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Czech Republic - Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia

Bohemia (बोहेमिया) is the westernmost and largest historical region of the Czech Republic. Bohemia can also refer to a wider area consisting of the historical Lands of the Bohemian Crown ruled by the Bohemian kings, including Moravia and Czech Silesia,[1] in which case the smaller region is referred to as Bohemia proper as a means of distinction.[2]



Bohemia was bordered in the south by Upper and Lower Austria (both in Austria), in the west by Bavaria (in Germany), and in the north by Saxony and Lusatia (in Germany and Poland, respectively), in the northeast by Silesia (in Poland), and in the east by Moravia (also part of the Czech Republic). Bohemia's borders were mostly marked by mountain ranges such as the Bohemian Forest, the Ore Mountains, and the Giant Mountains, a part of the Sudetes range; the Bohemian-Moravian border roughly follows the Elbe-Danube watershed.


Bohemia was a duchy of Great Moravia, later an independent principality, a kingdom in the Holy Roman Empire, and subsequently a part of the Habsburg monarchy and the Austrian Empire.[3] After World War I and the establishment of an independent Czechoslovak state, the whole of Bohemia became a part of Czechoslovakia, defying claims of the German-speaking inhabitants that regions with German-speaking majority should be included in the Republic of German-Austria. Between 1938 and 1945, these border regions were joined to Nazi Germany as the Sudetenland.[4]

The remainder of Czech territory became the Second Czechoslovak Republic, and was subsequently occupied as the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia until the end of World War II, after which Bohemia became part of the restored Czechoslovakia. In 1969, the Czech lands (including Bohemia) were given autonomy within Czechoslovakia as the Czech Socialist Republic. In 1990, the name was changed to the Czech Republic, which became a separate state in 1993 with the breakup of Czechoslovakia.[5]

Until 1948, Bohemia was an administrative unit of Czechoslovakia as one of its "lands" (země).[6] Since then, administrative reforms have replaced self-governing lands with a modified system of "regions" (kraje), which do not follow the borders of the historical Czech lands (or the regions from the 1960 and 2000 reforms).[7]However, the three lands are mentioned in the preamble of the Constitution of the Czech Republic: "We, citizens of the Czech Republic in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia…"[8]


In the second century BC, the Romans were competing for dominance in northern Italy with various peoples, including the Gauls-Celtic tribe Boii. The Romans defeated the Boii at the Battle of Placentia (194 BC) and the Battle of Mutina (193 BC). Afterward, many of the Boii retreated north across the Alps.[9] Much later Roman authors refer to the area they had once occupied (the "desert of the Boii" as Pliny and Strabo called it[10]) as Boiohaemum. The earliest mention[10] was by Tacitus' Germania 28 (written at the end of the first century AD),[11] and later mentions of the same name are in Strabo and Velleius Paterculus.[12] The name appears to consist of the tribal name Boio- plus the Proto-Germanic noun *haimaz "home" (whence Gothic haims, German Heim, Heimat, English home), indicating a Proto-Germanic *Bajahaimaz.

Boiohaemum was apparently isolated to the area where King Marobod's kingdom was centred, within the Hercynian forest. Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII in his 10th-century work De Administrando Imperio also mentioned the region as Boiki (see White Serbia). [13]

The Czech name "Čechy" is derived from the name of the Slavic ethnic group, the Czechs, who settled in the area during the sixth or seventh century AD.

Ancient Bohemia

Ancient Bohemia: Bohemia, like neighbouring Bavaria, is named after the Boii, a large Celtic nation known to the Romans for their migrations and settlement in northern Italy and other places. Another part of the nation moved west with the Helvetii into southern France, which was one of the events leading to the interventions of Julius Caesar's Gaulish campaign of 58 BC. The emigration of the Helvetii and Boii left southern Germany and Bohemia a lightly inhabited "desert" into which Suebic peoples arrived, speaking Germanic languages, and became dominant over remaining Celtic groups. To the south, over the Danube, the Romans extended their empire, and to the southeast, in present-day Hungary, were Dacian peoples.

