Bohemia, a province of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, situated between lat. 48° 33' and 51° 4' N, and between long. 12° 5' and 16° 25' E. Its area is 19,983 square miles.
Mountains. These lie chiefly around the borders of Bohemia, the principal ranges forming, in fact, the boundaries of the State. Thus the Erzgebirge separates it from Saxony in the N.W., the Riesengebirge from Prussia (Silesia) in the N.E., the Moravian Hills from Moravia in the S.E., and the Bohmerwald from Bavaria in the S.W. These have already been described under Austria.
Rivers. The Elb rises in the Riesengebirge, and flows in a somewhat circuitous course through Northern Bohemia, passing through the mountains at Tetschen into Prussian territory. Together with its tributaries, the Adler, the Iser, the Moldau, the Eger, and others of minor importance, the Elbe drains the whole country, which thus forms the upper portion of its basin. The climate is generally healthy, while cold as compared with other parts of the empire, and the soil is remarkable for its fertility.
Mineral springs are plentiful. Some of the best known are at Carlsbad, Teplitz, Marienbad, and Franzensbrunn, all of which are much frequented by invalids seeking a "cure" from their waters.
Population. At the end of 1880 the number of inhabitants was 5,560,819. Of these 96 per cent. were Roman Catholics, 2.15 Protestants, and 1.7 Jews.
Population. At the end of 1890 the number of inhabitants was 5,843,094. Of these 96 per cent. sides 282 private schools. The number of teachers employed is about 19,500, of whom 4,500 are women. The attendance of children of school age reaches as high as 98 per cent., the actual figures for 1888 (the latest available) being: Children liable to attend, 995,574; children attending. 973,894; of these only 25,399 were in private schools. German is the language ordinarily used in 2,156 of the schools; the remaining 2,711 employ the "Czecho-Slav," which is still the mother-tongue of the Bohemian people. The schools of handicraft (Gewerbeschulen) number 223, with 25,210 scholars: these figures are considerably higher than those of any other part of the Austrian dominions. There are 34 schools for the study of agriculture of various kinds, having 977 pupils. The "middle schools" comprise 53 "Gymnasien" and 17 "Realschulen," 38 of the former and 12 of the latter being maintained by the State, and the remainder by their respective communes, with the exception of two "Gymnasien" supported by the clergy, and one private "Realschule." In Prague are technical high schools for German and Bohemian-speaking pupils, attended by 184 of the former and 348 of the latter.
The University of Prague is among the oldest and most renowned in Europe; it was founded in 1348 by the Emperor Charles IV., and has played a prominent part in some of the most stirring scenes of European history.
Like most other educational foundations in Bohemia, it has distinct establishments for the two languages. On the German side there are 160 professors and teachers, with about 1,600 students; on the Bohemian side, 130 professors, etc., and some 2,400 students.
There are four theological colleges in Bohemia, with a total staff of 30, and an attendance of 433. There are also 13 training colleges for male and 4 for female teachers.
History. The early history of Bohemia is obscure, and probably, in part at least, mythical. The name is derived from the Boii, the first inhabitants of whom we have any record. They are said to have been of Keltic race, and to have been supplanted in the time o Augustus by the Marcomanni, and the chief opponents of Marcus Aurelius in Germany.
Early in the eleventh century Boleslaw Chrobry, Duke of Poland, conquered Bohemia, but after struggling for fourteen years against the Emperor Henry II., he was compelled to give up his claims and to do homage to the Emperor.
Charles the Great (Charlemagne) subdued, among other inhabitants of the lands on his eastern borders, the Czechs, who then dwelt in Bohemia.
Frederick Barbarossa raised Wladislaw, Duke of Bohemia, to the rank of king, as a reward for faithful services.
About the year 1230 we find Ottocar, King of Bohemia, taking part with the knights of the Teutonic Order in their singular crusade against Prussia. A granddaughter of this king became the wife of John of Luxemburg, son of the Emperor Henry VII., in whose family the crown remained for several generations. Charles, the son of King John, was elected emperor, as Charles IV. Though not altogether successful as emperor, he was one of the best of the kings of Bohemia, and devoted much care to the improvement of Prague, where he founded a university; he died in 1378.
