1849-1867 1893-1914

The Bohemian Lands in 1867-1893

The Diets and Political Parties . Bohemia, Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia had separate diets. The franchise was restricted to property owners, which favoured the German-speaking bourgeoisie; the franchise reform of 1882, which lowered the property qualifications, altered the balance between German and Czech representatives in the Bohemian diet in favour of the latter.
The late 19th century saw the emergence of a number of political philosophies - liberalism, anticlericalism, nationalism, the labour movement, in addition to traditional conservatism. Political affiliation in the Bohemian lands became increasingly dominated by the question, with which nationality (German or Czech) the individual identified. The labour movement, until 1893, remained an exception; politically active workers from Bohemia, Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia, both Czech and German, joined the Social Democratic Party of Austria.
The diets of Bohemia, Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia were long dominated by the German-speaking element; the franchise reform in Bohemia, from 1884 onward, secured a Czech majority.
The Bohemian Lands were part of Austria, and as such subject to Viennese legislation, such as the Gewerbeordnung (Industry Ordinnance) of 1883, the insurance legislation of 1887 etc.; the authority of the diets of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia to legislate was limited. Many of the politicians, rather than focussing in specific issues, considered various forms of constitutional change.

Political Dreams and Developments - Czechs and Germans . In 1867 the Hungarian patriots got the Ausgleich (Austro-Hungarian Compromise), an arrangement which granted the Hungarian diet far-reaching political autonomy within the Kingdom of Hungary, which meant the diet, dominated by ethnic Hungarians, mostly nobles, gained control over vast areas settled by non-Hungarians; the Hungarians had been recognized as Staatsvolk, a German expression that translates to an ethnicity upon which the state is fundamentally rested.
The dream of the Czechs, mainly organized in the Czech National Party lead by F.L. Rieger, was to achieve a similar compromise for Bohemia - recognition of the Czechs as the Staatsvolk within the lands of the Bohemian crown (Bohemia, Moravia and (Austrian) Silesia), the so-called Tripartite Solution, an envisioned Austria-Bohemia-Hungary instead of Austria-Hungary. As Vienna was unwilling to grant this, Rieger's Czech National Party continued to boycott the Vienna Reichstag (1863-1879). In 1874 a number of party representatives in the Bohemian diet, boycotted by the CNP since 1867, broke away and formed the Young Czech Party; from 1874 on the CNP often is referred to as the Old Czech Party.

The objects of the Viennese administration were many and complex, preventing the various nationalities from gaining independence, but also preventing the (German) liberals from getting a hold on power. During a brief period, the ministry Schäffle (1871) strove for such a Bohemian compromise in order to undermine the strong position of the German-Austrian liberals at that time. A franchise reform in Bohemia broke the German monopoly in the Bohemian diet; due to high Bohemian demands and Hungarian opposition, the negotiations failed and the concept was abandoned by Emperor Franz Joseph.
In 1879 Austrian chancellor Count Taaffe decreed German and Czech to both be languages of administration in Bohemia; only now did the Czech National Party end the boycott of the Viennese Reichsrat. Rieger and his party became loyal supporters of the Taaffe administration (1879-1893); the fruit of the Taaffe-Rieger pact was a further franchise reform (1882), extending the franchise to men who paid minimum 5 Fl. of taxes per annum. The franchise reform tipped the political balance in core Bohemia toward the Czech National Party.

Regional Politics . Moravia banned women (among the owners of estates) to personally exercise their right of voting in 1870, Bohemia followed in 1873.

Economic and Social History . Industrialization continued, as did the migration of peasants into the growing cities; Prague, early in the century a city strongly characterized by her German community, saw an ever-growing Czech population element. The German community, however, continued to thrive.

Cultural History . In 1882 Prague University split into a German University and a Czech University; the Prague Polytechnic also split along language lines. In 1890 the first girl's gymnasium (high school) of Bohemia and entire Austria-Hungary opened in Prague.
The number and circulation of Czech-language newspapers increased in the 1860es to 1880es; of importance was Zlata Praha (Golden Prague), a magazine which began publication in 1884.
Bedrich Smetana, who lived in Sweden since 1848, was a patriotic Czech composer.

Category : Political Parties in Austria-Hungary, from Wikipedia
Article Sokol, Frantisek Ladislav Rieger, Young Czech Party, Julius and Edvard Gregr, from Wikipedia
Biography of Bedrich Smetana, from HNH
Gallery (ed.), Geschichte Verstehen, Die Entwicklung der Deutsch-Tschechischen Beziehungen in den Böhmischen Ländern 1848-1948, in German
The Czech Question : People and Events, by Milos Havelka
Eva Schmidt-Hartmann, Thomas G. Masaryk's Realism : Origins of a Political Concept (1984), partially posted by Google Books
Gabriella Hauch, From Frauenstandpunkt aus. Frauen im Parlament 1919-1933 (From a Woman's Perspective : Women in [Austria's] Parliament 1919-1933; in German)
"Kulturnation" and "National Arts". Czech Nation Building 1860-1914, by Christopher P. Storck; Die Tschechische Politik und die Nationale Gesellschaft (Czech Policy and National Society) by the same author
REFERENCE Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia, A Czech History, Princeton : Univ. Press 1998
A.J.P. Taylor, The Habsburg Monarchy, 1809-1918, Univ. of Chicago Press 1983
Friedrich Prinz, Deutsche Geschichte im Osten Europas : Böhmen und Mähren (German History in Europe's East : Bohemia and Moravia), Berlin : Siedler 2002, pp.334-356 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 9th 2007

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