Duchy of Bohemia

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Duchy of Bohemia
České knížectví (cs)
Ducatus Bohemiæ (la)
State of the Holy Roman Empire




coat of arms

Central Europe, 1138–1254, showing D Bohemiæ and Moravia
Capital Prague
Languages Old West Slavic
Government Principality
 -  ca 870–888/9 Bořivoj I (first duke)
 -  1192–93, 1197–98 Ottokar I (last duke, king to 1230)
 -  Duchy established ca 870
 -  Bořivoj I moved
    seat to Prague

 -  became part of the Holy Roman Empire
 -  Raised to kingdom 1198

The Duchy of Bohemia was formerly part of Great Moravia and became an independent principality in the 9th century. It became part of the Holy Roman Empire from the early 11th century. The Přemyslid dynasty which had ruled Bohemia since the 9th century remained in power throughout the High Middle Ages, until the extinction of the male line with the death of Wenceslaus III of Bohemia in 1306. The Duchy of Bohemia was raised to a kingdom under Ottokar I in 1198.


Duchy of Bohemia under Boleslaus I. and Boleslaus II.

With the fragmentation of Great Moravia under the pressure of the Magyar incursions in the 9th century, Bohemia began to form as an independent principality from the 880s. In 880, prince Bořivoj of the Přemyslid dynasty, who was baptised by the Great Moravian bishop Methodius in 874, moved his seat to Prague and started to subjugate the Vltava Basin. Great Moravia briefly regained control over the emerging Bohemian Principality in 888/890. In 895, the Prince of Bohemia becomes an ally of the East Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia. The March of Moravia was given to Boleslaus I after the defeat of the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, but it was conquered into the Duchy of Poland by Bolesław I Chrobry (999-1019).

Cut off from Byzantium by the Hungarian presence, the Bohemian Principality existed as independent state but in the shadow of the East Francia, the Dukes paid tribute in exchange for confirmation of the peace treaty.

Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, assumed the Bohemian throne in 935, conquered Moravia, Silesia and expanded farther to the east. He stopped paying the tribute, attacked an ally of the Saxons in northwest Bohemia and in 936 defeated two of German King Otto's armies (from Thuringia and Merseburg). In 950 Otto I. besieged a castle owned by Boleslaus' son, then Boleslaus signed a peace treaty and promised to resume payment of tribute. Boleslaus became Otto's ally and his Bohemian force helped the German army defeat the Magyars at the Lech river in 955[1] and later went on to crush an uprising of two Slavic dukes (Stojgněv and Nakon) in Mecklenburg. Overwhelming marauding Hungarians has the same benefits for Germans and Czechs. Less obvious is what Boleslav wanted to gain with his participation in the war against the oborite dukes in far north, probably Boleslav wanted to ensure that the German neighbors does not interfere him in spreading the Bohemian estates to the east.[2]

Significantly, the bishopric of Prague, founded in 973 during the reign of Boleslaus II (967–99), was subordinated to the archbishopric of Mainz. Thus, at the same time that Přemyslid rulers used the German alliance to consolidate their rule against a perpetually rebellious regional nobility, they struggled to retain their autonomy in relation to the empire. The Bohemian Principality was definitively consolidated in 995, when the Přemyslids unified neighboring Czech tribes and established a form of centralized rule.[citation needed]

Internally fully sovereign Bohemian Duchy, has become part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1004, after the Poles were expelled from Bohemia with help from the German King Henry II, the duke Jaromír received his country in fief from the king.[3]

The Bohemia re-acquired Moravia by Bretislaus I in 1029, which was then usually ruled by a younger son of the Bohemian king. About 1031 Bretislaus invaded Hungary in order to prevent its future expansion and in 1035 he helped Emperor against the Lusatians. In 1039 he invaded Poland, captured Poznań and ravaged Gniezno, after that he conquered part of Silesia including Wrocław. The destruction of Gniezno pushed the Polish rulers to move their capital to Kraków. In 1040 Bretislaus defeated the German King Henry's invasion into Bohemia in the battle at Brůdek. But next year Henry sieged Bretislaus in Prague and forced him to renounce all of his conquests except Moravia. In 1047 Henry negotiated a peace treaty between Bretislaus and the Poles.

The son of Bretislaus, Vratislaus II. supported Henry against the Pope, anti-kings and rebellions in Saxony in his long reign. The Bohemian troops showed conspicuous bravery and in 1083 he entered with Henry and their armed forces the Rome. Henry granted him for his support the royal lifetime title and Vratislaus became the first King of Bohemia in 1085. For his successor Bretislaus II foreign policy was aimed mainly against the Silesian conflict, when the Poles did not pay a fee for resigned areas by Bretislaus I.

In 1147 Bohemian Duke Vladislaus II accompanied German King Conrad III on the Second Crusade, but halted his march at Constantinople. Thanks to his military support against northern Italian cities (especially Milan) for the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Vladislav was elected king of Bohemia on 11 January 1158, becoming the second Bohemian king.

Kingdom of Bohemia[edit]

Czech lands during the reign of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Main article: Kingdom of Bohemia

In 1212, Ottokar I (1192–93 and 1197–1230), bearing the title "king" since 1198, extracted the Golden Bull of Sicily (a formal edict) from the emperor confirming the royal title for Ottokar and his descendants and the Duchy was raised to a Kingdom. Bohemian king should be exempt from all future obligations to the Holy Roman Empire except for participation in the imperial councils. The imperial prerogative to ratify each Bohemian ruler and to appoint the bishop of Prague was revoked. To make it possible for his son to rule the country, Ottokar established inheritance by male-preference primogeniture, before which the oldest child could rule the country, irrespective of gender. The country then reached its greatest territorial extent and is considered as the Golden Age. In 1310, the Bohemian crown fell to the House of Luxembourg, until the death of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, in 1437. After the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Bohemia remained under Habsburg rule until the collapse of Austria-Hungary after the First World War.

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Country Studies.

  1. ^ Ruckser, David. "Boleslav I (the Cruel) - c. 935-c. 972" (PDF). Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Boje polabských Slovanů za nezávislost v letech 928 – 955" (in Czech). E-středověk.cz. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  3. ^ 800 let Zlaté buly sicilské