test Český časopis historický 114 (2016), 2 | H-Soz-Kult. Kommunikation und Fachinformation für die Geschichtswissenschaften | Geschichte im Netz | History in the web

Český časopis historický 114 (2016), 2

Titel der Ausgabe 
Český časopis historický 114 (2016), 2
Weiterer Titel 

Hrsg. v. Historický ústav Akademie věd ČR (Historisches Institut der Tschechischen Akademie der Wissenschaften); English version: Ed. Historický ústav Akademie věd ČR (The Institute of History, Czech Academy of Sciences)
Praha 2016: Academia
Jahresabonnement (4 Ausgaben) € 110



Český časopis historický / The Czech Historical Review
Czech Republic
Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prosecká 76, CZ-190 00 Praha 9 – Nový Prosek
Bolom-Kotari, Sixtus

S. 285–580



Studie / Studies

Dějiny emocí: nové paradigma ve studiu historie … S. 291–315
(The History of Emotions: New Paradigm in the Study of History)

The aim of this article is to present the history of emotions as a thriving and innovative field of historical inquiry. Although the history of emotions has gained momentum only relatively recently, it has been considered as a “star” of contemporary historiography, mainly in its capacity to reconcile poststructuralist approaches with individual agencies of real people. The article focuses on the development of the field, starting with its “father”, the Annales’s historian Lucien Febvre, going through the “emotionology” of American social historians Peter and Carol Stearns to finish with the works of Barbara Rosenwein and William Reddy whose contribution challenged historians’ thinking about emotions in history most considerably. On the other hand, the article emphasizes the interdisciplinary implications of the history of emotions and seeks to explain the motives for “paradigmatic changes” advanced by the history of emotions in broadly shared beliefs in universal and natural character of emotions.

Key words: Historiography, Theory of History, Emotions, Culture, Biology, Psychology, Neurology, 20th Century

The article explores the development of the history of emotions, a relatively new and innovative field of historical inquiry. It argues that paradigmatic changes advanced by the historians of emotions such as Barbara Rosenwein and William Reddy are interconnected with the interdisciplinary nature of the history of emotions that seeks to explain the changes in the past on a new epistemological basis. In the introduction, the article demonstrates the extension of the interest in the history of emotions by noting its presence at the 22nd International Congress of Historical Sciences held in Jinan, China 2015, enumerating three most important research centers in the history of emotions and mentioning a recent interest of publishers to start new book series dedicated to the history of emotions. Although Czech historiography has devoted traditionally many publications to the issues of birth, older age and death related to emotions as anthropological constants, the history of emotions has not yet been conceptualized in the Czech study of history.
The presentation of the topic starts with the description of the hundred-year emotion war in psychology about the nature of emotions (are they natural kinds of psychological constructions?) and illustrates the predominance of an “essentialist” paradigm in contemporary psychology by presenting the activities and works of an American Paul Ekman, one of the most eminent psychologists who keeps consider emotions as innate categories. The next section introduces the opposite view of the historians of emotions, developed as a response to the Universalist theories: already in the 1940s the “father” of the history of emotions, Lucien Febvre, emphasized a difference between emotions of people in past and present. His pleas to study emotional life of the past periods went however unheard. Only in the 1970s American social historians Carol and Peter Stearns opened the path to a new study of emotions: their “emotionology”, an entirely new discipline, had to study attitudes or standards that a society or a group maintains toward basic emotions and their appropriate expression. Normative and prescriptive literatures were the main sources of historical analysis. Medievalist Barbara Rosenwein, unhappy with the “emotionology” limited to the study of modern period, invented the concept of “emotional communities”, identified by her as social communities but with appropriate system of feelings that is worth of study and enlarged the study of emotions to medieval period. The third theoretical concept of the history of emotions, introduced first in 1997 by an American cultural anthropologist William Reddy is understood in the article as directly leading to the paradigmatic change in historical thinking about emotions. In his effort to reconcile social constructivism and universalism, W. Reddy analyzed emotions as neither strictly constructionist nor entirely the product of individual agency. On the example of the emotional culture of Revolutionary France he argued that persons always fail to express what they feel because of the cultural commands for the performance of feeling. And it is this gap that is opened to exercise of power, in this concrete case a tension between the rise of sentimentalism in the 18th century France and its replacement by the reason in later public life. He labeled as “emotives” statements about emotional states which are able to alter, built, hide or emphasize emotions – if we speak about feelings, we inevitably alter their configuration. The next section discusses a fundamental epistemological transformation underwent in the fields of neurology and psychology which concerns the understanding of emotions as cognitive processes and illustrates its impact on the study of emotions by historians. While L. Febvre considered emotions as belonging to “dark side” of human behavior and invited historians to study them only to avoid them in future, today’s historians of emotions do not understand emotions as irrational or uncontrolled, on the opposite, they consider them as a part of rational and deliberative processes. In conclusion, the article emphasizes the appeal of historians of emotions to incorporate the study of emotions into the praxis of every historian so that they can become a useful category of historical analysis.

