Czech Republic History

Czech Republic History

Early to late antiquity

As early as 500 BC inhabited Celtic tribes, in Bohemia the Bojer and in Moravia the Cotiner, the area of ​​today’s Czech Republic. Marcomans and Quads, Germanic tribes, drove out the Celts and successfully resisted the expansionist efforts of the Roman Empire. The Danube formed the border between the Teutons and the Romans for several centuries.

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The rulership in Bohemia and Moravia changed in the 5th century AD when the Huns invaded the regions. In the 6th century, these were replaced by the Avars, an Asian equestrian people, who were replaced by Slavic tribes from the Premyslid family in power.

Middle ages

In the 9th century AD the Great Moravian Empire emerged, which included Slovakia, parts of Poland and Hungary and Bohemia. Prince Borivoj introduced Christianity and built the Prague Castle.

However, the Hungarian Magyars put an end to the Great Moravian Empire at the end of the 9th century. The Slavs living west of the Danube then unite with the Franks and became part of the “Holy Roman Empire” in the 10th century as Bohemia. In the following century Moravia was united with Bohemia. In 1212 Otakar (Ottokar) I became king of Bohemia and Moravia, as well as Silesia and Lusatia. A period of economic boom began. Germans had been living in Bohemia since the middle of the 11th century, followed by German miners, farmers and citizens in the course of the 13th century, who founded towns or settled in existing towns, especially on the inner periphery of the central mountains surrounding Bohemia. Silver and gold mines made the country prosperous and the wealth of the kings allowed numerous land purchases – Styria, Egerland, Carinthia and Carniola. At the end of the 13th century, Ottokar II tried to fight for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire, but was defeated by Rudolf von Habsburg in 1278, and the acquired areas in the Alpine region and the Danube were lost again. The premyslide Wenceslas II became king of Poland and Hungary, but with his son the Bohemian rulers died out.

The time of the Luxembourg dynasty began in 1311 when the Bohemian Wenceslas crown was won. Most of Lower and Upper Silesia came under Bohemian sovereignty in the middle of the first half of the 14th century, and Charles IV made Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia the heart of the empire. The diocese of Prague became an archdiocese in 1344, and the University of Prague was founded in 1348; In addition, the King of Bohemia was assured of priority among the secular electors in the Golden Bull – the basic law of the Holy Roman Empire.

At the turn of the 15th century, the decline of Bohemian power began and the end of a time that went down in history as the “golden era”. Pope Martin V. called for a crusade against the Czechs after the uprising of supporters of the reformer Jan Hus brought down Catholic councilors from Prague city hall (First Prague lintel). In the beginning of the Hussite wars (named after the Reformer Hus), Czech national consciousness began to increase at the beginning of the 15th century. As a result, the previously socially privileged Germans were ousted from most of Inner Bohemia. In 1458 the Hussite leader Georg von Podiebrad became the new Bohemian king. After his death, Polish Jagiellons (Lithuanian grand princes) ruled Bohemia, Poland and Hungary.

Habsburg domination

When an Ottoman army defeated Hungary and Bohemia in the battle of Moh¨¢cs in 1526, according to AbbreviationFinder, the lands of the Hungarian King Ludwig II, who died in the battle, fell to Ferdinand I, and Bohemia began the rule of the Habsburgs, which lasted almost four hundred years. The later Roman-German Emperor Ferdinand I received the Bohemian crown and began to recatholicize the Czech lands from Vienna. This caused resistance in the 16th century from the evangelical majority of the people and nobility, who demanded greater freedom in the tradition of Hussite, Calvinist and Lutheran beliefs. In the letter of majesty, Rudolf II had to allow the estates to practice their religion freely in 1609. Nevertheless, the Bohemian nobility revolted against the Catholic rule of the Habsburgs in 1618 (Second Prague lintel).The Society of Jesus (Jesuits), founded in 1539, whose aim was to consolidate and defend the Catholic faith, were expelled from Bohemia and the Protestant Frederick of the Palatinate was appointed king by the Bohemian Reichstag. The Thirty Years’ War developed from this conflict. Already in 1620 the uprising was put down by the so-called Prague Blood Court and the Catholic Counter-Reformation prevailed in the subsequent struggles. The Czech nobility was Germanized and the Jesuit order gained great power.

Only in the second half of the 18th century did a change in the restrictive exercise of Catholic power in Bohemia appear. The Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Maria Theresa, approved reforms in administration and schooling and expelled the Jesuit order of the empire. Under Joseph II, her son, serfdom was abolished, religious freedom was introduced and German became the official language.

In the first decades of the 19th century, the German-Bohemian regions developed into the industrial heartland of the Habsburg monarchy. At the same time, the renewed privilege of the Germans led to the further strengthening of the Czech national consciousness. In the middle of the 19th century, a modern industrial location with iron ore and coal extraction and a flourishing textile, porcelain and glass industry emerged, on the one hand, and a Czech-Pan-Slavist and anti-German national movement developed that pushed for equal political and social treatment: in the revolutionary year In 1848, Slavic-oriented Czechs faced Germans pressing to join Germany. The Czech historian and politician František Palacký (his book “History of Bohemia”significantly influenced the Czech national consciousness) organized a Slavic Congress – parallel to the National Assembly in the Paulskirche in Frankfurt. A bourgeois-democratic revolution followed, centered in Prague. Austria then imposed martial law and bombed the city, which had to surrender. The German-Czech opposition worsened and could not be positively influenced by Count Taafe’s equalization policy, who had become Austrian Prime Minister for the second time at the end of the 19th century. A new right to vote brought the majority in the state parliament to the Czechs in 1880. They claimed sole rule and demanded a federalist constitution.The increasingly emphatic Czech national movement worked closely with the Slovaks and came more and more into a front position against Austria-Hungary, whose attempts to achieve a national balance failed. This led to the central government declaring the incapacity to work of the Bohemian state parliament in 1913, abolishing the country’s autonomy and governing the country in a state of emergency during the First World War. Slovak and Czech soldiers then formed the “Czechoslovak Legion” and fought on the side of the Russians and Serbs.


