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Title: From a Terrace in Prague
Author: Baker, Lieut.-Col. B. Granville
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration]



FROM A TERRACE
IN PRAGUE

BY

LIEUT.-COL. B. GRANVILLE BAKER,

D.S.O., F.R.G.S.

WITH 36 ILLUSTRATIONS AND ONE MAP

NEW YORK

BRENTANO'S

PUBLISHERS

(_All rights reserved_)

_Printed in Great Britain by_

UNWIN BROTHERS, LIMITED, THE GRESHAM PRESS, LONDON AND WOKING



THIS BOOK
IS DEDICATED TO
A WISE AND GENTLE LADY WHO
LOOKS OUT UPON LIFE
FROM A TERRACE



PREFACE


There are many excuses for the writing of books, and sometimes there may
even be sufficient reason. I offer no excuses, but will give what
reasons I have for committing to paper these my reflections or
meditations inspired by the sight of a fine old capital city as seen
from a Terrace in Prague.

The first reason I wish to give may be altruistic, namely, that finding
so many of my race quite ignorant of Prague and all that city stands for
right down the ages, I feel compelled to add my mite to what has already
been written about the subject.

My second reason, a strong one with me, arises out of my inability to
enjoy things of beauty and interest without letting my friends know
about them. This may be a weak and selfish reason, but there it is.

The third reason rests on my intense desire that you should come out
here, to Prague, even to the terrace of my choice, and look at the scene
through my eyes while I would endeavour to see it through yours. This, I
admit, is undiluted selfishness on my part.

While awaiting you, I am preparing, by means of this work, to introduce
you to a goodly throng of those who know or knew this city and loved it
well. Perhaps they may admit me to their round table as the last to
arrive, and the least. In any case, I owe them a debt of gratitude for
their help in becoming acquainted with Prague and the deeper meaning of
this glorious city. There are many such kindly helpers: there was Cosmas
Pragensis the chronicler, Palacky the historian, there was Count Lützow,
whose works on Prague, as on his native country, are inspired by intense
love of them, and illumined by transparent honesty. There are others
still among us and doing useful work. A walk with Dr. Jeřabek in the
gardens of Waldstein's palace, a talk with Professor Škola, and many
other good friends of mine in Prague, have made a pleasure of this work
I have undertaken. Out of sheer joy in the things I have seen and heard,
and the kindly spirit that informed those who helped me, have I written
and illustrated this book _From a Terrace in Prague_.



CONTENTS


                                                                     PAGE

PREFACE                                                                7


CHAPTER I

INTRODUCES PRAGUE                                                     14


CHAPTER II

ABOUT GUIDES AND GUIDE BOOKS AND THE WEATHER OF PRAGUE                32


CHAPTER III

VYŠEHRAD, LIBUŠA AND PŘEMYSL, AND OTHER EARLY NOTABLES OF
PRAGUE, AMONG THEM ST. WENCESLAUS                                     50


CHAPTER IV

MORE ABOUT ST. WENCESLAUS AND HIS IMMEDIATE SUCCESSORS                70


CHAPTER V

GOOD AND BAD RULERS OF BOHEMIA UP TO A CONTEMPORARY OF FREDERICK
BARBAROSSA. STRAHOV MONASTERY                                         88


CHAPTER VI

FIVE KINGS OF THE HOUSE OF PŘEMYSL, INTRODUCES THE FIRST HABSBURG
TO VISIT BOHEMIA                                                     106


CHAPTER VII

BLIND KING JOHN OF BOHEMIA                                           130


CHAPTER VIII

CHARLES IV KING OF BOHEMIA, OF THE GERMANS, AND ROMAN EMPEROR.
ŽIŠKA AND HIS HUSSITES. ABOUT SOME CHURCHES IN PRAGUE                148


CHAPTER IX

CHARLES AND HIS BRIDGE. HIS SON WENCESLAUS. JOHN NEPOMUK
AND JOHN HUS                                                         166


CHAPTER X

A HOUSING PROBLEM. ANCIENT AND MODERN PRAGUE                         192


CHAPTER XI

SIGISMUND AND OTHER HABSBURGS. GEORGE PODIEBRAD, ALSO THE
"WINTER KING"                                                        216


CHAPTER XII

JESUITS AND THEIR WORK. SOME HISTORIC FIGURES AND SOME BRITONS
WHO CAME TO PRAGUE. EPILOGUE                                         234


INDEX                                                                257



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


FULL-PAGE COLOURED

THE CITY OF PRAGUE                                          _Frontispiece_

                                                                    PAGE

THE "CHARLES BRIDGE" AND "HRADŠANY"                                   60

THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. VITUS                                           154

THE "POWDER TOWER"                                                   220


LINE DRAWINGS

INITIAL LETTER (ARMS OF CZECHO-SLOVAKIA)                              15

MAP                                                                   17

INITIAL LETTER (A TOWER OF KARLOV TYN)                                33

INITIAL LETTER (A SENTRY)                                             51

THE HRADŠANY FROM THE FÜRSTENBURG GARDEN                              61

INITIAL LETTER (VYŠEHRAD)                                             71

OLD BOLESLAV                                                          81

INITIAL LETTER (QUEEN JUDITH'S BRIDGE-HEAD)                           89

ST. MARTIN'S, VYŠEHRAD                                                95

STRAHOV MONASTERY                                                    102

INITIAL LETTER                                                       107

A RELIC OF THE GHETTO                                                115

A TOWER OF THE HRADŠANY                                              123

INITIAL LETTER                                                       131

INITIAL LETTER (KARLOV)                                              149

ST. STEPHEN'S                                                        160

INITIAL LETTER                                                       167

VENICE IN PRAGUE                                                     169

TOWER OF NEW TOWN HALL                                               174

RIVER SCENE                                                          188

"BE THOU LIKE A PROMONTORY"                                          189

RIVER SCENE                                                          190

INITIAL LETTER                                                       193

ON THE WHITE MOUNTAIN                                                200

THE CHAPEL OF THE TOWN HALL                                          201

THE TOWERS OF OUR LADY OF TYN                                        205

A CORNER OF THE OLD TOWN                                             207

INITIAL LETTER                                                       217

THE HRADŠANY FROM THE NEBOZÍZEK GARDEN                               225

INITIAL LETTER                                                       235

A CORNER OF KŘIVOKLAT CASTLE                                         250

TABOR, BY THE WATERS OF JORDAN                                       252



CHAPTER I

Refers in a general way to several great and historic cities of this
earth. Indicates the routes by which Prague may be reached by the
traveller from the West, tells a wayside story or two and mentions
several very great people, also others of a less degree. Digresses
seriously from the purpose of the whole book by raking up the author's
personal recollections of people that lived and events that happened
right away back in the last century, and far away in the East.

The author then formally introduces a friend, the ancient and venerable
City of Prague.


The Psalmist once declared in a burst of enthusiasm, no doubt justified,
that "Jerusalem is a city that is at unity in itself." This remark
applies with equal right to other great historic cities, as who can deny
it that has stood in the "Place de l'Opéra" and felt that Paris is
indeed at unity in itself?... Or who that has looked upon Constantinople
rising out of the pearly depths of the Sea of Marmora will fail to
realize that the city of Constantine, despite its many vicissitudes, was
indeed a united whole fulfilling its sometime tragic destiny in the
history of mankind?

Lisbon, mirrored in the broad waters of the Tagus, is another such city,
and so, in yet more marked degree, is Prague. The Psalmist, in poetic
exuberance, may appear to have overstated the case, allowance must be
made for him, but in the main he was right. The city of Zion had grown
up at the feet of the temple of David, and its massive strength
impressed the poet who overlooked the bickerings, the quarrels, of the
"dwellers therein"; he knew his city was the centre of his race, for
"thither the tribes go up," and he took in only the big enduring things;
he held the key to the soul of the city.

Let us, then, approach the city of Prague in the right manner, prepared
to enter into the spirit of the place, to realize what it stands for,
what it has always stood for since those dim days when legend and
history entwined.

It is said that "all roads lead to Rome"; as many lead to Prague, as a
glance at the map will show. There are first of all those oldest of
roads--the waterways--along which moved wandering tribes in quest of
betterment and adventure. Two of these waterways meet just above Prague,
the Vltava and Berounka; they open out from the wooded heights of the
Bohemian Forest, the former river leading up towards a pass in those
heights over which you descend to the Danube near Linz, the latter
showing the way into the heart of Bohemia from the west from Bavaria. It
was by the latter route probably that the Boievari, a Celtic tribe, made
their way after a short stay in Bohemia, to settle in the land that is
called after them, Bavaria.

Bavarians, who had become thoroughly Germanized, and many other Teutons,
frequently found their way into Bohemia by this route, notably in the
fifteenth century, when a vast unwieldy army called up by Rome and led
by an English Cardinal, tried conclusions with a nation in arms inspired
by religious fervour and led by Žiška the Hussite, and was beaten
ignominiously.

All along this route are landmarks of a history which tells of the
attraction that Prague exercised on the rulers and people of
neighbouring countries.

[Illustration: MAP]

So Eger and Pilsen tell of the horrors of the War of Thirty Years, for
which a Bohemian nobleman was largely responsible. Of him and his doings
more hereafter. Eger, by the way is now called Cheb, a guttural _Ch_
which is a difficult sound to begin a word with, but you have got to
do it if you wish to be considered up to date. The Czech language is
difficult to pronounce, a fact of which the Czechs seem rather proud.
Pilsen, which is known to us chiefly (and rightly) for its good beer, is
now spelt Plzen; this, however, makes little difference to the
pronunciation, and happily none at all to the quality of the beer. The
Czechs are just a bit sparing of vowels; they prefer a good fat cluster
of consonants, as, for instance, in Vltava, Brno, and other such pretty
names, but then you simply insert an indefinite sound here and there
between the spiky consonants, and all is well; anyone who knows
Hindustani or Arabic will find it quite easy. After all, if the Czechs
prefer their language that way it is their concern, as long as they do
not expect the world outside Bohemia to learn it.

Another fine broad road leading to Prague is the Elbe, into which flows
the Vltava, some thirty miles north of the capital. No doubt the Elbe
was the road by which the Slavonic tribes poured into present-day
Germany what time all Central Europe was swarming with migrant peoples
moving westward under pressure from the East.

That a great part of Germany as we know it now was formerly inhabited by
Slavs seems beyond doubt; such names as Berlin, Stettin, Strelitz,
Rostock, have a distinct Slavonic ring.

Remains of primitive Slavonic culture have been dug up on the islands in
the Baltic Sea and even as far west as Hanover; remains of an identical
culture have been found as far east as the Volga, so the Slavs have been
widely spread out over Europe in earliest days. The expansion of Slavs
so far to westward may have been due to the fact that Wittekind, King of
the Saxons, called Slavonic tribes to his aid against the Franks.

Charlemagne and his Franks must have been rather a nuisance to their
neighbours. Charles had a mission in life, and people thus afflicted are
apt to be tiresome. We are taught to number him among the truly great
and good men, but he lived and laboured long ago; moreover, we are not
a cheery lot of heathen living happy and unwashed in the depths of
primeval forests, so our judgment is warped. As to Charles's goodness, I
heard some story about his offering to marry an Empress of the East
while his first wife was still alive, not, it appears, from any ardent
devotion to the lady--I do not believe he ever met her--but simply from
the sordid motive of adding another empire to his business. However, I
am no scandal-monger, and all the parties concerned have been dead some
time.

Charles must have been rather a prig. He was evidently, immensely
pleased with his own little bit of book-learning; he even insisted on
talking and writing Latin--pure "swank"--whereas his family would surely
have preferred their native Frankish. Worse still, Charles had an
obsession, that of a Holy Roman Empire, with himself as head and the
Pope as an "also ran," and this obsession led to endless
trouble--trouble which is not over yet. Charles also had no sense of
humour, or he would have made friends with the Slavs instead of fighting
them. Men with a "mission in life" rarely have the "saving gift," and so
they cause endless trouble; Charles did.

He hammered the Saxons into Christianity: they were Teutons and could
stand it. He tried the same on the Slavs, but force was not the right
method in their case. Charles could not see this, and went on killing
Slavs, handing over their property to Teuton knights. This method, and
especially its results, appealed strongly to Charles's successor, who
continued to hack the way of Christianity through Slavonic tribes until
eventually the latter were completely subjugated in all the
German-speaking countries of to-day. It took a long time to do this, for
there is a deal of resilience in the Slav, and his soul remains his own
even under much persecution. The Slavs were heavily handicapped too;
they were broken up into numerous little tribes and clans, and seldom
became united under the leadership of a strong man of their own race.
They had no spiritual head who would take responsibility for any crime
as long as it was atoned for by a corresponding number of heathen
converted or killed. The pagan Slav would not just push his bit of piety
on to the priest before dashing into the fray; he had to propitiate
various jealous deities in person, not by proxy. This must have been
anxious work and a waste of time to boot. Then again, both sides were
capable and frequently guilty of abominable treachery, with the
difference that the Christian Teuton betrayed his enemy only, which was
counted unto him for righteousness, whereas the Slav was inclined to
sell his own cause, only to be "let down" by the Teuton in the end. The
Slavs were also prone to fight among themselves in their spare time;
there has been no marked improvement on either side for the last ten
centuries or so; however, the history of other nations and races tends
to prove that neither Slav nor Teuton are unique in this respect.

Anyway, the "Holy Roman Empire," describing itself as of German
nationality, spread out over Central Europe, absorbing one Slavonic
tribe after another until there remained as the most western of them
only the Czechs of Bohemia as a coherent body, their national life
centred on Prague.

       *       *       *       *       *

However, we are still on the way to Prague up the valley of the Elbe, an
interesting route, as it takes you by Dresden, rich in art treasures and
still renowned for its music.

The best time of year to travel by this route is the season when the
fruit trees are in blossom. Then the valley of the Elbe is a mass of
white and pale green set against a background of yellow sandstone rocks
and the sombre greens and purples of pine forests. It is not so very
long ago since this district of Saxony formed part of the Kingdom of
Bohemia, and many names familiar to travellers in these parts recall
memories of Slavonic inhabitants--Blasewitz, Loschwitz, Pilnitz, whither
the royal family of Wettin, another Slavonic name, was wont to retire
for the summer months. The Wettins have now retired from business as
monarchs, and their former subjects are following the prevailing fashion
of submission to democratic rule tempered by an occasional diversion in
the form of an attempted local counter-revolution. These movements are
generally innocuous; they sometimes add to the gaiety of nations by the
sheer imbecility of their inception and attempted execution, and they
appear to be welcome rather than otherwise, as a means of distracting
public attention from the universal muddle and general misguidance of
European affairs, to those who consider themselves called upon and
qualified to set those affairs right.

       *       *       *       *       *

You may also approach Prague via Vienna; in former days you were
encouraged by Austrian propaganda to do so, and this in order to
emphasize the fact that you were expected to regard Prague as a quaint
little provincial town lying on the road to nowhere in particular. The
hand of the Habsburg lay heavy on Prague, and all the glory of great
possessions had to be concentrated on Vienna.

We are still on the road to Prague, which has come into its own at last,
whereas the glory of Vienna has departed. You wind up to the Bohemian
Forest through lovely scenery, where the grey ramparts of Eggenburg look
out over the blue distances, across the uplands of Bohemia, passing
Tabor dreaming yet of stirring days of religious strife, its towers
mirrored in the waters of Jordan, and onward till a wide curve brings
the first sight of the towers and spires of "Zlata Praha," Golden
Prague.

The usual travelling Westerner prefers the shortest and most convenient
route to Prague, namely, via Paris. You may get right through from
London to Prague in thirty-six hours if you just skirt round Paris by
the _ceinture_, but a right-minded wayfarer, who should never hurry,
will not miss an opportunity of taking the tonic of a few days in the
"Ville Lumière." If he be a true wayfarer--that means not only an
enterprising traveller but also given to contemplation--he will bestow
some thought on the geographical position respectively of Paris and his
destination, Prague, which should help him to enter into the spirit of
those two cities; but of this more hereafter.

When the wayfarer does tear himself away from Paris he should travel by
the _train de luxe_, which lands him, without the trouble of changing,
in Prague at a reasonably early hour of the evening. This route is
interesting in itself, as it leads through many notable places, Château
Thierry, with its grim reminders of the Great War, Nancy, and Strasbourg
restored to France. Then on to Stuttgart, the capital of a small but
healthy German Republic, formerly the Kingdom of Würtemberg; there has
been no exaggerated display of republican fervour here in this clean and
proper capital, and a crown still tops the coat of arms of a line of
rulers, on the former royal palace. You cross the fertile country of
Franconia, a wide curve gives you a fine view of Nuremberg, and then you
ascend towards the pass that divides the Ore Mountains from the Bohemian
Forest. There are quaint old towns growing out of crumbling battlements
perched on rocks, towns of soft-sounding South German names breathing
history of long ago. There is, for instance, Waiblingen, a very
ordinary-looking wayside station, yet what memories does that name
recall! Memories of Hohenstaufen Emperors, Fredericks and Conrads, down
to the last and luckless Conradin, memories of faction fights between
the city republics of Italy, within the walls of those cities, between
Guelph and Ghibelline, Welf and Waiblingen. This country Bavaria was
also at one time the home of the Welfs; they were a strong, determined
race, and spent much time and energy in vigorous opposition to Holy
Roman Emperors, possibly as men of common sense they considered the
whole prevailing idea of empire rather nonsensical; they were eventually
banished to the country about Hanover and Brunswick, where they
flourished by virtue of their forceful character--and we Britons have
reason to be grateful that it was so.

We move along to Eger or Cheb, where we find a last reminder of the
Hohenstaufen in the ruins of a castle and a round two-storied chapel
built by Frederick Barbarossa.

During the summer season a through coach from Paris is detached at Eger,
whence it is taken to Carlsbad, whither go those who have occasion to
repent them of the evil they have wrought in themselves by
self-indulgence; there they fast and prepare for the next season of
overeating, among peculiarly beautiful surroundings.

From Eger onwards we pass out of the zone of German predominance and
into the ancient land of Bohemia, over wooded heights and broad fertile
fields, past Marienbad, beloved of our King Edward, and where are also
many who love his memory, past Pilsen, and winding along a clear river,
the Berounka, its banks crowned here and there by castles and chapels,
each with a story all its own yet part of the life of the people of
Bohemia, until a sharp curve brings you to the meeting of the waters of
Berounka and Vltava within hail of Prague.

You should travel to Prague when the days are long, so you will be
rewarded by a very fair view as the train crosses the placid River
Vltava. Out of a shadowy mass of grey houses with tiled roofs, divided
by the glittering, winding river, rises the Castle of Prague, a massive
building crowned by a church of which the soaring spires, pinnacles, and
flying buttresses _s'accusent_ against the western sky. The train then
plunges you into a tunnel, a long tunnel taken slowly, where you may
reflect on the vision you have seen, the vision of another city "that is
at unity in itself."

You have had your first glimpse of Prague, and it was beautiful, so you
set about endeavouring to enter into the spirit of the place, to absorb
its atmosphere and to study its character. For every ancient city that
has stood up against adversity and overcome it has a very definite
character of its own. And it is a mysterious, wonderful thing this
character, this _cachet_ of a great city; the charm of Paris or the
grandeur of London, the glittering stillness of Venice or the insistent
glory of eternal Rome.

The character of a city, as is that of man, is formed by experience,
chiefly adverse, and is made evident by the work the city has done for
humanity, its creator and its care. From the study of a city's character
may you look into its future and presage whether it be likely to achieve
success or doomed to failure. For there have been failures among cities
as among men, some pathetic owing to inherent weakness, others as a
consequence of their own misdeeds.

Contrast Constantinople with Eternal Rome. Constantinople, with its
pathetic remains of greatness, failed to remain "at unity in itself";
ancient Byzantium the "Guardian of the Gate" against the invading
Oriental, lived to see its churches turned into mosques, below which
lie, broken and untended, the porphyry monuments of Paleologue and
Cantacuzene.

What of things beautiful was spared wandered to Rome, whence from the
crumbling remnants of an old civilization came the light of the
Renaissance that spread over Western Europe.

Most pathetic of all cities that have failed is Amarapura, not so long
ago the capital of Burma, and a flourishing city on the banks of the
Irrawaddy, placed indeed in the most appropriate position for its former
purpose.

But a new King came who was not content with the capital of his fathers,
so he ordered its removal. A sycophantic priesthood was loud in
prophecies of the great future of the new capital to be built some few
miles away, but Mandalay is this day the provincial centre of the
government of a race alien to those who founded the city; the race of
Kings, the last scion of which abandoned the city of his fathers, is all
but extinct, and Amarapura has returned to the jungle from which it
rose.

Now this, I admit, appears to have nothing to do with the city of
Prague; it is indeed a far stretch of vision from "a Terrace in Prague"
to the banks of the Irrawaddy.

Nevertheless, memories of far-off days in Burma came surging up one day
as I sat on my terrace reading a newspaper printed and published in the
city that lay shrouded in historic mist below. The paper brought news of
an old acquaintance, not exactly a close, not even a bowing
acquaintance, for we were generally kept apart by force of circumstances
(which he might have controlled) at a distance of about a rifle-shot.
This acquaintance was one Wun Thu, a son of Thebaw, last of the Burman
Kings.

Wun Thu objected strongly to British rule, and emphasized his objection
by making trouble with his bands of patriots, whom we called dacoits,
robbers.

Even my peaceable occupation of surveying the land met with obstruction
on the part of Wun Thu, and led to a frequent exchange of perfectly
harmless rifle-shots. And here in Prague, looking down over my newspaper
from the terrace of my choice, I seemed to see the spires of the city
mass closer together and take on the form of giant jungle trees, the
broad Vltava to shrink to the narrow silver thread of a mountain stream
at the crossing of which Wun Thu's sporting warriors had levelled their
blunderbusses lashed to trees and warranted harmless to all but the men
behind them; the paper told of another rising led by Wun Thu. Wun Thu
had lain "doggo" for many years--at least he had done nothing to attract
the attention of Central Europe--yet here he was, a man of my age and on
the downward slope, following the post-war instinct of making
trouble--for himself chiefly, as his attempt failed. I feel sorry for my
old acquaintance; like so many of us of a former generation, he no
longer fits into the picture; he is probably too honest to succeed under
present-day conditions. However, Wun Thu has been banished to Ceylon,
and I am still writing about Prague. Even in this I am last and, I
willingly admit, least of a goodly company.

First in time of this goodly company is Cosmas of Prague, who wrote his
chronicles early in the twelfth century. There are yet earlier German
chronicles which make mention of the Bohemians, but the city of Prague
was not in the days in which they were written. Those German chronicles
suggest that the Bohemians who came into their land some time in the
sixth century were at one time tributary to the Avari, an Asiatic tribe
which had taken possession of the greater part of present-day Hungary,
and were rather a nuisance to Western Europe.

It will be remembered that Charlemagne had forceful argument with these
Avari; it had something to do with that worthy's trip to visit the
Empress of the East; there was a squabble about fares, river dues and
such matters. However, this is _vieux jeu_, and has nothing to do with
Prague. The Avari were devoted to the time-honoured practice of robbing
and ravishing their neighbours, among them the Bohemians. These latter
seem to have borrowed one Samo the Frank, a strong man, from one of the
northern Slavonic tribes, and as he proved a success, invited him to be
King over them.

Samo accepted the invitation, and is said to have founded the first
great Slavonic State with Bohemia as nucleus and a strong castle at
Vyšehrad, of which we shall have more to tell hereafter. The
neighbouring Franks became uneasy at Samo's increasing importance, and
under Dagobert, their King, invaded Bohemia, to be badly beaten at
Wogastisburg, which, according to Count Lützow, was near the present
town of Cheb. Samo extended his territory after this victory, and
appears to have lived till about the middle of the seventh century.

There ensues a complete lapse in the chronicling of the history of
Bohemia until Cosmas took up the tale.

Having no historical records of events since the days of Samo, he drew
upon a rich store of legend which, coloured by his lively imagination,
forms a glowing and vivid background to the story of this interesting
and attractive branch of the great Slavonic race, I am not competing
with Cosmas. Bohemia has produced many chroniclers and historians since
his day, men whose soul was filled with pride and love of race, whose
mind was bent on giving to the world truthfully recorded history, men
whose imagination nurtured on lovely legends, on great traditions amid
the beauties of one of Europe's fairest countries, found expression in
works of lasting worth: I need only mention such names as Palacky,
Tomek, and Lützow among many.

Of strangers who have been charmed to pertinent utterance by the glory
and beauty of Prague there is an imposing array. In the fifteenth
century Æneas Silvius, afterwards Pope Pius II, came this way, and
described Prague as the "Queen of Towns." Then Goethe, whose glowing pen
could add colour to the vibrant beauty of Italian landscape, writes of
Prague as "der Mauerkrone der Erde kostbarste Stein." We will interpret
this, as it is no longer the fashion to understand German, especially in
Prague: "the most precious jewel in the mural crown of this earth."
Another German, Alexander von Humboldt, gives to Prague fourth place
among the world's "cities beautiful."

Rodin considered Prague as the "Rome of the North," a comparison that
seems rather trite at first, but those who feel the meaning of this city
will understand and appreciate the French sculptor's judgment. Prague
has, at least superficially, one quality in common with Rome; in your
wanderings in either city you may come suddenly upon something of beauty
so stupendous as to take your breath away.

Other French visitors of importance show a tendency to dwell upon the
character of the Bohemians in general rather than on the beauty of their
capital. With keen perception they draw the deeper meaning from out the
stones of Prague; thus in the fifties of the last century writes
Viollet-le-Duc, "Prague est une capitale dans laquelle on sent la
puissance d'un grand peuple," and Massieu de Clerval is yet more
emphatic: "si un pays peut se vanter d'une nationalité indestructible
c'est à coup sûr la Bohème.--Une nation qui a passé par de pareilles
epreuves ne perira, elle a vaincu la mort."

We must not overlook yet another visitor to Prague whose outlook was
practical rather than romantic, Ibrahim Ibn Jacub. This Jewish trader
from Arabia travelled in Bohemia some time in the tenth century, and was
much struck with Prague, "a great commercial town of stone-built
houses."

So we who would add a belated word of tribute to the glory of Prague the
Golden find ourselves indeed in goodly company. Moreover, we live in the
present, and have, as far as this book is concerned, only just arrived
in Prague.

The morning sun that tips the pinnacles of the Castle of Prague with
gold, that dispels the purple shadows in which the city lies shrouded,
and calls forth sparkling facets on the broad river, dissipates our
dreams of cities that have failed and perished. It summons us to study
this ancient city, old yet ever young. Beautiful, too, in all the
varying glints of light upon the spires and turrets of its hundred
towers, when the morning breeze comes down-stream and rustles in the
trees that deck the islands, to the golden glory of the sunset behind
the purple masses of the castle. Then a short star-lit night while
Prague rests in dreams of former greatness to gain strength to face its
high duties of the morrow.

Indeed, Prague is an ancient city, yet young and active and wonderfully
beautiful in all its aspects.

It is not my intention to conduct you round Prague, to introduce to you
one by one the many features of the city, and tell you all there is to
know about them. This for two excellent reasons: one, that I am far from
having got to the end of such knowledge myself, the other that you may
be induced to come here and find out for yourself how much of interest
and of beauty lies open before you.

As in introducing a friend, I mean to state only a few salient points,
to give you a hint of the city's story here and there as told by ancient
buildings, as shown in public haunts or quiet nooks, hoping that in your
turn you may make a friend of this venerable, this beautiful Prague.



CHAPTER II

Discusses the question of guides and guide-books, and tries to explain
the author's method, or lack of it, when making himself acquainted with
places of interest. Contains also remarks on terraces, which are
expected to edify. There is a good deal about the weather of Prague,
about the gardens at different seasons, also an account of merrymaking
in bygone days, and some reflections, in the same spirit, on present-day
rejoicings.


There are various ways of becoming acquainted with an interesting city.
Some people invest in a guide-book before starting out on the journey,
others do not rest until they have bought one or more on arriving at
their destination. You may notice these people studying the book on the
boat perhaps, certainly in the train; they even let the book interfere
with the proper attention that is due to meals; and allow me to remark
here that the wagon-lit people are very sound on the question of food.

These people are slaves to the guide-book; they leave it not, day or
night, and the more methodical they are in conforming to the cramped
spirit of the book, the less do they discover things by themselves. No
guide-book ever can initiate you into the atmosphere of a city like
Prague.

The sight of the guide-book slave "doing" an ancient and glorious city
always fills me with sorrow, sometimes, indeed, with annoyance. These
slaves frequently hunt in couples, male and female, sometimes with
progeny at heel, and it is generally the male who discovers things--in
the guide-book--and then drags the rest of his outfit in search of his
discovery. As this is usually done at a reckless pace, the performance
is apt to upset the repose of the inhabitants whose perambulations of
their native place are in marked contrast to the silent, ruthless hurry
in the streets of our large towns. The good burghers of foreign towns
seem to have plenty of their own and other people's time to spare; they
also possess the gift of unlimited conversational powers. I have known
many a pleasant chat rudely interrupted by a group of British or
American travellers who, with nose well inside a book, blue or red but
obviously "guide," push their way, ruthless as Juggernaut, through
bunches of inoffensive natives. There is one consolation: those slaves
of the guide-book frequently miss the prettiest bits, just because they
are looking into the book instead of around them.

Ask such as they about the atmosphere of some old-world haunt, and you
will probably hear complaints about the food or the service.

Some tourists aggravate their position by hiring a guide. Every city of
any historic importance breeds a class of mortals that are born guides;
they have come to belong to the "staffage" of picturesque surroundings;
and in this respect Prague is happily yet unspoilt. The born guide, when
young, is generally to be found running after you barefooted, clamouring
for coppers or cigarettes. His picturesqueness is due to the fact that
he does not disclose the incipient traits of villainy in his face by
washing it. The adult of the species does wash his face sometimes, but
he has no other virtues. The species "guide" is found in its perfection
in Southern Europe. Some day I must write a book on "Guides I have
Spurned"; there were many, and I have had to acquire a cursory
acquaintance with several foreign languages in order to deal adequately
with the spurning action which is chiefly vocal and invective. For the
present I can only remember one of the many spurned ones. He had been
following me about all over the ruins of a Moorish castle, and finally,
breathless, came up with me by a little pile of stones leaning, with
some faint attempt at symmetry, against a wall. In gusts a
garlic-charged voice explained, "Zat modern. Zat rabbit-'ouse!" In his
case the spurning could be done quite conveniently in English.

We cannot all afford to be original. I lay no claim to that quality for
myself; my method of making the acquaintance of such an interesting old
city as Prague may be that of thousands of other wayfarers. However this
may be, I propose to explain my method, not necessarily in order to
induce others to adopt it, but rather because it explains the title of
this work. I look upon cities, landscapes, in fact upon life in general,
from a terrace--not over or through the leaves of a guide-book.

There is a deal more interest in a terrace, and you can always find one
if you really want to do so, than the casual passer-by is inclined to
realize. It is easy to reconstruct the scene of building up the first
terrace. Some fairly primitive man had emancipated himself from the
old-fashioned ancestral habit of just letting the rain wash away the
hillside, and with it the family's prospects of green food for the
season. Squatting outside his cave he had done some hard thinking which,
transmitted into action, had led him to build up a wall here and there
on the hillside, a wall of clumsy stones kept in place by stakes
hammered into the ground, yet a wall, indeed a terrace, and an advance
upon the methods of his neighbours whose struggles he could watch from
the surer footing he himself had gained--a terrace and a point of view.

It is not suggested that the wayfarer on arriving in a strange city
should make a bee-line for the nearest terrace.

There are terraces and terraces, each one with its own definable point
of view, and it is this quality which should influence the traveller's
choice. Prague offers considerable variety in terraces suitable to every
conceivable outlook on life. You may choose a terrace that looks out
over the factory quarter of Prague, over grimy Smichov for instance, and
make notes on the growing industrial prosperity of the city. You will
probably be smoked out of your position, for a cheap and nasty variety
of brown coal is used by local industries. If you belong to the eclectic
you may be privileged to look down on Prague from a terrace with a
background of diplomacy, and find the outlook somewhat limited.

Again, there are terraces where you can get beer and other refreshment.
Such terraces are generally so contrived as to give you an outlook too
varied to allow of concentration on the essentials of the city; the
background to these terraces is generally some little building where the
waiter lurks for orders. But there are other, real terraces to be found
by those who search diligently and know how to discriminate, terraces
with a background that has grown up with the city, that strikes no
foreign note in that harmony of form and colour, of clustering red-tiled
roofs surmounted by domes, towers and spires, which is Prague. Such a
terrace is that from which I write. It is a real terrace, serving its
original purpose in supporting a garden on a hillside. A garden
carefully, fondly tended by generations of those who lived useful lives
and looked out over the city from this point of view.

It is old, very old, this terrace, and it has witnessed many terrible
scenes, fire and slaughter and religious strife, but it has also seen
more that is ennobling and inspiring. In its strength this terrace has
supported those who passed their days upon it, imbuing them, and those
who live there yet, with the serenity that comes of a faith built on a
sure foundation. This terrace is a bridge to the "Abiding City." It is
not my intention to disclose the locality of this terrace; let every man
find one to suit his own particular outlook.

Having found your terrace, settle down to a serious contemplation of
your surroundings and of the outlook before you; absorb as much as you
can of the atmosphere of the place, let it sink into you. For this
purpose a guide-book is not only useless, it is a let and a hindrance.
After all, what does a guide-book tell you? Either it recites dry facts
in an utterly soulless voice, or else, if it make any pretence at
_belles-lettres_, as some of them painfully do, it goes off into
sentiment and rapture before you have decided whether these be suited to
the occasion. Anyway, a guide-book is the expression of some one else's
opinion or experience, and as such is harmful to the soul as likely to
exert undue influence.

From your terrace you take in a more or less comprehensive view of the
city and its surroundings, and also form some conception of its inner
meaning. Then descend from your terrace and wander at random about the
streets, choosing as the more appropriate time the long twilight of a
summer morning which brings the cruder modern aspect of the place into
harmony with the fundamental values. Then, before she awakens to the
stir and activity of everyday life, old Prague will speak to you of
herself and take you into her confidence; she will tell you some
startling stories, for she has a lurid past, has the city of Prague.

I do not know what was Rodin's method of appreciating Prague, but can
easily imagine him looking out over the city from the terrace of his
choice, looking out over Prague and recalling memories of Rome as seen
from the Pincio. There are certain obvious points of resemblance. First
there are several hills on which Prague is built; they are said to be
seven in number, as in the case of the Eternal City. Personally I can
only make out five hills, and I have counted them carefully. It seems to
be the right thing in cities of venerable antiquity to claim seven
hills; to me this seems a mixture of superstition and snobbery. Prague
can well afford to be original and rest content with standing on five
hills. This, by the way, does not include all the suburbs which have
lately been added in order to make up Greater Prague; the innovation is
much too recent, and no "Terrace in Prague" can embrace a view of all
the latest additions to the urban district.

Further superficial points of resemblance to Rome are the towers and
cupolas that rise above a sea of houses, and the winding river; to find
yet more would be a serious strain on the imagination. But there is a
deeper resemblance, and this perchance is what Rodin meant when he
described Prague as "the Rome of the North." I say "perchance," because
Rodin never gave any closer reason for the comparison he drew, so I can
only give my own personal impression of what he may have meant. There
are, to my thinking, two distinct Romes as there are two distinct
Pragues. The old original Rome seems to me fundamentally, gloriously,
and, indeed, unblushingly pagan. All the top-hamper even of such beauty
as Michel Angelo conceived does not alter this my impression. Churches
arisen out of an Emperor's bath, or resting on some pagan shrine, are
superimposed on Rome. Rome and all that Rome stands for down the ages is
that glorious mass of ruins which cluster about the Capitoline Hill or
come upon you in unexpected places. And so it is with Prague;
Prague--the real Prague--is to be found in the graceful and enduring
monuments erected by Kings of Bohemia in the Middle Ages; Prague of the
Luxemburg monarchs, with echoes, faint yet insistent, of remoter
legendary times. Over this ancient Prague rise structures of an alien
nature, _baroque_ creations of the Jesuits, in spirit foreign to all
that the capital of Bohemia stands for. Indeed, most of these buildings
are imposing; some are beautiful, but despite the mellowing influence of
time it seems as if they had not been completely merged into the soul of
the city; they do not express its inner meaning unreservedly. And modern
Prague is built up among and about the gracious relics of past ages; at
first it appears detached, as it were hesitant between the serenity of a
former golden age, the forcefulness of the Jesuit era and the vigour of
modernity, but at heart it is one with the Prague of many centuries, is
"at unity in itself" by virtue of reverence for noble tradition and hope
for a glorious future.

"Thither the tribes go up"; indeed, they have been swarming in since
Prague came into her own some few years ago and became the capital of a
free and independent republic. In former years, when Prague was still
accounted a small provincial town of somnolent habits, there were only
two or three hotels that counted at all as accommodation for foreigners;
now there are many yet inadequate to the number of visitors. As to those
that are drawn to Prague, their numbers may be accounted for by the fact
that most of them are native Bohemians who have business in the capital
as the seat of government and also as a commercial, industrial and
intellectual centre; these latter qualities attract an ever swelling
stream of foreigners. To account for this I will draw a comparison all
my own between Prague and Paris.

The true Parisian will probably shrug his shoulders at any idea of
comparing his city with Prague; but as he is above all a logically
minded, reasoning sort of person and, moreover, courteous, he will
listen to my argument, and even should he not agree, is generous enough
to join me in the happy auguries for Prague which my comparison
suggests.

Take a map showing the physical features of France and you will find
that the capital of the country could be nowhere else but exactly on the
spot where Paris stands in a fertile plain where meet a number of
waterways--Seine and Marne just above the city, Oise some little way
down. By these waterways and by high roads that came after, a constant
stream of peoples has been swirling into France and mingling in the
basin of Paris. Among these were Latins from the south coming up the
valley of the Rhône and Saône, over the heights and down the Yonne to
the valley of the Seine. Then came Franks through the gap of Belfort and
over the hills by Nancy, down to the Marne and the Aube; Celts and
Flemings from the north, and Norsemen from the west, all met and mingled
with the native Gauls and eventually became Parisians. Environment acted
its part, and so did the forces of Nature. The soil of the basin of
Paris is fruitful, the climate equable, but neither encourage idlers;
both demand a toll of strenuous labour, yet not so trying to man's
strength as to leave him exhausted at the end of the day's work; he may
recreate himself and bring his mind to bear on the result of his
handiwork.

This made him critical, and the constant flow of foreigners brought him
new ideas to test by the light of his own experience, and so Paris
became, as it were, a crucible in which theories of life were tested and
rendered by science into practical form.

Only the best is good enough for Paris, and this will remain the case
until the disintegration of our planet; no invading hosts, be they never
so numerous, nor the most fiendish inventions in modern chemistry, can
alter this fact, they may beat down the superficial Paris, they cannot
destroy its spirit.

To a lesser degree this is also true of Prague. As we have already seen,
its geographical position marks it out as a centre where meet roads
coming from all directions. This fact was not discovered at such an
early period as that in which Paris arose out of the river swamps.
Possibly this was due to the westward tendency of migratory races during
the first centuries of our era when Teutonic tribes and Celts passed
over Bohemia under pressure from the east. It is strange that the Romans
did not discover the geographical advantages of the site on which Prague
was founded. Roman influence began to make itself felt early in the
first century of the Christian era in these parts, but the trade route
which connected the Danube with the Baltic shore passed eastward of
Prague, it seems via the valley of the Morava and the "Gate of Bohemia"
at Nachod, through Breslau and Stettin, both, by the way, former
Slavonic settlements. There are not many traces of Roman culture, and
what there are seem to have been imposed on the inhabitants themselves
rather than left behind by the Romans. Even Marcus Aurelius, who wrote
about most things under the sun, has little to say of the country north
of his stronghold at the confluence of the Danube and Morava. It was not
till several centuries after the Roman Empire's glory had departed that
Prague became a place of importance, and this was largely due to the
Luxemburg Kings, whose introduction of French culture made of the city a
centre of attraction on the eastern marches of Europe. How and why
Prague lost in importance may be gathered from its history; whether it
will again gain and hold the prominent position to which it is entitled
by its situation must depend entirely on the people of old Bohemia and
the other countries which compose the new Czecho-Slovak Republic in
general and the citizens of Prague in particular; the fortunes of their
country and capital are in their own hands to make or mar. They have
many points in their favour: first, a central position in a country
endowed with great riches; then a sturdy, hardworking and law-abiding
population; and finally a climate that neither encourages idleness nor
puts too severe a strain upon man's power of endurance.

The people of Prague have their theories about the climate of their
country; they maintain that it is governed by certain rules that are
made to apply to Central Europe generally. Thus they will tell you that
the winter is severe, that ice and snow keep the country bound for
several months at a time, that spring comes swiftly but gently with the
melting of the snow and the gradual breaking up of the ice-floes on the
river, that then a fine summer follows, a summer hot indeed but tempered
by cool breezes from the north and showers from south and west; then
through a glorious autumn all russet and gold on a background of hazy
blue mountains, back to a winter as in the Christmas carol about Good
King Wenceslaus. All this is theory; in reality the weather here, as
elsewhere, is not to be trusted, though, indeed, it is not as fickle as
that of our own dear country. Still, the people cling to their theory
about the climate of the country, and if perchance the theory does not
fit, there is always an "oldest inhabitant" handy to declare the weather
quite exceptional. Why is it that the oldest inhabitant is invariably
the greatest local liar? Is it simply a matter of long life and ripe
experience?

Whatever the climate may be, whatever vagaries the weather may indulge
in, the view from my terrace is always lovely, its subtle beauty ever
new. If I were called upon to say which season shows ancient Prague at
her best, I would say the spring time. Then the orchards on the slopes
are arrayed in virgin white of pear and cherry blossom, with here and
there a blush from apple-trees and a faint glimmer of delicate green
against cool grey of stone walls showing among the purples of trunks and
branches warming into new life under the fitful rays of April sunshine.
The sunshine draws out colour from soaring spires or copper domes of
churches and from the quaint towers and pinnacles of old Prague's former
defences against enemies that came like storm clouds from out of the
west or over the giant mountains to northward. A passing cloud throws
into the shade the middle ground of grouped and red-tiled roofs
overtopped by some stately church, and the terraced gardens that descend
into the harmonies of deep reds and greyish purples which is the
dominant note in the colour scheme of the "Mala Strana," the small side
of Prague on the left bank of the river. Far beyond are the encircling
heights--some wooded, others under cultivation; cloud shadows pass over
them like ghosts of the tragic events that made up the history of
Bohemia and its capital. But the sunshine wins over the clouds and draws
out the strength and glory of Golden Prague.

Summer and autumn bring fulfilment of spring's promise of plenty, with
fruit in abundance. Autumn lingers in red and yellow motley, stoutly
resisting winter's attack until boisterous winds from east and north
send the last leaves shivering to the ground and spread out the city's
winter garb. Then Prague assumes a severer aspect; reds and warm greys
have vanished, castle, churches, palaces stand out in marked relief,
their features accentuated by piled-up snow on roof and gallery and
flying buttress. And seen from my terrace, Prague under snow is very
beautiful.

The winter had been erratic; spells of intense cold when ice-floes piled
up about the piers of the bridges, and even gave rise to anxiety
concerning the safety of those structures; then mild winds from the
south driving the smoke of the Smichov factories across Castle Hill.
This, too, has its beauties when reluctant rays of the setting sun try
to dispel it and cloak the Hradčany in a shroud of purple mist.

Winter lingered on into the beginning of the week of Resurrection. On
Tuesday in Holy Week wild gusts from the north drove powdered snow in
scurries across the uplands through the broad streets and into narrow
alleys, where it lingered during two breathless days until with Good
Friday came glorious sunshine, dispelling the last traces of winter
storms.

As if to attune themselves to the change from winter's bondage to
generous life, from the season of Lent to the Day of Resurrection, the
people of Prague, as is their wont, called music to their aid. On Palm
Sunday, as the last light of a grey day faded away, the church dedicated
to Saint Henry, standing austerely apart from the traffic of the
streets, was filled with the sweet sadness of Pergolesi's "Stabat
Mater." From the organ-loft came the soul-searching harmony of two
voices, a pure white soprano and a rich vibrant contralto, which spread
about the lofty building, penetrated to the secluded corners where the
scent of incense lingers, and then seemed to lose itself in the shadowy
arches of the roof, merging, as it were, into the memories of centuries
of prayer and praise.

