as Imperial representative, and he was instructed to replace Prince Windischgrätz as commander of the troops in Bohemia. Mensdorf entered into negotiations with the national committee, and on June 15 it appeared that these negotiations were proceeding favourably. The officers and men of the garrison of Prague, however, refused to obey any commander except Windischgrätz, and General Mensdorf and the Government officials who accompanied him were obliged hurriedly to leave Prague. Windischgrätz had meanwhile withdrawn all his forces from the interior of the city and concentrated them on the surrounding heights. Under the pretext that shots had been fired at his outposts he began on June 16 a general bombardment of Prague. During the night fires broke out in all directions, and on the following morning the city capitulated unconditionally. Windischgrätz's plans had begun successfully. One of the principal towns of the empire was again under absolutist rule. The short-sighted and narrow-minded Germans of Bohemia, and even of other countries, at first celebrated Windischgrätz as a national hero. It was only when the general, with even greater energy, re-established autocracy in Vienna also that their views underwent a change.
The bombardment of Prague marks in Bohemia the end of the national and liberal movement of the year 1848, though Bohemian representatives, as will be mentioned presently, took part in the deliberations of the Austrian constituent assembly that met at Vienna, and afterwards at Kroměřiže. In Bohemia, however, absolutism was already triumphant. Shortly before the outbreak of the disturbances at Prague the national committee, which since the meeting in the hall of St. Venceslas directed the national movement, sent two of its members, Dr. Rieger and Count Nostitz, to Innsbruck, where the Imperial court was then residing. They arrived at Prague on their return at the moment when General Mensdorf was vainly attempting to obtain a cessation of hostilities. Rieger and Nostitz were bearers of good news. The Emperor had received them graciously and had confirmed all the promises contained in his letter of April 8. He had also promised to convoke the Bohemian Parliament in the course of the month of June, leaving it to Count Leo Thun, as representative of the Austrian Government in Bohemia, to fix the day.
All the hopes of Bohemia were destroyed by the action of Prince Windischgrätz. The members of the Slavic congress immediately dispersed; the meeting of the Bohemian Parliament was indefinitely postponed and, indeed, never took place; the national committee was dissolved; Prague and most of the Bohemian towns were placed in a state of siege. At the end of the year 1848 Prague was for a short time freed from this state, but it was re-established a few months later, as the police spies again maintained that they had discovered a vast conspiracy in Bohemia. It appears that the fact that a few students had incautiously spoken with disapproval of the Government was the only foundation of this denunciation. The courts-martial resumed their activity, which became even greater than before. As constitutional government had not yet been formally abolished, the military and police officials considered it their duty to prove the existence of far-reaching conspiracies, which justified the maintenance of martial law. For this purpose they used means not differing widely from the customs of the middle ages.
The liberty of the press, after a brief spell of freedom again disappeared. In Prague almost all the papers except the organ of the Government discontinued publication. The editors who were sufficiently venturesome not to do so were subject to bitter and persistent persecution. Even the tamest criticism of Government measures rendered the writer and the editor liable to fines and imprisonment. As the reactionary movement was directed in Bohemia by men whose sympathies were entirely German, the papers written in the national language were treated far worse than the German ones, and they soon disappeared altogether, while some German papers continued to be published during the whole period of absolutism. Among the Bohemian journalists who were at this period persecuted by the Austrian Government the most illustrious was Charles Havliček, whose memory is still revered by the Bohemians. He had, as already mentioned, begun before the year 1848 to edit the Pražské Noviny. When the liberal movement of that year began Havliček broke off his connection with it, thinking that its proprietors did not allow him sufficient independence. He founded a new paper entitled the Národni Noviny (National News), and very courageously continued its publication even after the bombardment of Prague. The paper was constantly confiscated, sometimes entirely suppressed for a few months, then again for a short time permitted to appear. Havliček finally saw the impossibility of publishing in Prague a paper opposed to the Government. He therefore, in spite of the difficulties raised by the authorities, and contrary even to the advice of some of his friends, determined to found a new paper at Kutna Hora, a town in which the state of siege had not been proclaimed. The first number of the new paper, to which Havliček gave the name of Slovan (the "Slav") appeared on May 8, 1850. In his new paper he continued bravely to uphold the political and national demands of his countrymen. The reactionary movement in the Habsburg monarchy was by this time fully successful, and the persecution of Havliček continued relentlessly; almost every number of his paper was confiscated, and in those very numerous parts of the empire which were under martial law its sale was entirely prohibited. Though Havliček, a poor man, suffered financially also, he courageously continued the unequal struggle up to August 15, 1851, when the last number of the Slovan appeared. Havliček now determined entirely to leave political life and to seek to gain a living by farming. His sufferings were not, however, at an end. In consequence of an article contained in the last number of the Slovan, the public prosecutor brought an accusation against Havliček before the law-court of Kutna Hora. Trials by jury had, in that part of Bohemia which was not under martial law, not yet been suppressed; its suppression was, indeed, one of the consequences of the trial of Havliček. He appeared, on November 17, before the jury of Kutna Hora and was unanimously acquitted. His heroic attitude and his eloquence are still remembered by the Bohemian people. The Austrian Government was, however, now more firmly determined than ever to silence Havliček. The coup-d'éat of Napoleon III had encouraged the friends of absolutism in all parts of the continent. By order of the minister, Baron Bach, who was just beginning to acquire that influence which for a time made him almost omnipotent in Austria, Havliček was arrested at three o'clock of night on December 16, 1851, and conveyed to Brixen in the Tyrol. He was interned here and remained here for some years under the strict supervision of the police. He was only permitted to return to his native land when his health was already failing, and he died shortly after his return to Bohemia.
