Periods in the History of Moravia

General Observations . Since the end of the Great Moravian Empire c.907 Moravia was without a ruling dynasty of her own, long contested by her neighbours respectively by foreign dynasties. While the dynastic territorial complex was ruled from a capital outside of Moravia, the land maintained its autonomy until 1918. Accounts on the history of Czechia tend to emphasize Bohemian, and sideline Moravian history.

Antiquity (2nd Century B.C. to 5th Century A.D. . In Antiquity Bohemia was inhabited by the Celtic Boii, who are believed to have moved out around 60 B.C. In the early centuries A.D. the country was inhabited by the Germanic Quadi, who are believed, together with other Germanic peoples, to have merged into the Bavarii; recorded for the 6th century. In the course of the Barbaric Peoples' Migration the Bavarii left Moravia and moved into Bavaria.

Slavic Settlement, Pagan Religion (5th to 10th Century) . Moravia is believed to have been settled by pagan Slavic groups in the later 5th century A.D. The early history of Slavic Moravia is nebulous due to the scarcity of written records. Bohemia is recorded as being a vassall of the Frankish / East Frankish Kingdom since 817.
A first attempt to convert Moravia to (Orthodox) christianity, in the 9th century, after initial successes, was foiled by Magyar incursions, which caused the collapse of Greater Moravia (c. 905).
In the 10th century Moravia, then a sideland of Bohemia, converted to Catholicism. The Diocesis of Prague was established in 973.

Early Christian Moravia (973 to 1200) . Moravia was contested between Bohemia / the Przemyslid Dynasty (in control of Moravia 954-999, 1019-1306) and Poland / the Piast Dynasty (in control 999-1019). The introduction of primogeniture in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown 1054 stabilized the Przemyslid state. In 1063 the Diocese of Olomouc (= Moravia) was detached from the Diocese of Prague.

Era of Development (1200-1400) . By 1200 Moravia was among the larger political entities within the Holy Roman Empire, rich in economic potential and poorly developed. France and the western regions of the Holy Roman Empire had seen rapid economic development ever since technological developments such as the introduction of the iron plough, dyking and draining techniques permitted to take fertile clay soil under the plow, to drain swamps and to protect lowlands against inundation. The Urban Revolution had begun here. By 1200, both hardly had made an impact on Moravia.
The Przemyslid rulers of Moravia, and from 1310 onward their successors of the Luxemburg Dynasty, wanted to introduce these novelties into their country, in order to raise their revenues. Groups of settlers were called into the country to cultivate stretches of land which hitherto lay idle, to found cities where there were none before. These settlers, which happened to be German, were given privileges, thus legally separated from their Slavic neighbours. Thus, Moravia became a country of two cultures, the Slavs who dominated the countryside of central Moravia, and the Germans who dominated in the Sudetenland (the hill rim, and the cities, most notably Brno and Olomouc). Moravia's mining industry flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries; the technical know-how had been brought into the country by immigrant German miners.
Politically, Moravia was a sideland of Bohemia, one of the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, together with Silesia (since 1335) and Lusatia (since 1076). The Luxemburg Dynasty, since 1310, chose Prague as their residence.
Under Emperor (and King of Bohemia) Charles IV., the Diocesis of Prague was elevated to an Archdiocese (1344), with Olomouc as a suffragan.

Religious Disputes (1400-1620) . In 1375, Emperor Charles IV. had made his brothers Jobst and Prokop joined Counts of Moravia; at the time when Hussitism emerged, the country, thus was held by a branch of the Luxemburg Dynasty different from that ruling over Bohemia. Jobst, in 1410, even was elected Holy Roman Emperor, to replace his incapable brother Wenceslas, King of Bohemia; in 1411 he died and was succeeded by his brother Wenceslas; Moravia again was administered from Prague.
The Moravian nobles, jointly with those of Bohemia, rejected the condemnation of Jan Hus as a heretic by the Council of Constance. In consequence, like Bohemia, Moravia experienced incursions by foreign crusaders and a drastic decline in population. From the late 1420es on, the Hussitesw undertook campaigns into the lands of origin of the crusaders. In 1433 peace as concluded, the rule of the Luxemburg Dynasty restored, by the grace of the Bohemian and Moravian diets. The Habsburg Dynasty succeeded the Luxemburgers in 1437, but in 1458 Bohemia and her sidelands had an indigenous ruler, Hussite King George of Podebrady (1458-1471). The pope again called for crusades against the Lands of the Bohemian Crown; King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary invaded, and in 1469 the Diet of Moravia submitted and pledged allegiance to him. Vladislas II. of the Jagiellonian Dynasty succeeded to the Bohemian throne in 1471, to the Hungarian throne in 1490; Moravia again was included in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown.
Following the death of Vladislaus III. in the Battle of Mohacs, the Lands of the Bohemian Crown fell to Ferdinand of Habsburg, brother of Emperor Charles V. The Lutheran Reformation had found followers among Moravia's ethnic German population. In 1566, the Jesuits were invited to establish a college in Olomouc. On June 26th 1618 the Diet of Moravia, although protestant, declared their loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty. Counterreformation Moravia (1620-1711) . Despite of the loyalty to the Habsburg Dynasty displayed by the Moravian Diet in 1618, following the Habsburg victory over the Bohemian rebels in 1620, the Counterreformation was implemented in Moravia as well, with force; protestants ere forced to convert or emigrate (the Moravian brethren chose the latter option, to Poland).
In the later phase of the Thirty Years War, Moravia was battle ground, as a Swedish army invaded the country; the degree of devastation was severe.

