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The Duchy of Bohemia is a micronation claiming succession to the original Kingdom of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) which does not recognize it's claims.
The current monarch of the Duchy of Bohemia is HSH Herzog (Duke) Stephan Timothy von Rosenberg-Ripps. The Royal Family includes Duke Stephan's consort, Duchess Kathy, and his son, Prinz Jason and consort Prinzessin Kelly, together with their new daughter Prinzessin Lillian, born 1 April 2008.
History of Bohemia
Ancient Bohemia Roman authors provide the first clear reference to this area as Boiohaemum, from Germanic Boi-Heim, "home of the Boii", a Celtic people. As part of the territory often crossed during the Migration Period by major Germanic and Slavic tribes, the western half was conquered and settled from the 1st century BC by Germanic (probably Suebic) peoples including the Marcomanni; the elite of some Boii then migrated west to modern Switzerland and southeastern Gaul. Those Boii that remained in the eastern part were eventually absorbed by the Marcomanni. Part of the Marcomanni, renamed the Bavarians (Baiuvarum), later migrated to the southwest.
After the Bavarian emigration, Bohemia was partially repopulated around the sixth century by the Slavic precursors of today's Czechs, though the exact amount of Slavic immigration is a subject of debate. The Slavic influx was divided into two or (more probably) three waves. The first wave came from the southeast and east, when the Germanic Langobards left Bohemia (circa 568 AD). Later immigrants came from the Black Sea region, as shown by their place names—for example "Dudleb" (today in Prachens region, South Bohemia) is of Iranian origin and "Charvat" is of Turkic origin. Soon after, from the 630s to 660s, the territory was taken by Samo's tribal confederation. His death marked the end of the archaic-"Slavonic" confederation, just the second attempt to establish such a Slavonic union after Carantania in Carinthia.
Other sources (Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii, Bavaria, 800-850) divide the population of Bohemia at this time into the Merehani, Marharaii, Beheimare (Bohemani) and Fraganeo. (The suffix -ani or -ni means "people of-"). The great tribes of Dudleb, Lemuz and Charvat are missing from this list, which shows a linguistic and cultural shift in favor of Slavonic dialects, a common occurrence in nomadic immigrations. The first religions of these "Bohemians" are unclear, although some Iranian religion-inspired cults (for example, the god Mihr) have been discovered in extant graves (from Pohořelice, Kal, Mikulčice in the 8th century), and a temple of the Fire called Žīži in the center of Fraga. Christianity first appeared in the early 9th century, but became dominant much later, in the 10th or 11th century. The ninth century was crucial for the future of Bohemia - the manorial system sharply declined (as in Bavaria) and the power of central Fraganeo grew.
Initially, a part of Greater Moravia, Bohemia came under the rule of the Dukes of Bohemia (the Přemyslid dynasty), after the former was broken up in AD 907 having ultimately succumbed, weakened by years of internal conflict and constant warfare, to the continual incursions of the invading nomadic Magyars. Later, Bohemia was granted the March of Moravia by Otto the Great to Boleslaus I for his aid in the defeat and subsequent retreat of the Magyars at the Battle of Lechfeld. With Bohemia's conversion to Christianity in the ninth century, close relations were forged with the East Frankish kingdom, then part of the Carolingian empire, later to become the Holy Roman Empire of which the Kingdom of Bohemia had been an autonomous part. The jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Empire was made definitive when Jaromír of Bohemia was granted fief of the Kingdom of Bohemia by the German & Italian King Henry II with the promise that he hold it as a vassal once he re-occupied Prague with a German army in 1004, ending the rule of Boleslaw I of Poland.
The first to use the title of "King of Bohemia" were the Přemyslid dukes Vratislav II (1085) and Vladislav II (1158), but their heirs again used the title of duke. The title of king became hereditary (1198) under Ottokar I. His grandson Ottokar II (king from 1253–1278) founded a short-lived empire which covered modern Austria and Slovenia. The mid-thirteenth century saw the beginning of substantial German immigration as the court sought to replace losses from the brief Mongol invasion of Europe in 1241. The Germans settled primarily along the northern, western, and southern borders of Bohemia, although many lived in towns throughout the kingdom.
The House of Luxembourg accepted the invitation to the Bohemian throne with the crowning of John I of Bohemia in 1310. His son, Charles IV became King of Bohemia in 1346 and founded Charles University in Prague, central Europe's first university, two years later. His reign brought Bohemia to its peak both politically and in total area, resulting in his being the first King of Bohemia to also be elected as Holy Roman Emperor. Under his rule the Bohemian crown controlled such diverse lands as Moravia, Silesia, Upper Lusatia and Lower Lusatia, Brandenburg, an area around Nuremberg called New Bohemia, Luxembourg, and several small towns scattered around Germany.