In the area of modern Bohemia, the Marcomanni and other Suebic groups were led by their king, Marobodus, after they had suffered defeat to Roman forces in Germany. He took advantage of the natural defenses provided by its mountains and forests. They were able to maintain a strong alliance with neighbouring tribes, including (at different times) the Lugii, Quadi, Hermunduri, Semnones, and Buri, which was sometimes partly controlled by the Roman Empire and sometimes in conflict with it; for example, in the second century, they fought Marcus Aurelius.

In late classical times and the early Middle Ages, two new Suebic groupings appeared to the west of Bohemia in southern Germany, the Alemanni (in the Helvetian desert), and the Bavarians (Baiuvarii). Many Suebic tribes from the Bohemian region took part in such movements westwards, even settling as far away as Spain and Portugal. With them were also tribes who had pushed from the east, such as the Vandals, and Alans.

Other groups pushed southwards towards Pannonia. The last known mention of the Kingdom of the Marcomanni, concerning a queen named Fritigil, is from the fourth century, and she was thought to have lived in or near Pannonia. The Suebian Langobardi, who moved over many generations from the Baltic Sea, via the Elbe and Pannonia to Italy, recorded in a tribal history a time spent in "Bainaib".

After the Migration Period, Bohemia was partially repopulated around the sixth century, and eventually Slavic tribes arrived from the east, and their language began to replace the older Germanic, Celtic, and Sarmatian ones. These are precursors of today's Czechs, but the exact amount of Slavic immigration is a subject of debate. The Slavic influx was divided into two or three waves. The first wave came from the southeast and east, when the Germanic Lombards left Bohemia (circa 568 AD). Soon after, from the 630s to 660s, the territory was taken by Samo's tribal confederation. His death marked the end of the old "Slavonic" confederation, the second attempt to establish such a Slavonic union after Carantania in Carinthia.

Other sources (Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii, Bavaria, 800–850) divide the population of Bohemia into the Merehani, Marharaii, Beheimare (Bohemani), and Fraganeo. (The suffix -ani or -ni means "people of-"). Christianity first appeared in the early 9th century, but became dominant only much later, in the 10th or 11th century.

The 9th century was crucial for the future of Bohemia. The manorial system sharply declined, as it did in Bavaria. The influence of the central Fraganeo-Czechs grew, as a result of the important cultic centre in their territory. They were Slavic-speaking, thus contributed to the transformation of diverse neighbouring populations into a new nation named and led by them with a united "slavic" ethnic consciousness.[14]

External links


  1. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001–05
  2. The Cambridge Modern History. The Macmillan Company. 1902. p. 331.
  3. Jiří Pehe: Co vlastně slavíme 28. října?
  6. Petr Jeřábek: Krajské uspořádání? Vadí i po čtrnácti letech, Dení, 2 January 2014,
  7. Petr Jeřábek: Krajské uspořádání? Vadí i po čtrnácti letech, Dení, 2 January 2014,
  8. Ústava České republiky Archived 26 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, 1/1993 Sb. (Constitution of the Czech Republic)
  9. Collis, John. The Celts: Origins, Myth and Inventions. Tempus Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7524-2913-2
  10. Collis, John. The Celts: Origins, Myth and Inventions. Tempus Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7524-2913-2
  11. "Tacitus: Germania".
  12. Green, Dennis (2014), "The Boii, Bavaria and Bohemia", The Baiuvarii and Thuringi: An Ethnographic Perspective, p. 18, ISBN 9781843839156
  13. Mykhailo Hrushevsky (1997) [1898]. Andrzej Poppe; Frank E. Sysyn; Uliana M. Pasiczny (eds.). History of Ukraine-Rus'. Volume 1: From Prehistory to the Eleventh Century. Translated by Marta Skorupsky. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press. pp. 161–162. ISBN 978-1-895571-1
  14. Petr Charvát: "Zrod Českého státu" [Origin of the Bohemian State], March 2007, ISBN 80-7021-845-2, in Czech