18th Century Moravia (1711-1792) . In 1683 the Austrian Habsburgs narrowly escaped disaster; the Ottoman siege of Vienna was broken, by 1699 Hungary liberated. The Austrian Habsburgs, throughout the late 17th and into the 18th century, in order to fight their many wars, heavily depended on foreign subsidies. Austrian economists wanted to improve the Emperor's finances and suggested policies such as lessening the burden on peasants and introducing taxation on nobility. Also, new forms of production, such as manufactures, were promoted. Together with Bohemia, Moravia was the most versatile and productive economy among the territories of the Austrian Habsburgs (the Austrian Netherlands and Milan disregarded).
Repeatedly, Moravia was the battleground of wars (War of Austrian Succession 1740-1748, Seven Years War 1756-1763; War of Bavarian Succession 1777-1778).
In 1782, Austrian Silesia was annexed into Moravia.

19th Century Moravia (1792-1918) . In the aftermath of the French Revolution, the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, the Marquisate of Moravia declared integral part of the Austrian Empire (1806). Czech and German nationalism emerged. The Habsburg administration were reluctant to concede political authority to the estates, to extend the franchise. The Industrial Revolution affected Moravia stronger than Austria proper. In 1848, Prague saw a revolution, and was the seat of the 1st Pan-Slavic Congress. The revolution was suppressed, but serfdom abolished in Austria (including Moravia). In 1849 Austrian Silesia was again administratively separated from Moravia.
The Industrial Revolution resulted in changes in society; the growth of a railroad network increased social mobility. Persons from the (Czech) countryside migrated into cities, many of which used to be of an ethnic German character; the Germans, over time, found themselves being reduced to a minority.
Improved education resulted in increased circulation of newspapers, both in Czech and German; these, despite press censorship, often were edited by liberal patriots of either ethnicity. In Moravia, the tension between ethnic Czechs and ethnic Germans was less than in Bohemia; in 1905 the Moravian Diet passed the Moravian Compromise (Mährischr Ausgleich), which regulated separate schooling and voting by nationality, thus guaranteeing that Czechs and Germans were represented in the diet according to the proportion of the respective ethnicity.

Czechoslovakia (1918-1992) . In 1918 the Czechoslovak state was established. Ethnic Germans in Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia, ethnic Hungarians in Slovakia found themselves marginalized in a state which emphasized its Slavic origin. The Czechs (Slav Bohemians and Moravians) outnumbered Slovaks 2:1; the old Bohemian capital of Prague was capitl of the entire state, Czechia the more politically and economically developed part of the entire country. While the Czechs identified with the Czechoslovak Republic and regarded themselves part of a Czechoslovak Nation, the Slovaks were split into Czechoslovaks and supporters of a Slovak autonomy.
In 1938, Germany annexed the Sudetenland; from 1939 to 1945 it occupied core Czechia (then referred to as the Reichsprotektorat Böhmen und Mähren). This was a period of ruthless opression.
In 1945 Czechoslovakia was restored, the country's ethnic German minority (c. 3 million) forcibly expelled. In 1948 Czechoslovakia became a socialist people's republic. An attempt to introduce Socialism with a Human Face (Spring of Prague 1968) was suppressed by Warsaw Pact troops. Until 1989 the country was ruled by concrete head communist politicians. Drastic political and economic reforms then resulted in the peaceful break-up of Czechoslovakia, into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Czech Republic (since 1993) . Joined NATO (1999), EU (2004).

Czechoslovakia, from : Library of Congress, Country Studies

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 11th 2006

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