1790-1815 1848-1849

The Bohemian Lands in 1815-1848

While during the years of the Napoleonic Wars there was an atmosphere of freedom for cultural expression, after the VIENNA CONGRESS of 1815 the Austrian government regarded nationalist movements with suspicion; the CARLSBAD DECREES of 1819 (also referred to as Carlsbad Resolutions) were signed in the spa of Karlsbad in what was then the German-speaking rim of Bohemia, later referred to as the Sudetenland. They called for state vigilance against any revolutionary, liberal, nationalist or other activities, and recommended to the state the use of secret police, the outlawing of suspicious (i.e. political) organizations and the application of press censorship.
In 1818 the PRAGUE NATIONAL MUSEUM was established by Count Frantisek z Kolovrat, aimed at preserving and teaching Bohemian (Czech) national history. Not by coincidence was it opened precisely 200 years after the defenestration of Prague, although no mention of it was made in the foundation speeches, and the Bohemians' continued loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty was emphasized. The Bohemian patriotic movement, split in a German-speaking and a Czech-speaking branch, corresponds to similar liberal-patriotic movements elsewhere in Europe. In Bohemia, as in Hungary, the strong participation of the country's nobility is characteristic.
The Habsburg administration, suspicious even of such a cultural movement, had theology professor at Prague University Bernhard Bolzano dismissed (1820), M. J. Fesl, professor at the seminary in Litomerice, the founder of a secret society, arrested. In 1816 Bolzano had published an essay On the Condition of the Two Nationalities in Bohemia, in which he reflected on the socio-political consequences of this linguistic structure. German-speaking and germanized Bohemians dominated political life in Bohemia. For Bohemians aiming at a career in the Habsburg administration, command of the German language was essential.
In Bohemia there were large monolingual groups - the Sudeten Germans only speaking German, the peasants of central Bohemia and central Moravia only speaking Czech. In Bohemia's cities traditionally the German language dominated, but the industrialization caused rapid urbanization, i.e. the migration of Czech-speaking peasants into the cities. Here, intense cross-ethnic contacts took place; intermarriages contributed to the rise of a bilingual group. Many of Bohemia's noblemen, because of intermarriage of both German and Czech ancestry, were also bilingual. Interestingly, it is these two bilingual groups which contributed most strongly to the Czech cultural and political national awakening - Bolzano is an Italian name, Josef Jungmann has a German name.
Josef Jungmann in 1825 published History of Czech Literature or Systematic Survey of Czech Writings, with s Short History of the Nation, Education and Language.
Czech patriotic scholars emphasized the close relation of Czech to other Slavic languages; Celakovsky published Slav National Songs in 1822 to 1827, followed by Popular Proverbs of the Slav Nation (1852). Publications like these were the beginnings of cultural PANSLAVISM. FRANTISEK PALACKY published the History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia.
In 1846 the PRAGUE BURGHERS' CLUB was founded.

Biography of Bernhard Bolzano, from Interactive Real Analysis
1815-1867 : The National Revival, from Czech History
DOCUMENTS Carlsbad Resolutions, from Hanover Historical Texts Project
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 April 15th 2005

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