CZECHIA - HISTORY OF THE NAME

The name Czechia is absolutely not an ad hoc invention. The first well-known proof of the practical use of the word Czechia comes from the Latin preface to the "Musica" of Jan Blahoslav, Czech writer, poet, hymnographer and music theorist, published in 1569, in which the author speaks grumpily about "our Czechia" (Czechia nostra)

 

Another significant documented records can be found in the file Jiří Barthold Pontanus of Breitenberk "Hymnorum sacrorum, beatissima de Maria Virgine et Patronis S. S. R. Bohaemiae, Libri Tres," Introducing the Virgin Mary and the Czech saints issued in Prague in 1602.

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Another from oldest documents of the occurrence of the word Czechia is in the work "Respublica Boiema" by Czech writer Pavel Stránský, published in the Dutch town Leiden in 1634

A further reference is revealed in the part no. XXXIII ( Act 3) "Aria. Allegro. En duplo sole Czechia" of   melodramatic, oratorial 

musical composition Sub olea pacis et palma virtutis conspicua orbi regia Bohemiae Corona – Melodrama de Sancto Wenceslao (Under the olive tree of peace and palm tree of virtue the Crown of Bohemia splendidly shines the whole world – Melodrama of Saint Wenceslas), written by famous Czech Baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka in 1723.

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Generally, the name occurs very often in the baroque Latin. One of many examples: inscription on the base of the statue of St. Wenceslas in Libochovice from 1761, where the text "Vir Sactus Wenceslaus, Invictus Rex Czechiae Laureavit Leon Gloriosa" 

The traditional name of the country in English was Bohemia, that came from the Latin denomination of the territory, settled before Czech tribes (called by their leader Čech) came into the country in the 6th century AD by Celtic tribes Boii. That name persisted for centuries, because of the former higher hierarchical status of Bohemian part of the country (Kingdom of Bohemia / The Moravian Margraviate / The Principality of Silesia). Also, the Czech people and their language were for centuries called “Bohemian” in English. But, during the rise of national revival in the did the derivative of the Czech endonym (using antiquated Czech) appear in English to distinguish between Czech- and German-speaking ethnicities living in the country. So far, the oldest evidence of the English substantive word "Czech" in substantive (inhabitant, language) and its adjective derivative (national) comes from 1785 (in the newspaper Saunders's News, Dublin, Ireland), the first historical record of using the word Czechia in English comes from 1795 (in the newspaper Hampshire Chronicle, England). Well known is the use of the word Czechia in the book by Henry and Thomas Rose ""A New General Biographical Dictionary Projected and Partly Arranged" from 1841, cited the translation of "Poselkynie starych przjbiehuw Czeskych" as "Messenger of the Old Fates of Czechia".  

Another evidence we can find e.g. in the report about Prussian-Austrian war in Australian newspaper "The Mercury" from 23rd July, 1866, where is written :

In 1871, Josef Václav Sládek, well-known Czech poet, translated Czech national anthem to English using Czechia. The text was published in American press.

The use of the name Czechia in North American press in 20's and 30's of 20th century was common. One for all examples comes from the article "Literary history of the Czechs", published on January 4, 1925 by The New York Times. The name is used there for the Czech state in historical context and is a reference to the Czech lands in its timeless national and geographical continuity (see the press cutting). This fact supports the assertion of Czech specialists to use this name for the Czech state in general, regardless of historical period or momentary political system: "...As Czechia can denominate our country in any historical period and in any social and political conditions...

Thus, the name Czechia has its tradition also in English. Also political representation of anglophone countries expressed the consent with the name in the beginning of the modern Czech state.

Vladimír Hirsch

© 2018 by Czechia Civic Initiative

 

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