Bohemia (Germ. Bohmen, or formerly Boheim; Lat. Bohemia or Bojohemum), a cisleithan (i.e. west of the River Leitha) crown province of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which until 1526 was an independent kingdom.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Bohemia has an area of 20,058 square miles. It is bounded on the northwest by Saxony, on the northeast by Prussian Silesia, on the southeast by Moravia and the Grand duchy of Lower Austria, on the south by the Grand duchy of Upper Austria, and on the southwest by Bavaria. It is enclosed on three sides by mountain ranges, namely: the Bohemian Forest (Bohmerwald), the Ore mountains (Erzgebirge), and the Sudetic mountains. The highest peaks of these ranges seldom rise above 4,593 feet. On the fourth, or southeastern, border Bohemia is separated from Moravia by a moderately high range called the Bohemian-Moravian highlands (about 1,968 feet high). The country resembles the flat bottom of a trough with a depression towards the north. The average height above sea-level is 1,460 feet. Bohemia is drained by the Elbe, which rises in the Isergebirge, a range of the Sudetic mountain system. After receiving the waters of the Moldau, a stream from the south, the Elbe, now greatly increased in size, passes out of Bohemia at Tetschen near the most northern point of the country. Besides the Moldau, which may be called the most important river of Bohemia, the chief tributaries of the Elbe are the Iser and the Eger.
Geologically the country forms the so-called Bohemian system of mountain ranges, the spurs of which run into Moravia and Silesia. The greater part consists of old crystalline rocks; in the south gneiss predominates, in the north the formation is chiefly cretaceous sandstone, with tertiary deposits due to the action of water from the south. This part of the country also shows volcanic action, as in the Bohemian mineral springs. The climate is moderate and, with the exception of the mountain districts, does not show great variations of temperature. The mean temperature of the year is about 46.4° Fahrenheit. Bohemia has much mineral wealth; it is especially rich in silver, tin, lead, semi-precious stones, such as Bohemian garnets, hard coal, and lignite.
POPULATION.—According to the last census (December 31, 1900), Bohemia has a population of 6,318,697. It is one of the most thickly settled provinces of the monarchy, having 315 inhabitants to the square mile. The Czechs form 63 per cent of the population, and the Germans 36 per cent. The Germans live chiefly near the boundaries of the country, especially near the northern and northwestern boundaries.
NATIONAL HISTORY.—Bohemia (home of the Boii) owes its name to the Boii, a Celtic people which occupied the country in prehistoric times. About 78 B.C. the land was occupied by a Suevic people, the Marcomanni, while the related tribe of the Quadi settled in Moravia and that part of Hungary adjoining Moravia. Some years after the birth of Christ, Marbod, King of the Marcomanni, united the German tribes as far as the North Sea and the Baltic to form a great confederation which menaced the Roman Empire. When the Marcomanni and the Quadi left Bohemia and Moravia in the sixth century, there came in from the northeast a Slavonic people which was soon to appear in history under the general name of Cechen (Czechs). Before the close of the sixth century this Slavonic people came under the domination of the Avars of Hungary. But early in the seventh century they regained their freedom with the aid of the Frank, Samo, whom the Czechs elected as their king. In 796, Bohemia paid tribute to Charlemagne. Eighty years later Borziwoi, Grand Duke of the Cechen (Czechs), seems to have been tributary to Swatopluk, King of Great Moravia. In the confusion which followed the break-up of the Empire of Great Moravia Spitihnev I succeeded in uniting the various tribes of Czechs under his rule. From his time there is an unbroken succession of dukes of the Premysl line. One duke of this line, Wratislaw II, received the title of King for life from the German Emperor, Henry IV. After 1158 the title of King became hereditary. Ottokar I and Ottokar II were the most conspicuous rulers of the Premysl dynasty. After this line became extinct (1306) Bohemia came under the sway of John of Luxembourg (1310-46). The Bohemian rulers of the Luxembourg line, from Charles I, of Bohemia (the Emperor, Charles IV), until the extinction of the dynasty at the death of Sigismund (1437), were all German emperors. Bohemia reached the height of its prosperity under the Emperor Charles IV, who conquered Silesia and also occupied for a time the Mark of Brandenburg and the Upper Palatinate. In 1348, Charles founded the University of Prague, the first university on German soil. By his Golden Bull, Charles IV gave Bohemia the highest secular electoral dignity of the Holy Roman Empire. After 1437, Bohemia was ruled by kings of various lines until the death of Ludwig II, of the Jagellon dynasty, who was King of Bohemia and Hungary. He fell in the battle of Mohacz (1526). Both Bohemia and Hungary after this battle came into the possession of Ferdinand I of Hapsburg who had married the sister of Ludwig II. (For the further history of Bohemia see Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.)