There was that feeling of impending relief from pain, then as of a
healing touch when glorious sunshine ushered in Easter Sunday. Larks
poured out their soul into a cloudless sky over the battlefield of the
White Mountain, the pale green of larches showed up bravely among the
riot of live purple and crimson and the flashing trunks of birches, over
the wall that confines the park of the Star. The Star itself, that
singular monument, a former hunting-box of Bohemian Kings and built in
the shape of a six-pointed star, is undergoing renaissance: it is being
arranged as a museum for the Czecho-Slovak legionaries. The little brook
that makes such a long detour on its way to join the Vltava, passing
through the rocky gorge and the winding valley of the Sharka, was very
emphatic on the subject of spring's arrival, and its voice must have
penetrated to secluded nooks and crannies, rousing sluggard forms of
life from winter sleep. Spring was asserting itself with all the
glorious certainty of youth, and was calling aloud to all and sundry to
come out and witness a brave display in the many gardens of Prague.

I doubt whether any other town in Europe is so well equipped with
gardens as is Prague for its size. Chiefest among these is the
Stromovka, on the northern slope of the Letna Hill. Your best approach
is from the direction of the castle by a broad and shady avenue which
leads you first down, then up again to a little plateau where stands a
building called Zámek. This building is said to be an old hunting-box of
Bohemian royalty: it certainly tries its best to look ancient, but fails
to convince you. Then by shady winding ways down the slope to a broad
valley deep in verdure. A little stream, which broadens into a lake,
keeps up the necessary moisture, and the grass and the weeping willows
in their loveliness offer it their silent thanks. The trees on the
northern slope grow high: they had to do so to meet the sunshine.

There are broad, shady drives and rides, and many seats, also two
restaurants, with at least one band playing heartily of an afternoon.
But the beauty spot in all this loveliness is right in the centre--a
rose-garden. It is no use trying to describe this rose-garden; only a
poet could do that, so all I say is, Come and see for yourself.

Other public gardens I would mention, at least the larger ones--Kinský,
Nebozízek, Riegrovy--but there are a number of others, smaller ones,
with shady nooks and plenty of seats. These gardens are dispersed about
the town in its workaday quarters; at midday--in fact, at any time of
day--you may see the workers enjoying a rest and also whatever kindly
fruits of the earth happen to be in season--in July your path is paved
with cherry-stones.

There are rows of trees along many of the streets; there are many
private gardens of palace, hospital, monastery or convent, adding the
freshness of their verdure to the beauty of Prague.

No wonder, then, that with so much loveliness about them the people of
Prague should be gay and intent on enjoying life amid such surroundings.
On a Sunday or feast-day you have music all round you. Look over the
holiday city from your terrace, you will see happy well-dressed crowds
moving to one or other place whence rise the strains of music. From one
side you hear the solemn notes of the fanfarade from Libuša; a little
farther away a very cheery brass band is stirring its audience with a
rattling march--impossible to keep your feet still; then while the brass
band pauses for breath and beer the insistent cadence of a dreamy valse
floats up to meet you.

Finest of all was Stromovka. Here weeping willows trailed their weeds of
daintiest green; here vigorous chestnut buds threw out their strong
scent; here osier-beds were a living tangle of gold and crimson
reflected brokenly in the lake where frogs made merry, the frogs being
about the only wild animals left in the Stromovka. Things were very
different in this park when it was known as the Thiergarten, Hortus
Ferarum, as long ago as the days of King John, the knight-errant ruler
of Bohemia. It appears that bison, "aurochs," were kept here, and it is
recorded that the sole surviving specimen died in 1566, which fact
Archduke Ferdinand, the Kaiser's lieutenant, reported to Emperor
Maximilian; he was thereupon ordered to ask the Duke of Prussia to
oblige with a new couple of bison.

The Stromovka was at one time described as "where the ox preaches on a
sack of straw," which description was probably meant to be humorous. The
connection comes about by the fact that the tailors of the town held
their revels in the Thiergarten every Tuesday in Easter week, and it
seems that a sack of straw was necessary to their happiness. This sack,
of the finest white linen, was sewn up with great neatness and adorned
with bows of ribbon, red, blue, yellow, green and white, by the
apprentices. The sack was further decorated with a design representing a
lass and a lad.

There seems to have been no particular object for the sack, as it was
only fastened to a pole round which danced young men and maidens. As the
gay Czechs of the present day are ready to dance without any such
fortuitous aid, it may be presumed that there was some meaning in the
idea of carrying a sack about and then dancing round it; but the
chronicler does not mention this point--he probably missed it.

Not to be outdone by the tailors, the cobblers of Prague had their day
on the Wednesday after Easter, and went for their diversion in an
opposite direction, namely, to Nusle, which lies tucked away behind
Vyšehrad. The cobblers' feast-day was called "Fidlovatchka," which
has a cheery ring, and tradition gives the following origin: The
cobblers' guild had built a pair of boots, a most excellent pair of
boots, for Emperor Joseph, who himself had learnt their craft. Every
cobbler's apprentice in Prague had contributed of his labour to this
pair of boots. In token of gratitude the Emperor had given to the guild
a little tree, silver-plated, on which were displayed specimens, also in
silver, of all the implements used in the cobbler's handicraft. This
imperial present was displayed at the cobblers' guildhall and held in
high honour.

Now as it happened the cobblers' apprentices seem to have been afflicted
more than those of other guilds by the complaint called by the Germans
"Blue Monday," which being interpreted meaneth "the morning after the
night before." It was of necessity observed as a holiday. Masters
insisted on abolishing this holiday, apprentices insisted on its
retention. The latter removed the silver-plated tree from its sanctuary
and carried it, to the strains of music and with much vociferation, to a
mill, now no longer, at Nusle, at which place the adventure had been
planned.

Not a single apprentice was to be found in Prague: needless to say, they
had the enthusiastic support and inspiring company of all the cobblers'
errand-boys.

The apprentices kept up the feast for several days until their funds
were exhausted; they then stripped the imperial tree of its ornaments
and sold them. When they had arrived at the stage known as _au sec_ they
passed the time in fighting. Eventually a deputation of masters came
out, a conference was held, the "Blue Monday" feast was reinstituted,
and the apprentices returned to Prague, carrying, in place of the
imperial tree, a maypole--premature, no doubt, but it probably best
expressed their feelings.

The very learned will tell us that the maypole custom of the Prague
cobblers dates back to much remoter times than those of Emperor Joseph,
and may draw attention to the habit prevalent in Saxony and other
neighbouring countries with an originally strongly Slav population of
displaying a birch-tree at the beginning of May. The learned will then
dive down into Slavonic mythology, which process to the dilettante in
such matters, is like "going in off the deep end"--you never know when
or where you may come up again.

At any rate, it appears that the cobblers' apprentices chose to call
their maypole "Fidlovatchka," and that they carried it about on their
feast-day, the Wednesday after Easter. Tradition has it that they all
smoked in turn, from a giant pipe capable of holding two pounds of
tobacco. Here a fastidious chronicler draws the curtain.

The habit of the Prague apprentices in the matter of keeping the feast
remains much the same to-day; moreover, it is not their exclusive right
or privilege. I know few other places in the world where people are more
ready to make merry on the least provocation. I do not know why this
is, nor have I analysed the Czech disposition towards festivities; I do
know that it is contagious. Perhaps it is due to the fact that the
Church of Rome encouraged the converted Hussites to keep things merry
and bright on every available saint's day so as to deaden all
recollection of Hus's martyrdom, but this is a deeper matter which we
will discuss later. The fact is that the Czech is by nature gay and
cheerful and an expert merrymaker, as who would not be in a country like
Bohemia, with its grand natural beauties, its wealth of music and
poetry--and its beer?

The Government has recently abolished all holidays but a few of the very
obvious ones, such as New Year's Day, Good Friday, and May Day. I do not
think that this paternal decree will make the least difference to the
cheery Czech; in fact, only a day or so after the decree was passed into
law the event was celebrated by a very hearty tribute, lasting two days,
to a national saint, followed by a day's strike organized by those who
protest against all such obsolete notions as saints' days. Everyone was
satisfied; everyone's opinion had been freely expressed, and everyone
had enjoyed three holidays in one week, thus, by the way, exceeding the
allowance for the whole year. Oh yes! the Czechs know what they are
about when it comes to merrymaking.

Such a day of merriment is March 7th, very much of a feast-day
indeed--the birthday of President Masaryk. Were I a Czech or Slovak, I
should celebrate right heartily at least once a week the birthday of the
present President, for he is one of the few great men among the swarm
that arrived at the top as a result of the World War.



CHAPTER III

Deals in order of seniority with two of the hills on which Prague
stands. First in order, Vyšehrad, with its memories of Libuša and
her supernatural gift. Refers also to one Přemysl, Libuša's chosen
consort, and the long line of rulers his descendants. Tells of how the
foundations of the Hradšany were laid according to Libuš's
instructions. Tries to describe the Hradšany as seen to-day,
inadequately be it admitted, but illustrations are added in order to
help the reader's comprehension of this crowning glory of Prague. Tells
a story or two about sentries, one of which at least is intended to
thrill. There is also mention of one Czech, of his discovery of the hill
Řip. This chapter shows also how by degrees the descendants of
Přemysl emerged from the mist of legend with the dawn of Christianity
over these Slavonic tribes.

Duke Mnata and his wife Strzezislava flit across the stage. Then we
linger on Bořivoj and note that German influence begins to make
itself felt. St. Methodius is also mentioned, as is one Svatopluk,
Prince of Moravia. Finally we arrive at properly authenticated Princes
of Bohemia, each labelled and dated correctly, St. Wenceslaus and his
brother Boleslav. Mentions also a saintly lady Ludmilla and her
daughter-in-law Dragomira in vivid contrast. Family dissensions among
the Přemysls which lead to such unpleasant happenings as the murder
of St. Ludmilla and the consequent banishment of Dragomira by her son
Wenceslaus, of whom there is so much to relate that he is worthy to open
a fresh chapter.


Let us lift up our eyes unto the hills, the hills on which stands
Prague, and if help do not come at once we may at least hope for
inspiration; the beauty of the scene alone assures us. Look out from
your terrace of a morning, a cloudless morning of early summer, and
gainsay it if you can. The town is extending considerably, growing up
the distant slopes on the far side of the river and trickling down into
the little valleys, but the general outline of Prague is much the same
as it has been for centuries; the eternal hills may be scarred and
patched by us who have here no "abiding city," but they remain.

I have already mentioned the hills on which Prague was built, and had
decided that they are five in number, not seven as is popularly alleged.
I have counted those hills several times over, and make their number
five, and quite sufficient too; another two hills would mar the
composition. At the risk of repeating myself, I maintain that Prague can
well afford to be original and forgo any imitation of other cities by
insisting on standing on seven hills; a truly great city should not
descend to servile flattery. Paris, for example, undoubtedly a great
city, is quite content to stand on two hills, Montmartre and
Montparnasse, the latter quite worn flat by the levelling tendencies of
modern times.

It is now time that we delved down into the history of Bohemia, and in
this we gain inspiration from the hills of Prague, the works of man that
crown them and the traditions, legends, shreds of history that cling to
them. Of these hills that of Vyšehrad is entitled to hold seniority
in the history of Prague. It takes a place somewhat akin to that held by
the Capitoline Hill of Rome. It was from here that the city started,
though this hill has little left of former grandeur and shows nothing to
compare with Rome's monuments to a glorious past. A crumbling block of
masonry, the story of which is quite unknown, a round chapel dating from
the days when Christianity was young among the Slavs and still found
ready martyrs in its cause even among princes, and an _enceinte_ of
brick fortifications, stone-faced and in Vauban's best style, battered
by Frederick the Great's guns, are all that Vyšehrad has to show by
way of relics of a stormy past.

Vyšehrad is about the first striking view you obtain of Prague as the
_train de luxe_ brings you round a bend before crossing the railway
bridge over the Vltava. Travellers seeing Prague for the first time are
apt to mistake this hill of Vyšehrad for the castle. I did so myself;
my delight, therefore, at the first sight of Prague's crowning glory,
the Hradšany, was all the greater.

Seen against the evening sky, Vyšehrad looks very imposing; it is at
its best by winter twilight, when the heavy mass is dully reflected on
the surface of the frozen river. Then you may gain some idea of what
this rugged promontory stands for in the life-history of a race that has
passed through great tribulation. Two Gothic spires point to the skies,
rising from a church which, despite its newness, seems more in accord
with the spirit of Prague than do the copper domes of Jesuit
structures; but then this church is built on foundations so ancient as
to defy investigation by the most assiduous chroniclers. No doubt those
spires are right enough in their way, but they are almost painfully
modern and unromantic compared to a square bit of crumbling masonry that
clings limpet-like to the crags of Vyšehrad overhanging the river at
the feet of the twin church towers. For here, according to legend, is
the cradle of the city of Prague. In popular parlance this bit of
masonry is called Libuša's bath, and hereby hangs a tale to introduce
which we must hark back some fourteen centuries.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some time in the sixth century--nobody seems to know exactly or to care
much when it was--one Czech or Czechus was wandering about this land of
Bohemia with a party of friends and relatives, probably a whole tribe of
them. Czech seems to have had the country to himself; if he had met any
strangers there would have been a fight, and we should have heard about
it. It may therefore be assumed that the former occupants, probably
lodgers only, had moved on. There was much movement going on in those
early centuries of the Christian era, the main tendency being from
north-east to south-west, from cold, damp and short-commons to warmth
and plenty. Now we have sufficient reason to believe that Thuringians
and Rugians abode for a while in Bohemia and parts of Bavaria, and
Lombards in Moravia, and that these gentry, hearing of loot to be had in
plenty farther south, left their temporary homes, crossed the Danube and
made themselves unpopular elsewhere, leaving the lands of Bohemia and
Moravia to anyone who cared to take them. This happened some time about
the middle of the sixth century, which gives us something more definite
to go upon as to Czech's place in time. Anyway, there were Czech, his
friends and relations wandering at their own sweet pleasure over the
rolling wood-clad landscape of Bohemia. On this excursion Czech espied
from afar a peculiar shaped hill (not one of the hills of Prague) to
which he promptly gave the appropriate name of Řip. Now this
innocent-looking word is, by virtue of the sign placed over the R,
pronounced in a peculiar manner; between the initial consonant and the
"i" you should insert a sound somewhat like that of the French "j" as in
"jamais," for instance. Heaven and the Czechs only know what meaning you
would convey did you neglect this euphonious concatenation of consonants
and simply say "rip"--probably something to cover the young person with
confusion; but rightly pronounced, and with due regard to the soft but
insistent sibilant, this mixture of sounds means--toadstool. It is all
so simple when once you know: Řip = toadstool,--and there you are.
The description tallies too: the hill of Řip does look like a
toadstool; I have seen it myself, and am prepared to support Czech's
statement on oath. Anyway, Řip stands there still, much the same as
when Czech discovered it, but for a chapel dedicated to St. George on
its summit, the result of some one else's piety.

You can see Řip for miles round, as it has chosen a fairly level
plain out of which to arise much like a mushroom on the lawn after a
rainy night. No wonder, then, that Czech made straight for Řip,
climbed to the top, looked around him, approved of what he saw, and
decided to stay. He did, so did his friends and relatives and those that
came after them, and no power on earth was able to shift them. The
descendants of Czech are there still. One of these told me that the best
and sturdiest type of Czech is bred round about Řip; he was born
thereabouts himself, and should know. I am prepared to believe it
anyway, as my friend is certainly of the best and sturdiest type of
Czech.

That much for Czech and his descendants; we must now skip a century or
two which even Cosmas of Prague was unable to fill out with legend, and
return to the lady whose bath I have already referred to. Not that I
believe the ruined bits of wall to have contained a lady's bathroom; I
have tried to imagine Libuša using the place for the morning tub,
and have failed to conjure up any picture that would carry conviction.
However, I do not wish to prejudice the case; come out to Prague and
judge for yourself.

Libuša was one of three sisters, daughters of Krok, Prince of
Bohemia, or at least some part of it, for frontiers in those very early
days were even more elastic than those drawn by International
Commissions. Anyway, there was Krok lording it over as much of Bohemia
as he could control, from his fastness of Vyšehrad. Of Libuša's
sisters, Kazi and Teta, nothing but their names is known even in legend;
they passed into oblivion on Krok's demise, for he ordained that
Libuša, his youngest daughter, should succeed him. Libuša,
according to legend, was a model of all the virtues, and as in those
days there was no ever-ready Press lurking to pounce on historical
inaccuracies, we may accept the statement of kindly Saga.

Libuša had a rare gift, one which proved uncomfortable to other
ladies of legend similarly endowed, uncomfortable both to themselves and
their belongings, the gift of prophecy. She foretold the future
greatness of Prague, and undoubtedly spotted a winner. This was not the
only occasion either, for she did herself a good turn too by means of
her supernatural power. As it happened, despite her possession of all
the virtues, she had trouble with her subjects, who declared themselves
weary of petticoat government and urged her to look round for a husband.
She did, calling to aid her uncanny gift. The discussion with her
subjects probably took place in the open, high up on Vyšehrad.
Libuša, with that far-away gaze proper to all soothsaying, pointed
out over the distant hills, saying, "Behind those hills is a small river
called Belna, and on its bank a farm named Stadic. Near that farm is a
field, and in that field your future ruler is ploughing with two spotted
oxen. His name is Přemysl, and his descendants will rule over you for
ever. Take my horse and follow it; you will be led to the place."

The lady was not quite correct about Přemysl and his
descendants--they have ceased to rule over the Czechs, and are now
replaced by a sovereign people; but she certainly was right in her
description of her future husband and his surroundings. The search
party, following Libuša's horse, found Přemysl busy at his plough,
roped him in and brought him to their Princess. Legend again asserts
that Přemysl made a first-class husband and ruler (he probably did
exactly as his wife told him) and his descendants reigned with varying
fortunes, until the first years of the fourteenth century--a very good
innings for the lineage of Přemysl, the sturdy farmer, and that
far-seeing lady Libuša, his wife. During those centuries the Czechs
had consolidated into an important kingdom; from a misty chaos of
heathen Slavonic tribes had grown a people brave and generous, with a
culture all its own, and above all with a surpassing gift of expressing
itself in music.

It must not be supposed that Libuša rested content with being wife to
Přemysl, just keeping house, mending clothes and minding the babies.
She continued her activities as directress of her people's fortunes, and
is made responsible, among other matters, for choosing the site of the
Hradšany, the Castle of Prague, and this is what the chronicler has
to say about it.

One day as Libuša looked out from her fastness over the river towards
the wooded heights to northward, she was moved by the gift of prophecy
to which she was addicted when deeply stirred.

Her own abode, built by her father, hung upon that rocky crag called
Vyšehrad, and was probably by no means roomy; Krok, her father, had
no doubt found it a convenient spot, being somewhat difficult of access
in those days to armed visitors, who were likely to prove a disturbing
element. The ancient Slav preferred to build in secluded spots, on
heights amid forests for choice, there was so much to guard against in
those dark ages, so the wooded heights that Libuša looked out upon
must have appealed to her strongly. Anyway, she decided to act,
prefacing action by some quite useful sooth-saying. According to the
chronicler Cosmas of Prague, who lived three or four centuries after
Libuša had passed away, the following impressive scene was enacted:
Libuša, standing on a high rock on the Vyšehrad in presence of her
husband Přemysl and the elders of the people, incited by the spirit
of prophecy, uttered this prediction: "I see a town, the glory of which
will reach the stars. There is a spot in the forest, thirty stades from
this village which the River Vltava encircles, and which to the north
the stream Brusnice secures by its deep valley; and to the south a hill,
which from its rocks takes the name Petřin, towers above it. When you
have reached this spot you will find a man in the midst of the forest,
who is working at a door-sill for a house; even mighty lords bend before
a low door. From this you shall call the town which you will build there
'Praha.'" The elders did as they were bid, and so Prague arose. The
Czech name is Praha, the derivation possibly from _prah_= door.

The Hradšany Hill was thus by Princess Libuša indicated as the
pinnacle on which should rest for ever the glory of Prague and of
Bohemia. Glory is a doubtful gift and costly, and the history of Prague
shows clearly that this is true. No doubt work was started at once on a
castle to crown the hill. Libuša probably saw to it that there was no
time wasted. This would be some time about the middle of the eighth
century, but history, as handed down from those days, is wrapped about
with mystery and legend from the obscurity of which events gradually
detached themselves. It was not till Christianity had got a firm hold of
the Czech people that any half-way reliable records were kept.

We will take it for granted that it was Libuša who, with the seer's
eye penetrating the future, laid the foundations of that right royal
pile, Prague's crown of glory, the Hradšany. We have the authority of
Cosmas for this; also Smetana composed an opera all about Libuša, so
all our doubts are dispelled. We have noticed the site, and that it is
admirably adapted to defence, a rocky eminence rising like a promontory
above the broad Vltava, its steep sides falling down to the river on the
eastern side, and to deep-cut valleys to north and south. The position
offers a wide view over the rolling plains to westward. It was from this
side chiefly that the attackers came--Germans in the cause of the Holy
Roman Empire, mercenaries of many nations that swelled the imperial
hosts arrayed against Protestant Bohemia, marauding armies of Swedes,
all these surged up against the walls and towers of Prague's Royal
Castle. They broke and passed away like the fleeting cloud shadows you
may watch floating across the fields and wooded slopes of Jilové,
Černy Kostelec and Zbraslav to the blue hills of Hradešin beyond.
But the castle still stands a sentinel over ancient Prague.

It must have been a pleasant post, that of sentry upon a look-out tower
of the Castle of Prague. What with the ever-changing beauty of the
landscape and the chance of noticing a hostile force approaching with
colours flying and spear-heads a-glitter in the sun, with, moreover, a
prospect of a fight, a sentry's life should have been a happy one. It
would be expected of the sentry that he should not be so held by the
fascination of the scene as to omit to report any unusual occurrence. I
have known such a thing happen even to an otherwise well-regulated
sentry. It was in Mandalay where from a wooden tower in the middle of
Fort Dufferin a sentry held watch and ward over the town. One bright
afternoon the town caught fire. The sentry was so much impressed by the
grandeur of the scene that he quite forgot to report the matter, and a
large part of the town was utterly destroyed. That man might have been
qualified as an artist, an author or a poet; as a sentry he was
disappointing.

There are no records of sentry yarns dating back to the really exciting
times in the history of the Hradšany; I have discovered only one, and
that of a comparatively recent date. The event narrated happened in the
autumn of 1753 at 11 p.m. The sentry was a grenadier; please note the
accuracy of detail which should dispel any doubt as to the truth of the
story--the grenadier touch is especially convincing. This grenadier, it
would seem, was posted in the inner court of the castle, probably at the
entrance to what is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Propaganda
(places of that kind want a deal of watching). The grenadier was
probably as bored as any sentry can be up till midnight sharp, when
things began to happen. First of all, the dark mass of the cathedral was
suddenly brilliantly illuminated from within. Then from that little side
entrance to the cathedral emerged a tall figure all in white. The sentry
challenged, as a sentry should. No use. The tall figure strode up to the
sentry, halted before him, cast a handful of corn at his feet and
stalked back the way it came. Lights out!... The next night at the same
hour the programme was repeated before a new sentry, also a grenadier:
the former one had probably reported himself sick. On the second night
the apparition cast down a handful of silver coin. The grenadier left
them all lying on the ground--this is the only part of the story that
strikes me as weak. On the third night, the military being represented
as before, the tall figure reappeared with commendable punctuality. On
this occasion the management had arranged a display of moonlight in
order to show up the pallid features, blood-stained clouts and other
accessories suitable to a first-class apparition. Moreover, this being
positively its last appearance in public, the tall figure spake: "1754
rich harvest, 1755 gold in plenty, 1756 blood in streams." And so it
happened. In the year 1754 there was a record harvest in Bohemia, the
year 1755 brought considerable wealth into the country (the handful of
silver was probably something on account), and in 1756 the Seven Years'
War broke out. So the story must be true, all except that little bit
about the grenadier leaving all the silver lying on the ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were really still watching the Hradšany grow out of Libuša's
prophecy. The chronicler left it to others to find out where the
building stood for which the man in the forest was carpentering the
door-sill as described by Libuša. That great lady simply said that
the work was going on in the forest which surely extended down to the
river-bank in those days. This may have encouraged the belief that the
first house, built by Libuša herself, of course, stood somewhere
below the Castle Hill--it is said on the site of the old posting house,
but some one obliterated all trace of it by erecting a church, dedicated
to St. Procopius, above it, no doubt as part of the business of stamping
out paganism. The Church of St. Procopius is no longer in evidence, and
as there have been further additions and improvements to the quarter of
Prague in question since the eighth century, it is now quite impossible,
even to the liveliest imagination, to fix upon the spot where stood that
first house. It does not matter very much either. The Hradšany itself
is easily the most imposing and interesting sight which Prague has to
offer.

The massive strength of the castle, the Hradšany, holds your gaze
from whatever quarter of Prague you may happen to look out. The castle,
as we know, has a hill to itself, up the sides of which rise clustering
palaces, churches, convents and monasteries, buildings of grey stone and
red-tiled roofs, standing amidst terraced gardens. In spring this
ancient quarter decks itself with glorious apparel of white of cherry,
pear and plum, with here and there the delicate pink of almond blossom;
in winter, when the snow lies "smooth and crisp and even," the scene is
changed into a fairy network as of delicate lace on a foundation of grey
and purple; in all seasons it is beautiful.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: THE HRADčANY FROM THE FUERSTENBERG GARDEN.]

The first sight of the Hradšany conveys an impression of sheer
strength, much as does Gibraltar; it also suggests a lion couchant but
watchful and strong to protect the city at its feet; this effect is
particularly noticeable from the Fürstenberg garden. The beauty of this
massive pile grows upon you gradually as you see it under the
ever-varying atmospheric conditions of Prague. By all the canons of
art the long straight lines of the Hradšany should be unlovely. The
towers which broke those lines no longer stand out boldly as shown in
old prints and engravings, at least on the townward side of the castle.
They have been gradually merged into the general mass of the building as
time and progress brought greater demands for living room and lessened
the need of defensive measures. The straight outlines are still broken
here and there by some trace of the ancient building showing through, a
mullioned window, an old stack of chimneys, but on the whole, the mass
by itself is heavy and uniform. Nevertheless, the general effect is
splendid, whether you see this stately pile standing out strong and
massive above the mist from the river or rising in tiers out of dimmed
silvery greys against an evening sky all gold and emerald, or flushed
with sunset scarlet. The crown of all this terraced glory is the great
cathedral. A square massive tower stands up out of the body of the
church. A purist may find fault with the mixture of styles this tower
incorporates. The bulk of its structure is Gothic; at the base of the
superstructure appears a nondescript medley of styles (nondescript at
least in the eyes of a dilettante) out of which arises a concern of
domes and cupolas one above the other, supported at each corner by
little pinnacles crowned with onion-shaped tops. The copper coating of
these domes and cupolas gives a distinctive touch of colour to the whole
edifice of warm grey stone; this note of green you will find repeated
elsewhere on the churches and other buildings of Prague, a piquant note
but alien to the spirit of Prague both ancient and modern. There has
been talk of removing the superstructure from the main tower of the
cathedral and replacing it by a Gothic spire such as adorn the towers
that flank the west front of the building, spires that gleam like
lacework when standing out sunlit against dark banks of cloud. It were
best to leave the superstructure of the main tower as it is; it marks an
epoch and serves as reminder of a tyranny now overpast. The highest
point of the main tower is not adorned with a usual emblem of our faith,
a cross or a cock, but flaunts instead the "Lion of Bohemia" in all his
rampant pride of a double tail. I shall have more to say about this
wonderful heraldic animal on some future occasion; it is significant
that this crest swings over the sacred fane where rest the remains of
St. Wenceslaus, over the cradle of Bohemia's religious life.

You will remember Libuša's vision of an endless succession of little
Přemysls. She overrated Přemysl a bit as a good wife should, for
the Přemysl dynasty ended abruptly with the murder of Wenceslaus III
in 1306 at the hand of some unknown assassins at Olomouc, by the Germans
called Olmütz. Nevertheless, the family had had a good long spell of
life and plenty to keep them busy during those six or seven centuries;
it produced some very fine rulers; all honour to old farmer Přemysl.
The first eleven scions of that line are very faint figures; they are
not even dated; only a few of them show more than a shadowy outline in
the mist of legend and dawning history. Of these early rulers there is
echo of one Mnata, who is said to have built the first stone house on
the Hradšany for his wife Strzezislava. I wonder what he called her
for short? Strz sounds a bit abrupt, Slava is too general among Slavonic
people: perhaps he called her Cissie. Strzezislava is certainly too rich
for ordinary household use. Cosmas passes by this point in silence,
which is a pity; it is just those intimate little touches that foster
pleasant social relations and justify the chronicler's attitude of
omniscience; our illustrated Press has reached perfection in that line.
Mnata and Strzezislava flit across the stage and pass into oblivion
without the benefit of gramophone and cinema. Then emerges one
Bořivoj, first of that name, who stands out more distinctly against
the background of misty legend, probably by reason of his having
embraced Christianity; he also embraced a lady, Ludmilla, who became his
wife and one of Bohemia's moat popular saints and patrons. It happened
that Bořivoj had occasion to ask his neighbour Svatopluk, Prince of
Moravia, for protection, and then he became acquainted with that
energetic missionary, St. Methodius. Unhappily we have no precise
information concerning date and place of this picturesque event. The
chronicler has done his best by giving the following story to fill up
the blank. He narrates that Bořivoj was not allowed to sit at table
with Svatopluk, but was given a low stool apart, as being unfit to
associate with Christian company. This is what the Christian chronicler
says, and he made it his business to bear testimony on all occasions. It
is, however, quite conceivable that Bořivoj's manners were not up to
refined Moravian form. Anyway, Bořivoj allowed himself to be
converted, and as there is no mention of his table manners we may assume
that he reached the required standard.

After all, manners are a matter of relativity, and not so long ago,
somewhere about 1700, the Austrian Court found it necessary to issue a
handbook thereon, in which guests bidden to the imperial banquets were
requested not to throw their chicken bones under the table, it made so
much extra work for the servants. There is quite a modern touch about
this.

With all the fervour of a convert, Bořivoj set about the salvation of
his people from heathen darkness. I have sought diligently for some
records of the beliefs held by this branch of the Slavonic race. There
is no evidence of any deities of strong if unpleasant personality, such
as that obstinate, one-eyed Wotan, or that destructive bully Thor, whose
brutality coloured German mentality down to most recent days, and seems
to do so still. Neither seem those Slavs to have been subject to
visitations in their homes by such doubtful characters as Hermes, nor
was their sense of propriety outraged by the "carryings on" of Zeus. No
doubt they had some benign deity, and also a malignant, jealous one, no
western creed is complete without the latter at least, if only for the
benefit of the priests, but they have left no trace on a people that has
suffered so much from the wickedness and stupidity of their human
oppressors. The western Slavs in general and the sons of Czech in
particular, had their flights of fairies, sprites, pixies and other
lovable immortals. They are here still; even I, a stranger, claim to
have heard them in "den heiteren Regionen, wo die reinen Formen wohnen,"
on the sun-kissed snow of the mountains, in the whispering voices of the
forest and the song of the burn in the glen. A sight of these benign
beings has been denied me--for this I make the heavy cuisine of Bohemia
responsible; but their spirit lives on and informs the sons of Czech in
the realm of the spirit, in art and poetry, above all in music.

Bořivoj plunged into Christianity with enthusiasm; he is known to
have built a church at Levy Hradec, and is said to have laid the
foundations of another on the Castle Hill. It appears, however, that
the pace he set was rather too hot for his people; they raised a deal of
trouble, and Bořivoj had to call in the German King Arnulf to help in
restoring order. This step did not bring unmixed blessings; it gave the
Germans an excuse for interfering in Bohemian affairs. Now Arnulf was a
Carolingian, of bastard blood indeed, but nevertheless under the "Holy
Roman Empire" obsession, and therefore convinced of the German right to
round up all Christian countries into that Empire. In this action of
Bořivoj we see the first instalment of the endless trouble caused by
the obsession which originated with Charlemagne as mentioned in the
first chapter. Moreover, this German intervention gave to the
inhabitants of Bohemia their first experience of religious dissension.
Their first contact with Christianity brought them the choice of rival
liturgies, the Latin as favoured by the Germans with their "Holy Roman"
idea, and the Slavonic which St. Methodius had introduced. So
Christianity in Bohemia began with an exhibition of divergent religious
views, which may account for a good deal of the suffering brought upon
this country for its own salvation and its neighbours' benefit.

Bořivoj's successors, Spytihnev I and Vratislav I, were kept so busy
guarding their country against Magyar inroads that it seems they had no
time to worry about religious differences. Neighbour Svatopluk's
extensive empire had fallen to pieces owing to the quarrels of his sons
and under Magyar aggression; this gave Spytihnev the opportunity of
freeing himself from the supremacy of Moravia which Bořivoj had
accepted in return for assistance rendered him by Svatopluk and the
Slavonic liturgy thrown into the bargain. This, again, brought the
Germans nearer to Bohemia, as neither Spytihnev nor Vratislav were
strong enough to stand alone. As politics and Church worked hand in hand
in those days, the Germans imposed the Bishop of Ratisbon, and with him
the Latin liturgy, on Bohemia, whereas such Slavs as had taken to
Christianity at all were rather inclined to the other version. This must
have caused a good deal of trouble, so it is not to be wondered at if
the rulers of Bohemia recalled happier, simpler days. There came a
certain reaction in the affairs of the Přemysl family. We have noted
the saintly lady Ludmilla, wife of Bořivoj, the first Christian
Prince of Bohemia. Ludmilla was very pious indeed; you will find
frescoes illustrating her good deeds, adorning the walls of Karlov Tyn
(Karlstein), a fine old castle of which I will tell you more by and by.
It is quite impossible to be so picturesquely good and pious as was
Ludmilla, in these days of mail-orders, wholesale departments, banking
accounts and cheque-books. There was another lady of the Přemysl
family, and she, according to all accounts, was neither good nor pious.
She was a reactionary, a thorough-paced pagan, and it was this lady who
caused trouble in the household. The lady's name was Dragomira; she had
married Bořivoj's second son, and had been left a widow with three
sons. This did not have the usual soothing effect upon the lady.
Dragomira, as regent during the minority of her sons, had revived
paganism, and this brought her into conflict with the German King, Henry
the Fowler. Pious Ludmilla, Dragomira's mother-in-law, was much upset
about this conflict, for with all her good works she found time to take
an active interest in foreign politics. Here were all the elements of a
hearty family row; in addition, Dragomira's sons took different sides:
Wenceslaus with his grandmother Ludmilla, Boleslav the younger with his
pagan mother. The chronicler sides entirely with Ludmilla and Wenceslaus
in his narrative of the domestic dissensions of the Přemysl family.
He shows no sympathy for the other side, does not realize that Dragomira
must have got very weary of her mother-in-law's piety and annoyed at
that lady's interference in the education of her sons. There is a great
deal to be said for Dragomira's point of view, and it is a pity that her
remarks on the rival Christian liturgies, Latin and Slavonic, have not
been handed down to us. Dragomira certainly carried matters too far when
she strangled Ludmilla with her own veil one evening in chapel; she made
the mistake of furnishing the other side with a first-class saint and
royal martyr.

Wenceslaus, the pious elder son, was extremely annoyed at this open
demonstration of family discord. Dragomira was sent into exile; her name
was never mentioned again. The treatment meted out to his mother made of
young Boleslav a more determined pagan than he was before; he sat up at
night hatching heathen plots against brother Wenceslaus. Boleslav's
reincarnation is probably to be found among international financiers of
the present day. The result of his machinations must be told in a fresh
chapter.



CHAPTER IV

Begins with the accession of Wenceslaus I, tells you how to pronounce
his name correctly in Czech, and informs you of his piety and general
saintliness. There is also mention of other saints as suitable company
for Wenceslaus, and a short account of how that prince qualified for a
halo himself. We note also the contrition of Brother Boleslav, who made
a martyr of Wenceslaus, how Boleslav did a good deal of fighting, most
successfully, and extended his dominions thereby. Also how Boleslav
learnt to be neighbourly and wise in his choice of a wife for his
neighbour who was promptly converted to Christianity. Of the son of
Boleslav I and Dubravka, wife of Duke Mieceslav I of Poland. How
Boleslav II, called "the Pious," earned that epithet and started Prague
with a bishop all to herself. Of churches and convents, and Milada, the
pious sister of Boleslav II. Of the growing importance of Prague and how
it was recognized and appreciated by Ibrahim Ibn Jacub and many of his
race.


With the accession of Wenceslaus, first Přemysl prince of that name,
Bohemia passes out of legend into ordered history; its rulers are
henceforth properly labelled and dated. This is chiefly due to the
spread of Christianity; priests and monks take up the tale of kindly
Saga, and keep careful record of events. These chroniclers were not as a
rule unbiassed; I cannot see how they could have been otherwise, for not
only did they undertake the task of compiling history, they were
constantly making propaganda for their own ideals against the paganism
which still had a considerable hold on the sons of Czech. I doubt
whether any historian can be absolutely unbiassed; a warm-blooded
man--and you must be that if you would record the doings of your
fellow-men--is bound to feel sympathy with or dislike for one or other
actors in the far-off pageant of history. I frankly admit myself biassed
in favour of Brother Boleslav the hearty heathen, and somewhat bored by
that saintly lady Ludmilla. A night out with Boleslav would have been
more amusing, if less edifying, than a country walk with pious
Wenceslaus, who would be sure to waste a good deal of time at wayside
shrines; a picnic arranged by Dragomira and in that lady's company,
would have been at least a material improvement on any little outing
with Ludmilla, who would surely have discovered some reason for fasting
on that particular day. But then I can afford a bias; am only making
observations from "a Terrace in Prague."

Monkish chroniclers sang the praises of Prince Wenceslaus. My spelling
of this name is incorrect, but it is more familiar to English eyes than
any other, as our Christmas carol "puts it with a 'we.'" I do not
suggest that this St. Wenceslaus is identical with the "Good King
Wenceslaus" we sing about--in fact, I have discovered another ruler of
that name who fits the part much better; but of this more anon. The
correct version of this saintly prince's name is Vaclav, pronounced
Vatslav. It is as well to get a proper grip of this word, as the show
street in the town is named Václavské Náměstí, which being
interpreted meaneth Wenceslaus Place; the Germans call it Wenzel's
Platz, but this designation is not popular at the moment. It is
advisable to acquire the Czech version of the name, as the Václavské
Náměstí is in the business and amusement quarter of the town. As to
the pronunciation of Václavské Náměstí, it presents no particular
difficulties, despite the profusion of accents (the Czechs are very
liberal in this respect), they seem to make no noticeable difference
with exception of the inverted circumflex, which makes "ye" out of plain
"e." This is nothing to what the Czech language can do in the way of
tongue-twisters.

The Václavské Náměstí rises gently towards another hill of Prague,
Vinohrady. At the top of the rise, looking right down the broad avenue
over the old town and beyond it to the Hradšany, is an equestrian
statue of St. Wenceslaus. There are other likenesses of the Saint; a
number of them adorn his chapel in the Cathedral of St. Vitus, and
another statue stands near the castle entrance on the Hradšany, in
the latter Wenceslaus is shown looking out over the city, his hand
upraised in blessing, which is right and proper and quite what the city
expects of him. The equestrian statue is the most recent portrait of the
pious prince, and is really quite convincing. We know, or at least I am
about to tell you, that Wenceslaus was a man of peace, he is therefore
represented carrying a lance; the modern sense of propriety requires of
a non-combatant that he should sit for his portrait armed. He need not
introduce a bunch of bombs or a pot of poison gas into the composition,
a sword will do. Wenceslaus brought his lance much as the up-to-date
war-winner girds on a sword when he goes to be photographed. Swords may
also be worn at weddings, at funerals, also at christenings I believe;
anyway, on all filmable occasions.

As far as I can discover, St. Wenceslaus only had one fight in his life,
and then he got killed.

Now that we have arrived at the first of authentically dated rulers over
Bohemia, Wenceslaus I, 928-935, we may as well take a look round the
Europe of that time. We find first of all that the peoples were capable
of getting into just as bad a mess as they are in to-day, and that
without the aid of any new diplomacy, League of Nations and
International Conferences. England was, so to speak, nowhere in those
days; Englishmen did not wander about the Continent making observations
from terraces, did not even launch missions and commissions on harmless
and unsuspecting countries, in order to impress the inhabitants thereof
with our wealth and our good taste in getting rid of it. England was
very busy with the Scots, Welsh and Danes, who were also causing a deal
of trouble to the broken-up remnants of Charlemagne's Empire. The ideal
of the Holy Roman Empire still lived and inspired a host of adventurous
Counts of the Marches and other bearers of German culture to inroads
into territory inhabited by Slavonic races. The idea seemed to be that
as each Slavonic tribe, principality or kingdom adopted Christianity it
should come under German domination and be held in trust for Mother
Church by German princes as long as the Papacy conformed to their
conception of right and wrong. The Papacy itself seems to have had no
definite ideas of right and wrong at the time, or at least did not put
them into practice; had, in fact, become thoroughly corrupt and
ineffective for good. Christendom was in a parlous state, disunited and
assailed by hosts of barbarians, Danes, Saracens, Hungarians. The latter
had become especially dangerous to the Slavonic peoples. Before Arpad
arrived at Pressburg (now called Bratislava, please) in 829, the
territory inhabited by Slavonic tribes, mostly in principalities of
varying size and importance, had extended with fluctuating frontiers,
from Holstein south-eastward through Central Europe to the Adriatic and
the Balkan range. Arpad drove a wedge into this Slavonic mass and broke
it into two parts; Arpad's descendants still separate northern and
southern Slavs. We have seen how the Empire of Moravia went down before
the Magyars, and that the Bohemians, no longer able to count on support
from that side, were forced to turn to Germany. The intrusion of the
Magyars into Central Europe, by dividing the mass of Slavonic races,
also weakened the influence of the Eastern Church among the Bohemians
and forced those that were inclined towards Christianity into closer
communion with Rome via Germanism. German priests were beginning to gain
the ascendancy over those of the Eastern persuasion, they objected to
services in the Vulgate, and as they knew no language but their own and
only sufficient Latin for their clerical duties, their influence began
to threaten the Slavonic genius of the Bohemians with extinction. This
was undoubtedly their purpose, and it accounts for much of Bohemia's
sufferings during the thousand years following the imposition of a
German bishop on this country by the German King Arnulf to whom the
immediate predecessors of St. Wenceslaus, Spytihnev and Vratislav had
appealed for assistance.

Another social institution which was beginning to make its influence
felt at the time under discussion was the feudal system. Hitherto,
civilized Europe had depended for offensive and defensive operations on
large slow-moving armies of foot-folk; these were ineffective against
marauding barbarians, Vikings in their sharp-prowed ships, or the light
cavalry of Hungarian or Saracen. Moreover, the governmental system
organized by Charlemagne had fallen to pieces, and there was no central
power to order the movements of a large army. Luckily for the cause of
Christendom and western civilization such as it was, the subordinates of
Charles's successors hit upon the right tactics to employ against the
invaders. The nominal subordinates, Counts of the Marches, burgraves,
barons, took a very free hand in those days of decentralized authority
and bad lines of communication. Based on impregnable strongholds, they
met the swiftly moving hosts of marauders with equally mobile troops of
mailed horsemen, raised, trained and paid by themselves, and bound to
their feudal lords by the ties of discipline out of which grew the
tradition of military servitude. It was these feudal lords and their
mailed horsemen who saved Western Europe; they took their own reward out
of the lands they saved and out of the neighbours whom they insisted on
saving, till they eventually became an unmitigated nuisance from which
Bohemia suffered as much as any other country. But for the moment we are
concerned with the times of St. Wenceslaus and the first half of the
tenth century.

It is a pity that no one had thought of holding an International
Conference in the early days of the tenth century; there were a great
many things to discuss, and a Conference would have added to the gaiety
of nations. There was the question of those Northern Slavonic tribes who
had steadfastly refused the blessings of Christianity as purveyed by the
Teuton; of course, no one could foresee that the Western Church's
activities in those northern regions would eventually produce the modern
Prussian. Then the Conference would have to decide whether or no
Vikings, Hungarians and Saracens should be admitted to the comity of
nations, and if not, how to start doing business with those people all
the same. Then the place of the Conference would have to be decided;
there was quite a fair choice of suitable localities. Paris was becoming
popular, had already been discovered by people from over the seas--by
the Vikings, who, in quest of souvenirs, on one occasion sacked the
city, on another burnt it down. Aix-la-Chapelle had been popular for
some centuries before the Vikings discovered the attractions of Paris;
it had the waters to recommend it, and also memories of pious
Charlemagne, on which members of the Conference might reflect when not
engaged in feasting and providing the Press with fiction. Constantinople
would also have been well suited to an International Conference in the
tenth century. The Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus was rather a dull
dog, but he kept a glittering court, and none but the most refined
society is good enough for secretaries, bottlewashers and other numerous
hangers-on of conferences. Kings and rulers would probably have attended
the Conference in person, not being willing to afford the luxury of
allowing a Prime Minister to neglect home affairs. It would have been a
pretty gathering, Constantine Porphyrogenitus the bookworm probably as
president, Æthelstan of England, Charles the Simple of France or as much
as his neighbours allowed him, that doughty poacher Henry the Fowler,
German King, and Pope Leo not on speaking terms with him, St. Wenceslaus
of Bohemia trying to make peace with Henry, and a make-weight of German
counts and churchmen, possibly representatives of Vikings, Hungarians
and Saracens. The proceedings would have been marked by a "certain
liveliness," as we used to say at the front when the fur began to fly.
The Conference would have differed from those of the present day, by
leading to a definite result if only in the form of a handsome row of
corpses; Counts of the Marches, Vikings and others would have attended
to that. It would have been interesting to note how monkish reporters
would clothe, or rather veil, their account of proceedings in suitable
language.