Židé v polsko-litevském státě 16.–18. století … S. 316–329
(Jews in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th–18th Century)

This synthetic study is based on the author’s extensive editorial work on the history of Lesser Poland Jews and the findings of contemporary Polish and international historiography. It gives an overview of the somewhat gapfilled sources on the history of Jews, assesses the literature and covers all the key elements of the history of the Jews within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: settlement, demographic development, economics, their relations to the Christian majority and government institutions, self-government, advances in culture and science, religious particularities (Frankism, Hasidic Judaism).

Key words: Jews, Poland, Lithuania; Jewish-Christian relations; religion, Hasidism.

In the Early Modern Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Jews took on an important role in a demographic, economic (not just financial, but also in terms of production and extensive trade) and cultural sense. Jewish daily life played out mainly within local communities (Qahals). Its members together maintained synagogues, religious schools, cemeteries, baths and ritual slaughter houses. Qahals were managed autonomously, and their representatives formed part of Jewish self-governing institutions at a higher level (the ziemstwa regional councils, the Waad parliament). Every Qahal’s pride was its temple, its synagogue, with larger communities having a number of them. Jews differed from the rest of the country’s citizens in terms of language, customs and clothing. From the 17th century, they almost always lived in their own town neighbourhoods. Despite an extensive anti-Semitic press, the Catholic Church’s critical position, frequent incidents and unrest focused against the Jews and most commonly initiated by academic youth and pupils at Jesuit colleges, Christian and Jewish society coexisted in the 16th and first half of the 17th century in almost idyllic conditions in comparison with other European countries. Jews enjoyed extensive legal protection, their estates provided them with extensive freedom in economic activities and self-government, and this also allowed them to live private lives in accordance with Judaism. In the 18th century, despite divisive and centrifugal tendencies (Frankism, Hasidic Judaism), Jewish society as a whole grew quickly, playing an ever greater role in the Rzeczpospolita’s system of economic life and giving it – especially in eastern and south-eastern regions – a specific cultural colour. Beginning in the 16th century, the Jews became a settled and permanent part of the Rzeczpospolita’s society. Poland (Polska – Polin) truly became, as Rabbi Moses ben Isaac ha-Levi Minz had said in the 15th century – ‘a refuge for the expelled children of Israel’.

Tištění cestovní průvodci jako pramen ke každodennosti cestování. Příklad Itálie dlouhého 19. století … S. 330–371
(Printed Travel Guide as a Resource of Everyday Travel. Example of Italy in the Long 19th Century)

The study is based on 25 printed travel guides published between years 1784–1909 (1926) focusing on Italy. The authors and publishers of the travel guides were Heinrich August Ottakar Reichard, John Murray, Karl Baedeker and Teodor Gsell Fels, i.e. the books used by travellers from Czech territories, as indicated in several different resources. This type of travel book presents a valuable resource of travel history depicting materiál conditions of different travel environment, changes of routes and of the visited country – Italy.

