Článek v ČEŠTINĚ dole (Klikněte na “Read the rest …”)
Today you can read a great story by Jan Drocár, published today in Pozitivni Noviny. The editors-in-chief kindly asked us to provide English translation of this story to give more people the opportunity to read about the history of the Czech Republic and its significant “players” throughout the history of the country. The article was created in honor of the new U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the Czech Republic.
In the article below, you will learn about famous royal ancestors of today’s eminent and important members of our society. Did you know that the first American President, George Washington, and the British Queen Elizabeth II were descendants of the Přemyslid Dynasty? Surprisingly, even Tom Cruise is related to Czech royal families. Find out more in the article below or read its Czech version HERE.
Dnes si můžete přečíst skvělý příběh od Jana Drocára, který byl dnes zveřejněn v Pozitivních Novinách. Šéfredaktoři tohoto magazínu nás laskavě nás požádali, abychom přeložili tuto českou verzi do angličtiny a dali tak více lidem příležitost přečíst si o historii České republiky a jejich významných „hráčích” v historii této země. Článek vznikl na počest návštěvy České republiky novým americkým prezidentem Barackem Obamou.
V článku níže se dozvíte, o slavných královských předcích dnešních významných a důležitých členů naší společnosti. Věděli jste, že první americký prezident George Washington a Britská královna Elizabeth II. byli potomci Přemyslovců? Kupodivu i Tom Cruise má příbuzenský vztah k českým královským rodinám. Přečtěte si více v článku níže, nebo čtěte její českou verzi ZDE.
The Bible states that in the beginning there was a word ….
The Bible is the most read book in the world. All American presidents swore on it, as also Barack Obama did. Now, he arrives in our country. He arrives to the country, whose history also started with a word; even whole sentences -two sentences actually. The first sentence was about the land of promise and the other one was about the city, whose glory will touch the stars.
Forefather Čech pointed his hand up at a high mountain ahead of him and his comrades that rose from a plane of the horizon. He stated that they would rest right by its foot. Then they walked the mountain that was called Říp. The next morning Čech hiked up the mountain, and later he preached to others about what he had seen there.
“We won’t yearn anymore, because we found the region where we will restrain. Behold, this is the country you seek. I have often talked about it and promised you that I will lead you here. This is the promised land, full of wildlife and birds, and flowing with honey. You will have plenty of everything here, as well as a good defense against enemies. Behold the land of your desire! It does not have a name. Think up a suitable name that you will appoint for this land.”
People shouted unanimously, that the country shall be appointed after forefather Čech. Čech was delighted by the decision of his people; he knelt on his knees, kissed the soil and blessed it.
The mythical Czech princess Libuše uttered a famous prophecy about the location of the city, which is today embellished by the Prague Castle:
“There is a place in the woods that is divided in ravines, and you will get there in one single day. On the south side of it is a high mountain that is declining to a great river. When you get there, you will find a man that is making a threshold (in the Czech language it is called “prah”) from wood. The name this place shall be “Prague” (an English term for “Praha”). Royalty and people strong as lions bow at the door, in order to avoid bumping their heads. The castle that will be built there will be equally powerful. It will be worshiped by kings, and it will be the first and largest castle in our country. People from other castles will look up to it, because it will be a mansion of kings. The city surrounding the castle will become the pride of our nation. I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars. “
When Libuše sent people after Přemysl Oráč, whom lived in the village named Stadice, she had said: “
The future chief plows with two oxen. If you wish, take a horse, a wreath, a coat, and a plaid, go meet this man and deliver him the message from me and the people, and bring back here your own prince and my husband. His name is Přemysl and his descendants will rule this country forever and ever … “
The prediction of Princess Libuše is fulfilling. How did it actually start?
The first, memorable words were uttered. Then, prophetic words attracted people to this country that gave us the capital city and ensured long centuries of leadership.