On the accession of Wenceslaus I the relations between his house and
the German King were strained. This, we have seen, was due to
Dragomira's anti-German foreign policy. Wenceslaus, however, as we know,
had occasion to send his mother into exile; she cannot have gone very
far, as according to popular belief the earth swallowed her up before
she had had time to get clear of the Castle Hill. Later generations put
up a chapel over the spot where Dragomira vanished; I consider this
conduct lacking in tact.

Anyway, Wenceslaus had to face a guileful, determined and quite
unscrupulous adversary, who had even called at Prague with an army; so,
being a man of peace, he came to terms with King Henry for a slight
consideration, namely, an annual tribute of six hundred silver marks and
one hundred and twenty head of cattle. This warded off trouble from the
west, but there remained the danger of barbarian invasion from the east
and there was every reason for erecting strongholds in Bohemia as in
other countries of Europe. I have found no trace of any such work by
Wenceslaus. He surely must have done something towards strengthening the
Hradšany, Hrad S. Vaclav or something like that, as it seems to have
been called at the time. Wenceslaus had built a chapel here in which to
house the relic of St. Vitus; I cannot imagine him leaving such a
treasure quite unprotected. This precious relic, namely, the arm of St.
Vitus, had been presented to Wenceslaus by King Henry which was handsome
of him, as he only got a trifling annual contribution of money and
cattle out of Bohemia, whereas that country was started off with
something of sufficient value to account for that noble fane the
Cathedral of St. Vitus. Bohemia did very well in the way of saints and
sacred relics; some of her kings were enthusiastic collectors, and we
remember that Christianity among the Czechs started with a royal martyr,
the saintly Ludmilla, who was shortly to be joined by another, as you
will be told later on in this chapter.

We are still trying to find out what Wenceslaus did for his capital and
country besides collecting odds and ends of saints and building a
chapel here and there, and regretfully state that little record of
anything but his piety is handed down to us. Piety, it seems, was no
more compatible with statecraft in the early days of Christendom than it
is to-day, and as Wenceslaus took the pious line, he gave way too much
to the German menace, thus laying up a store of trouble for his
successors and the sons of Czech which lasted well up to the present and
does not appear to be exhausted yet. In the meantime Wenceslaus,
evidently well pleased with himself, continued to set his people a godly
ensample. I should like to know whether they appreciated him to the same
extent as did some members of his family, Boleslav for instance, who
helped Wenceslaus to a crown of celestial glory by the simple process of
hitting him over the head. I am rather inclined to think that the piety
of Wenceslaus interfered with some of the innocent amusements of his
people, among whom paganism was not quite dead yet, as subsequent events
show. There was an interesting burial ground lying on the route which
Wenceslaus would follow when going from the Hradšany to Vyšehrad,
which remained the seat of government for several generations of
Přemysls after the pious prince's demise.... This burial ground, a
very extensive one, is now covered by the Church of Emaus and its
monastic buildings; you can see those twin towers, dark ochre in colour
and topped by characteristic steeple and pinnacles, rising from among
fruit-trees and red-tiled roofs. Na Morani was the name of this burial
ground, after Morana, the goddess of death. It was the correct thing in
pagan society to make pilgrimages to this place in spring: a pleasant
afternoon in a cemetery was a pastime as popular then as it appears to
be to-day. The _cachet_ of Na Morani had been rather spoilt by the
erection of a little church some time in the ninth century, perhaps by
Wenceslaus himself. Anyway, the pious prince found this church a
convenient half-way house between Vyšehrad and Hradšany, and he
was wont to put up a prayer or two here before going on to drop a tear
on the Hradšany relics. The little church was dedicated to Cosmas
(not the chronicler) and Damian, saints of the third and fourth
centuries. It is not known why these gentlemen clubbed together to have
a day to themselves, but this need not act as deterrent to anyone who
wishes to observe their day. Wherever pilgrims visit, there you will
find settlements growing up, beginning with booths and shanties of those
who sell appropriate commodities, candles, wreaths and such-like. The
traffic in these articles continues; it was only last Palm Sunday that I
was offered a variety of wreaths to choose from, small wreaths of
snowdrops and fir twigs, to be worn on the wrist, to be blessed by the
priest and then to be left lying about the sitting-room until fit for
the dustbin. I resisted all temptation to deck myself with snowdrops and
fir twigs; their subdued tones do not match my aura.

It seems to me that Wenceslaus did nothing in particular for his people;
he concentrated on his part as royal saint and martyr, and was already
posing for the statues of himself and the frescoes depicting his good
deeds, which later ages produced. There was little to show for all this
prince's good intentions. Pious, indeed, was Wenceslaus; he spent a
great part of the night in prayer when he should have been recuperating
for strenuous work on the following day: there was plenty to do for a
country threatened on the one hand by marauding Magyars, on the other by
insidious German influence. "He was in the habit of himself cutting off
the wheat and grapes that the priests required to prepare the holy
wafers and the wine for the sacrament"--I quote Count Lützow, but his
conception of political economy allowed him to pay a large tribute in
exchange for German interference and the remains of a saint. He lavished
money on the Church, whereas strongholds were required in defence of
Christendom, and finally he adopted the tonsure. This struck home to the
family and made Boleslav's cup of bitterness o'erflow; he plotted more
persistently than ever against Wenceslaus. Another habit of the pious
Prince was that of attending Church dedication festivals and their
anniversaries, in every part of his dominion. The Church feast of
Cosmas and Damian, much patronized by Wenceslaus at a little town
called Boleslav, was due on September 28th. Wenceslaus was invited to
attend this function by Brother Boleslav, who resided there. Boleslav,
by this time very weary of his pious brother, sat up with a few friends
of his own way of thinking, waylaid Wenceslaus, and killed him. This
happened in 935, and the 28th of September is still kept sacred to the
memory of St. Wenceslaus by those who feel inclined that way.

My sympathy with Boleslav does not blind me to the fact that he did
wrong in killing his brother. I am glad to report that Boleslav showed
signs of contrition. The town of Boleslav henceforth became distasteful
to him, so he quitted it and raised another of the same name. Stara
(Old) Boleslav, where Wenceslaus gained his degree of martyrdom, is a
sedate little town near the banks of the Labe (known as Elbe in Germany)
dozing among orchards and lush meadows and o'ershadowed by tall
elm-trees. It is by no means a suitable setting for a sensational
fratricide; I have been to see the place for myself and consider that
the Wenceslaus-Boleslav, drama requires a different scenario. The newer
town, Young Boleslav (Jung Bunzlau in German) is much better suited to
the film; it stands up high on a rock and looks a likely habitation for
an expert in assassination such as was Boleslav, brother of Wenceslaus.

Despite all Boleslav's efforts, popular opinion has it that Wenceslaus
is not dead, but fast asleep inside a mountain, making up for nights
spent in prayer no doubt. I do not believe this report.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: OLD BOLESLAV.]

Boleslav succeeded Wenceslaus as first Bohemian Prince of that name. His
was a long and eventful reign, from 936 to 967, long at least for those
days when rulers were apt to be removed abruptly. None knew this better
than Boleslav himself. Monkish chroniclers have little good to say of
Boleslav I--allegedly on account of that little affair at Stara
Boleslav and of Boleslav's persistent paganism; actually, I imagine, on
account of the anti-German attitude he adopted at the outset of his
reign. Boleslav ruled with a firm hand; he subdued a number of Bohemian
nobles who had allied themselves with the national enemy the German,
before he resumed the conflict with Henry the Fowler which his mother
had started. Henry, no doubt, was quite ready to quarrel, using the
murder of his ally as a pretext, but he died before he had had time to
settle down in the saddle, and left his son Otto to carry on. Now Otto,
first German Emperor of that name, was a strong man, and is called Great
on account of his success in reviving the Holy Roman Empire. Boleslav
was a strong man too: Palacky, the famous Bohemian historian, describes
him as "one of the most powerful monarchs that ever occupied the
Bohemian throne." He succeeded in defending his country from the armies
that Otto launched against it, and even the invasion of 950, led by the
Emperor himself, brought no decisive victory for the Germans. Boleslav
seems to have considered it futile to continue quarrelling with his
western neighbour, especially as the usual trouble continued in the
east, in which direction the Prince proposed to extend his dominions. By
955 we find Germans and Bohemians allied against the Magyars, who had
acquired a habit of ravaging Western Europe once a year. They met their
match on the Lechfeld, near Augsburg, and were utterly defeated in one
of the most sanguinary and decisive battles fought during the Middle
Ages. According to Count Lützow it appears that a Bohemian contingent of
a thousand men formed part of the victorious army. Boleslav himself,
with the greater part of his troops, remained to guard the frontiers of
his country. The defeated Magyars suffered another defeat at the hands
of Boleslav on their retreat through Bohemia, and their leader, Lehel,
was taken prisoner. With peace and friendliness on his western front and
his eastern enemy thoroughly beaten, Boleslav was in a position to carry
out his ambitious plans. He freed Moravia from the Magyars and united it
to Bohemia, and he is said to have conquered a considerable part of the
country between the Carpathian Mountains and the Danube; probably
Slovakia of to-day. By his conquests Boleslav became a near neighbour of
Poland and managed to come to a good understanding with Duke Mieceslav
I, ruler of that country, by giving that prince his daughter Dubravka in
marriage, which would no doubt be considered a friendly act. Dubravka
succeeded in converting her husband and his yet heathen people to
Christianity. Mieceslav must have taken to it very strongly, for between
them he and Dubravka produced a pious son and heir who was to become
known as Boleslav the Brave.

Boleslav II of Bohemia, called "the Pious," enjoyed an even longer reign
than his father did, from 967 to 999, which is one of those easy dates
to remember. Monkish chroniclers seem to have ascribed a good deal of
the work done by Boleslav I to his son, probably on account of the
former's lack of piety in his early days and the latter's exuberance in
that line. Certain it is that Boleslav II was ruler over larger
dominions than had ever been held by any Prince or King of Bohemia.
Besides Bohemia itself the power of Boleslav II extended over Moravia,
present-day Slovakia, a great part of Silesia, including Breslau,
districts of Poland nearly up to the town of Lemberg, with a frontier
touching that of the Russian rulers of Kiev. The Bohemian nobles who had
troubled his father were entirely suppressed by Boleslav II, who
appointed burgraves called "zŭpans," over the various districts into
which his territories were divided, and the central authority became
absolute.

It is not certain whether Vyšehrad was still the actual seat of
government or whether the Hradšany had taken its place. Certain it is
that the Hradšany had grown in importance chiefly in the religious
life of the nation. The foundations laid by St. Wenceslaus were
extended. It appears that the Church of St. George on the Hradšany
dates back to this early period; you can see its two rather stunted
white steeples standing out over the complex of buildings near the
eastern point of the Castle Hill before it dips down towards the Vltava.
The earliest church on this point is attributed to Vratislav, uncle of
St. Wenceslaus, but this sounds rather doubtful. Boleslav II, however,
is known to have founded a convent here, probably the oldest in Bohemia,
and he installed his sister Milada as first abbess. St. Ludmilla was
also buried here, so the Hradšany was increasing in sanctity.
Boleslav II is also responsible for providing Prague with her first
bishop. We have seen that Henry the Fowler had incorporated Bohemia into
the bishopric of Ratisbon; this was before that country could be
considered as Christian, with right, as we have noticed the lapse after
the demise of St. Wenceslaus. Boleslav II, however, was in a position to
point to a much improved state of affairs, and so Otto I consented to
the formation of a separate bishopric of Prague. The Pope consented
likewise, under the express condition that the connection with the old
Moravian archbishopric should be broken, and that the Latin liturgy only
should be used. The German connection was further strengthened by
placing Bohemia under the supremacy of the Archbishop of Maintz;
Thietmar, a German, became the first Bishop of Prague. This worthy was
succeeded after a few years by a native of Bohemia, Adalbert, who
finally established Christianity in the country. He had a hard task, as
many heathen customs, such as polygamy, were difficult to extirpate;
there are even in this day very few churches dedicated to St. Anthony, a
saint who does not seem to interest or convince the Bohemians. Adalbert
carried his ideals farther afield, to the country of the heathen
Prussians, who killed him for trespassing on ground dedicated to one of
their deities. Adalbert became the third saint and martyr of Bohemian
origin, and was adopted by the Poles as patron saint.

Though there are no buildings other than those on the Hradšany
mentioned by the chroniclers, we may assume that a township was growing
up by the river at the feet of the Castle Hill. We have the testimony of
Ibrahim Ibn Jacub, who speaks of Prague as "a great commercial town of
stone-built houses." Ibrahim's visit must have taken place in the reign
of Boleslav II. I conclude that he was talking of a town on the left
bank of the Vltava, because others of his race who came here in that
Prince's day are said to have been allowed to found a school in the Mala
Strana quarter. Some fifty years later yet more Jews came to Prague
bringing presents for the ruler, Prince Vratislav, and Bishop Gebhard.
They were allowed to build twelve little houses on the outskirts of the
town, which would be somewhere about the Harrachove. These Jews promised
to be of good behaviour and to pay double taxes, but in three months
their numbers had increased to seven hundred, so half of them were
ordered to go out over the river to where the old town now stands;
another Jewish settlement was established there. The advent of these
visitors is proof positive that Prague was becoming not only habitable
but also a place of importance.



CHAPTER V

In which good and bad rulers of Bohemia make or mar the fortunes of the
country, the points being chiefly in favour of the good rulers, despite
the constant intrigues, quarrels and general misconduct of the
Přemysls.

Of the harm done by Boleslav III, of the sons of Dubravka the Bohemian
Princess, Boleslav the Brave and Vladivoj. Of a somewhat tiresome trio
of brothers and how the line of Přemysl nearly died out. The romantic
story of Ulrich and Božena the village maiden, and of their
stout-hearted son Břetislav, who reigned from 1037 to 1055 and
greatly restored the prestige of his country during those years. How St.
Adalbert was recovered from Poland, and a few appropriate remarks on the
subject. Of the buildings and other matters of interest which date from
the tenth and eleventh centuries and are to be seen in Prague. Of the
bridge built by Judith, Queen of Vladislav II, in 1167. Of some churches
in Prague and the round chapels. Of Vratislav, first King of Bohemia,
and his fights for the Empire. Of Břetislav II, and how he greatly
exerted himself to extirpate paganism, forbidding pilgrimages to the
shrines of heathen deities at Arkona on the Island of Rügen, Of
Soběslav, who became hereditary cup-bearer of the Empire. Of
Vladislav II, contemporary and ally of Frederick Barbarossa. Vladislav's
crusade and campaigns in Italy. Vladislav founder of the monastery
called Mount Zion at Strahov. About Strahov and the beauty and interest
thereof.


Boleslav II had left dominions more extensive than any Slavonic State
before or since could boast of; moreover, he left the name of Přemysl
in high repute for piety and ability. Boleslav III, his son, undid all
the good his predecessors had brought to their dominions and their
reputation; in fact, within a few years of his accession he found
himself stripped of all his belongings save Bohemia, and his hold on
even that country was under dispute at times. It appears that Boleslav
III was constitutionally unable to agree with anyone; contemporary
chroniclers describe this Prince as cruel, avaricious and distrustful.
The sons of Czech have always had a strong objection to paying for what
they do not want, and that is what Boleslav was always expecting of
them. He became so unpopular among his own people, who were called upon
to finance him in his troubles with his brothers, that they invited
their Duke's cousin, Prince Vladivoj, brother of Boleslav the Brave of
Poland, to intervene. Vladivoj died young, so his brother took charge
of all that had been the Bohemian realm, and incorporated it with his
own; Boleslav of Poland, it is said, even contemplated making Prague the
capital of his Empire. There is no trace of anything he did for the
city, so we must assume that he did not carry out his intention: he was
probably prevented by the inevitable friction with the Germans, who
always found some excuse for putting down any attempt at founding a
strong Slavonic Empire. In this instance King Henry II intervened on
behalf of Boleslav III, who had stooped to becoming a vassal of the
German King, with the title of Duke. After the usual fighting, Boleslav
III was restored to his country for a short period in which he
distinguished himself by wholesale assassination of his opponents. He
eventually died in Poland as prisoner of Boleslav the Brave. Meanwhile,
what with his cantankerous brothers, with Polish ambitions and German
ill-will, Bohemia was having a sorry time.

In all this unseemly wrangling among the members of the Přemysl
family I find only one bright spot of human interest, and that is the
little affair of Ulrich and Božena. All three brothers, Boleslav III,
Jaromir and Ulrich, the last surviving Přemysls, were childless, and,
failing heirs, their inheritance would pass to Poland, to the children
of Dubravka. A Přemysl successor was wanted; Ulrich and Božena
provided one. It is undoubtedly true that Ulrich was already married
when he encountered Božena, the beautiful village maiden, while she
was washing the family linen at the village pump. It was a picturesque
event, this meeting of the young prince and the village maiden, and has
been satisfactorily illustrated by a patriotic Bohemian painter. You
will find highly coloured reproductions of that artist's work in a shop
window on the Narodni Třida, all illustrating events in the history
of the Přemysl family, and when you see what Božena looked like
you will not blame Ulrich. Anyway, Ulrich married Božena. How he
managed this without causing complications is not our affair; the
ancient chroniclers were satisfied; they insist on the legality of this
union, and as we know them to have been very particular in such
matters, it is not for us to discuss the point. You must also remember
that Christianity was yet young among the Czechs and that they had been
strongly addicted to the amiable habit of polygamy. You may also gather
what was the attitude of Bohemian chroniclers from the remark which
Dalimil, the contemporary of Ulrich, puts into the latter's mouth:
"Rather would I entrust myself to a Bohemian peasant girl than that I
should take a German queen for my wife. Every heart clings to its own
nation; therefore would a German woman less favour my language. A German
woman will have German servants; German will she teach my children."
From this remark you will understand that the Bohemians thoroughly
appreciated their neighbours.

Ulrich reverted to type, and once again the stout peasant stock of Czech
came to the rescue of a fading dynasty; the son of Ulrich and Božena,
Břetislav I, was destined to restore the house of Přemysl to a
position more in keeping with its great traditions. Before succeeding
his father, Břetislav was given an opportunity of proving what good
stock he came from. Boleslav of Poland had died, his sons quarrelled
over their heritage, and their dissensions gave the neighbours an excuse
for interfering. One of these neighbours was King Stephen of Hungary,
afterwards called "the Saint." He had only recently been converted from
paganism, but he took part in this Polish dispute just as if he had been
a ripe old Christian monarch of some standing. Stephen had the happy
thought of taking Moravia for himself, no doubt in pious memory of his
ancestor who first stole it. The same idea occurred to Ulrich of
Bohemia, who sent young Břetislav into Moravia, where the latter
defeated the Magyars rather badly; Moravia thereupon was added to
Bohemia, whereas Slovakia remained with Hungary.

Břetislav failed to realize his ideal of forming a strong national
Slavonic State, independent of German rule--he had too strong an Emperor
against him, Henry III; but he certainly restored Bohemia and the
Přemysl dynasty to a position of some importance in Europe. He was,
however, unable to shake off the German grasp of his country; German
armies had arrived before Prague and threatened that city with
destruction, so Břetislav submitted to the inevitable, paid tribute
to the Emperor and spent the last and peaceful years of his reign in
restoring order and prosperity to his country. The city of Prague
benefited by the bravery of Břetislav, for as a result of that
Prince's successful campaign against the Poles the body of St. Adalbert,
whom you have met before as Bishop of Prague, was captured by the
Bohemians and restored to their capital. There was, I believe, some
trouble about this operation of Břetislav. The ruler and people of
Poland had appointed Adalbert as their patron saint; he had been killed
in their country, had been buried there some time, and had even a
cathedral to himself at Gnesen. The Pope launched a bull or two at
Břetislav over this business. I do not know whether any of them took
effect. The Bohemians were ordered to return Adalbert to the Poles, but
I do not know that they did so, neither have I seen him lying about in
Prague, probably because I have not looked for him. Adalbert is the
patron saint of Emaus in Prague among many other churches in Bohemia,
but no doubt he can find time to patronize Poland as well. Anyway, I do
not anticipate any strained relations between the Republics of
Czecho-Slovakia and Poland on this account; both countries are more
interested in a yet older fossilized form of creation--coal to wit.

With the best will in the world it is difficult to rise to any
enthusiasm over the majority of Bohemia's rulers in the eleventh and
twelfth centuries. There seems to have been nothing of beauty or
interest in individual Přemysls to break the monotony of endless
quarrels between brother claimants to the throne and appeals of
unsuccessful rivals to their German neighbour, whose decision would be
entirely guided by the desire for a further weakening of Bohemia. Prague
has little to show in the way of architectural interest dating from the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, but what there is is good. I doubt
whether any other city in Europe has much to show of that period of
transition from Romanesque to Gothic: whatever there was has generally
been pulled down or built over when the great flood of Gothic poured
over Europe some century or so later. But if there is little to see in
Prague which can be clearly traced to the two centuries under
discussion, it is of interest in showing the expansion of the town since
Libuša's prophecy concerning it. The Hradšany came in for some
attention. Another church, dedicated to All Saints and built up very
near the Basilica of St. George, dates back to the eleventh century.
There are, or were till recently, distinct traces of work dating from
that century to be found in the Karmelitska Ulice, that thoroughfare
which leads from the Malo Stranské Náměsti towards Smichov. We have
already noted that the Jews had settled in this part of Prague towards
the end of the tenth century and that some of them had been ordered
across the river to another settlement of their kind, so there must have
been good steady business to be done in Prague. I have often wondered
how and where people crossed the Vltava previous to 1167 when Judith,
Queen of Vladislav II, built a bridge very near the site of the present
Charles Bridge. Judith's bridge was eventually carried away by floods,
but the Mala Strana bridgehead tower remains; you see it with its squat
tower and broad chisel-shaped steeple, rising up beside the more
graceful and ornate tower of the present bridge, which was new in the
early years of the fourteenth century. The stout tower built by Judith
is a very interesting study of architecture; it has had a long life of
usefulness, having been used for many years as a lock-up for the froward
youth of the neighbourhood, and it is still inhabited. This sturdy
remnant of Judith's bridge, which you can see from my terrace, is the
only trace I have found of means of communication between the two banks
of the river. There must have been considerable traffic, as we know, for
instance, how St. Wenceslaus was in the habit of going to and fro
between Hradšany and Vyšehrad. The river was probably fordable in
several places, but it is rather a treacherous stream with a swift
current and an uncertain bottom; some Hungarian troops attempted to
cross it by a ford on a certain memorable occasion, and were swept away
to perdition. Yet even before Judith's time there must have been need of
a bridge. The town and various settlements around it were growing up, as
is proved by the number of churches which were considered necessary or
appropriate. The Hradšany was very well off in that respect. Then
there was the Church of St. Cosmas and Damian, where you now see the
towers of Emaus, and in the twelfth century, if not at the end of the
eleventh, the foundations of the Tyn Church were laid. This period also
has left three quaint little Romanesque chapels in various parts of
Prague. They are very well preserved, these little round chapels, and
the fact that they are pretty far apart suggests the extent to which
Prague had expanded by the end of the twelfth century. There is one of
these chapels dedicated to St. Martin, on Vyšehrad, another to St.
Longinus, rather difficult to find, some half-mile north-east of Emaus;
and a third, the oldest of all, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, stands
near the old Town Tower of the Charles Bridge. There is also a
seventeenth-century _baroque_ imitation of these Romanesque chapels
under the riverside slope of the Letna Hill, which is not worth
troubling about.

While Christianity was striking its roots yet deeper into the soil of
Bohemia, the rulers of that country were being drawn into the quarrel
between the spiritual and the would-be temporal head of the Church; the
"Investiture Strife" gave Vratislav, son of Břetislav I, an
opportunity of strengthening his independence and increasing the
importance of his country. He took sides with Emperor Henry IV against
one of the strongest of the Popes, Gregory VII. The Emperor's Bohemian
allies took part in many of that monarch's battles, chiefly against the
Saxons, who appear to have been hereditary enemies of the sons of Czech,
and the victory at Hohenburg on the Unstrutt in 1075 is attributed to
the bravery of the Bohemian troops. Six years later Bohemian troops
helped Henry IV in his attack on Rome, and their leader, Wiprecht of
Groitch, was one of the first to scale the walls of the Eternal City.
The Czechs have always been good hearty fighters, and of the three
hundred who set out to help the Emperor against Rome only nine returned
home to Bohemia. The Germans, even in those early days, were thorough
utilitarians.

[Illustration: ST. MARTIN'S, VYŠEHRAD. B.G.B. 1912.]

As reward for his many and great services Henry IV promoted Vratislav to
the rank of King. It appears to have been, as it were, brevet-rank only;
it was not hereditary. Nevertheless it was a great day for Prague when
the ruler of Bohemia was crowned with the golden diadem, presented by
the Emperor himself. There was no doubt that King Vratislav had earned
the distinction--he had done well by himself, by his country and by his
ally the Emperor--so no doubt the Basilica Church of St. George on the
Hradšany and its congregation did all honour to the crowning of
Bohemia's first King. It is also interesting to note that Vratislav had
"contributed to the party funds"; he had lent money to the Emperor. This
should strike a homely, familiar note among us.

The frescoes in St. George's Church probably date from the time of King
Vratislav; there was a distinct revival of love for things beautiful in
those days when the peoples were beginning to see the light that was
rising, gently but persistently, over the subsiding chaos that had
claimed Europe for the past three centuries and more. True, the world
was still a confused and worrying sort of place to live in; apart from
the soul-sickening public quarrels between Rome and the Empire, there
was a good deal of private enterprise in that line between all manner of
petty potentates. Nevertheless there was some improvement to be noted,
first in the tendency of fostering national feeling in place of a
confused cosmopolitanism, secondly by the effects of the Cluny movement
in its endeavour to reform the Church. The tendency of the time
expressed itself in beautiful illuminated manuscripts, and Prague is
lucky in the possession of many such. It is probable that Duke
Břetislav II, grandson of the first prince of that name, encouraged
the expression of his people's religious and national sentiments, in
those illuminated manuscripts of the Bible, of Missals, and the
"Cantionales," those works so beautiful in design, so loyal and sincere
of execution, their colours as fresh as when the artist's hand withdrew
reluctantly from the finishing touch.

Břetislav II had had a misfortune in his youth; he had caused a
courtier of the name of Zderad to be murdered. Zderad had insulted the
young Prince; what with that and the courtier's unpronounceable name it
is no wonder that Břetislav was roused to act indiscreetly. He found
it advisable to spend some years abroad after this little affair, and
only returned home when his father's neck was broken out hunting.
Břetislav took up the anti-pagan line very strongly. It seems
strange, but there was still a certain amount of paganism lurking in
secret places in Bohemia. It was not safe to indulge in heathen rites at
home, but there were places abroad where it was still possible. One of
these places is still a fashionable holiday resort, the Island of Rügen
in the Baltic Sea. Here there was a temple at Arkona, to Svantovit, the
god of air and light, besides a local and household deity president over
all Rügen, called Rugevit. I can quite imagine a couple of Czech
householders, law-abiding and good church-goers, conspiring to get away
from the family for a bit and take a trip to Rügen, just for a flutter
with the old gods. What with the secrecy required, as both Ruler and
Church forbade the practice of worshipping Slavonic deities, the
practice must have been quite as exciting as _petits chevaux_.

Whether it was this interference with the Rügen pilgrims or his action
in stamping out the custom of holding religious services in the language
of the country, Břetislav II was not popular; he was eventually
murdered by some of his nobles. The successors of Břetislav seem to
have been cantankerous and inefficient; it is wearisome to read of those
hopeless people throwing away the fruits of good work done by such stout
fellows as Břetislav I or even the hearty heathen Boleslav. In all
this distressing muddle of brothers, cousins, etc., fighting, getting
beaten and running off to the German Emperor to howl to him about it,
there are occasional bright spots. So for instance, one Soběslav, who
came to the throne in 1125, and found things in the usual mess, with
half the country against him; nevertheless he managed to beat Emperor
Lothair most heartily. Lothair had crossed the Giant Mountains in order
to support the claims of some other Přemysl, had met Soběslav's
hastily gathered army at Kulm, near Teplitz, and had been handsomely
beaten. Not only that, but Lothair and the remnants of his army were
surrounded, and it was up to the Bohemian Prince to impose terms this
time. Soběslav was thus able to improve the status of Bohemia
considerably, and he added to his country's dignity by receiving the
high office of hereditary cup-bearer of the Empire, from Conrad III,
Lothair's successor. Cupbearer in perpetuam to an Empire sounds very
important and suggests great possibilities of influencing people. As a
matter of fact the office gave Bohemia certain rights within the Empire
which went some way to balance the obligations; nevertheless German ties
were fastened yet more securely on the sons of Czech.

Soběslav was succeeded by his nephew Vladislav, another Přemysl to
rise to royal rank. This Prince passed through the usual troubles before
securing the throne to himself, and was perforce driven to invoke the
German Emperor Conrad in order to establish his sovereign rights over
the whole of Bohemia and Moravia. The reign of Vladislav I (as King) is
relieved by a certain picturesqueness, by a touch of romance, from the
usual sordid course of events in the life of the Přemysl dynasty with
its rivalries, treachery, conspiracies and other social amenities of the
time. There is even something picturesque in the fact that the Pope had
felt obliged to send Cardinal Guido with a special mission to establish
order among the Bohemian clergy. These amiable gentlemen would persist
in entering the bonds of matrimony; if Bohemian ladies were as
attractive then as they are to-day, I feel the sincerest sympathy with
those gallant priests. It is easy to imagine what trouble arose when
Cardinal Guido insisted that all married priests should either separate
from their wives or renounce their dignities, and there were some
clerics of the highest rank, among them a couple of deans, who were
called upon to this act of renunciation. The immediate result of the
Pope's interference was that the Bohemians chased his legate from Prague
to Eger, where the latter succumbed to his injuries. This was certainly
a picturesque incident, but it was not appreciated by the Papacy, which
was hotly in favour of Cluniac principles. There were other picturesque
events pending which forced a compromise even on Rome; the second
crusade, much encouraged by Cluny, was in course of preparation, and as
all Christian countries of Europe were expected to take part, the time
was not propitious for bringing pressure to bear on Bohemia's ruler. He
had not arrived at royal dignity when the Guido episode took place; it
was within the first year of his reign. The royal crown was bestowed on
Vladislav a few years later by another romantic personage, Frederick
Barbarossa, in consideration of Bohemian assistance against the
Emperor's enemies in Northern Italy. Vladislav marched an army of ten
thousand men from Bohemia, took part in the siege of Milan, and himself
killed Dacio, one of the leaders of the Milanese.

I doubt whether Vladislav is entitled to an effigy with feet crossed, as
his part in the second crusade was not remarkable. He took his troops to
Asia, left them there under the charge of King Louis VII of France, and
returned to his own country via Constantinople, where he indulged in a
little intriguing with the Greek Emperor Emanuel. This seems to have
given the flamboyant Greeks the impression that Bohemia's King had
become a vassal of their Emperor; they were disillusioned some years
later when Vladislav assisted Stephen III on to the throne of Hungary
against the Emperor Emanuel's choice.

It is all very fine and thrilling to read about picturesque princes,
romantic rulers, and we shall hear of several in the history of Prague,
but they are not necessarily an asset to a country that wishes to
develop in peace and consolidate within its own boundaries. It is
difficult to see what good Vladislav did by his trip to Asia with the
crusaders; he left his troops in charge of a foreigner and created a
distinctly wrong impression on another people while on his way home.
Again, he was romantically brave in Italy at the head of a Bohemian army
which was much in excess of the numbers required of him by his agreement
with Barbarossa. Of this large army very few returned to their native
country. There is, however, one deed by which Vladislav becomes entitled
to undying merit: he founded the Monastery of Strahov.

Where the strip of land which connects the Hradšany Hill with that of
Petřin, mentioned in Libuša's forecast, dips a bit before rising
again, there Vladislav laid the foundations of Strahov. This happened in
1140, what time Vladislav was beset by enemies of his own house, who
disputed his right to the throne; he was even assailed in his capital,
Prague, by another Přemysl, Conrad of Znoymo. Nevertheless the walls
of Strahov Monastery rose over the terraced valley that dips down into
Prague between Petřin and Castle Hill. The good monks of Strahov,
illumined by the light that spread from Cluny, soon made of their house
a home of learning and piety, a haunt of peace where weary souls found
rest from strife and turmoil; Mount Zion, the people called this sacred
spot, and the name still clings to it despite the many vicissitudes
through which it has passed. It must have been a-building when the
enemies of Vladislav attacked the city, it was destroyed when the
Hussite wars broke out over Bohemia, and it suffered at the hands of the
Swedes during the War of Thirty Years. But the good work that Vladislav
the King had started on Mount Zion of Strahov was not allowed to perish;
the monastery re-arose from its ashes after each visitation, with
renewed strength, arose to look out over Prague from its terraced
height. While looking out over the city with the eye of a friend full of
loving understanding, the congregation on Mount Zion pursued the even
tenor of its way, collecting treasures for the benefit of future
generations. The library, a wonderful sight and soothing after the
turmoil in the streets of Prague, contains many of those collected
treasures, instruments used by the astronomer Tycho de Brahe, the works
of Racusani the philosopher, a gift of Sir Thomas Saville to Hajek the
sixteenth-century biologist, astronomer, professor of Prague University,
who had studied in Milan and Bologna and had visited England in 1589.
Then there are the poetical works of Elizabeth Weston of a noble
English family, who had made her home in Prague and died here in 1612. A
very learned lady this, but, it would seem, unhappy. You may see her
tomb in St. Thomas's Church in Mala Strana, just beyond that imposing
Jesuit Church of St. Nicholas, on it the following inscription:--

D. O. M. S. B. M.

Elisabethae Joannae Westonae

Nobilitate patriae Britanniae,
Seculi nostri Sulpitiae,
Cui nomen dant litterae illibati

    Minervae floris
    Suadae decoris
    Musarum delicii
    Foeminarum exempli.

Strahov Monastery has, I hope, passed through its vicissitudes and has
entered at last into an existence of undisturbed usefulness. Of its
earliest appearance there are neither record nor any traces left; the
storms that passed over Bohemia have obliterated any outward sign of the
Mount Zion which Vladislav founded and whither generations of the pious
sons of Czech went up to find peace. One of the first of these was
Vladislav himself; weary of war and worn out by internal dissensions, he
abdicated and retired to Strahov to end his days.

Strahov was entirely rebuilt in the seventeenth century, and has
withstood the enemies of Bohemia from without and within, taking no
irreparable harm from the open attack of Frederick of Prussia in the
eighteenth century or the covert attack of those hostile to the faith it
has stood for down the ages. The quaintly shaped spires of St. Mary's
Church with its three aisles, its glorious organ the largest in all
Bohemia, stand out in bold relief amidst the terraced garden and
orchards tended with fond care. The belfry is silent, its bells were
sacrificed to the cause of the Habsburgs in the Great War; you may see
plaster casts of them in the library. Here you may feast your eye on
gloriously illuminated manuscripts and wonder at the ingenious
inventions of one or other good brother who sojourned here a while on
his way to the "Abiding City." There is, for instance, a model of the
first lightning-conductor. Country folk, when they first saw it, crossed
themselves, thinking this the work of the devil. The visitors' book in
the library shows signatures of men famous in history, among them our
Nelson, who, in company of Sir William and Lady Hamilton, visited
Strahov on September 29, 1800. The strict rules of the congregation of
Premonstratensians allow ladies to visit only the library, which is
approached from the outer courtyard; the picture gallery is
unfortunately closed to them, a small collection but of value, its gem
is Dürer's "Rosary Feast."

[Illustration: STRAHOV MONASTERY.]

So stands Strahov, Mount Zion, between the Castle Hill and Petřin
looking out over Prague from its terraced gardens and its bower of
fruit-trees. It is always beautiful, this haunt of old-world peace,
whether the garden and the orchard be all a mass of blossom creamy white
in the sunshine, pale purples in the shadows, in the shade of midsummer
foliage when Golden Prague below glitters in the midday heat, or in
autumn when the valley is all a blaze of gold and russet, and the
distant hills stand out in strong blue masses. Winter also brings
fascination. Strahov, its many windows severely closed and reflecting a
sullen sky, seems to stand out more austerely from among the gaunt
tree-trunks, their grey and sombre outlines broken by a fantasia of
gnarled and twisted branches glittering under snow. But within those
walls, in the high altar's mysterious depth, in the long bare corridors
and tiny cells where useful work continues as it has done for centuries,
there is the "peace that passeth understanding."



CHAPTER VI

Deals in succession with five Kings of the House of Přemysl, Ottokar
I, Wenceslaus I, Ottokar II, Wenceslaus II and III, with whom the male
line of this famous dynasty became extinct. This chapter also touches on
the story of the Jews of Prague and tells about one Dalibor who provided
a hero for Smetana's opera of that name. Mentions buildings and
improvements undertaken by the Kings above named; tells of their
troubles and trials, and how for a time they overcame them. Introduces
the first Habsburg to Bohemia and makes mention of other visitors to
Prague.


On the death of Vladislav II, in fact on his retirement to the
cloistered peace of Strahov, it became evident that there were too many
Přemysls about in Bohemia to make for that country's peace and
contentment. These worthies were constantly falling over each other in
the scramble for the throne, and their disunited efforts resulted in ten
changes in the person of the sovereign over a period of twenty-four
years. This filled Bohemia's German neighbours with unholy joy and
brought the distracted country more and more under Teuton domination, so
much so that Frederick Barbarossa thought fit to summon one or other
pretender and a bunch of obstreperous Bohemian nobles to appear before
him at the Imperial Court at Ratisbon, in order that he might exercise
the right he had assumed of settling the affairs of the Přemysl
dynasty. By way of a picturesque touch to the proceedings, Barbarossa is
said to have arranged for a suitable display of executioners' axes at
the meeting. Nevertheless this pretty imperial conceit settled no
affairs one way or another, and it was not until Přemysl Ottokar
became undisputed ruler of Bohemia, and eventually of Moravia as well,
that order of a sort was restored. Death had also been busy among
members of the Přemysl family and had brought considerable relief to
the distracted country.

By the time Ottokar I had settled himself firmly on the throne he found
that the confused, almost anarchic, state which Germany had drifted into
could mean many advantages to Bohemia, if the situation were properly
handled. The House of Hohenstaufen began to go downhill after the death
of Henry VI, and we find a lusty Welf, Otto, clamouring for the imperial
diadem, assisted by a number of German Electors. This gave the ruler of
Bohemia his opportunity, and Ottokar took it. His son Wenceslaus I and
grandson Ottokar II followed the same line of policy, a purely dynastic
one. They took sides with one or other of the rivals for the crown of
the Holy Roman Empire, changing as considerations of domestic interests
required, and making skilful use of the perennial quarrel between Empire
and Papacy over the Investitures. While the Hohenstaufens were trickling
out until the luckless Conradin lost his head at Naples, while fierce
Welfs like Otto of Brunswick wrecked themselves on the rock of papal
insistence, Bohemia's rulers were profiting. Ottokar I seems to have
been particularly astute in this line of business. He supported two
rival Emperors in turn and got something useful out of both, he upheld
the cause of Pope Innocent III against one or other imperial rival and
induced that pontiff to recognize the Přemysl's title to royalty.
Ottokar even found himself sufficiently strong to try a throw with the
Pope himself on the vexed subject of Investiture, simply by way of a
little private sport on his own account and not as part of the general
European brawl. It happened that Andrew, Bishop of Prague, was one of
those didactic prelates who insisted on all the little things the Papacy
was out for--immunity for his clerics from the temporal law-courts, from
taxes, and so on. Above all, Andrew was strong on the right of
conferring ecclesiatical office, albeit he had himself accepted
investiture at the hands of Ottokar. This led to quite a hearty quarrel
in which Andrew got the worst of it; he had to seek refuge in Rome,
whence he let off all the customary fulminations, declaring Bohemia to
be under interdict and so on. Nobody in Bohemia took the least notice of
Andrew's little efforts; Church and people went solidly with their King
on this occasion, and carried on their devotional exercises as before.

We have to thank Ottokar for several picturesque flashes which brighten
up the gloomy picture of this period. So for instance, he took a trip to
Maintz, where he was solemnly crowned as King. No doubt Prague would
have been a more suitable setting for this function, but Ottokar had so
timed his arrangements as to come in for a double event, for Philip of
Suabia with assistance from Bohemia's ruler, secured the German crown at
the same time. Then again this thoughtful Přemysl Ottokar provided
Bohemia with yet another patron saint of the blood royal, and not by the
old-fashioned family method of killing a relative. Ottokar had married
Constance of Hungary, and it was their daughter Agnes who next joined
the distinguished and hallowed company of Ludmilla and Wenceslaus.
Agnes, educated by St. Hedwig, early distinguished herself by refusing
to marry Emperor Frederick II. She decided to become a bride of heaven
instead, founded the Order of Clarissa, entered it herself and
eventually died as abbess in the odour of sanctity. Frederick consoled
himself with one wife after another (a wife seems to have lasted no time
in those days), his third and last being Isabella, daughter of King John
of England, whose son, Richard of Cornwall, also comes into the story a
little farther on in this chapter. St. Agnes was held in great reverence
by the citizens of Brüx, is still so held, I hope, for she did them a
good turn in 1424. The Pragers had been indulging in a feud with the
Brüxers, and had taken a bad beating on one occasion. The former
prepared a surprise attack and marched on Brüx hoping to take it by a
midnight assault. St. Agnes happened to be watching while the fat
burghers slept; she roused them from slumber, drove them to the walls
and aided them in beating off the attacking Pragers, Then the Brüxers
went to sleep again. It is also pleasant to reflect that Agnes's refusal
to marry Frederick did not mar the excellent relations that sprang up
between that monarch and Ottokar whenever the latter happened to want
something out of the former. It is true that Ottokar had changed about a
good deal between one rival emperor and another, but he remained loyal
to Frederick in the end, and the latter outlived him by some thirty
years. The relations between the two must have been quite pleasant and
comfortable, as you may judge from the concessions made by the Emperor
of the Holy Roman Empire to Bohemia's King. A pretty and tactful
compliment it was on the part of Frederick to allow Ottokar's heralds,
when preceding their royal master to the Imperial Diet, to carry lighted
torches on poles before him, and this to signify that the Bohemian
excursionists were at liberty to burn down anything they had a mind to.
It is these little considerations that have ever played such an
important though unrecognized part in the diplomatic relations between
nations. The Bohemians are still quite nice about accepting little acts
of kindness and consideration from anybody.

Přemysl Ottokar I had reigned for twenty-eight years when his son
Wenceslaus, first King of that name, succeeded him, and, strange to say,
practically without opposition. By this time Bohemia had risen to a
position of importance in the councils of Europe not only by the
skilful, not to say artful, policy of its rulers, but also owing to the
growing prosperity of the country which was reflected in the life of
Prague its capital.

Prague consisted of three distinct settlements each apparently under
separate administration. There was the old original settlement on
Vyšehrad which seems to have been under the sway of the abbot
presiding over the monastic institutions on that hill. Then there was
Libuša's foundation on the Hradšany and extending down to the
river, probably under the rule of the King's lieutenant or burgrave,
and finally the Old Town on the right bank with its own municipal
institutions. These three parts of Prague were separately walled in, but
little remains of any architectural work earlier in date than the Kings
of Bohemia of whom this Wenceslaus is generally counted as the first
though his father's royal rank had been recognized by the Pope and at
least two emperors.

By the time Wenceslaus I came to the throne, the changes were in full
swing which were to lead up to the golden age of Prague a century or so
later. We have already noticed a tendency of German immigrants towards
Prague and other cities of Bohemia. The Germans, mostly tradesmen and
artisans, came with the civic instinct well developed, whereas the sons
of Czech were, and still are, more of the fields and forests and the
free life without walls. The Germans, bringing with them the
appreciation of walled security, were responsible in great measure for
the fortified cities of Bohemia and Moravia. It cannot be said of the
later Přemysl rulers preceding the Kings of Bohemia that they were
inspired by the founder's ardour. Then again the Bohemian nobility had
risen to a strong sense of its own importance encouraged by the
lamentable dissensions in the reigning house, and not uninfluenced by an
infusion of German blood; they also had taken to walling themselves in
on convenient hill-tops. As these nobles were become increasingly
troublesome, it is not surprising that Přemysl rulers induced more
and more Germans to settle in the cities of Bohemia and Moravia, thus
starting a steady-going middle class which might be expected to pay for
peace and protection and which when walled in was conveniently in hand
for the tax-collector's operations. That this scheme was beginning to
succeed even in the early days of the twelfth century is proved by the
fact that Jews were flocking to Prague in ever increasing numbers, so
there must have been business doing in the capital and other cities of
the land, under conditions of reasonable security. It may be taken for
granted that improvements and additions to the defences of Prague, the
decoration of the town by stately churches and other monuments, however
much directed by the sovereign, were paid for by the burghers.

