History of the Czech lands

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History of the Czech lands
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The history of what are now known as the Czech lands (Czech : České země) is very diverse. These lands have changed hands many times, and have been known by a variety of different names. Up until the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy after the First World War, the lands were known as the lands of the Bohemian Crown and formed a constituent state of that empire: the Kingdom of Bohemia (in Czech: "Království české", the word "Bohemia" is a Latin term for Čechy).

Czech lands

The Czech lands or the Bohemian lands are the three historical regions of Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia. Together the three have formed the Czech part of Czechoslovakia since 1918 and the Czech Republic since 1 January 1969, which became independent on 1 January 1993.

Czech language West Slavic language spoken in the Czech Republic

Czech, historically also Bohemian, is a West Slavic language of the Czech–Slovak group. Spoken by over 10 million people, it serves as the official language of the Czech Republic. Czech is closely related to Slovak, to the point of mutual intelligibility to a very high degree. Like other Slavic languages, Czech is a fusional language with a rich system of morphology and relatively flexible word order. Its vocabulary has been extensively influenced by Latin and German.

Lands of the Bohemian Crown Monarchy in Central Europe, predecessor of modern Czech Republic

The Lands of the Bohemian Crown, sometimes called Czech lands in modern times, were a number of incorporated states in Central Europe during the medieval and early modern periods connected by feudal relations under the Bohemian kings. The crown lands primarily consisted of the Kingdom of Bohemia, an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire according to the Golden Bull of 1356, the Margraviate of Moravia, the Duchies of Silesia, and the two Lusatias, known as the Margraviate of Upper Lusatia and the Margraviate of Lower Lusatia, as well as other territories throughout its history.


Prior to the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Kingdom was an independent state within the Holy Roman Empire. After that battle the Lands of the Bohemian Crown were incorporated into the Austrian Empire, and later into the aforementioned Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

Battle of Mohács forces of the Ottoman Empire led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent defeated forces of the Kingdom of Hungary led by King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia 1526

The Battle of Mohács was one of the most consequential battles in Central European history. It was fought on 29 August 1526 near Mohács, Kingdom of Hungary, between the forces of the Kingdom of Hungary, led by Louis II, and those of the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent. The Ottoman victory led to the partition of Hungary for several centuries between the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Principality of Transylvania. Further, the death of Louis II as he fled the battle marked the end of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Hungary and Bohemia, whose dynastic claims passed to the House of Habsburg. The Battle of Mohács marked the end of the Middle Ages in Hungary.

Holy Roman Empire varying complex of lands that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe

The Holy Roman Empire was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western and Central Europe that developed during the Early Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. The largest territory of the empire after 962 was the Kingdom of Germany, though it also came to include the neighboring Kingdom of Bohemia, the Kingdom of Burgundy, the Kingdom of Italy, and numerous other territories.

Austrian Empire monarchy in Central Europe between 1804 and 1867

The Austrian Empire was a Central European multinational great power from 1804 to 1867, created by proclamation out of the realms of the Habsburgs. During its existence, it was the third most populous empire after the Russian Empire and the United Kingdom in Europe. Along with Prussia, it was one of the two major powers of the German Confederation. Geographically, it was the third largest empire in Europe after the Russian Empire and the First French Empire. Proclaimed in response to the First French Empire, it partially overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire until the latter's dissolution in 1806.

They came to be known as the Czech lands after the fall of the Empire, and the rise of the First Czechoslovak Republic, when the term Bohemia (Czech : Čechy), which also refers to the core region of the former kingdom, was no longer deemed acceptable by those in Moravia and Czech Silesia (historically, other two core lands of the Bohemian Crown). These three integral Czech lands (Bohemia, Moravia and Czech Silesia) now form the boundaries of the Czech Republic.

First Czechoslovak Republic 1918-1938 republic in Central/Eastern Europe

The First Czechoslovak Republic was the Czechoslovak state that existed from 1918 to 1938. The state was commonly called Czechoslovakia. It was composed of Bohemia, Moravia, Czech Silesia, Slovakia and Subcarpathian Ruthenia.

Bohemia Historical land in Czech Republic

Bohemia is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech lands in the present-day Czech Republic. In a broader meaning, Bohemia sometimes refers to the entire Czech territory, including Moravia and Czech Silesia, especially in a historical context, such as the Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by Bohemian kings.

Moravia Historical land in Czech Republic

Moravia is a historical region in the Czech Republic and one of the historical Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Czech Silesia. The medieval and early modern Margraviate of Moravia was a crown land of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, an imperial state of the Holy Roman Empire, later a crown land of the Austrian Empire and briefly also one of 17 former crown lands of the Cisleithanian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1867 to 1918. During the early 20th century, Moravia was one of the five lands of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1928; it was then merged with Czech Silesia, and eventually dissolved by abolition of the land system in 1949.

