Lands of the Bohemian Crown
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The Lands of the Bohemian Crown now often called "Czech lands" were a region in central Europe during the medieval and early modern periods connected by feudal relations under the joint rule of the Bohemian kings. The lands primarily consisted of Kingdom of Bohemia, Margraviate of Moravia and Duchies of Silesia, as well as other territories throughout its history.
The Lands of the Bohemian Crown were legally established on April 7, 1348 by Czech King Charles IV of the foundation of the original Czech Přemyslid dynasty lands. The interconnection of Czech lands thus no more belonged to a king or a dynasty but to the Czech monarchy itself, symbolically personalized by the Crown of Saint Wenceslas to which they "belonged". Later they passed to be the estates of the Holy Roman Empire until 1806, when they became an estate of the Austrian Empire; and became a federal subject of Czechoslovakia in 1918.
The Bohemian Crown was neither a personal union nor a federation of equal members. Rather, the Kingdom of Bohemia had a higher status than the other incorporated constituent countries within the Holy Roman Empire. Beside the Bohemian court, there were no common state institutions.
The Lands of the Bohemian Crown (Czech: země Koruny české; Silesian: Korana Czeskigo Krůlestwa; Lower Sorbian: zemje Českeje krony; Upper Sorbian: kraje Čěskeje Króny; German: Böhmische Kronländer; Latin: Corona regni Bohemiae), also called the Lands of the Crown of Saint Wenceslas (země Koruny svatováclavské) or simply the Crown of Bohemia or the Bohemian Crown (Koruna česká), alternatively Czech Crown lands (České korunní země).
In the 10th and 11th century Bohemia, the March of Moravia and Kladsko were consolidated under the dukes of the ruling Přemyslid dynasty, whose scion Ottokar I gained the hereditary royal title in 1198 from the German (anti-)king Philip of Swabia and the Duchy of Bohemia raised to Kingdom of Bohemia. The regality was ultimately confirmed by King Frederick II in the 1212 Golden Bull of Sicily.
King Ottokar II of Bohemia acquired the Duchy of Austria in 1251, the Duchy of Styria in 1261, the Egerland in 1266, the Duchy of Carinthia with the March of Carniola and the Windic March in 1269 as well as the March of Friuli in 1272. His plans to turn Bohemia into the leading Imperial State were aborted by his Habsburg rival King Rudolph I of Germany in the 1278 Battle on the Marchfeld.
The House of Luxembourg, Bohemian kings upon the extinction of the Přemyslids in 1306, again significantly enlarged the Bohemian lands: King John the Blind vassalized most Polish Piast dukes of Silesia, his suzerainty was acknowledged by the Polish king Casimir III the Great in the 1335 Treaty of Trentschin. He also achieved the enfeoffment with the Upper Lusatian lands of Bautzen (1319) and Görlitz (1329) by the German king Louis IV.
King John's eldest son Charles IV was elected King of the Romans in 1346 and succeeded his father as King of Bohemia in the same year. Charles IV created Lands of the Bohemian Crown (Země Koruny české), together with the incorporated provinces in 1348 The Luxembourg dynasty reached its high point, when Charles was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1355. By his Imperial authority he decreed that the united Bohemian lands should endure regardless of dynastic developments, even if the Luxembourgs should die out.
In 1367 he purchased Lower Lusatia from his stepson Margrave Otto V of Brandenburg. Beside their home County of Luxembourg itself, the dynasty held further non-contiguous Imperial fiefs in the Low Countries, such as the duchies of Brabant and Limburg, acquired through marriage by Charles' younger half-brother Wenceslaus of Luxembourg in 1355 as well as the Margraviate of Brandenburg purchased in 1373. As both the King of Bohemia and the Margrave of Brandenburg had been designated Prince-electors in the Golden Bull of 1356, the Luxembourgs held two votes in the electoral college, securing the succession of Charles's son Wenceslaus in 1376.
With King Wenceslaus, the decline of the Luxembourg dynasty began. He himself was deposed as King of the Romans in 1400; Brabant, Limburg (in 1406) and even Luxembourg itself (in 1411) were ceded to the French House of Valois-Burgundy, while Brandenburg passed to the House of Hohenzollern in 1415. Nevertheless the joint rule of the Bohemian Lands outlived the Hussite Wars and the extinction of the Luxembourg male line upon the death of Emperor Sigismund in 1437.
Vladislas II of the Jagiellon dynasty, son of the Polish king Casimir IV, was designated King of Bohemia in 1471, while the crown lands of Moravia, Silesia and the Lusatias were occupied by rivaling King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary. In 1479 both kings signed the Treaty of Olomouc, whereby the unity of the Bohemian crown lands was officially retained unchanged and the monarchs appointed each other as sole heir. Upon the death of King Matthias in 1490, Vladislas ruled the Bohemian crown lands and the Kingdom of Hungary in personal union.