The story of the Jews in Prague makes very interesting reading; it is,
however, beyond the scope of this work to give more than an indication
of the part that the Children of Israel took in the development of the
city. You will remember that a travelling commercial gentleman of
Semitic origin, one Ibrahim Ibn Jacub, had visited Prague in the tenth
century and had noted the place with approval. As far as I can make out
he makes no reference to a colony of his co-religionists already in
existence here, so the story that Jews settled here before the
destruction of Jerusalem seems little likely. It was, indeed, averred by
the Jews of Prague that they had their settlement here long before
Libuša launched her prophecies, before the birth of Christ in fact,
so that they at least might be considered guiltless of the Divine
Tragedy on Golgotha. Their legend calls the place Buiarnum, which
suggests some acquaintance with the Celtic tribe that rested for a while
in Bohemia, gave its name to the country and then wandered to Bavaria,
where it repeated the performance. I find this legend of the Jews
difficult to believe despite my earnest endeavour to find something of
truth in Saga's ebullitions. How, for instance, is it possible that the
gifted lady Libuša did not discover the advantages of a Jewish colony
and that she omitted to prophesy a contribution out of the sons of
Israel towards her new foundation? No, if there had been any Jews within
signing distance of this city when it arose, Praha would have started
with a mortgage on her, and the entertainment tax would probably be
double what it is this day.

You may take it as a general principle that every country has the Jews
it deserves. If you oppress them, trample them in the mud as was
customary in pre-war Russia, they will turn and rend you when their turn
comes round; this is happening in Russia at present. If you despoil a
Jew by violence, he will do the same to you by guile, and you may or may
not be left with your full complement of cuticle. If you treat the Jew
as one entitled to equal rights with equal responsibilities, you will
find him an excellent citizen.

As elsewhere in the Europe of the Middle Ages, the Children of Israel in
Prague were confined to certain quarters of the town. We have heard how
a number of them were ordered to leave the Hradsšany side of the
river and settle in the Old Town. The quarter allotted to the Jews was
in that part of the Old Town known as Josefov, and the Old Ghetto stood
approximately in that complex of narrow streets between the river at the
Rudolfinum Bridge and the broad thoroughfare Mikulašska Třida. I
could point out the place from my terrace if I were minded to give its
locality away and to depart from my principle of making every man choose
his own point of view.

The life of the Ghetto centred round the old Jewish Town Hall, with its
quaint, indeed rather unsightly, tower on which is a clock that you are
expected to treat as one of the sights of the place. On the face of this
clock the numbers are marked by Hebrew letters and the hands of this
clock move from right to left. The fact that the Jews had a Town Hall to
themselves in ancient Prague is significant; it stood for the
semi-autonomous constitution of the Jewish community which was subject
to the sovereign as a corporate body with its own municipal institutions
and responsibilities. This peculiar segregation of the Jewish community
as an _imperium in imperio_, apart in matters of local administration as
in matters of religion, from their fellow-citizens, must have done a
great deal towards forming the character of its members, and the result
has been of advantage to the city of Prague in times of stress.

Close by the Jewish Town Hall stands another yet more ancient landmark
of cultural history, the "Staronová Škola", or Old New School. Close
by the side of that broad thoroughfare the Mikulasška Třida, with
the electric trams clanging along it, stands this strange temple. Dr.
Jeřabek, in his excellent booklet on _Beautiful Old Prague_ likens
this ancient building to a gigantic hand of Aaron held up in blessing
over the Ghetto; I think you will agree with me that this is a very
happy simile. Built in the severe style of transition from Romanesque to
Gothic, of massive stone walls heavily buttressed, with steep red-tiled
sloping roof, blackened with age and the grime of the walled-in Ghetto,
this temple served not only as a place of worship for the sons of
Israel, but also as a casket for the remains of a yet older one said to
date back to the sixth century and probably the oldest temple on the
Continent of Europe. The present fane itself is of venerable age and
aspect; its building fell into the reign of King Wenceslaus I and
Ottokar II, and took ten years, from 1250 to 1260. Men only are allowed
to worship in the inner temple, dingy and dark; whatever light
penetrates through the narrow windows calls forth reluctant glints from
the many brass candelabra, work of long centuries ago. Women may look on
from an outer court through glazed openings that look like
gun-embrasures.

The Jews required strong defences in the dark days of the Middle Ages;
their Ghetto was shut off from the rest of the city by heavy iron gates,
but even these proved of no avail when once the mob got loose and
undertook a raid. On several occasions organized massacres took toll of
the "Children of the Ghetto," who on other occasions were banished, bag
and baggage, from Prague and driven out into the country. Though now and
again they suffered intolerably, yet were they on the whole better
treated than in many other parts of Europe, were allowed to develop
along their own lines, and produced many men of mark and learning, and
women of distinction, among the latter one who was raised to the
nobility by a Habsburg Emperor and King of Bohemia, Bas-Schevi called
"of Treunberg." Among the prominent men whose light shone out beyond the
Ghetto of Prague, I may mention the poet-Rabbi Abigdor Caro, the
bibliophile Rabbi Oppenheim whose library is now in Oxford, then the
chronicler and mathematician David Gans, a friend of Keppler and Tycho
de Brahe, and Solomon de Medigo de Candia the pupil of Galileo Galilei.

[Illustration: "A RELIC OF THE GHETTO."]

Tall modern houses look down upon the smoke-blackened temple; the Ghetto
gates have fallen long ago, and nothing remains of its former crowded
dwelling-places but a quaint ramshackle old house of Oriental aspect,
and the old cemetery, Beth-Chaim, "the House of Life," as the Jews call
it. This is no doubt the oldest existing and still preserved Jewish
cemetery in Europe. Here tombstones stand closely crowded together, or
lean one against the other under the thickets of ancient elder-bushes;
glints of sunlight flicker through the dense foliage over graven sign of
stag, of vine or flower, or the hand upraised in benediction of some son
of Aaron, light up Hebrew script in its severely decorative characters,
inscriptions half effaced but not forgotten, for careful record has been
kept. This old burial ground seems far removed from Central Europe, yet
it is intimately connected with the story of Prague. Though old
landmarks are vanishing, yet a mist of legend hangs close over this
strange, alien part of the city, legends of cabalists, reputed sorcerers
like Aaron Spira or the more famous Rabbi Jehuda ben Bezalel Loew. The
latter is supposed to have been in league with the Powers of Darkness
which bestowed on him superhuman gifts. This Rabbi is said to have
created an Homunculus which became so troublesome that it had to be
incarcerated. The spot chosen as prison for this evil being was high up
in the wall of the temple. A row of iron clamps leads up to a small door
on the outside wall facing the Mikulašska Třida, leads up to where
Homunculus is still believed to be in durance.

Prague got better Jews than it deserved, for they showed great loyalty
to the city of their adoption, and, despite persecution, even took an
active part in the defence of the town. This happened towards the end of
the Thirty Years' War, when the Swedes were making this part of Europe
unsafe. The Swedes broke into Prague by the Strahov Gate and attempted
to seize the Old Town. They had almost succeeded, for the usual
precautions against surprise had been neglected, but luckily the
students, butchers and Jews of Prague managed to rally to the defence.
After fierce fighting on the Charles Bridge, the Swedes had to abandon
their attempt on the Old Town and retired altogether. On this occasion
the Jews showed not only public spirit but commendable bravery, and were
rewarded by the Emperor with a banner, a mighty imposing affair with ten
poles, as it takes ten men to carry it; you may see this interesting
trophy in the old temple still.

The Jews of Prague have continued to do good work not only for and in
the city of their adoption, but well beyond its confines, both in public
utility work and in science. It is especially in the science of healing
that the Jews of Prague have risen to eminence, not only by reason of
their depth of learning and their unremitting labour, but also by the
generosity and impartiality which actuates them in their dealings with
sufferers. I myself have personal knowledge of such instances, and I
speak of people as I find them.

No doubt some of the Jews joined in the picturesque cry which did so
much to cheer up our Christian enemies of the Central Powers, "Gott
strafe England!" but I cannot quite imagine any responsible son of
Israel doing so with Christian fervour; the "jealous God" of the
Hebrews, having reserved to Himself the right of vengeance, would be
sure to resent any instructions from "the sheep of His pasture" as to
how a case of the kind should be dealt with. Moreover, the punishment of
England may safely be left in the hands of her politicians, who are also
in one sense or another "Chosen People."

When rewarding those who distinguished themselves in the defence of
Prague against the Swedes, the Emperor also remembered the butchers of
the town. These stout fellows brought to their guild, as tokens of
imperial gratitude and goodwill, the permission to bear as cognizance
the White Lion of Bohemia clutching an axe; a very rampant lion
reinforced by a double tail--in fact "some lion," more power to him!

       *       *       *       *       *

Of Wenceslaus II there is not much to relate in regard to lasting
monuments of his reign in the capital of his kingdom. He was kept
thoroughly busy with the quarrels between Pope and Emperor, taking sides
as best suited his country's interests, making for safety as a rule. He
also found time for a private quarrel with Leopold, Duke of Austria, but
he also took that ruler's part against the Emperor Frederick II as
occasion served. While Central Europe and the Holy Roman Empire was thus
disporting itself, a diversion was caused by a particularly noxious
swarm of Tartars which had broken loose from somewhere in Asia, probably
from the region of Lake Baikal. They swept over Russia, swamping the
domains of the disunited princes of that country, defeated Poles and
Silesians at Liegnitz, and generally set up a healthy scare in
disordered Europe. Wenceslaus rose to the occasion like a good stout
Přemysl. He fortified the passes leading into Bohemia from Silesia,
and there his sturdy soldiery defeated the Tartars, who turned off
towards Moravia, Hungary and Austria, and vanished again from Europe as
quickly as they had come. Thereupon Pope and Emperor, Bohemian King and
Austrian Duke, and all the smaller fry, resumed their fighting of each
other, launching bulls and banns and such-like amenities into space on
the chance of some one or other being affected thereby. The Bohemian
nobility thought fit to add to the gaiety of nations by starting an
insurrection against Wenceslaus, a movement led, according to
time-honoured custom, by the King's son Ottokar, who had been entrusted
with the government of Moravia. This Ottokar eventually ascended the
throne of Bohemia as second King of that name, and became one of the
most notable rulers of his time and race.

The early days of Ottokar II are noteworthy on account of the close
connection established between Bohemia and Austria which led to endless
complications and eventual disaster for the former country. Ottokar
thought fit to marry Adela, sister of Duke Frederick of Austria,
Frederick the Warlike, the last of the long line of Babenberg. The lady
was forty-six, Ottokar twenty-five, but that does not matter when there
is a chance of inheriting something. Ottokar was elected Duke by the
Estates of Austria, and endeavoured to incorporate Styria into his
dominions. In this he met with opposition from Bela, King of Hungary,
with whom he came to an agreement after the usual fighting. Thereupon
Ottokar turned his attention to the heathen Prussians, who were supposed
to be getting ripe for conversion to Christianity. He defeated them in
several battles, which made his task much easier, and founded a strong
city, named Königsberg after him, to keep the Prussians from
back-sliding.

It is interesting to note that Ottokar's policy brought him into a
certain degree of contact with England. The Holy Roman Empire was making
very heavy weather at the time, the German Electors being thoroughly at
variance amongst themselves, and so it came about that after a period of
intense anarchy euphemistically called the "Interregnum," two rivals
were put up of whom neither could be said to have occupied the throne.
These rivals were both foreigners to Germany, one being a Spaniard, the
other Richard of Cornwall, second son of King John of England. Ottokar
thought fit to support Richard, who in return did little things to
oblige Ottokar, such as investing him with other people's lands and
fiefs, and all went well for a while. Ottokar had extended his dominions
considerably, had brought a number of smaller States, some of them
German, under his sway and virtually controlled all Central Europe from
the Baltic to the Adriatic Seas. He had beaten the Hungarian King Bela
and his friends, Daniel Romanovic the King of Russia and Prince of Kiev,
a Prince of Cracow and odd assortments of Serbs, Bulgars, and
Wallachians, most handsomely at Kressenbrunn on the plains of the River
March.

Ottokar's political conception of the part which Bohemia should play in
Central Europe is particularly interesting. By conquest, alliances and
understandings with his neighbours he had acquired a preponderating
influence in the councils of Europe. The power he had concentrated round
the Slavonic nucleus of his native country lay almost entirely in
German-speaking districts, so that a situation arose in which Count
Lützov finds some analogy between the policy of this Přemysl Ottokar
and that pursued by the Austrian Government from 1815, when the
Habsburgs finally abandoned the notion of a Holy Roman Empire, to 1864
and 1866, when Prussia took the first decisive step towards reviving the
same idea under the title _Deutsches Reich_. There is a good deal in
Count Lützov's contention, and this subject might well be taken up by
some leisured student of history. It seems to me that the history of
Central Europe shows several instances of attempted breaks from
tradition and striving after a more lasting political re-grouping such
as Ottokar seemed to have aimed at; I hope to return to this subject
later, though I may only touch the fringe of it.

Ottokar's plans were completely upset, first by the death of his
obliging friend Richard of Cornwall, next by events attending and
arising out of the choice of a new Emperor by the German Electors.
Ottokar being a Slav, and a very powerful one at that, was heartily
hated by all German Princes, so they, being in a majority, disallowed
Ottokar's right to vote at all, and elected as Emperor one Rudolph
Count of Habsburg. History of this time was recorded by Germans chiefly,
and they have spared no trouble to blacken Ottokar's character, by which
process Rudolph of Habsburg is made to stand out as a light shining in
the darkness. In Germanic eyes Ottokar's fault was that of being a Slav,
successful and of great ability. I cannot agree with the German
chronicler's estimate of Rudolph. We are expected to accept him as a
modest sort of backwoods peer, the kind that wears flannel next its skin
and keeps its small estates unencumbered. We have also a pretty picture
in verse of this Rudolph. He is described as meeting a priest carrying
the Host, on the bank of a foaming mountain torrent somewhere among the
Alps where the ruins of the Habsburg still show against the sky like an
abandoned hawk's nest; the name probably derives from Habichts Burg,
Hawk's Castle. Rudolph dismounted, placed the priest on his horse and
humbly, cap in hand, led it across the stream. Years after this
picturesque event the priest, carefully disguised, attended the Council
of Electors and at the psychological moment, produced his harp, burst
into song on the subject of Rudolph, and so swayed the Electors that
they offered the German crown to that modest and retiring Habsburg. I
cannot believe this story of the priest among the Electors, and my
disbelief is based on experience of elective bodies. Can you imagine the
Parish Council, in the throes of electing a suitable person to keep the
village pump in order, being confronted by a mysterious stranger who
suddenly interrupts the proceedings by singing the praises of "good old
Jarge" to the accompaniment of an accordion? No, there is something
wrong about that election story; I believe Rudolph was a schemer, and
the whole affair cut and dried before he stood for election at all.
Certain it is that Rudolph, supported by all Germany, attacked Ottokar;
this was the first rencontre between Bohemia and the House of Habsburg,
and it ended in disaster for the former. Ottokar was deprived of all the
lands he had acquired, betrayed by his own nobles, and finally killed
in battle near the scene of his victory over the Hungarians.

Despite the troublous times of the two Ottokars and of Wenceslaus I, the
city of Prague, or rather the communities composing it, had expanded
into a place of considerable extent and importance, and was already
spoken of as the City of many Towers. The three above-mentioned
sovereigns, as also Wenceslaus II, son and successor of Ottokar II, had
found time and means to do a considerable amount of building of which
some traces are still evident. We have already noted that Wenceslaus I
girt the Old Town around with walls, likewise the hill of Vyšehrad,
and he took the strengthening of the Hradšany in hand. This latter
job was completed for the time being by Ottokar II, who caused those
imposing-looking towers on the north front of the castle to be built.
These towers are named respectively Black Tower, White Tower, and
Daliborka, by which latter hangs a tale which I will relate to you by
and by. Some of the authorities I have consulted differ as to the actual
date of these towers, and are inclined to place the building of
Daliborka in the fourteenth century, probably into the period when
Charles IV found the royal castle to be badly in need of repair and set
about the work forthwith. It is certain, however, that both the
Wenceslaus and Ottokars interested themselves in strengthening the
fortifications of Prague, and are not likely to have neglected the
Hradšany, which stronghold was furnished with a permanent garrison of
ten knights and three hundred men-at-arms. The north side of the castle
has preserved the mediæval appearance which has been improved away on
the other sides, chiefly by fatuous Habsburger in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries; the north side overhanging the deep-cut Stags'
Moat shows you the formidable nature of this fortress with its stout
towers rising up over the tops of tall trees that struggle up out of the
valley mentioned by Libuša, for a glimpse of the sun.

The towers of the Hradšany were suitably fitted out as dungeons, with
the latest thing in trap-doors warranted to give the visitor a sudden
and complete change of air. One of these towers soon found a lodger, one
Dalibor after whom the tower was named for ever after. There is an opera
all about Dalibor composed by Smetana; the music is very beautiful, but
as the singing is all in Czech, I have not quite got the hang of the
story, so will give as nearly as I can and by the aid of my own
imagination, what happened to Dalibor.

Dalibor, it appears, was a Bohemian knight with views in advance of his
time: he was a socialist. One day he assembled his friends, relatives
and retainers in the castle yard and appeared among them armed and on
horseback. He dismounted and commenced proceedings by scraping off his
shield the heraldic emblems with which it was charged. Lions and bears,
rampant, couchant, gardant, and other fauna in becoming attitudes,
bends, bars, engrailed, dancetty, raguly, gules, azure, argent or
otherwise--all these things of beauty vanished from Dalibor's scutcheon
while the assembled multitude wondered "What next?" Thereupon Dalibor
held forth, in impressive manner and impassioned tones, on the iniquity
of the system, the inequality of condition, under which they were all
forced to exist. Having made his assembled fellow-men his equals by
removing the aforesaid heraldic devices, he would further show his sense
of equality by leading them in person and on foot to real freedom; so
said Dalibor. Thereupon the multitude, at Dalibor's heels, set off down
the hill and started spreading equality all around them. Their method
was quite simple, indeed it lacked originality: they just helped
themselves to the goods of those who happened to live by the way. Those
who failed to rise to this lofty conception of Dalibor and his comrades
were knocked on the head--also quite a simple and homely method of
appeal; and so this happy band of pilgrims left behind them a dead-level
of equality. These their efforts at social regeneration, their
illustration of economic principles, were not appreciated. Dalibor was
captured and invited to take up his residence beneath the trap-door of
the tower that was henceforth to be known by his name.

As soon as he was safely housed, Rumour, the mother of Legend, got busy
about him. Folk began to whisper to each other the news that wonderful
music was heard proceeding from out of the stern walls of Dalibor's
prison; the sound of a violin was heard by the many who were attracted
to the spot by Rumour. No doubt Dalibor learnt to play the violin: the
Czech is so intensely musical that he will master any instrument before
he has got the hang of the grammar of his own language, the fiddle is so
much easier. The strange thing is that the musical performance continued
long after Dalibor's death--here Legend steps in with the assertion that
an angel, a fairy, or at least some sort of supernatural being, is
continuing Dalibor's programme.

[Illustration: A TOWER OF THE HRADČANY.]

There were many other visitors to Daliborka, and in course of time the
lower stratum of the tower filled up with human relics. As the defunct
visitors were mostly Czechs, and therefore full of music, I should think
that they could form at least a string quartette--it only requires a
little enterprise and a good strong medium. I make a present of this
suggestion to the Prague Society for Psychical Research, if there be
one.

Prague must have been a fair city in those days when Ottokar II rode out
of the gate to meet Rudolph of Habsburg. Although the ban of the Empire
and the interdict of the Church were upon their King, the people of
Prague, clergy and laymen, accompanied him to the city gate with prayers
and tears. When news of his death came to Prague the bells of one
hundred churches tolled out on that 26th of August, the Feast of St.
Rufus, a day destined to be of ill-omen to Bohemia's Kings.

       *       *       *       *       *

The shadow of the hand of Habsburg hung darkly over the southern
frontiers of Bohemia. Rudolph, the first Habsburg Emperor, began the
famous tactics of his house, gaining power by matrimonial alliances. His
son Rudolph was to marry Agnes, daughter of Ottokar II, whose son
Wenceslaus II was to marry Gutta, the Emperor's daughter.

Wenceslaus II was a minor when he succeeded his father, and suffered
considerably under his guardian and cousin Otto of Brandenburg, who, in
pursuit of an all-German policy, even imprisoned the young King. Anarchy
reigned in Bohemia when young Wenceslaus, at the age of twelve,
nominally assumed the reins of government. The actual ruler of the
country, however, was Zavis of Falckenstein, an able man but of doubtful
morality; there was some unsavoury story concerning him and Ottokar's
widow Kunhuta, whom Zavis eventually married. Then again the young King
had Zavis done to death in treacherous manner, while the condition of
Bohemia as an ordered State went from bad to worse. Strange to relate,
the country flourished economically--became, indeed, very
prosperous--the increase of wealth being largely due to the fact that
workings on the silver mines at Kutna Hora had been resumed. Towards the
end of the reign of this Wenceslaus, whose rule was mild, matters
improved somewhat. Bohemia became a sort of city of refuge, and
neighbouring States, Hungary and Poland, being in a worse state of
anarchy than any others, invited King Wenceslaus to reign over them.
Bohemia and Poland thus became united for a while under one ruler,
Wenceslaus, who had himself crowned King of the latter country at
Gnesen. Hungary was given in charge of the King's son Wenceslaus, who
was crowned as King of that country and resided some time at Ofen.
Wenceslaus had taken a Polish Princess to wife after the death of Gutta,
and had thus reinforced his connection with a Slavonic neighbour, but
Germanism was in the ascendant in Bohemia and the hand of Habsburg was
stretched out over it. It was yet some centuries before the power of the
Habsburg should become absolute in the lands of the Přemysl dynasty,
but that family's light was nearing extinction. Whether good or bad, the
rulers who sprang from the soil, from the peasant stock of Libuša's
choosing, had been of the people and had on the whole served their
people's interests. With Wenceslaus III murdered by an unknown assassin
while on his way to Poland, the male line of the Přemysl dynasty died
out. It continued in the indirect line by the marriage of Elizabeth,
daughter of Wenceslaus II, with Rudolph, a grandson of the Habsburg who
dealt the death-blow to Bohemia's native rulers.

Whether for good or evil, alien influence was working strongly in
Bohemia, and notably in Prague. Ottokar II had encouraged it as part of
his policy towards keeping in check his turbulent nobles and towards
raising up a reliable middle class. His nobles aided towards his
downfall by their treachery, and the middle class of Prague, though
loyal to the Crown, was alive chiefly to its own interests. Perhaps that
foreign influence was weaving its spell over the burghers of Prague, a
spell to which the Slav is somewhat susceptible.

During the reign of the last Přemysl sovereigns Prague offered the
spectacle of a rich and prosperous city, but its brightness was rather
that of lights round the bier of some illustrious dead. Many foreigners
found themselves attracted to the capital of Bohemia during this
period, among them some ardent souls who were to be found doing good,
according to their lights, in other cities of Europe, namely, Irish
monks. It is of interest to us to note that these monks were frequently
called Scots: you will find traces of them under that designation in the
Schotten Kirche at Ratisbon and the Schotten Ring in Vienna. In Prague
they were recognized as Irish, and their name lives on in the Hybernska
Ulice in the Old Town. A church, with an altar dedicated to St. Patrick,
arose at the corner of that street by the cross-roads, under the hands
of Irish monks; a church now used for secular purposes, and built over
the original edifice, stands there still. Amidst all the turmoil of this
busy centre of the city you may still in those small hours of the
morning when the traffic dies down for a while pick up an echo or two of
the voices of those zealous Irishmen, but you must listen with all your
soul, for those sounds are very elusive. Again, looking out over the
city from my terrace I notice a copper dome just across the Charles
Bridge, a dome flanked by high towers, and all bearing the unmistakable
mark of Jesuit architecture. Yet that building, now used as part of the
University, recalls memories of pious souls who came to Prague at the
invitation of Přemysl Ottokar II. These were the Knights Crucifer, or
the Cruciferous Knights as the guide-book prefers to call them. Their
Order, the members of which always carried a cross in the left hand, was
founded by St. Cletus; their work was to tend the sick and offer
hospitality to pilgrims. The Order went down on the death of the founder
and sought refuge in Palestine, where St. Cyriak discovered it, reformed
it, and eventually brought it to Rome. This is said to have happened in
the latter half of the fourth century, but I should think the date
extremely uncertain; nor does it matter much. The Order received new
rules in the twelfth century from Pope Alexander III, who, being on good
terms with Ottakar II at the time, allowed the Order to be transplanted
to Prague. I do not in the least know what the good knights did all
those years between their installation at Prague in 1256 and the
dissolution of their Order in 1783. Anyone who wants to know may no
doubt find records of their doings, which were probably concerned with
adding up quarterings and deciding questions of etiquette. Still their
name, Knights Crucifex, lingers round one of the most picturesque
corners of Prague, under the shadow of a stately Gothic tower which
silently but insistently claims reverence above the _baroque_ structures
of a later non-Bohemian age. It is just at this spot, with its lingering
memories of Queen Judith, of Přemysl Ottokar and a yet greater King
of Bohemia of whom I shall tell you shortly, that you realize how Prague
is that Golden City of the days of glorious Gothic and the Renaissance,
and not of the _baroque_ superimposed by the Jesuits after Bohemia's
glory had departed on the gentle slopes of the White Mountain.



CHAPTER VII

Introduces a picturesque character, King John of Bohemia, Count of
Luxemburg, whose final exploit and end should be familiarly known by
every Englishman. This chapter tells of the many chivalrous adventures
undertaken by this monarch, of how little good and how much harm he did
to his country. There is also mention of an English King, of the Black
Prince, and of many other more or less famous persons, who have gone to
swell the gorgeous pageant of those who all down the ages have worked
weal or woe to Bohemia and its capital, Prague. Of John Henry of
Carinthia and his interesting spouse, Margaret Maultasche, of the usual
German machinations against any peace or contentment in Bohemia, of
Popes and anti-Popes, you will hear in this chapter; and finally you
will make the acquaintance of one of Bohemia's greatest rulers, Charles,
first Bohemian King and fourth Roman Emperor of that name. You may gain
some idea of the difficulties Charles had to overcome, and will begin to
realize what he, the great founder, did for his country and its
capital.


Prague was in holiday vein, happy and optimistic, its prevailing mood,
on that day in 1311 when John, Count of Luxemburg, and Elizabeth,
daughter of Wenceslaus II, were crowned. No doubt the ceremony took
place on the Hradšany, and the steep approaches to the Castle Hill
would be thronged with cheerful merrymakers; I wonder whether the
Bohemians of those days said "_Na zdar_!" as frequently as they do
to-day!

The Pragers had every reason to be happy and hopeful, for no change
could bring about a worse state of affairs than that which had
characterized the five years between the death of the last male
Přemysl and the elevation of the first Luxemburg to the throne of
Bohemia. That period was a sort of interregnum which was filled up with
civil war, with murders among relatives, and was bringing Bohemia to the
verge of anarchy.

The troubles of the time were largely caused by the newly arrived House
of Habsburg, and the state of the Empire at that period reflects German
mentality. The seven German Electors had been careful to go outside
their own charmed circle for a King, and one who would carry out their
wishes. They therefore picked out what we may call a second-class
magnate as likely to be amenable. They met with disappointment. Rudolph
was out for himself. His victory over Přemysl Ottokar II was welcomed
by the Germans, who could never see a neighbour, especially a Slav,
growing in importance, without showing signs of consuming jealousy. To
break down the power of Ottokar the Bohemian was a meritorious act. To
acquire for private and family use some of that King's finest
possessions, Upper and Lower Austria, was not appreciated by the
Electors. Therefore when Rudolph died the Electors turned down his son
Albrecht, who put up for the imperial crown, and elected Adolph of
Nassau instead. Adolph also tried to make something out of the post of
Emperor, so the Electors threw him over, and he was shortly afterwards
killed in battle. Albrecht of Habsburg then came to the throne, and
taking up the family policy of profitable matrimonial alliances, married
his son Rudolph to the widow of the Přemysl Wenceslaus II, Elizabeth,
whom we have already met. I am rather sorry for this Elizabeth. Whether
she liked her second husband or not, it must have been uncomfortable to
find him becoming more and more unpopular among the people, who in any
case had not expressed undue enthusiasm over his accession to their
throne. He was chiefly unpopular on account of his meanness; the
Bohemians, though thrifty almost to the verge of parsimony among
themselves, do not like that trait in a foreigner, especially one who
comes to cut some sort of figure as King or what-not amongst them.
However, Rudolph died before a year of sovereignty was out, leaving that
poor lady Elizabeth a widow for the second time, and under even more
trying conditions. Despite all Habsburg precautions towards settling the
crown of Bohemia on their own house, the nobles of the country proceeded
to assemble a Diet at Prague in order to elect a new King. Elizabeth had
to attend that function, and must have had a lurid time of it; the
nobles raised no end of a storm, according to the Bohemian historian
Palacky. There was one Tobias of Bechyn leading the case for the
introduction of another foreigner as ruler, the opposition calling on
him not to favour the claims of foreigners, possibly enemies, to rule
over Bohemia, whereupon Tobias shouted: "If you wish at any price to
obtain a native Prince, go to Stadic, among the peasants; there you will
perhaps find a relation of the extinct royal family; bring him here and
seat him on the throne of your country." Thereupon ensued pandemonium.
One Ulrich of Lichtenburg slew Tobias forthwith, and several other
nobles were killed in the fray before the Diet settled down to the
conclusion that Henry, Duke of Carinthia, should be called in to rule
over Bohemia. Henry was supposed to be popular chiefly because he had
married a Přemysl, as we have already reported--Ann, daughter of
Wenceslaus II; anyway, Prague received the couple with acclamations.
Albrecht of Habsburg objected, as he had fixed on his son Frederick as
heir to the Bohemian lands. There were the usual troubles: Albrecht's
troops invaded Bohemia and Moravia, and some of them continued to hold a
few frontier towns even after Albrecht had been killed by his nephew
John and the Electors had gone elsewhere in search of an Emperor.

With characteristic distrust of each other or of any German of
first-rate importance, the Electors went to the second-class magnates
again, and this time their choice fell on Henry, Count of Luxemburg.
Carlyle derives this name of Luxemburg via Luzzenburg from Lützelburg,
which he translates into Littleborough. Carlyle is very pleased with
this derivation, and uses it to "point a moral and adorn a tale." In all
humility I differ from Carlyle in this derivation, my only excuse being
that I happen to know the dialect as spoken round about Luxemburg and
among the Eiffel people, sufficiently well, and that in their vernacular
there is no such word as could be distorted from Lützel-via Luzzen-into
Luxem-and then mean "little." It is really refreshing to be able to
differ thoroughly, heartily, unreservedly, with a philosopher of
old-established authority.

Carlyle likes to point out that this insignificant little dynasty of
Luxemburg produced some great men as Emperors. He is quite right there
too; but so also did Habsburg. As to the Luxemburgers, it must be borne
in mind that though of German origin they were French by sentiment and
upbringing--I quote Dr. Seton Watson from memory.

German origin, a phrase that has been very freely used of late years, is
a somewhat elastic term, and frequently implies a mental rather than a
racial qualification. Of the old original Teutons, the Germans of yore,
there are few representatives left over--you may find some in Frisia and
about the Porta Westphalica, on the east coast of Yorkshire, too,
perhaps; the all-Germans, the _Allemanni_, as I believe they called
themselves at one time, have seldom, if ever, formed a clearly defined
political entity. The Franks in the early days of the Merovingians, by
no means an estimable people, were probably purely Teuton; they
separated more and more from their less civilized race-kindred, and by
the time the Frankish Empire had reached its zenith its people had
absorbed a good deal of other blood, which mixture crystallized into the
French nation and soon broke away from any racial relations with the
Teutons. Then the arch-enemies of the Franks, the Saxons, mixed freely
with Slavonic races which extended well into the Hanover country and all
over Mecklenburg at one time, so that those who are now called Saxons
are, next to the Prussians, more thoroughly mixed with Slavs than any
other Germans. The Bavarians, again, must have in them a good deal of
the persistent Celtic element which they inherited from the Boievari who
at one time left Bohemia for Bavaria. The amusing thing is that those
who most loudly declaim on the subject of _Deutschland über Alles_ are
the most thoroughly mixed of the lot. It is idle to speculate on what
would have become of German imperial conceits if the German race and its
admixtures, like that of our islands, had been isolated from its
neighbours by water instead of being constantly exposed to inroads from
all sides, and consequently moved to follow up any success at arms into
a neighbour's country. It seems as if a permanent Germanic
Empire--material, not only sentimental--were never destined to a long
and prosperous existence. These speculations, however, are best left to
the historian, and we will return to the city of Prague.

We have seen John of Luxemburg and his wife Elizabeth happily crowned on
the Hradšany at Prague and the city relieved by this event from the
prospect of prolonged internal disorder. Henry of Carinthia, who
succeeded Rudolph, had not proved satisfactory. He also had taken the
precaution of marrying a Přemysl, was in fact John's brother-in-law,
but he failed to maintain the popularity which he enjoyed when called to
the throne, and was eventually chased out of Bohemia to make room for
John. Now John was heavily handicapped and did little to remove his
disabilities, in fact he rather aggravated them. He was only fourteen
when he found himself a King and a married man. His father, a shrewd and
enterprising monarch, died before John had really become acquainted with
his capital, and so there was no unbiassed adviser to whom the young
ruler could turn. John did not live on the best of terms with his
mother-in-law, who from the dower-house at Kralove Hradec, called by the
Germans Königgratz, interfered a good deal in the affairs of state; the
trouble is said to have arisen originally between the two Elizabeths,
mother and daughter, and even led to some fighting in which the city of
Prague took an active part. By temperament John was not equal to his
task; he was, it appears, thoroughly unpractical and entirely embued
with all sorts of romantic notions. Those who watched John's doings from
afar, and were not immediately affected by their results, could afford
to approve of him and call him _corona militiæ_ as did King Edward III
of England. John was what may be called the "soul of chivalry," in his
opinion Paris was the most chivalrous city in the world, and that is
probably why he felt called upon to roam Europe as a knight-errant
instead of looking after his wife and her relatives, and incidentally
his Kingdom of Bohemia. According to Count Lützow, John intended to
re-establish the Round Table of King Arthur, and to this end he invited
all the most celebrated knights of Europe to a tournament at Prague;
"nobody responded to the call." So John went abroad for his amusement
and found it in plenty. To begin with, there was always something doing
in his line between rival German Kings and Emperors, so we find him
helping Louis, Duke of Bavaria, at Wittelsbach, to victory over the
Habsburger Frederick at Mühldorf. Expeditions to Hungary, Italy, France
and against the heathen Lithuanians all helped to pass away John's time
pleasurably and unprofitably; as Palacky says: "It would be necessary to
write the history of all Europe if we attempted to describe all the
feuds into which King John entered with chivalrous bravery, but also
with frivolity. It then became a proverb, that 'nothing can be done
without the help of God and of the King of Bohemia.'"

John proved an expensive luxury to Bohemia, and he reigned for
thirty-six years, so his country, although rich, yet peopled by a canny
and thrifty population, must have been thankful when at last he was
knocked on the head at Crecy. The story is well known to us all, so we
need not linger on it. John bequeathed his motto to the Black Prince,
who could well afford to pay a graceful compliment by accepting it;
after all, not he, but Bohemia, had to pay for John's fun. John kept the
mint of his country busy striking ducats, a coin of his own conception,
a very good and full-weight coin too, but he probably took most of the
ducats abroad for his various diversions; there are, however, a few left
in the museum of Prague, I believe. John had quaint ways of raising
money; one of them must have led to a great deal of inconvenience to the
citizens of Prague, who on Sundays and holidays were wont to make
excursions into the country. No one was allowed a drink within a certain
radius of the capital; this was all very fine for the publicans of
Prague, who no doubt had come to a suitable arrangement with the King,
but it fills me with sorrow to reflect on the streams of excursionists
and travellers doing the last lap home on a hot summer's day.

There is nothing of beauty in the panorama of Prague as seen from my
terrace, which I can ascribe to Bohemia's chivalrous and eccentric King.
He was too busy spending his country's wealth in trying to settle other
people's quarrels, and raising others of his own, to think of
beautifying his capital. Nevertheless I could point out to you traces of
beautiful work for which John may indirectly derive some credit. This
enterprising monarch had, as I have already mentioned, found occasion to
go fighting about in Italy. He was induced thereto by the usual
picturesque lack of sufficient reason just at the moment when he was
attempting something useful. John's predecessor on the throne, Henry of
Carinthia, with whom he had become reconciled, had no male heirs, so
Bohemia's King called on Henry at Innsbruck in order to arrange a
marriage between the former's second son John Henry and the latter's
daughter Margaret, known in German history as Maultasche, of whom
Carlyle speaks so unkindly. While at Innsbruck, John was invited by the
Lombard town of Brescia to assist it against the Lord of Verona, Mastino
della Scala. King John at once dropped the useful business, dashed in
amongst the squabbling Italians and won a number of victories which gave
him possession of a fair slice of Italy. He proved quite incapable of
holding it, and his gains rapidly melted away like snow on the sunny
southern slopes of those mountains that shut off the smiling plains of
Venetia against the barbarous north. Here John's eldest son Charles
comes upon the scene, and this is perhaps the only real good that ever
came out of the first Luxemburg ruler of Bohemia, namely, an heir who
should live to set up a Golden Prague as fitting capital to a happy and
prosperous country.

Charles had had an unhappy childhood between his grandmother, the
unfortunate widow Elizabeth, a somewhat uneven-tempered mother, and an
erratic and unreasonable father. The unhappy lad had even been
imprisoned by his father on suspicion of being concerned in a conspiracy
with his mother to dethrone John. Charles must have been about five
years at the time, for he was only seven when, a few years after his
release, King John took him to the French Court for his education. Here
Charles acquired his love of learning, his refined sense of beauty and
steadfastness of purpose, all of which he devoted without stint to his
country, and to him is chiefly due the glorious composition of the
towers and steeples which rise up out of mysterious old Prague. Charles,
and through him Prague, benefited by John's Italian venture, in that the
gracious spirit of the Renaissance came to Bohemia out of his father's
chivalrous exploits. Moreover, Charles, though only seventeen years of
age, was thus given an opportunity of proving his metal in the field; he
won several victories which, however, were fruitless, and above all
learnt the art of governing. So when John and he left Italy, under
pressure from the natives, Charles was competent to represent his father
at home, while the latter went off on his knight-errantry.

As may be easily imagined, the people of Bohemia, and notably the
burghers of Prague, had become discontented under the exactions imposed
upon them by their extravagant King and were not inclined to look kindly
upon a Luxemburg successor. Prague, like other continental cities, had
become aware of its importance, and was quite prepared to resort to arms
in order to emphasize its opinion. The city had already taken to arms in
support of their native Queen Elizabeth against her stranger husband
John, so Charles had no easy time at first. However, he had the
qualities his father lacked, complete self-possession and steadfastness
of purpose; moreover, unlike his father, he was in thorough sympathy
with his people, which John never was, and spoke their language well,
which feat, it appears, John never attempted. Father and son seldom
agreed on any subject; probably John considered Charles no sportsman,
and told him so frequently. I cannot imagine John's conversation as
anything but _ad hominem_, and his jokes as weighty as a kick from a
troop-horse, and as pleasant. With a little thinking you can find
another, quite recent monarch, who takes after John of Luxemburg in some
respects, though he failed to achieve such a picturesque ending. And the
occasion of John's chivalrous exit arose out of his second marriage. It
really makes a pretty picture if you try to figure to yourself John and
his son Charles setting out together for Paris both with the intention
of marrying a French Princess, for John, undeniably brave, was braced up
for this second venture. John married Beatrice of Bourbon, Charles
Blanche of Valois; if I know anything of John, he probably stayed in
Paris, whereas Charles would hurry back to Prague to continue his
programme of improvements. Amongst these improvements is one directly
inspired by Blanche, his "snow-white" bride, which you may see to this
day. I could just point it out to you, the Church of "St. Mary of the
Snow," but it is difficult to pick out among the sea of roofs. Although
it is the tallest church in Prague, it no longer has steeple or spire
pointing to the sky; whatever of the kind there was disappeared during
some street-fighting or other which frequently took place around this
church. If you follow the Narodni Třida straight along from the river
towards the Vaclavské Naměsti you will see "St. Mary's of the Snow"
on the right, tucked away behind some quaint old buildings formerly the
Carmelite Monastery founded by Charles.

It would seem that Charles, when in doubt, either built a new church or
restored an old one. There was a good deal to do in Prague in the latter
line of business especially, and Charles, with the real founder's zeal,
set about putting his capital in order. He was rather handicapped by an
expensive father, who, however, had no particular objection to repairing
religious institutions, his trouble being that he generally had no money
left for constructive work after he had been round dealing out
destruction, impelled thereto by his chivalrous conceit. I can quite
imagine John as a man subconsciously religious and intermittently
pious, so, for instance, he would probably invoke all the saints he
could think of, to aid him in some warlike enterprise, then dash into
the fray forgetting all about the saints; one does. He might perchance
remember one or other of those he had invoked, after the fun was over,
and stand them a candle or so, if he could borrow the money for this
gift from his loyal subjects. I know of one case at least where John
bestowed largess upon a deserving institution. This happened in 1342,
six years before Bohemia's adventurous King had died in the King of
England's tent on the battlefield of Crecy. The object of the monarch's
generosity was the monastery of Emaus. John, though always jealous of
his son's popularity, had handed a considerable share of the government
of Bohemia and Moravia to the latter and probably let Charles carry on
as long as he, John, was not bothered with domestic details, and always
could touch a bit for any tempting military expedition that offered.
Emaus seems to have been a favourite enterprise of Charles. You remember
that I have pointed out the place to you; I can just see it from the
terrace with its twin towers of raw sienna tone. I also told you about
the heathen burial ground, Na Morani, about the Church of St. Cosmas and
Damian, and how St. Wenceslaus worshipped at their shrine. King Charles
seems to have acquired the same general regard for those two saints, and
this may have decided him to found a monastery on the rocky eminence
whereon Emaus has withstood many vicissitudes during the stormy course
of several centuries of Bohemia's history. Charles must have conceived
the plan of founding this monastery some time before the middle of the
fourteenth century, for we find the following entry in its chronicles
which speaks of John and Charles, and in a Latin quaintly picturesque
and careless: "Nos Johannes dei gracia Boemie rex ac Lucemburgensis
comes et Karolus eius primogenitus marchio Morawie." It would not be
easy to get any more mistakes of grammar and spelling into this
sentence. So John had made a donation to the new foundation--out of
some one else's pocket; the butchers of Prague were privileged to pay
for the King's generosity.

Charles was of a careful, saving disposition; he also raised funds out
of other people's purses for his good works. So we find again among the
records of Emaus that he called upon the butchers to find the necessary
money; the meatstalls of the Mala Strana were privileged to find a
revenue of sixteen Bohemian silver groschen, a coin dating from the days
of Wenceslaus II, towards the new foundation. The different taxes and
excise duties were also made to contribute, a tithe of the wine tax,
some appropriate sums from bridge and water tolls; besides these sources
of revenue Charles endowed Emaus with landed property, farms and fields
and vineyards. Begun in the reign of John, the building and institution
of this new monastery was not completed until 1372, when Charles had for
many years been in a position to describe himself as "Carolus Dei
gratiae Rom. rex, semper augustus et Boemiae rex." Monday after Easter
1372 was the great day on which the Church and monastery were solemnly
consecrated and dedicated to Saints Hieronymus, Adalbert, Procop, Cyril
and Methodius, but as the consecration gospel told the moving story of
the Risen Saviour walking with two disciples, who knew Him not, towards
Emaus, the name of that place clung to church and monastery ever after.
Though Emaus started out under such very august patronage, it had to put
up with many vicissitudes, among the minor ones being acts of
trangression on its grounds by neighbours; so, for instance, we hear of
one good man Odelenus, who would dig under the monastery wall to the
endangering of the same, and as the stout burgher would not desist nor
fill up the excavations he had made, he was excommunicated with all due
solemnity.