Periods through history

Venus of Dolni Vestonice, the oldest ceramic article in the world Vestonicka venuse.jpg
Venus of Dolní Věstonice, the oldest ceramic article in the world
Great Moravia during the reign of Svatopluk I Great moravia svatopluk.png
Great Moravia during the reign of Svatopluk I
Duchy of Bohemia under Boleslaus I. and Boleslaus II. Cesky stat v X. stoleti za Boleslava I. a II.jpg
Duchy of Bohemia under Boleslaus I. and Boleslaus II.
Territories ruled by Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1273 Karte Bohmen unter Ottokar II.png
Territories ruled by Ottokar II of Bohemia in 1273
Territory under the control of the Premyslids, c. 1301 WenceslausIImap-en.png
Territory under the control of the Přemyslids, c. 1301
Lands of the Bohemian crown until 1740. Karte Bohmische Krone.png
Lands of the Bohemian crown until 1740.
The First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938) Czechoslovakia01.png
The First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938)


Early modern humans had settled in the region by the (Lower Paleolithic) (2.5mil – 750,000 BP). Several Paleolithic cultures settled here, including Acheulean, Micoquien, Mousterian, and Aurignacian. The Předmostí archaeological site near Brno is dated to between 24,000 and 27,000 years old. [1] [2] The figurines (Venus of Dolní Věstonice) found here are the oldest known ceramic articles in the world.

<i>Homo habilis</i> Early human

Homo habilis is a proposed archaic species of Homo, which lived between roughly 2.1 and 1.5 million years ago, during the Gelasian and early Calabrian stages of the Pleistocene geological epoch.

Lower Paleolithic

The Lower Paleolithic is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. It spans the time from around 3.3 million years ago when the first evidence for stone tool production and use by hominins appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago, spanning the Oldowan and Acheulean lithics industries.

Before Present (BP) years is a time scale used mainly in archaeology, geology and other scientific disciplines to specify when events occurred in the past. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use 1 January 1950 as the commencement date of the age scale, reflecting the origin of practical radiocarbon dating in the 1950s. The abbreviation "BP" has alternatively been interpreted as "Before Physics"; that is, before nuclear weapons testing artificially altered the proportion of the carbon isotopes in the atmosphere, making dating after that time likely to be unreliable.

Early tribes

The area was settled by the Celts (called Boii, who gave the name to the region: Bohemia, which means more or less "the home of the Boii") from 5th century BCE until 2nd century CE and from 1st century by various Germanic tribes (Marcomanni, Quadi, Lombards). [3] Germanic towns are described on the Map of Ptolemaios in the 2nd century, e.g. Coridorgis for Jihlava. Those tribes migrated to the West in 5th century and then came Slavs. [4]

Celts ethnolinguistic group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Medieval Europe

The Celts are an Indo-European ethnolinguistic group of Europe identified by their use of Celtic languages and cultural similarities. The history of pre-Celtic Europe and the exact relationship between ethnic, linguistic and cultural factors in the Celtic world remains uncertain and controversial. The exact geographic spread of the ancient Celts is disputed; in particular, the ways in which the Iron Age inhabitants of Great Britain and Ireland should be regarded as Celts have become a subject of controversy. According to one theory, the common root of the Celtic languages, the Proto-Celtic language, arose in the Late Bronze Age Urnfield culture of Central Europe, which flourished from around 1200 BC.

Boii Celtic tribe

The Boii were a Gallic tribe of the later Iron Age, attested at various times in Cisalpine Gaul, Pannonia (Hungary), parts of Bavaria, in and around Bohemia, parts of Poland, and Gallia Narbonensis. In addition the archaeological evidence indicates that in the 2nd century BC Celts expanded from Bohemia through the Kłodzko Valley into Silesia, now part of Poland and the Czech Republic.

Marcomanni historical ethnical group

The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribal confederation who eventually came to live in a powerful kingdom north of the Danube, somewhere in the region near modern Bohemia, during the peak of power of the nearby Roman Empire. According to Tacitus and Strabo they were Suebian.

Arrival of the Slavs

The first Slavic people (Czech tribes in Bohemia and Moravians in Moravia) arrived in the 6th century. According to historian Dušan Třeštík, they advanced through the Moravian Gate (Moravská brána) valley and in the year 530 moved into Eastern Bohemia, along the rivers Labe (Elbe) and Vltava (Moldau) further into Central Bohemia. Many historians support the theory of a further wave of Slavs coming from the south during the first half of the 7th century. They fought with neighboring Avars until the rise of the empire of Samo (see below). [5]

Dušan Třeštík Czech historian and science writer

Dušan Třeštík was a Czech historian. He specialized in medieval history of the Czech lands and theory of history.

Moravian Gate landform

The Moravian Gate is a geomorphological feature in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic. It is formed by the depression between the Carpathian Mountains in the east and the Sudetes in the west. The drainage divide between the upper Oder river and the Baltic Sea in the north and the Bečva River of the Danube basin runs through it.