If we follow the pedigree of the Přemyslid dynasty and its descendants on the Czech throne, we see long centuries of royal leadership that lasted until recently. The Czech Republic had already celebrated its 90th birthday in 2008, but by comparison with the duration of the Czech statehood, we can say that it “just” celebrated its 90th birthday. What appears to be old from the perspective of humans is a very short episode in terms of history. We, however, are very interested in creating a picture of history and are working together on it. We create it as our fathers and grandfathers before us. To make it easy to read, we are drawing the pedigrees; not only for us but especially for our children.
We should bear in our mind that everything that we are currently doing to “build our nation,” should be followed by a simple and centuries-proven aristocratic philosophy:
“Everything we do or don’t do, we shall justify in the eyes of our ancestors, and fulfill to the expectations of our descendants.”
A Czech writer, playwright and journalist Ferdinard Peroutka certainly had this old truth on his mind, when he was writing his core, albeit incomplete, work called Building of the State. He was regarded as the most significant representative of the democratic journalism of the first republic.
He left Czechoslovakia in 1948 with the advent of communist rule. Then, in exile, he founded and for many years led the Czech department of Free Europe radio station that was established by the U.S. Congress for the dissemination of the objective information about totalitarian regimes. Some of Peroutka’s books were published in exile as well. Amongst them was his democratic manifesto issued in 1959 in New York:
“History always comprised light and darkness, possibility and necessity, reasonableness and error. Possibilities always had to be developed through conscious effort, results always had to be guarded, errors always had to be rectified. Today we unite to repeat and to revive the old human choice between freedom and unfreedom. Else history would relapse to the level of a pile of incidents and accidents. Then even our ancestors would lose their honor and greatness at our hands.”
Ferdinand Peroutka, did not engage in politics very often; however, the literature critic and historian Václav Černý still labeled him as the most capable and influential political spokesman of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Before Masaryk was elected, in his absence, as the head of the state on November 14th in 1918, he witnessed a triumphal acceptance by his countrymen in Chicago and New York. During the subsequent tour of the entire U.S., Masaryk “lobbied” for Czechoslovak independence at a number of meetings that were also attended by several organizations and many political representatives amounting to more than one million countrymen. On Wednesday, the 19th of June 1918, he attended the first meeting with the 28th U.S. President Thomas Woodrow Wilson (there were total of four meetings) that resulted in his full support for the creation of a new independent Czechoslovakia.
When Masaryk visited Chicago in 1918, he was likely joined by Antonín Čermák, a native of Kladno, Central Bohemia, also known as Anton Cermak, or Tony Cermak. He was an important politician and Masaryk sought out his support during the First World War. Cermak was elected in 1902 for the Democratic Party in the State of Illinois and to the House of Representatives, and in 1909 he was a member of the Chicago City Council, where he became the mayor in 1931. Cermak, like other immigrants, was proud of his origin and spoke fluent Czech. In 1932, he visited Czechoslovakia and also T. G. Masaryk in Topolčianky. He was assassinated in 1933 during the time he was accompanying the new U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on his trip to Miami, Florida.
President Barack Obama is 88 years younger than Antonin Cermak would have been today and was elected to the representative council of the state of Illinois for the same Democratic Party; only, 94 years later.
… Ferdinand Peroutka died in New York in 1978, and the main speaker at his funeral was an important representative of the Czech interwar artistic front, actor Jiří Voskovec that was living in exile in the U.S.A. He described Peroutka as “a man, who for more than half-a-century stood-by his own choosing alone-on guard to defend freedom and truth. And he did it systematically, patiently, unreservedly with a devotion self-understood to him.” Both Ferdinand Peroutka and Jiří Voskovec († 1981, California) did not live to experience the collapse of communism in their homeland in 1989, but people at home heard about their deaths in the free world, thanks to the Free Europe broadcasts. Václav Černý, co-founder of dissident movement Charter 77, did not live to see this either. He, however, died in the suppressed Prague. When he died, the official domestic media did not announce it at all … the regime even feared mentioning a mere report about his death.