It is said that Charles intended Emaus solely for the benefit of those
who still held to the Slavonic liturgy, from the very outset. But I find
that Charles did not approach the Pope on this subject and get his
sanction for the Archbishop of Prague to grant the Benedictine monks of
Emaus licence to perform the Slavonic ritual, until the papacy of
Clement VI. I gather that he had waited until he could find an amenable
pontiff; what is more, Clement VI as anti-Pope, probably did not cut
much ice even had he been addicted to that practice. It was undoubtedly
due to the fact that the Slavonic liturgy was still in force that Emaus
escaped destruction at the hands of the Hussites, as the monks were
Utraquists and remained of that persuasion until the last Slavonic
abbot, Adam Benedict Bawarowsky, with two surviving monks, was turned
out to make room for Spanish Benedictines from Montserrat under their
abbot, Benedict di Pennabosa y Mondragon. These Spaniards were inducted
by Emperor Ferdinand III, King of Bohemia, himself.

Of those early, ardent days in the annals of Emaus there is but little
left to recall Charles and his works. The library of the Benedictines
was destroyed by fire; only two works were saved, the "Emaus-Reimser
Evangelium" and the "Registrum Literarum monasterii Slavorum." The
frescoes which adorn the cloisters seem as fresh to-day as when the
Italian masters, brought to Prague by Charles, stood aside to let the
monarch see the finished work, and that was several years before the
consecration festival. The interior of the church is beautiful, its
slender Gothic columns vanishing into the hallowed shadows of the roof.
The "plain song" of the remaining monks still rings with the fervour of
simple, steadfast faith. The main building of the monastery is now an
academy of music where the rising generation is being taught to
appreciate the latest eccentricities of modern music.

Charles IV, first Bohemian King of that name, ruled from 1346 to 1378,
so the building of Emaus covered pretty nearly all the years of his
reign and in fact went back to the unhappy times before he ascended the
throne. His father was evidently a difficult person to live with; not
only his extravagance and erratic habits, but also a thoroughly
unjustified suspicion of his elder son, must have caused the latter a
great deal of misery. Instead of following the precedent of the
Přemysls in dynastic disputes, Charles wisely abstained from open
opposition to John, although the people's affection had been transferred
from father to son. Added to this there were the usual troubles caused
by the German Princes. John had never even been "placed" in the running
for the imperial crown; goodness knows what would have happened if the
weal of the Holy Roman Empire had depended on him. Louis of Wittelsbach,
who contested the imperial throne with Frederick the Fair of Austria,
and had beaten the latter handsomely at Muehldorf, was nevertheless none
too safely seated, and became involved in the unending squabbles with
the Papacy, aggravated in his case by the removal of the Pope to
Avignon. John, of course, sided against Louis and with the Pope, so
Louis joined with the German Princes in trying to deprive John Henry of
the Tyrol and Carinthia, which the latter considered his property on
marrying Margaret Maultasche; he was lucky enough to retain possession
of the Tyrol while the Austrian Dukes kept Carinthia. That little matter
settled, John went off and fought the Lithuanians again--he called it a
crusade--and came home from that campaign without the sight of one eye,
which he had lost through illness, a loss which soon led to complete
blindness but not to any disinclination to go out anywhere and fight
anyone. Father John must have been a considerable nuisance in the
family. In the meantime Margaret added her mite to the general gaiety of
nations by falling in love with Louis of Brandenburg, the handsome son
of Emperor Louis; she counterbalanced this by a violent hatred of her
husband, the unlucky John Henry. So Charles had his hands full, and he
seems to have been the only level-headed member of the family. With all
these troubles about him he nevertheless continued to manage the affairs
of Bohemia and Moravia, to straighten out the finances of the Kingdom
while finding sufficient pocket-money for his father's hobby of serving
any other cause but his own, and also to soothe the ruffled feelings of
John Henry and keep some of that Prince's property for the House of
Luxemburg. It was during this hectic time that Charles managed to get
the Pope to raise the Bishop of Prague to the rank of Archbishop, an
important step, as it set the new Archbishopric free from that of Maintz
and thus gave it an opportunity of developing on its own rather than on
German lines. Count Lützow points out the absurdity of the situation
caused by keeping the Bishopric of Prague under the Archbishop of Maintz
as follows: "It is curious to read that Charles was obliged to declare
on his oath that the language of Bohemia was a Slavonic one, entirely
different from the German language; that the distance from Prague to
Maintz was of about twelve day-journeys; and that the road lay through
other dioceses."

This concession on the part of the Pope was probably the result of the
visit John and Charles paid to the pontiff at Avignon; it had as
corollary that in future the Kings of Bohemia should be crowned by the
Archbishop of Prague. The first Archbishop of the new See was a Czech
and a strong man--Ernest of Pardubic. Another result of the trip which
father and son took to Avignon together seems to have been a more
complete reconciliation between the two.

We may linger for a while longer on that pathetic figure, the blind King
of Bohemia, before his exciting but futile career closes on the field of
Crecy. First we see him taking part in the solemn ceremony of installing
the new Archbishop; this would have taken place at the Cathedral Church
of St. Vitus on the Hradšany, amid surroundings bearing strong
evidence of the harm John's reign had brought on Bohemia, and on Prague
in particular, for we read that Charles found the castle, and probably
the church as well, in a state nearly approaching ruin from neglect.
Here again he had work to hand, and did it nobly; of this more later on.
After Ernest of Pardubic had been safely installed, King John started
off on another crusade against the heathen Lithuanians, probably as
payment for the concessions on the part of the Pope. No sooner was John
thoroughly engaged with his northern enemies than the German Louis
stirred up Hungary and Poland, and several others, against him. John
hurriedly returned home, beating Casimir of Poland and a Hungarian army
on the way, made some sort of an alliance with other enemies of his, and
eventually, with the aid of the Pope and five German Electors, got Louis
chased from the throne and his son Charles elected as German King
instead. All this happened in the early months of 1346. Meanwhile, by
July of that year, on the day following Charles's election, King Edward
III of England and the Black Prince had landed on the coast of France,
and were setting out through Normandy for Paris. On August 26th, St.
Rufus Day again, the anniversary of the death of Přemysl Ottokar II,
John, King of Bohemia, brave, chivalrous and utterly misguided, died in
the tent of a knightly enemy, leaving him as device the appropriate
motto "_Ich dien!_"

Indeed, John had served every interest but his own; and Charles his son,
elected Emperor as fourth of that name, and first as King of Bohemia,
took into his own firm hands the tangled coils of Central European
affairs, making as centre of his activities his own city of Prague.



CHAPTER VIII

Deals with Charles IV, Roman Emperor, King of the Germans, first
Bohemian King of that name, and Father of his country. Charles as a
warrior and the part he took at Crecy. Some remarks about Crecy.
Friendly relations between Charles and Edward III of England, who at
Charles's suggestion declines the imperial crown. Charles concerns
himself with the welfare of his people. He builds and restores churches.
A short story about St. Wenceslaus, and a description of the chapel
dedicated to him. Of "St. Mary under the Chain" and the house of the
Knights of Malta. Of George Podiebrad, of Frederick the Winter King and
his wife Elizabeth. A word or two about the Hussites and the host of
crusaders that came out of the West and were defeated by Žiška. A
pageant of those whose life and work was connected with the Cathedral of
St. Vitus. Charles and Church Reform, and of a Pope who was himself in
need of reform. St. Henry and Kunigunde his wife, and the church
dedicated to them. Frederick II of Prussia and the church which Charles
had built and consecrated to the Virgin and St. Charles. St. Stephen's
Church. Some remarks on the saints who are patrons of Bohemia or in one
way or another interested in that country. A passing reference to
London's patron saint Erkenwald and some remarks about a students'
feast-day.


Despite his undoubted gallantry in battle, Charles, as a warrior, was
overshadowed by his picturesque sire; moreover, he shone more brightly
as a man of peace, as scholar, as founder and builder, even as author;
in the latter capacity he has left behind a remarkable work, his
autobiography, written in Latin: "Commentarius de Vita Caroli Bohemiae
Regis ab ipso Carolo conscriptus." Yet, had he done nothing else, his
military achievements would probably have brought him lasting renown. As
we have seen, he acquitted himself well, when quite a young man, in his
father's campaigns in Italy. He took part with conspicuous gallantry in
the Battle of Crecy. I gather that it was his advice not to attack with
tired troops, but he was overruled; not but what the result might have
been the same had the French agreed to wait another day. It was the
Bohemian cavalry that had already distinguished itself by preventing the
passage by the English Army of the bridge of St. Remy, and it was not
their fault that the ford of Blanche-Taque was insufficiently guarded
and thus left open a crossing over the Somme. Many of us know that
country about Abbeville well, the lush meadows and clumps of trees not
so unlike our own river scenery. Some of us may even have recalled
memories out of school of that battle fought out in so small a space
compared to the "shows" to which we had become used. While out of the
line in that neighbourhood I myself met the direct descendant of French
warriors who fought at Crecy, the mayor of a small village. I happened
to refer lightly to that page of long-ago history, but the mayor
corrected me--it had indeed been a most serious affair; he had lost
thirteen ancestors on that occasion, and the family had not recovered to
this day. As a social function the Battle of Crecy was certainly an
important affair; many of the best people in Europe were represented
there, four kings among others, and a brave show of nobles many of whom
indeed, did not recover.

John and Charles had undertaken this trip to France together no doubt
drawn by their relationship to the French royal family, and Charles had
fought valiantly by his father's side until forced to withdraw by his
nobles, who, according to Beneš de Weitmil, were "fearful of losing
both their Kings."

One would think that this the first introduction to the English of
Bohemia's King would not make for cordial relations; as a matter of
fact, it led to an alliance between Charles and Edward III arising out
of circumstances which prove both these monarchs to have been wise men.
England had risen considerably in the estimation of continental Europe
in consequence of this victory, and an attempt was made, perhaps the
first in history--for you cannot take Richard of Cornwall seriously--to
draw our country into the sea of troubles that raged as usual in the
Holy Roman Empire. There was, of course, a section of German nobles who
opposed Charles and who on the death of King Louis offered the imperial
crown to the victor of Crecy. Edward III was wise enough to decline,
influenced, it is said, by a mission which Charles had sent to England;
what is more, a treaty of alliance was arranged between these two
countries, and this, to my thinking, had far-reaching effects on their
future relations, intermittent but extending over several centuries.

Charles had to rest awhile in France before returning to his country in
order to recover from his wounds received at Crecy. I wonder whether he
tried the waters of Carlsbad on his return home. Charles had been led to
discover the healing qualities of Carlsbad water when out hunting one
day among the lovely wood-clad heights just inside the frontier of
Bohemia. The legend is that Charles heard one of his hounds yelping in
pain, and discovered that the poor beast had plunged into a spring of
hot water. Charles had the water analysed (which sounds very up to
date), and being informed of its healing qualities, built himself a
castle on the spot round which grew up that charming health resort
Carlsbad.

The history of Charles IV as German King and Roman Emperor is
consequently also that of the Holy Roman Empire, but would lead us much
too afar afield from Prague, where this excellent monarch resided by
preference. He had grand schemes for improving the state of the country
and its capital, which he carried out systematically. He must have
begrudged the time he was obliged to spend in travelling abroad in
various imperial interests, when there was so much to claim his
attention at home. He certainly never went abroad for pleasure, for his
trips to Italy and Burgundy, undertaken at different times, were matters
of duty. It was the correct thing for an Emperor to be crowned at Rome,
and Charles was always strictly correct. On the way to Rome it was
obviously the right thing to call at Milan for the iron crown of the
Lombard Kings, which was also an imperial perquisite. Then on another
occasion Charles called at Arles to receive the crown of the Kingdom of
Burgundy, which country formed part of the Empire. Charles had some
business to transact with the Pope at Avignon near by, business
connected with Church Reform, which movement was gaining in strength in
Bohemia and which caused that country much suffering for conscience'
sake. These journeys were episodes in the life of the Emperor; the work
of the King of Bohemia lay in and about his capital, ancient Prague.
From my terrace I will point out to you some of the glorious monuments
raised by that Founder King.

Charles's first concern seems to have been for his people's spiritual
welfare: from all accounts some attention to this side of the national
life of Bohemia was sorely needed. The first and most obvious duty was
to set about the restoration of the Royal Castle, the Hradšany, with
its venerable cathedral. Both castle and cathedral were inadequate to
the high mission of Prague as a royal and imperial residence. The castle
had been repaired fitfully by one king or another as we have seen, and
had been provided with strong towers chiefly used as dungeons, and had
been allowed to fall into disrepair by the impecunious and extravagant
John. The cathedral was probably in not much better case. We have seen
glimpses of that sacred fane with its memories of royal saints and
martyrs, how St. Wenceslaus built the first church on the site of the
present one, as a casket to hold that precious relic the arm of St.
Vitus, given him by Henry the Fowler. The words of the chronicler will
give you some idea of this first church: "Ecclesiam Sancti Viti quam
Sanctus Wenceslaus construxerat ad similitudinem Romanae ecclesiae
rotundam." This building was yet unfinished when Wenceslaus was
martyred. The body of the saint was conveyed from Stara Boleslav to St.
Vitus for burial, and this was not allowed to pass without a miraculous
manifestation. The old wooden bridge, connecting the right bank of the
Vltava with the Mala Strana, had been partly destroyed by floods;
nevertheless the bearers passed over the half-ruined bridge as if they
had no burden to carry at all. This was very wonderful, and redounded
greatly to the saint's growing reputation, which was enhanced a little
farther along the route to be traversed. As the procession passed the
town-hall prison its inmates, clutching the bars, cried out for mercy;
the bearers were forced to halt, and found themselves quite unable to
proceed until all the captives had been released. Now this was very
beautiful, and it happened long ago.

Prince Spytihnev II, also a pious soul, considered the church built by
Wenceslaus too small for his religious requirements; he had it
demolished, and another one, also in the Romanesque style, erected in
its place. The church that Spytihnev built was also destroyed to make
way for the present edifice, which in its inception is due to Charles.
It must have been about the time when Charles joined his father at
Luxemburg, in 1344, that the former interviewed the master-builder
Matthew of Arras, to discuss plans for the reconstruction of Prague's
Cathedral Church. John and Charles, as we have seen, then went on
together to visit the Pope at Avignon. It seems to have been on this
occasion that Prague was raised to the dignity of an archbishopric, and
Charles wished to build a temple worthy of the high dignity to which in
matters spiritual, as temporal, his country had arisen; and so under the
hand of skilled craftsmen, from out the ruins of earlier shrines, rose
that crowning glory of Golden Prague, the Cathedral of St. Vitus. This
great temple was many years a-building, and is not completed yet. Great
men devoted their labours to this glorious fane: Peter Parler and his
son John, Beneš of Loun and others were among the master-builders,
while many artists, goldsmiths and other craftsmen famous in their day
contributed to the decoration of "the Father's House." Great men lie
buried under its shadowy arches, and their memory lives on in sculpture,
in paintings and wonders of wrought iron. In a chapel dedicated to St.
Wenceslaus rests that princely martyr; you may see his epitaph and the
shirt of mail he wore. In the bronze gates of this chapel you are shown
a ring to which the saint is said to have clung when his murderers
hacked him down. The walls of the chapels are inlaid with the precious
stones of Bohemia--jasper and achates, chalcedon, amethyst and
carneol--and are adorned with frescoes illustrating incidents in the
life of the saint, most of them dating from the reign of Charles; the
scene of his martyrdom is from the brush of Lucas Cranach. The
candelabra and statue of St. Wenceslaus are attributed to Peter Fischer.
King Charles, the founder, father of his country, lies buried here with
his four wives, so do other Kings of Bohemia, Ladislas Posthumus, George
Podiebrad, Ferdinand I and Maximilian.

Looking out over my terrace to where the Cathedral of St. Vitus points
its tapering spires towards high heaven, a misty pageant seems to pass
beneath it. Following rapidly on the golden peace of Charles come the
troublous days of religious strife, for with his son began the Hussite
wars which left Bohemia desolate and a prey to the eagles of Habsburg.
Angry flames rising up out the township below the Hradšany cast
clouds of smoke over the cathedral what time the Hussites failed to
capture the Royal Castle and in their zeal for reform set fire to
various quarters of the Mala Strana. The Bishop's Palace, which stood
near the left bank bridgehead, was utterly destroyed, the glorious
Church of "St. Mary under the Chain," and with it the home of the
Knights of Malta, suffered the same fate. Of St. Mary's Church there
remain the chancel and two stout towers; I can see them from my
embowered terrace, the blunt red roofs rising above a glorious riot of
fruit blossom. The pageant moves on, giving a flash here and there of
some one who stood up above his fellows like George Podiebrad, or the
strong men who precipitated the Thirty Years' War. Then follows a
fleeting vision of a stranger King, a German Protestant with his wife
Elizabeth, daughter of "douce Jamie." A short reign this of Frederick
Count Palatine, the "Winter King." We see him enter by the Strahov Gate
to be crowned at St. Vitus on November 4, 1619. We may imagine the
indignation of his people at Frederick's Calvinist divines who wished to
remove the altar and paintings from the cathedral. We see Frederick a
year later, again entering the city by the Strahov Gate, fleeing in hot
haste from the stricken field of the White Mountain where Bohemia's
freedom went under before the foreign mercenaries of the Emperor. Not
for the first time either that the troops of Western Europe had marched
on Prague to conquer it in the name of religion. Shortly after the
burning of "St. Mary under the Chain" the Pope called upon Western
Europe to undertake a crusade against the Hussites. A contemporary
chronicler, Lawrence of Brežova, gives us a list of the nationalities
represented in this host of crusaders raised by Sigismund, King of
Bohemia, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and led by an English
Cardinal. According to Lawrence there were Bavarians, Saxons, Austrians,
Frenchmen, men of Brabant and Dutchmen, Switzers, Lusatians and
Spaniards, a compact body of English, and soldiers of many other
nationalities; their number is estimated at between one hundred thousand
and one hundred and fifty thousand. Sigismund entered the Castle of
Prague and his motley forces encamped around the town, but "the Empire's
mismanaged feudal levy was no match for an infuriated people which stood
shoulder to shoulder in the service of the same inspiring idea." I quote
from _Europe in the Middle Age_, by Thatcher and Schwill. Moreover, the
Hussites were led and inspired by one of the greatest military leaders
of all ages, John Žiška. This is not the place to tell of the
doings of those Hussite armies and their exploits, and how they kept all
Europe at bay so that every Bohemian might feel secure in the faith that
was in him. Right away in the hazy background of hills against which
stand up the towers and spires of Prague you may see an incline sloping
down towards the river and to northward. This incline is now all built
over, and this quarter of the town is called Žiškov in memory of
the great Hussite who held this hill against repeated attacks until he
was in a position to go over to the offensive. Dissensions had broken
out among the crusaders, the imperial armies melted away and left
Sigismund to face his people alone. He came to some agreement with the
leaders of the opposition and was even solemnly crowned at St. Vitus;
but the battle on Žiška's hill marked the beginning of the Hussite
wars.

[Illustration: ST. VITUS.]

With the defeat of the Bohemian army on the White Mountain ends the
story of St. Vitus as the cathedral of a free country. The building was
resumed after the Thirty Years' War came to an end, and other kings were
crowned in the church that had known the glory of Charles IV and George
Podiebrad; but those who came after were aliens to Bohemia, neither came
they to that country intent only on its interests; a succession of
Habsburgs passes by in pageant, to receive the crown of Bohemia as one
among many distinctions to which their house was heir. Ferdinand III and
Leopold I pass by, and Leopold's second son Charles VI second as King of
Bohemia, last male representative of the House of Habsburg, who was
succeeded by his daughter Maria Theresia. Troubles began again as in the
days when the Přemysl dynasty died out, and the German Electors
decided to choose a new Emperor. The choice fell on Charles of Bavaria,
so old St. Vitus saw again a coronation pageant and one which much
resembled that of Frederick the Winter King. Charles of Bavaria was
crowned at Prague with all the usual pomp and ceremony; he then left
Bohemia never to return. Officially this Charles' coronation seems to
count for nothing in the history of Austria into which that of Bohemia
was merged. Bohemia became for years a pawn in the stern game between
Maria Theresia and Frederick of Prussia, and St. Vitus suffered damage
from the latter's guns; the glory of Golden Prague had departed and the
stately cathedral looked down for nearly three centuries on a city that
had been put aside, out of the way of the world's commerce and its great
affairs, to dream of the days when Charles IV was King and Bohemia the
land of a free and prosperous people.

       *       *       *       *       *

We were really still in the days of Charles IV when it occurred to me to
sketch out a special pageant for the Cathedral Church of St. Vitus.
Charles, as I have said before, was particularly interested in churches,
was altogether a good, pious soul, and never missed an opportunity of
bearing testimony to his faith by deeds as well as words. This does not
mean that he submitted his judgment, even in things spiritual, entirely
to the ruling of the Church; on the contrary, he found that there was
more need of reform among the clergy of his land than of churches. He
did not hesitate, either, to point out to the Pope what reforms were
needed, and, moreover, took his part in improving matters, with his
usual energy and thoroughness. Indeed, according to all accounts, the
Bohemian clergy were sorely in need of the curb: they allowed their
sporting proclivities to run to excess in such pastimes as warfare,
tournaments, hunting and gambling, and the law of celibacy had fallen
into complete disuse. I have already noted that the St. Anthony of one
particular kind of temptation (I forget whether he was of Padua or
elsewhere) was not as popular in Bohemia as were many other saints.
After all, the clergy of Bohemia were probably no worse than that of
other countries, and Rome was not of much use as a "godly ensample";
there is, for instance, that little story told by Richenthal in his
chronicle about one of the Popes travelling across the Alps to some
council or other. This pontiff, it appears, "clothed himself with curses
as with a garment" and his horrible imprecations filled with terror the
souls of the pious peasants who flocked to see him. So when by some
accident the carriage of His Holiness was upset and himself pitched into
the road he exclaimed: "Here I lie in the name of the devil." This
sounds a bit feeble, and I could probably do better myself under similar
provocation; but such language at all is very shocking in a clergyman.
It is chiefly German historians who complain of Charles as being
priest-ridden, and also of neglecting the affairs of the Empire while
concentrating too much on Bohemia. This is a matter for historians to
wrangle about; personally I consider that by his Golden Bull, which very
much restricted the power of the Popes to interfere with the election of
Kings of the Germans, and in the protection he extended to priests
accused of heresy for their ardour on reform, Charles proved himself a
strong man, free from undue outside influence, and no bigot. But we are
concerned with what Charles did for Prague, and will take a look round
the churches which meant so much to him, many of which he built or
restored himself. One of these appeals to me particularly; I cannot say
why exactly, perhaps because I heard some glorious music there, one grey
evening in Lent. St. Henry's has long been famous for its Musical
Society. I have mentioned this church before; it is dedicated to St.
Henry and his wife Kunigunde. It is interesting and unusual to find a
married saint; in fact, as in this case, a couple of them. The portraits
of these two may be seen in the chancel of St. Henry's Church, but it
was too dark for me to distinguish anything on the occasion of my visits
there; moreover, I was sufficiently impressed with the shapely Gothic
pillars, the work of Charles IV's craftsmen, which rose over the
dilapidations of a much earlier building. Charles lost no time about the
restoration of St. Henry's, as he seems to have begun it in 1348 and it
was finished two years later. This church stands back from the rushing
traffic of the Henry Street--Jindřišska Ulice, to give it its
Czech name; the campanile of St. Henry's, a graceful tower with
characteristic turrets and saddle-roof, is set apart and looks down the
broad thoroughfare. This campanile is of more recent times than the
church: it dates from the early days of Vladislav II, about the end of
the fifteenth century. A sixteenth-century bell hangs in the campanile
of St. Henry's Church; its inscription recalls the famous lines of
Schiller's _Die Glocke_: "En ego campana, nunquam pronuntio vana, Ignam,
vel festum, bellum, vel funus honestum." About the time of the
restoration of St. Henry's, since much rebuilt outside, Charles set
about building another church on the rising ground north-east of
Vyšehrad; it is quaint rather than beautiful. You may note this
church by its squat appearance, a broad cupola flanked by a couple of
more slender ones, and the whole group is generally concealed by
scaffolding. This church has had as hard a time as any of those in
Prague. King Charles built it in 1350 and intended it to remind him of
the cathedral at Aachen where Charlemagne is buried. There certainly is
a good deal of resemblance still within this church dedicated
appropriately to the Virgin and St. Charles, for the original outlines
remain, as also the crypt below. But this church has suffered heavily
both at the hands of wilful destroyers and of the restorer. Matthew of
Arras was the architect. I wonder whether he would recognize his work
to-day, so much has happened to it since he completed it. Consecrated in
1377 and given over to the monks of the Augustine Order, church and
monastery were thoroughly destroyed by the Hussites less than a century
later. The church was rebuilt in 1498, seriously damaged in 1611, and
left in a state of disrepair for forty years. It had not long been
restored for the second time, when Frederick II of Prussia made a target
of it in his siege of Prague. Some eight hundred hot shot are said to
have struck this church and set it on fire more than fifty times: quite
good shooting but bad manners. No wonder, then, that this Church of the
Virgin and St. Charles has lost its pristine beauty; yet it has an
attraction of its own to those who sympathize with its misfortunes, and
there are still some quaint old corners of the Hermitage attached to the
edifice, built by Dienzenhofer, for those who like _baroque_.

We have noted Charles's interest in his cathedral on the Hradšany; he
also paid a delicate compliment to the Lady Abbess of the convent
attached to St. George's Church within the castle precincts. You will
remember how Boleslav II, of pious memory, founded this convent and that
his sister Milada was the first abbess. Charles raised that lady's
successors to princely rank and gave them the right to place the crown
on the head of the King at his coronation.

[Illustration: ST. STEPHEN'S.]

There are several other churches which have survived the chances and
changes of centuries, among these one which appeals to me on account of
its modesty. This church is tucked away among a congerie of respectable
elderly buildings that cluster to eastward of the Stepanska Ulice, one
of the thoroughfares that link up the higher lying part of the Nové
Město, the New Town, with the Václavské Náměsti. This church has
indeed a somewhat neglected look: its quaint pointed steeple rises
almost apologetically above some scrubby trees, and hardly ventures to
o'ertop the grimy houses, that close it round. Nevertheless this ancient
church should have reason to hold high its head, for Bohemia's great
King and Father built it and dedicated it to a carefully selected saint,
to wit St. Stephen. St. Stephen's Church shows pleasant traces of the
gracious spirit which informed the master mind in those golden days of
Charles IV. Moreover, St. Stephen's Church has kept the best of
exclusive company during the six centuries of its existence, for close
by, separated only by a narrow lane, stands one of Prague's oldest
temples, the romanesque chapel of St. Longinus which from its memories
harking back to the first Přeysl King, Vladislav, probably looks upon
its neighbour as a mere child.

You will have noticed how many and varied are the names of saints
mentioned in these my reflections from "a Terrace in Prague." I do not
profess deep knowledge of saints, and do not as a rule venture on the
hallowed ground where saints disport themselves. Nevertheless, while
dealing with the city of Prague in particular or the Bohemian people in
general, and endeavouring to become acquainted with them, you are faced
with the fact that there is in this country a strong and no doubt
commendable attraction towards saints of all possible varieties, and,
let us hope, a favourable reaction on the part of the latter. I do not
suggest that a saints' day merely means a holiday.

To begin with, the Bohemians, on taking to Christianity at all, started
with some very fine vintage saints of their own growing. You have heard
all about them: Ludmilla, Wenceslaus, Milada, Adalbert. These estimable
people were, after all, following the precepts of those who had brought
the "Glad Tidings" to Bohemia, and therefore were entitled to high
consideration and respect. We have met some of these most worthy people.
There were the brothers Constantine (better known as Cyril) and
Methodius, who did much missionary work in Central Europe, especially
among those of their own, the Slavonic race, for these two were citizens
of Solun (Salonika), where pure Slavonic was spoken in the ninth
century. As Slavs these two missionaries were disliked by the Germans,
but both Popes Adrian I and John VIII approved of them; we have heard
how Methodius converted that stubborn pagan Prince Bořivoj. Another
couple of saints whom I have mentioned before, Cosmas and Damian, have
always been most popular in Bohemia. They came from the West, or at
least their reputation did, for they had been martyred in the third or
fourth century, before Czech and his merry men had arrived at Řip,
before the Slavs had appeared in Europe in fact. Pope Felix III held
these two gentlemen in high esteem, had dedicated a church to them in
Rome, and his successors had no doubt recommended this worthy couple to
the Bohemians when the latter began to ask for spiritual patronage.
Cosmas and Damian, the oldest patron saints of Bohemian Christendom,
became very popular, and many churches were dedicated to them; in fact,
as we have seen, it was zeal in their cause that brought about the
martyrdom of St. Wenceslaus. I believe these two, Cosmas and Damian,
were precursors of that excellent body of medical missionaries who
wisely get at a man's soul by healing his body. There must be something
in my theory about Cosmas and Damian, as the medical faculty of Prague
University put up a sculptured group supposed to represent these two
saints, on the Charles Bridge, early in the eighteenth century. As
portraiture this group is not convincing.

The leading patron saint of Prague seems to be St. Vitus; at least in
the great cathedral dedicated to him he dominates not only the city but
also his co-patron saints of this most famous of all the city's many
churches. You will remember that in course of a friendly exchange of
concessions between St. Wenceslaus and King Henry the Fowler the latter
presented Bohemia's ruler with an arm of St. Vitus. I do not quite
understand how St. Vitus came to hold such high importance in Bohemia.
He was born in Sicily of pagan parents, poor perhaps, possibly honest,
about the beginning of the fourth century. Two Christians, Modestus and
Crescentia, taught young Vitus and converted him without his father's
knowledge. There was nothing unusual in this. Vitus was martyred in
Rome, an experience which might happen to any Christian in those days,
and we hear no more about him until he appears as patron saint of a
church founded about the middle of the ninth century on the Island of
Rügen, by the monks of Corvey in Saxony. These monks had by some means
or other got hold of the relics of St. Vitus; perhaps they parted with a
bit to King Henry the Fowler, who then handed it on to Wenceslaus. The
Slavonic islanders of Rügen relapsed into paganism but kept green the
memory of St. Vitus, whom they worshipped as a god.

Whereas St. Wenceslaus secured only an arm of St. Vitus, King Charles
acquired the rest of his body. St. Wenceslaus was, I fear, caught
napping on several occasions. He is not dead, according to popular
tradition, but sleeps inside a mountain, and sleeps soundly too, for he
seems to have missed the resurrection of his people. By way of useful
information I may tell you that the shrine of St. Wenceslaus is
sanctuary for murderers, but I cannot say whether this custom still
obtains under the constitution of the new Czecho-Slovak Republic.

King Charles arranged a great festival when the remains of St. Vitus
reached the cathedral dedicated to him. With his own hands Charles
placed a crown of gold upon the saintly head, or, as one old chronicler
puts it with unexpected humour, upon the head of one or other St. Vitus.
Charles was peculiarly expert in the matter of relics and a zealous
collector, which shows his constant concern for his people's welfare,
not only spiritual but physical as well. So, for instance, did that
pious monarch cause the remains of St. Sigismund to be conveyed to
Prague. St. Sigismund was a good sound sixth-century saint of France who
in the days of Gregory of Tours had frequently been invoked to ward off
fever; his remains would therefore be a useful asset as complement to
the limited knowledge of the art of healing in those days. Not that I
attach much importance to the opinion of Gregory of Tours. You may
remember that he admired one Chlodovech, King of all the Franks, who
outdid any other Teuton founder of kingdoms by his record of crime, of
murder and treachery, and generally speaking he had a tough lot to
compete against. Londoners have probably forgotten that they also have a
famous febrifuge in their city's patron saint, St. Erkenwald, to whose
shrine came many pilgrims for relief from pain. Modern pilgrims to
London come in their thousands to watch football matches--there is
little of healing in this. Other relics collected by Charles were the
spear, a bit of the cross and a nail, and the tablecloth used at the
Last Supper. All these precious relics, together with the crown jewels,
were kept in a strong castle built by Charles for the purpose. You may
catch a glimpse of this castle, Karlov Tyn, Karlstein, as you pass down
the valley of the winding Berounka of a summer's evening, coming to
Prague from Paris via Cheb. A day was set apart for the Feast of Relics,
the _Allatio Reliquiarum_. On this day the relics were conveyed to the
cathedral and exhibited to the people, and Charles had arranged that all
who attended this solemn function should be granted indulgence. I take
it there was no work done that day in Prague; as it happens this feast
coincided with that set apart for several saints, Macarius and Abel,
besides being the octave of St. Stephen, a further reason for
holiday-making.

Talking of holidays in Prague, I came across one such fixed for August
9th, and seriously described by a sound old writer on the manners and
customs of Bohemia. This feast was observed, I cannot say religiously,
but with great enthusiasm, by the students of the University. It was
called quite simply _Beano_. This will sound familiar to you, and you
will probably pronounce it as if derived from the bean, the common or
garden bean and the feast thereof. Not so. This _Beano_ should be
pronounced with due stress on each particular vowel, as if it were an
Italian word; indeed, it is derived from the Latin. Attempts have been
made to trace this word to early French influence at Prague University,
and to derive it from _bec-jaune_, pronounced with a certain abandon.
This, again, is wrong. _Beano_ is, or was, the great day on which the
new students, the "freshers," were initiated into the mysteries of
scholastic life with all manner of weird ceremony and horrible
observances. There was used much, indeed undue, emphasis, said some, in
order to impress upon the youngsters that a serious change of life was
upon them, for, quoth the elders: "Beanus est animal nesciens vitam
studiosorum."



CHAPTER IX

Showing how Prague grew and added beautiful buildings to its glory under
the rule of Charles, the Father of his Country. Tells also of Charles's
troubles, and introduces his son Wenceslaus. Shows why this son should
be considered as the "Good King Wenceslaus" of our Christmas carol.
Makes mention also of Sister Anne and her husband, Richard II of
England. Tells about Susanna and the King. Introduces well-known names
of those who pass in filmy pageant across the old historic Charles
Bridge--John Nepomuk, John Hus, and others. Gives a fleeting vision of
another native King, a great man, and of other rulers who had their day
and passed on. Talks at some length of the river of Prague, the Vltava,
and gives some of its reflections. Leads up from earliest aquatic habits
of the Slavonic inhabitants to those of the present day, and is, though
a long chapter, by no means a dull one.


Prague, as you may imagine, had grown, despite the troubles it had
passed through, both in importance and in extent. When Charles IV came
to the throne, the city still consisted of three parts as before; during
his reign a new town was added, and this was made necessary by the rise
of the University which Charles had founded. Charles must have been
considering the idea of creating a seat of learning in Prague before he
accompanied his father to Crecy, for we find him writing to the Pope on
the subject while he was yet recovering from his wounds and before he
returned to Bohemia. It was at a Diet held at Prague in 1348 that
Charles announced his intention of founding a University, and he set
about it with his customary energy. The King himself took in hand the
organization of this his new foundation, ably assisted by the
Archbishop, Ernest of Pardubic, as Chancellor. Students of many
countries, many nations, flocked to Prague, evidence of the fact of the
city's central position in Europe, and soon the new University ranked
with those older institutions--the only ones of the kind in
Europe--Bologna, Paris and Oxford. The number of students increased
rapidly: by the end of Charles's reign there were some six or seven
thousand of them. The trouble was to accommodate them all. The
professors held lectures in their own apartments, in monasteries if they
happened to belong to one or other of the many congregations in Prague,
and theology courses were held in the Cathedral. This was well enough at
first, but even then there was no provision for the students' lodgings.
They could not live in colleges, as there were none; in fact, the only
university buildings in existence, which probably served various
ceremonial occasions, was a congeries of buildings called the Carolinum,
after its founder. These buildings stood in the Old Town, and there were
probably others used for university purposes dotted about the town, as
is the case to-day. Still, the students remain unhoused. There must have
been a good many houses without the walls of the Old Town and
Vyšehrad, the ancient borough, and I take it that Charles collected
all these houses under one administration of its own, walled the place
in securely and called it Nové Město, New Town, quite simply. Charles
laid the foundation-stone of the New Town in the same year as that in
which he started the University, fitted the former out with various
necessaries, a town-hall, a church or two, perhaps St. Stephen's, and so
provided more housing room for the good people of Prague and their
guests the students.

[Illustration: VENICE IN PRAGUE.]

All went very well, no doubt, for several years, when a calamity befell
the city of Prague: the old bridge, built at her own expense by Queen
Judith, the only link between Prague on the right bank and the Mala
Strana, was damaged beyond repair by winter's floods. Charles, as usual,
rose to the occasion: he built a new one, again laying a foundation with
his own royal hand, and this happened in 1358--on July 9th, to be
strictly accurate. I do not propose to describe the Charles Bridge to
you, as I am supplying an illustration showing it, but I wish to remark
here that Charles is not guilty of the groups of statuary which
distinguish this bridge from others in the world. The only bit of
statuary anywhere near the Charles Bridge which dates from his period
stands near the Mala Strana end of it on the upstream side. This is the
sculptured figure of a knight in armour, bearing the coat of arms of the
Old Town and holding aloft his drawn sword. Dr. Jeřabek calls this
figure "Bruncvik," others call it "Roland"; it was probably put up to
inform passers-by that they had better pay their toll quietly or there
would be trouble.

The piles of the Charles Bridge nearest to the left bank of the river
stand on a little island called Kampa. You cannot see much of this
island from the bridge: I recommend you to go down the steps, under the
bridge, and then look under the second arch, and you will see the view
which I have sketched for you. It is not the view which you will find on
the postcards illustrating this particular spot and calling it "Venice
on the Vltava." In this the Pragers fall into the snobbish habit of
going outside their own country for the sake of finding some inept
comparison. I grant that they are not the only sinners in this respect;
we may even have a "Venice in London," according to those who label the
views on postcards, for all I know. I have, on postcards, met "Venice in
Whatsisname" and elsewhere, wherever there was sufficient sluggish water
reflecting tall houses that have seen better days and conceal their
dilapidations behind motley garments drying in a lazy breeze. But Prague
need not descend to this; here is no "Venice in Prague," but simply a
charming bit of an old town, a fascinating backwater where quaint old
houses exchange reminiscences with their broken reflections in the
water. This ought to be good enough for Prague, anyway.

So Charles threw this bridge across the water, a lasting, glorious
monument to a father ever careful of his children's welfare, and its
stout pillars and graceful arches bid fair to call up reflections for
yet further centuries on the face of Bohemia's own river, the Vltava.

The River Vltava rises away down in the south among the mountains of the
Bohemian Forest. It has its happy infancy in "green days in forest,"
leaping over rocks, playing with pebbles, and generally disporting
itself until it comes out into the world and moves among men. Not empty
handed either, for it carries the sound of the forest and the rhythm of
running water to those that have their being on its banks; if you doubt
it, come and hear Smetana's work at the National Theatre reflected in
the waters of Prague. The Vltava arrives at Prague reinforced by its
tributary, the Berounka, and flows almost due north until it meets the
Castle Hill. Then it makes a bold sweep due east, turns north and west
again, and so makes a peninsula of Castle Hill; then it resumes, with
many windings, its northward course. Nothing could have been better
arranged than this bold sweep encircling the Hradšany and the wooded
slopes of Letna; it is this feature that adds so much interest to the
attractive composition of Prague. This must also have impressed that
far-seeing lady, Libuša--it inspired her as it has inspired many
people since.

       *       *       *       *       *

The psychology of rivers has not been sufficiently studied. Most people
just call a river blue, or golden or muddy, and pass on to other
subjects. In reality every river of importance has a definite character
all its own; so, for that matter, has every stream of running water,
however insignificant it may seem. Our ancestors recognized the fact,
but preferred to endow brooks and streams with a definite personality in
the form of nymphs, pixies, or whatever they were called. The Cross has
driven these harmless and pathetic little beings out of the world they
lived in; only a few were allowed to linger, such as Isa, who till quite
recently came ashore from the Danube between Passau and Vienna because
she felt so lonely, poor dear! Then there is Undine, but she only
appears on the operatic stage, and that but rarely. Under our present
strenuous existence, where all is bent towards material success, there
is no place for the sprites whose voices the ancients heard in the
twilight silence. How could any properly constituted nymph play
hide-and-seek with the moonbeams, or cast an eye upon a handsome
boatman, from under the well-regulated bank of a river of to-day? As far
as present-day mortals are concerned, any stream means water-power, any
river means a waterway for commerce, and those thus engaged after the
day's work turn away from river and stream without waiting to hear what
they have to say when the din of industry dies down and the voice of the
running water can be heard again.

There must be a certain and strong connection between a river and the
people that live on its banks; one surely reacts upon the other, and in
the process the character of both develops. Not only the sky, but the
works of man, are reflected in rivers, have been so reflected since man
began to work at all; so the character of a people must be influenced by
rivers: witness the lazy reflections of the "Ponte Vecchio" in the
golden Arno, the comfortable parks and lawns and country houses mirrored
by the Thames until it gradually becomes busy, and very dirty, on its
way to join the sea, with a sigh of relief after such a very strenuous
"last lap."

The river at Prague is worthy of careful study, but whatever I may
suggest as to its influence on the people of Prague, I still advise you
to come here and judge for yourself. Remember, its name is "Vltava," out
of which the Germans had made "Moldau," by which you have probably known
it till now; but the map of Europe has been readjusted lately, names
have changed back to their original version, and so the river at Prague
has resumed definitely its Slavonic designation, which, though not given
on any map, yet lived in the memory of the people.

       *       *       *       *       *

An atmosphere of serenity seems to me to cling to the memory of
Charles's reign, a sort of "world went very well then" feeling.
Certainly Charles was doing his best, and his serenity and singleness of
purpose were reflected in the soul of his people, as were the works of
his hands reflected in the waters of the Vltava. Some historians credit
Charles with deep and sinister designs, such as raising a vast Slav
Empire to counter the growing ascendancy of Germany. This seems rather
nonsensical. Charles was a good King of Bohemia, albeit German by race
and French by upbringing, and was doing his best for his country. He saw
distinctly, as very few people only have seen before or since, that
Bohemia and its capital, Prague, was admirably suited to form the centre
of a large Empire; he therefore developed the resources of his country
in order to fit it for the part it should play. Charles is also accused
of Pan-Slavism, a wide and generally misinterpreted term; indeed, he
spoke Czech well, unlike his father John, and encouraged literary effort
in that language--it was his duty to do this, and not to force French or
German on his people as he might have tried to do. Again, the fact of
his having founded the Benedictine monastery at Emaus for the purpose of
reviving the traditions of the former monastery of St. Prokop! To this
end came monks from Dalmatia, Croatia, Bosnia, all Slavs who brought
back to Bohemia the Cyrillac alphabet and the Slavonic liturgy. The Pope
had granted express permission at the request of Charles, who had
pointed out that it was of little use preaching to his people in Latin.
The Pope had, indeed, stipulated that Emaus should be the only
congregation to use Slavonic rites within the frontiers of Bohemia.

[Illustration: TOWER OF NEW TOWN HALL.]

Charles was probably the sort of man who would walk about on foot among
his people, and I like to think of him crossing the bridge he built when
going about his business, and there was plenty of that. First of all,
the Royal Castle, where he seems to have resided, was badly in need of
repair; at the same time there were several churches building on the
right bank, and Charles would surely go to see how they were getting on.
Then again, the New Town was growing up and being walled in, and the
New Town Hall was in course of construction. This latter building is
another pleasant monument to "the Father of his Country," as it rears
its graceful saddle-roofed tower, with the characteristic pointed
turrets, over the trees and flowering shrubs that make of the Charles
Square such a delectable resting-place. Vyšehrad was also having its
ancient defences repaired and strengthened, and the sides of the hill
rising up out of the Old Town, Vinohrad, were being turned into
vineyards and gardens by order of the King. Charles was also in the
habit of attending learned discourses at the University, or of dropping
in at lectures. Then there were many grave affairs of the State to keep
him anxiously busy. I can almost see him, a stoutish, sturdy man of
round and kindly countenance, passing across the bridge, reflecting
deeply on many difficult questions. There were, for instance, the
zealous preachers Conrad Waldhauser and Milič of Kroměřiže,
who were causing such a stir. These two worthies were holding forth in
the churches against the luxury and immorality of the time, with such
effect that well-known, great and gaudy sinners were moved to acts of
public repentance and women to cast off their jewellery and to dress
themselves in sober fashion. All this was very beautiful and edifying,
but it was not likely to last, and what with the ill-will of the Pope
and the opposition of the monastic orders it took Charles all his tact
and ability to steer a course among the rocks and rapids of imperial and
Bohemian affairs. For all Charles's efforts the outlook was losing its
air of serenity--was, in fact, becoming ominously cloudy towards the end
of his reign. The papal conflict had brought about the Great Schism in
the Western Church; this led to an aggravation of the Church Reform
movement in Bohemia. In fact, the storm was rising which was to sweep
over Bohemia, thence over all Central Europe, leaving it eventually
broken and desolate, under the hand of Habsburg. At this moment, when a
strong and steady hand was wanted more than ever, Charles died. He was
only sixty-two, and might have been good for a few more years. However,
he had prepared to meet events that might follow on his death, and had
secured the succession to his son Wenceslaus, fourth and last Bohemian
King of that name. Wenceslaus was the son of Anne of Schweidnitz, third
wife of Charles; he had been crowned King of Bohemia at the age of two,
his succession to the throne of Germany had been secured, so Wenceslaus,
though only seventeen years old, started with the odds in his favour.
There were plenty of troubles about which must have puzzled the young
King considerably: rival Popes were hurling bans, bulls,
excommunications, anathemas and such-like Church property at each other,
and all the little dogs were barking at the heels of those precious
pontiffs. Luckily young Wenceslaus could count upon a number of his
father's old friends and councillors, and he started out trying to carry
on his father's policy. He also took a line, a private one of his own,
which was harmless enough at the outset, but became inconvenient as time
went on. Wenceslaus was all out for popularity among his people,
especially among his Pragers. He would go about the city looking into
minor matters of his people's welfare, so he would measure the mercer's
cloth-yard and if it were not up to standard would crack the saucy
knave's head therewith. He went among his people performing acts of
charity; in fact, he generally disported himself right royally, if with
an occasional lapse from discretion. Now this Wenceslaus drew the
relations between England and Bohemia closer together. Wenceslaus had a
sister Anne, who married our Richard II. Anne was surely a very dear
lady--an expensive one, in fact--for Richard had to pay eighty thousand
golden guldens to Wenceslaus within a fortnight of Anne's landing in
England, and had also lent the genial Bohemian King a further sum of
twenty thousand golden guldens, which went away to the _Ewigkeit_--at
least England never saw them again.