Elbe major river in Central Europe

The Elbe is one of the major rivers of Central Europe. It rises in the Krkonoše Mountains of the northern Czech Republic before traversing much of Bohemia, then Germany and flowing into the North Sea at Cuxhaven, 110 km (68 mi) northwest of Hamburg. Its total length is 1,094 kilometres (680 mi).

Samo's realm

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

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

Great Moravia

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

Duchy of Bohemia and Kingdom of Bohemia to 1526

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

Bohemian Estates against Habsburg absolutism

Ferdinand II, who ruled 1619–1637, sharply curtailed the power of the largely Protestant representative assembly known as the "Bohemian Estates". He confiscated lands of Protestant nobles and gave them to his Catholic friends and to the generals who led the foreign mercenaries he employed. [6]

The Dark Age and National Revival

Austria–Hungary, the Dual Monarchy


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

Second Republic / Occupation

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

Third Republic / Communist era

The Czech Republic

On 1 January 1993, the Velvet Divorce occurred, whereby two separate states were created out of the former Czechoslovakia: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. The Czech Republic became a member of NATO in 1999, and the European Union in May 2004.

See also



Related Research Articles

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Moravians ethnic group

Moravians are a West Slavic ethnographic group from the Moravia region of the Czech Republic, who speak the Moravian dialects of the Czech language or Common Czech or a mixed form of both. Along with the Silesians of the Czech Republic, a part of the population to identify ethnically as Moravian has registered in Czech censa since 1991. The figure has fluctuated and in the 2011 census, 4.9% of the Czech population declared Moravian as their nationality. Smaller pockets of persons declaring Moravian ethnicity are also native to neighboring Slovakia.

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Samo Frankish merchant who unified several Slavic tribes

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Duchy of Bohemia

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The West Slavic languages are a subdivision of the Slavic language group. They include Polish, Czech, Slovak, Silesian, Kashubian, Upper Sorbian and Lower Sorbian. The languages are spoken across a continuous region encompassing the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland as well as the former East Germany and the westernmost regions of Ukraine and Belarus. West Slavic is usually divided into three subgroups based on similarity and degree of mutual intelligibility, Czecho-Slovak, Lechitic and Sorbian, as follows:

West Slavs group of Slavic peoples speaking the West Slavic languages (Czechs, Poles, Slovaks, Sorbs, Kashubians, Moravians, Silesians), separating from the common Slavic group around the 7th century in Central Europe

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The Czech Republic's official formal and short names at the United Nations are Česká republika and Česko in Czech, and the Czech Republic and Czechia in English. All these names derive from the name of the Czechs, the West Slavic ethnic group native to the Czech lands. Czechia, the official English short name specified by the Czech government, is used by many international organisations and attested as early as 1841. However, most English speakers use [the] Czech Republic in all contexts. Other languages generally have greater official use of a short form analogous to Česko or Czechia although forms equivalent to "Czech Republic" are not uncommon.

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Samos Empire

Samo's Empire is the historiographical name for the West Slavic tribal union established by King ("Rex") Samo, which existed between 631 and 658 in Central Europe. The centre of the union was most likely in Moravia and Nitravia (Nitra), additionally the union included Czech tribes, Sorbian tribes and other West Slavic tribes along the river Danube. The polity has been called the first Slavic state.

Bohemians (tribe)

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Alternative theories of the location of Great Moravia propose that the core territory of "Great Moravia", a 9th-century Slavic polity, was not located in the region of the northern Morava River. Moravia emerged after the fall of the Avar Khaganate in the early 9th century. It flourished during the reign of Svatopluk I in the second half of the century, but collapsed in the first decade of the 10th century. "Great Moravia" was regarded as an archetype of Czechoslovakia, the common state of the Czechs and Slovaks, in the 20th century, and its legacy is mentioned in the preamble to the Constitution of Slovakia.


  1. Velemínská, J., Brůžek, J., Velemínský, P., Bigonia, L., Šefčáková, A., Katina, F. (2008). "Variability of the Upper Palaeolithic skulls from Předmostí near Přerov (Czech Republic): Craniometric comparison with recent human standards". Homo. 59 (1): 1–26. doi:10.1016/j.jchb.2007.12.003. PMID   18242606. Archived from the original on 2012-12-08.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Viegas, Jennifer (October 7, 2011). "Prehistoric dog found with mammoth bone in mouth". Discovery News. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
  3. "Boii | people". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  4. "Czechoslovak history". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-03-14.
  5. Literature 
    Dušan Třeštík: "Počátky Přemyslovců. Vstup Čechů do dějin (530-935)" [The beginnings of Přemyslids. The entrance of the Czechs in the History (530-935)], 1997, ISBN   80-7106-138-7.
  6. John P. McKay (2010). A History of World Societies. Macmillan. p. 473.

Further reading