Encyclopedia > Region Český Krumlov > History of the Český Krumlov Region

Ecclesiastical History in the Český Krumlov Region

Zlatá Koruna school, classroom aid from 18th century, picture of heaven, earth, and hell Evolution of Church structure
The region of Český Krumlov lies within the boundary of the Doudleby Deanery which during the Middle Ages belonged to the south-west part of the České Budějovice county as it stands today, and was bordered by the parishes of Boršov, Borovany, Nové Hrady. On the west the border ran close to Prachatice and near the Austrian border it covered a large part of Šumava.

In the archdiocese of Praha, there were 53 deacons and Doudleby district with its 47 rectories was a middle size parish during the 15th century. The function of the deacon evolved during the 13th century, from the need of the parish clergy, who wanted to contact the Bishop or his representative, the archdeacon. The deacon was originally a speaker and a representative of the priests, but later on became more of an executor of instructions from his elders. The archdeconate which were formed within the archdiocese of Praha, after the middle of the 12th century, by the self-help act during the evolution of the church structure, which was totally dependant on the bishop /from 1344 on the archbishop/. The Doudleby deanery with six other archdeconates belonged under the archdiocese of Bechyně.

Around the 14th century, the residence of the Doudleby deanery transferred to the rectory in Velešín, and after a short time to Český Krumlov where it remained. The centre of the Bechyně archdeacon also moved south in 1443, where a priest from Český Krumlov was elected for this function at the same time as the Doudleby deacon Mikuláš ze Smržic. This position did not carry such importance in the middle of the 15th century, as it was overshadowed by officials from the archbishop's office. In 15th and 16th centuries the archdeconate ceased to exist in the majority of cases, and remained only in name, so the importance of deacon's grew.

Church of St. Vitus in Český Krumlov, overview The system of deacons also became old fashioned, so around 1630 the archbishop Arnošt Harrach replaced the deacons with 23 vicarages. The vicar did not become the representative of the clergy as was the deacon's case, but representatives of the archbishop in a given region and carried his instructions and orders. The network of vicarages who's borders were not quite clear, gradually became known. The vicarage of Český Krumlov took nearly the whole of the district of the Doudleby deanery and during the 17th and 18th centuries had from 40 - 50 parsonages (with an exceptional reduction after the Thirty Years' War to 29). In the year 1700 it was divided into Český Krumlov (21 parsonages) and Kaplice (23 parsonages). In 1722 the Kaplice vicarage was abolished and 17 benefices returned to Český Krumlov. The remaining fell under the region of České Budějovice. In 1730 the parsonage of Velešín was replaced by a the residence of the new vicarage. This state of affairs remained intact until 1789, when the diocese of České Budějovice was established. This was divided into five arch-presbyteries, which were supposed to form a link between the vicarage and the diocese, in the same fashion as before when the archdeacon stood between the deacons and (arch)bishopric. The role of the arch presbyteries was purely theoretical. The České Budějovice arch presbytery consisted of 8 newly selected vicarages. Within the framework of this new organisation the old Český Krumlov vicarage district was divided into the vicarages of Benešov, Český Krumlov, Kaplice, Nové Hrady, and Německý Rychnov (today Rychnůvek). In 1857 an order from the bishop of České Budějovice, was given to Jan Valerián Jirsík, to form new diocese borders and to round up and divide other vicarages. Instead of the original five arch presbytery districts, there were now eight, and each always contained four vicarages. The new arch presbytery of Český Krumlov was joined by the newly formed vicarage of the district, Vyšší Brod, Kaplice, Český Krumlov and Horní Planá, with 10 - 13 benefices, which were the core of the ecclesiastical structure to the end of the 18th century. The body of the Český Krumlov Church remained in this form for one century. At present the district of the vicarage corresponds with the borders of local districts. In the vicarage of Český Krumlov we can find 46 parsonages, ten of them remain unoccupied from the second world war due to the evacuation of the German population and the establishment of border regions during 1948 - 1989, and the military zone form 1949 - 1950.

