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For current information see CIA World Footbook. Cen. Eur. country composed of 19 regions formerly (before January 1, 1949) Boh., Moravia, Slovakia, and part of Silesia; inhabited largely by a Slavic pop. speaking 2 closely related languages, Czech (in the W) and Slovac (in the E). Area: 49,365 sc. mi. January 1, 1993, Czechs and Slovaks divided into separate nations: the Czech Republic and the Republic of Slovakia.

1. Great Moravia, which included Boh. and other cen. Eur. territories, was introd. to Christianity in the 9th c. by the Byzantine missionaries Cyril* and Methodius and their disciples; but it soon took on W orientation as a result of pol. and economic ties.

2. With the fall of Great Moravia by ca. 906–907, the name Moravia was limited to the W part of the former empire, which continued as a province attached to Boh. and was later included in Czechoslovakia. Boh. built a rich culture on its Byzantine Moravian heritage; it became a center of Christian influence on its pagan neighbors and was probably responsible in part for the conversion of Hung. and Poland. Wenceslas I (Václav; ca. 907–ca. 929; duke of Boh. ca. 921–ca. 929; Slavic saint) and Adalbert* of Prague gave Boh. an honored place in the medieval Christian commonwealth.

3. Slovakia was conquered by the Magyars ca. 906–907, with resultant adverse effects on the subsequent cultural and economic development of the Slovaks. Strong cultural ties with the Czechs proved valuable sustaining factors in the cents. of Hung. rule.

4. In the 14th c. Boh. experienced a cultural and spiritual renaissance, reaching its “Golden Age” under Charles IV (1316–78; King of Ger. and Boh. and Holy Roman emp. 1347–78) in a flowering of literature and art; the founding of Charles U. 1348 est. Prague as cultural center of cen. Eur. The Devotio* moderna also helped prepare the way for the Hussite* reform of the 15th c.

5. Religious vitality, drained by yrs. of strife and warfare, was regained by the Unitas Fratrum (see Bohemian Brethren). The Utraquist (see Hussites) majority ch. found new life with the coming of Luth. influence to Boh. The Luth. impact was strong also in Silesia and Slovakia, and for a time on the Boh. Brethren.

6. The Counter* Reformation had a devastating effect on Czechoslovak Christianity. Protestantism was almost wiped out in Boh.-Moravia, annexed 1620 by the Austrian Hapsburgs; it fared somewhat better in Hungarian Slovakia, where persecution was shorter and not uniformly imposed. Among the Czech religious exiles was J. A. Comenius.* The refugees joined Prot. chs. abroad.

7. The work of Jir�i Tranovsky�* (Tranoscius; ca. 1592–1637), gave Luths. in Slovakia spiritual resources that helped them through religious oppression and the suppression of Czech culture after 1620. The Czech tr. of the Bible (Bible of Kralice; see also Bohemian Brethren, 3) and Tranovski�'s hymnal (Cithara Sanctorum, or Tranoscius, which preserved the Luth. liturgical heritage and the rich Czech Reformation hymnody in Slovakia) have provided the main spiritual nurture of Slovak Luths. See also Synod of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, 13.

8. The Enlightenment* brought toleration to Luths. and Ref. in the Austro-Hung. Empire. The creation of the Czechoslovak Republic 1918 brought full religious liberty. This was followed by large-scale defections from the RC Ch. on the part of Czech clergy and laity. A large group of them formed the modernist (see Modernism) nat. Czechoslovak Ch. 1920. Somewhat rationalistic at first, it experienced a partial conservative renaissance after 1927. The Czech Luths. and Ref., largely descendants of Boh. Brethren, merged into one body, the Ev. Ch. of Czech Brethren. This ch. took for its conf. basis the old Boh. confessions (see Bohemia, Lutheran Theology in). But the stronger Slovak Luth. Ch. (founded 1921) maintained its indep. Many Czechs became churchless. Most Czechs remained RC, devout in rural areas, but largely nominal in cities.

9. Antichristian measures of Communists, in power since 1948, have effected further loss to the RC Ch. There has been little open persecution, but the govt. exercises considerable pressures to make it difficult to be a Christian, esp. for the young. The hostile regime has forced Christians to dig deeper into the meaning of Christian faith. Best-known Ev. spokesman is Josef L. Hromádka (b. 1889).

See also Moravian Church; Slovakia, Lutheran Theology in.

The Cambridge Medieval History, planned by J. B. Bury, ed. J. R. Tanner, C. W. Previté-Orton, and Z. N. Brooke (New York, 1936), VI, 422–472, and VIII, 1–157, 556–619; R. W. Seton-Watson, A History of the Czechs and Slovaks (London, 1943); F. Dvornik, The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization (Boston, 1956) and The Slavs in European History and Civilization (New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1962); R. Rican, Das Reich Gottes in den Böhmischen Ländern, tr. B. Popelar (Stuttgart, 1957). MSF

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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