INTRODUCTION OF CHRISTIANITY.—Fritigil, Queen of the Marcomanni, in 396 applied to Ambrose of Milan for instruction in the doctrines of Christianity. In 846, fourteen princes of the Czechs were baptized at Ratisbon. Although the two brothers, Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slays, never entered Bohemia, yet Methodius was able to win over the Bohemian Duke Borziwoi to Christianity when the latter was at the court of Swatopluk, Grand Duke of Moravia. In 878, Borziwoi was baptized by Methodius at Welehrad. Soon after this Borziwoi’s wife, Ludmilla, and most of his relations were also baptized. The grandson of Borziwoi and Ludmilla, St. Wenzel I (Wenceslaus), was murdered in 935 at Alt-Bunzlau by his brother and successor Boleslaw I. Religious and national motives prompted this act. Christianity made such progress in Bohemia that in the latter part of the tenth century (973) the German Emperor Otto I gave the country a bishop of its own with his see at Prague, the capital of the country. Bohemia had until then formed a part of the Diocese of Ratisbon. In 1344, the Diocese of Leitomischl was founded, while Prague was made an archbishopric with the Diocese of Olmutz as suffragan. The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries may be called the golden age of Christianity in Bohemia. In 1384, 240 ecclesiastics were attached to the Cathedral of Prague. Bohemia contained at that time 1,914 parish priests with many assistants; there were one hundred monasteries, and almost a third of the land belonged to the Church. But when John Hus was condemned by the Council of Constance for spreading the errors of Wyclif, and was burned at the stake in 1415 by the secular authorities, the Hussite wars followed (1420-34), and the Church in Bohemia met with losses which it took centuries to repair.
The causes of this religious-national movement were the excessive numbers and wealth of the clergy, their moral decay, and, in addition, the national reaction against the disproportionate power of the Germans, and the weakness of the secular government. Notwithstanding the death of the leaders, Hus and Jerome of Prague, the fire of revolution broke out when the followers of Hus demanded the Lord’s Supper under both kinds (Utraquists). Those in revolt encamped with their leaders, Ziska, Procopius the Great, and Procopius the Less, upon Mount Tabor, and from 1419 to 1434 they made marauding expeditions from that point in all directions. The army of Sigismund, in the Fifth Crusade, accomplished nothing. An agreement was finally made with the moderate Utraquists (called Calixtines) in 1433. By this agreement, which is called “the Compactata of Basle”, or “of Prague”, the cup was granted to the laity; at the same time the teaching of the Church as to the Real Presence of Christ under each form was insisted upon. From the descendants of the radical Taborites sprang later the Bohemian and Moravian Brethren.
A great number of parishes and other cures of souls had been obliterated during the Hussite wars; in those which still remained there was a woeful lack of priests, especially for the German population. It was, therefore, easy for Protestantism to make rapid advances, especially as it was looked on with favor by both the nobility and the people. Desertion of the Church was accompanied by treason against the hereditary dynasty. In 1547, a large part of the population took sides with the League of Smalkald, and in 1618 Bohemia was the starting point of the Thirty Years’ War which brought such terrible disasters upon the whole of Germany. During this war the population of Bohemia fell from three millions to eight hundred thousand. The Hapsburg dynasty finally gained the victory. The nobility were punished for their treason, either by execution or by banishment, with confiscation of property; the rebellious cities lost their freedom; the common people either emigrated or returned to the Catholic Faith. In 1655, the See of Leitmeritz was founded; in 1644 the Emperor Ferdinand IV erected a new bishopric at Koniggratz, to take the place of Leitomischl, which had disappeared during the Hussite wars. Finally, in 1784, the Emperor Joseph II made the new Bishopric of Budweis out of the southern part of the Archdiocese of Prague. Diocese
Koniggratz PRESENT STATE OF DIOCESES.—Bohemia is divided ecclesiastically as follows: The Archdiocese of Prague includes the northwestern and central parts of the country, the Diocese of Leitmeritz embraces the northern part, the Diocese of Koniggratz takes in the eastern part, and the Diocese of Budweis the southern part of the country. In addition to its share of the territory of Bohemia, the Archdiocese of Prague also includes the count-ship (Grafschaft) of Glatz in Prussian Silesia.