Český Krumlov - St. Wolfgang, beginning of the 16th century, larger-than-life sculpture, collection of Regional Museum of National History in Český Krumlov Religious evolution
The beginning of Christianity in South Bohemia has not been documented and therefore nothing solid is known. There is mention of a mission from Regensburg, before the establishment of Praha's bishopric (in 973) that would later belong to the blessed churches of St. Wolfgang, this cult later relates to Kájov in the Český Krumlov region. The churches of Boletice, Černice, Doudleby, Přídolí, Horní Stropnice originate from the 12th and 13th centuries. There is a legend, which belongs to the church in Černice, that the brother of St. Vojtěch, Radim took his first mass here.

In the 13th century the county became more populated and the number of churches grew, mainly in the southern part of Bohemia. The aristocrats, merchants and monasteries were the main founders of new churches . The Witigonen family were in competition with the king. The most successful branch of the family were the Rosenbergs. The political and economical situation was closely linked with Christianity and the establishment of churches and monasteries.

The first monks, who settled in Český Krumlov in 1258 were the Cistercians, they were invited by Wok von Rosenberg from Wilheringe to the Vyšší Brod Monastery. This monastery has for 350 years a crypt to the Rosenberg family, it represents the most important Czech family mausoleum. With the help of the founder, the Cistercian order flourished here, and during the 13th and 14th centuries large estates developed which contained more than 70 villages, 13 farmsteads and one small town. The Czech king Přemysl Otakar II, thought about setting up a

Černice, church originating in the 13th century monastery in Zlatá Koruna in 1259. The realisation of this project took place in the 1263. The home of the monastery was chosen by Austrian Heilingenkreuz, by which he wanted to strengthen the relationship between the Czech and what was then Babenberské countries. The foundation of the largest church by Přemysl was supposed to give him support against the expansion of the Witigonen family, which had a direct reply from the king by donating extensive fields to the monastery. Together with other foundations (namely Bavor ze Strakonic) they represented the largest ecclesiastical community before the Hussite wars. The domain consisted of 150 villages, 100 of them were established by monks, 20 farmsteads and the small town of Netolice.

The Benedictines were represented in Český Krumlov region only in the village of Zátoň, this domain was donated to the Benedictines by duke Břetislav I, in Ostrava near Praha around the 11th century, and was used by the monks to set up their provost before 1310. This became extinct in 1491, when it became a part of a monastery of Eremites in Přední Výtoň.

..In 1350 the Rosenbergs set up a convent of Franciscan and Clare nuns in the town of Český Krumlov (Minorite Monastery in Český Krumlov), and in 1384 they donated a chapel and six rooms to the Eremites in Přední Výtoň. In 1491 the Eremites were allowed to follow the order of St. Fracis from Paula (Paulines), but very soon they stepped back from the strict rules and regulations of the Pauline order. The oldest Pauline monastery is Kuklov near Brloh (Castle and Monastery of Kuklov) and that is thanks to the Rosenberg family which allowed the repenting hermits to settle here in 1495.

The rectories were overseen, in the region of Český Krumlov by the Rosenbergs together with Cistercians from the monasteries in Vyšší Brod and Zlatá Koruna during the middle of the century. The most common way to obtain patronage rule, was to form a foundation which represented all the requirements needed for the successful management of the church or the benefice, including ensuring the supply of nourishment to the benefice. The patronage contained different rights of presentation, "that is the right to recommend a person to the office", which was then approved by the clerical hierarchy. Further more the patron had restricted rights with regards to the church property. He was never allowed to intervene in wholly spiritual matters, but participated in visitations, if it was allowed within the regulations of the foundation. These type of situations caused the greatest confrontations. Certain privileges became quite frequent, for example a special privileged place during public processions, a special seat on a bench in church or the right to have an emblem placed in church. The patron had no obligations, except when he took it upon himself as the founder. Gradually the responsibilities to protect their own church, and carry all public impositions, became one of the functions of the patron. The exact specification of the rights and responsibilities of the patron differed. A different legal status was among the parsonages which were incorporated to some religious institutions. It concerned the monastery of Zlatá Koruna, to which the Pope incorporated five parsonages in the 1400, and the friars had permission to carry out their functions. The parish priest of these benefices was the abbot of the monastery who looked after them thorough the monks concerned. The approval of church hierarchy (the archbishop) was not needed for their election. Cistercians as members of a contemplative order, should not live away from their monastery, and therefore should not carry out any religious activities in the parsonage. The maintenance and management of the parsonage brought the monastery great dividends, because a number of monks were provided for in the way of food, and into the purse of the monastery came the income from the incorporated parsonages and the tithes.