Key words: 19th century, history of travel, travel books, travel guides, Italy

The study is based on 25 printed travel guides published between years 1784–1909 (1926) focusing on Italy. The authors and publishers of the travel guides were Heinrich August Ottokar Reichard, John Murray, Karl Baedeker and Teodor Gsell Fels, i.e. the books used by travellers from Czech territories, as indicated in several different resources. A number of travel guides paid attention to Italy: a popular destination long before holiday travel became a common interest. Practical travel guides appear next to general academic guidelines in the second half of the 17th century. Their objective is to advice a traveller on how to behave and what to see in a particular country. Starting from the 18th century, travel books focus on providing people with practical information. New works, travel guides (at the beginning called Handbuch, Handbook, followed by Guide), take the introductory passages from travel books that contemplate the meaning of travel, giving general instruction for travel. The authors complete introductory texts with descriptions of particular places: architecture monuments, natural beauties, sightseeing routes and offer time schedule of a given journey. In their opinion, no more is travel a mission and educational obligation: it becomes a joy of motion, aesthetic experience, an opportunity for finding new acquaintances and an individual’s ability to accommodate to new conditions, to communicate and get through in a less familiar environment. The first author to show a noticeable transition to a certain “specialization” of travel guides was Heinrich August Ottokar Reichard. His travel guide for Italy and beyond focused on practical aspects and was published in French, English and German languages. Yet before the first half of the 19th century, a new phenomenon appeared in the field: travel guides were published by large publishing houses. Probably the first was Murray: an enterprise established in London in 1768 who published their travel books until 1914. The exclusive language of their travel books was English. The Italy travel guides reacted to an increased interest of British tourists in travel to the Apennine peninsula, interrupted for a short time by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. No less important were travel guides published by Karl Ludwig Johannes Baedeker that contained, besides purely practical information, a high quality passages concerning historical monuments. Baedeker and his followers published their travel books, including those for Italy, in several languages. Theodor Gsell Fels, a Swiss writer of specialized literature, published his travel books only in German. He dedicated four publications to Italy; an innovation he introduced was scheduling a journey into a precise number of travelled days. Travel guide as a specific type of specialized literature is a meaningful resource of travel history, bringing closer material conditions and changes of travel routes and of the most visited country – Italy.

PÁNEK Jaroslav
Hlídka versus Český časopis historický (Spor o výklad církevních dějin v první polovině 20. století) … S. 372–414
(The Catholic Journal Hlídka versus Český časopis historický – The Czech Historical Review /A Dispute Concerning the Interpretation of Ecclesiastical History in the First Half of the 20th Century/)

This study discusses an ideological conflict between the central periodical for historical sciences (Český časopis historický – The Czech Historical Review, CCH) and a doctrinaire Roman Catholic periodical Hlídka. It ran its course from 1918 to 1940. Whereas the CCH (published in Prague) represented professional academic writing and expressed the views of the majority of important Czech historians, Hlídka (published in Brno) had its authorship base amongst Moravian Catholic theologians, ecclesiastical historians and the representatives of other humanities. In addition to articles, both journals published a wealth of reviews and reports on contemporary specialist literature, by which they attempted to influence the standard of historiography and impact upon the historical awareness of the public. However, they differed principally in their focus – the CCH set forth liberal to moderately nationalist views of history, whereas Hlídka was militant in its defence of the inviolability of the Church and a Catholic interpretation of the past. The prolonged series of polemics involved opposing views especially with regard to the Hussite Revolution, the Reformation, re-Catholicization and religious tolerance, yet also on the role of the Papacy and international relations in the past. The controversy did not result in closing the gap between the conflicting views, but, on the contrary, intensified the gulf between the liberal and clerical standpoints, up until 1940, when both periodicals were shut down during the German occupation of the Czech Lands.

Key words: History of historiography; Catholic and Protestant interpretations of history; Hussite Revolution, Reformation, Re-Catholicization; Papacy, Roman Curia, Vatican, Czechoslovak Historical Institute in Rome; Czech Lands, Czechoslovakia