The persecution of Bohemian patriots was not limited to men who like Havliček openly expressed views that were in Austria considered radical. Even so conservative a statesman as was Palacký suffered from the molestation of the Austrian Government and the secret police. He had long been president of the society of the National Museum, but when new elections took place during the period of renewed absolutism the committee did not even dare to elect him one of its members. Yet even this cautious association of noblemen and scholars incurred the suspicion of Bach's agents, and it was decreed that a commissioner of the police should be present at the sittings of the association. Palacký, whose great historical work had largely contributed to the revival of the national feeling in Bohemia, incurred the special hatred of the military rulers of Prague. The suggestion of trying him by court-martial was seriously discussed, but the plan was afterwards abandoned. Yet he continued under constant and secret supervision by the police. Palacký has himself told us that at this period he avoided walking through the more frequented streets of Prague. He did not wish to place his friends before the alternative of either ignoring him or incurring the disfavour of the police by being seen in his company. All relations between Palacký and the Bohemian nobility, who had so highly esteemed him, ceased for a time. The nobles, with few exceptions, temporarily withdrew their support from the national cause. It was only in 1860, when a new attempt was made to establish constitutional government in Bohemia that this ceased to be the case.
It has already been mentioned that Bohemian representatives took part in the deliberations of the Austrian parliament that met at Vienna in 1848. They have often been blamed for having done so. Yet it must be remembered that as all liberty had already been suppressed in their own country, the Vienna parliament was the only forum in which they could freely express their views. It should also be noted that the Vienna parliament was a constituent assembly, and the Bohemians could therefore take part in its deliberations without prejudging the question of their autonomy concerning which they had recently received such satisfactory promises from the court.
It has already been mentioned that the Bohemian national movement was at its beginning mainly a literary one. It is therefore natural that there should have been many scholars and men of letters among the deputies whom the Bohemians returned to the parliament of Vienna. We find among them the names of Palacký—who was elected by several constituencies, and became the leader of the party—Tomek the great historian, Havliček, Trojan, and Rieger, who now first gave proofs of his great eloquence. The learned Šafařík, who was also elected, declined to proceed to Vienna. The position of the Bohemian delegates in Vienna was from the first a very difficult, indeed an almost helpless one. The radical majority was thoroughly imbued with the extreme and nebulous views of the German democracy of the year 1848. Their hatred of the Slavic "inferior" race was as great as that with which they viewed all authority and orderly government. An alliance with such men was impossible. The conservative party consisted largely of clericals from the Tyrol and Galicia; the latter, mostly ignorant of the German language, voting according to a signal given by their leader. The short residence of the Bohemians in Vienna was not a pleasant one. They arrived there early in July and on the 18th Rieger was attacked by the mob in the "Graben," the principal street of Vienna. Through the intervention of some German radical deputies he was able to escape with his life. The terrorism of the populace of Vienna increased daily, and the Bohemian delegates decided to leave the city. On October 6, Rieger, whose life had again been menaced by German workmen, succeeded in escaping from Vienna together with his friend Havliček. Shortly afterwards Prince Windischgrätz and his army arrived before Vienna. On October 26 the bombardment of the city began, and it surrendered unconditionally on the 31st.