Monastery Kuklov, from the inside

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Towards the end of 14th and 15th centuries the patrons of the Doudleby diocese parsonages came from a strong Catholic origin, the members of the Valdenská sect, they spent most of their time in the dominion of the nobility from Jindřichův Hradec, and the nearest town they were seen in, was České Budějovice, and possibly also in the region of Český Krumlov.

The Krumlov deanery was not directly a Hussite region, but the spirit of Hussite reforms touched this area. In the south-west region of Žumberk, Tomáš Štítný ze Štítného, a lay preacher, performed services here. In his preaching he followed closely the strict morale of the reformer Jan Milíč z Kroměříže. Tomáš Štítný was able to pass over to the simple folks a complicated theological problems in their own language (Czech). His work which was carried out in an unforced spirit, brought him a great response in the environment of the Czech reforms. The provost of the church of All Saints in the Praha castle, Peter II von Rosenberg, also belonged to the reformers, he was a supporter of the religious rules, a mystical writer and a reformer of clergy. His nephew, Heinrich II, was in a close contact with the archbishop of Praha, Jan z Jenštejna, a believer in chaste life, who's mystical Latin poetry, one can visualise a yearning in vain for the fulfilment of ideals and pessimism.

Friedrich Bernard Werner, vista of Zlatá Koruna monastery, mid 18th century

Ulrich II. von Rosenberg also belonged to the Hussite movement in the beginning . He was greatly influenced by his lieutenant Čeněk z Vartemberka. In 1417 Ulrich ordered all his priests on the Rosenberg estates, to present the sacrament (the Holy Communion) in the Utraquist manner or to leave. Some priests were chased away from their parishes. The military intervention of the radical non-compromising Utraquists, brought Ulrich and his lieutenant back to the Catholic religion in 1420. The same year, several individuals left the Český Krumlov region for the newly established Hussite town of Tábor and five other small towns on the Rosenberg estate. In 1420 the Hussites won over the monastery of Zlatá Koruna, its farms were gradually taken over by Ulrich II von Rosenberg. The monastery of Vyšší Brod was neglected by the military's interest. The monastery was not badly damaged after the assault in 1422, even the properties did not suffer great damage. The Hussites unsuccessfully attacked Český Krumlov. The end of their campaign in the region of South Bohemia ended with the death of their leader Jan Žižka from Trocnov in 1424.

The Utraquistic belief did not spread in the region of Český Krumlov. This region together with other southern regions belonged to a strongly oriented Catholic community in Bohemia during the 15th century. Two new monasteries were established. Český Krumlov became the centre of the Catholic belief for the Czech population. In 1455 the establishment of a provost of Třeboň, Augustine canonry in Borovany and in 1495 the Rosenbergs gave permission to the Pauline order, to build a monastery in Kuklov near Brloh. In general it was a period of diminished interest in religious life, which was also reflected in the monasteries. It appeared so for a long time in the monastery of Zlatá Koruna which for a long time was a flourishing centre of Christianity, but lost its important position during the Hussite wars, when it was badly damaged by the Hussites and robed of its land by the Rosenbergs. The significantly weakened monastery, was not able to manage its incorporated parsonages, and the life within the walls during the 16th century was definitely not able to be called spiritual. Therefore Wilhelm von Rosenberg, wanted to use his patronage right over the monastery of Zlatá Koruna, which was transferred to his family by the order of the King in 1493, and to close the monastery. The monastery managed to defend its right for existence. The closure of the monastery in Borovany was due to the plague epidemic in 1557, which was survived by a single canon. After a period of time, the monastery farms became part of the security, and later (in the year 1600) the inheritance of the Rosenbergs. Shortly after the middle of the 16th century the community of the Pauline order in Kuklov also became extinct and so did the Eremites in Přední Výtoň.