Whereas in the period of the Communist totality (1948–1989) ecclesiastical history research was marginalized and, apart from a few rare exceptions, merely pursued by a handful of historians at the faculties for students of divinity, since the 1990s onwards, it began to blossom in a number of universities and academic institutions. Since 1994, the Czech Historical Institute in Rome has been active and continued the traditions of earlier institutions in Rome – namely the Czech Historical Expedition (1887–1914) and the Czechoslovak Historical Institute (1923–1939, 1945–1948) – and it has promoted research concerning the history of the papacy and its relation to the Czech Lands; the history of apostolic nunciatures; monastic orders and so on. This situation, therefore, calls for a better understanding and evaluation of this research on the ecclesiastical history in the 19th and 20th centuries.
This current study represents a partial contribution to the fulfilment of the above task, namely in terms of focusing on the period between the two world wars. It analyses an extensive range of polemics in which, between 1918–1940, the central Czech periodical for historical sciences (Český časopis historický – The Czech Historical Review, CCH) and a doctrinaire Roman Catholic periodical Hlídka engaged themselves.
The CCH was published in Prague by respected historians Josef Pekař (until 1934 on his own, 1935–1936 in co-operation with a wider editorial board) and Josef Šusta (1935/1937–1940). It represented professional academic writing and expressed the views of the majority of important Czech historians. It did not declare its allegiance to any political party, but in its constructive attitude, it indirectly supported the newly established Czechoslovak Republic. Yet, the Review was even happy to lead a democratic polemic with the head of the Republic, President T. G. Masaryk. This broad range of authors obviously held differing points of view, ranging from a moderate nationalism to liberalism. However, they upheld and respected freedom of religion ranging from Catholicism to Evangelical denominations to agnosticism and even to atheism. The CCH espoused democratic views in relation to the past and present, also, and it allowed for the plurality of interpretations with regard to history. Its board of editors did insist on publishing only the views based on scientific research, which, in general, was usually carried out in the spirit of positivism. The CCH set itself high standards as the central journal for its field of study in the Czech Lands; it strove for scientific professionalism in historical research and it subordinated its extensive columns dealing with reviews and news to this end. It is true that its critical comments might even have been imbued with a sense of superiority compared to other historiographical production in Bohemia and Moravia, which, in turn, might have provoked tensions and aversion in other historians, who did not cooperate with the CCH.
The monthly periodical Hlídka became the constant adversary of the CCH. It had its authorship base especially amongst Moravian Catholic theologians, ecclesiastical historians and representatives of other humanities. The editorial board of Hlídka also managed to provide a wealth of reviews and news and it was able to comment on a wide range of historical works. At the top of its list of priorities were the defence of the Catholic Church, the inviolability of dogmatics and orthodoxy with a particular emphasis on allegedly the only correct (i.e. Catholic) interpretation of history. The clerical Hlídka clashed with the liberal CCH in polemics on Hussitism, the Reformation, re-Catholicisation and religious tolerance, yet also regarding the role of the papacy and the international relations in the past. These mutual controversies did not result in the narrowing of the gap between conflicting views, but, on the contrary, they led to the intensification of the liberal and clerical standpoints, up until 1940, when both periodicals were shut down during the German occupation of the Czech Lands.
This study is divided into four parts which can be only briefly outlined here:
(1) The starting points of Hlídka and its approach to earlier and contemporary history. The ideological nature of the journal was determined in the period under review by its editor Pavel Julius Vychodil (1862–1938), a neo-Thomist theologian and friar in the Benedictine Rajhrad monastery near Brno. The journal combined Czech patriotism and a leaning towards fraternal Slavic kinship with an honest effort to preserve religious faith, shaken during World War I and strengthen it in line with a spirit of uncompromising Catholicism. Its goal was the enforcement of the Catholic interpretation of Czech histo- ry against all non-Catholic streams of thought. Hlídka considered all events and tendencies, which had weakened Catholicism in the past and had led to the rise of differing confessions, to be damaging and disrupting. Similarly, it criticised very strongly any work, which had dared to challenge the Catholic Church and its dogmas and approaches in the past, whether this criticism was in the form of academic works or through art.
(2) A development from criticism of literary interpretation of Hussitism to a polemic about Czech history. In 1918 there developed a harsh polemic concerning Alois Jirásek’s trilogy of dramas exploring the Hussite theme and a production of his drama “Jan Roháč” in the Prague National Theatre. The Polish novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz was contraposed to Jirásek’s “Neo-Hussitism” as a true son and defender of the Catholic Church. The advocacy of this standpoint saw Augustin Neumann, who challenged the CCH contributors in much of his polemical writing, to emerge at the forefront of these controversies. An ever more evident abyss opened up between the rigidly Catholic view of Czech history on one side and on the other hand the formulation of an “idea of a Czechoslovak state”, based on František Palacký’s philosophy of history and the high regard for both moderate Hussitism and the later fight of the Protestants for religious freedom. The rejection of this interpretation of history, meant that Hlídka increasingly found itself in conflict with the pre-eminent experts on Czech history in the Late Medieval Ages and the Early Modern Age – Vlastimil Kybal, Kamil Krofta and others. In opposition to them, it sought the support of Josef Pekař, who was somewhat closer to Hlídka in terms of his national conservatism, although he also tried to maintain his neutrality towards it.