In 1415 occurred the burning of John Huss (q.v.), and, in the following year, Jerome of Prague, another preacher of Wyclif s doctrines, shared the same fate. These events caused intense excitement, which culminated in the outbreak of the Hussite war (1419). This sanguinary conflict was carried on for fifteen years. The Protestant party gained many victories under their leader, the blind General Zisca (q.v.), and his successors, but were finally defeated, and the war terminated, by Meinhard of Neuhaus, at Lippau, in 1434 Sigmund, the persecutor of the Hussites, was then acknowledged as King of Bohemia; he had been crowned emperor in the preceding year.
In 1458 George of Podiebrad was elected king, and for some time held his own against Matthias Corvinus. His successor, Ladislaus, a Polish prince, was elected King of Hungary, thus uniting the two crowns. On the death of his son Louis, who fell fighting the Turks, at Mohacz, in 1526, the Archduke Ferdinand, son-in-law of Ladislaus, and brother of the Emperor Charles V., was elected and crowned king, and from thenceforth the throne was always occupied by the imperial house of Austria.
Disturbances on account of religious persecutions led, in 1618, to the outbreak of the Thirty Years' war, in which Bohemia suffered to an extent out of all proportion to its area. After the great defeat of the Bohemians at Weissenberg (the White Hill), near Prague, in 1620, Ferdinand II. visited his wrath upon the conquered country in a fashion without precedent in modern history.
On account of its geographical situation, in the very midst of the rival German and Austrian states, Bohemia has been the scene of much fighting. As an instance, it may be noted that Prague, after being three times taken and retaken during the Thirty Years' war, has since been besieged or occupied no fewer than five times. The last occasion was at the close of the Austro-Prussian campaign, in 1866, the decisive victory which was gained by the Prussians on Bohemian soil, at Koniggratz.
Industries. Coal-mining employs nearly 40,000 persons, and more than 5,000 are at work in iron mines and works. Farming is fairly prosperous. More cattle are raised here than in other parts of the empire, but sheep-farming does not seem to have advanced of late years.
Woollen, cotton, and linen goods are manufactured; the last, in considerable quantities.
Bohemian glass has long enjoyed a deservedly high reputation. Its production gives employment to some 3,500 families, living, for the most part, on the Wooded slopes of the Bohmerwald mountains. There are seventy-five glass houses, and twenty-two grinding and polishing mills. The principal centres of this manufacture are Liebenau, Adolfshutte, Gablonz, Silberberg, Georgenthal, and Defereck. Most of the polishing is done at Leitmeritz.
Brewing is carried on in 772 establishments, whose combined output is stated to amount to 43 per cent. of the total production of beer in the empire. 31 per cent. of Austrian brandy also comes from Bohemia.
The beetroot sugar industry is almost confined to Bohemia, which produces two-thirds of the total annual amount, and has 36,000 workpeople employed in 130 factories.
Inhabitants. The Marcomanni (see above) were in their turn expelled by the Slavs, who still form the majority of the population (3,600,000). The other chief element is the Germans (2,150,000), which with about 100,000 Jews and others make up the present population of 5,843,000 as estimated for January 1, 1891. The Germans are found in more or less numerous communities in every district except that of Tabor, but they form a compact body only in the three north-western districts of Eger, Saatz and Leitmeritz. At one time Bohemia seemed destined to become completely Teutonised, the Slav population being reduced at the close of the 18th century to the last stage of national degradation. But since then a remarkable revival has taken place, and the Czechs or Chekhs (Tsekhs), as the Bohemian Slavs are called, have completely recovered their ascendency both in a political, literary, and social respect. The "Young Czechs," the advanced section of the Nationalist party, in 1890-91 actively agitated for the restoration of the Bohemian kingdom and the complete political separation of Bohemia from Austria, the Emperor of Austria to be King of Bohemia as he is King of Hungary.