The Czech Republic: History

Celtic Tribes
3rd century BC: A Celtic tribe called Boii settled in the Czech lands and gave the country its name – Bohemia.

Germanic Tribes
4th century AD: Celts were replaced by Germanic tribes. Part of the Celts stayed and assimilated, and part of them went further west to the region of today’s Switzerland.

Movement of Nations & Arrival of Slavs
6th century: Slavs came from the East and settled in Bohemia during the movement of nations.
7th century: A Frankish merchant Sámo succeeded in uniting the Slavic tribes and defeating the tribe of the Avars that occupied today’s Hungary.

The Great Moravian Empire
830: Great Moravian Empire was established, including Bohemia and parts of Poland and Hungary.
862: Missionaries Cyril and Methodius (originally from Greece) came and spread Eastern Christianity. They created the Slavonic script (Cyrillic alphabet that is still in use in Russia and Bulgaria) and translated religious texts from Greek and Latin into the Old Slavonic language (later replaced by Latin).
906: The Great Moravian Empire collapsed with the Hungarian invasion.

Kingdom of Bohemia & Premyslid Dynasty
10th century: the Kingdom of Bohemia under the Premyslid dynasty expanded to include Moravia and part of Poland.
973: The bishopric was founded in Prague in 973.
1085: Vratislav II was granted the royal crown and became the first Czech king in 1085 (remaining subordinate to the Holy Roman Empire and the German king)
1212: The royal title of the Czech king became hereditary in 1212 by the Golden Sicilian Bull.
Mid-13th century: During the reign of Přemysl Otakar II, the Czech kingdom briefly expanded all the way from North See to the Mediterranean.
1306: The Přemyslid dynasty ended with the death of its last member, Wenceslas III.

The Luxembourg Dynasty & King Charles IV
1310: The Czech throne was taken by John of Luxembourg.
Mid-14th century: During the reign of John of Luxembourg’s son Charles IV, the Czech lands experienced the Golden Age of their history. The Kingdom of Bohemia was incorporated into Holy Roman Empire.
1344: Through the efforts of Emperor Charles IV., Prague was made an archbishopric by Pope Clement VI.
1355: Prague becomes the imperial capital of most of Europe under Charles IV.

Protestant Movement & John Huss
The 1400s: Conflicts between the Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church. Started by priest John Huss (Jan Hus). Huss spoke against the corruption of the Catholic Church.
1415: Hus’ ideology was not liked by the Church, and Jan Hus was burned at stake.
1419: The First Defenestration – followers of John Huss threw counselors out of the windows of Prague’s New Town. Religious wars followed.
1458: Czech Protestant, George of Poděbrady (Jiří z Poděbrad), was elected as the country’s new king. Protestants and Catholics lived peacefully side by side.

The Habsburg Dynasty
1526: Bohemia and Moravia fall under the control of the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy (until 1918). The Catholic religion was reinstated in the country.
1583: Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor, moved his court back to Prague (from Vienna). This era is referred to as Prague’s Second Golden Age.
23 May 1618: Rudolf’s successor Matthias attempted to deprive the Protestants of their freedoms, which resulted in the Second Defenestration of Prague in 1618 when several Matthias’ governors were thrown out of a window of the Prague Castle.
8 November 1620: Czech revolt against Austria was harshly put down. Defeat at the Battle of the White Mountain results in Bohemia and Moravia becoming provinces of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Battle of the White Mountain resulted in the Thirty Years’ War that spread across Europe.
21 June 1621: 27 Protestant leaders were executed in the Old Town Square, and all religions except Catholics were banned. The Czech language and national consciousness were suppressed for the next 150 years.

Enlightened Reforms
1840-1890: Habsburg empress Maria Theresa began administrative and economic reforms. In addition, she undertook reforms in the social, legal, and religious spheres. After Maria Theresa’s death, her son Joseph II continued the reforms.
1781: The Edict of Tolerance granted Protestants almost equal status with Catholics; other decrees lifted restrictions on Jews and opened up communities, trades, and educational opportunities previously barred to them. These reforms started the process of abolishing the Prague Jewish ghetto.