(3) A conflict relating to the issue of the Papal policy in Central Europe around the year 1600. The boundaries of a polemic amongst specialists were overstepped beyond the pale by an anonymous author (later found to have been Augustin Neumann) who attacked Karel Stloukal and his monograph Papal Policy and the Imperial Court in Prague at the Turn of the 16th and 17th Centuries (Papežská politika a císařský dvůr pražský na předělu XVI. a XVII. věku, Prague 1925). This work, now considered to be one of the seminal works on the history of relations between the Papal Curia and the Czech Lands, was accused of being an intentionally distorted and damaging picture of the papacy and its diplomacy; an anti-Catholic “defilement” of the Church; an unscientific lampoon, etc. Private correspondence between those involved Czech historians unveils the background to this polemic and indicates that it did not merely intend to be an “execution” of Stloukal as a scholar (“Papal Policy” was his habilitation thesis), but aimed to weaken liberally-minded Czech historians in the Vatican. This was, indeed, the true state of affairs and Josef Šusta, Chair of the Commission of the Czechoslovak Historical Institute in Rome, who had also been attacked, was well aware of it. He suspected that this might have been an attempt by the clerics to take over the Institute in Rome. Thus, the polemic about one book widened into a dispute about the participation of historians in international affairs; about the state finances for research abroad and the status of institutions, which were building the infrastructure of historical research in Czechoslovakia.
(4) The standing of Augustin Neumann, a Professor of the Olomouc Faculty of Theology, as a subject and object of polemics. A very important role in these wars of words was played by the Augustinian friar Augustin Alois Neumann (1891–1948), teacher at the Bishop’s Seminary in Hradec Králové and later a professor at the Faculty of Theology in Olomouc. This theologian, with some level of education in history was an exceptionally prolific writer – he churned out smaller book publication, articles and reviews, which made use of the often unknown or yet unused archival resources, which made his works attractive. However, as he failed to master editorial techniques and a more complex analysis of sources, not to even mention their synthesis and additionally subsumed everything to his apologetic tendencies, his publications were factographically selective, unreliable, full of errors and in their conclusions extremely tendentious. In the 1930s, Neumann published works dealing with the subjects from the Middle Ages until the 20th centrury, which true specialists found relatively easy to challenge. For this reason, the CCH published a series of negative reviews and reports in which important historians from three generations criticised the dogmatic and apologetic approach to the interpretation of history. Namely, the representatives of the oldest generation (Josef Vítězslav Šimák, Václav Flajšhans), the middle (Josef Borovička, František Hrubý, Otakar Odložilík, Jaroslav Prokeš, Josef Klik) and also the then upcoming generation (Zdeněk Kalista, Josef Matoušek). Liberal and clerical streams of Czech historiography took shape in this struggle but they never ever developed a mutual understanding in any aspect.
This “fight for truth” was not merely a fight between Brno and Olomouc on one hand and the Prague University centre on the other. The outreach of Hlídka – with regard to the strength of Moravian Catholicism – was not restricted to merely one historical Land but it also impacted on Bohemia and even abroad, especially on Vatican circles. For this reason mainly, the CCH editors were fearful of insinuations which might have impacted negatively on important scientific institutions, especially the Czechoslovak Historical Institute in Rome, and the Moravian Land Archive in Brno, also. They carefully chose the most conciliatory language in polemics and avoided the uncompromising clashes of standpoints. Yet, the Board of Editors and the CCH contributors, relying on their unassailable positions at Charles University in Prague and partly even at the Masaryk University in Brno, could not resist proclaiming their superior standing over their fellow Moravian ecclesiastical historians. They were, indeed, academically superior to correct them factographically, to “instruct” them in methodology or even eliminate them from the discipline. On the other hand, they, thus, incited the resistance of those who viewed the role of historical research differently from positivists and who principally rejected such curatorship. The clerical opposition defending the conservative, irreconciliably Catholic interpretation of the Czech past was much weaker in terms of their expertise and numbers, but it tried to overcome this disadvantage by exceptional assertiveness and rigorousness, by constant prosecution of polemics in the spirit of controversial theology.
The conflict came to a head towards the end of the 1930s, at a time when the bell tolled for both rival streams of thought. The German occupation and increased Nazi terror led to the ending of both periodicals – temporarily in case of the CCH, in the case of Hlídka for good. Liberal voices were silenced and to a considerable degree so were the clerical ones, and not merely for the period of the occupation but after that – except for a short post-war break – for another four decades of Communist totality, also, when they were replaced by the mandatory Marxist interpretation of the Czech past; the cultivation of ecclesiastical history had no place in it. Only at the close of the 20th century, frank discussions on the interpretation of religious state of affairs in the Hussite, Reformation and Counter-Reformation periods could be revived. They have not always been much more civilised than in the inter-war period, yet they could at least rely on a certain degree of newly acquired historical experience and at times they could also find support in the development of Christian ecumenism.