The weakened Catholic church and poor life of the friars and the priests was made easier in the first half of the 16th century by the penetration of Lutheranism into the strongly Catholic region of Český Krumlov and its surrounds. Many Lutherans were not only in Český Krumlov, but also within the grounds of the monastery of Vyšší Brod. Catholics, who were strengthened by the trident council, started after the middle of the 16th century, to strongly expand their activities. The empty position of the archbishop in Praha, since the Hussite wars, was occupied by Antonín Brus z Mohelnice, in 1561, who organised a convention of clergy depending on their deanery, to tighten their morals and discipline. The helper to the successors in this direction was the priest from Český Krumlov, Jiří Cetl Netolický, who was at the same time a Doudleby deacon and archdeacon of Bechyně.

Church in Boletice, historical photo

Even more important role in the reintroduction of Catholicism was played by the Jesuits, who were called to Český Krumlov in 1584 by Wilhelm von Rosenberg, and during 1591 he handed them the patronage of the Český Krumlov parish. The Jesuit missionaries invited even other nobility, including Harz, the Abbot from the monastery of Vyšší Brod. Harz carried out the reintroduction of the Catholic belief on the monastery estates in 1588, but not without force. The demise of Wilhelm von Rosenberg was a big loss to the Catholic church in 1592, which was felt even more, by the succession of his brother Peter Wok, who pronounced himself to the Unity of Brethren. During the uprising of the Estates in 1618 the Jesuits from Český Krumlov were also chased out, they returned from the asylum in Austria to Krumlov shortly after the battle of Bílá Hora in 1620. During the period 1621 - 1628 the expulsion of non Catholic priests followed, and the Catholic church was declared as the only permissible religion in Bohemia in the period 1627 - 1628. The reintroduction of the Catholic church to South Bohemia, was not missed by the burning of "heretical books" in Český Krumlov, and seemed to come to an end in 1630.

Vyšší Brod, Cisterian monastery with reflection of water-level

The spiritual rebirth in South Bohemia was mainly the work of the friars, because there were still very few profane clergy towards the end of the 17th century. Therefore monasteries occupied not only their own incorporated rectories, but also patronage rectories, even though it was in contrast to the trident council. Already in the 16th century the monks from Vyšší Brod managed one of their patronage rectories, and gradually they even occupied the other fourteen.

Horní no. 154, courtyard of Hotel Růže, coat-of-arms of the Jesuit order family  With the increase of profane priests and on the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, the position of the rectors on the patronage rectories worsened, and the monasteries had to fight for their position. A long lasting conflict was led by the monastery of Vyšší Brod, which it won during the year 1781 and succeeded in proving the incorporation of all 15 benefices. The archbishop's consistory would rather see profane priests everywhere, and that also includes rectories that were incorporated to the monasteries. There was a certain amount of displeasure, because the friars in their personal situations were taken away from their rights within the incorporated rectories (against the rectories which fell under patronage), and did not conform to them even in their spiritual management (with the exemption of monasteries subordinate to the Pope). The vicars of Český Krumlov jealously guarded the rights of their hierarchy and visited rectories incorporated to the monastery of Český Krumlov, which were again managed by them from the middle of the 17th century up to 1785. There were other conflicts between the consistory and other profane patrons, in the region of Český Krumlov mainly with the Eggenbergs, who during the 17th and at the beginning of the 18th century used the patronage legislation to manipulate their 8 - 9 rectories, and sometimes even the Buquoy family, under whose patronage belonged 11 rectories in the 1700. The centre of discord was the effort of the aristocratic patrons to get an equal position of their representatives and the church officials for choosing the rectors. The patrons required a dignified welcome for their representatives by the new rector, which was signalled by ringing of the church bells, a possibility to admonish the parishioners as well as the new rector, and front seats during the banquet. Further more they showed interest in influencing the spiritual activity in individual benefices, an authority over the church funds and free management of the church properties, of which exact status for example the Eggenbergs did not want to inform the right person - the rector.

