Bohemia - Administrative History

The Formation of the Duchy of Bohemia . While Bohemia is believed to have been settled by Slavic peoples in the later half of the 5th century, we have little information regarding the political organization of the country. In the 9th century, historical records lead to the assumption that what was to become Bohemia was divided into several spheres, western Bohemia under the Przemyslids, eastern central Bohemia under the Slavnikids, and large stretches of southern and eastern Bohemia which were part of Great Moravia (1)
Great Moravia was destroyed by the Magyars in c.905; the Przemyslids eliminated their Slavnikid rivals in the later 10th century, and the Bohemian Duchy took shape. It did not include the region around Eger / Cheb, but did include the northern regions of Upper Austria, which were annexed by Austria in the 11th century.
In the 9th to 11th century, the country was thinly populated, and borders not clearly marked. Rather, borders consisted of stretches of wilderness (forests) separating settled areas. Bohemia was a feudal society; land, both allodia (fully owned land) and fiefs, were the foundation of political power. Most land in Bohemia was owned/held by three political groups, (a) the duke/king, (b) the church (the Diocesis of Prague, various monasteries) and (c) by the Bohemian nobility. Bohemian nobles had a great influence in local jurisdiction, and over those parish churches they owned.
The Catholic church, responsible for canonic law, for baptism, marriage and burial, established the country's first administration based on written records.

Late Medieval Bohemia . With the transition from a state based on the feudal levy to a taxation-based state, in the individual Lands of the Bohemian Crown, diets emerged. The Bohemian diet, upon convocation by the King of Bohemia, was to convene and discuss the king's proposal of a bede (extraordinary, one-time tax) to be collected. In the diet, the country's (higher) clergy, nobility and the representatives of the cities were represented.
Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1322, borrowed money from King John of Bohemia, and gave him the city of Eger (Cheb) as security. He did not repay the debt; his successors as Emperors were also Kings of Bohemia and as such not interested into returning Eger to the state of an immediate (= free Imperial) city. In 1331, King John of Bohemia purchased Asch, a city in the Vogtland region, from the Barons of Plauen. Asch, Eger and her environs were, from the later 14th century on, regarded part of Bohemia.

Bohemia from the 15th to the 19th century . Bohemia was subdivided in circles. The administrative structure of the country is poorly documented, and for the older period we are not sure if we know all circles; for c.1450 to 1550, 13 circles are documented, for 1550 to 1714 14 circles, for 1714 to 1751 12 circles, for 1751 to 1850 16 circles. In 1744, the County of Glatz was ceded to Prussia. An administrative reform in 1850 reduced the number of circles to 7; another reform in 1855 increased it to 13. In 1862 the circles were abolished, and replaced by 104 districts; they existed until the end of Habsburg rule. (2)

Bohemia within Czechoslovakia, 1918-1992 . During the First Czechoslovak Republic, the districts of late Habsburg Bohemia were maintained. Larger administrative units, the regions, were created, 9 (plus Prague) for Bohemia. In 1938 the Sudetenland was ceded to Germany; from 1939 to 1945 core Bohemia and Moravia occupied by Germany.
From 1949 to 1960, all of Czechoslovakia was divided into 19 regions (13 for Czechia; the traditional division of Czechia in historical regions was disregarded); in 1960 the country was reorganized into 10 regions, 7 for Czechia.

Bohemia within the Czech Republic, since 1993 . In 2001, the Czech Republic was reorganized into 13 regions (plus Prague). The territorial integrity of the historical regions (Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia) again was disregarded.

Notes .
(1) : see map posted by WinCzEduc; Czech History, Lesson 2, scroll down).
(2) : see GOV SFF (has maps)

Staatliche Verwaltungseinheiten der Regionen im Staate Böhmen und in dessen Nachfolgestaaten vom späten Mittelalter bis zum Jahre 1945 (State Administrative Units of the Regions within the Bohemian State and its Successors, from the Late Middle Ages up to 1945), posted by GOV SFF, in German
Alte Kreise, bis 1850 bzw. 1862 (Old Circles, until 1850 resp. 1862), Posted by GOV SFF, with maps, in German
Article Verwaltungsgliederung in Böhmen (Administrative Division of Bohemia), Asch, Geschichte von, Eger, Geschichte von, Grafschaft Glatz, from, in German
Article Administrative Divisions of Czechoslovakia, from Wikipedia
Article Böhmen Politische Struktur, from
Geschichte der Egerer Burg (History of Eger Castle), from Chebskyhrad
DOCUMENTS Links to Online Maps of Bohemia and Moravia, posted by Historicum at Herder Institute, Marburg
Map Bohemia 1731-1740, w. circles, by M. Seutter, posted by SUUB
Map Bohemia 1636, w. circles, by Jansonius, posted by
Map Bohemia & Moravia 1828 (Lizars), posted by
Map Bohemia 1798 (Walch), posted by
Sommer, J.G. : Das Königreich Böhmen, statistisch-topographisch dargestellt (The Kingdom of Bohemia, a statistical and topographic description), 16 volumes (c. 1800), described by Genealogienetz, in German
Regions, Districts of the Czech Republic, from

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on July 29th 2006, last revised on July 30th 2006

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