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Anne’s Bohemia

Czech Literature And Society, 1310-1420

Alfred Thomas

Publication Year: 1998

Anne’s Bohemia is the first general book in English to introduce the little-known riches of medieval Bohemian culture. Alfred Thomas considers the development of Czech literature and society from the election of Count John of Luxembourg as king of Bohemia in 1310 to the year 1420, when the papacy declared a Catholic crusade against the Hussite reformers. This period is of particular relevance to the study of medieval England because of the marriage of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, the figure around whom this book is focused.

Anne’s Bohemia provides a social context for the most important works of literature written in the Czech language, from the earliest spiritual songs and prayers to the principal Hussite and anti-Hussite tracts of the fifteenth century. The picture that emerges from Thomas’s close readings of these texts is one of a society undergoing momentous political and religious upheavals in which kings, queens, clergy, and heretics all played crucial roles. During the reign of Charles IV (1346-78), the Bohemian Lands became the administrative and cultural center of the Holy Roman Empire and Prague its splendid capital. Comparing and contrasting the situation in Bohemia with the England of Richard II, Anne’s Bohemia charts the growth and decline of the international court culture and the gradual ascendancy of the Hussite reformers in the fifteenth century. Expert but accessibly written, the book offers an engaging overview of medieval Bohemian culture for specialist and nonspecialist alike.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Series: Medieval Cultures

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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p. vi-vi


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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David Wallace

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pp. xi-xiv

...history combined, as the march unfolded through the city, with claims to identity rooted in a deeper past: for the urban spaces or linked townships of Prague—one of the most beautiful of European sites—were decisively developed in the Middle Ages. The university...

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pp. xv-xvi

...encouraged me, at an early stage of the project, to define my audience while David pointed me in a comparatist direction. The University of Minnesota Press editors Lisa Freeman and Robin A. Moir then...


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pp. xvii-xviii

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A Note on the Use of Czech Proper Names

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pp. xix-xx

...except when I am making a distinction between Czech fictional characters and their German prototypes (e.g., Jetrˇich Berúnsky´ and Dietrich von Bern). Place names, however, retain their Czech, rather than German, forms, since these tend to be more familiar...

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Introduction: Anne’s Bohemia: Toward a Comparative Study of Medieval Czech Literature

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pp. 1-19

...journey in Brussels, where she stayed for a month as the guest of her paternal uncle, Wenceslas, duke of Brabant. On her arrival at Dover Anne was met by her future husband, King Richard II of England. In those days the journey between the coast and London was long...

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1. Prologue: Literature in Old Church Slavonic, Latin, and Czech before 1310

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pp. 20-32

...remnants of the Markomanni tribe moved, along with their Germanic neighbors, southwest toward the Danube and into Bavaria. In the mid– sixth century the Avars from central Asia occupied present-day Hungary and subjugated the Slavic...

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2. A Literature of Their Own: Women Readers and Writers in Medieval Bohemia

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pp. 33-49

...Saint Agnes’s correspondence with Saint Clare of Assisi in the thirteenth century to the noblewomen of the early modern period who wrote letters to their family members. As we shall see, the important phenomenon of Czech women writers in the National...

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3. The War of the Bohemian Maidens: Gender, Ethnicity, and Language in The Dalimil Chronicle

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pp. 50-62

...not poetic, the syntax is almost primitive, the verse is apparently without any metrical pattern, and the rhymes are mostly grammatical. But a closer study of this curious work reveals that it is a remarkably well constructed literary structure whose components...

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4. Alien Bodies: Exclusion, Obscenity, and Social Control in The Ointment Seller

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pp. 63-76

...Bakhtinian carnival. Jarmila Veltrusky has argued persuasively that the sacred and the farcical elements of the play are not mutually antagonistic, as previously thought, but form integral aspects of Christian worship. She concludes her study by claiming that the farce “tends to indicate that its mockery had a very wide scope and...

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5. A Bohemian Imitatio Christi: The Legend of Saint Procopius

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pp. 77-87

...The foundation and consecration of the Slavonic Monastery was part of the emperor’s grand plan to make Bohemia the spiritual and temporal heart of his vast empire. Practiced at the Sázava Monastery until its dissolution at the end of the...

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6. The Radiant Rose: Female Sanctity and Dominican Piety in the Czech Life of Saint Catherine

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pp. 88-109

...somatic of saints, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. It has become de rigeur of late to specify the saint’s gender as a way of explaining the corporeal emphasis of late medieval female sanctity. Caroline Bynum, for example, argues that gender is overlooked in traditional...

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7. Bohemian Knights: Reflections of Social Reality in the Czech Epic and Verse Romances

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pp. 110-124

...its very nature, it is concerned to evoke the Other World rather than this one. To discern the “real” within such genres one must take an oblique, lopsided look at what is being represented. Just as the hagiographic legend presents reality through the filter of religious...

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8. From Courtier to Rebel: Ideological Ambivalence in Smil Flaška’s The New Council

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pp. 125-133

...lost or sold. In the 1390s he was propelled into political affairs and military action against Wenceslas IV (1361–1419). Smil joined a series of baronial leagues aimed to prevent the king’s encroachment on the ancient rights of the nobility. Between 1394 and his...

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9. Writing and the Female Body: The Weaver, The Wycliffite Woman, and The Dispute between Prague and Kutná Hora

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pp. 134-148

...consists of two disputants, the Weaver—whose name is disclosed through cryptogram as the lover Ludvík—and Misfortune. As the plaintiff, Ludvík instigates the dispute by complaining to the defendant, Misfortune...

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10. Epilogue: Continuity and Change in Fifteenth-Century Czech Literature

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pp. 149-152

...and several of his followers. Many of the more moderate reformers were put to the sword, and power passed into the hands of the religious extremists. At the same time, other...


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pp. 153-170


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pp. 171-184


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pp. 185-193

Other Works in the Series

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p. 194-194

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About the Authors

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p. 195-195

...David Wallace is Judith Rodin Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania, and a coeditor of the University of Minnesota Press Medieval Cultures series. His work seeks to situate English writing within...

E-ISBN-13: 9780816688678
E-ISBN-10: 0816688672
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816630547

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 1998

Edition: First edition
Series Title: Medieval Cultures

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Czech literature -- To 1500 -- History and criticism.
  • Czech literature -- Social aspects.
  • Literature and society -- Czech Republic -- History.
  • Bohemia (Czech Republic) -- Social conditions.
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