Prehistory and early history of the Czech Republic
People lived on the territory of today’s Czech Republic as early as the Stone Age. A significant find is the Dolní Věstonice Venus. This ceramic figure represents a woman and is around 27,000 years old. Back then, people lived as hunters and gatherers. The figure was found during the excavation of a mammoth hunter camp. The fingerprint of an 11 to 14 year old child was found on the back.
From 5300 BC People settled down here. They now lived as farmers. Different cultures developed, for example that of the corded ceramics, that of the bell beakers or, in the Bronze Age, the Aunjetitz culture. From around 450 BC A Celtic tribe settled here: the Boier. The name Bohemia is derived from them, which means something like home of the Boier. They came from the Rhine-Main-Danube area. Bohemia is the western part of today’s Czech Republic, Moravia the eastern part.
Germanic tribes came here in the 1st century AD: the Marcomanni settled in Bohemia and the Quadi in Moravia. Around 550, Slavs came to the area from the east. One of these Slavs, a merchant named Samo, founded an empire that also included the eastern areas of today’s Czech Republic, a country located in Europe detailed by dentistrymyth.
In the 9th century the Moravians founded an empire. Over time, it also included Bohemia, Silesia and parts of present-day Poland. It lasted about a hundred years before it came under Hungarian rule and disintegrated in 907.
Rule of the Premyslids
The Premyslids were a ruling family from Bohemia. They ruled in Bohemia from the 9th century. In 924 the young Wenceslas took over the rule of the still small principality. He was murdered by his brother Boleslav a few years later. Wenceslaus was soon venerated as a saint and eventually became the country’s patron saint.
In 1003 Bohemia fell briefly to Poland, but could be recaptured. In 1031 Moravia was annexed. In 1085 Vratislav II was crowned the first Bohemian king.
1305 Wenceslas III. King of Bohemia. A year later he was murdered. This ended the Premyslid dynasty.
Kingdom of Bohemia from the 14th century
Wenceslaus III had no heir to the throne. His sister Elisabeth married Johann von Luxemburg in 1310, the son of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Heinrich VII. This is how the House of Luxemburg came to the throne in Bohemia and Moravia. The Kingdom of Bohemia was now closely integrated into the Holy Roman Empire.
John’s son Charles IV became King of Bohemia in 1347. A year later he founded the university named after him in Prague, which became the oldest university north of the Alps. In 1355 Karl became Holy Roman Emperor. He chose Prague as his residence city. In 1356 Charles passed the Golden Bull, the most important law of the empire.
Jan Hus, a preacher from Prague, criticized the state of the church at the beginning of the 15th century, especially the greed and secularization of the clergy. Hus was expelled from the church and burned as a heretic in 1414. Nevertheless, Hus had found many followers who named themselves Hussites after him. From 1419 to 1434 the Hussite Wars broke out. The Hussites fought against the Bohemian kings and the Roman Catholic Church, which led to the loss of power in Bohemia.
From 1471 the Polish-Lithuanian Jagellions ruled in Bohemia. In 1526 the Bohemian king died without any descendants. His brother-in-law was elected as the new king, the Habsburg Ferdinand I, who was also emperor in the Holy Roman Empire. That is why the Habsburgs ruled the Kingdom of Bohemia between 1526 and 1918.
The Prague window lintel and its consequences
Bohemia had become Protestant during the Reformation. Ferdinand II became King of Bohemia in 1617 and was now eager to support the Catholic Counter-Reformation. The Bohemian princes were outraged, gathered in Prague Castle, the king’s seat, and threw two of the king’s governors out of the window. Because these governors were a symbol both for the unwanted king and for the Catholic side. One also speaks of the Prague window lintel. It became the trigger for the Thirty Years’ War. Bohemia became Catholic after the lost battle on White Mountain. Until 1918 it was ruled from Vienna.
History of the Czech Republic from the 18th century to the present day
Czech national movement in the 19th century
Bohemia was ruled from Vienna and was an insignificant province within the Habsburg monarchy. The Czech language was suppressed. There was resistance to this from the end of the 18th century. In 1848 there was the Whitsun Uprising in Prague, but this was suppressed by the Habsburgs.
In 1918 the national movement finally led to success. The movement was supported by the Allies. On October 28, the independent state of Czechoslovakia was founded. Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk had fought for it and has now become the first president. Slovakia joined the new state.
With the Munich Agreement, Czechoslovakia had to cede the Sudetenland to the German Reich in 1938 – around a third of the national territory. In 1939 German troops finally marched into the country, declared it a “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia” and incorporated it into the German Empire. The Theresienstadt concentration camp was built on Czech soil, where tens of thousands of people were murdered. With the end of the Second World War, Czechoslovakia including the Sudentenland was re-established in 1945. Edvard Beneš, President of the Republic from 1935 to 1938, took over the office again.
In 1946 the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia won the elections, and in 1948 it took power in the February revolution. Beneš was forced to resign. The constitution was changed and the country reshaped according to the Soviet model. The country became the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, also known as ČSSR for short.
In 1968 the new leader of the Communist Party, Alexander Dubček, tried to push through changes and create “socialism with a human face”. Reforms and a completely new course became the ” Prague Spring “. But the Soviet Union put pressure on the government in Prague. Soldiers marched in and forcibly ended the new course.
The Velvet Revolution and Division of the Country
In 1989 there was a nonviolent overthrow and the communist system became a democracy. After a peaceful student demonstration was brutally suppressed by the police on November 17th, a counter-demonstration with 750,000 people followed. President Gustáv Husák resigned on December 10th. Václav Havel, who had actively campaigned for the overthrow, became the new president. In 1992 the division of Czechoslovakia into the two states of the Czech Republic and Slovakia was decided and implemented. Havel resigned and then became President of the Czech Republic.
Havel remained president until 2003, when Václav Klaus took office. In 2004 the Czech Republic joined the EU. Miloš Zeman became president in 2013.