There cannot at the present time be much doubt that at this moment when two of the largest cities in the empire were subjected to the state of siege, and the attempt of the Italians to secure their independence had failed, the reactionary councillors of the court had already determined to re-establish absolutism in a new and—as events proved—even more vexatious form. Why it was thought advisable to keep up for a time the pretence of continuing parliamentary government will only be known when future historians obtain access to the now hermetically secluded state papers of this period. The new reactionary ministers in Vienna decided that the parliament should continue its deliberations, but that it should be transferred to the small town of Kroměřiže in Moravia. The deputies met there for the first time on November 22, and the Bohemians again took part in the deliberations. The assembly, in a spirit that may be called foolish or heroic, and perhaps was both, proceeded to discuss the fundamental rights of the citizens. Very radical but absolutely utopian measures were passed. At a moment when the prime minister, Prince Schwarzenberg, and the commander-in-chief, Prince Windischgrätz, were openly expressing views that to a courtier of Louis XIV would have appeared somewhat extreme, the assembly at Kroměřiže voted the suppression of hereditary nobility. Very liberal enactments defining the limits of the powers of the Church and of the State were also voted. Rieger, whose eloquence had already rendered him conspicuous, spoke strongly and brilliantly in favour of religious liberty—a fact that was often recalled when Rieger later in life expressed somewhat ultramontane views. When Prince Schwarzenberg—as events proved somewhat prematurely—believed that the war with Hungary was successfully terminated, he advised the Emperor Francis Joseph—who on December 2, 1848, had suceeded to his uncle Ferdinand—to dissolve the parliament of Kroměřiže. This was done quite suddenly on March 4, 1849, and when the members on that day arrived at the building where they met, they found it closed and all the entrances guarded by a large force of police and soldiers. The police immediately afterwards issued warrants against many deputies whose immunity now ended. Some, though the dissolution had been purposely kept secret, received a timely warning and escaped to foreign countries. The plan of trying Palacký by court-martial was—as already mentioned—soon given up. Rieger for a short time retired to Paris, but was soon allowed to return to his native country. The proceedings taken against Havliček have already been mentioned. Though the assembly at Kroměřiže had thus been unceremoniously dismissed, the pretence of establishing representative institutions was still kept up. In March 1849, a new constitution for the whole empire, including Hungary, was established. It requires no notice, as no attempt was ever made to carry out its provisions. It was formally suppressed on December 31, 1851, and undisguised absolutism prevailed in all parts of the Habsburg dominions up to the year 1860.
An autocratic government such as was now established required the support of military prestige. After the disastrous campaign in Lombardy in 1859, the government of Vienna determined to make a new attempt to establish representative institutions. After some preliminary deliberations the Imperial councillors devised a constitutional scheme, which, had it been fairly and impartially carried out, would probably have assured permanent concord and harmony to the vast empire. It was proposed that a central parliament, composed of delegates of all the states which form the empire, should meet to deliberate on a strictly limited number of subjects. The members of this assembly were to be elected by the parliamentary bodies which represented the different states of the empire. To these bodies very extensive powers were granted. In Hungary, and to a lesser degree in Bohemia, their constitution was modelled on that of the ancient Diets of those states.
These reforms were contained in a decree dated October 20, 1860. Its author, Count Goluchowski, declared it to be henceforth the fundamental law of the country. It was well received in Bohemia, but met with bitter hostility on the part of the Hungarians. Even the most conservative statesmen of that country—and they alone then took part in the councils of the empire—declared that Hungary was still deprived of her ancient rights. Yet louder was the outcry of the foolish and frivolous population of Vienna. The Viennese, greatly to the damage of the empire, have always founded on the fact that their city is the Imperial residence, a claim of supremacy for the German race to which they belong.
