Detailed History of Kromeriz
Old trading paths intersected at a ford across the River Morava: the salt path and the amber path. Later on a Slavic market settlement was established at the spot and already flourished in the time of the Great Moravian Empire. Prince Ota II sold the village to the Moravian Bishop, Jan called "Fat-bellied", for 300 talents in 1107-1124. There is a reference to a chapel and a tavern selling mead ('taberna medonis') in Kroměříž from 1232. The Czech King, Přemysl Otakar II, installed his knight Bruno von Schauenburg (1245-1281) as a bishop to help him ensure the defence of Moravia. Bruno would found castles and towns and had passes and access roads to the country guarded. It was to his credit that many colonists arrived in the country.
Bruno chose Kroměříž to become his seat and he also made his castle the centre of his dominion which consisted or more than 60 vassals from the whole of Moravia. Kroměříž is referred to as a market village in a document by Přemysl Otakar II from 1256, but in 1266 it is already called a town ('oppidum'). The Bishop provided the town with walls and three gates, founded the capitular Cathedral of St. Moritz and built the Church of the Blessed Virgin, Mary. He endowed the town with freedoms of tbe city and connected the market village with his seat through the area or Velký rynek (Big Square) surrounded by craftsmen and burghers' houses. King Jan of Luxembourg allowed the Bishop to keep an 'usury Jew' inctbe town in 1322. As early as the second half of the 14th century an independent Jewish neighbourhood sometimes called 'the Jerusalem of the Haná region' came into existence in the area near the parish church. The reign of Charles is connected with three outstanding figures related to Kroměříž: Bishop Jan of Středa (1344-1380), Jan Milíč of Kroměříž, and Mikuláš of Kroměříž.
In the 15th century the town became entangled in the Hussite wars. Bishop Jan Železný (John the Iron) was a major opponent of the Hussites in Moravia and a leader of the catholic gentry. In the course of battles over the town with the alternating success of either of the sides Kroměříž was eventually conquered and left in the Hussites' possession to until as late as the end of the 15th century. Since then the history of the town has been closely linked to the history of the Bishops of Olomouc. The last reference to the oldest order in the town - the knights of St. John at the hospital church of St. John the Baptist who left the town during the wars - dates back to 1406. King Ladislav confirmed the freedoms of the city. In 1455 Pope Kalixt III wrote about Kroměříž as a 'temporal reruge of heretics and schismatics'. King Jiří of Poděbrady paid a visit to the town in 1461. Tbe Hungarian King, Mattbias Corvinus, wbo was proclaimed the Czech King by Bishop Tas in Olomouc'in 1469, arrived in the town for the first time in 1468. The owners of the town would change until the Czecb King, Vladislav II, during the administration or Bishop Stanislav Thurzo bought it. Tbe Bishop tried with tbe help of Italian artists and craftsmen to make his castle a centre or Renaissance culture and art. He was in touch with major representatives of the European Renaissance and Humanism such as Erasmus of Rotterdam. Tbe Renaissance motifs of Tburzo' s castle are visible at the entrance to the tower of the castle, in the vaulted ceiling or the Cathedral of St. Moritz as well as in the collection or paintings (for example the works by Cranach Sr.). The Bishop promoted printing (tbe missal of Olomouc from 1468, 1499, 1505, the breviary of Olomouc from 1482, Agenda Olomouncensis from 1488). An remarkable figure on a bishop's stool was Jan Doubravský - Dubravius of Skála (1541-1553) who was an author of historical and scbolarly books such as the book on fish rearing (De piscinis, 1596). The Turkish wars brougbt about more surfering to the town through which the armies rode to help Vienna and Hungary. Bishop Marek Khue (1553-1565) put the catholicizing programme of the Tridentine Council (1554-1563) into practice. In 1554 the town of Kroměříž was damaged by fire and in 1562 it was hit by the plague. During Bishop Vilém Prusinovský of Víckov's administration (1565-1572) the first instructions to protect the town from fire were issued. The castle, the mill, and tbe Cathedral of St.Moritz were under reconstruction and Podzámecká zahrada (the Castle Garden) modelled on the garden in Lednice was established.