National Revival & Industrial Revolution
1848: European revolutions inspire Czechoslovak nationalists.
19th century: Attempts to bring the Czech language, culture, and national identity back to life (during the reign of the Hapsburg dynasty, the official language was German). The Czech language was reformed.
1883: The National Theater opened, performing in the Czech language.
19th century: Characterized by the Industrial Revolution and the building of factories.
1845: A railway between Vienna and Prague was opened.

World War I & The Czechoslovak Republic
1914: The beginning of the end of the Habsburg dynasty came with the assassination of Francis Ferdinand in 1914, an event that preceded World War I.
October 28, 1918: With the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I, the Czech lands and Slovakia jointly proclaimed the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia. The time between WWI and WWII is now called “the First Republic.” Czechoslovakia had a parliamentary democracy, concentrated 70% of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire’s industry, and an economy that was among the strongest in the world.

Munich Pact & World War II
In the Mid 1930s: the German inhabitants of the Czech border areas called the Sudetenland began calling for autonomy.
September 1938: Germany, Britain, France, and Italy signed the Munich Pact, giving Hitler the right to invade and claim Czechoslovakia’s border areas.
March 15, 1939: Czechoslovakia was invaded by Hitler’s army.
1940: President Benes establishes a government in exile in London.
May 1942: Savage reprisals follow the assassination of ‘Protector’ Heydrich. The village of Lidice is wiped out by the Nazis.
5 May 1945: National uprising against German occupation starts in Prague.
9 May 1945: Soviet troops enter Prague. The western territories of the Czech Republic, including Plzeň, were liberated by the American army led by General Patton.
Oct 1945: Benes was restored as President and ordered the expulsion of more than 2.5 million Sudeten Germans and over 500,000 ethnic Hungarians.

Communist Era
May 1946: National elections result in the communist-socialist coalition government.
25th February: Communist party seizes power in advance of scheduled elections.
March 1948: Fraudulent elections see communists secured in power. A harsh Stalinist regime was imposed.
9 May 1948: New constitution establishes the People’s Democratic Republic of Czechoslovakia.
1952: Leading communists were executed after show trials.
1955: Czechoslovakia joins the Warsaw Pact.

Prague Spring
Jan 1968: Alexander Dubcek became a communist party leader and launched a program of reforms known as the Prague Spring.
20 August 1968: Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces invade Czechoslovakia with 7500 tanks, 1000 planes, and a half million soldiers. Dubcek took to Moscow and was forced to end reforms. Censorship imposed. Liberal leaders ousted.

Normalization Period
1969 to 1987: It was characterized by the initial restoration of the conditions prevailing before the reform period led by Alexander Dubcek.
1977: Charter 77 human rights group was founded, including playwright Vaclav Havel.
April 1987: Mikhail Gorbachev visits Czechoslovakia, raising hopes of imminent reforms.
Aug 1988: Mass demonstrations mark 20th anniversary of 1968 invasion.

Velvet Revolution until Present
Early 1989: Police disperse numerous mass protests against human and civil rights violations. Police brutality sparks further protests.
Oct 1989: Fall of East German communist regime.
17 Nov 1989: Velvet Revolution: peaceful student protest in Prague violently put down by Police. Widespread mass protests and strikes in favor of free elections follow.
19 Nov 1989: Civil Forum anti-government coalition formed, calling for the resignation of communist party leader and introduction of democracy.
25-27 Nov 1989: Mass demonstrations and general strike.
29 Nov 1989: Communist constitutional hold on political power abolished.
June 1990: First free parliamentary elections since 1946, won by Civic Forum and its allies.
July 1990: Vaclav Havel was publicly elected President.
June 1991: Soviet forces (present since 1968) complete their withdrawal.

Split of Czechoslovakia
1 Jan 1993: Czechoslovakia splits into two separate countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. ‘Velvet Divorce.’
May 1998: Czech Republic invited to join NATO.
1 May 2004: the Czech Republic joins the European Union.
2008: On January 1, the Czech Republic accedes to the Schengen agreement and removes internal borders with Schengen area countries. This allows travel to and from these countries without checks, both at land borders and airports.

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