These evil influences prevailed. Count Goluchowski retired from office and was replaced by Baron Schmerling, an Austrian bureaucrat of the ancient school. Baron Schmerling believed, as most men of his class did, and still do, that a strong central administration directed from Vienna by German officials was the form of government most suitable to the polyglot state. Strongly German in his sympathies, he also in view of the foreign policy of the empire considered it necessary that its subjects should, at least to the foreign observer, appear as Germans; thus only could the Austrian hegemony in Germany, which was represented by the presidency of the federal council at Frankfurt, be preserved. A certain amount of constitutional government Schmerling, after the disasters in Lombardy, considered a necessary evil. As the result of these considerations Schmerling published the decree of February 26, 1851, many of whose enactments are still in force. A central parliament, representing the whole empire and consisting of two houses, was to meet at Vienna. The different parts of the empire were granted representative bodies, to whom very limited powers were assigned, though they were entitled to choose from their number the members of the central parliament. Faithful to his system of maintaining and even extending the influence of the German element, Schmerling established a system of election which—particularly in Bohemia—was outrageously unfair. Some of the deputies of the Bohemian country districts represented 2500, others 25000 electors; and it was always the German deputy who represented the smaller and the Bohemian who represented the larger number of votes. There is in all the records of parliamentary representation no worse case of gerrymandering than that which we find in Schmerling's electoral law for Bohemia. When the Bohemian Diet met at Prague in 1861 the assembly consisting almost entirely of Germans appeared rather as a travesty than as a representation of the opinions of the nation. One of the first duties of the Bohemian Diet was to elect representatives to the central parliament at Vienna. The nationalist members took part in this election—an action for which they have been frequently blamed. It has often been stated that they should—following the example of the Hungarians—have refused to be represented in Vienna. Yet their position was quite different from that of the Hungarians. In consequence of the arbitrary electoral ordinances of Schmerling, the government would easily have replaced the nationalists by German Bohemians, who would in Vienna have been recognized as representatives not of a German minority but of the whole Bohemian nation. It was, however, soon found impossible by the Bohemians to take part in the deliberations of the parliament of Vienna. Not only did frivolous sophists such as Giscra, afterwards a Cisleithanian minister, grossly insult the Bohemian crown and constitution, but the whole assembly—openly encouraged by Schmerling himself—trenched on matters which, as the Bohemians rightly believed, had been reserved to the competency of the Bohemian Diet by the decree of October 20, 1860. Hungary, Croatia, and Venetia—then still part of the Habsburg empire—had from the first declined to take part in the deliberations of the parliament of Vienna. Schmerling's policy proved a complete failure. Though he long clung to office, he was finally and somewhat unceremoniously dismissed on July 27, 1865.
Schmerling's successor was Count Louis Belcredi, a statesman who has probably been more grossly misrepresented than any other politician of the present day. Having always been employed in the civil service—he was governor of Bohemia when called to Vienna—he had little opportunity of studying the foreign policy of the empire. He had gathered from members of the Austrian diplomatic service, that a somewhat prolonged period of peace was probable. This was a necessity for him, as he intended to carry out a complete system of re-organization of the empire—probably somewhat on the lines of the decree of October.
It is beyond the purpose of this work to refer to the causes which lead to the war between Austria and Prussia in 1866. In the German parts of Austria the war was joyfully welcomed—particularly by the citizens of Vienna and the officials of the "Ball Platz" (Foreign Office). The Viennese declared that the Prussians could easily be driven off with a wet rag, and Prince Metternich, Austrian ambassador in Paris, was busily occupied in composing a "triumphal march" to celebrate the entry of the Austrian troops into Berlin.
The Bohemian people did not view matters in the same light. In a country where the study of history is perhaps more general than in any other, no man underrated the indomitable courage and the iron tenacity of the German foes. The descendants of the Hussites, "men whose fathers braved the world in arms" against Bohemia, knew how dearly won and sanguinary some of the victories of their ancestors over the Germans had been. The Bohemians were now also prepared to defend their country. A short time previously gymnastic societies had been formed in most parts of Bohemia. The members of these societies soon became known as the "sokols," from the falcon (in Bohemian, sokol) feather which they wore in their caps. These men were eager again to meet in the field the ancient enemies of their nation. They begged to be allowed to organize the national defence, and to occupy and fortify the mountains and often narrow passes that lead from Prussia and Saxony into Bohemia, and which they—rightly as events proved—believed to have been left undefended. A stern refusal was the only answer. The Vienna Government, still pursuing the foolish phantom of supremacy in Germany, wished the war—as the official proclamation stated—to be considered as a "war of Germans against Germans."
It is not my task to describe here the short campaign which, practically decided by the battle of Kralové Hradec (July 3, 1866), was terminated by the peace of Prague on August 23. Austria lost no territory to Prussia by this treaty. The scheme of annexing the part of Bohemia situated on the right bank of the Elbe was soon abandoned by the Prussians. Prussia, however, obtained its principal object. The dominions of the House of Habsburg were entirely excluded from Germany; the link that bound the unwilling Bohemians to Germany was severed. During the occupation of their country by the Prussians, the Bohemians, who were defenceless and unarmed, maintained an attitude of dignified reserve. The same cannot be said of the German inhabitants of Bohemia. Very competent authorities state that they on several occasions welcomed the Prussians with so much enthusiasm that it was only the loyalty with which the King of Prussia, even in the time of war, discouraged such manifestations that prevented their leading to serious consequences.