The most basic Czech pedigree is logically the Přemyslid dynasty with their descendants on the Czech throne. When a Czech cameraman, Miroslav Ondříček, first saw the pedigree, he thought of many things, such as historical and current connections to this pedigree.
The present connections are: the Czech leadership of the European Union, the most powerful man on the planet, as it now stands the U.S. president, and Prague as the current “capital city” of Europe.
The historic stories are somewhat more extensive. They resemble stories of Přemysl II. Otakar, the powerful “iron and golden” king from the center of Europe. During his rule, the Czech Kingdom made its first big boom.
Another peak time in history was when Charles IV, the great-grandson of Přemysl on the distaff side, ruled. The Czechs have chosen him as the most important king and are rightfully proud of him. The unprecedented development ofbuilding infrastructure in the beloved Prague, which this Czech king made as the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire, still receives day-to-day admirations from tourists.
Charles IV, also a descendant of Charles I (Charles the Great) on the distaff side in the 20th generation, referenced himself as the “founder of Europe.” During the impressive building of the New Town of Prague in 1350, Charles IV decided to lay the cornerstone of the church that was consecrated to Charles the Great.
The mission of Charles’ successor on the Czech throne, George of Poděbrady, was an example of efforts to unite European countries in the 15th century. The mission was created mainly for defensive reasons. The Czech expedition of forty lords and knights, led by the king’s brother-in-law Lev of Rožmitál and Blatná, continued this vision all the way to a place that was then known as the “end of the world.”
The mission departed the Czech lands on Sunday, the 25th of November 1465, and continued through Germany to the Rhine, through Mechelen to Brussels, and then they sailed to England. They also went to France through La Manche, to the Iberian Peninsula through Tours and Bordeaux, visited Rome and Jerusalem, and then they continued to Santiago de Compostela, the third largest Christian place, and ended up in Cape Finisterre; known to be “the end of the world.” Their journey back included cities, such as Portugal, Barcelona, Southern France, powerful Northern Italian cities, Austrian cities and finally the Return journey led them through Portugal, Barcelona, Southern France, Northern powerful city-states in the Austrian country and then finally their home country.
The “peaceful and cognitional” expedition took place only for a moment – but still – before the discovery of America. If Christopher Columbus would have discovered the new continent sooner, the Czech messengers from “the end of the world” would have traveled over the ocean to “the new world “.
This intercontinental meeting of “the old and the new world” is happening right now – but in the opposite direction – and we, the descendants, are experiencing it as organizers, participants and witnesses of this “unique and historic moment.”
The first dark skinned American president comes to Prague to be part of discussions with the top representatives of the European countries. All this is happening right during the Czech Presidency of the EU!
In ancient times, Libuše forecasted: “I see a great city whose glory will touch the stars.” Miroslav Ondříček thinks about the fulfillment of this prophecy that is now happening here, which brings an inspiration to capture the story of the historic meeting of the Czech and American worlds. Where else would you find it than here, in Pozitivní noviny magazine? It is a very positive story.
If Miroslav Ondříček would ever want to capture his life storyof a person and cameraman, he would probably name it “We are just passing through.”
This is his view of life. This is a very true statement, and fortunately we do not need to do anything about it, because this is how it is. Since we are only passing by, we should live these moments fully. It is a human ambition – with a few exceptions – to leave behind the most beautiful and certainly a positive track and have memories on all great things we live through. Especially on all occasional “solemn moments.”
We are the just participants of these events; not because we deserve to be here, but because we are just lucky that our destiny and history “brought” us here. We cannot just live through these great moments because those everyday moments over occupy our lives, but these extraordinary turns, outside our casual lives, put us on a different path into the atmosphere that resembles a Sunday lunch feast. These moments are here so something from their supposed nobility and uplifting guise remain memorable.