When Vladislas' only son Louis was killed at the Battle of Mohács in 1526, a convention of Bohemian nobles elected his brother-in-law, the Habsburg archduke Ferdinand I of Austria, new king of the Bohemian crown lands. Together with the Austrian "hereditary lands" and the Hungarian kingdom they formed the Habsburg Monarchy, which in the following centuries grew out of the Holy Roman Empire into a separate European power. Attempts by the Bohemian Protestant estates to build up an autonomous confederation dashed at the 1620 Battle of White Mountain, whereafter the administration was centralised at Vienna. Moreover the Habsburg rulers lost the Lusatias to the Electorate of Saxony in the 1635 Peace of Prague and also most of Silesia with Kladsko to King Frederick II of Prussia in the 1742 Treaty of Breslau.
In the modern era, the remaining crown lands of Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia became constituent parts of the Austrian Empire in 1804 and the Cisleithanian half of Austria-Hungary in 1867. After World War I and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, these became the historic regions usually referred to as the Czech lands forming the Czech Republic. Austrian Silesia with the Hlučín Region is today known as Czech Silesia, with the exception of eastern Cieszyn Silesia which passed to the Second Polish Republic in 1920.
Beside Bohemia proper, the incorporated territories included:
- The Moravian Margraviate (Markrabství moravské), acquired by Přemyslid and Slavník Bohemian rulers after the 955 Battle of Lechfeld, lost in 999 to Kingdom of Poland and reconquered by Duke Bretislaus I in 1035;
- The Egerland (Chebsko) was again obtained by Wenceslaus II between 1291–1305; definitely given in pawn to Bohemia by Louis IV in 1322 and subsequently joined in personal union with Bohemia proper;
- Upper Lusatia (Horní Lužice), incorporated by King John of Bohemia (Jan Lucemburskýi) in 1319 (Bautzen) and 1329 (Görlitz), and Lower Lusatia (Dolní Lužice), former Margraviate of Lusatia), acquired by John's son Charles IV from Otto V, Margrave of Brandenburg in 1367. Ferdinand II of Habsburg lost the Lusatias to the Electorate of Saxony with the 1635 Peace of Prague;
- The Duchies of Silesia (Slezsko), acquired by the 1335 Treaty of Trentschin between King John of Bohemia and King Casimir III of Poland. Queen Maria Theresa lost Silesia in 1742 to King Frederick II of Prussia by the Treaty of Breslau, with the exception of its South-East part which became called the Austrian Silesia and later as the Czech Silesia
as well as:
- The northern part of the Upper Palatinate ("Bohemian Palatinate") at Sulzbach, incorporated by Charles IV in 1355. Charles' son Wenceslaus lost the area in 1401 to the Electorate of the Palatinate under King Ruprecht of Germany;
- The Brandenburg Electorate, acquired by Charles IV from Duke Otto V of Wittelsbach in 1373. Charles' son Sigismund lost Brandenburg in 1415 to Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg.
|Crown land||Type||Capital or important city||Notes|
|Bohemia||Kingdom||Prague||Imperial electorate of the Holy Roman Empire|
|Silesia||Duchies||Wrocław||Many various duchies, part of the Crown of Bohemia between 1335–1742, now divided between Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic|
|Upper Lusatia||Margraviate||Bautzen, Görlitz||Part of the Crown of Bohemia between 1329–1635, formally until 1815|
|Lower Lusatia||Margraviate||Cottbus||Part of the Crown of Bohemia between 1368–1635, formally until 1815|
|Brandenburg||Margraviate||Brandenburg an der Havel||Imperial electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, part of the Bohemian Crown between 1373–1415|
Kraje of Margraviate of Moravia
- Czech lands
- History of the Czech lands
- List of rulers of Bohemia
- Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen
- Crown of the Kingdom of Poland
- (in German) Geschichte der tschechischen öffentlichen Verwaltung Karel Schelle, Ilona Schelleová, GRIN Verlag, 2011
- "The Archives of the Crown of Bohemia". National Archive of the Czech Republic (Národní archiv ČR). Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Teich, Mikuláš (editor) (1998). Bohemia in history (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 117. ISBN 0-521-43155-7.
- "Silesia – Pearl in the Crown of Bohemia". National Gallery in Prague (Národní galerie v Praze). Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Prinz, Friedrich (1993). Deutsche Geschichte in Osten Europas: Böhmen und Mähren (in German). Berlin: Wolf Jobst Siedler Verlag GmbH. p. 381. ISBN 3-88680-200-0. Retrieved 25 February 2013.