Bohemia in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Political, Economic, and Social History, with Special Reference to the Reign of Leopold II, 1790-1792

Bohemia in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Political, Economic, and Social History, with Special Reference to the Reign of Leopold II, 1790-1792

Bohemia in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Political, Economic, and Social History, with Special Reference to the Reign of Leopold II, 1790-1792

Bohemia in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Political, Economic, and Social History, with Special Reference to the Reign of Leopold II, 1790-1792

Excerpt

To understand contemporary conditions in Central Europe one must go back to the Eighteenth Century . Besides the history of the central government of the Habsburg Monarchy, the histories of the two countries most important for this purpose are those of Hungary and Bohemia. The former has already been analyzed in a remarkable monograph by the noted Hungarian historian, Henry Marczali. It is the purpose of the present study to do much the same thing for Bohemia.

Intensive archival research in both cases has revealed the dominant forces at work in the internal history of the Danubian Monarchy. In the case of Bohemia, it has exposed a national reaction led by the half-medieval nobility which was just strong enough to check the centralizing and Germanizing tendencies of Vienna, but not strong enough to prevent the triumph of the modern state over the medieval.

No part of the Eighteenth Century is so important for the study of this clash of forces, modern and medieval, centralizing and decentralizing, denationalizing and nationalizing, as the reign of Leopold II (1790-1792). It coincides in time with the French Revolution, which came near having a side-show in the Habsburg Monarchy. After the manner of the French in their Cahiers, the Estates in Central Europe presented their Desideria and demanded many changes. It is from this material that much insight may be obtained in regard to existing conditions, the functioning of government, the character and plans of the Estates, and public opinion, such as it was. No single source for the study of Eighteenth-Century Bohemia is comparable to the bulky archival materials that accumulated around the Desideria. To a large extent these materials . . .

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