Some East European Accounts on Historical Prague

Historic map of Prague from mapy cz.jpg The oldest of Czech chronicles did mention Polish captives in the kingdom, the father of our first chronicle-writer, Cosmas, supposedly one of them. A daughter of the Polish king of the period married the first Czech to be crowned king and so became the first Czech queen in 1062.

The court of the Czech king towards the end of 1290s offered an interesting sight. The chronicle of Zbraslav reports, that there were numerous monks and guests came from Russia, Hungary and other Slavic lands, causing some confusion with their long beards and Slavic- language ordinances, while the official language for such occasions at the time was Latin.
During the rule of the House of Luxembourg (1308- 1442) the Polish and Hungarian nobles and even rulers visited the court on numerous occasions. The reasons were often practical, in pursuit of marriage for example, as in the case of the king Casimir the Great in the 1340s. His daughter Jadwiga later founded a college at the Prague (Charles) University, a department for the Latvian students, who did not turn up in substantial numbers and the college was used mainly by less wealthy Czech students.

In order to stay with substantial testimonies of Prague we better move on to the 17th Century, when Francis II Rákóczi spent years on studies in the city. The Hungarian prince and later a leader of an Anti- Habsbourg uprising- and a man considered national hero in Hungary, studied philosophy and paid a lot of attention to Prague social life. His notes are critical of the University teaching system and present Prague as a city of wild night life.
A grave situation occurred in 1741 as German and Polish forces attacked the city. It was, needed to say, mainly the Saxon army. There was less of a battle than of a skirmish at the Vysehrad, by the parts of the city fortifications still to be seen today.

A testimony worth mention remained after Countess Golicyn (1766- 1821), a visitor from Russia when she belonged to the favorites of Catherine the Great. She mainly recalled Prague’s gothic character and the spectacle of the Saint John of Nepomuk celebrations. During a 1835 visit, another Russian noblewoman thought Prague resembled old Italian cities. Admiring in general, she only criticized the city’s dressing fashion, supposedly inferior to similar customs in Vienna. Of the notorious 19th Century Russian figures, one of the fathers of anarchism, Mikhail Bakunin paid several visits to the Czech patriots and, more notably, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky made a great impression on the Prague audience in 1888.

Sep 27, 10:01 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

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