Therefore, let’s once again take a moment to listen to the Czech anthem in honor of a meeting of the Czech and the U.S. Presidents. Let’s recall that 175 years have passed since this song was first played. Josef Kajetán Tyl wrote the words in Joseph’s Barracks (Josefské kasárny) and Frantisek Škroup wrote the music in one night in his house in Prague on Myslíkova Street, house number 187, also known “u Bonů.” People were pleased with the song; they spontaneously sang it so often and so long that it became the national anthem. The Czech composer Bedřich Smetana refused requests to write a new national anthem, and commented on it “the song that people assumed as the national anthem will stay the anthem for them.”
Bedřich Smetana, however, still “lives” his moments of glory. Ever since the First Republic was created, it was linked with a tradition to play fanfares from his opera Libuše upon a President‘s arrival. He composed this opera based on themes of Czech mythology and it has a special status in our country. According to the plan it should only be played during major occasions of the Czech nation and the author’s wish is respected from the first implementation to date.
Originally, opera Libuše was intended to be used for coronation of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I to the Czech king. The ceremonial act, however, did not occur but it certainly was not due to the lack of time. Franz Josef I, as the Austrian emperor (uncrowned), Czech king (uncrowned) and king of Hungary (crowned in 1867) ruled a full 68 years. He was the second longest presiding statesman of all time and, compared to the current heads of states, he had an advantage or maybe a disadvantage that his term was not restricted by the electoral period.
The positive fact was that he could plan long-term action steps, since his decisions were only limited to the length of his life. Franz Josef I really benefited from this advantage. The only problem for men born in the royal family was if they were born as the second, third or even younger sons. For some of these men being far apart from ruling on a “home” throne could bring them to great adventures. This was also the case of Caesar’s brother, Maximilian von Habsburg-Lorraine, whose titles include Czech crown prince. Upon first offer, he did not hesitate to leave the country to procure “his” Emperor title. He traveled to the other side of the ocean to the “new world.” His Mexican imperial mandate, however, lasted only a short time and ended with execution.
If we stop for a moment to read the text of the Czech anthem, we find that after many centuries – if we can measure mythology in time – it just extends word of the forefather Čech: “the promised land, full of wildlife and birds and flowing with honey.” After the opening query “Where is my home, where is my home?”, a further description of the Czech countryside is described:
“Where is my home, where is my home?
“Water roars across the meadows,
Pinewoods rustle among crags,
Orchards are radiant with spring blossoms,
Paradise on earth it is to see,
And that is that beautiful land,
The Czech land, my home.”
When people then heard the words of the forefather about the promised land, they decided to stay without any hesitation. The country has become their home. During that time they did not even realize that the ocean was so far away. The land was appealing to them as was the Czech anthem, because their children and their offspring became fond of the song. No matter how many times they listened to the song they repeatedly only took away a “positive physical and mental message.” The country was properly passed from one generation to another like a relay, and when it was occasionally desolate or going through a bad period, the ancestors tried their best, according to their abilities, to bring it back to its best possible condition – ready for the offspring. They did so in a sense of enduring of the human existence.
Now the responsibility is painstakingly approaching us and it is our time to pass it along. And maybe to even add something positive. It would be a good time to take advantage of this “solemn moment” and for a moment get rid of the unresolved, uninteresting, increasingly repetitive, boring, and even bad things that we are witnessing every day. Let’s lift up to the forefront of creativity and stop listening to the ones who are trying to gain power.
However, do not despair if you are losing the fulfillment of statesmanship. We still have words from Jan Werich that we can bring into practice:
“Once a man happens to be, he should attempt to be. And once he minds to be, he should be what he actually is, and not what he is not, as in many cases it happens to be.”
The golden rule is that this is true just for you, which you now think it relates to someone else.
The anthem of the United States of America will sound in Prague as a counterpart to the Czech Republic anthem that is actually twenty years younger, even though the country itself is older than the USA.
