1648-1790 1815-1848

The Bohemian Lands in 1790 to 1815

Already in the 1770es and 1780es the first societies were founded, with the object of scientific research or promotion of the arts, but also patriotic in nature, most notably the ROYAL SOCIETY OF BOHEMIA (1784), the PATRIOTIC-ECONOMIC SOCIETY OF THE KINGDOM OF BOHEMIA (1788) and the SOCIETY OF PATRIOTIC FRIENDS OF THE ARTS (1796). The latter established Prague's ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS in 1799. A countly NATIONAL THEATER, the first theater open to the general public, opened in 1783.
In 1806 the Bohemian Estates founded the PRAGUE POLYTECHNIC COLLEGE; in 1811 they founded the PRAGUE MUSICAL CONSERVATORY.
In 1792 Josef Dobrovsky (1753-1829) published Geschichte der boehmischen Sprache und Literatur (history of the Bohemian language and literature, Bohemian to be read as Czech). A two volume German-Czech dictionary was published in 1802 resp. 1821, a Detailed Grammar of the Czech Language in 1809. Karel Tham had already published a German-Czech dictionary in 1788, updated in 1807-1808; F.J. Tomsa had published a Czech grammar in 1782, a German-Czech dictionary in 1789, a Czech-German-Latin dictionary in 1791.

The years between 1790 and 1820 were the period of awakening national identity. Yet Bohemia combined, at least, two ethnic identities. The National Theater, founded by Count Nostitz, performed almost exclusively German language theater pieces, and among the exceptions were Italian language operas such as Mozart's Don Giovanni. Of course, at that time the majority of the citizens of Prague were German-speaking, as was much of Bohemia's nobility.
Yet there were others, most notably JOSEF JUNGMANN, who interpreted 'national Bohemian' differently, as distinctively Czech-speaking. This was to become a conflict in later years; in the early years of the 19th century, German and Czech Bohemian patriotism thrived side by side.
In 1800, Prague had c. 77,000 inhabitants.

The Napoleonic Wars also affected the Bohemian lands. Here Napoleon Bonaparte achieved what is believed his greatest victory over a combined Austro-Russian force in the BATTLE OF AUSTERLITZ (1805), at Austerlitz in Moravia. The main battles of the Austrian campaign of 1809 were fought in Austria proper, in the proximity of the Danube river (Aspern, Wagram). In 1813 Bohemia (Kulm, Wollendorf) provided a side theatre to the main battle at Leipzig.
When the Habsburg dynasty had to cede part of her inherited territories in the TREATY OF PRESSBURG in 1809, the Bohemian lands were not affected; they remained under Habsburg rule.

The Battle of the Three Emperors (Austerlitz 1805), from Bond Marketing
History of the Theatre of the Estates, from Narodny Divadlo
REFERENCE Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia, A Czech History, Princeton : Univ. Press 1998, pp.53-81

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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