Costly as was the bride of Richard II of England, I like to linger on
her memory, feeling convinced that we all have benefited by the outlay.
It is my firm opinion that we owe our grand old Christmas carol about
"Good King Wenceslaus" to Anne of Bohemia directly. I have consulted
various living Bohemian authorities on this subject. They had not even
heard of our carol: I hummed the tune to them--it told them nothing.
They tried to palm me off with St. Wenceslaus, but I declined him; he is
not quite suitable as "theme" of a rollicking carol; besides, he gets
plenty of attention in his own country. I grant that St. Wenceslaus was
full of good works, all of the kind that looks well in frescoes, and in
which everybody moves with feet in the first position, it was _de
rigueur_. King Wenceslaus IV, also performed acts of kindness among his
people, so the reference in the carol to "flesh and wine" suits this
merry monarch thoroughly: he would certainly have called for both these
forms of sustenance. St. Wenceslaus might have forgotten the wine; King
Wenceslaus would have thought of that at once; in fact, he was a firm
believer in the French adage, "_l'alcool conserve_." Then we learn from
the carol that the page found warmth in the footsteps of the King, and
Wenceslaus was certainly "hot stuff," as you will agree when I have told
you more about him. Moreover, what is more likely than that Anne should
have told her new English friends all about that jolly, popular brother
of hers? The tune and its quaint harmonization is surely from some time
in the joyous fifteenth century; if it had to deal with St. Wenceslaus
it would have to grunt about in Gregorian phrasing. No doubt Anne's
ladies who accompanied her from Bohemia would invoke the patron saint
from time to time, and English people, hearing a strange and difficult
name, and thinking it impossible that several well-known men had borne
it, would be likely enough to get saintly prince and jovial monarch
thoroughly mixed up. Anyway, I am firmly convinced that the "Good King
Wenceslaus" we sing about at Christmas is no other than the brother of
Anne, German King, King of Bohemia, fourth of that name, and Emperor of
the Holy Roman Empire.

Meanwhile the River Vltava continued to reflect indifferently the doings
of small and great, and among others those of Wenceslaus.

The laudable habit of bathing met with every encouragement from "Good
King Wenceslaus," who was generally to be found ready to take part in
any popular diversion. It was he who raised those humble but useful
citizens, the keepers of bathing establishments, to prominent rank among
their fellows. And hereby hangs a tale.

King Wenceslaus did not always see eye to eye with the leaders among the
people; there were misunderstandings and bickerings, and despite his
popularity among the more jovial elements, he had enemies even in his
own capital. On the occasion of one such unpleasantness his enemies had
detained him at the Old Town Hall. The King, finding this very irksome,
deliberated on some method of escaping, and had the happy thought of
insisting on a bath. It was in the autumn of the year 1394; the weather
was warm and the river close by. A few turns down the narrow winding
street named after his father would bring Wenceslaus to the river,
where, somewhat above the old town mill, was a bathing establishment.
The name of the owner of these baths seems to have been lost to history.
Not so that of his daughter Susanna. Now the name Susanna has appeared
before in recorded history also in connection with bathing--a most
irreproachable Susanna. We draw no parallel; we make no comparisons,
especially as no elders enter immediately into this story; we merely
state historic facts. Moreover, it was not Susanna who was taking the
bath this time, it was the King, and Susanna seems merely to have been
hovering about in a punt. Here was the monarch's opportunity. He
persuaded Susanna to take him across the river. Thus he escaped from his
enemies. Now there is no hint of an assignation, no suggestion that
Susanna was an accessory before the fact, merely the chronicler's
statement that the lady happened to be there and that she helped the
King to escape.

As was only right, King Wenceslaus proved his gratitude right royally.
He began by breaking up the lady's bathing establishment as a
preliminary to building a new and much more sumptuous one. Susanna's
father seems to have been left out of the deal altogether by this time.
The King then sent for Susanna, who appears to have been close at hand,
namely, in the Royal Castle of Žebrac, where the solemn rite now to
be related took place. After all, if you must break up a lady's home,
the least you can do is to offer her suitable accommodation elsewhere.
Susanna therefore appeared before the King, who solemnly invested her
with a charter by virtue of which all those who followed the pursuit of
keeping a bathing establishment should by their occupation be placed on
a social level with the masters of other arts and crafts. They might,
indeed, hold high their head among their fellows. It was expressly
stated that no Jews, infidels, heretics, or lewd persons should be
allowed to patronize bathing establishments; nor might they even enter
into the dwelling-places of those who came under the new charter. Severe
penalties were to be imposed on those who ventured to speak ill of the
keeper of a bathing establishment; he might even lose his head for such
temerity; anyway, his property would go to the senior member of the new
guild.

       *       *       *       *       *

Thus spake the King. Furthermore, he ordained that this worshipful guild
which did so much towards encouraging cleanly habits should hold as its
crest or cognizance within a garland argent and azure, a kingfisher
proper. Some chroniclers suggest that the bird was a parrot, but this
seems unlikely--parrots can be so indiscreet. Moreover, you may see for
yourself on the Old Town side of the tower of the Charles Bridge the
bird within the garland, and will recognize it at once for a kingfisher.

Let us watch the pageant that crosses the bridge that Charles built.
They pass in the serene atmosphere which, to my thinking, enveloped the
city in the Golden Age of Charles "the Father of his Country." They
hurry to and fro under the lurid light of civil war waged in the name of
religion; they linger on the bridge looking to the sky and its
reflections in the water, under the false light which precedes disaster,
or move mournfully cast down by the lowering clouds of oppression, to
revive when Prague came into her own again one crisp October morning in
1918.

Charles, it seems, lived in the Royal Castle a good deal. We may see him
crossing the bridge he built, to look to the progress of the work he was
engaged upon. Perchance he was deep in thought on high matters of State,
on his Golden Bull which reaffirmed all the privileges granted to
Bohemia. This Bull caused a coolness between him and the Pope, whose
indefinite claims to interfere in German elections were certainly
restricted by that engine. Around him the populace would be talking of
the great preachers, Conrad Waldhauser and Milič of Kroměřiže, whom the
King protected in their fiery onslaught on the abuses in the Church and
immorality of the children of their time. Charles may have thought all
this very beautiful but unlikely to last. He saw clouds arising, and
they closed over Bohemia when he died.

Of the works that Charles constructed for the beautifying of his
capital, several are reflected in the waters of Vltava. There is, for
instance, the bridgehead tower on the Mala Strana side, a graceful
monument to Charles's gracious days. You may notice on passing under the
gateway from the bridge the figure of a witch carved in stone, complete
with broom and general air of nocturnal enterprise. I often wonder as I
pass by here whether this figure inspired Marion Crawford when he was
casting about for a title to his novel which you may have read, _The
Witch of Prague_. There lingers a strong, a powerfully attractive
_allure_ of old Prague, just about this quarter, at the left bank end of
the Charles Bridge. There is a quaint old tower that dates from Queen
Judith's time. I have already pointed it out to you, and told you that
it was until fairly recently used as a lock-up. The battlement across
the gateway used to bear indications of rough justice as executed in
those days; it was frequently adorned with the heads of rebels, traitors
or others who had become unpopular, as, for instance, one Bohemicky. It
appears that Bohemicky was quite unable to get along with his
fellow-citizens, so they had his head off and added to the collection
over the gateway. This happened in 1517, when the nations had emerged
out of the darkness of the Middle Age and were struggling along by the
yet uncertain light of civil progress and religious reform.

The tower on the right bank end of the Charles Bridge bears every
indication of dating from King Wenceslaus IV, as his device, the
kingfisher, is found to figure in its decorative scheme. Between these
two bridgeheads passes a good deal of the historic pageant of Old
Prague. Wenceslaus IV played about here a good deal, it would appear.
First of all we have that little affair with Susanna of the
bathing-place. Then there was a story about one John Nepomuk which
seems to have made less stir at the time of the event narrated than its
echo did some centuries later. John Nepomuk was a pious soul, as a
priest should be, modest and seemly in his ways. He just comes in, as it
were, in the background, of the squabbles that Wenceslaus and his
Archbishop, John of Jenstein, constantly indulged in. Wenceslaus was all
for reforming the Church before reforming himself. As to John Nepomuk, I
am rather puzzled about him. The people of Bohemia, on the whole, seem
to reverence him as a saint, one of the patrons of their country.

Some saints are a long time in coming to their own. The powers that
decide such matters are very deliberate; they are "left at the post"
even by such august institutions as Royal Commissions, Parish Councils
and Leagues of Nations. We all know how long it took before Joan of Arc
was duly canonized, yet her case was perfectly clear; she had her
visions, she acted upon them, she also gave advice freely, and was
eventually burnt at the stake; in fact, there can have been no doubt,
from the very beginning of her career, but that she was the stuff that
saints are made of. Another saint whose recognition was very tardy is
St. John Nepomuk. He is probably quite unknown to England even to this
day, notwithstanding the fact that he stood in close if somewhat
uncomfortable relations to one who figures in an English carol, namely,
this Good King Wenceslaus.

Now there is relativity in goodness, and this feature was strongly
marked in the King of Bohemia of whom we sing at Christmas time. One
absolute departure from goodness is reported of him, namely, that he
caused his wife's father-confessor to be thrown into the river at
Prague; and this man was John Nepomuk.

The trouble arose out of curiosity, and perhaps jealousy. Wine had also
a good deal to do with the business; the wine of Mělnik, both white
and red, was probably as pleasant to the taste then as it is to-day, and
Wenceslaus thought so too. His Queen Sophie was a very good wife
indeed, so Wenceslaus, wondering what such a very dear and gentle lady
could have to confess, inquired of John Nepomuk about this. I fear John
was one of those exasperating persons who give the soft answer that
makes one very wild. It had that effect on Wenceslaus; he went off into
an ungovernable rage and had John dragged down to the river and thrown
in. I believe John's tongue was torn out first. Anyway, this is the sort
of picturesque addition that you expect. There is a statue to John
Nepomuk on the Charles Bridge, there is a tablet to mark the spot where
he was thrown in, and there is his shrine in the cathedral which Lützow,
by the way, describes as of "barbaric splendour."

Now shortly after John Nepomuk's demise came yet another John, surnamed
Hus, and as he likewise met with a violent death, and that under yet
more picturesque conditions highly coloured by national sentiment, his
memory survived, whereas John Nepomuk's was lost in oblivion. After all,
John Nepomuk's trouble was more a personal one, a quarrel about a
domestic affair, whereas John Hus went all the way to Constance to bear
testimony to the faith held by his people, and was burnt there with all
the pomp and ceremony which Church and State of those days could put up.
As sequel to the martyrdom of John Hus came the wars waged by his
Bohemian followers against all the might of the Church of Rome and the
Holy Roman Empire. It is, therefore, no wonder that his memory held
popular sentiment for centuries, holds it still, though there are signs
that John Nepomuk is creeping up again; and in this lie endless
possibilities.

In the first place it is maintained by ardent nationalists, and
therefore followers of John Hus, that John Nepomuk never existed at all,
that he was simply invented by the Jesuits in their successful efforts
to bring back to Rome the Protestant people of Bohemia whose army had
been defeated in the battle of the White Mountain in 1620. John Nepomuk
was raised, they maintain, in opposition to the real national hero and
martyr John Hus; therefore the whole story of the former John's death is
all invention, and the tablet on the bridge over which he went to
martyrdom is a brazen misstatement of fact. The tablet is of bronze,
anyway, and shows the saint floating serenely on the surface, his head
surrounded by a halo of stars which flew upwards as his body struck the
water. Although this serious event is said to have happened in 1383, it
was not till nearly three centuries later that it was recalled to the
memory of the Bohemian people, who were then encouraged to celebrate the
16th of May as the day set apart for St. John Nepomuk. So they
celebrated--it takes little inducement to make a Bohemian celebrate
anything. The festival included several attractive features, such as a
religious service on the bridge itself, and also a display of fireworks
in memory of the afore-mentioned bunch of stars. Such observances must
have given great satisfaction to the saint, less so the habit of
invoking his aid in times of drought. This surely is rather a delicate
matter. Remember, John Nepomuk had been drowned; therefore to ask him to
see to a further supply of water seems hardly tactful--it is enough to
send any ordinary saint off into a fit of hydrophobia. Anyway, John
Nepomuk was duly canonized some three hundred and fifty years after his
supposed immersion in the waters of Prague. Since then many churches
have been dedicated to his saintly memory; many statues, depicting him
with all the truthfulness inherent in the narrative of "the oldest
inhabitant," adorn shrines by the wayside: he was apparently popular all
over the country--in any case he brought the people at least one
holiday. But the war affected the pleasant relations between a kindly
saint and the people to whom he had been appointed for special duties by
the far distant authorities of Holy Church. The spirit of nationalism
tarnished the starry halo of one John, and sought illumination in the
fierce glow that destroyed the other. John Nepomuk was relegated to the
background where live the quiet souls whose beliefs are not affected by
nationalism. John Hus was brought forward by national sentiment which
had fiercely resented the suppression of this martyr's memorial
celebrations, and for a time it seemed that John Hus would hold the
field, that the spirit of the nation would return to his tenets and away
from an alien spiritual authority.

Even a year ago John Nepomuk's day was observed only by those who
perform their devotions in secret; this year we had vigil and feast kept
at top form, pilgrimages from all parts of the country, processions
through the streets headed by high dignitaries of the Church, and
outward and visible signs of a sincere regard for a patron saint. There
was some stimulating opposition too: a band of followers of the other
John also demonstrated in favour of their man, whose day was not due for
about a month or so. The police were out in force, but the opposition
amounted to little more than noise; there were plenty of bands and beer,
and no one particularly wanted a row.

There is some significance in this revival of reverence for St. John
Nepomuk. Owing to centuries of oppression the mind of the people of
Bohemia has developed a strong "spirit of negation," "_der Geist der
stets verneint_," as Goethe would say, to the detriment of constructive
ability, so it may be that this spirit having failed to reconstruct a
church of some sort, at least on national lines, is going under before
the mightiest organization the world has ever known, the Church of Rome.

The Government's attitude was interesting, if not amusing, in the matter
of keeping the feast. Officially there was no feast (except the daily
socialistic feast of reason), unofficially anyone who wanted to drop a
tear for John Nepomuk over the bridge was at liberty to leave his office
for that purpose.

Swarms of country folk flocked into the city of Prague to give John
Nepomuk his due--but there was also an agricultural exhibition going on
at the time. The Government was keenly interested in this exhibition;
the crowds who came in out of reverence for John Nepomuk went to the
exhibition out of curiosity.

To the Government the late patron saint of Bohemia was of some economic
value; what his spiritual value is time will tell. Holy Church can
always afford to wait.

John Hus has just been mentioned. He passes before us in the pageant of
the Charles Bridge. Wenceslaus IV knew this fervent soul who came up to
Prague from his humble home in Southern Bohemia, and arrived at his M.A.
degree in 1396, eventually to become Rector of the University. It is
possibly indirectly through Wenceslaus that Hus became acquainted with
the writings and teachings of Wycliffe. Wenceslaus frequently
corresponded on the subject of Church Reform, on the recognition of
Urban VI as Pope, and other cognate matters, with his brother-in-law,
Richard II of England, and no doubt sister Anne added a line to her
husband's letters. Now Anne, we know, had already been deeply impressed
by Wycliffe's teaching; his writings had been known and treasured in
Prague for some time. John Hus had certainly studied them, and he was an
ardent advocate of Church Reform. We also find that he had a friend in
that long-suffering Queen Sophie, wife of Wenceslaus; he was even for a
time her father-confessor. We see John Hus pass on his way through the
storms of controversy to the pyre at which he perished by the
faithlessness of an Emperor, Sigismund, younger brother of Wenceslaus,
and also some time King of Bohemia. Then again we see the fire that
destroyed John Hus's body at Constance reflected time and again,
angrily, in the waters of the Vltava; the Hussites were out and, as we
have seen, were destroying by fire. So we see the Bishop's palace in
flames, the Church of "St. Mary under the Chain," and many of the old
houses on the Mala Strana. The same fate, but not by the same agents,
befell the old Gothic tower you see standing up above that quaint
congerie of buildings below you as you look upstream at the Old Town end
of the bridge. Here is the old water tower dating back through many
vicissitudes to 1489, and below it are the buildings of the Old Town
mill, which are also of venerable age.

Religious dissensions, strife and turmoil, marked the days when
Sigismund reigned over Bohemia and also the Holy Roman Empire; there
were at one time three rival Emperors, also three Popes, a state of
affairs not conducive to the world's welfare; and Prague suffered
accordingly. Strange scenes must have been reflected in the Vltava in
those stormy times, as the pageant of the history of Prague crossed the
Charles Bridge. One day, to the beating of drums, a bevy of priests came
from afar; they made for the market-place and there sold indulgences.
The Pragers, distracted by the dissensions that rent the country, took
to arms repeatedly. Now and then a rift in the clouds would hold out
promise of a serener atmosphere; after two Habsburgs, Albert and his
posthumous son, Ladislaus, came a King of their own choosing, of their
own race and faith, George Podiebrad. But much as the Pragers venerated
this native King of theirs, he was able to bring them little lasting
good, with all his grand efforts and laudable intentions. George
Podiebrad, it appears, was fond of the river, like a good Bohemian, and
would come down to bathe occasionally. To make a clean job of it, he
used to get shaved at the same time, possibly hair-cut. One day as the
barber held the King's chin and flourished his razor, the knight of the
tongs asked his sovereign: "Who is now the most mighty man in this
Kingdom of Bohemia?" "Surely thou art," quoth the King. When the shave
was over the King demanded: "Who is now the mightiest man in this
Kingdom of Bohemia?" "Surely thou art," quoth the barber, who was
thereupon given striking evidence of his monarch's might, a couple of
blows on the jaw, a kick or two in the ribs, and other marks of royal
favour. No doubt a few halidoms, gramercies and other bits of furniture
were set flying about at the time. The barber was so overcome by these
marks of royal favour that he died a few days after taking them. This
was George Podiebrad in lighter mood; he had a serious side to him as
well, as I may try to show you by and by.

There followed Vladislav, a Pole, and various Habsburgs as Kings of
Bohemia, but I see little that the river cares to reflect, of their work
or doings. Instead of reflections in the waters, I see them troubled,
and anxiety on the face of Prague. There seems to have been a
brightening up after the Bohemians had cleared the atmosphere by letting
loose the War of Thirty Years. They had invited a foreign Protestant to
be their King, and they hoped much from his wife. We have met these two
before, Frederick of the Palatinate and Elizabeth, whom the Bohemians
still insist on calling an Englishwoman, whereas everyone should know
that anyone who has even a remote Scottish relative expects to be
considered a Scot "for a' that." The river gives me just a glint of a
reflection concerning Frederick and Elizabeth.

The good people of Prague live by the river, on the river, and in warm
weather in the river. This has been the pleasant custom of the Pragers
from time immemorial; it has not been appreciated by some of the
visitors to Prague. So, for instance, this so-called English lady,
Elizabeth, wife of him whom history nicknames the "Winter King," was
shocked at the very liberal display of pink flesh one day when crossing
the Charles Bridge. It was probably a sunny day, and many people of
Prague were disporting themselves in the Vltava, as they do to-day. You
may see them swimming about or in boatloads pulled by some enthusiastic
if perspiring male member of the family; indeed, the results of
Bohemia's excellent cuisine are much in evidence. It must be admitted
that the same cuisine tends to develop a certain redundancy among those
no longer in their first youth. Perhaps the sight of exuberant ladies,
scantily clad and bulging over the gunwale of a frail craft, provoked
the English Princess to a shocked utterance, the account of which,
purposely garbled by the Jesuits, spread abroad like wildfire, and
caused much unfavourable comment. The lady herself was subject to remark
by the Pragers on account of her very _decolleté_ dresses after the
fashion set by the Court of her father, King James I of England, of whom
it is said, by the way, that he was not over addicted to washing--the
tips of his fingers were about the extent of his ablutions; so
stone-throwing was out of place in this instance, as in all others.
However, as we know, Elizabeth did not make a prolonged stay in Prague;
her husband Frederick, by no means endowed with the physical courage of
his son Rupert, the Prince Palatine, did a memorable "sprint" when he
heard how the people of his adoption had been defeated. The people of
Prague then had much more serious matters to concern themselves with
than an English Princess's dresses. The troops of the Empire marched
into Prague, adventurers of many nations swarmed into the city and
settled there while Jesuits set about bringing back the citizens into
the fold of the Roman Church by lighting bonfires with the works of the
earnest divines who followed in the footsteps of John Hus and the
reformers. They endeavoured by these means to stamp out any tendency to
freedom of thought, religious and political, in the people of Bohemia.
In this they failed.

[Illustration]

While talking of the aquatic habits of the people of Prague, of Bohemia
generally, I am reminded of accounts by Byzantine chroniclers, reporters
and travellers who described Slavs they had met or heard of. This would
be some time ago, say sixth or seventh century. These Slavs had a
wonderful idea of lying in ambush--I cannot call it a military
stratagem, it is so amphibious. They lay down in shallow pools, showing
only the end of a blow-pipe to breathe through, and so waylaid the
enemy. The Byzantines must have been up against the Czechs, who seem to
me distinctly amphibious in summer-time. True, the stratagem described
is no longer in use; it is too simple for modern times and methods;
besides, I do not know many Bohemians of whom I could say that they are
built for that man[oe]uvre, that they would ever be able effectively to
conceal their manly proportions in shallow pools. No, I do not think it
could be done to-day. One _buirdly_ body, whose proportions were not
easy to conceal, caught my eye one day as I was paddling about among a
swarm of merry swimmers. He stood out among the crowd, a majestic
figure. It was not his costume--simplicity itself--which attracted my
attention, not his fiercely upturned moustache nor the red and white
jockey cap that crowned his square-cut head. It was his massive
stateliness as a whole. Surely he had taken guidance from Marcus
Aurelius: "Be thou like a promontory"!

[Illustration: BE THOU LIKE A PROMONTORY.]

On sunny summer days all Prague seems to be on or in the river, and a
very sensible and healthy way it is to spend the hot hours of the
day--and it can be appreciably hot in Prague. As a rule you may reckon
on long spells of fine weather throughout Bohemia, as the country is
sheltered on the weather side by the high mountains which hold up the
rain. So all Prague turns out to enjoy the river and the sunshine.
During the summer months the inhabitants of Prague, a very white-skinned
race, turn ripe brown in the parts exposed to the sun; and, as I
suggested before, a considerable aggregate surface is thus exposed. In
contrast to low-cut white frocks, brown necks recall sights familiar to
Eastern travellers. I do not suggest that this detracts from the charm
of the ladies of Prague, to which I pay ready tribute. And in winter
the normal fairness of skin of the Aryan reasserts itself, while the
charm remains--in fact, intensifies. It is singularly pleasant to watch
the younger generation at play on or in the river. They are all good,
strong swimmers, but their chief delight seems to lie in each one
"paddling his, or her, own canoe." The river canoe is not quite the same
as those which we derived from the Red Indians, though that kind of
craft is also seen about. The popular canoe is a very small
flat-bottomed concern with pointed stem and stern, is generally gaily
painted and named appropriately "Water Bubble," "Fairy," or something
equally ingenious. It looks easy when you see a lass gracefully paddling
herself along with a double oar; it is anything but as easy as it looks.
This class of canoe is a very unstable craft. I have tried to navigate
one, and spent the whole time in the water--simply could not keep inside
the tub. This I much regretted, for it must be thoroughly enjoyable to
laze about under the trees that overhang the river from one or other of
the islands and listen to the band. You do not get half the enjoyment
you should out of music when swimming around all the time, and it would
not be appreciated if you appeared like Venus or Undine, from out of the
foam as it were, among the customers of the "Restauration" on one or
other of the islands--besides, you would not have your pocket-book,
stuffed with notes, on your person just then.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER X

Charles and the Housing Problem. The "carryings on" in the New Town, and
more about "St. Mary of the Snow"; also about Rudolph II and some
troublesome guests of his inviting, called the "Passauer." How Count
Thurn chased the "Passauer" out of town. A word about the Salvation
Army. How the centre of fashion shifted to the Old Town in the days of
Wenceslaus IV, and we move with it down the Karlova Ulice, look at
various matters of interest and listen to a story about a confectioner
and his nocturnal visitors. The 21st of June in Prague and the Hus
celebrations on the 6th of July. The Old Town Hall and the Church of Our
Lady of Tyn. The "Powder Tower," night life in Prague, and a word on
missionaries of long ago and of to-day. A good deal about concerts,
theatres, opera and other recreations. A mention of Jungmann and Kalina,
and the Slav Congress of 1848. A memory of barricades and street
fighting. Something about Sokols.


Charles, we have seen, had added a fourth quarter, the New Town, to his
city of Prague, moved thereto by the acuteness of the "Housing Problem,"
which, by the way, is equally urgent to-day. Prague is again the capital
of a free and flourishing State, and is again hard put to it to find
room for all those who feel attracted to her. The New Town soon entered
into the spirit of mediæval Prague, put on no airs, but just joined in
any fray that happened to be going on. So New Town and Old were wont to
meet in battle over some vexed question, generally of theology strongly
mixed with politics, and a favourite cockpit was the ground in front of
"St. Mary of the Snow." It was on one of those occasions that the
steeple was brought down, together with a couple of monks who were
hiding in it, and also the big bell Carolus; a gun was brought into
action, and no doubt gave tone to the proceedings. This was in 1434;
nearly two centuries later some visitors generally alluded to as the
"Passauer," plundered this church and monastery.

This visit of the "Passauer" was again due to that noxious mixture,
religion plus politics. The Union of Protestant German Princes had been
broken, and Ravaillac's dagger had killed Henri Quatre, spoiling his
plans towards helping Protestantism, in which plans the French King had
also included Bohemia. Just about this time the Habsburger King of
Bohemia, Rudolph II, who must have been rather mad, was looking out for
a successor. He loathed all his relatives with complete impartiality,
save one, and that one was a cousin, Archduke Leopold, Bishop of
Strassbourg and Passau. Leopold was one of those fighting prelates who
send others to do the dirty work; in this case an army of his, some
thirty thousand bandits led by a foreign _condottiere_, invaded Bohemia,
burning and pillaging until they came to Prague. Rudolph had probably
invited them, as the imperial garrison of the Hradšany admitted these
"Passauer" to the Mala Strana. In Old Prague these marauders met with
resistance, though here too preparations had been made towards their
visit, as gunpowder and other warlike stores had been found in
monasteries and houses of the Jesuits. The Estates of Bohemia hastily
equipped Count Thurn, who soon got the better of Leopold's mercenaries,
and chased them and the Jesuits out of the country. Fighting about this
quarter of Prague--in fact, anywhere in the city--is now discouraged by
an efficient police force, and the only warlike sounds I have ever heard
proceeding from out the shadows of "St Mary of the Snow" came from the
band of the Salvation Army. A very good band it is too, though the tunes
it plays are not up to the native standard of music. Nevertheless the
Salvation Army is not only tolerated, but enjoys a certain amount of
popularity; deservedly too, for that organization does a great deal of
good rescue work. Jungmann's statue looks down thoughtfully upon this
somewhat corybantic form of religious expression when on a Sunday
afternoon the Salvation Army band is in full blast. Jungmann, who
brought out the value of the Czech language, its poetic possibilities,
by translating into it Milton's _Paradise Lost_, may wonder at this
strange striving after "the Beauty of Holiness," which also comes from
England. But probably he understands.

The New Town seems to have developed along a line of local politics all
its own and at variance with that of its very close neighbours, Old
Town, Vyšehrad and Mala Strana. Their local politicians did not lack
initiative; no one can accuse them of that failing. I can recall one
instance as example. During the days when the Protestants of Prague, in
their religious ardour, had split up into at least two distinct and
hostile parties, a procession of Utraquists, priests leading with the
Host, passed by the New Town Hall. Some one threw a brick and hit a
priest, thereupon the populace stormed the Town Hall and hurled Mayor
and Corporation out of the window; those of the victims who still showed
signs of life were dispatched with clubs--in fact, a clean-up of
municipal authorities took place. Public spirited certainly,
unconventional, you may say; but if the Bohemian is to have no power of
imagination, who may?

In the days of Wenceslaus IV the fashionable centre of Prague seems to
have been shifted from the impressive Hradšany side to the Old Town.
The King himself preferred to live in close touch with his people; he
wanted to see life--he certainly made it, for Wenceslaus when young was
quite "one of the lads of the village." Let us look up that good King's
haunts. On crossing the Charles Bridge from the Mala Strana to the Old
Town we keep straight along the Karlova Ulice--that is, as straight as
you can along this narrow old street by which Charles must have made his
way to the Carolinum. I have already pointed out to you the dome which
surmounts the home of the Red Cross Knights, the Knights Crucifer, and
told you that this building and the church that stands somewhat apart on
your left, behind the statue of Charles IV, is the work of the Jesuits.
We may go in by the wide gateway into this mass of buildings, the
Clementinum, also part of the University, but this is guide-book
business, and I prefer to take you my own way. So we go along the
crooked street past a bunch of churches, one of which is the longest in
Prague; you may see their bulbous towers from my terrace, or your own if
you get the right point of view. These churches do not interest me
particularly except for a lovely bit of wrought-iron railing belonging
to the Italian Chapel, just where the street takes a slight twist. Here
you have quaint old houses, with red-tiled roofs and dormer windows. One
of them seems inclined to impede the progress of the traffic, and the
street bends slightly away to the right to oblige this building. There
are quaint ornamentations on the narrow side of this house facing us,
human figures and wreaths, and in the centre of the design a star. This
old house has a little story to tell. Long ago, possibly in the
sixteenth century, it was an inn, or a lodging-house, was said to be
haunted, so the great-grandson of the last innkeeper there gave up
taking lodgers and became a confectioner. One winter's evening, probably
in preparation for Christmas, this confectioner was surveying the day's
handiwork. He was particularly pleased with two little sugar figures he
had fashioned; they represented a lady and her gallant in Spanish dress,
each draped in the heavy folds of a cloak. He was interrupted by a knock
at the door, and in came two figures, in Spanish dress, cloak and all, a
lady and her cavalier. The only thing strange about them were their
faces: they were like masks, beautiful indeed, but lifeless. However,
the couple were quite amiable; they took the proffered seats, and the
gallant spoke. "Have you, good master [gramercies, gadzooks, etc.,
according to taste], a couple of sugar figures in Spanish dress, each
draped in a cloak?" "Zounds!" or something equally effective (in Czech,
please) from the confectioner, "here is the very article!" The little
figures gave satisfaction; the gallant purchased them with much fine
gold, then proffered a request for a favour in return. "Granted," or
words to that effect, from the confectioner. "As it happens," continued
the gallant, "we have lost our heads, and would be much obliged if you
would recover them for us. You see, we called here about a hundred
years ago and were murdered in our beds, here in this house. It was your
great-grandfather's doing; he was a bit peevish that evening. We had
arrived with all our trunks, had searched the whole town for lodgings;
every place was crowded. Some one advised us to call here. The old
gentleman, after a deal of grumbling, showed us into a room, the first
floor front. I feel sure he really never liked us; in fact, we were no
sooner asleep than he came in and cut our heads off. He put our bodies
in one of our trunks, the contents of which he kept as souvenirs; you
know he was a great collector. He mislaid our heads, and we have
suffered much inconvenience in consequence. The ones we are wearing now
are not real ones--wax, you know; quite good of their kind, but not what
we have been used to. If you would be good enough to look around for
those heads, put them in a coffin with our bodies and have our whole
outfit decently buried, we should feel much relieved. By the way, our
old trunks are somewhere about the premises still, down in the cellar;
your great-grandfather was always keen on cold-storage--a collector
should be." The confectioner promised to see to this little matter, the
visitors tried to get up a smile of gratitude, and faded away. Right
enough, after searching diligently amongst his ancestor's collection,
the confectioner found the missing articles, carried out the
instructions given him by his visitors, and never saw them again. They
have left Prague for good and all, I gather.

It is well worth while to dive into the little narrow streets and alleys
to right and left; here you come upon many reminders of ancient Prague.
Look out especially for the quaint house-signs, some of which have not
yet been swept away--signs of exquisite design and workmanship, a lily,
a fish, keys or bunches of grapes. The Karlova Ulice eventually lands us
in the little Old Town Square, where you will find a beautiful
wrought-iron cage over a well, of sixteenth-century workmanship, and
passing on we arrive at one of the most historic spots of Prague, the
Staroměstké Náměsti, the Old Town Square, or Ring. In shape it is
neither of these two, but that does not detract from the throbbing
interest that clings to it.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was something unusual in the atmosphere of Prague when on the 21st
of June the sun dispelled the river mist, penetrated the purple shadows
of the quaint old streets, lit up the windows along the modern quays,
and gave promise of a glorious day to those who hurried to their daily
work. The unusual thing was an occasional streak of black in the general
radiance. Above that quarter of the castle where the President's
standard flies, a black flag floated on the morning breeze. The same
black note was repeated at the Czech National Theatre, and elsewhere
black banners waved out over the streets. This 21st of June was a day of
mourning for the children of Prague; on that day they remembered the
events of three centuries ago, events which robbed them of their rights
as a sovereign people, and fixed them firmly, ruthlessly, under the yoke
of Habsburg. It was the commemoration day for those who had made the
supreme sacrifice for the faith that was in them. The battle of the
White Mountain had been lost, and with it went the last remnant of those
able to resist the encroaching Austrians and the band of adventurers
who, under the cloak of religion, waged savage war in this fair country.

The cause of the trouble is far to seek. It arose from a characteristic
of these Slavonic people which should endear them to us, namely, a very
strong feeling of race and its responsibilities and a great tenacity
when defending their political and religious liberty. It is particularly
in the latter direction that the people of Bohemia and Moravia have been
in close touch with English thought. They were among the first, perhaps
the only people of the Continent, to embrace the tenets of Wycliffe, and
they fought for their convictions during the weary vicissitudes of the
Hussite wars. There were many Germans among those who took to the new
religious thought; Germans who had made their home in Bohemia and
Moravia, and were among the most earnest workers for the country's
welfare. But the _Drang nach Osten_ of the Germans of the Holy Roman
Empire under its semi-independent Princes and Electors, all intent on
their own advancement, was a constant menace to the peaceful development
of the Bohemian and Moravian people. They were not protected from
invasion by the silver sea. Bohemia never had a sea-coast, despite the
descriptive scenery in _Measure for Measure_. And here, I fear, is
another shattered illusion. When Shakespeare spoke of Bohemia he meant
Apulia, which at one time was named Bohemundia, after its King Bohemund.
Bohemia has always been exposed to enemies from the west, who could pour
in over the passes from Saxony or Bavaria. So the stout resistance of
the Hussites was eventually broken, and the House of Habsburg, for some
time elected Kings of Bohemia, encroached more and more on the chartered
freedom of the country. A first definite act of imperial bad faith
following on years of a policy inspired by malevolence and tempered by
stupidity, brought matters to a climax. A heated scene in the Council
Chamber of the Castle of Prague ended in what is described as the "Act
of Defenestration." In plain English, the Emperor's lieutenants, who, by
the way, happened to be a couple of Czech gentlemen bringing evidence of
the sovereign's treachery, were thrown out of the window. A midden in
the moat broke their fall; the officials fell soft, and got safely away.
But this very distinct lack of appreciation of the Emperor's demands on
the part of the Bohemian Estates let loose all the horrors of the Thirty
Years' War, a conflict which, waged under the cloak of religion and with
the blessings of Rome, set back civilization in Central Europe for many
generations. For the Czech inhabitants of Bohemia and Moravia, as for
those of Teuton origin who sympathized with the liberal movement of the
time, the battle of the White Mountain and its tragic sequel on that
21st of June was the death-knell of their hopes.

That there were Germans among the victims shows that it was not merely
racial rivalry as between Slav and Teuton, and that there was one Roman
Catholic among the number demonstrates that their protest was not
directed solely against the power and presumption of an intolerant
creed.

[Illustration: ON THE WHITE MOUNTAIN.]

The beauty of the architectural composition grouped about the Town Hall
was spoilt by the same black note that marked the 21st of June of this
year of grace. A large tribune, draped in black, projected well out into
the square from under the slender turret of the Town Hall Chapel.
Escorted by alien mercenaries, the twenty-seven martyrs were led to
execution; the dull, continuous rolling of drums accompanied the scene
until the last victim had been disposed of. Strange to relate, the sword
which was used by the one executioner was discovered some forty-four
years ago in an Edinburgh curiosity shop. On its basket hilt are graven
the names of the Bohemian gentlemen who fell by it (three of the
twenty-seven were hanged), and under those names the remark in the Czech
language: "The last unhappy task, on 21st June 1621. G. M." The sword
has returned to the country where the effects of its fell work are felt
to this day.

This day, the anniversary, the sunlit square saw numbers of pious folk
carrying wreaths to place them where white stones serve as constant
reminder of those men who died in the courage of their convictions, both
religious and political. It seems to be a peculiarly Slavonic trait,
this recalling of sad events in their history. The Serbs still celebrate
Vidovdan, the day of their disastrous defeat at Kossovo, where their
chivalry, the finest in Eastern Europe, went under in a sea of blood.

[Illustration: THE CHAPEL OF THE TOWNHALL.]

As a boy I was very strong on observing national and other holidays, but
cannot recall any celebration of the Saxon defeat at Hastings; it never
occurred to me: lack of imagination probably--and another festive
occasion missed.

There is, however, something fine in this Slavonic conception of events
worth commemorating; they may celebrate victories, but they also observe
the anniversaries of great national disasters, "lest they forget."

In the broad space between the Town Hall and the Tyn Church stands an
imposing group of statuary. Its centre figure of a simple and
convincing dignity represents Master John Hus, the great precursor of
those sons of Bohemia who died for their faith. The figure stands facing
towards the Town Hall.

This group of statuary has only recently found its appropriate site here
in the ancient centre of the city's life--formerly a column surmounted
by the "Virgin" threw its slender shadow across the square.

Looking out over the city on the 6th of July the first sight that caught
my eye was a display of bunting; flags flew everywhere, most of them the
colours of the Czecho-Slovak Republic, red and white with a blue
triangular insertion close up to the flagstaff. There is a correct
heraldic method of describing this, but to most people, as to myself, it
is barely intelligible, and hardly fits in with an everyday account of
things seen from a terrace in the capital of a very modern republic, the
constitution of which allows of no titles of nobility, and therefore has
little use for heraldry.

Titles of nobility have been abolished, and he who under the old regime
of Austria would style himself Count von Potts and Kettlehausen is now
called plain Mr. Potts. Other titles, those that have been won by
individual achievement and cannot be inherited, still remain in use to
brighten our drab existence. Most common amongst these is "Doctor"; you
may be a doctor of any or many more or less exact sciences; Professor
seems to come next in quantity; again you may profess anything you like.
This title is run rather close by Rad, or so it sounds at least, which
seems to be the old German _Rath_ slightly modified; of these also there
is a great and glorious variety. You have Pan (Mister) President for the
august being who presides over boards of financial, commercial or
industrial enterprise; Pan Inspectors are also plentiful and in highly
variegated form. In fact, there is quite an imposing array of titled
dignitaries who as true republicans have risen by their own merits. As
yet the "leprosy of decorations," as Dr. Seton Watson describes the
outbreak of coloured ribbons on manly chests, its spread in inverse
ratio to danger incurred, has not assumed undue proportions--but who
knows? I must, however, get back to the 6th of July and tell you how the
memory of John Hus is kept green.

A glance at the streets on that day shows you groups of wayfarers
carrying wreaths, and they converge on the square outside the Old Town
Hall where stands the monument to John Hus. The shop windows display
portraits of the Czech national hero, which is also reproduced inset in
wreaths, and this recalls to my mind the same day in 1918, when I first
became aware of what Master John Hus stands for to this people of
tenacious memory.

It was a day of pure Italian colour, that 6th of July, 1918, when I set
out from among those lovely Colline Euganie towards the front among the
Alps. First along broad, well-kept roads, through the plains of Veneto,
where trellised vine hung heavy laden, past homesteads, villas of warm
ochre hues or red, or pink, and all embowered in rich green foliage.
Through the narrow winding streets of graceful Vicenza, across the
arcaded market-place of old Verona, past the stately ruins of
Montecchio, till the road reached the foothills of the Alps. Then up by
hairpin turns, gaining an ever wider view of the vast plain lying in a
morning haze beyond which you knew was Venice and the blue Adriatic,
then down by winding ways into a valley. An outpost in Italian
field-grey uniform, not men of the Italian type, but stocky, fair-haired
and square-jawed, their collars decorated with red and white tabs. Every
group displayed a wreath, within it an effigy of John Hus, for these
soldiers were of the Czecho-Slovak Legion, and they were for the first
time in their lives allowed to commemorate without let or hindrance the
anniversary of their national hero's death. On this day five centuries
ago John Hus had met death at the stake for holding to his religious
convictions. Trusting in the word of an Emperor who had promised him a
safe conduct back to his own country, John Hus had gone to Constance to
defend his faith. Rome proved all-powerful, prevailed against the
promise of an Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and John Hus perished,
on his lips, they say, the words, "O Sancta Simplicitas!" But his memory
lives, and most surely amongst those of simple faith.

We do not observe the memory of those who suffered martyrdom for
England's spiritual freedom; by the way, there is in Bohemia a church
dedicated to St. Thomas à Becket.

I am describing the space between Town Hall and Cathedral as a square,
which is as about as accurate as the German name "Altstädter Ring." The
Czech name for it is easier to pronounce than most of their words. Czech
is an immensely difficult language, and I still marvel at the clever
inhabitants of the country who pronounce it with ease--even with great
fluency. They can make jokes in it too, for the pleasant sound of
laughter is often heard in this "City Beautiful." I have never tackled a
Czech joke, but am quite prepared to give it credit for all the wit and
humour required of a joke, and as long as somebody is happy over it all
is well, and I smile with him.

[Illustration: THE TOWER OF OUR LADY OF TYN.]

Really there is something about this city which is smile-producing. It
is difficult to analyse, and may be attributed to the sheer beauty of
the place. And your smile may well go with a catch in your throat, for
there is always pathos in great beauty, and nowhere more so than here in
Prague. There is the delicate beauty of the Town Hall Chapel, and facing
it the tall steeples of the Tyn Church, with clusters of quaint little
pointed turrets, overtop a row of houses that seem to have set
themselves down with the deliberate intention of blocking the west
entrance. Now these houses are arcaded, and so are those on the south
side of the square. You puzzle for a while and then recall Padua, Verona
and other towns of Northern Italy; so now you know whence came the
inspiration that set up arcades in a northern capital. You ask how and
when this influence came to Prague, so I remind you of the relations
that existed between Bohemia and Italy, and of which I have told you
when discussing King John and his great son Charles. Under the guidance
of the latter, the Renaissance was not long in making its influence felt
in Prague--in fact, in all Bohemia--and Italian architects who
introduced the arcaded house added fresh beauties to the city. To the
earlier period of Italian influence must be attributed a quaint arched
house, the one at the corner of the Tynska Ulice. It seems to block the
west entrance to the Church of Our Lady of Tyn. The old house dates back
to the early days of the fourteenth century, at which period the Tyn
Church, though founded in the eleventh century, was still a-building. I
cannot blame the old houses for having squatted down in front of this
church; they were probably under the impression that it would never be
finished. They have at least left a vaulted alley-way leading to the
somewhat insignificant west entrance. The Tyn Church, though not
completed till fairly recently, has actually served as the principal
church of the Old Town since 1310. Here the reformers, preachers that I
have already mentioned, Conrad Waldhauser and Milič of
Kroměřiže, drew large congregations by their fiery
denunciations and their call to repentance. Our Lady of Tyn is to Prague
what St. Paul's is to London in a certain degree; many celebrities are
buried here, among them that strange character Tycho de Brahe,
astronomer, logician, drunkard and duellist, the friend of Keppler and
his own worst enemy.