Each of the Bishops Jan XIV Grodecký (1572-1574), Tomáš Albín of Helfenburk (1574-1576), and Jan Mezoun (1576-1578) was in office for only a short time and could not take care either-of the town or the diocese. Bishop Stanislav Pavlovský of Pavlovice (1579-1598) carried on the-reconstruction of the castle and built the Furstengang - the princely corridor connecting at the second floor level the castle with the Cathedral of St. Moritz. He had the manorial mill as well as the churches in the town and the diocese repaired. He is considered to be the second founder of the Cathedral of St. Moritz. He obtained the title of duke ('princeps et dux') from the emperor, Rudolf II, and the hereditary title of prince for himself and his successors. He added to the castle collections and hosted Polish knight and writer Bartolomej Paprocki of Paprocka Wola, the author of 'The Mirror of the Famous Margraviate of Moravia'. He gave the town brewing and wine-growing rules, fees in the neighbouring villages, and started to build a town hall-with a tower. He established a bishop's guard of subject Wallachians and in 1585 had the first well-known gold coin of the Bishops of Olomouc minted. From 14 October 1584 he introduced the Gregorian calendar in Moravia. The consecrated bishop František Dietrichstein (1599-1636), the representative of Jesuits and the chairman of Emperor Rudolf lľs secret council, took office in 1599. In 1619 he was captured by the rebel states and expelled from Moravia. The town and the bishop's estates were handed over to the King, Frederick Palatine, in whose possession they remained for two years. Dietrichstein became the most vigorous organizer of the re-catholicization process in Moravia after 1620. He renewed the bishop's right of coinage and built aprinting house in Mikulov. He completed the construction of the town hall in Kroměříž and issued a letter of privilege to the Jewish community in Kroměříž in 1606. He also enriched Kroměříž's Coat of Arms (e.g. the Bishop of Olomouc's Coat of Arms consisting of six silver towers in a red field) with a little heart shield of his house's coat of arms which included two wine-growing knives in a divided field. He ordained Jan Sarkanderin the castle chapel in 1607 and allowed the Franciscans to build a monastery with a church of the Holy Trinity in the suburbs of Oskol in 1610-1620 which became a place of pilgrimage. For two years the monastery was even used as a university seat (the Faculty of Arts of Nysa and the Faculty of Theology of Olomouc). The literary brotherhood founded as early as during the administration of Bishop Stanislav Pavlovský worked at the cemetery chapel of St. Michael of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was abolished together with the chapel and cemetery by Joseph II at the end of the 18th century. Bishop Leopold I Vilém (1637-1662), Ferdinand it's son, the supreme commander of the imperial army, the Bishop of Osnabrfick and Wroclaw, and the viceroy of Belgium, was installed in 1636. He never arrived in Kroměříž and he only made use of the bishopric's money. In 1634 Kroměříž was conquered by marshal Torstenson' s Swedish armies with the help,of Wallachian subjects. The town was completely destroyed within only four hours. 153 of 244 buildings were pulled down and several hundred inhabitants were killed. In 1645 another attack by the Swedes took place after Valdštejn had been defeated in front of Kroměříž. This time the town was aIso looted by the fleeing imperial soldiers. The plague in June of the same year completed thé disaster (1,246 people died). When the damage caused by the Thirty Year's War in Moravia was estimated Kroměříž ranked as one of the most affected towns.
Charles II was unanimously elected Bishop in March 1664. After entering office he dealt thoroughly with the renewal of the diocese and,the town of Kroměříž as his seat. He put into practice an ambitious programme for the revival of the town and established. a spectacular princely court modelled on Vienna. He took advantage of the service of Italian craftsmen and architects such as Filiberto Luchese and G. P. Tencalla for baroque buildings in Kroměříž, Olomouc, Prague, and Brno. He encouraged the renewal and construction of churches, monasteries and even secular buildings throughout the diocese. He established collections of pictures, graphic art, coins, medals, and musical manuscripts in the baroque palace in Kroměříž. He is also credited for founding a big universal library which was meant for the directive and organizational institutions of the town and the diocese. He had not only a bishop's guard at the court but also a band of 36 musicians which made it the biggest band in the then Europe. He provided the town with a water system which supplied fountains, built an Episcopal mint wnose machinery was driven by a supplementary episcopal water mill-with 22 sets of millstones. Two fires in 1671 destroyed again as many as 47 buildings and delayed the renewal mainly in the suburbs. The Bishop had covered drains as well as a municipal