The House of Přemysl, or the Přemyslid dynasty, was the first Czech ruling house, which reigned in the Duchy of Bohemia and later Kingdom of Bohemia and Margraviate of Moravia. The house was founded by legendary prophetess Libuše and her husband Přemysl, a plowman. The powerful house was founded in the 9th century and ruled until 1306.
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor issued the Golden Bull of Sicily on 26 September 1212 in Basel. The document confirmed Ottokar I of Bohemia’s royal title, declaring him and his heirs Kings of Bohemia, and solidifying Bohemia’s importance in the Holy Roman Empire.
After the Přemyslid dynasty died out in 1306, the House of Luxembourg took over and significantly enlarged the Bohemian lands. Charles IV, also known as Charles of Luxembourg, was king of Bohemia from 1346 and Holy Roman Emperor from 1355. Under Charles IV, Prague flourished as a center of arts and culture and was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.
Based on the teachings of Jan Hus, the Hussites were a Proto-Protestant Christian movement. The Hussite movement spread quickly across the lands of the Bohemian Crown and was one of the most important forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. Several national heroes were Hussites including the one-eyed Hussite warrior and Czech General, Jan Žižka, a powerful leader who was beloved by his countrymen.
The Jagiellonian Dynasty was a royal dynasty founded by the Władysław II Jagiełło, the grand duke of Lithuania and later king of Poland. The era saw the dynasty reigning in several Central European countries including the lands of the Bohemian Crown. The era saw Vladislaus II, Władysław II Jagiełło’s grandson become King of Bohemia at fifteen years of age, and later, King of Hungary.
After the death of King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia, son of Vladislaus II Jagiellon, Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria was elected as the new king of Bohemia. The country thus became part of the Habsburg Monarchy, which would rule the lands for almost four centuries. The conflict between the Bohemian estates and the monarchy sparked the 1618 Defenestration of Prague and the Thirty Years‘ War. During the Habsburg reign, the Czechs lost their native aristocracy, their religion of Hussitism, and even their native language.
Rudolf II, a member of the House of Habsburg, ruled over a prosperous Prague. He invited numerous prominent artists to work and study in Prague, and gathered a vast collection of paintings and sculptures. Being also a patron of science, specifically the study of alchemy, Rudolf supported the research of Johannes Kepler, John Dee, and Tycho Brahe, and sheltered them from the Catholic Church. Rudolf II’s interest in the arts and sciences led Prague into a second golden age; however, his legacy is tainted by his ineffectual ruling that led directly to the Thirty Years’ War.
The Age of Enlightenment dominated Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. The cultural, intellectual, philosophical, and social movement focused on the pursuit of knowledge obtained by means of reason, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as ideals such as liberty, progress, toleration, constitutional government, and separation of church and state.
The attitude towards the monarchy and the ruling family changed significantly during the war. Due to high losses and drastic deterioration of supplies at the end of the war, initial loyalty was replaced by resistance. The economic collapse of the war-exhausted monarchy and the defeat of the Central Powers led to the disintegration of Austria-Hungary in the autumn of 1918.