Bohuslav Balbín, portrait From the second half of the 17th century, the church began to stabilise together with the social and economical situation. The renovation of the provost buildings in Borovany was completed in 1651, this was already renovated on the order of Ferdinand III in 1630, but the proper election of a provost only came in the year of 1662. Also both Cistercian monasteries started to flourish, which continued even during the 18th century. In the monastery of Vyšší Brod an unusually high number of monks - 58 was reached, and the monastery of Zlatá Koruna was an exemplary monastery within the whole Bohemian-Moravian Cistercian province under Abbot Matěj Aleš Ungar. These originally concentrated monasteries answered to the change in climate by opening to the world in the already mentioned manner and by the influence of the profane administration. Therefore the monks were on the road more often, performing mass even in other rectories as guests, they took care of a busy pilgrimage place and the Kájov Pilgrimage Church, they are present in the ordination of the vicar in Český Krumlov and so on. The abbots from Zlatá Koruna were often invited to the Franciscan convent school in Český Krumlov, so that they could participate during discussions on different theological and philosophical problems as representatives or opponents which was based from the examples in the Praha university. The Franciscan and Clare monastery was flourishing at the time, which was also shown by its popularity within the town of Český Krumlov and its nobility. The number of religious establishments was increased in 1677 by the count Ferdinand Buquoy, by the establishment of the Servites' monastery in Nové Hrady. The reason for the building was to give thanks for recovering from a bad injury, which he obtained during the battle with Turks in 1664.

The background of the Christian life around the rectory churches in 17th and 18th centuries, has had a little research, and certain pilgrimage places stand out, such as Kájov, Římov, the Svatý Kámen Pilgrimage Church, Dobrá Voda and Svatá Anna (today Hojná Voda) near Nové Hrady. The Catholic church set deep roots within South Bohemia, so that during the 18th century a great number people belonged to it, and only a few utilised the Letter of Tolerance from 1781.

The full religious life ended badly towards the end of the 18th century with the rationalisation of enlightenment reforms by the emperor Josef II. Together with the excessive Baroque religion and the formal pretentiousness of the church, the bridges and elements of Christianity and social life were being demolished. Apart from many chapels, some pilgrimage places were closed and in the name of intensive work, fairs and pilgrimages, which were connected by many traditions to the general life of the population were forbidden. During the dispersion of the church funds, the enlightened overlooked the usefulness of the church in lending money (which were obtained from bequests to the church) at a low interest of only 5 -7%, which actually fulfilled the function of savings bank or loan company. It would be a long time later in the 19th century, when the network of loan companies was established, which would lend money at a sensible rate, which before was easily accessible from the rectory churches.

Church of Pilgrimage in Svatý Kámen, overview

The Franciscan monastery and Clare nuns from Český Krumlov fell under the reforms of emperor Josef II in 1782, the male institution was later on reopened on a smaller scale. The convent of Clare nuns was bought by duke Johann zu Schwarzenberg , and made it a home for the widows and orphans of his employees. In 1864 the educational nuns of de Notre Dame from Horaždovice came here and set up here a girls' school. At present the building has been reconstructed for flats.

It was only by a whisker that the monastery of Vyšší Brod missed its closure . The monastery in Zlatá Koruna did not survive, and after its closure in 1785 was sold like in the previous case to duke Johann zu Schwarzenberg, and after two unsuccessful attempts by some businessmen for a profitable business, and after the plans to rebuild and transform the monastery into a castle which did not materialise (in 1814), the monastery was used until 1908 only for farming purposes. Today it is a historical monument for the public's use.

The prelate monastery of Augustines in Borovany was rebuilt into a castle of the Schwarzenbergs. The monks could either go into church service or to some other monastery which remained opened, or to retire. The properties and finances from the closed monasteries and churches were used to establish new churches in more remote areas, which were difficult to get to within the region of Český Krumlov mainly in the Šumava region. This action was one of the few positive actions of the reforms of Joseph II.

Vyšší Brod monastery, overview

The function of the Tovaryšstvo Ježíšovo (Jesuit order) was totally finished and in 1773 the Jesuit college in Český Krumlov was closed (Horní No. 154) and later adapted as army barracks and towards the 19th century was altered for the "U růže" hotel ("At a Rose's"). In 1777 the Jesuit secondary school (Gymnasium) in the town was also closed and changed into the main secondary school. Due to the closure of convent schools, which were replaced with standard education units, there was a shortage of priests around 1800. The primary education in the region was left in the hands of the church, and was developed mainly by the priest Ferdinand Kindermann (who died in 1802) a student of "the father of Catholic enlightenment in Bohemia" K. H. Seibt. He was a tutor to the count Ferdinand Longueval - Buquoy, who was the founder of organised care for the poor in the parish villages.