Založení vojenského výcvikového prostoru SS Benešov (1939–1942) … S. 415–445
(The Establishment of the SS Military Training Area Benešov, 1939–1942)

The military training area Benešov (SS-Truppenübungsplatz Beneschau, since 1943 SS-Truppenübungsplatz Böhmen) was the largest military training area situated in the Czech Lands. Its existence was connected to the German occupation of the country. The project of the training area was created in 1939. Territorial take-overs only began in 1942 however, because it was necessary to solve many related questions in the highest circles of the imperial and occupational administration. The study analyzes the factors that led to the project’s processing and its approval.

Key words: Germanization, Nazi settlement policy, Waffen-SS, population displacement, SS-Truppenübungsplatz, Czech Lands

The project of the SS Military Training Area Benešov (Beneschau) was created in the Land Office for Bohemia and Moravia in the summer of 1939. Its chief at this time was SS-Sturmbannführer Curt von Gottberg. The territory between Benešov and Sedlčany (about 25–45 km south of Prague) was chosen for its topographical and strategic qualities (including its proximity to Prague), as well as for economic reasons and with a view to Germanisation – the local population was purely Czech. At the same time, projects for the creation of two other military areas in the neighborhood arose, which were never realized.
The establishment of the Military Training Area Benešov was obstructed by conflicts about its conception and over competencies between various representatives of the Nazi administration – both in the Reich itself as well as in the Protectorate. At the end of 1939 and in the first half of 1940, power struggles, the occupation of Poland, as well as a lack of financial resources, led to the project’s temporary postponement. Only at the turn of 1940/1941 did efforts for its implementation re-emerge.
Military considerations had successively removed all of the barriers. The marked increase in the numbers of its members forced the Waffen-SS to establish its own training areas. Firstly the Military Training Area Dębica (on the territory of defeated Poland) was created; the Military Training Area Benešov was planned as second. The main proponents of the project were Karl Hermann Frank and SS-Brigadeführer Karl von Treuenfeld. Konstantin von Neurath took a reserved stance towards the project, as did Reinhard Heydrich. Both were aware of the negative economic and political consequences of large-scale projects. The military training area would absorb around 400 km2 of land in a territory, where about 30,000 inhabitants lived. The problem was represented both by the latter’s displacement, as well by the loss of agricultural land. Creating a training grounds threatened to impact the agricultural production of the Protectorate, causing uproar among its inhabitants and the emergence of a sort of “state within a state”, over which the Reichsprotector would have only very little control.
But the development of the war eventually led to a promotion of the project. Heydrich gave his consent to its realisation in February 1942, but demanded that only a small part of the intended territory be taken over during the war. Later this requirement was not met and the military area reached a size encompassing nearly 450 km2. The Protectorate authorities were excluded from decision-making regarding the training area. They were informed of the project only at the time of its launch. Efforts for the extension of deadlines for population displacement had no effect.
In the years 1942–1944, the Military Training Area continued to grow until it reached the planned size. Tens of thousands of SS personnel passed through it. Part of the indigenous population and prisoners from camps erected on site contributed to a further economic use of the land. The training area served its purpose until the end of World War II. It was dissolved in 1945.