It is, as I have written elsewhere, a bitter saying in Austria that those nationalities which support the Government suffer, and those that oppose it are rewarded. The Hungarians had been on the verge of rebellion during the campaign of 1866, and had even formed a free corps to support the Prussians. The Bohemians, on the other hand, had remained loyally and undauntedly faithful to the dynasty. Yet in the year following the battle of Kralové Hradec, Hungary obtained almost complete independence, while Bohemia's demand of autonomy was ignominiously rejected.
Count Belcredi's plans received a death blow by the Bohemian campaign. The councillors of Vienna determined to call in the assistance of Baron—afterwards Count—Beust, who before the war had been prime minister of Saxony. He claimed no knowledge of the internal politics of the Habsburg empire. It is no longer a secret that his mission consisted in organizing a new active policy in Germany which might eventually reverse the results of the battle of Kralové Hradec. Beust knew that Hungary had been openly hostile to Austria during the war that had just ended, and that Hungary would some years previously have been lost to the empire, had not Russia interfered. In 1866 no such an intervention could be expected. Count Beust also reflected that as Hungary had never formed part of the Germanic confederation, its autonomy was by no means an obstacle to the re-establishment of the Habsburg hegemony in Germany.
The position of Bohemia was entirely different. On the resignation of Count Belcredi (February 4, 1867) Count Beust, who had hitherto only acted as minister of foreign affairs, undertook also the direction of the internal policy of the Habsburg realm. He decided to re-establish in the non-Hungarian part of the empire the so-called constitution of Schmerling. The Bohemian Diet was therefore again called on to elect delegates to the central Parliament of Vienna. According to the electoral laws of Schmerling every Government was, and indeed still is, certain of a majority in the Diet of Prague. There was nothing left to the national party but to record a protest. This was done in a brilliant manner by Dr. Rieger in a speech pronounced before the Diet of Prague on April 3, 1867. Addressing the Germans who were to represent Bohemia in Vienna, he said, "You are, gentlemen, going to Vienna in accordance with your political views. We cannot prevent your doing this, but remember what we have said to you here; you are not authorized to give up the historical rights of this kingdom … Remember that, though you have the majority here, you yet represent but the minority of the population of the kingdom, and we the majority … In the establishment of a Cisleithanian and of a Hungarian Parliament, I clearly see an attempt to subjugate the Slavic nations in both parts of the empire. Over one division the Germans, over the other the Magyars are to rule. We think such a partition of rights belonging to others cannot prevail, for 'justitia est regnorum fundamentum!'" After the end of this speech the national deputies left the Diet of Prague as they had already, in 1863, left the Parliament of Vienna.
On August 22 the national deputies published a document which became known as the "declaration." They here declared that even Ferdinand II, after the battle of the White Mountain, had recognized part of the ancient privileges of Bohemia, and that the new representative institutions were directly opposed to them, and would never be recognized by the Bohemian people.
The German cabinet established by Count Beust, after a short time found it impossible to continue its system of government. After the short ministry of Count Potocki, Count Hohenwarth took office on February 7, 1871. Hohenwarth, a very distinguished statesman, immediately attempted to establish peace with Bohemia. By his advice an Imperial decree was published on September 14, in which the sovereign declared that "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 the people, he gladly recognized the rights of the kingdom, and was willing to confirm this assurance by taking the coronation oath." Hohenwarth's loyal attempt failed, mainly through German influence, and in 1879 the Bohemians entered the Parliament of Vienna. The events of the last thirty years cannot yet be considered as belonging legitimately to the domain of history. It may, however, be well to say a word on the present condition of Bohemia. The prospect of the country at this moment (October 1909) appears very dark. This is mainly a consequence of the foreign policy of the empire. Bohemia has always had so little influence on the foreign policy of Austria that it is only in consequence of the events of the last year that I may briefly allude to those who have recently directed the foreign policy of the empire. The recent ministers of foreign affairs of Austria had been men of little importance. Count Kalnoky had served for some time in the army and then pursued a diplomatic career. He had retained the manner and appearance of a soldier, a "corporal," as he was often called. Of limited capacity and almost devoid of education, he endeavoured to impress his adversaries by a peremptory manner, the result of which was that he was generally considered ill-bred. Of his successor, Count Goluchowski, it is unnecessary to repeat here what I have previously written.