The show-entrance to the Tyn Church is a Gothic porch of rarest beauty;
it is tucked away in the little alley on the north side, and generally
closed. You are expected to enter by the south door.

A word of warning here: never try to be enterprising between midday and
2 p.m. in Prague, or for that matter anywhere else in the country,
unless it be in search of food. At midday everything closes
down--churches, museums, shops; they do not open again till the good
people in charge of them have had sufficient time for an ample meal--two
hours are considered sufficient. You will therefore find the cathedral
closed to you until the vergers have dined. But in the meantime you will
find the quaint conglomeration of buildings at the east end of the
cathedral very attractive. These buildings originally served many
purposes--cathedral close, market and custom house, and even at times as
bear-garden or zoo. To my thinking, the outside of the cathedral is far
more attractive than the inside, which suffers from over-decoration in
the incongruous style peculiar to Continental churches. I shall not
conduct you personally round the Church of Our Lady of Tyn.

Good King Wenceslaus, of whom we sing at Christmas-time, seems to have
caused the chapel and tower of the Town Hall to be built, at least
according to archæologists; the sign of a kingfisher within a wreath
which appears here is taken to denote work done in his time. The master
architect of those last decades of the fourteenth century was Peter
Parler, who also did a good deal of work on the Tyn Church.

[Illustration: A CORNER OF THE OLD TOWN.]

The tower was added to the house of Welflin od Kamene, which was
acquired in 1538, and some fifty years later the beautiful chapel, the
Gothic projection of which looks out on to the scene of martyrdom of
1621. You will find two very interesting and lovely Sessions Rooms in
this Town Hall. In one of these George Podiebrad, a native of Bohemia
and of the country's faith, was elected and proclaimed King in 1458. To
my thinking, the best time of day on which to come upon this old Town
Hall is of an evening, say in late autumn; approach it by that quaint
little alley, the Melantrichova, called so in honour of Melantrich, who
was famous as printer and publisher in the latter half of the sixteenth
century. While wandering about the narrow alleys, these quaint passages
under the houses, a peculiar feature of Prague, you will pick up
something of the old spirit of the city and repeople it with the shades
of former inhabitants or visitors to suit your taste or knowledge of
its history. There is, for instance, one visitor whom I can quite see
roaming about in nocturnal Prague--Dr. Faust. Local legend prefers to
call him Wilhelm instead of Heinrich, but that does not matter--he fits
into the picture.

Sooth to say, I find about this old quarter of the city a certain
atmosphere spiced with wickedness, not thoroughly bad, just enough to
keep you amused. Look round for yourself o' nights, and you will
probably find reason to agree with me. There is again, in this spicy
atmosphere, a local--or shall we say native?--foundation with a markedly
exotic top-dressing. For the foundation of this peculiar atmosphere I
make Good King Wenceslaus responsible. I have already suggested that he
was "hot stuff," and certainly, when he moved into the palace that stood
near the "Powder Tower," he made things merry and bright in the Old
Town. A night out with Wenceslaus was a liberal education. Fundamentally
his form of amusement was probably the same as you may enjoy to-day if
you are inclined that way. An exotic touch is given to nocturnal
diversions nowadays by American bars and "Palais de Danse" varying in
degree of respectability; here the English language seems to
predominate, in our version and that of our distant relatives across the
Atlantic. The natives of the city do not frequent these haunts in any
great numbers; they have their own amusements, but they look in
occasionally, possibly as a mark of respect to the great allied nations,
and their representatives, the bearers of western culture. The Bohemian
when thinking of America recognizes only the United States of that
continent. Many of them emigrate to that country; some return with their
own rendering of the English language and a professed admiration for the
country of their sometime sojourn, of its institutions and leading
citizens. The Pragers have expressed this admiration by naming their
finest railway station after President Wilson of the Lost Points,
whereas their own President has to be content with a rather grubby old
terminus.

It would be quite possible for me to enlarge upon the subject of night
life in Prague, but discretion advises me not to do so; this is a side
of Prague which you must find out for yourself. When after a good dinner
you proceed to draw those furtive covers in the region between the Town
Hall and the "Powder Tower," you may pick up the scent which, I
maintain, hangs about there--that of rather spicy wickedness. I do not
mean anything offensive in this; in fact, everything is conducted
decently and in good order, also with a certain geniality; the
suggestion is rather that you might be mildly wicked if you wanted to
be. However, though we have to live in this world we need not be of it.

For those who do not feel drawn towards the furtive corners of the town,
there are many other opportunities of recreation. One of these was built
by the city itself, and is called the Obecni Dum, which means Town
House, I believe; anyway, when asking your way to it linger on the last
word and pronounce it as if written "doom." This was built about the
site of the palace where Wenceslaus IV held his revels, but it is
informed of a more sober spirit. You come upon this building as you pass
along the broad street, formerly the moat of the Old Town defences,
until you arrive at the street-junction I have already mentioned. Here
stands one of the most beautiful monuments to Prague's former glory, the
"Powder Tower." When first you come upon this, rising serenely in all
its ornate loveliness out of the roar and rattle of the traffic, the
sight of it catches your breath. King Vladislav II caused it to be
erected--one of the gates of the old city. An unhappy King this latter,
I should say; at least his lot was cast in unhappy times. One of the
last Slavs to occupy the throne of Bohemia--he was a Prince of
Poland--Vladislav succeeded one of the most popular of Bohemian
monarchs, George Podiebrad. The times in which Vladislav reigned were
evil; the internal religious struggles of Bohemia had reached a
desperate stage; all attempts to reunite the Utraquists with Rome had
failed, and Alexander Borgia was Pope. The reign of this King, for all
the glory of the monuments that commemorate it, seems as it were
illumined by the false light that presages disaster. His son Louis was
drowned while leaving the battlefield of Moháč, which reduced the
greater part of Hungary to a Turkish province, and anarchy held the
lands of the Bohemian Crown until in 1526 Ferdinand of Habsburg bribed
his way to the throne; one noble Bohemian is said to have accepted fifty
thousand gulden for his kind offices.

The "Powder Tower" looks out directly at a somewhat shabby building
opposite to it. I have mentioned it before as standing on the site of an
early monastic institution founded by those Irish monks who did so much
towards bringing Central Europe into the fold of the Church. They were,
in fact, the only missionaries, these pilgrims from the Isle of Saints,
who took up the task in the fifth and sixth centuries, wandering far
afield, through the German forests, along the great rivers Danube and
Main, to Italy and Switzerland, where St. Fridian at Lucca and St. Gall
in the hills above the Bodensee are still held in pious memory. The
Saxon monk Winfrith, better known as St. Boniface, also deserved well of
the people of Central Europe, for it was his zeal and energy which
assisted Charles the Great in his colonizing achievements. In our own
times other missionaries of Anglo-Saxon race, or at least
English-speaking, penetrated to the darkest recesses of the Continent,
even to Bohemia. They started as soon as the war was over and Europe
again a safe place to travel in. They took their toilsome way, by _train
de luxe_ and at Government expense, to such distant places as Prague and
Vienna, even Buda-Pesth. They were of those who were indispensable while
men were fighting, whose services could be spared when danger no longer
threatened. They came deeply imbued with the importance of their
mission, their commission, diplomatic, economic, hygienic, whatever it
was. They came in scores, accompanied by willing and well-paid workers,
to bring relief to those who had suffered in the war. They bought up
the scanty supplies of the countries to which they brought the blessing
arising out of their own high rate of exchange. They came in their
hundreds to spread the light of learning in matters hygienic to Prague,
the old university town famous for its school of medicine. They taught
the young the blessing of western guilds or associations, the young of a
country which forged its weapon of social defence, the Sokol, some
seventy years ago. They expect a deal of gratitude for all this; they
are also entirely devoid of any sense of humour, or they would all go
home and keep quiet.

Of real use to the good relations which have existed, intermittently
perhaps, but never clouded by misunderstanding, was the mission of the
English Singers who came to Prague. They sang to us in the large hall of
the Obecni Dum, the building dedicated to the townsfolk's recreation.
They sang us old-time motettes, madrigals, ballads, and we were taken
back to our own country by the soothing harmonies of Weelkes. We saw
Winchester Cathedral, its long nave and squat tower, standing in lush
meadows in the shade of ancient elms, the College Gate, its pillars so
artfully, invitingly rounded by William of Wykeham, drew us in again. We
were stirred by William Byrd's "Praise our Lord, all ye Gentiles," and
taken to Oxford by Gibbons's "What is our life? A play of passion. Our
mirth? The music of division." Purcell recalled our gracious English
landscape, and English life, "When Myra sings we seek the enchanting
sound"; and Thomas Morley with "Now is the month of maying." Then there
was rollicking Tom Bateson, of Dublin, with his alluring "Come follow
me, fair nymphs!" And the Bohemian audience were loud in generous
applause.

You may well believe that a land which has given to the world Smetana,
Dvořak, Ševček, and so many other famous musicians, will
concentrate all that is good in music in Prague, its capital. There are
two opera-houses to start with; one of them, the National Theatre,
throws its reflections on the surface of the river at the end of the
Narodni Třida; the German Theatre stands on the rising ground between
the Museum at the top of the Václavské Naměsti and the Wilson
Station. There are numerous concert-halls, and every restaurant of any
repute has a good little orchestra of its own. Then there is a quaint
old theatre down in the centre of the Old Town; you will find it
standing comfortably among old red-roofed houses, between two open
spaces, market-places bright with fruit and flowers in their season. It
was in this theatre that Mozart's _Don Giovanni_ was performed for the
first time.

It is one of the most interesting parts of Prague, just around this old
theatre, and among the crooked lanes and dark corners; it lets you in to
the intimacy of the city if you set about your investigations in the
right spirit. Alongside of this old theatre, the Mozarteum, divided only
by a narrow alley, runs the front--I suppose it is the front--of the
Carolinum, the collegiate buildings of Charles's foundation. There is
little left outwardly of this building's former aspect, just one
glorious Gothic projection which almost touches the balcony of the
theatre. Within the Carolinum are spacious halls devoted to all manner
of academic functions. In one of these halls I witnessed a scene which
struck me with a sense of incongruity that I have not been able to
explain to myself. The Indian poet and philosopher, Rabindranath
Thagore, was received here by the University of Prague. Learned
professors read lengthy addresses of welcome in Czech, and to their own
entire satisfaction; the Indian poet spoke in English and recited poetry
in his own language, let us hope also to his own satisfaction. Thereupon
Rabindranath Thagore, his hands folded meekly inside his wide sleeves,
his head drooping and eyes half closed as becomes a poet of the tender
kind, passed out from among us--to travel to Paris in an aeroplane. I do
not know whether it was this latter event, or the expression of a
philosophy so entirely at variance with my own, or perhaps the sound of
the high-pitched plaintive voice, that gave me the sense of
incongruity, but there it was undoubtedly.

In your wanderings about the Old Town you will come upon all manner of
quaint corners, old houses with courtyard and balconies, churches of all
sizes and dedicated to many saints, and among these one which to my
thinking deserves particular interest. It is the Church of St.
Martin-in-the-Wall, very old--how old I cannot tell you--much mutilated
and disfigured by restorers whose heads should have gone into the
decorative scheme over the gateway of the Mala Strana bridge-tower; but
here in this church the Sacrament was first given in both forms, _sub
utraque_.

There are many little backwaters in the Old Town; you may people them
with the shades of all those who for centuries have toiled to restore
Bohemia to her rightful place among the States of Europe. You may see
flitting figures in the twilight, cloaked and obvious conspirators to
your discerning eye. These men were probably among those marked down by
the secret police as "patriots." Men who were working for freedom of
thought what time Jungmann and Kalina, another national poet, died, and
twelve thousand of the people joined in the funeral procession as it
passed the Town Hall where Arnold, Kalina's friend, was imprisoned. This
was in 1847. Then the Slav Congress in 1848, and its stirring scenes,
the meeting for Divine Service under the statue of St. Wenceslaus, the
scuffle with a sentry caused by an _agent provocateur_, the charge of
troops on an unarmed mob. Followed the erection of barricades, over a
hundred in half an hour, and street fighting in various quarters of the
city. Ruthless slaughter of citizens as at the Polytechnic School, where
an attack by ten thousand troops with artillery was repulsed by seven
hundred students of the Clementinum. Then the despair of the vanquished.
But the spirit fostered by Bohemia's great men lived on; the people had
their museum, containing books and records of their National Society,
they had their associations, Sokols, and above all, their music. And so
they waited, and not in idleness, for the better days which came to
them out of the Great War.

The Sokol movement should interest you; it has taken a firm hold among
Slavonic nations, and has in it something of the spirit of Freemasonry.
Sokol means "falcon"--no doubt the original badge favoured by Slavonic
societies. You will find the falcon, sometimes eagle, cropping up in
various places. There is a distinguished Order, that of the White Eagle
of Serbia, for instance; then the Poles also have started an Order with
an eagle or a falcon in it--I am not acquainted with this Order. Members
of Sokol societies wear an eagle's feather, or perhaps a falcon's, in
the saucy little head-dress, somewhat like our old cavalry forage-cap,
when in their becoming full dress. But Sokol means a great deal more
than this.

A year or so ago I witnessed a Sokol display on that flat-topped height
called Letna; it is, as it were, an eastward prolongation of the Castle
Hill. Here is a large recreation ground for the use of such bodies as
Sokol societies. In the arena, before a large and appreciative but
critical public, the Socialist Sokols gave their display of gymnastic
exercises on the occasion I have in mind. It was a stirring sight: ten
to twenty thousand young men and maidens went through their graceful
movements in perfect unison to the strains of their national music. It
must be borne in mind that those exercises have not only physical value
but are useful memnonic training. There is much discipline bred of these
exercises; the captain goes through the movements by himself, the team
repeats them after him. Then again, the Sokol is, and has been from the
beginning, a political union. Surely Socialists who submit themselves to
this training, to such discipline, are a powerful asset to a young State
that has got to make its mark in the world.

By the way, what is a Socialist? I take it that any man who has a
flowerpot in his window, whereas his neighbour has none, is no
Socialist. But this is, no doubt, a matter of taste or political
conviction, I am not quite clear which.



CHAPTER XI

Tells of Emperor Sigismund, King of Bohemia, his rare and troubled
visits to this country. Of an emigration from Prague University, and the
founding of another at Leipzig. Of the two Habsburgs who followed
Sigismund, and more about another great Bohemian already mentioned in
this book, George Podiebrad. King George's Peace League. Of Vladislav of
Poland as King of Bohemia; how he resided at the Hradšany and
beautified it. We go with Vladislav along the route he follows to his
coronation; we note many features by the way which Vladislav may or may
not have seen, and discuss these features as we go along. Of the end of
the Jagoilla dynasty on the throne of Bohemia when Vladislav's son Louis
was drowned after the battle of Moháč. Of how Ferdinand of Austria
married Anna, daughter of Vladislav, and became King of Bohemia. Of
great doings in the Hall built by Vladislav on the Hradšany. Of the
beautiful Belvedere which Ferdinand caused to be built for Anna, his
Queen. Of other Habsburgs on the throne of Bohemia, particularly that
lonely bachelor Rudolph II; of his hobbies and the guests and visitors
he welcomed to the castle. Of King Matthias and the "Winter King," and
how Bohemia's independence was lost on the battlefield of the White
Mountain.


Let us return to our terrace, I to mine, you to yours if it gives you
the right point of view, for we will now take the foreground into
consideration, the Mala Strana and its "Crown of Glory," the Royal
Castle, the Hradšany. We have watched Charles IV in his labours to
beautify the capital of the land he loved, and among those labours was
the restoration of the Hradšany. His son, however, found attraction
elsewhere, and neglected the Royal Castle. Sigismund resided by
preference at Kutna Hora whenever his imperial duties gave him time to
visit Bohemia. This, his choice of residence, was probably dictated by
the troubled times through which Bohemia was passing. Prague was full of
tumult and of fierce religious controversy. The Hussites, as we have
seen, were out and bent to warfare in the cause they held sacred, and
the King had no liking for their views or regard for their opinions. We
have also noted the value of that Emperor's given word. In Kutna Hora
Sigismund found himself surrounded by a strongly German population,
zealous in the cause of Rome and the Empire, hostile to the freedom of
thought for which Bohemia was fighting. Racial animosity between Slav
and Teuton was running high; its immediate result had been the
emigration of several thousand professors and students of German
nationality to Leipzig, where a new university arose which was inclined
to consider its Alma Mater, Prague, a stepmother.

Then followed the Habsburgs, Albert and his posthumous son Ladislas.
Albert succeeded as Sigismund's son-in-law, and reigned for two troubled
years of civil war in Bohemia, leaving a disrupted State to Ladislas,
his unborn son. During the infancy of this child arose a strong man from
out of Bohemia, who served Ladislas so faithfully that the young King on
his deathbed sent for him to bid him farewell in touching terms. Then
was this strong man, George Podiebrad, unanimously chosen King by the
Estates.

George Podiebrad was a native of the country which called him to the
throne by reason of his integrity and intelligence. He was also of the
faith held by the majority of his subjects, the followers of Master John
Hus. His lot was cast in troubled times. Bohemia had been ruled by a
succession of monarchs of alien race, at first sympathetic but later
unable to see eye to eye with their subjects on religious and other
questions. In the time of trial, when the soul of the people called out
for guidance and support in the struggle for faith and freedom, those
rulers were too much bound by the ties that held them to Western Europe
as to champion Bohemia's cause whole-heartedly. They failed to
understand that Central Europe was ripe for a new orientation, though
there were sufficient indications to point out the way. Above all, a
great danger threatened; the Turks were extending their conquests in
Eastern Europe, the Byzantine Empire was going under before them, and
the fall of Constantinople was imminent.

It was shortly before this latter event that George Podiebrad was called
to the throne. He found his country distracted by internal dissensions,
exhausted by the Hussite wars and threatened by powerful neighbours. His
first task was to set his house in order; in this he achieved complete
success, and soon found himself reigning over a strong, happy and united
country. He next attended to his country's foreign relations, and
succeeded in securing peace without his frontiers by means of a network
of treaties. The King of Poland was won over by George Podiebrad's tact
and ability, and Matthias Corvinus, King of a Hungary with fluctuating
boundaries but including a deal of present-day Roumania, was also a
ready ally of Bohemia's King. Within his immediate neighbourhood in
Central Europe, George Podiebrad's wisdom and uprightness had brought
him many requests to act as arbitrator or intermediary in disputes. His
fame spread farther afield, his vision extended as he witnessed the
growing importance of his country, and from these circumstances arose an
ideal of a great Christian Peace League.

The state of Europe in the fifteenth century was not unlike that of the
present day. There was strife, turmoil and dissension everywhere, a
mighty power--that of Rome--opposing all free expression of opinion, an
obsolete shibboleth called the Holy Roman Empire, and a ruthless enemy
active in the East. In the midst of all this trouble George Podiebrad
worked diligently at his League; he gained the adhesion of King Louis of
France; Burgundy and Bavaria also joined, and Venice, remembering what
good business could be made out of crusades, was also inclined to agree.
England, it appears, was not particularly interested, at least is not
mentioned in connection with this League. George Podiebrad endeavoured
to win over the Holy Father, but in vain. Rome had turned a deaf ear
even to the despairing cry of the Eastern Church.

The League was to hold its first council at Bâle, and subsequent ones in
different countries. Its statutes are worth noting; they are drawn up
on much the same lines as those of the present-day League of Nations.

When the plans of the League were sufficiently advanced to be put into
effect it was found that the forces against it were too powerful. Rome
would have none of it, and France, though friendly to the scheme,
chiefly out of antagonism to Rome, held back in the end, leaving the
King of Bohemia with none but his neighbour, Poland, to support him.
That the League should have failed of its purpose is regrettable. It was
a genial idea. That it originated in Central Europe and that it gained
the adherence of nations farther removed from Western influence is of
lasting importance, for it seems to have given a definite direction to a
group of Central and Eastern European Powers. Perhaps this direction was
subconscious in King George's mind; he may have been actuated only by
his desire for peaceful reconstruction behind a united front towards an
eastern enemy. However this may be, the idea did not die with George
Podiebrad, but has had two revivals, of which I hope to tell you
something in time.

George Podiebrad died in 1471, after having ensured the succession to
the throne of Bohemia of Vladislav, son of Casimir, King of Poland. King
George's reason for going outside his country for a successor instead of
finding one among his own sons was his concern for the safety of
Bohemia, which, he seems to have considered, would have been endangered
by a scion of his own family or nation under the conditions under which
he was to leave his country. He was moved towards Poland by reason of
the great plan he had formed far in advance of his age, namely, that of
the League of Peace.

[Illustration: THE POWDER TOWER.]

George Podiebrad, according to Lützow, has always remained, next to
Charles IV, the sovereign whose memory the Bohemians treasure most.
Bohemia's great historian, Palacky, gives to this King a place of honour
among the rulers of his country which is only equalled by that assigned
to the great Luxemburger. His last years were clouded by the
increasing distressful state of Europe, by a painful illness, and by the
faithlessness of his one-time friend and ally, Matthias of Hungary. This
latter had broken with King George, and had carried war into the lands
of the Bohemian Crown, and though defeated and driven out of Moravia,
still held several towns in that country. This seems to have served
Matthias Corvinus as a pretext for disputing the claim of Vladislav to
the throne of Bohemia. There was also another claimant with a certain
following, namely, Duke Albert of Saxony, but in the end the crown
remained with Vladislav of Poland, who then made his way to Bohemia, and
entered Prague on August 19, 1471.

I like to conjure up a picture of the reception given to Vladislav by
the good people of Prague. Vladislav, coming from Poland, would probably
enter by the gateway where now stands that beautiful "Powder Tower,"
built under his ægis; I have already pointed it out to you. There he
would be received by all manner of "grave and reverend seigniors," among
them, of course, the doctors of the University, who, I gather, presented
Vladislav with a "neatly bound and printed copy of the Bible, so that he
might read it and direct himself and his subjects according to the Will
of God": thus writes the chronicler. The good citizens of Prague were
evidently pleased to welcome Vladislav, so we can imagine him, three
days after his entry into Prague, moving, amidst popular rejoicings, to
the Hradšany for coronation. A glittering pageant, no doubt, as it
moved along under the shadow of the Church of Our Lady of Tyn, past the
Old Town Hall, where the man to whom he owed the throne, George
Podiebrad, had been called to rule Bohemia. Then along the Karlova
Ulice, under the tower built by Wenceslaus, and over the Charles Bridge
up the steep slope of Castle Hill.

I cannot imagine that the aspect of the Mala Strana which Vladislav got
while proceeding to his coronation was very different from that of
to-day. The Bridge Street on the left bank was possibly narrower and
ill-paved, but I am certain that the general aspect of arcaded houses
was much the same as it is to-day. I cannot imagine the Mala Strana
changing very much, nor will you when once you have seen it. Though many
houses, palaces and churches have been rebuilt or added, I should say
that the Mala Strana has always preserved a certain independence, a
conservative aloofness, from other quarters of the capital. From little
glimpses, from snatches of conversation and chance remarks, I am
inclined to the idea that the aborigines of the Mala Strana, while
admitting the existence of other parts of Prague, such as the Old Town,
yet do not consider them quite fit to associate with. There must be in
the quaint little backwaters of Mala Strana a certain indigenous type
which considers it bold and venturesome to cross the Charles Bridge, a
proceeding smacking of foreign travel.

The block of buildings including the tall Church of St. Nicholas, which
fills up the middle of that irregular place, the Mala Stranské
Naměsti, or Place of the Small Side, would be new to Vladislav were
he to repeat his progress to-day. There was a church--a very old one--on
this spot, dating back to the thirteenth century; it is said that the
martyrs of 1621 communicated here _in utraque_ on the morning of their
execution. The tall, imposing Church of St. Nicholas replaced the older
edifice--a typical monument this of Jesuit pride of conquest over the
fallen National Church of Bohemia. Seen from my terrace, the copper dome
of St. Nicholas, its tall and slender campanile, stand up dominant over
sleepy red-tiled roofs where linger memories of much earlier days. It is
indeed a splendid building, this master-work of Ignatius and Kilian
Dienzenhoffer. I must admit this, little as I admire _baroque_ and for
all my loathing of the spirit of triumphant intolerance and bigotry
which informed the builders of this great monument to the enslavement of
a nation's soul.

In former years, before the war, there stood here in the narrowest part
of this place, a monument to another triumph over Bohemia's freedom, a
monument to Field-Marshal Radecky, whose figure was supported by types
of Austrian soldiery of his time. This monument has been
removed--destroyed, I believe, by the Pragers when they regained their
freedom in October 1918. The removal of this monument leaves a blank,
not a sentimental one, merely an artistic one, and has led to an
unexpected and probably undesired effect. It has given undue prominence
to a little building that stands some way up the place, a building of
strict utility with no pretensions to architectural consideration, a
building which now stands out exposed as it were, trying to hide its
confusion under a mask of gaudy advertisement posters.

The singularly characteristic houses on the north side of this square,
with their deep arcades, were probably rebuilt or renovated in the
seventeenth century; they must be of considerable antiquity, for one of
them, a corner house called "Montagu," has its place in history. The
name, by the way, is not derived from the Italian, but from the simple
German _Montag_, Monday; and it has by way of embellishment a Slavonic
suffix. It was in this Montagu House that the discontented members of
the Bohemian Estates were wont to meet in 1618, and here they hit upon
the bright idea of throwing the two lieutenants, go-betweens or whatever
they were, of their Habsburg ruler, out of a window. So here on this
Mala Stranské Naměsti you may see the very spot from which the War of
Thirty Years started.

This Mala Stranské Naměsti is divided into an upper and a lower part
by the block of buildings I have already mentioned. The palaces all
round here are probably different of aspect from the burgher houses
which stood here before the _baroque_ irruption of the seventeenth
century, so Vladislav on his way to coronation would have been greeted
by a homelier sight; neither could he have seen the plague memorial. The
plague commemorated visited Prague in 1715; the man who committed this
pyramid, dedicated to Holy Trinity, was one Giovanni Battista
Alliprandi, an Italian architect, but not of the Renaissance spirit.
This peculiar group of sculpture fails to impress me; the figures, of
saints, I believe, are not convincing; they are seen holding emblems of
piety, but only for decorative purposes, not as if they in the least
knew what to do with them; one or other would have appeared much happier
with a knife and fork.

[Illustration: THE HRADČANY FROM THE NEBOZÍZEK GARDEN.]

Vladislav's farther way would take him up that steep road that leads
past Strahov out into the country. It was formerly called the Street of
Spurs, I believe; it has since been named Nerudova Třida, after John
Neruda, the father of Bohemian literature, who spent his early days
here. This street has rather a reputation for mild-mannered men of
letters and lights of learning, patrons of art and science. There was,
for instance, Baron Brettfeld, who entertained young Mozart, da Ponte
and Casanova. But all this happened well after the days of Vladislav of
Poland, King of Bohemia, who wound up by the narrow streets of Prague's
Mala Strana to his coronation on the Hradšany. The Royal Castle had
not been regularly inhabited by royalty for nearly a century, and as
Vladislav chose to make it his residence, he found much to do in putting
the place in order. The part that still shows strong traces of
Vladislav's work is beyond the view from my terrace. You may recognize
it some way off by a number of heavily mullioned windows in contrast to
the very plain setting of the endless rows of other windows all along
the front of the castle buildings. This palatial part of the castle--it
is that nearest to the cathedral--was begun by Vladislav as soon as he
had settled down to his kingship, and was finished in 1502. The chief
feature of this building was a vast hall, which you may see still. It
has suffered, of course, has been damaged by fire and also by restorers;
just at present some archæologist is at work upon it, and he is, I
believe, discovering all sorts of beauties in the decorative Gothic
style peculiar to this King of Polish descent and exquisite taste. It
seems to me that Gothic in Prague is of finer spiritual quality than the
German variant, is of that noble sincerity of which you find many
instances in France, in several examples in Portugal, and when it
became decorated, never went into the excesses of the Manuelesque style
such as you may see it in old Lusitania. Successive Habsburgs who
followed on these Polish rulers of Bohemia, Vladislav and his son Louis,
benefited by the magnificent work which these two scions of the Royal
House of Jagoilla left to posterity. Louis, we know, was drowned just
after the battle of Moháč, and the short-lived Polish dynasty made
way definitely for Kings of the House of Habsburg. Ferdinand, Archduke
of Austria, having married Anna, daughter of Vladislav II, laid claim to
the throne of Bohemia. He was not alone in this ambition; in fact, there
was a greater number of aspirants to the vacant seat than there had ever
been before--thirteen in all, among them Francis I of France. However,
Ferdinand secured the throne, and reigned as King of Bohemia right
royally it would seem. His coronation took place in the great hall built
by Vladislav, and the solemn ceremony was followed by a tournament, also
held in the same hall--a tournament on horseback, mind you, and ending
up with a mêlée in which thirteen knights a-side took part. There was a
banquet too, and the waiting was done by squires on horseback. A great
ball brought the festivities to an end. The great fire in Prague in
1541, which destroyed all the State documents, may have been the one
which also did much damage to Vladislav's great hall, and Ferdinand's
restoration of the same probably did something towards impairing its
original beauty. We have reason, however, to be grateful to this
Ferdinand, first of the name, for another building which graces the
neighbourhood of the Hradšany. This is the Belvedere which stands at
the far end of a lovely garden called the Chotkovy Sady. Ferdinand built
this Belvedere for Anna, his Queen, with its airy loggias, its wrought
architraves and long domed roof. It is one of the most beautiful works
of early Renaissance spirit that I have ever seen. All honour to its
architect, Giovanni di Spazzio.

Ferdinand I proved to be no such moody bigot as his brother Charles V,
yet he was bent on stemming the tide of Protestantism, the floods of
which flowed over from the Germany of Luther's way of thinking to mingle
with the growing religious sects in Bohemia. This was not done without
torture and bloodshed, so the Hradšany witnessed the sufferings,
under the rack, of Augusta, the Bishop of the Unity of Bohemian
Brethren, and the execution of several prominent citizens of Prague for
defying royal authority in matters of conscience. Ferdinand, on the
abdication of his father, succeeded him as Emperor, and left his son
Maximilian to rule his turbulent Bohemian subjects. Maximilian stands
out in history as a picturesque figure, but I cannot see that he did
Bohemia any useful service. The fact that he had inherited the old
dominions of the House of Habsburg, Upper and Lower Austria, and was
also King of Hungary, kept him away from Bohemia a good deal. He called
occasionally upon the Diet of this his richest possession for support
against the Turks. The Diet thereupon called for religious freedom, and
no interference with their spiritual affairs. The discussions that
ensued seem to have led to no results. So we find one Habsburg after
another on the throne of Bohemia, trying to coerce its people, and each
one reducing the country to a state of greater discontent and disorder,
until the crash came in 1618, when King Matthias had roused the Bohemian
Estates to such a pitch of desperation that they proceeded to the act
which precipitated the Thirty Years' War.

The Hradšany did not see much of Matthias, whereas his predecessor on
the throne of Bohemia, Rudolph II, lived in the Royal Castle as a matter
of habit. True he was dethroned occasionally by his younger brother
Matthias, and no doubt Rudolph as King was hopelessly ineffective. He
was probably rather mad. Nevertheless, a certain amount of interest can
be drawn out of this Habsburg's connection with Prague, and the
Hradšany can show you some traces of his peculiarities. So, for
instance, you will find a quaint little alley of tiny houses scooped out
of the stout north wall of the castle to eastward of St. George's
Church.

Rudolph was unmarried; perhaps it was this fact that enabled him to
waste money on all sorts of hobbies instead of going to his office with
his little black bag and behaving generally as a "weel tappit" husband
and king would do. Rudolph's hobbies were alchemy and astronomy. The
chief object of the former extremely inexact science seems to have been
to make gold by the synthetic process. Any charlatan who came along with
a declared conviction that he could produce gold was welcomed by the
King. It was for these his guests that Rudolph prepared those tiny
dwellings in the narrow alley called "The Alchemists" or the "Gold
Makers." They are snug, those tiny dwellings, so small that you should
be able to open your front door without getting out of bed; you look
down out of the deep embrasure of your window on to the tree-tops in the
"Stag's Moat." The height of the wall from your window to the ditch does
not invite you to try a leap by way of escape, so Rudolph's alchemist
guests had to produce something or suffer from the King's displeasure.
This, for instance, happened to two gentlemen from the British Isles,
Dr. John Dee and Mr. Kelly. Both these visitors were going to supply
Rudolph with wonders of alchemy, gold in profusion. They failed to give
satisfaction, and were imprisoned--another injustice to Ireland! Did the
fairy chorus that thrilled the listeners at the foot of Dalibor's strong
dungeon chant that plaintive cry, "Has anyone here seen Kelly"?

Another of Rudolph's hobbies was astronomy, and he certainly assembled
some eminent scientists in that line about him. Prominent among these
lights of learning was one whom I have already mentioned, Tycho de
Brahe. It appears that this turbulent scientist had made his own
country, Denmark, too hot to hold him; he and his family were
practically exiled from home, and in his wanderings Tycho turned to the
Court of Prague, was kindly, generously entreated by King Rudolph, and
no doubt did good work in return. You may see Tycho's effigy over his
tomb in the Tyn Church; you may remark that his effigy shows little
trace of a nose to his face. Tycho went without one for many years, as
he lost his when young, in a duel. Keppler was also one of Rudolph's
guests, a man of very different calibre, and certainly one of the most
eminent astronomers of all times. There were, no doubt, any number of
lesser lights in that line during those quaint old days when men turned
to the starry heavens to learn the fate in store for them. Astronomy and
alchemy were often mixed up together in those days, or rather astronomy
seemed to get mixed up with one's daily life to such an extent that no
princely household was complete without its pet astronomer. If things
had gone a bit wrong of a morning, perhaps that "tired feeling" mixed
with a touch of gout, and the evening had brought a domestic worry or
two, you just walked round to your astronomer's for some indication
concerning the future. After bumping about in dim religious gloom among
stuffed crocodiles and such-like accessories to science of those days,
you discovered your astronomer deeply engaged in describing cabalistic
figures on parchment; he would raise his eyes with a far-away look, as
if no henchman had hurried round a few minutes earlier to say that "the
old man was carrying on something awful," your astronomer would descend
to earth for a space and then at his master's command reascend to get
thoroughly mixed up with the stars.

To those days of the later sixteenth century we may trace all manner of
quaint customs, beliefs and observances. People were getting thoroughly
into the way of thinking for themselves instead of believing what they
were told, and they started many ingenious conceits whereon to pin their
faith or perhaps strengthen it. I do not know that those quaint conceits
were particularly helpful; personally I could not derive comfort from a
belief popular in Bohemia, that King David sits in the moon playing on
the harp. My sympathy would go out too strongly for my own comfort,
towards David evoking melody in such a lonely spot, far from all his
lady friends; I might even imagine him sighing for Saul's hurtling
javelin to break the monotony. To these days belongs also the
institution of the rosary by Pope Gregory XII, in memory of the victory
of Christendom at Lepanto in 1571. The rosary was indeed known as early
as the eleventh century, but not in universal use.

While Rudolph was busy with his alchemy, astronomy, and, I am happy to
say, with literature as well, he resided in the Hradšany most of his
time, and so the Mala Strana enjoyed all the amenities of a Court, the
"certain liveliness" that pertains thereto having shifted from the Old
Town to the left bank of the river. I have sought vainly for something
interesting in the way of local colour, but can find nothing that even
suggests the ingerence of a "fardingale" into the local history of
Rudolph's reign. Instead of the gentler influence, I find only
descriptions of swashbucklers, lackeys and bottlewashers, "ruffling" it
in imitation of their masters. Here again we have indication of Italy's
refining influence, a new invention which came rapidly into vogue, and
unlike most of them, came to stay--the facciolette. What though the
roystering pseudo-gallant had no shirt to which he might attach a fine
collar, he must have his "facilet," as the chronicler spells it--in
short, a handkerchief. Then again the tooth-pick came in for serious
observation; it was considered an outward and visible sign of internal
creature comfort, and was worn behind the ear when not in action.
Tooth-pick practice is still going strong in Prague.

By way of attributing something good to Rudolph, I will make him
responsible for a garden, said to have been very beautiful, which
occupied some ground at the higher westward end of the "Stag's Moat."
Here was a pleasance, where gallants and fair ladies disported
themselves and watched the antics of wild animals. It was in this garden
that Schiller placed the little drama he describes in _Der Handschuh_.
Schiller gives the Spanish version of the story, where the gallant
smacks the lady's face with the glove he had retrieved for her from
among the lions, and then struts away for evermore. Romantic, but
ill-tempered, whereas the local version here is that the gallant married
the lady--perhaps she became insistent; anyway, a useful if commonplace
ending.

I gave you an instance of Rudolph's statecraft in that little matter of
the "Passauer," and am not inclined to give you any more. His doings and
those of his Habsburg successors brought so much suffering to Bohemia
and Prague that I would rather be excused from giving any account of
them. We have heard of Rudolph's brother Matthias, and how under him the
strain put upon the people of Bohemia grew too severe, and how the
Estates cut the Gordian Knot by throwing the King's lieutenants out of a
window on the Hradšany. They happened to fall soft, on a midden, and
got away unhurt. As a diplomatic action, this measure taken by the
Estates lacked finesse, but it had one advantage over the usual
diplomatic transactions in their devious course, that it was direct and
final in its effect, namely, to precipitate a great devastating war, and
to leave Bohemia hopelessly enchained for close on three centuries.

We have seen the "Winter King"[1] pass this way with his English wife,
pause here to be crowned, and then after a short year's reign, fly from
the country that trusted him when his army and the cause he was called
upon to stand for went under in a sea of blood on the White Mountain. It
is only about an hour on foot to the battlefield where the army of
Protestant Bohemia, after retiring before the Imperialist host, made its
final, fatal stand. After all, Frederick's short reign was only an
interlude: the hand of the Habsburg had closed over Bohemia when
Ferdinand I ascended its throne in 1526 by virtue of his marriage with
Anna, and also, as I have said, by the free use of Austrian gold; and
the victory won by Charles V at Mühlberg in 1547 had almost crushed the
cause of Protestantism out of existence.

[Footnote 1: Frederick, Count of the Palatinate, was called the "Winter
King," probably because he came to Prague one winter and left the next
one.]

The battlefield where the independence of Bohemia was lost in November
1620 lies on a plateau, as background to which stands a peculiar
building. Surrounded by a park and overlooking undulating country stands
the "Star." It is a former royal hunting-box, built several centuries
before the battle and planned as a six-pointed star. It has no
architectural beauty; it is in appearance a somewhat ungainly landmark
and must have been pretty uncomfortable to live in, even for the less
exacting royalties of the Middle Ages, but it stands on what, for the
Bohemian, should be holy ground. The forces of the Holy Roman Empire,
aided by Bavarians and Spaniards, were arrayed against the army of
Frederick, the "Winter King," which stood for religious freedom. Perhaps
the Protestant forces were not united, they were composed of Czechs,
Moravians, Germans and Hungarians, perhaps that their King had left
them somewhat hurriedly, at any rate the spirit of the old covenanters,
Hus and Žiška, no longer informed the Bohemian Army. The first to
break were the Hungarians, and the conduct of the others was not up to
tradition; only a small force of Moravians under Count Šlik refused
to yield. They took their stand against the wall of the Star Park, along
which the dead at some places lay ten or twelve high, according to
contemporary writers.

Then the Jesuit-ridden Habsburg entered Prague and laid his heavy hand
on all Bohemia, almost to the undoing of its people. But it is a
wonderful thing, that power of a strong race to survive treachery and
oppression until the time comes when it can reassert itself.

There are many accounts of this battle, most of them obviously biassed,
so, for instance, the Imperialists declare that victory was won in the
space of an hour, whereas Bohemian historians say that the fighting
continued without a break from morning till late afternoon. The
Imperialists ascribed their victory to the intervention of Our Lady.
Some fifty years after their defeat the Bohemians erected a church and
monastery to St. Mary on the White Mountain. You may see this church,
looking somewhat dilapidated--I should say ashamed of itself--as it
stands there a monument to the Bohemian nation's self-abasement.

We have witnessed the sequel to the defeat of Bohemia on the White
Mountain, the execution of Bohemian nobles and other leaders on the open
space between the Old Town Hall and the Church of Our Lady of Tyn. In
the words of Gindely the historian: "These melancholy executions mark
the end of the old and independent development of Bohemia. Members of
the most prominent families of the Bohemian nobility, eminent citizens
and learned men, in fact all the representatives of the culture of the
land, ended here, and with them their cause. The destiny of the country
was henceforth in the hands of foreigners, who had neither comprehension
of nor sympathy with its former institutions."



CHAPTER XII

Is another long one, but the last of _A Terrace in Prague_. It tells
little about Kings of Bohemia, and more about Jesuits and the work they
left behind to mark the influence they wielded. There are churches and
statues of their erection, but you are left to decide for yourself
whether you like those works or not. Several historic figures appear on
the scene: Tilly, Waldstein, Königsmark the Swedish General, and his
chaplain, Dr. Klee. Mention is also made of some Britons, among them one
with the homely name of Brown, an honest soldier who lies buried here in
Prague. A tale of a supernatural event. A further talk of the river and
about excursions. Finally, an attempt at an epilogue.


You will, I hope, agree with me that a man who sits upon a terrace and
writes about the things he sees and what he thinks about them is
entitled to bring his observations to a close whenever he considers it
fit to do so. That point is now within reach. From the first I warned
you that this is not a guide-book, and therefore not under the
obligation of giving you a full and detailed catalogue of all the sights
of Prague and how to see them. There is little more that I propose to
tell you, it being my object to entice you out here to see for yourself.
I will wait for you on my terrace, if you like, and while waiting will
cast a final glance round the scene that has, I confess, acquired a
strong hold of me.

The Hradšany, seen on a dull, chill day, always recalls to me what I
have read about those days since the Bohemians lost their all on the
White Mountain, until they broke free again only a few years ago. On
dull days the long, plain, featureless walls of the Hradšany seem the
very expression of life under the later Habsburg Kings of Bohemia. They
were, on the whole, worthy, well-meaning sovereigns, their chief trouble
being, it would seem, a hereditary incapacity for seeing any point of
view but that to which their forbears, Jesuit-trained, and of limited
outlook, had educated them. They were quite impervious to new ideas,
very tenacious of old ones, and fully convinced of their own divine
right. The Habsburg line of policy towards Bohemia was laid down by
Ferdinand II--or shall I say for that monarch?--at the Te Deum sung in
St. Stephen's Cathedral, at Vienna, to celebrate the victory of Rome
over Bohemia's religious freedom. It would seem as if the King had
moulded his policy on the text of the sermon preached by Brother
Sabrinus, the Capuchin friar, on that occasion: "Thou shalt break them
with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's
vessel." In carrying out this policy the King of Bohemia was ably
assisted by the Jesuits. This congregation had been introduced into
Bohemia by a former Ferdinand whose acquaintance we have made; the
Jesuits had therefore stores of useful local knowledge at their command
when they set about complementing the material victory won on the White
Mountain by a spiritual conquest. The first thing was to re-establish
Roman ritual, and the church chosen for this act was St.
Martin's-in-the-Wall, where, as I have told you, the Sacrament was first
given in both kinds by Jacobelius in 1414. Then it was thought fit to
remove the statue of King George Podiebrad from the west front of the
Tyn Church. The effigy showed this national hero pointing with his drawn
sword towards the chalice above his head, of which he had been such a
valiant defender.

Then followed persecution, exile, imprisonment and corporal punishment,
in addition to the turmoil and sufferings of the Thirty Years' War.
Ferdinand's father-confessor was a Jesuit, Lamormain, and under the
latter's guidance Bohemia was being brought back to the fold, while
elsewhere in Europe men like Tilly and Waldstein, whom Schiller
preferred to call Wallenstein, were taking their part in the Catholic
Reformation, with striking results, the sack of cities and the
devastation of whole countries.