Na cestě k obecným dějinám: Josef Polišenský (1915–2001) … S. 446–467
(On the Way to General History: Josef Polišenský, 1915–2001)

The article remembers life and career of Josef Polišenský, a prominent representative of the post-war generation of Czechoslovak historians, of Marxist orientation, but at the same time of great openness towards methodological and thematic inspirations from the East as well as the West. Ever since his university studies (in the 1930s) he showed interest in the widest context of historical processes, together with linguistic capabilities. However, general history was marginalized in Czechoslovak academia, not only as an effect of the perceived “patriotic duty” of historians study the history of their nation, but also because of the lack of access to archival sources. This was true even before the year 1948; after that, the possibilities for research abroad constricted even further. The solution Polišenský suggested was to turn into domestic archival funds and search here for sources into the history of other lands and peoples. These sources were then also to be made accessible by scholars from other countries through editions and translations to help them explain the possible “blank spaces” in their national histories. These efforts, however, were halted by political pressures that finally forced Polišenský to leave the Department of General History. In 1967 he instigated the foundation of the interdisciplinary Center for Ibero-American studies within the frame of the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University, the first specialized Latin American studies department in Eastern Europe outside Moscow, and became its director. In this role, he continued pursuing further his idea of the study of general history, combining minacious case studies with broad overviews.

Key words: Josef Polišenský, Czechoslovak historiography, general history, Thirty Years War, Ibero-American Studies

The article remembers life and career of Josef Polišenský, a prominent representative of the post-war generation of Czechoslovak historians, of Marxist orientation, but at the same time of great openness towards methodological and thematic inspirations from the East as well as the West. Ever since his university studies at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University (in the 1930s) and then since his commencement of the pedagogical and scientific career at the same institution, he had showed interest in the widest context of historical processes, together with linguistic capabilities. He was mostly attracted by the Early Modern History, focusing his attention especially to the period of the Thirty Years War that he considered to be a turning point for the further development of Europe (and, consequently, the rest of the world). This posture Polišenský demonstrated already in his early monographs, England and the White Mountain and Dutch Politics and the White Mountain. Both texts aspired to explain the revolt of Bohemian estates in 1618–1620 on the basis of the study of European history, not as a local affair. Polišenský presented the Thirty-Years-War as a conflict rooted in the tensions of the complex economic and social situation tormenting Europe on the threshold of modernization. Ever since this early phase Polišenský accentuated the need for the use of primary (archival) materials in the historical research.
However, general history was marginalized in Czechoslovak academia, not only as an effect of the perceived “patriotic duty” of historians study the history of their nation, but also precisely because of the lack of access to archival sources. This was true even before the year 1948; after that, the possibilities for research abroad constricted even further. The solution Polišenský suggested was to turn into domestic archival funds and search here for sources into the history of other lands and peoples. These sources were then also to be made accessible by scholars from other countries through editions and translations to help them explain the possible “blank spaces” in their national histories. Thus, the ultimate goal was not to amplify the specialized fields of the study of history and culture of specific regions and time periods, but rather to enrich the general history – history of mankind as such – and, ultimately, to revert to the history of Czechoslovakia/the Czech Lands. Besides the “connecting themes” methodology, Polišenský was strongly convinced of the utility of the “view from the outside”, literally the view from Prague, on the crucial problems of world history. He therefore advocated the approach that combined macroanalysis, based on the results of the international community of historians, with microanalyses of sources accessible in Czechoslovak archives and libraries.
Polišenský’s efforts were repeatedly halted by political pressures. He was accused of pro-Western, liberal and “neo-positivist” inclinations and in 1971 finally forced to leave the Department of General History of the Faculty of Arts. However, he remained at the Faculty, in the role of director of the Center for Ibero-American studies, the first specialized Latin American studies department in Eastern Europe outside Moscow. Polišenský instigated its founding in 1967, within the frame of the Department of General History – in 1971, the Center was placed under the Department of Ethnography and Folklore Studies. The Center was since the beginning envisioned as interdisciplinary, combining the study of history with that of the literature, linguistics, history of art or ethnography. Polišenský remained its director until the year 1981, and cooperated with it until his death two decades later. All this time, he continued pursuing further his idea of the study of general history, combining minutiose case studies with broad overviews.
Certainly, the approach of Polišenský to the study of general history via Czechoslovak archives was far from ideal. Besides other things, because the accessible sources, often only accidentally preserved and fragmentary, mostly dictated the choice of research to the historian, and not vice versa. Also, there was only a limited number of great connecting themes – that is, moments when the local affairs intertwined with those of other European/world regions or some general processes – in the Czech and Slovak history. Especially in the field of European history the possibilities were mostly exhausted in the 1960s, without the chance of substantial further widening. At this moment, however, the history of American continent offered itself as welcome solution as it was possible to start anew, develop another web of connections interlacing Czechoslovak history with yet another part of the world and open up new possibilities for archival search of original documents revealing new facts.
For the Czechoslovak public and even for most of the faculty staff and leadership the “New World” remained relatively marginal and exotic in this period, even though the actual events (in the first place, of course, the Cuban revolution in 1959 and later the developments in Chile and Nicaragua) were being followed by social scientists, albeit within the frame of the ideologically laden discourse of the times. But the Ibero-American studies based upon “connecting themes”, devised by Polišenský and followed up by his colleagues were apparently not considered dangerous by the state administration. Thus the Center became a sort of niche for researchers who for some reasons could not assert themselves elsewhere. As such, it was also one of the islands of relative freedom of though and expression that motivated further generations of Polišenský’s pupils and colleagues.