hospital built and took care of municipal sanitation. Due to these energetic measures it was possible to prevent larger scale damage during the plague epidemic of 1679. The Bishop also intruduced into the town the Piarists who took over the Franciscan monastery of St. John the Baptist and founded a college, a grammar school, and a seminar of singing in order to encourage education and faith. In 1681 the first theatrical performance in Kroměříž was held thanks to the teachers and students of the Piarist school. Bishop CharIes died in 1695 and left 'out of the ruins a built town worthy of being called a seat'. Following emperor's proposal Charles III, the duke of Lothringen, the son of Charles Leopold Vand emperor Leopolďs sister EIeonora, was elected Bishop (1695-1710). He travelled all over Europe in diplomatic services and when being offered the archbishopric of Trier he gave up Olomouc leaving debts of 270,000 gold coins. Also his successor Wolfgang Hanibal Schrattenbach (1711-1738) spent a long time in Italy in the service of the imperial court and after his return dwelt in Brno and Vyškov. He reduced the freedoms of the burghers of Kroměříž, forbade them to trade in beer and forced them to grind their crop in the Episcopal mill. The second plague column - the Holy Trinity group - was erected in Zelný rynek (Cabbage Square) after the attack of plague in 1715-1716. It was completed by the sculptor Johannes Sturmer of Olomouc in 1725. The parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built by Ign. Jos. Cyrani von Bolleshaus in 1724-1736 and extended in 1738 with a rectory, the chapel of Blessed Jan Sarkander and an emeritus house later on changed into a demerit house (a clerical prison). The tomb chapel of the Mournful Virgin Mary was built in the Cathedral of St. Moritz by O. Zahner and Fr. Hirnle in 1736 as a last resting place for two Bishops: Cardinal Schrattenbach and Bishop Egkh. The Cardinal started the construction (1737-1768) of a baroque masterpiece in Moravia - the Church of St. John the Baptist - which replaced the former hospital church of the knights of St. John. Ignác Jos. Cyrani von Bolleshaus, O. Zahner, J. J. Etgens, J. Stern, M. Unterberger, and others contributed to the construction and decoration of the Churcp. Bishop Jakub Arnošt was in favour with Marie Theresa for his pastoral activity and dedication. He crowned Marie Theresa Czech Queen in 1743 and the Pope approved him being elected archbishop in Salzburg in 1744. Kroměříž was decimated by the Prussian War (1742-1745) when the armies rode through the town foras many as ten weeks. Bishop Ferdinand Julius Troyer (1745-1758) was devoted to the imperial family ('totus caesareus') and was even a confessor to Marie Theresa who visited him in Kroměříž on her way to Olomouc and Brno in 1748. The Bishop would found monasteries and brotherhoods as well as hospitals. During the fire of 1752 58 buildings in the town burnt down and even a part of the castle was destroyed in the blaze. The renewal was started as late as by Bishop Leopold Bedřich Egkh (1758-1760). He takes credit for roofing the castle and alterations to its interior. He had the library halls decorated with frescoes by Josef Stern. ánd the Vassal Hall was given a splendid fresco by A. Maulbertsche. The right of coinage for the bishops of Olomouc was abolished in 1759 and the mint in Kroměříž was closed. The last Bishop of the Olomouc diocese Maxmilián Hamilton (1761-1776) completed the renewal of the town and the castle and ordered the extension of Podzámecká zahrada (the Castle Garden). The castle tower was reconstructed, the castle was provided with a new facade, and the Great Dining room was grandly decorated. The pictures were painted by Frant. Adolph of Freenthal and the stucco decoration was made by Martin Karel Keller in 1760-1777.
On 5 December 1777 the Brno bishopric was established and made subordinate to that of Olomouc which was raised to an archbishopric, Antonín Theodor Colloredo-Waldsee (1777-1811) being installed the head of the latter. This was the period of Joseph II' s reforms. The Chapel of St. Michael and the Franciscan monastery of the Holy Trinity in Oskol were abolished, the latter being altered into a military bakery and later on into a 'vinegar factory' and finally a residential house. From 1786 the town was classed as a town of the 4th category with a connected magisterial and burgomaster's administration which put an end to the seven-hundred-year servitude of the town to the Bishops of Olomouc. The administration of the town was in German hands until as-late as 1886. The municipal pillory considered a symbol of servitude was pulled down in 1788. The 19th century brougt the Napoleonic Wars. In 1805 the French cuirassiers occupied the town and in 1806, there were crowds of the wounded pouring into it. The first textile manuracture was started outside the walls in Novosady. A private garden - 'giardino secreto' - with terraces and a portico provided with a staircase leading from the castle to the garden was laid out by the castle.