Religious Orders.—There are in the archdiocese 14 orders for men, having 35 houses; the total number of members of the orders is 704, of these 416 are priests, 135 are clerics preparing for the priesthood, and 153 are lay brothers. Special mention should be made of the Benedictines at Emaus, of the Jesuits at Prague, and of the Premonstratensians at Tepl. There are also 21 orders for women, with 1,517 members. The Diocese of Leitmeritz has 13 orders for men, with 31 houses. The members of these orders include 136 priests, 15 clerics preparing for the priesthood, and 49 lay brothers. The Cistercian Abbey of Osseg and the Jesuit college at Mariascheim are worthy of special mention. There are 10 orders for women, with 62 houses and 651 members. The Diocese of Koniggratz has 9 orders for men, with 88 priests; and 8 orders for women, with 442 members. The Diocese of Budweis has 13 orders for men, in 32 houses; these orders include 131 regular priests; the orders for women are 7, with 419 members. The Cistercian Monastery of Hohenfurt, founded in 1259, should be mentioned in connection with this diocese.
Educational and Charitable Institutions.—In the Archdiocese of Prague there are: 1 seminary for priests, 1 private gymnasium, 3 homes for university students preparing for the priesthood, 52 hospitals, homes for the poor, orphan asylums, etc., over 200 endowments for the aid of the poor, and 34 associations of St. Vincent de Paul. In the Diocese of Leitmeritz there are: 1 theological school, 1 high school for boys, 5 homes for university students preparing for the priesthood, 11 Catholic primary schools, 2 grammar-schools, 8 boarding-schools, 18 industrial and advanced schools, 20 orphanages, 7 asylums for children, 14 kindergartens, 20 creches, and over 130 homes for the poor, hospitals, etc., as well as 13 Conferences of St. Vincent de Paul. In the Diocese of Koniggratz there are: 1 theological school, 1 seminary for priests, 1 boys’ seminary, 7 boarding-schools for girls, 2 training-schools for women teachers, 10 other schools for girls and young women, 21 institutions for the care of children, 67 orphanages, hospitals, etc., 8 conferences of St. Vincent de Paul, and numerous endowments for the aid of the poor. In the Diocese of Budweis, besides 1 theological school and 1 seminary for priests, there are under ecclesiastical control: 1 boys’ seminary, 1 home for university students preparing for the priesthood, 12 public and industrial schools 23 kindergartens, 7 boarding-schools, about 140 stipends for students, 99 hospitals, homes for the aged and the poor, and 8 conferences of St, Vincent de Paul.
RELATIONS OF CHURCH AND STATE.—Since the last years of the reign of Maria Theresa, and especially since the time of Joseph II, the Catholic Church in Austria has suffered from state interference. According to existing laws, the State at present guarantees to the recognized denominations freedom from molestation in the management of their internal affairs. The State avoids every interference in matters of faith, of ritual, and of ecclesiastical discipline, but it also claims that the religious associations, like all other associations, are subject to the general state laws in their “outward legal relations”. The sore point in this condition of affairs is this: that the State assumes for itself the right to define the boundary between internal and external legal relations. At present state control shows itself in the appointment of ecclesiastical officials, in the cooperation of the State in determining and collecting church dues and taxes, in measures for the protection of the property of the Church, and in a certain supervision of the church press, which is hardly perceptible. The legal position of the Catholic Church in Austria rests on the Imperial Patent of April 8, 1861, and the Law of May 7, 1874.
Incorporation of Churches.—In the Archdiocese of Prague there are 32 parishes incorporated with the Premonstratensian foundation at Tepl, the other orders in the diocese have 28 parishes incorporated with them; in the Diocese of Leitmeritz the Cistercians at Osseg control 11 parishes, the other orders for men, 12; in the Diocese of Koniggratz there are 10 parishes united with the Benedictine houses, and 6 with the Premonstratensian; in the Diocese of Budweis the Monastery of Hohenfurt controls 16 parishes, the other orders have 13 incorporated with their foundations.
Taxation of Churches.—Churches, public chapels, and cemeteries are exempt from the income-tax, ground- and dwelling-tax.