Count Aehrenthal, the present Austrian minister of foreign affairs, is in every way superior to his predecessors. He is perhaps one of the great statesmen of his time. Yet we must leave it to the future to judge whether the annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina without the previous consent of the signatories of the treaty of Berlin was judicious. In Bohemia the measure was intensely unpopular. The people—rightly, as events have proved—believed that the empire would become yet more subservient to Germany. The annexation not having been received as patiently as Count Aehrenthal believed, Austria had to rely on Germany, and with German help the annexation was safely carried out. It would be attributing to Germans more generosity than they claim, were we to doubt that their influence in Austria will become yet greater. That influence is always used against Bohemia and in favour of the German minority of the population of that country. The policy of the present Austrian prime minister is more hostile to Bohemia than that of any of his predecessors. Dark clouds seem to surround the future of Bohemia.
- In German, Wittingau.
- For a sketch of the interesting career of Charles of Žerotin see my History of Bohemian Literature (2d ed. pp. 321–325), and particularly my introduction to my translation of Comenius's Labyrinth of the World.
- In his recent interesting study on the "Letter of Majesty" Dr. Krofta has published a facsimile of the famed document. The traces of Ferdinand's scissors are clearly noticeable.
- Psalm ii. 9.
- Kings xx. 42.
- See Chapter VII.
- Skála ze Zhoře Historie Česká, v. 213.
- Despatch of Caraffa in the Vatican archives, quoted by Gindely.
- Quoted by Gindely from the acts of the propaganda.
- Even the example of Schiller is not a sufficient authority for calling the great general "Wallenstein." I use the form of the name which is accepted by the family and generally used in Bohemia.
- "Nicht Menschen sondern Vieh" (Gindely, Geschichte der Gegenreformation in Böhmen).
- The stern ferocity of the Jesuits appears clearly in the Latin original of their report. They wrote: "Si … multi post acceptam ins ructionem perseverant in sua pertinacia, illi soli graventur milite et parcatur conversis ut vexatio det intellectum et tamdiu graventur quoad escipiscant et officio satisfaciant."
- The names of these men, on whom vast estates in Bohemia were bestowed, were long preserved in the memory of the people. Hatred of the Spaniards long lingered in their minds, and even during the recent war between Spain and the United States many rejoiced over the defeats of the Spaniards.
- I can only allude briefly here to this interesting struggle. It is well described in Dr. Winter's Děje (History of the High Schools of Prague). škol
- In conformity to their rather mean tendency, the verses of Campanus are very indifferent. He wrote—
"Par virtute nepos et nomine, Caesar, habenas
Qui nunc imperii temperat aequus, adest
Arma deses rapuit funesta Boemia frustra
Caesaris ad tanti mox ruitura pedes
Victa tamen surges sub tali principe, surges
Patria, parcus erit sanguinis ille tui.
Tu quoque pone metus, Academi vera secutum,
Assuetumque libris, innocuumque genus
Aurea sub docto sunt principe secula doctis
Talis et ire viri sole cadente, cadit."
- Dr. Winter, Děje (History of the High Schools of Prague). škol
- In Bohemian "Obnovené ."
- For this very short sketch I am largely indebted to the learned Professor Kalousek. His České Statni Právo (in a rough translation, "The Bohemian Constitution") is the standard work on Bohemian constitutional history.
- In Bohemian "inkolat."
- See Chapter VII.
- "Gast und Fremdling." Letter of the Elector of Saxony to Ferdinand dated October28 1622 quoted by Gindely, Geschichte der Gegenreformation in Böhmen.
- Dr. Bílek, Dějiny (History of the Confiscations in Bohemia). v Čechách
- In German "Leitmeritz" and "Laun."
- Since the revival of historical study in Bohemia, the historians of that country have largely devoted their attention to the career of their great countryman. The late Professor Rezek wrote that the more he studied the history of Waldstein, the less did the great condottiere appeal to his sympathy. It is stated that when Palacký was examining a monument to Waldstein, which had then been recently erected in Vienna, he long contemplated the statue in silence, and then expressed his judgment in the one word: "darebak!" (scoundrel).
- See Chapter VII.
- This is well shown in Dr. Irmer's Johann Georg von Arnim.
- The correspondence of Father Quiroga, confessor to the empress—a Spanish Infanta—with the Spanish Government, relating to the plan of bribing assassins to murder King Gustavus Adolphus, has been published. The correspondence only ceased after the death of the King of Sweden at Lützen.