After the Catholic Reformers had seen to it that the leaders of the
movement towards religious liberty had been put away, they set about
bringing the Bohemians back to Rome in their own ingenious way. We have
seen that among other remedies against heresy they introduced, or
perhaps re-introduced, a national saint, John Nepomuk, had him canonized
and an effigy of him set up on the Charles Bridge; this effigy was
followed by many others, among them that of Loyola. Each pillar of the
bridge that Charles built is crowned by the effigy of a saint or groups
of saints, with most of whom, I regret to say, I am not acquainted.
There are, however, some old friends--Saints Ludmilla, Wenceslaus,
Cosmas and Damain, and Adalbert--who are intimately connected with the
story of Prague. There is no denying the fact that these groups of
statuary give a unique touch to the massive beauty of the Charles
Bridge, but they do not appeal to me as works of art; this is probably
due to my own shortcomings. To my thinking, the statue of St. George,
which stands close by the south entrance to the cathedral on the
Hradšany, is worth the whole collection on the Charles Bridge. This
statue, the work of the brothers George and Martin of Aussenburk, was
ordered expressly by Charles IV; it is an absolutely faithful
representation of a knight's armour as worn in the fourteenth century.
For the rest, the statuary on the bridge was not run up in the space of
a few years; the work extended over about two centuries.

The first step taken towards an outward display of regained power was
the destruction by the Jesuits of that old church which stood on the
Malá Stranské Naměsti, in which, as I told you, the martyrs of 1621
partook of the Sacraments on their road to execution. The Church of St.
Nicholas then reared its stately pile out of the medley of quaint old
roofs and dormer windows immediately below my terrace. There were
changes going on among those sleepy houses too, for the victory of the
White Mountain and the Imperialist successes in the Thirty Years' War
had brought to Bohemia a swarm of foreign adventurers, officers in the
Emperor's armies, who acquired the property of exiled Bohemian nobility
and set about building palaces for themselves. They are interesting too,
these palaces in Prague, and some of them have beautiful gardens, as
those of Fürstenberg, Lobkovitz, Schoenborn and Waldstein. The latter
palace has, indeed, more than ordinary interest on account of the
strange man who built it.

Albrecht of Waldstein was a Bohemian noble of no very high degree, and
belonged to a Protestant family. He seems to have had no great learning,
but turned when he arrived at man's estate to the dark sciences, more
especially astronomy, and from the study of this science he hoped to
look behind the veil of the future and read his fortunes in the stars.
He rose, no doubt on account of his ability, to high command, to a
position of more real power than that of his imperial master. He amassed
a vast fortune, and built himself a huge palace in Prague--from my
terrace I could point to you its long line of roofs. To build his palace
a number of smaller houses had to be pulled down, some twenty-three in
all. Then Giovanni Marini, with his Italian and Dutch architects and
landscape gardeners, set to work and built up this regal abode of
gigantic proportions, a place as vast as Waldstein's ambition and dreams
of power and conquest. For all he was of Protestant faith originally,
Waldstein had as patron saint St. Wenceslaus, to whom he built a
beautiful chapel in his palace. There are gardens and fountains, a Sala
terrena, said to be the largest in Europe; there are magnolia-trees as
old as the palace; there is a bower of black old yew-trees screening the
space where this warrior-statesman received the ambassadors of kings who
sought alliance with him. There is an uncanny air of desolation over
all this vast demesne, an air of unsatisfied ambition, of vain striving
and infinite sadness of remorse. I can picture to myself Waldstein
pacing along that alley of clipped trees, now overgrown, scheming and
planning. I am sure he was one of those whose vision showed to them the
endless possibilities of power wielded from Prague as capital of a great
Central European State, that he was of one mind with George Podiebrad,
Charles IV, Přemysl Ottokar II, Libuša, and I will even include
that Frankish adventurer, Samo. But Waldstein had to reckon with a
Habsburg Emperor, King of Bohemia. The negotiations that his
generalissimo had undoubtedly been carrying on with the French and the
Swedes had roused the suspicions of Emperor Ferdinand, so Albrecht of
Waldstein, Duke of Friedland, was rendered harmless; he was murdered by
his own officers one night at Cheb (Eger,) a place you passed through on
your way from Paris to Prague.

There is a quaint old-world atmosphere that clings about the Mala
Strana, in its narrow streets and under its red roofs and dormer
windows, an atmosphere that suggests all sorts of good deeds done in a
quiet sort of way, of simple piety and a general steady level of
intellectual effort. In this, I am glad to report, some English people,
or rather Britons, took part. I have already mentioned Elizabeth Weston
and her epitaph in the church dedicated to St. Thomas. This church has
also been restored by the Jesuits; it was probably high time, for it had
been dedicated in 1316, and was occasionally the scene of a "certain
liveliness" which is likely to make repairs necessary. Apart from Swedes
who used to come round pillaging, this church seems to have had its
private, as it were parochial, troubles, a serious one in 1510, for
instance, when a fracas arose one day during service between some
Bohemians and some Hungarians. A fracas was always conducted with
rapiers and daggers in those days, and must have been a picturesque, if
inconvenient, event. It was all about a lady too, which sounds quite
likely: it was said that she was not worth all the pother: this is the
sort of thing some people would say. As a consequence of this fracas
several Bohemians were executed for robbery with violence, which sheds a
different light on the incident, but I do not think it matters much at
this distance of time.

There was a monastery attached to St. Thomas's Church, or perhaps the
other way about, and the monks had a fine library. When the Swedes,
quite uninvited, called at Prague and occupied the Mala Strana in 1648,
their commander, Königsmark, sent his chaplain, Master John Klee, to
pick up the library of St. Thomas's: the Swedes were great collectors of
books. Klee remained unmoved by all the entreaties of the good monks
until one of them showed him some silver spoons. Klee began to waver;
some one brought out a gilt cup; Klee fell, and left the good monks with
their books, just carrying off the trifling tokens they had given him as
souvenirs. A little kindness goes a long way.

In St. Thomas's there is also a painting ascribed to Rubens over the
altar. It looks doubtful to me, but the light was bad, and I could form
no opinion as to the picture's merit. Another painting in this church
gave me a thrill, a Virgin and Child, both black! I hoped that at last I
had discovered a picture I had heard so much of, "The Black Madonna"--a
famous picture with a stirring history. There are said to have been
several "Black Madonnas" in Bohemia at one time, and that of Stara
Boleslav was the most precious of them. St. Ludmilla herself had given
this picture to her pious grandson Wenceslaus, who, as we know, was
murdered at Stara Boleslav. Podiwin, the most trusty henchman of
Wenceslaus, buried this treasure when his master was murdered. You could
not well let it fall into the hands of Brother Boleslav, the hefty
heathen; he would have been incapable of appreciating the beautiful
legend of how the young mother, filled with anxiety on the flight into
Egypt, prayed that she and her Child might be turned black while their
exile lasted. The picture was found again in 1160 by a ploughman; the
Saxons, on their raid into Bohemia in 1635, stole it, and Ferdinand II
redeemed it and brought it back to Prague. It should be somewhere in
this city. I will leave the search for it to you, when you pay your
visit to Prague, which is surely inevitable now that you have read so
far in this book.

A tall, very thin spire, that peers up near the mass of the Nicholas
Church, reminds me of others of British race, who had their day in
Prague and, I feel sure, contributed to its reputation for religion and
piety. These were the _Englische Fräulein_, as the German chronicler
calls them; this means English virgins or maidens--you cannot very well
call them English misses--whose Order, founded by Clara Ward in the
seventeenth century, was introduced into Prague in the eighteenth by a
Princess Auersberg. I am not sure how these ladies passed their time,
nor what their object was in life, but no doubt they maintained that
state to which they considered themselves called, and this alone should
be accounted unto them for righteousness in a gay town like Prague.

There is yet one other Briton of whom I must tell you in connection with
the story of old Prague. His name is Brown, and I met him, or rather his
effigy, in Vienna many years ago. To give him all his style and title,
or as much as I can recollect--Field-Marshal Count Brown, but for all
that a good stout Briton. He happened to serve the Empress Maria
Theresia, and served her well. When her arch-enemy, Frederick of
Prussia, came this way, Brown was one of those who came out to meet him;
was wounded and died of his wounds in Prague. Frederick of Prussia was
obliged to raise the siege of Prague, according to popular opinion
forced thereto by supernatural powers. It is said that one night, just
after the battle of Prague, fought some five miles out, at a place
called Stěrboholy, and while the siege of Prague was still in
progress, the guard at one of the gates was surprised by a visitor. He
appeared suddenly coming from the city on a black horse, dressed in
ancient costume and wearing, mark you, a prince's cap. He demanded right
of egress, the gate was opened, and the night-rider vanished into the
darkness. The next day came news of the Austrian victory at Kolin, and
everyone knew that one of Bohemia's ancient champions had decided the
issue of that day. The pious generally ascribe the victory to St.
Wenceslaus; if supernatural agency was at work, I am more inclined to
attribute this ingerence to Brother Boleslav, the hearty heathen: it was
more in his line.

Those dark days passed, and a century elapsed before the Prussians came
pouring in again to disturb the _Pax Austriaca_ which held Bohemia
enveloped. They came as before, over the passes and through the Gate of
Bohemia at that dear little town among the pine forests, Nachod. But all
this is ancient history, is past and over, and the serene atmosphere of
Good King Charles's gracious days is glowing over Prague again. Old
Prague, the somnolent city of centuries after Bohemia's freedom went, is
regaining her place and rising to her high mission as capital of a free
and independent State, the most promising of those that arose out of the
ruins of the Habsburg dynasty's dominions. Old customs, no doubt, are
vanishing: I have looked in vain for the bootmakers' Fidlovačka and
the tailors' revels in Stromovka, the butchers' special form of annual
rejoicing seems also to have fallen into desuetude. Like pious souls, as
they undoubtedly are, the butchers of Prague choose an ancient and
respectable church for their peculiar celebration, which, to my
thinking, has a somewhat pagan savour; indeed, the profoundly learned
trace the practice back to the days when Thor was worshipped in the
gloomy forests of Central Europe. The church chosen by the butchers for
their special ritualistic function was that dedicated to St. James, son
of Zebedee. This church was originally one of the oldest in Prague; it
stands in that close-packed quarter of the Old Town, near Our Lady of
Tyn. The present edifice shows no traces of its earliest aspect when
founded by the Order of Minorities in 1232; it has been damaged and
restored until its present appearance was evolved, but it seems to have
been loyally patronized by the Old Town butchers, whose bravery, we
know, did much towards safeguarding the city both during the Hussite
troubles and against the Swedes. Stout fellows, those old butchers of
Prague; their holiday diversion, observed each 25th of July, was to
dress up a goat, to carry it to the top of St. James's church-tower and
throw it over into the street with "music and song," in which the goat
probably joined until he arrived on the pavement below. Strenuous
enjoyment on a hot summer's day, I should say, having been in personal
contact with a goat myself on occasion, but I really cannot see where
the fun comes in. By the aid of a map you may discern the church-tower
of St. James's, but you will no longer see the goat hurtling through
space. One by one these dear old customs are dying out. Nevertheless,
our Pragers still enjoy life, more than ever I should say, contrasting
the city of to-day with that of some ten years ago. I have touched on
some of the forms of amusement and recreation you may indulge in; you
will also find a pleasant social life developing among the cheery and
hospitable Pragers. And there is always the river, which among its many
reflections, by the way, also includes those of a very modern and rather
German-looking building which stands somewhat by itself among
disconnected groups of old and new buildings, near that quaint old house
by the Jewish Cemetery. The building I refer to is called the
Rudolfinum, after one of the unhappiest of all the Habsburgs, and served
originally as an academy of music. It still fills up with sound from
time to time, though not necessarily with harmony; it is the Parliament
of the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia.

The present tendency in Prague is to erect handsome modern buildings all
along the right bank of the river: Government offices, Ministries
chiefly, will occupy them. At present the different Ministries are
housed in ancient palaces dotted about the city. Foreign Affairs are
controlled (and very ably too) from the Hradšany, as is only right,
and here are also the offices of the Presidency and the President's
official residence. The Ministry of Commerce inhabits Waldstein's
Palace, that of Finance the Palace of Clam-Galas, which is well worth
seeing on account of its portico. But I fancy it will be some time
before all the grand plans for reconstruction and bringing Prague up to
the requirements of a capital city have been carried out, and the silver
river will be quite content to reflect the glorious monuments of the
past for some little time longer. The river, no doubt, could tell us a
deal about the chances and changes of the mortals that lived on its
banks; we have seen it reflect so many events, joyous, tragic, even
comic. On the whole it wears a thoroughly contented look on its shining
countenance--the look of one who knows he is thoroughly appreciated. And
knowing this, the river has put up with all manner of trammels which men
call "regulation"; there are weirs and locks and all manner of
improvements which not even Charles IV had thought of constructing for
the good of his people. But then there are the islands left, and the
Vltava's friends, the Pragers, come down to those islands of an evening
and make music, which must reconcile the river to changed conditions.
One island, that of Kampa, has already been pointed out to you; there
are others. Of these, two count for our purpose, namely, of getting the
best we can out of glorious old Prague. Of these two islands, one is
named Žofin, which is derived from Sophie, possibly the wife of Good
King Wenceslaus. Mind you, I am not at all certain about this; there is
a large bathing establishment on this island, which not only recalls the
cheery memory of Wenceslaus, but also that of Susanna; therefore to
bring in the name of long-suffering Queen Sophie does not seem to me
quite nice: what do you think? The next island is a larger one, almost
in midstream, whereas Žofin keeps the right bank and has just enough
space for a very pretty flower-garden, and a well-kept restaurant where
you may enjoy good food and good music under the shade of the spreading
chestnut-trees. The larger island is called Střelesky Ostrov, which
means that it has something to do with shooting. Indeed, in years of
long ago, in the days of bows and arrows, and crossbow and bolt, when
archery was compulsory, this island was the rendezvous of marksmen.
Being a serious concern, archery, and subsequently all manner of
shooting, was put under the spiritual charge of St. Sebastian. It is
very sporting of this saint to have accepted this honorary office. Here
again, on this island, you may dine and drink and listen to good music.
You may also shoot at glass balls with an air-gun. _Ichabod_!

       *       *       *       *       *

Wherever there is a good navigable river, there you have many occasions
for excursions. Steamers of all sizes, painted in the national colours
of Bohemia, white and red, ply up and down the Vltava. In fact, from
Prague, now that all the locks are completed, you may travel down the
Vltava to the Elbe and right away to New York by water if you
will--change at Hamburg.

There are walks and excursions within easy reach of the centre of the
city. You take a tram--it is quite worth it, and is comparatively easy
on a Sunday afternoon to anyone who has played "forward" in a "rugger"
team. When buying a tram-ticket always make a sound like "pshesses" at
the conductor. He will not mind it in the least; in fact, he will take
special pains about punching your ticket, which, by virtue of the
strange noise you made, enables you to change into another tram. The
tram takes you to the outskirts, where you may start walking or just
sink into a beer-garden, according to your degree of physical fitness
after the journey. You will be pleased to hear that the edict of King
John anent no drinks within two miles of the city has been withdrawn, so
you may settle down in the Stromovka or the Kinsky Garden for the
afternoon. This latter garden, by the way, is one of the most attractive
features of Prague. One of the Kinskys sold it to the town, which makes
the best use of it and keeps it in good order for the benefit of the
public. You will also do well to visit that little château place which
you will see on entering the garden. In it you will find a delectable
collection of old Bohemian and Moravian costumes, furniture and
household goods which will help you to realize how and why these people
cling so tenaciously to all that pertains to their race.

Touching the Kinsky Garden is another one, also beautiful, called
Nebozízek. These gardens are separated by a wall that descends from the
top of the height down to the street below, the "Famine Wall" it is
called, for a thoughtful King of Bohemia, Charles IV again, caused it to
be built in order to provide work during a lean year some centuries ago.
A gap in the Famine Wall, which you reach by shady winding ways, gives
you a glorious and unexpected view of the Hradšany; the winding ways
lead you up to the summit of the Petřin, as this height is called,
where you may find an outlook tower, a church, a diorama showing a scene
from the Thirty Years' War, and a beer-garden--so entertainment is
provided for all tastes. There is a way down from the top of Petřin
shaded by chestnut-trees, its stages marked by fourteen chapels, the
Stations of the Cross, until it narrows in between garden walls over
which you see Strahov and the Hradšany rising in graceful dignity out
of a maze of red-tiled roofs and foliage.

Then you may wander on past Strahov and over open rolling country to the
battlefield of the White Mountain and to the Star, those places of
tragic memory in the history of Bohemia. It is usual to speak
slightingly of the immediate environment of Prague as being
uninteresting and indeed unlovely; I protest strongly against this, and
that because I have traversed the fields and lanes on foot, not dashing
through the landscape in a motor-car, and therefore claim to have seen
the scenery round about the capital. The citizens of Prague seem to be
of my way of thinking, to judge by the numbers that set out on Sundays
to the heights that encompass the town on its western side. The good
people of Prague enjoy their Sunday beer in the Star Park Restaurant,
and take their walks abroad among the pleasant valleys that run down to
the river on its left bank. From the plateau of the White Mountain you
may find your way into one of these pleasant valleys, that of the
Šarka. You enter it by a narrow rocky gorge, and as it has a
distinctly romantic look, legend has fastened on to it and echoes a tale
of Bohemian Amazons led by a lady of the name of Šarka, who was
discontented with the dominance of mere man. The legend is somewhat
obscure, but as the Bohemians, like other people, prefer a happy ending
to their stories (they have till recently known but few in their own
history), we may take it that the Amazonian ladies arrived at the
natural issue out of their troubles. Amongst these rocks is an open-air
theatre where concerts are given; here one glorious Sunday afternoon in
autumn I was once again privileged to hear Kubelik play.

The Šarka brook trips along gaily towards the Vltava under
overhanging rocks, by wooded slopes and fresh meadows. It tries to be
useful in driving the "Devil's Mill"; that sinister personage seems to
have started quite a number of such concerns in Bohemia. It is a
pleasant little place, tucked away among rocks and trees, and its chief
business appears to be the supplying of refreshments. Of the occasional
rocks that jut out above the trees, one claims to be the jumping-off
place of a Prague damsel who was tired of life; such places are pretty
frequent in all scenery with any pretence to romance. Given a rocky
eminence, you will always find that somebody or other has leapt
therefrom and thus given it a name, the "Maiden's Leap" or the "Knight's
Leap." It is obvious, for instance, that the Vyšehrad, the rocky
eminence on which stood the first castle of Bohemia's rulers before ever
Prague was built, should have a jumping-off story. A knight was
imprisoned in the Vyšehrad Castle; he asked leave to ride round the
castle, for change of air no doubt, when suddenly he wheeled about, put
his horse at the river and leapt--of course he got safely away. Let us
hope that the damsel of Prague who leapt into the Šarka Valley also
fell soft and got away.

These little valleys that lead down to the river are all the more
delightful as you seem to come upon them by surprise. The general aspect
of the high ground above the river is that of a highly cultivated
undulating country with prim and rather uninteresting-looking clusters
of white-washed cottages gathered round the church-tower with its quaint
bulbous top-hamper which, to my thinking, recalls the Dresden china
_Zwiebel Muster_ of one's youth, but is really supposed to be due to
eastern influence. Again, from the river you see wooded slopes, cherry
orchards and factory chimneys. But turning down towards the river you
suddenly come upon a jolly little tinkling brook, falling over rocks
that peep out of gorse bushes, winding about among lush meadows where
geese chatter contentedly, and seem so far remote from broad acres under
waving corn that you get the "wind on the heath" all to yourself, and
feel yet farther removed from smoking factories. And even these latter
blend with the landscape in a manner which English factories can never
acquire. They are tucked away in cosy little valleys, and even in large
groups do not disturb the harmony of the landscape. They also seem an
expression of the national character, steady and hardworking, yet
capable of fitting in completely with the joyous beauty kindly Nature
spreads all about.

       *       *       *       *       *

Within easy reach of Prague, with its hundred towers, are many historic
places, landmarks in the story of Bohemia. Foremost among these is the
Castle of Karlov Týn. It stands on a rocky spur in a wooded valley,
between four hills. You catch a sudden and fleeting glimpse of it as you
approach Prague from Paris by the line that runs along the winding River
Berounka. If you are blessed with the healthy curiosity of the traveller
in foreign parts, you will insist on a closer inspection of this lordly
castle. It looks new; this is the result of well-meant restoration
undertaken some years ago; it is really of great and historic
antiquity.

Charles IV, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and first Bohemian King of
that name, began the building of this castle in 1348 as a fitting casket
for the Crown jewels and the charter of the land he loved. During the
reign of subsequent Kings of Bohemia, this castle, though it passed
through many of the vicissitudes peculiar to mediæval history, kept up
its traditional importance in the land. It was besieged by the Hussites
in 1422, and parts of it were burnt down and allowed to go to ruin. Over
a century later it was restored, but suffered eclipse after the Thirty
Years' War, was even in pawn for several years, and did not quite
retrieve its fallen fortunes until after the _coup d'etat_ of 1918. The
deeds by which the two leading patron saints of Bohemia gained sanctity
are set forth in quite well-preserved frescoes.

[Illustration: A CORNER OF KŘIVOKLAT CASTLE.]

While on the subject of castles--and you must forgive me for
rambling,--I should like to tell you about another one that stands some
little way farther up the valley of the Berounka, tucked away out of
sight of the railway. The history of this Castle of Křivoklát dates
yet farther back than that of Karlov Týn, for we read of its restoration
in the twelfth century by Prince Vladislaus I, a scion of the House of
Přemysl. Charles IV loved to live here, and restored the place for
the first of his four wives, Blanche of Valois. Other guests more or
less distinguished visited here, some of them involuntarily; these
latter were generally lodged in the Huderka Tower suitably fitted with
oubliettes. Among these guests were two already mentioned, a leading
religious light, John Augusta, Bishop of the Bohemian Brethren, and
another less certain light, Kelly, the Irish alchemist. "Irish
alchemist" has rather a racy flavour; the idea of an Irishman engaged in
such pursuit suggests endless ingenuous possibilities. With Kelly was
also the Englishman, Dr. John Dee, who was in like condemnation. No
doubt the two were a precious pair of rogues, but King Rudolph II had
asked for trouble by encouraging alchemists from all over Europe to
visit him in Prague. The present-day compeers of Dee and Kelly are no
doubt the self-constituted experts on politics, finance, commerce and
other questions which puzzle international commissions, conferences and
such-like amenities of our times. Anyway, Dr. Dee and Mr. Kelly failed
to give satisfaction, and so were incarcerated at Křivoklát. A
charming place it must have been when the forests were denser and shy
deer tripped down to the water's edge of an evening. Charming it is
still with its haunting memories that seem to linger more fondly than at
Karlov Týn, perhaps because the modern renovator has not been so busy
here. The quaint old corners still have an old-world, homely look which
the renovator invariably destroys. Despite the trees that add deep
shadows to the sombre masonry, you may yet call up visions of knights
tilting in the uneven overgrown courtyard while fair ladies looked on
from a balcony specially added for the purpose, and in such manner as to
produce a very quaint effect of perspective. You may yet imagine
yourself as one of a reverent crowd listening awestruck to bold
utterance of religious truths from a Bohemian preacher in that beautiful
pulpit of carved stone which still adorns the gateway that leads to the
inner court. And if you have the gift of placing yourself back among
those earnest seekers after truth who lived in and suffered for their
faith, you will draw nearer to the real spirit of the sons of Bohemia.

And this reflection leads to yet another historic spot within easy reach
of Prague, Tábor. This is a pleasant little town some two hours by rail
from the capital. Seen from the railway as it stands on a gentle rise,
its tall church-tower and red roofs reflected in the waters of a winding
lake, it looks what it is now, a very peaceful spot. But if you go about
its narrow streets you come upon many relics of the town's eventful
past. It comes as a surprise to find that the side towards the south,
towards Austria, descends precipitously to the River Losnice, a striking
contrast to the placid lake which first greeted you. This lake was
called Jordan, the city Tábor, by those who, following the teaching of
Hus, ordered their lives and thoughts by Holy Writ. The Hussites under
their leader Žižka, one of the ablest generals of all time, had
decided to build them a city and fixed upon this site for the sake of
its undoubted strategic value and its capacity for defence.

Tábor, however, takes me rather too far afield; I mentioned it for the
benefit of those who study archæology; these will find interesting
instances of Bohemia's fifteenth-century architecture in this the
stronghold of Žižka and the followers of Hus.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: TABOR BY THE WATERS OF JORDAN.]

In these my reflections on things seen and noted from "a Terrace in
Prague" I have endeavoured to arouse your interest in this grand old
city. I have pointed out to you from the terrace of my choice monuments
to a glorious past, to a glowing vital history of this the capital of an
ancient realm. I leave it now to you to fill in the gaps I have left,
either purposely--for I want you to come here and see for yourself--or
inadvertently; and I have already admitted my limited knowledge of a
great subject. So come out here and choose your point of view, and carry
on the reflections I have started; there is endless scope. As Lützow
says: "When throwing a stone through a window in Prague you throw with
it a morsel of history." This is not meant to encourage stone-throwing,
a practice that meets with little appreciation here. What is meant is
that there is a vast field lying before you, as you look out over the
city, a field which will render you good returns for any attempt you
make to cultivate it. If your outlook be academic, at your feet lies one
of Europe's oldest universities; if your interests turn to architecture,
this little work alone should give you some idea of the wealth of
material lying here to your hand. If you are one of those rare mortals
who study history for the sake of applying its moral to the conduct of
the world's affairs, then you have here a deep well from which to draw
inspiration. Look at those figures that rise above the heads of their
fellows in the shadowy pageant of Bohemia's capital, at those whose
vision carried well beyond the narrow frontiers of their country and the
limitations of their age. Ottokar II and Charles IV, George Podiebrad
and Waldstein, all these saw the inner meaning of Libuša's prophecy:
"I see a grand city, the fame of which reaches to the skies."

Libuša's prophecy has been fulfilled, her forecast of Prague's place
in the world has come true. In the days of Ottokar II, Prague held high
place as a capital of a great State. Charles IV rescued this city that
he loved, and made of it the rallying point of Central European culture.
King George Podiebrad felt the high importance of this his native
country's capital, and from it he wove his web of treaties and
agreements for the betterment of Central Europe by means of his League
of Peace. Dark Waldstein had formed great and ambitious plans, possibly
not so altruistic as those of his spiritual kinsmen, the great men
mentioned above. You have seen how one after another these giants of
Bohemia saw their plans brought to nought. Ottokar II succumbed to the
first Habsburger that threw his shadow over Bohemia. The successors of
Charles and George Podiebrad could not stand up against the forces of
reaction that beat down Bohemia's efforts towards finding herself and
taking her rightful place in the comity of nations. Of Waldstein's plans
and ambitions there are only dark traces, obscure indications; he, a man
of penetrating vision, must have realized the possibilities of his
country, and must have been bent on securing for it the place it is
entitled to. But he in his turn perished at the instigation of a
Habsburger. And so we see the searching light of greatness light up the
city from time to time, and in almost regular intervals of a century at
a time; then came heavy banks of cloud to obscure the fair prospect. The
clouds have rolled away again; again bright sunshine draws out the
memories of Golden Prague and raises hopes of a glorious future. This
time the fate of Prague and the land and people she stands for does not
depend upon dynastic considerations nor the will or vision of one ruler
or another. The destinies of Prague are in the hands of a sovereign
people; it is theirs to make or mar them.

Here is matter for deep study, such as will in time justify prediction.
Mark also well the signs of the times as you look out over Prague, and
note whether the spirit of the great departed has not returned to inform
the people of Bohemia and of the lands that make up the Succession State
of the old Austrian Empire, the Republic of Czecho-Slovakia.

If I have succeeded in arousing your interest, my task is completed; it
is then for you to take up the tale--"From a Terrace in Prague."



INDEX


Aaron, 113

Abbeville, 150

Adalbert, Bishop, 84, 92, 141, 161, 237

Adela of Austria, 118

Adolph of Nassau, 132

Adrian I, Pope, 161

Adriatic, 119

Æneas Silvius (_see_ Pope Pius II), 27

Æthelstan, King of England, 76

Aix-la-Chapelle, 76, 159

Albrecht of Habsburg, 132, 133

Alexander Borgia, Pope, 209

Alexander III, Pope, 126

All Saints' Church, 93

Amarapura, 24

Andrew, Bishop, 108, 109

Anne of Bohemia, 176, 177, 185

Arabia, 28

Arkona, 97

Arles, 151

Arnold, 213

Arnulf, German King, 65, 74

Arpad, 74

Arras, Matthew of, 153, 159

Arthur, King of Britain, 136

Aube, 39

Augsburg, 82

Austria, 21, 117, 118, 132, 143, 251

Avari, 26

Avignon, 143, 144, 151, 153


Babenberg, 118

Baikal, Lake, 117

Bâle, 219

Baltic, 119

Bas Schevi von Treunberg, 114

Bavaria, 16, 22, 53, 134, 156, 199

Beatrice of Bourbon, 139

Bechyn, Tobias of, 133

Bela, King of Hungary, 118, 119

Belfort, 39

Belna, 55

Benedictines, 142

Beneš of Loun, 153

Beneš of Weitmil, 150

Berlin, 18

Berounka, 16, 23, 164, 171, 248, 249

Blanche Taque, 149

Blanche of Valois, 139, 249

Boievari, 16, 134

Boleslav I, 66, 67, 71, 78, 79, 80, 82, 83, 97, 240, 242

Boleslav II, 83, 84, 85, 89, 159

Boleslav III, 90

Boleslav the Brave, 83, 89, 90, 91

Boleslav, Towns Old and Young, 80, 152, 240

Bologna, 100, 168

Bořivoj, 63-66, 161

Božena, 90, 91

Brahe, Tycho de, 100, 114, 206, 228

Breslau, 40, 83

Břetislav I, 91, 92, 94, 97

Břetislav II, 96, 97

Brezova, Lawrence of, 155

Britons, 23, 241

Brno, 18

Brown, Field-Marshal, Count, 241

Brusnice, 57

Brunswick, 22

Brüx, 109

Buiarnum, 112

Bulgars, 119

Burgundy, 151

Burma, 24, 25

Byzantium, 24


Cantacuzene, 24

Carinthia, John Henry of, 143

Carlsbad, 23, 151

Carlyle, 133, 134, 137

Caro, Abigdor, Rabbi, 114

Carolingian, 65

Casimir of Poland, 145

Celts, 16, 39, 40, 134

Ceylon, 25

Charlemagne, 18, 19, 26, 65, 73, 75, 76, 159, 210

Charles IV, Emperor, 121, 137-145, 149-160, 163, 164, 167, 168, 170,
  172-175, 179, 180, 193, 195, 205, 217-220, 237, 239, 240, 244, 246,
  249, 253

Charles V, Emperor, 226, 231

Charles the Simple, of France, 76

Château Thierry, 22

Cheb, 16, 23, 26, 98, 164, 239

Chlodovech, King of the Franks, 163

Clarissa, Order of, 109

Clement VI, Pope, 142

Clerval, Massieu de, 27

Cluny, 96, 99, 100

Conrad III, Emperor, 98

Conradin, 22, 108

Constance, 182, 185, 203

Constance of Hungary, 109

Constantine the Great, 15

Constantine Porphyrogenitus, 76

Constantinople, 15, 24, 76, 99, 218

Cornwall, Richard of, 109, 118, 119, 150

Cosmas of Prague, 25-27, 54, 57, 63

Cranach, Lucas, 154

Crawford, Marion, 180

Crecy, 136, 140, 144, 149, 150

Czechus, 53, 64


Dacio, 99

Dagobert, 26

Dalibor, Daliborka, 121, 122, 123

Dalimil, 91

Danes, 73, 74

Danube, 16, 40, 53, 210

David, 15

Dee, Dr. John, 228, 249

Dienzenhofer, 159, 222

Dragomira, 66, 72, 77

Dresden, 20

Dubravka, 83, 90

Dürer, 102

Dvořak, 211


Edinburgh, 200

Edward, Black Prince, 136, 145

Edward III of England, 135, 145, 150

Edward VII of England, 23

Eger, _see_ Cheb

Eggenburg, 21

Elbe, 18, 20, 80, 245

Emanuel, Emperor, 99

Emaus, 78, 92, 94, 140, 141, 142, 173

England, 73, 100, 109, 117, 118, 140, 150, 181, 195, 204, 218

Ernest of Pardubic, Bishop, 144, 167


Falckenstein, Zavis of, 124

Faust, Dr., 208

Felix III, Pope, 161

Ferdinand, Archduke, 45, 225, 226

Ferdinand I, Emperor, 154

Ferdinand II, Emperor, 240

Ferdinand III, Emperor, 142, 156, 237, 239

Fidlovatchka, 46, 47, 242

Fischer, Peter, 154

Flemings, 39

France, 39, 136, 150, 151, 220

Francis I of France, 225

Franconia, 22

Franks, 18, 26, 134

Frederick Barbarossa, 23, 99, 107, 110, 117

Frederick, Count Palatine, 154, 156, 187, 188, 230, 231

Frederick, Duke of Austria, 118

Frederick the Fair, of Austria, 143

Frederick the Great of Prussia, 52, 101, 156, 159, 241

Fürstenberg, 60


Galileo, Galilei, 114

Gans, David, 114

Gauls, 39

Gebhard, Bishop, 185

George Podiebrad, 154-157, 186, 207, 209, 218, 221, 236, 239, 253

Germans, 58, 65, 95, 111, 198, 199, 200

Ghibelline, Waiblingen, 22

Gibraltar, 60

Gindeley, 232

Gnesen, 92, 125

Golden Bull, 157, 179

Gothic, 62, 93, 114, 127, 142, 158, 185, 207, 224

Gregory VII, Pope, 94

Gregory XII, Pope, 229

Gregory of Tours, 163

Guido, Cardinal, 98, 99

Guelf, Welf, 22


Habsburg, 21, 101, 114, 119-121, 124, 125, 131, 132, 134, 136, 154,
  156, 175, 186, 187, 194, 199-210, 218, 221, 223, 225

Hajek, 100

Hamilton, Sir William and Lady, 102

Hanover, 134

Harrachove, 85

Henri IV of France, 194

Henry and Kunigunde, Saints, 158

Henry of Carinthia, 133, 135, 137

Henry of Luxemburg, 133

Henry the Fowler, 66, 76, 77, 84, 162

Henry II, German King, 90

Henry III, Emperor, 91

Henry IV, Emperor, 94

Henry VI, Emperor, 108

Hohenburg on Unstrutt, 94

Hohenstaufen, 108

Holstein, 74

Holy Cross, Chapel, 94

Hradešin, 58

Hradšany, 52, 56, 57, 59, 60, 61, 63, 72, 78, 84, 93, 94, 96, 110, 121,
  131, 135, 144, 152, 154, 159, 171, 194, 195, 217, 224, 226, 227, 229,
  235, 246

Humbolt, Alexander von, 27

Hungarians, 74-76, 94, 121, 146

Hungary, 26, 109, 117, 125, 136, 144, 210, 218

Hus, John, 48, 182-185, 188, 202-204, 218, 232, 251

Hussites, 142, 154, 155, 159, 185, 198, 199, 218, 243, 249, 251


Ibrahim Ibn Jacub, 28, 84, 85, 112

Innocent III, Pope, 108

Innsbruck, 137

Irish Monks, 126, 210

Irrawaddy, 25

Isabella of England, 109

Italy, 136-138, 149, 151, 204, 230


Jacobelius, 236

Jagoilla, dynasty, 225

James I of England, 154, 188

Jaromir, 90

Jeřabek, Dr., 113

Jerusalem, 15

Jesuits, 38, 53, 182, 187, 188, 194, 195, 222, 236, 239

Jilové, 58

Joan of Arc, 181

John, King of Bohemia, 45, 131, 135-145, 150-153, 173, 205, 245

John, King of England, 109, 118

John, of Jenstein, 181

John VIII, Pope, 161

Jordan, 21, 251

Josefor, 113

Joseph, Emperor, 47

Judith, Queen, 93, 94, 127, 168, 180

Juggernaut, 34

Jungmann, 194, 213


Kalina, 213

Karlov Tyn, Karlstein, 66, 164, 248-250

Kazi, 55

Keppler, 114, 206, 228

Kiev, 83, 119

Kinsky, 44, 245, 246

Klee, Dr. John, 240

Kolin, 242

Königsberg, 118

Königsmark, 240

Kossovo, 201

Kostelec, 58

Kralove Hradec, Königgrätz, 135

Kressenbrunn, 119

Křivoklat, 249, 250

Krok, 55, 56

Kroměřiže, Milič of, 174, 179, 206

Kubelik, 247

Kulm, 97

Kutna Hora, 124, 217, 218


Labe, _see_ Elbe

Ladislas Posthumus, 154, 218, 225

Latins, 39

Lechfeld, 82

Lehel, 82

Leipzig, 218

Lemberg, 83

Leo, Pope, 76

Leopold, Archduke of Austria, 194

Leopold, Duke of Austria, 117

Lepanto, 229

Letna, 44, 94, 171, 214

Levy Hradec, 64

Libuša, 53-57, 59-61, 93, 100, 110, 112, 121, 125, 239, 253

Lichtenberg, Ulrich of, 133

Liegnitz, 117

Lion of Bohemia, 62, 117

Lisbon, 15

Lithuanians, 136, 143, 144

Loew, Jehuda ben Bezalel, Rabbi, 115

Lombards, 53, 151

London, 24, 206

Lothair, Emperor, 97-98

Louis of Brandenburg, 143

Louis, Duke of Bavaria, 136

Louis, German King, 144, 145, 150

Louis VII, King of France, 99

Louis IX, King of France, 219

Ludmilla, 63, 66, 71, 77, 84, 109, 161, 237, 240

Luther, 226

Lützow, Count, 26, 27, 79, 82, 119, 136, 144, 182, 220, 252

Luxemburg, 38, 41, 131-134, 137, 138, 140-143, 153


Maintz, Archbishop of, 84, 109, 144

Mandalay, 24, 58

Marcus Aurelius, 40, 189

Margaret Maultasche, 137, 143

Maria Theresia, 156, 241

Marienbad, 23

Marne, 39

Mastino della Scala, 137

Matthias, Emperor, 227, 230

Maximilian I, Emperor, 45, 154

Maximilian II, Emperor, 226

Mecklenburg, 134

Medigo de Candia, Solomon, 114

Melantrich, 207

Michael Angelo, 38

Mieceslav, 83

Milada, 84, 159, 161

Milan, 99, 100, 151

Milton, 194

Mnata, 63, 198, 199, 221

Montmartre, 52

Montparnasse, 52

Morava, 40

Moravia, 53, 63, 65, 74, 82, 83, 91, 98, 108, 117, 118, 133, 140, 143,
  198, 199, 221

Mozart, 212, 224

Mühldorf, 136, 143


Nachod, 22, 242

Nancy, 22

Naples, 108

Narodni Třida, 90, 139

Nebozízek, 44, 246

Nelson, 102

Nepomuk, John, 181-184, 237

Neruda, John, 224

Norsemen, 39

Nuremberg, 22

Nusle, 46, 47


Ofen, Buda, 125

Oise, 39

Olomouc, Olmütz, 62

Oppenheim, Rabbi, 114

Otto of Brandenburg, 124

Otto of Brunswick, 108

Ottokar I, Přemysl, 107, 108, 110

Ottokar II, Přemysl, 108, 109, 114, 118-121, 124-127, 132, 145, 239

Oxford, 168


Palacky, 27, 82, 133, 136, 220

Paleologue, 24

Palestrina, 126

Paris, 15, 21, 22, 24, 39, 40, 52, 76, 134, 139, 145, 164, 168, 248

Parler, John and Peter, 153, 207

Pergolesi, 43

Petřin, 57, 100, 103, 246

Philip of Suabia, 109

Pilsen, 16, 18

Pincio, 37

Pius II, Pope, 27

Poland, 83, 90-92, 125, 144-209, 219, 220, 224

Poles, 117

Přemysl, 55-57, 62, 63, 66, 98, 107, 108, 111, 125, 133

Prussia, Duke of, 45

Prussians, 75, 84, 118, 134, 242


Rabindranath Thagore, 212

Racusani, 100

Radecky, 223

Ratisbon, 65, 107, 126

Rhône, 39

Richard II, King of England, 176, 185

Richtenthal, 157

Riegrovy, 44

Řip, 54, 161

Rodin, 27, 37, 38

Romans, 40

Rome, 16, 24, 37, 38, 52, 74, 95, 109, 151, 157, 182, 199, 203, 209, 218,
  219, 220, 236

Rostock, 18

Roumania, 219

Rudolph I, 120, 132

Rudolph II, 194, 227-230

Rügen, 97, 162

Rugevit, 97

Rugians, 53

Russia, Russians, 112, 117, 119


St. Agnes, 109, 110

St. Anthony, 84, 157

St. Boniface, 210

St. Cletus, 126

Saints Cosmas and Damian, 79, 94, 140, 161

St. Cyriak, 126

St. George, 54, 83, 93, 96, 159, 227, 237

St. Hedwig, 109

St. Henry, 43

St. Hieronymus, 141

St. Longinus, 94, 160

St. Martin, 94, 213, 236

St. Methodius, 63, 65, 141, 161

St. Nicholas, 101, 223

St. Patrick, 126

St. Procopius, 60, 141

St. Remy, 149

St. Rufus, 124, 145

St. Sigismund, 163

St. Thomas, 101, 239, 240

St. Thomas à Becket, 204

St. Vitus, 72, 77, 144, 152, 156, 162, 163

Salonika, 161

Samo the Frank, 26, 239

Saône, 39

Saracens, 74-76

Šarka, 44, 247

Saville, Sir Thomas, 100

Saxons, 18, 19, 94, 134, 155, 240

Saxony, 47, 162, 199

Schiller, 230

Scots, 73, 126, 187

Seine, 39

Serbs, 119, 201

Shakespeare, 199

Sigismund, Emperor, 155, 185, 186, 217, 218

Silesia, 83, 117

Šlik, Count, 232

Slovakia, 83

Smetana, 57, 122, 171, 211

Smichov, 35, 93

Soběslav, 97

Somme, 150

Spira, Aaron, 115

Spytihnev, 65, 74, 153

Stadic, 55, 133

Star, the, 43

Staronová, Škola, 113

Stephen I, King of Hungary, 91

Stephen III, King of Hungary, 99

Stěrboholy, 241

Stettin, 18, 40

Strahov, 100-103, 154, 246

Strasbourg, 22

Strelitz, 18

Stromovka, 44, 45, 242

Strzezislava, 63

Stuttgart, 22

Styria, 118

Susanna, 178

Svantovit, 97

Svatopluk of Moravia, 63, 65

Swedes, 100, 116, 117, 239, 240


Tabor, 21, 251

Tagus, 15

Tartars, 117

Teplitz, 97

Teta, 55

Teutons, 19, 20, 75, 200

Thebaw, 25

Thietmar, Bishop, 84

Thuringians, 53

Thurn, Count, 194

Tilly, 237

Tomek, 27

Turks, 218

Tyn Church, 94, 201, 205-207, 232, 236, 242

Tyrol, 143


Ulrich, Přemysl, 90, 91

Urban VI, Pope, 185

Utraquists, 142, 195, 209


Vaclav, _see_ Wenceslaus

Václavské Náměsti, 72, 139, 160

Venetia, 157

Venice, 219

Verona, 137, 203

Vienna, 21, 126, 171, 236, 241

Vikings, 75, 76

Viollet-le-Duc, 27

Vladislav I, 249

Vladislav II, 99-101, 107, 158, 209, 220, 221-226

Vladivoj, 89

Vltava, 16, 18, 25, 44, 52, 57, 58, 84, 85, 93, 170, 171, 173, 180,
  185-187, 244-246

Vratislav I, 65, 74, 84, 85

Vratislav II, 94-96

Vyšehrad, 26, 46, 52-57, 83, 93, 110, 121, 158, 168, 174


Waldhauser, Conrad, 174, 179, 206

Waldstein, Wallenstein, 237-239, 244, 253

Wallachians, 119

Watson, Dr. R. Seton, 134, 202

Wenceslaus I, King of Bohemia, 110, 111, 114, 121

Wenceslaus II, King of Bohemia, 117, 118, 121, 124, 125, 131-133, 141

Wenceslaus III, King of Bohemia, 62

Wenceslaus IV, King of Bohemia, 41, 72, 175-185, 195, 206, 208, 209, 244

Wenceslaus, Saint and Prince of Bohemia, 62, 66, 67, 71-80, 83, 84, 93,
  109, 140, 152-154, 161-163, 213, 237, 238, 242

Weston, Elizabeth, 101, 239

Wettin, 20, 21

White Mountain, 127, 154, 156, 182, 198, 199, 230, 232, 235, 238, 246

Wilson, President U.S.A., 208

Wiprecht of Groitch, 95

Wittekind, 18

Wittelsbach, 136, 143

Wogastisburg, 26

Wun Thu, 25

Würtemberg, 22

Wycliffe, 185, 198


Yonne, 39


Zamek, 44

Zbraslav, 58

Zderad, 96

Zion, 15

Žiška, 16, 155, 232, 251

Znoymo, Conrad of, 100





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