The text of The Star-Spangled Banner was written in 1814 by a 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key. It happened after the British-American War in the night from the 13th to 14th of September 1814, when he witnessed the successful resistance of the crew of the American Fort McHenry in Baltimore, which was under heavy fire from the sea.
The brother of the poet noticed that the text well “suited” to the melody of the English song To Anacreon in Heaven from the British musicologist and organist, John Stafford Smith, a native of Gloucester, England, whom was one of the first serious collectors of scores of Johann Sebastian Bach.
The song was originally the official song of an Anacreon company, which was actually a London gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians that regularly got together in the 18th century for concerts. Its members were lawyers, doctors, literary critics, historians, etc.
After some small adjustments, the modified song of Smith became known as the U.S. anthem after the official ordinance by President T. Woodrow Wilson in 1916, which was then confirmed on Tuesday the 3rd of March 1931 by the U.S. Congress. The song contains three verses, but usually only the first one is played, and it is well known by most Americans.
The third song that will be played during the Prague visit by the U.S. President Barack Obama will be the Ode to Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven, which is the official anthem of the European Union.
Already in 1955 the anthem was suggested by Count Richard Nicholas von Coundenhove-Kalegri, who spent his youth in Poběžovice, Šumava, which used to belong to his ancestors. In 1923 he founded the Pan-European Union that was aimed at creating a democratic union of European states. The song was officially recognized as the anthem of the Council of Europe in 1972, and in 1985 it became the official European Union anthem.
Ode to Joy was originally a poem, written by Friedrich Schiller in the summer of 1785, celebrating the friendship between people. It became the fourth and final sentence of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The anthem was composed by one of the most significant conductors of the 20th century, Herbert von Karajan, and only the instrumental version is used. He proposed three instrumental versions – for piano, for wind instruments and orchestra.
If we stop for a moment to talk about the great personalities of world music that are related to Prague, we would particularly choose Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart’s Prague is one of the attributes used in conjunction with the city. The composer liked Prague. Certainly because of his famous operas Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro that were very successful in Prague and this popularity was witnessed by Mozart himself. He lived not only with the Duškovy family in Bertramka but also in Thunovská Palace in Mala Strana during his first visit of Prague in 1787.
The British Embassy is currently located in the palace that is slightly related to the Přemyslid dynasty.Historically, documented descendants of the royal dynasty were Bořivoj I and his wife, and the patron of Bohemia, St. Ludmila, but also many members of Czech noble families and members of many European royal dynasties (born on the distaff side). Among them was also the British royal couple, who are also the descendants of other Czech rulers such as George of Podebrady, who was their ancestor in several lineages.
The ancestors of Queen Elizabeth II. and her husband Philip the Duke of Edinburgh are also older Czech noble families, such as Lobkowiczs.
Thanks to the kind cooperation with the current head of Lobkowicz family, Jaroslav Lobkowicz, his wife Elisabeth, and the British Ambassador J.E. Linda Duffield, we were able to pass a pedigree to the parents of British Royal Princess Anna during her official visit to the Czech Republic.
There were only two other places where the family tree could still be placed – at the Embassy of both the two countries. In Thunovská Palace at the British Embassy in Prague, where the first copy of the original pedigree was bestowed, and the second copy was sent to London through Miroslav Ondříček, who left for Great Britain to launch a weekly show of his films.
He commented on the act of passing on the pedigree with a great smile on his face. Due to the large size of the canvas showing the pedigree, he and ambassador Winkler found themselves kneeling on the ground in search of significant figures in Czech and British history …
Bringing back this story we also brought a sad reminder of Jan Winkler’s recent and sudden death at the age of 51. In his memory we will remind the readers of Pozitivní Noviny of an article that he coincidentally also devoted to the Přemyslid dynasty, which he published on the PN website.
Similarly detailed pedigree could decorate the Czech Embassy in Washington and the U.S. Embassy in Prague.
Several U.S. presidents are also on the distaff related to Bořivoj I. and St. Ludmila, especially the descendant of first Czech king Vratislav I. Přemyslid.
