History of The Lands of The Bohemian Crown (Middle Ages) - Duchy of Bohemia

Duchy of Bohemia

With the fragmentation of Great Moravia under the pressure of the Magyar incursions in the 9th century, Bohemia began to form as an independent principality from the 880s. In 880, prince Bořivoj of the Přemyslid dynasty, who was baptised by the Great Moravian bishop Methodius in 874, moved his seat to Prague and started to subjugate the Vltava Basin.

Great Moravia briefly regained control over the emerging Bohemian Principality in 888/890. In 895, the Prince of Bohemia becomes a vassal of the East Frankish king Arnulf of Carinthia. As East Francia consolidated into the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century, Prince of Bohemia was thus a personal vassal. The March of Moravia was given to Boleslaus I after the defeat of the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld in 955, but it was conquered into the Duchy of Poland by Bolesław I Chrobry in 999. Moravia was re-acquired for Bohemia by Bretislaus I in 1035.

Cut off from Byzantium by the Hungarian presence, the Bohemian Principality existed in the shadow of the Holy Roman Empire. In 950 Emperor Otto I, a Saxon, led an expedition to Bohemia demanding tribute; the Bohemian Prince thus became a tributary of the Holy Roman Empire and its king one of the seven Electors of the Emperor. The Emperors continued the practice of using the Roman Catholic clergy to extend German influence into Czech territory. Significantly, the bishopric of Prague, founded in 973 during the reign of Boleslaus II (967–99), was subordinated to the archbishopric of Mainz. Thus, at the same time that Přemyslid rulers used the German alliance to consolidate their rule against a perpetually rebellious regional nobility, they struggled to retain their autonomy in relation to the empire.

The Bohemian Principality was definitively consolidated in 995, when the Přemyslids unified neighboring Czech tribes and established a form of centralized rule. After a struggle with Poland and Hungary, Bohemia acquired Moravia in the early 11th century. The March of Moravia, however, continued to be a separate margraviate, usually ruled by a younger son of the Bohemian king. Although Moravia's fate was intertwined with Bohemia's, in general it did not participate in Bohemia's civil and religious struggles.

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