30 Years War

The Bohemian Lands under Absolute Rule, 1648-1790

Administration . Technically, Bohemia since 1627 (Moravia since 1628) again had an instrument counterbalancing royal power - the estates, the representation of the land, which had the right to grant or refuse taxes.
The estates which met from 1627 onward were very different as compared with those up to 1620. The new estates contained a chamber of clergy, exclusively made up by representatives of the Catholic church - who owed their position to the Habsburg Dynasty and the conquest of Bohemia in 1620. The nobility from 1627 onward was much different from that before 1620. Up to 1620, knights with smaller landholdings dominated, many of them both Czech and protestant. After 1627, it was the holders of large estates who dominated, mostly German-speaking and Catholic. Most of them owed their property to the Habsburg conquest of Bohemia in 1620, after which many Czech protestant noblemen were executed, their estates and those of others who had fled, confiscated and sold off. The political influence of the burgher estate had been reduced, and that of the estates itself also.
The estates thus did not represent the land any more, but did rather represent the Habsburg Dynasty. Yet the estates were of secondary importance.
The Czech Chancellery had been moved to Vienna in 1624; the administration of the Habsburg territories was centralized, Vienna attracting the function of a capital beyond the Duchy of Austria. Latin and German were the languages of administration, education and jurisdiction.
In 1742 most of Silesia and the County of Glatz (hitherto part of Bohemia) were ceded to Prussia.

Cultural History . Most of the books which had been printed in Czech were placed on the Index of Prohibited Books. The Jesuit college and the University of Prague were merged.
The Counterreformation succeeded in lastingly reconverting the far majority of the population to Catholicism, which still today is the clearly domination confession in the Czech Republic. On the other hand, by forbidding of any positive evaluation of Hussitism and of the Bohemian rising against Habsburg rule in 1618 it had an anti-Czech predisposition.
Under the rule of Emperor Joseph II., a number of old traditions were ended, privileges cancelled. Most influential was the decision to replace the Latin language by German - a decision which, in Bohemia, would pit the German and the Czech population element against each other.
In 1775, the Böhmische Gelehrte Privatgesellschaft (Bohemian learned private society, later to be renamed the Bohemian Society of Sciences), in 1784 the Royal Society of Bohemia was founded.

Social and Economic History . A peasants' uprising in 1680 was brutally suppressed.
Pragues Jews, who in 1708 had accounted for a quarter of the city's population, in 1745 were expelled (blamed for having collaborated with the Prussians during the preceding war).
A number of battles of the first Silesian War (1740-1742) and the Seven Years War (1756-1763) were fought in Bohemia; the War of Bavarian Succession 1778-1779 saw Prussian troops enter Moravia.

Czechoslovakia, from : Library of Congress, Country Studies
Böhmische Gelehrte Privatgesellschaft, from Scholarly Societies Project
The Era of Enlightenment, from Czech History
Virtual Jewish History Tour : Prague
DOCUMENTS Map of Bohemia, 1766, from Yale Univ.
REFERENCE Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia, A Czech History, Princeton : Univ. Press 1998, pp.46-52

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 11th 2007

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