The Czech Lands in Medieval Transformation
(Tomáš Klír) … S. 468

FOLTÝN Dušan – KLÍPA Jan – MAŠKOVÁ Pavlína –
SOMMER Petr – VLNAS Vít (edd.)
Otevři zahradu rajskou: benediktini v srdci Evropy 800–1300
(Ondřej Koupil) … S. 470

Der heilige Wikingerkönig Olav Haraldsson uns sein hagiographisches Dossier.
Text und Kontext der Passio Olavi (mit kritischer Edition)
(Jana Nechutová) … S. 475

Richard Lví Srdce. Král a rytíř
(Peter Bučko) … S. 479

Katalog prvotisků Strahovské knihovny v Praze
(Ivan Hlaváček) … S. 482

Ivo PURŠ – Hedvika KUCHAŘOVÁ (edd.)
Knihovna arcivévody Ferdinanda II. Tyrolského
(Ivan Hlaváček) … S. 486

Zdeněk HOJDA – Eva CHODĚJOVSKÁ et alii (edd.)
Heřman Jakub Černín na cestě za Alpy a Pyreneje
(Jaroslav Pánek) … S. 490

RUMPLER Helmut (ed.)
Der Franziszeische Kataster im Kronland Kärnten (1823–1844)
(Zdeňka Stoklásková) … S. 496

Novorenesanční evangelické kostely v Čechách a na Moravě.
Příspěvek k dějinám architektury 2. poloviny 19. století
(Sixtus Bolom-Kotari) … S. 498

Od Palackého k Benešovi. Německé texty o Češích, Němcích a českých zemích
(Jiří Pešek) … S. 502

GROSS Stephen G.
Export Empire. German Soft Power in Southeastern Europe, 1890–1945
(Daniel Putík) … S. 505

„Prinavrátené“ Komárno. Prehľad spoločensko-politického vývoja
mesta v rokoch 1938–1945 s dôrazom na menšinovú otázku /
Komárom „visszatért“. Társadalmi-politikai helyzetkép a város életéről 1938–1945 között, különös tekintettel a kisebbségi kérdésre
(Ondrej Ficeri) … S. 508

Czechoslovakia in Africa, 1945–1968
(Otakar Hulec) … S. 512

Zprávy o literatuře … S. 515

Z vědeckého života / Chronicle

IX. světový kongres středoevropských a východoevropských studií … S. 538

Nové promýšlení Rakousko-Uherska a jeho dědictví … S. 545


Vladimír Kašík (3. května 1925 – 23. června 2015) … S. 549
(Antonie Doležalová)

Miloš Hájek (12. května 1921 – 25. února 2016) … S. 555
(František Svátek)

Výtahy z českých časopisů a sborníků … S. 560

Weitere Hefte ⇓
Veröffentlicht am
Weitere Informationen
Sprache Beitrag
Bestandsnachweise 0862-6111