I read the history section of the guide book for Prague on the plane, which I really enjoyed. I can’t believe I hated history at School – or maybe I can – it was dry and dusty and unconnected to life.
These days I love history – the story of how a country’s identity evolves over hundreds of years, and how this affects the way it is today.
I had forgotten that this was also known as Bohemia. In 400 BC was occupied by a celtic tribe. – the Boii, but eventually germanic and slavic tribes took over. Famous names in history associated with the Czeck people include Wenceslas (both the good king and the bad king!) and Jan Hus a protestant reformer who was burnt for his trouble – a martyr to the ideals of church reform and independence from German dominance.
His motto was “Truth will prevail” which became a rallying cry for his followers and was still chanted during the Velvet Revolution of 1989.
The Hussites continued to work for reform, and the Pope declared a holy crusade against Bohemia – but it seemed that the Hussites prevailed. The influence of the Catholic church waned.
Nowadays the Czech Rebublic is known as one of the most agnostic nations on earth – thought most claim to believe in ‘something’.
Since the communist regime’s seizure of all Church assets, the State owns the Churches, which largly stand empty. With falling congregations the Catholic Church apparently does not want them back – can’t afford the upkeep. So they as slowly being turned into museums, hotels or even night clubs. Even the clergy are paid by the State, though there is some complaints about the rate of pay.
PS One unique form of Czech protest was that of defenstration – throwing people out of windows to their deaths.