Privileges of the Clergy.—Theological students are exempt, both in war and in peace, from all forms of military service, from military training, exercise with weapons, and reserve service; but after they have been ordained they can be called upon to serve as army chaplains in case of the mobilization of the whole army. Parish priests are exempt from paying the direct and the local taxes, and from jury duty. Parish priests have the right to accept an election to community and district boards of commissioners. Regularly installed ecclesiastics have the right of legal residence in that community in which they live permanently. Without regard to the actual payment of taxes they are entitled to vote for the local boards, for the provincial diet and for the imperial parliament (Reichstag); as a rule they are included in the first class of the electoral body. Only one-third of the fees of a parish priest can be attached for debt; besides this, his income cannot be reduced below 1,600 kronen ($320), nor the income of a retired priest below 1,000 kronen ($200). According to the law of 1898, which was intended to equalize clerical salaries, the salary of a parish priest at Prague was set at 2,400 kronen ($480); in the suburbs, up to a distance of over nine miles from the capital, and in cities with over 5,000 inhabitants, at 1,800 kronen ($360); in other places at 1,600 kronen ($320) or 1,400 kronen ($280). In Prague the salary of an assistant priest was set at 800 kronen ($160) or 700 kronen ($140).
MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE.—Marriage, for Catholics, rests on the Law of May 25, 1868, with which the second main section of the civil code, treating of the law of marriage, came again into force. According to this anyone can enter into a marriage contract when there is no legal impediment. Apart from the impediments arising from the duties of certain positions and those due to the army laws, these impediments rest on: (I) lack of consent; (2) lack of ability for the married state, and (3) lack of the necessary formalities. Under the first head are (a) impediments from inability to give consent, as mental disease (violent mania, lunacy, imbecility); minority, and control of guardians, or lack of free choice; (b) impediments resting on lack of actual consent, as compulsion through well-grounded fear, seduction, mistake in the identity of the future consort, pregnancy of the woman before marriage by another person. Under (2) belong (a) the impediment of impotency and (b) impediment from the lack of moral ability, such as an unexpired sentence of imprisonment for felony; a still existing previous marriage; consecration to Holy orders, or a solemn vow of celibacy; difference in religion (e.g. the marriage of a Christian and a non-Christian); relationship in the ascending and descending line, or close family connection (as brothers and sisters, cousins, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew); degrees of affinity parallel to the forbidden degrees of consanguinity; adultery proved before the contracting of the new marriage; and murder or attempted murder of a consort. In (3) are (a) the impediments arising from the lack of publication of the banns, and (b) those from lack of the prescribed formalities of a marriage contract. Lastly, there should also be mentioned the impediments, enacted by the Catholic Church (for Catholics), of participation in the cause of divorce, and the impediment caused by the lack of a certificate of birth. A temporary impediment exists for widows, who are not allowed, as a rule, to marry again before the expiration of six months after the death of the husband. Some of these ecclesiastical impediments to marriage can be set aside; others are irremovable. Among the latter are all those which would give an appearance of guilt to a marriage contracted under the existing circumstances. Dispensation from these impediments are granted by the civil authorities. Catholic married couples can be separated from bed and board. A dissolution of the bond of marriage does not take place; that is, no married Catholic, either husband or wife, can enter upon a new valid marriage before the death of the consort.
TESTAMENTARY LAWS.—A secular cleric has the right to free disposal of his property both in life and at death. The bishop of a diocese has no testamentary control over those objects which belong to his office, and which by law descend to his successor, such as mitres, vestments intended to be worn during Mass, etc. In consequence of the vow of poverty, members of religious orders are incapable of inheriting or disposing of property. Large legacies to a church, a religious or charitable foundation, or a public institution must be announced at once by the court to the governor or president of the province. A half-yearly list of smaller legacies must be sent to these authorities. Legacies for the benefit of the poor, those intended for religious or charitable foundations, for churches, schools, parishes, public institutions, or other religious and benevolent purposes must be paid over or secured before the heirs can inherit the property.
BURIAL LAWS.—Old graveyards are ordinarily regarded as dependencies of the parish church, and as such are considered, even by the Law of April 30, 1870, as being ecclesiastical institutions. But in sanitary regards, as places of burial, they are controlled by the police regulations of the community. Denominational cemeteries can be enlarged or laid out anew. For this, however, the consent of the civil authorities and of the parties interested is necessary, although, if the parish community refuses to enlarge the cemetery, the responsibility for providing a proper burial-place falls on the civil community. But a parish community or a church vestry cannot be compelled by the authorities to enlarge or lay out a church cemetery. If in the same community both a town cemetery and a Catholic cemetery exist, the burial of the dead in the public cemetery is not obligatory, but every Catholic has the right to bury the members of his family in the Catholic cemetery. When a Catholic cemetery serves also for the burial of non-Catholics, a part of the cemetery is to be set apart for the exclusive use of the non-Catholic community. Where a part of a Catholic cemetery is used for non-Catholic burial without the formal separation of the parts, the non-Catholic clergyman must follow the regulations of the law; he may conduct the burial with prayer and benediction, but there can be no singing nor address.