History of Moravia - Historic Encyclopedia Entries

Meyer 1902-1909

Meyer's Konversationslexikon 1902-1909, Article : Mähren (excerpts)
         Traces of human settlement of Moravia reach back into the oldest period of prehistoric culture, into the Diluvium and older Stone Age, and are proven by numerous finds proving the coexistence of humans and diluvial animals, which were found in the Loess clay and in numerous caves. Further finds from the Neolithicum and the Bronze Age lead to the conclusion, that at these locationa and in the vicinity of a number of still existing cities and municipalities prehistoric settlements have existed; at a few locations [traces of] settlements in lakes built on poles have been found. The name of the country is connected to the March, the main river (Latin : Marus, Old German : Maraha, Slavic : Morava), the oldest form of the name of the people, Marvani, is found in "Annales Einhardi" for 822. Moravia's oldest historic population is formed by the Celts, perhaps the Volcae Tectosages, who may have resided here until the mid of the 1st century B.C. They were followed by the Suebian Quadi, relatives of the Marcomanni, the first Germanic population of Moravia known to us. They are allocated to this area by Tacitus. The era of the Barbaric Peoples' Migrations seems to have lead new Germanic peoples here, Herulians, Rugians and Lombards, until in the 6th century Slavs immigrated into this country, as they did into adjacent Bohemia. In the 9th century Moimir, Rastislav and Svatopluk here founded the Great Moravian Empire, which had its center in eastern Moravia and northwestern Hungary [i.e. modern Slovakia], and at times expanded its territory far into Bohemia, Hungary and Poland. The attempts to free itself from Frankish suzerainty resulted in repeated wars between the listed princes and the German kings. With these attempts to establish independence is connected the fact that Rastislav in 863 requested clergymen from the Greek Emperor to christianize the country, who were to counteract the Frankish-Bavarian clergy proselytizing in Moravia. So Methodius and Constantine (Cyrill) came into the country, the apostles of Moravia (see Cyrillus 3). After the death of Svatopluk (894) the Empire disintegrated, and in 906 was conquered by Hungary. The demise of the Great Moravian Empire made possible the rise of the two adjacent countries Bohemia and Poland, the latter of which conquered Moravia around the year 1000, but soon lost it to the Dukes Udalrich and Bretislav of Bohemia (c. 1029). Since then Moravia, which at that time had its modern extension, remained tied to Bohemia and was treated as an apanage of the younger sons. It was divided in three, temporarily four principalities, but there was no regulated succession, so that throughout the entire 11th and 12th century there have been succession disputes between the latter and the head of the Przemyslid family ruling in Bohemia. In the course of such disputes, Moravia in 1182, under Duke Konrad Otto, who had united the principalities, by Emperor Friedrich I. was granted immediate status in the Empire [i.e. separated from Bohemia]. A treaty concluded by the brothers Przemysl Ottokar I. of Bohemia and Vladislav Heinrich of Moravia on December 6th 1197 reatored amiable relations, without Moravia losing its position as an immediate territory. But as the Margrave of Moravia remained childless, in the 13th and the first half of the 14th century Moravia either was placed directly under the Bohemian king, or was administrated by one of his sons. Only Emperor Karl IV. in 1349 established here a secundogeniture of the Luxemburg Dynasty, when he ceded Moravia to his brother Johann. He ruled until 1375, one of the most fortunate periods in the history of the country, succeeded by his sons Jodok (Jost), Prokop and Johann Sobieslav, of whom the eldest was regarded the proper ruler of the country. With his death (1411) this younger line of the House of Luxemburg died out, and Moravia fell to the King of Bohemia, Wenceslas, a cousin of Jodok. Wenceslas also died childless (1419), his heir was his brother, King Siegmund of Hungary, who in 1423 left Moravia to his son-in-law Duke Albrecht of Austria. The Moravian estates paid homage to the latter's son, Ladislaus Posthumus, even before he had been crowned in Bohemia, which resulted to important discussions of state law. In the Peace of 1478, which ended the struggle between Matthias of Hungary and Vladislav of Poland over the Bohemian throne, Moravia was separated from Bohemia, and, together with Silesia, ceded to the Hungarian king for lifetime. After the death of Matthias it fell back to Bohemia, and together with this country, after the death of King Louis of Hungary in the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 to Austria. The Moravians recognized the right of Archduke Ferdinand's wife to inherit, and, as officially stated, accepted Ferdinand and Anna as the country's rulers, in response to which the new margrave confirmed the laws and privileges of the country. During his and his son Maximilian's rule, Protestantism flourished in Moravia, both among the nobility as among the inhabitants of the cities and the countryside. But already in the later years of the latter [Maximilian] the activity of the Jesuits began, namely in Olmütz and in Brünn. In Karl von Zerotin (see there) and the Bishop of Olmütz [Olomouc], Franz von Dietrichstein (see there 4), the two religious parties in those days had their leaders. The former, as foreman of the margraviate, in 1608 pushed through the session of Moravia to Archduke Matthias; he held back the Moravians in 1618, when they were asked by the Bohemians to join the rebellion, but already in 1619 did Moravia join Bohemia, and together with the latter, in subsequent years had to suffer the same fate of forced Catholic restauration. Horrible wounds were afflicted to the country by the Thirty Years War and Turkish and Tatar incursions in 1663. The wars under Maria Theresia again lead hostile armies into the country, but after the end of the Seven Years' War, here too trade and culture flourished. On Moravian soil the decisive Battle of Austerlitz (December 2nd 1805) was fought; during the war of 1866 it was traversed by Prussian armies, after which in Nikolsburg the peace preliminaries were held. The newest history of the country since 1848 was dominated by the national struggle between Germans and Czechs, of whom the former, in combination with the Liberal estate owners, hold the majority in the administration of the country, which they are only willing to give up in return for assurances which are to prevent majorization in national matters. Various concessions by the government to the Moravian Slavs, such as the language ordinnance of 1897, the Bohemian Polytechnic in Brünn [Brno], the government's unclear position in regard to the demand for a Bohemian university in Brünn, resolutely rejected by the Germans, more and more embitter the relations between the two nationalities. The Permanent Ausgleich Committee of the Moravian Diet, created a number of years ago, and after several years of interruption restored in 1903, serves the solution of these important political questions.
source in German, posted by Zeno


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First posted on March 14th 2009

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