On October 28, 1918, Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia merged into Czechoslovakia. The state president was Tom¨¢š Garrigue Masaryk, who died in 1937. Edvard Beneš became the new President and signed the “Munich Agreement” in 1938 under pressure from France, England and Italy, thereby ceding the German-border areas to the German Reich. In 1939 Hitler also occupied the Czech territory and made it the “Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia”; Slovakia split off. The period of German occupation during World War II was marked by open terror against the Czech intelligentsia and the bourgeoisie, especially from 1941 onwards. Tens of thousands of Czechs (estimates are between 100,000 and 300,000 people) were killed, the vast majority of Jews living in Prague were taken to concentration camps and killed there.

On April 5, 1945, the Social Democrat Z. Fierlinger proclaimed the Kaschau program, which provided for the establishment of a welfare state, nationalization and the rapid resettlement of the Germans and Hungarians – a total of around 30% of the population. By October 1946, 3.5 million Germans had been driven out of the country. The Communist Party of the Czech Republic under Klement Gottwalds took power in 1948, and with the forced unification of Social Democrats and Communists and a constitutional change, the country was transformed according to the Soviet model. Around two million Czechs fled abroad, and opposition members who remained in the country were sentenced to forced labor in concentration camps.

In 1949 COMECON was founded as the “Council for Mutual Economic Aid” and after Stalin’s death in 1953, popular uprisings in Czechoslovakia were answered with arrests and mass executions. The Warsaw Pact was founded in 1955 in response to NATO and in 1960 the People’s Republic was renamed the “Czechoslovak Socialist Republic”.

After twenty years of communist rule, the republic was in a catastrophic economic condition in 1968. The Slovak Alexander Dubcek tried in the “Prague Spring” to implement political and economic reforms (such as the abolition of censorship). However, attempts to democratize were put down in a few months by Warsaw Pact troops and Dubcek was replaced. Gust¨¢v Hus¨¢k closed the western borders and restored the pro-Soviet course.

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Political opening

The first sign of a further turn was the establishment of a civil rights movement (“Charter 77”) under the leadership of the writer V¨¢clav Havel, which demanded compliance with human rights (and whose signatories ended up in prison). It was not until the changes in Soviet politics that the country was able to open up politically in 1989. The first sign was the promise by the Czechoslovak government to leave GDR citizens who had fled to the German embassy in Prague. A few months later, President Gustav Hus¨¢k resigned. Alexander Dubcek was elected President of the Federal Assembly and V¨¢clav Havel was elected President of the CSSR in December 1989. In the “Velvet Revolution” the country had freed itself from communist rule, the borders to the west were opened. In early 1990 the Czech Socialist Republic was renamed “Czech Republic”. On April 23, 1990, the company was renamed “Czech and Slovak Federative Republic” (ČSFR). In 1990, M¨¢rian Calfa emerged as the new head of government from the first free elections. The following year the last Russian troops left the country and the Warsaw Pact and the COMECON were disbanded. In 1992 V¨¢clav Klaus emerged from parliamentary elections as Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, V¨¢clav Havel resigned.

On January 1, 1993, the Czech and Slovak parts of the country separated and became independent states. Vaclav Havel became president of the newly created Czech Republic. In the same year she joined the Council of Europe and in 1995 both the EU Association Agreement and the accession to the OECD took place. The Klaus government confirmed the elections to the Chamber of Deputies and in 1997 V¨¢clav Klaus and Helmut Kohl signed a German-Czech declaration of reconciliation.

After a donation affair, Klaus resigned as Prime Minister in 1997. There followed changing coalitions and heads of government – the interim government Tošovský, the government Zeman (CSSD, tolerated by the ODS), the coalition government Špidla (CSSD, KDU-CSL, US-DEU), the government Gross (CSSD, appointed by President Klaus), the coalition government Paroubek (CSSD, KDU-CSL and US-DEU). In the June 2006 parliamentary elections, a tie between the center-left and center-right camps prevented government formation for half a year. Only in January 2007 did President Klaus swear in the Topol¨¢nek government (ODS, KDU-CSL and Greens), which did not have a stable majority. In 2003 V¨¢clav Klaus took over the office of President as successor to V¨¢clav Havel,

In 1999 the Czech Republic joined NATO and became one of the first countries of the former Warsaw Pact 2004 of the EU. Accession to the Schengen Agreement took place in 2008. Despite great criticism from President Klaus, he signed the Lisbon Treaty on November 3, 2009. Another complaint against the EU agreement was unsuccessful for the Czech Republic.

In the parliamentary elections in May 2010, the CSSD won the majority with 22.1% of the vote. Both the CSSD and its strongest competitor, the ODS, suffered significant losses. The new parties TOP 09 (tradition, responsibility and prosperity 09) and VV (party public affairs) competed for the first time in parliamentary elections and at the same time won 16.7% and 10.9% of the votes respectively and thus entered parliament. Petr Necas became Prime Minister. Miloš Zeman has been the first directly elected President since March 2013. The current coalition government under Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been the social democratic ČSSD, ANO 2011 and the KDU-ČSL since January 2014.

Czech Republic President