The second Archbishop, Maria Tadeáš the count of Trautmansdorf, (1811-1819) canalized the River Morava to prevent floods and built two bridges in 1814. Nearly the whole of Oskol was destroyed by fire in 1815 Another member of the Hapsburg house on the archbishop's see was the archduke and cardinal, Rudolf Jan (1819-1831), who was known not only as Beethoven's disciple but also as a rounder of iron works in the region of Ostrava. Under his guidance Podzámecká Garden was altered into a classical landscape park, the privileges of the town were confirmed (1822), and the system of administration of the diocese was reorganized. Rudolf's successor, Ferdinand Maria count Chotek of Chotkov and Vojín (1831-1838), was a hard-working aristocrat of artistic sensitivity. He introduced in the construction office an architect, Ant. Arche, the author of the alterations in Podzámecká zahrada and the area adjoining the castle together with Mlýnská brána (the Mill Gate), as well as re-gothicization the Cathedral of St. Moritz. Another archbishop, Maxmilián Joseph Sommerau-Beck (1836-1853), carried on Arche's alterations of both of the gardens in the town (the Court of Honour in Květná zahrada - the Flower Garden, the extension of Podzámecká zahrada, Maxmilian's Court) and made a new water-supply system in the town. The National Guard was established in the town in 1848, and there were classes at the first Czech school in the suburbs of Novosady. After tne Provincial Congress in Brno (the so called 'peasant congress'), which approved of the abolition of statutory labour, the first election for the Constituent Imperial Assembly was held in the Cislathian Regions in June 1848. After the revolutionary events in Vienna the Assembly moved into the castle of Kroměříž and from 22 November 1848 it was in session in Velká jídelna (the Great Dining Room) now called Sněmovní sál (Session Hall). TheAssembly was dissolved at the beginning of March 1849 and the Enforced Constitution was proclaimed by the Emperor. Thanks to the Assembly Slavic representative arrived in the town arousing national enthusiasm and confidence. In the era of new absolutism Archbishop Bedřich Furstenberg (1853-1892) took office. He built an archiepiscopal seminary by the castle and propagated the cult of Constantine and Methodius. The town walls were broken through, two town gates were demolished and the town spread into the suburban areas. During the war in 1866 cholera-affected Prussian soldiers came into the town. A cholera cemetery was establishel in Kotojedská street. In 1870 the town was given autonomous status together with Brno, Olomouc, Znojmo, and Jihlava. A portico was built by the castle as an entrance from Podzámecká zahrada (the Castle Garden), and schools and the St. Vincent de Paul convent were under construction. In 1887 thefirst Czech leadership of the town hall was installed when Vojtěch Kulp became mayor. There were big industrial factories in the process of construction in the suburbs. The social life developed. Many Czech and German clubs, such as Česká beseda (the Czech Party), Čtenářský spolek (the Reader's Club), Moravan, Sokol, Concordia, etc., came into existence. From 25 - 28 August 1885 Emperor Francis Joseph I and Russian Czar Alexandr III met in the castle to negotiate. The visit paid by royal families accompanied with their large retinues attracted the attention of the people and the press. There were concerts, theatrical performances, as well as deer hunting in Zámeček (the Little Castle) held for the guests. The archiepiscopal economic administration was reorganized, and more clubs and societies were established. Big national-economy exhibitions took place. The burghers' hall Nadsklepí (1868) became the centre of cultural life in Kroměříž. Not only local artists but also such outstanding personalities as Antonín Dvořák, Emma Destinová, and Jaroslav Vrchlický performed there. An amateur theatrical company made regular appearances from 1865 accompanied by guests from professional and travelling companies.
After the canalization of the river the integration with suburban municipalities continued. In the direction of Rataje a new medical complex was built consisting of Zemský léčebný ústav (the Provincial Medical Asylum) and a hospital, while over the river there were industrial buildings. The hydroelectric power station at Strž was provided with a new turbine. A synagogue was built in 1910 thanks to the Jewish community and the barracks of the 3rd infantry regiment as well as a military hospital and training grounds came into existence on the other side of the town. The number of schools increased. Economic activity lead to the establishment of financial institutions such as Spořitelna města Kroměříže (the Savings Bank of Kroměříž) in 1867, Kontribučenská záložna (1877), Moravská banka (1910), Agrární banka (1919), etc. The development of the Czech national movement was manifested most of all in the existence of three organizations: Moravan (a singing and musical society with a school of music from 1863), Sokol (a sporting organization Crom 1863) and the Municipal Voluntary Fire Brigade (1906). In 1872 the Voluntary Fire Brigade of Kroměříž under German leadership was established and replaced in 1910 with the above mentioned Czech fire brigade. Spolek katolických tovaryšů (the Catholic Journeyman's Club) was changed into Jednota Orla českoslovanského (the Union of the Czechoslavic Eagle) in 1905. Klub českých turistů (the Czech Tourists' Club) was established in 1909, S.K. Haná in 1904, S.K. Kroměříž in 1914, football dub S.K. Hanácká Slávia in 1918 as well as YMCA. In 1869 German citizens rounded the musical society Concordia and musical school Verein zur Forderung der Musik (they merged together in 1873) which