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Czechoslovakia Table of Contents

Czechoslovakia

Growth

The thirteenth century was the most dynamic period of Premyslid reign over Bohemia. Emperor Frederick II's preoccupation with Mediterranean affairs and the dynastic struggles known as the Great Interregnum (1254-73) weakened imperial authority in Central Europe, thus providing opportunities for Premyslid assertiveness. At the same time, the Mongol invasions (1220-42) absorbed the attention of the Bohemian Kingdom's eastern neighbors, the Hungarians and the Poles.

In 1212 King Premysl Otakar I (1198-1230) extracted a Golden Bull (a formal edict) from the emperor confirming the royal title for Otakar and his descendants. The imperial prerogative to ratify each Bohemian king and to appoint the bishop of Prague was revoked. The king's successor, Premysl Otakar II (1253-78), married a German princess, Margaret of Babenberg, and became duke of Austria, thereby acquiring upper and lower Austria and part of Styria. He conquered the rest of Styria, most of Carinthia, and parts of Carniola. From 1273, however, Hapsburg emperor Rudolf began to reassert imperial authority. All of Premysl Otakar's German possessions were lost in 1276, and in 1278 Premysl Otakar II died in battle against Rudolf.

The thirteenth century was also a period of large-scale German immigration, often encouraged by Premyslid kings hoping to weaken the influence of their own Czech nobility. The Germans populated towns and mining districts on the Bohemian periphery and in some cases formed German colonies in the interior of the Czech lands. Stribro, Kutna Hora, Nemecky Brod (present-day Havliekýv Brod and Jihlava were important German settlements. The Germans brought their own code of law--the jus teutonicum- -which formed the basis of the later commercial law of Bohemia and Moravia. Marriages between Germans and Czech nobles soon became commonplace.

Data as of August 1987