The reaction to the reforms of Josef II was emotional devotion "mysticism" which was an answer to the romantic feeling of the period. The return to the tradition of the Tridentine Council was noted at the time across all Europe, but Bohemia had strong roots in the Catholic church. The point of contact for the Catholic church in Bohemia were the monastery of Vyšší Brod and the ministerial seminary in České Budějovice. During this time the importance of one of the Bohemian bishops in the 19th century grew, he was Jan Valerián Jirsík (bishop of České Budějovice in 1851 - 1883).

Zlatá Koruna school, classroom aid from 18th century, picture of previous appearance of the Zlatá Koruna Monastery The small amount of industry and the absence of a working class meant that anti-Church socialistic agitation did not find ground within the South Bohemia region. The Church had a very strong position here, 90% of the population were Catholics. The Church influence was not spread only by preaching in churches, but also for example the distribution of Catholic newspapers. In 1900 the German newspaper "Ladbote" was established for the region of South Bohemia. After 1908 it was printed in Český Krumlov and during the first world war, it was published twice a week, this became the first German Catholic daily in the Czech country. The support point of the German Catholic activities was the monastery in Vyšší Brod, which provided local missions and organised clubs (Father Winter, 1908). After the first world war the local monks set up a German diocesan newspaper "Kirche und Heimat" (1922). The educational work of the Cistercians from the monastery in Vyšší Brod is also interesting, on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries they taught at the secondary school in Český Krumlov and at the bishop's seminary in České Budějovice. It is necessary to mention the other activities of Father Valentin Schmidt and the reintroduction of the Passion Plays in Hořice na Šumavě (Passion plays in Hořice na Šumavě - History). The Czechs lacked their own centre, therefore single priests had to make their own way.

After the set up of Czechoslovakia in 1920, a new Czechoslovakian church emerged, but not many Catholics from South Bohemia turned to it. Unpleasant interference in the development of the church was the occupation of the Sudeten by the Germans in 1938 - 1945, when the German part of South Bohemia, under which the today's region of Český Krumlov belonged, was attached to the diocese of Linz. In 1941 the Gestapo closed the monastery of

Anguish of God in the countryside between Světlík and Malšín Vyšší Brod, where 60 monks and 9 lay brothers lived at the time. After the war the monastery returned, but the German monks were straightaway pushed out which was nearly the majority of them. The handful of the Cistercian monks that remained was later dispersed by the communists in 1950, and at the same time they closed the Franciscan convent in Český Krumlov.

The monastic life was resurrected in Vyšší Brod during 1990, and at present is one of two "living" male monasteries of the Cistercian order in the Czech Republic (the other is the monastery in Osek, which is governed by the monastery in Vyšší Brod. The revival of the Franciscan convent in Český Krumlov is above the power of an order with very few members, and also the state of the buildings at present time do not support this action. The evacuation of the German population from the Czech country and setting up of the closed border region resulted in the damage and vandalism to the empty churches in Šumava, of which 10 were totally demolished. At present it is thought that there is a great shortage of spiritual administration and Christian church works among the population and it is therefore not surprising that one priest may look after many parishes. For this reason even in the Český Krumlov vicarage, a number of Catholic priests from Poland help out.

Further information:
Ecclesiastical History in Český Krumlov
Ecclesiastical Objects in the Český Krumlov Region
History of Jews in Rožmberk nad Vltavou
Monasterial pharmacy in Vyšší Brod
The Church of St. Nicholas in Rožmberk nad Vltavou
The Oldest manuscripts in Vyšší Brod cloister
The Pavláns and pilgrimages in Přední Výtoň
Foundation of the monastery in Vyšší Brod
Záviš's cross in monastery in Vyšší Brod
Life in monastery in Vyšší Brod
Two churches in Loučovice

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