Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Bohemia (Čechy in Czech, Böhmen in German) is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western and middle thirds of the Czech Republic. With an area of 52,750 sq. km. and 6.25 million of the country's 10.3 million inhabitants, Bohemia is bounded by Germany to the north-west, west and south-west, Poland to the north-east, the Czech province of Moravia to the east and Austria to the south. Bohemia's borders are marked with mountain ranges such as the umava, the Ore Mountains or Krkonoše (Riesengebirge) as part of the Sudeten mountains. Note: In the Czech language, there is no distinction between the adjectives Bohemian and Czech (český).
History of Bohemia
Roman authors provide the first clear reference to this area as the home of the Boii, a Celtic people. As part of the territory often crossed during the major Germanic and Slavic migrations, the area was settled from the 1st century BC by Germanic (probably Suebic) peoples including the Marcomanni. After their migration to the south-west, they were replaced around the 6th century by the Slavic precursors of today's Czechs.
After freeing themselves from the rule of the Avars in the 7th century, Bohemia's Slavic inhabitants came (in the 9th century) under the rule of the Premysl dynasty, which continued until 1306. With Bohemia's conversion to Christianity in the 9th century, close relations were forged with the East Frankish kingdom, then part of the so-called Carolingian empire, later the nucleus of the Holy Roman Empire of which Bohemia was an autonomous part from the 10th century.
The title of "King of Bohemia", already granted to the Premyslid dukes Vratislav II (1085) and Vladislav II (1158), became hereditary (1198) under Ottokar I, whose grandson Ottokar II (king 1253-1278) founded a short-lived empire also covering modern Austria. The mid-13th century saw the beginning of substantial German immigration as the court sought to make good the losses resulting from the brief Mongol invasion of 1241. In 1346, Charles IV became King of Bohemia. In 1348 he founded central Europe's first university in Prague. His reign brought Bohemia to its peak politically and landwise, eventually having him the first King of Bohemia to be elected the Holy Roman Emperor.
A national Czech movement against (mainly German) foreign immigrants was promoted by the religious movement of Hussites under the leadership of Jan Hus, a precursor of Martin Luther, who was eventually burned at the stake. When the crusade against heresy was declared by the Pope, it created a period of turmoil in Bohemia called the Hussite Wars. Bohemia was granted freedom of religion in 1436 by so-called Basel Compatates (Peace and Freedom between Catholics and Utraquists (today: Bohemian Church) but this lasted for only a short time. In 1462, pope Pius II declared Basel Compactates invalid. In 1609, Bohemian king Rudolph II, who was titular catholic, was coerced by Bohemian nobility to publish Maiestas Rudolphina, which confirmed the older Confessio Bohemica of 1575.
Bohemia was an independent kingdom until centralisation reforms in 1743, when it became a part of the Austrian part of Habsburg empire, and German became the only official language. The Czech nobility were largely expelled after the battle of White Mountain in 1620. The ruling classes had largely been German-speaking since the late middle ages, and after Bohemia became an Austrian province the German language became increasingly dominant. In the early 17th century opposition to Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor as King of Bohemia led to the Thirty Years War and the selection of an alternative protestant king, Frederick V, Elector Palatine.
After World War I, Bohemia became the cornerstone of the newly-formed country of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia became a rich and liberal democratic republic, and Tomá Masaryk was elected as its first president.
Bohemia is not currently an administrative unit of the Czech Republic. Instead, it is divided into Prague, the Central Bohemian Region, the Pilsen Region, the Carlsbad Region, the Usti nad Labem Region, the Liberec Region, the Hradec Kralove Region, and parts of the Pardubice, Vysocina and South Bohemian regions.
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