- This is very clearly proved by Dr. Schebeck in his Lösung der Wallensteinfrage.
- According to Gindely it is only from this moment that any positive treason on the part of Waldstein can be proved. In a work of the extent of the present one, it cannot be attempted to solve the mystery which surrounds Waldstein's fall.
- Many writers on Waldstein have overlooked the fact that there were two banquets at Plzeň.
- The projects of Waldstein have recently been stated very clearly by Professor Dějiny Waldštynského Spiknutí (history of Waldstein's conspiracy). Waldstein, an unscrupulous condottiere, can by no means be considered as a Bohemian patriot. Being Bohemian he was, however, fully aware of the great disaffection that still existed in his country, and he intended to use it to obtain the Bohemian crown. This is particularly proved by the close relations which he in the last years of his life entertained with the Bohemian exiles. in his masterly work,
- In German "Bodenbach."
- These words were first used by Count Usedom, then Prussian minister in Florence, in 1866. He advised the Italian government to carry on the war against Austria as far as the Danube, where their forces could join those of Prussia, and then "frapper au cœur" the Austrian empire.
- This episode, whose consequences were, as mentioned above, very important, has long filled with shame the minds of many Bohemian patriots. The somewhat servile pliancy, occasionally, though not often, found among Bohemians, was acutely characterized by the Emperor Joseph II, no friend of Bohemia, but one of the most gifted princes of the house of Habsburg. When visiting Prague he was shown the church of St. Mary, erected on the White Mountain to celebrate the victory of the Romanists. The Emperor expressed great displeasure, and said he wished to reign over men, not over brutes (in German "Bestien") who celebrated their own defeat.
- For a brief account of the career of Komensky (Comenius), the last bishop of the Bohemian Brethren, see my introduction to my translation of his Labyrint Světa) The Labyrinth of the World).
- "Kšaft umirajicí matky jednoty bratrské."
- For the care devoted by the Bohemian Brethren to the development of the national language, see my History of Bohemian Literature (2. ed.), pp. 295–298.
- It is only recently that Bohemian historians have made researches concerning these exiles who proceeded to Germany, England, the United States, and other countries.
- In a curious letter written from Prague on November 7, 1716, Lady Mary Montague says that at Prague "there were some remains of its former splendour," but that it was "old built and thinly inhabited." Of the ladies she writes that they were dressed according to the fashions of Vienna, "after the manner that the people of Exeter imitate those of London."
- "Bon père, bon mari, mais bigot et superstitieux comme tous les princes de la maison d'Autriche." (Frederic II Histoire de men temps, tome I, p. 28, ed. 1788.)
- The claims of Bavaria were also founded on an older document, the testament of the Emperor Ferdinand I. The matter cannot be further discussed here, but it should be stated that the claims of the Elector of Bavaria on the Bohemian throne were not so entirely unfounded as has been stated by the court-historians of Vienna writing "to order."
- Carlyle with the intuition of genius seems to have grasped this fact, though the extensive recent Bohemian literature on this subject was, of course, unknown to him. Thus he writes (under November 19, 1744), "This is the circle of Königgrätz, this that now lies to the rear; and happily there are a few Hussites in it not utterly indisposed to do a little spying for us, and bring a glimmering glance of intelligence now and then." (History of Frederick II of Prussia, commonly called Frederick the Great, vol. viii. p. 56.)
- "Il resolut aussitot de revendiguer les principantés de la Silésie auxquelles sa maison avait des droits incontestables." (Frederic II Histoire de mon temps, tome I, p. 125, edit, 1788.)
- The two paragraphs of the treaty of Berlin which were read to the Estates of Bohemia, and were sanctioned by them, ran thus—
Article XI. S.M. la Reine de Hongrie et de Bohême renonce tant pour elle et pour ses heritiers et successeurs à perpétuité et fera renoncer après la pacification les états du Royaume de Bohême à tout droit de relief, que la couronne de Bohême a exercé jusqu à présent sur plusieurs états villes et districts appartenant anciennement à la maison electorale de Brandenbourg, de quelque nom, condition ou nature qu'ils puissant être, de sorte qu'ils reseront jamais plus regardés à I'avenir comme fiefs de la couronne de Bohême, mais censés et declarés libres de cette mouvance.(Kalousek, České Státní Právo (the Bohemian Constitution), p. 631.)
