In fact, there are a lot of “gradets” in the Czech Republic. But this word just indicates the type of settlement. It is geographical mark and no more. But the theme of my post isn’t about all the «Hradec» of the Czech Republic. It is about Jindrichuv Hradec, which differs among others because of its name like a bottle of Borjomi on shelves of a supermarket. Like many other Czech cities, Jindrichuv Hradec originally was a Slavic settlement, then it became Slavic fortress, which existed from X century. In the XII century the south-eastern Bohemia came into possession of Vitek of Prcice.
Vitek leads the family tree of one of the most famous families of Bohemia — Vitkovici. Vitek divided ownership between the five sons. At the end of XII century (Henry) Jindric (if my memory serves me, in a kin of Vitkovic were 4 glorious noble Pan Jindřic) Vitkovic (the eldest son of Vitek) built on the place where Slavic citadel was located a castle in the Romanesque style, which was named Hradec. From that time the descendants of Jindřic call themselves the Lords of Hradec, and they have so much power that the King Premysl Otakar II built nearby the castle of Cesky Budejovice in order to weaken the influence of Vitkovic in the region. In the case of direct disobedience of vassal, the King could easily send troops from Budejovice to Hradec. However, judging by the fact that the castle is perfectly preserved to this day, Vitkovici were not only only rich and powerful, but also smart and unconflictive.
The first official mention about the city dates back to 1220 year when in addition to Romanesque fortress the castle in early Gothic style was built. The monks wrote the Chronicles in Latin, and therefore they called the city Nova Domus (Neuhaus in German).
In 1410 during the Battle of Grunwald the Teutonic Order and the forces of German and French knights with Swiss mercenaries were defeated by a coalition of Poles, Lithuanians and Czechs. The result of the battle was a large weakening of the German influence in Bohemia. All German was violently rejected by the Czechs, and Latin-German name of the city became unacceptable. The next Lord of Hradec called the city Jindrichuv Hradec. City and impregnable castle safely survived the Hussite wars. There is even no information about whether the Hussites tried to capture the castle. Maybe not wanting to be involved in it, they just passed by. In 1483 two golden lions and the letter «W» (the special grace of King Vladislav II) joined the golden rose on a blue background on the coat of arms of Vitkovic. This coat of arms still exists as the city emblem. It is not clear why there is a crown on the emblem, because the city wasn’t a royal possession, but maybe it was because of king’s special grace.
Vitkovici (Hradec Lords) ruled the city until 1604, then the ownership (which lasted not so long — up to 1693) passed to Slavata family (one of the junior branch of Vitkovici family). Under the strict control of Hradec Lords Gothic houses and then houses in baroque and renaissance style were built in the city. The city was quite rich because of manufacture and sale of textiles. Willem Slavata (1628-1652) even became the Chancellor King of Bohemia and had a great influence. Under his rule the city became rich. After the Thirty Years War in 1654 Jindrichuv Hradec was at the second place after Prague by the number of homes and residents of the city in the Czech Republic. The last lord of Jindrichuv Hradec was the kin of Chernin of Hludenits. They owned the city till 1945. They didn’t live there, so the city was gradually falling into decay.
In general, the history of Czech castles and cities suggest an idea that all major estates in the Czech Republic belonged to five or six families, and all castles were passed from one kin to another. However, it is not surprising. If you remember the history of England, even nowadays forty percent of all lands belong to the descendants of the knights of William the Conqueror.
Well, that is all for today. Next time I’ll take you around town and castle. In the next post there will be more pictures than the text.
Have a nice day and see you next week!