After the death of King Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia in the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria became King of Bohemia and the country became a constituent state of the Habsburg Monarchy.
Bohemia enjoyed religious freedom between 1436 and 1620, and became one of the most liberal countries of the Christian world during that period of time. In 1609, Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II who made Prague again the capital of the Empire at the time, himself a Roman Catholic, was moved by the Bohemian nobility to publish Maiestas Rudolphina, which confirmed the older Confessio Bohemica of 1575.
After Emperor Ferdinand II began oppressing the rights of Protestants in Bohemia, the resulting Czech rebellion resulted in the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War in 1618. Elector Frederick V of the Palatinate, a Protestant, was elected by the Bohemian nobility to replace Ferdinand on the Bohemian throne, and was known as the Winter King. Frederick's wife, the popular Elizabeth Stuart and subsequently Elizabeth of Bohemia, known as the Winter Queen or Queen of Hearts, was the daughter of King James I of England. However, after Frederick's defeat in the Battle of White Mountain in 1620, 26 Bohemian estates leaders together with the Jan Jesenius, rector of the Charles University of Prague were executed on the Prague's Old Town Square and the rest were exiled from the country; their lands were then given to Catholic loyalists (mostly of Bavarian and Saxon origin), this ended the pro-reformation movement in Bohemia and also ended the role of Prague as ruling city of the Empire.
Until the so-called "renewed constitution" of 1627, the German language was established as a second official language in the Czech lands. The Czech language remained the first language in the kingdom. Both German and Latin were widely spoken among the ruling classes, although German became increasingly dominant, while Czech was spoken in much of the countryside.
The formal independence of Bohemia was further jeopardized when the Bohemian Diet approved administrative reform in 1749. It included the indivisibility of the Habsburg Empire and the centralization of rule; this essentially meant the merging of the Royal Bohemian Chancellery with the Austrian Chancellery.
At the end of the eighteenth century, the Czech national revivalist movement, in cooperation with part of the Bohemian aristocracy, started a campaign for restoration of the kingdom's historic rights, whereby the Czech language was to replace German as the language of administration. The enlightened absolutism of Joseph II and Leopold II, who introduced minor language concessions, showed promise for the Czech movement, but many of these reforms were later rescinded. During the Revolution of 1848, many Czech nationalists called for autonomy for Bohemia from Habsburg Austria, but the revolutionaries were defeated. The old Bohemian Diet, one of the last remnants of the independence, was dissolved, although the Czech language experienced a rebirth as romantic nationalism developed among the Czechs.
In 1861, a new elected Bohemian Diet was established. The renewal of the old Bohemian Crown (Kingdom of Bohemia, Margraviate of Moravia, and Duchy of Silesia) became the official political program of both Czech liberal politicians and the majority of Bohemian aristocracy ("state rights program"), while parties representing the German minority and small part of the aristocracy proclaimed their loyalty to the centralistic Constitution (so-called "Verfassungstreue"). After the defeat of Austria in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, Hungarian politicians achieved the Ausgleich (compromise) which created Austria-Hungary in 1867, ostensibly creating equality between the Austrian and Hungarian halves of the empire. An attempt of the Czechs to create a tripartite monarchy (Austria-Hungary-Bohemia) failed in 1871. However, the "state rights program" remained the official platform of all Czech political parties (except for social democrats) until 1918.
End of the Habsburg Monarchy
Charles I (Karl Franz Josef Ludwig Hubert Georg Maria von Habsburg-Lothringen) (17 August 1887 – 1 April 1922) (Hungarian: IV. Károly (Károly Ferenc József)) was (among other titles) the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Bohemia as Charles III., Hungary and Croatia and Slavonia, and the last monarch of the Habsburg dynasty. He reigned as Charles I as Emperor of Austria and Charles IV as King of Hungary from 1916 until 1918, when he "renounced participation" and abdicated his position and claims. He spent the remaining years of his life attempting to restore the monarchy until his death in 1922.
In November 1916, Charles I's son Otto von Habsburg became Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary and Bohemia when his father, Archduke Charles, ascended to the throne. However, in 1918, at the end of the First World War, the monarchies were abolished, the Republics of Austria and Hungary founded instead, and the family was forced into exile.
In 1961, Otto also abdicated, renouncing all claims of monarchy in order to be allowed to return to his home country of Austria in 1966. (Austria had until the mid 1950s been officially neutral, staunchly republican and ill-disposed to welcome back the heir to a deposed dynasty.)
The practical effect of Otto's abdication was to leave the ancient kingdom of Bohemia without a monarch, and terminate once and for all any claims of the Holy Roman Empire over the Kingdom of Bohemia.