Article XII. Sa Majesté la Reine de Hongrie et de Bohême s'engage et promet d'obliger les états de Bohême après la pacification de donner un acte de renonciation à tous les états dépendans autrefois de la couronne de Bohême cédés par la présente paix à Sa Majesté le roy de Prusse avec toute la souveraineté et I'indépendance de la susdite couronne.
- After the signature of the Treaty of Berlin in 1742 the term "Silesia" of course only refers to those parts of the country—the Duchies of Jägerndorf, Teschen and Troppau—which continued to belong to Austria.
- We read that a sect sprang up in Bohemia calling itself "deists," who appear to have been connected with free-masonry. Dr. Svátek, in his Cultur Historische Bilder, quotes a curious decree published against these people. It states: "Should any man or woman declare themselves to be 'deists,' they shall immediately and without previous cross-examination receive twenty-four strokes with a stick or birchrod, as a warning, and then be sent back to their homes."
- In 1813 a French army under Marshal Vandamme crossed the Bohemian frontier after the battle of Dresden. It was however defeated at Kulm by the Russian and Austrian armies.
- In his Geschichte der oesterreichischen Revolution, vol i. p. 5.
- For a short account of the Austrian system of "censure" see my History of Bohemian Literature, particularly p. 396–397 (2nd ed.).
- For a brief account of the career of these four men see chapter VII of my History of Bohemian Literature.
- In Bohemian, "treasury."
- Thus the poet Meissner, a German who resided in Bohemia, describes the Bohemians of the Hussite time in these words:
"Ja eines grossen Volcks! Du fremdes Blut
Du kannst es freilich nicht in Liedern lesen
Wie gross dies Volck in alter Zeit, wie gut
Wie martyrheilig es im Tod gewesen
Kein Dichterherz hat solchen hohen Tag
Dass kund er's thäte ganz, wie du gelitten
Wie du da rings die Welt im Schlummer lag
Hochherz'ges Böhmen für das Licht gestritten.
Das weiss nur der den diese Flur gebar
Der diese heil'ge Scholle früh getreten …"
Lenau, a German poet of Hungarian origin, describing the Hussites as early fighters for freedom writes:"Denn es wird in späten Tagen
Unseren Leid und Kampfgenossen
Stärkend aus Hussitengräbern
Trost und grüner Muth entsprossen."
It would be easy to quote many other examples.
- Baron Helfert Die oesterreichische Revolution.
- This document, dated April 8, 1848, which is of great importance for the constitutional development of Bohemia, is printed by Kalousek, p. 640–642.
- Tomek (Memoirs of the year 1848). Professor Tomek took a considerable part in the events at Prague in 1848.
- The large building which now contains the collections of the National Museum had not then been erected; they were then housed in a building on the Přikop, the principal street of Prague. See my Prague.
- In a work of this extent it is obviously impossible to discuss adequately the causes of the riots at Prague in 1848. It appears certain that the Austrian Government gave orders for a large number of uniforms such as were then worn by the men of the National Guard. There is unfortunately little doubt that they were intended to be worn by agents of the secret police, who were to insult the soldiers and thus cause a conflict.
- I make this statement on the authority of men who were present in the Celetná ulice when this event took place.
- The "inspired" reports on these events suppress all mention of this somewhat prætorian attitude of the troops in Bohemia.
- The regulations of the courts-martial authorized the presidents of such courts, should they think that a witness obstinately refused to give evidence or attempted to mislead the authorities, to have corporal punishment inflicted on such a person. It was in the case of grown men to consist of not more than fifty strokes with a stick, in the case of youths and women of not more than thirty strokes with a birch-rod.
- Karel Havliček Borovský, by Adolph Srb.
- Father of the Count Goluchowski, who was recently Austrian minister of Foreign Affairs.
- Belcredi afterwards expressed himself somewhat bitterly. He writes in his memoirs: "Leider hat mich eine bittere Erfohrung gelehrt, dass niemand schlechter informirt ist als die oesterreichische Diplomatic."
- "Mit einem nassen Fetzen."
- These facts have been told me by Professor Tilšer, who was one of the "sokols" of that time.
- I have given a short account of the battle of Kralové Hradec (better known under the German name of Königgrätz) in the Pall Mall Magazine for November 1904.
- This is particularly mentioned by Duke Ernest of Saxe-Coburg in his Aus memem Leben (vol iii. p. 600).
- (Speeches), Dra F. L. Riegra, vol. iv. pp. 239–240.
- In the Nineteenth Century, December 1899.