Czech Literature

Czech literature, literature in the Czech language.

Middle Ages

According to andyeducation, Czech did not establish itself as a literary language until the 13th and 14th centuries. Century through. This was preceded by the very earliest approaches to Czech literature that were related to the missionary work of the “Slav apostles” Kyrillosand Methodius (9th century, in the Great Moravian Empire). The oldest surviving work of old Czech poetry is the hymn “Hospodine pomiluj ny” (Have mercy on us), the date of which is uncertain.

In the bohemian lands solved in 10./11. In the 19th century, Latin scriptures from Old Church Slavonic or Old Czech. Formative genres were the lives of saints and chronicles, including the legend “Svatý Václave” by Christian, which describes the life of St. Wenceslas (Václav) and his grandmother, St. Ludmilla, and at the same time gives a first outline of the history of Christianity in Bohemia and Moravia; it is regarded as the forerunner of the “Chronica Bohemorum” (1119-25) of the Cosmas of Prague. The Cosmas tradition was among others in the 14th century. continued in the »Kronika Zbraslavská« (King’s Hall Chronicle).

The oldest evidence for the actual literature in the Czech language comes from the middle of the 13th century (religious poetry, Minnepoesie, cycles of legends). The courtly epic of this time includes the (fragmentarily preserved) “Alexandreis”, a free adaptation of the Alexandre epic by Walther von Châtillon, and the rhyming chronicle “Dalimilova kronika” (Dalimilchronik).

During the reign of Charles IV there was a cultural boom (the University of Prague was founded in 1348) and literary activities expanded (religious and secular fiction; scientific literature). The legend of Katharinen and Prokop as well as translations (“Tristan und Isolde”, “Herzog Ernst”, Trojaroman) emerged. The Rosenberg Book (»Kniha Rožmberská«) is the first legal monument. The Marian, Passion and Easter plays enjoyed great popularity, v. a. the drama of the quack, which is characterized by coarse folk humor (»Mastičkář«, around 1340).

Also noteworthy is the love song “Závišova píseň” (Song of Záviš) from the second half of the 14th century, the author of which is not clearly passed down. Towards the end of the 14th century, S. Flaška z Pardubic wrote the allegorical poem “Nová rada” (The New Council, 1394), a prince’s mirror in the form of an animal parliament, in which he castigated secularization and moral decay.

The most demanding prose work of this time is the work »Tkadleček« (The Little Weaver) from around 1409, a dialogue between the author and the personified misfortune based on the »Ackermann von Böhmen« by Johannes von Tepl. Religious and didactic prose as well as philosophical treatises in appealing old Czech language come from T. Štítný ze Štítného. They already hint at the reform ideas of the 15th century.


The Czech Reformation movement, Hussitism, had its climax in the 15th century in J. Hus, who also spread his ideas to the people in Czech sermons and edification pamphlets. campaigned for a reform of Czech spelling (diacritical spelling).

The time of the Hussite Wars (1419 / 20–1433 / 34), during which the Czech language became more and more important, was filled with religious polemics, pamphlets and appeals (J. Žižka). Spiritual songs also played an important role, the best known of which is the battle song “Ktož jsú boží bojovníci” (You are God’s fighters).

Vavřinec z Březové (Lorenz von Březová, * around 1370, † around 1437) wrote – in Latin – what is probably the most important source from the perspective of the Prague Hussites (»Chronicon«) and – in Czech – a world chronicle preserved in two fragments (»Kronika svĕta«).

The lay theologian P. Chelčický strived for religious and social reforms while rejecting any form of violence Became brothers.


In the second half of the 15th century, humanism began an extensive literary activity in both the Czech and Latin languages. The »Kronika česká« (1541; German »Bohemian Chronica«) by V. Hájek z Libočan exerted a great influence on the Czech national consciousness.

At the suggestion of the Bishop of the Bohemian Brethren J. Blahoslav, who a.o. translated the New Testament, in 1579–93 the most important translation of the Bohemian Brothers in terms of linguistic and cultural history was created, the Kralitz Bible, whose linguistic form was considered exemplary for over two centuries.

Daniel Adam z Veleslavína (* 1546, † 1599), author of historical and philological works, played an important role as initiator and publisher (entertainment, political literature, travelogues, chronicles, philological treatises, biblical games); after him, the last two decades of the 16th century are also referred to as “Doba Veleslavínova” (Age of Veleslavín).

In the 17th century, after the Battle of White Mountain near Prague (1620), repressive measures by secular and ecclesiastical authorities against Protestant authors and their works written in the Czech language led to gradual literary stagnation and the decline of the Czech language.

Many representatives of Czech culture and literature were forced to emigrate (Bohemian exiles) and campaigned for Czechity and Czech literature from abroad, according to the Bishop of the Bohemian Brothers J. A. Comenius with educational and religious treatises, but also with the artistically convincing work » Labyrint svĕta «(1631; German» The labyrinth of the world «). Pavel Stránský (* 1583, † 1657) wrote writings in exile in defense of the Czech language and folklore (»Respublica Bojema«, 1634).

But even in Bohemia itself, efforts were made to save the Czech language from decline, for example Bohuslav Balbín (* 1621, † 1688) with his »Defense of the Czech Language« (1672, published 1775) and Václav Jan Rosa (* around 1620, † 1689)with his “Čechořečnost seu Grammatica linguae Bohemicae” (1672).


Baroque poetry was v. a. represented by representatives of the Counter-Reformation, including the Catholic Baroque poet Bedřich Bridel (* 1619, † 1680), by whom the lyrical-reflexive poem »Co Bůh; Člověk? «(What God? Man?, 1658). Adam Michna z Otradovic (* 1600, † 1676) wrote a.o. »Loutna česká« (The Bohemian Lute, 1653). The Czech adaptation (»Zdoroslavíček«, 1665) of the »Trutz-Nachtigall« by F. Spee von Langenfeld by the Jesuit Felix Kadlinský (* 1613, † 1675) is also important. There was also a rich folk poetry with songs, fairy tales, sagas and stories as well as folk books and religious poetry.

Czech Literature