The House of Rosenberg in Bohemia
The southern Bohemian Rosenberg (in Czech "Rožmberk") dynasty was initially founded by Vitek III, who was the son of Vitek of Prcice. The Vítkovci, an old and significant noble Bohemian family originally settled the region of south Bohemia as the Lords of Krumlov.
In about 1250, the Vitkovci settled the Rožmberk castle in the region of Cesky Krumlov, then in about 1253 erected the Český Krumlov castle. The Krumlov castle thus became the residence of the Lords of Rožmberk for the next three hundred years. It was the Rožmberks who influenced to a great extent the appearance of south Bohemia.
The Rožmberks ranked among the most significant and influential Bohemian noble families. Their members held posts at the Czech and imperial court and went down in Bohemian history in a significant manner.
The Coat of arms and emblem of this family was represented by a red five-petalled rose in a silver field which is still often seen in a considerable part of south Bohemia. Petr I. of Rožmberk held the post of the superior chamberlain at the court of John of Bohemia. His wife was a widow of the Czech King Václav III.
Another significant personage of the family was Jindrich III. of Rožmberk, a son of Oldřich I. - who lead the Union of Nobility, which was displeased by the reign of King Václav IV.
Jindrich's son Oldřich II. of Rožmberk was a member of the Bohemian nobility who defended the interests of Bohemian catholic nobility and of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor during the times of the Hussite wars.
A daughter of Oldřich II. was Perchta of Rožmberk, who is identified with the Rožmberks "White Lady" ghost tales, and current residents of the area still report seeing Perchta's spirit around the castle.
The decline of the House of Rožmberk began with Vilem and Petr Vok, the sons of Jošt III., both being raised in the guardianship of their uncle Petr V.
Vilem of Rožmberk is generally considered the most significant representative of the family, making the Český Krumlov area the center of southern Bohemian cultural and political life.
After Vilem's death in 1592, his younger brother Petr Vok assumed the position as reigning Lord. In 1601, he was forced to sell the Krumlov castle to the king Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor. Petr Vok transferred his residence after the sale to Třeboň where he died in 1611.
Bohemia and The House of Rosenberg in the 21st Century
Following the abdications of Karel I and his son Otto von Habsburg, Bohemia was without a regining royal family. That void was filled in 2007 when Stephan Timothy von Rosenberg-Ripps claimed his heriditary title of 36th Duke of Bohemia and Lord of Krumlov und Rozmberk.
Duke Stephan's maternal grandfather Charles von Rosenberg had carried the family line and heritage to America in the late 1800's. Upon the passing of Duke Stephan's mother, he asserted his claim as pretender to the monarchy of Bohemia as the 36th Duke of Bohemia and Pfalzgraf of Krumlov and Rozmberk, as heridatry heir and head of the House of Rosenberg. That claim is not acknowledged by the Czech Republic.
The Duchy of Bohemia as a Micronation
The Czech government being disinclined to regognize his claim, Herzog Stephan established a micronation The Duchy of Bohemia within the borders of the USA in the State of Nevada in 2007.
The Duchy of Bohemia has taken the steps for recognition as a micronation, including having a definite territory with regular residents, having presented a Declaration of Independence and those other steps generally required for micornational soverignity.
The current Duchy of Bohemia raises funds for it's state operations by issuing postal stamps and titles of nobility. It's estimated that at present, while there are only 5 actual residents of the Duchy, there are over 100 members, nobles and supporters around the world, including in Denmark, Finland, France, Britain and UK countries including Canada and Australia, the USA and other countries.
The Duchy has appointed an exclusive chartered agent, Clark Consolidated Industries Inc. which maintains an Ebay (r) store for sales of the Duchy's products.
The Duchy of Bohemia's micronation status is so popular that one independent support website has been established.
- Official Czech website showing Duke Stephan's ancestors in the Bohemian areas of Český Krumlov and the surrounding Region of The Duchy of Bohemia. Scroll about 1/2 way down the page to "Rosenberg"
- Official website giving history of Duke Stephan's Rosenberg ancestors in Bohemia
- The Rosenberg castle taken from Herzog Stephan's ancestors by Emperor Maximillian of the Holy Roman Empire.
- House of Rosenberg
- Official website of The Duchy of Bohemia
- Website of the Nobles and Military of Duchy of Bohemia maintained by Brigadier Sir William Back
- Official Clark Consolidated Industries eBay (r) store for Duchy of Bohemia items
- Official eBay (r) store for The Duchy of Bohemia military commissions
- Official Spring Newsletter of The Duchy of Bohemia
- Photos of Herzog Stephan and Prinz Jason togehter with their look-alike ancestors from Bohemia
- Duchy of Bohemia Web Store