were extended with a theatre company. Church music in Kroměříž was based on a tradition of an Episcopal band and singing school and maintained or high quality thanks to choir directors, organ players, and church administrators (L. Holain, K. Cigua, M. Ludwig, Ferd. Vach, J. Dosoudil, Jos. Zmeškal, Otakar Lukáš, . F. Lorenz, Ez. Ambroz, E. Vach, A. Fritz, P. Jan Bártek). The national-economy exhibitions held in Květná zahrada (the Flower garden) in 1908 and 1911 started a new tradition or exhibitions displaying the economic progress and development of the region. The First World War made the town a hospital centre for the wounded, especially those coming back from the Russian front. Many citizens of Kroměříž lost their lives on the fronts. The establishment of a new Czechoslovak state as well as the transfer or the town and the district to a new administration caused no problems in the post-war euphoria. The stabilization of political and economic conditions helped to bring about the realization of demanding projects such as the reconstruction of the road network, the construction of residential houses in the suburbs, municipal blocks of flats,and school buildings. A new cemetery was built in Velehradská street and near it a new barracks, the first signal of the tense political situation in Europe arter the coming of fascism to power. Crowds of refuges from eastern Poland, Germany, and finally also the Czech people of the Sudeten started pouring into the town. The beginning of the Second World War brought the German soldiers of Wehrmacht into the barracks of Kroměříž. As had been the case during the First World War schools were used by the army. The people were short of food and industrial goods, their production was mainly for the needs of the army and an anti-fascist resistance movement appeared. Underground resistance organizations helping the survivors of the victims of fascism were established. The Jewish community of Kroměříž was barbarously wiped out, 'red notices' daily presented the list of new victims of the arbitrary sentences of German court, and the notices coming from prisons and concentration camps always announced death. Kroměříž and its inhabitants were especially affected by three big actions: the departure of the Jews, the action against Sokol, and the action of the then Colonel Svoboda. 65 people were arrested and 12 of them coming from Kroměříž were executed in the last one alone.
The year 1945 was marked by the intensive preparations of the occupants for the arrival of the front and the frantic plundering of the industry in the region. People had to build fortifications regardless of their age. The town was accessible only from the direction of Hulín and Kojetín and road blocks and anti-tank trenches made movement about the town and passing from street to street very difficult. Tbe people were standing in long queues to get some food and build up a necessary supply for the liberation of the town. German engineering units were preparing the demolition of railway tracks and points, bridges, factories, the power station, and the gasworks. The groups of people ready to prevent this activity, help the liberators, and take over the administration of the town became active. Romanian soldiers made an attack on the town from the South and the West on 4th May 1945 morning and with help of the citizens liberated the right-bank part of the town until the evening. The rest of the town was liberated a day later with the contribution of its citizens and the fascists retreated from approaching Czechoslovak troops in the direction of Chropyně. 30 soldiers and 1 officer of the Royal Romanian Army as well as 19 citizens were killed during the liberation of the town. The metal part of the tower of the castle burned down, all three bridges were destroyed, water, gas and electricity supply was stopped, and telephone and railway connection was interrupted. The renewal of the town began immediately after tbe liberation. Traitors and those who had helped the fascists were sentenced, and with the agreement of the Allies the German citizens were expelled to Germany and Austria. By 1948 the differentiation of the politics began with a prevailing tendency towards people's democracy based on socialist principles especially after the political events of February 1948. In the same year the celebration of '100 years of Czech national life' took place in Kroměříž led by writer Jindřich Spáčil and with thousands of people and natives of the town present. The picture of the progress and success of the town from 1848 was created showing thousands of visitors the traditions on which was based the existence and the growth of the town. The town went on successfully developing, new fla18, industrial factories and schools were being built. Kroměříž became the place where regional as well as national festivals, shows, and competitions, such as festivals of films about art, musical festivals, ethnographic shows, and military art competitions were held. All that enriched not only the life of the town but of the whole region. The town and the district paid special attention to the preservation of cultural heritage, most of all the renewal and reconstruction of the historical sites or the town, which was proclaimed a town conservation area. Its dominant feature - the castle - was proclaimed a National Cultural Treasure in August 1995.
Thanks to its citizens and businessmen with the support of the state administration and self-administration after 1989 Kroměříž has reinforced its position as a cultural centre of Moravia and a congress center while its character as a quiet place for its inhabitants as well as visitors has been preserved.Top of the page
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