Czech Republic History
Back to Czech Republic Portal Page►
Slavic peoples settled, in several waves of migration, into the region of Bohemia and Moravia in the sixth century. One Slavic chieftain, Mojmír, succeeded in building a consolidated domain in eastern Moravia and along the Slovak Danube in the 830s. He accepted Christianity and his successors expanded the realm to include Bohemia, Moravia, much of Slovakia, and even part of southern Poland. This expanded domain became known as the Great Moravian Empire. After the fall of Great Moravia in the early tenth century, Prague became the center of a new independent state ruled by the Premyslid dynasty. This Czech state succeeded in preserving its sovereignty despite formal vassal ties to the Holy Roman Empire. Officially elevated to the status of kingdom in 1212, the medieval Czech state of Bohemia reached the height of its power and importance in the 1340s during the reign of Charles IV, who later also became Holy Roman Emperor. During his reign, Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
The end of this period, however, brought economic and political strife to the area. Protestant Hussites battled and defeated five waves of crusaders sent by the Catholic Church from1420 to 1437. The Czech lands became the first European nation where Protestantism flourished. Through intermarriage, the Austrian Habsburgs captured the Bohemian throne in the 1500s. The efforts of the Habsburgs to re-Catholicize the region began the Thirty-Years War in 1618. The Czech armies were utterly defeated at the battle of White Mountain in 1620 and the Czech nobility lost the power to elect their own rulers. The Czech crown was made hereditary for both male and female Habsburg rulers. Protestant nobles were banished and the Czech people were forcefully turned back to Catholicism. Habsburg rule of the Czech lands was mostly repressive and harsh; Czech language and culture were suppressed, and the country went into deep economic decline. Not until 1781 was toleration extended to non-Catholics. Czechs emigrated in several waves after the feudal system was abolished in 1848.
After the First World War, in October 1918, the Czech lands of Austria were included in the new sovereign state of Czechoslovakia along with the northern Slovak counties of Hungary. For twenty years democracy flourished in Czechoslovakia and the country became one of the most prosperous and industrialized in Eastern Europe. The Czech half of the country was occupied by the Germans from 1938 to 1945. Following the Second World War, the state of Czechoslovakia was reestablished and from 1948 until 1989 the country was ruled by a Communist government. In November of 1989, the Communist leadership stepped down and in December of the same year a new government was established. Free elections were held in 1990 and 1992, but there was a growing rift between the Czechs and Slovaks. Efforts to find a compromise at the federal level fell apart. In July 1992, the Slovaks voted in favor of total separation and in November the federal parliament voted to dissolve Czechoslovakia as of 31 December 1992. On 1 January 1993 the Slovak and Czech Republics became two separate, independent states. The Czech Republic today is set to join NATO and is striving to become a member of the European Union and other western political and economic structures.
Timeline The Czech Republic Timeline
623-658 The first Slavic state was established – “Empire of Samo” 833 The beginning of the Great Moravian Empire 863 The arrival of Slavic missionaries Constantine (later known as Cyril) and Methodius 907 Destruction of the Great Moravian Empire by Magyars 962 Holy Roman Empire established 1085 Vratislav II was granted the royal crown and become the first Czech king starting the Premyslid dynasty 1212 Bohemia proclaimed a permanent kingdom by pope 1306 The Premyslid dynasty ends with the death of King Wenceslas III 1348 Charles IV founded the Charles University 1414 John Huss (Jan Hus) spoke against the corruption of the Catholic Church and conducted his sermons in Czech so it could be understood by ordinary people 1415 John Huss (Jan Hus) burnt at the stake 1420 to 1434 The Hussite Wars 1458 The Hussites elected a Czech Protestant, George of Podebrady as the country's new king 1563 The Council of Trent, Roman Catholic parishes required to keep christening and marriage church registers 1614 The Ritual Romanorum, Roman Catholic parishes required to keep death church registers 1618 Beginning of the Thirty Years War 1620 White Mountain Battle 1645 The Treaty of Linz, recognition of four religions: Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Unitarianism 1730 Catholic priests ordered to record non-Catholics in their church registers 1771 New standardized format for the church records introduced 1781 The Toleration Patent, recognition of Protestantism and Judaism 1784 Church registers declared valid public records and the keeping of birth, marriage and death records standardized (columns with headings). The Catholic parishes made responsible for recording birth, marriage and death records for people of all religions 1787 Protestants authorized to keep their own registers independent of Catholic control 1788 Jews required to keep their own registers under the Catholic supervision 1840 Jews required by law to keep birth, marriage and death records 1848 Feudal system abolished 1867 Creation of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1918 Creation of the Republic of Czechoslovakia 1921 Civil registration required by law, church registers no longer valid public records 1945 Czechoslovakia loses Sub-Carpathian Russia to Soviet Union 1950 Consolidation of all records of genealogical value by the government 1952 Centralization of all these records into state regional archives 1993 Czechoslovakia dissolved; Czech and Slovak Republics become two separate, independent states