Czech principality


July 1, 2022

The Czech principality (Latin Ducatus Bohemiæ, German Herzogtum Böhmen) was an early medieval state unit in Bohemia. It lasted from the 10th century until 1198 (with the exception of the years 1085–1092, when Wrocław II. Had the royal title, and 1158–1172, when Vladislav II. Was king). The heads of the Czech principality were the Přemyslids, and briefly also the Polish Piasts. After the conquest of Moravia in about 1029, the Přemyslids (mostly from the Moravian branch) also ruled in the Moravian principalities, so the family controlled the territory roughly corresponding to today's Czech Republic. The principality was reborn in the Czech Kingdom in the 13th century.


The seeds of the Přemyslid principality

In the times of Great Moravia, Bohemia did not have a single ruler, the heads of smaller territorial units stood local princes (chiefs) of the Czechs. Among them, the Přemyslids, based in Levý Hradec and Prague, gradually gained the most ground. They then expanded their power from Central Bohemia. The first historically proven Přemyslid ruler Bořivoj I., subordinated to the Great Moravian prince Svatopluk, became his viceroy in Bohemia in about 867. In 872 Bořivoj militarily supported Svatopluk in his dispute with the East Frankish king Ludvík Němec and defeated German troops in southern Bohemia. He and his wife Ludmila were probably baptized in 883 at the hands of the Moravian Archbishop Methodius. Bořivoj moved from Levý Hradec to Prague in 885. [source?] Probably during the reign of Bořivoj's son Spytihněv I. a princely palace was built in Prague and Prague became the center of the nascent Czech state, which in 895 got rid of the influence of Great Moravia. Spytihnev also began to focus more on Bavaria and the East Frankish Empire. From Prague Castle and other fortifications in Central Bohemia, the Přemyslid rulers began to administer the surrounding area and collect taxes for their protection: the so-called princely family patrimonium was established.

The beginnings of Přemyslid power

Boleslav I (935–972; Prince Wenceslas I still lacked central power in Bohemia) can be considered the founder of Czech statehood. This process required the maintenance of a relatively strong army, but farmers could hardly produce more than they consumed, and the army needed to maintain the Přemyslid rule over the Czechs therefore had to obtain loot from the expansion to northern Moravia, Silesia and Lesser Poland. With this step, the Czech prince took control of an important trade route from Europe to Kiev, the Khazar Empire and further to China. Immediately, however, there was the rise of the Polish Piasts, who conquered Silesia and Lesser Poland, whereby the Czech prince lost his important source of income. Another source was the slave trade, which was exported to Muslim Spain. Until then, they were pagan slaves, but after the control of the trade route was lost, Boleslav II began. (972–999) enslave Christians, which was subsequently criticized, for example, by Bishop Vojtěch. This crisis supported suspicion of other Czech families, which was further deepened by the Polish invasion of Bohemia and which eventually led to the assassination of the Slavníkovci (995) or the assassination of the Vršovci. ). He wanted to consolidate his precarious position, so in November 1002 he asked the German king to grant him Bohemia as a fief. This enabled the integration of the Czech state into the Holy Roman Empire. Prince Oldřich (1012–1034), whose illegitimate son Břetislav probably joined Moravia to the Czech Principality in 1029, almost brought the country out of the crisis. However, this allows for expansion