For the first time on this website we are showing the number of generations, actually ancestors and offspring, of the first American president George Washington, where he is depicted as a descendant of the first Czech king.
Vratislaus I comes from the Czech Přemyslid dynasty. According to tradition, recorded in the Cosmas Chronicle at the turn of the 11th and 12 century, Přemysl Oráč from Stadice was the founder of the genus and he was the man whom Libuše chose as her husband (see prophecy at the beginning of article).
According to a myth, their successors were supposed to be Nezamysl, Mnata, Vojen, Vnislav, Křesomysl, Neklan, and Hostivít.
Hostivít’s son, Bořivoj I, was presumably the first documented Duke of Bohemia. He founded the Prague Castle and his wife Ludmila became not only the first Czech but also Slavic saint. They both were baptized by Bishop Methodius.
Their son, Vratislaus I, ruled briefly, but long enough to found the Basilica of St. George at the Prague Castle. The foundation of the millennial Czech statehood was built during the ruling of his son, Boleslav I. Boleslav II was chanted by the chronicler Kosmas as the most Christian duke.
His son Oldrich saved the dynasty from dying off thanks to his relationship to the washerwomen Bozena, and their son Bretislaus was called by chroniclers as The Bohemian Achilles. His son Vratislaus is our Vratislav in the family tree. On the 15th of June 1085 he was crowned as the first King of Bohemia at the Prague Castle. Seven years later he got injured while hunting and died. He was buried in the Vysehrad Church.
Mutual relatedness of Přemyslids and the U.S. presidents are really extremely remote. For example, for the 3rd U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, the first English king was in the order of ancestors the 26,105,832th.
The speed of generation multiplication is shown by comparing Jefferson with the 32nd president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Although Roosevelt was born “only” about 139 years after Jefferson, the first Czech king was already the 1,046,691,344th direct ancestor.
Zdeněk Sternberg is the owner of the Czech Šternberk Castle that has resided at the Czech Basin for almost 800 years. He speaks a little bit on this topic with a smile on his face:
“My direct ancestors are not only the Přemyslids that were documented by several genealogical lines, but also both royal governors Vilém Slavata of Chlum and Košumberk and Jaroslav Borzita of Martinice that became victims of the Defenestration of Prague in 1618 (both were thrown out of windows of the Prague Castle). If those men did not survive due to landing in manure, I would not be here. “
Yes, every ancestor is equally important.
The historian Dušan Třeštík spoke in this context about this genealogical vagary. In a sense, he is right. We are talking in orders of millions, or even billions of ancestors, but, on the other hand, every one of our direct ancestors, although the outermost, is vital for us. If they would not have lived, we would not be here as well.
The following images capture some of the Czech nobles who are, as well as some American presidents, descendants of Přemyslids.
The Přemyslid progeny of the Bohemian noble families met on the 27th and 28th of July, 2006 in Prague and Mělník. They reminded themselves the 700th anniversary of the violent death of the last Czech king of the Přemyslid dynast, Wenceslaus III, who was murdered in Olomouc on the 7th of August 1306.
If the American embassy in Prague would have had in its possession the pedigree of American presidents that are descendants of Přemyslids on the distaff side (at least around the year 1917), a very interesting personality could have looked it over. He would not even have had to go very far.
He lived in the Schoenborn Palace, where the U.S. Embassy is located today. The Prague writer Franz Kafka lived there, at Na Trzisti 15 Street in his apartment from March till September 1917.
Even after looking through this “genealogical vagary,” he would naturally continue meeting with Max Brod, Kisch brothers, Franz Werfel, Albert Einstein, Leo Peruci and others at his favorite Café Savoy on Vezenska Street and in the saloon of Berta Fantova at the Stone Table house.
Maybe he would have liked to share this interesting information with his friends.
The American Embassy has been located in the baroque building by architect G. Santini since 1925. It would probably have lots of space for this family tree; the place has more than one hundred rooms.
To be continued…