Palacký, František

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Palacký, František

(frän`tyĭshĕk pä`lätskē), 1798–1876, Czech nationalist and historian, b. Moravia. Regarded as the father of the modern Czech nation, Palacký played a leading role in the Czech cultural and national revival in the 1820s, 30s, and 40s. During the revolution of 1848, he presided over the first Pan-Slav Congress (see Pan-SlavismPan-Slavism,
theory and movement intended to promote the political or cultural unity of all Slavs. Advocated by various individuals from the 17th cent., it developed as an intellectual and cultural movement in the 19th cent.
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) at Prague. He advocated Czech autonomy within a strong Austrian Empire as the best protection against German and Russian pressure. His paraphrase of Voltaire—"If the Austrian Empire did not exist, it would have to be invented"—remains famous. After the suppression of the liberal and nationalist uprisings of 1848 in the Austrian Empire, Palacký became disillusioned. He withdrew from political activity until 1861, when he became a deputy to the Austrian parliament. With the introduction (1867) of Austrian centralizing policies, he worked for complete Czech independence. Palacký was an advocate of enlightenment and education, rather than revolution. Strongly influenced by Immanuel KantKant, Immanuel
, 1724–1804, German metaphysician, one of the greatest figures in philosophy, b. Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, Russia). Early Life and Works
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 and J. J. RousseauRousseau, Jean Jacques
, 1712–78, Swiss-French philosopher, author, political theorist, and composer. Life and Works

Rousseau was born at Geneva, the son of a Calvinist watchmaker.
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, he visualized the Czech nation as a bearer of the democratic ideal. His influence on the thinking of later national leaders, such as Thomas G. MasarykMasaryk, Thomas Garrigue
, 1850–1937, Czechoslovak political leader and philosopher, first president and chief founder of Czechoslovakia. He is revered by most Czechs and was internationally recognized as a great democratic leader.
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, was enormous. In his Geschichte Böhmens [history of Bohemia] (in German, 5 vol., 1836–67; in Czech, 5 vol., 1848–76), he viewed Czech history as a constant struggle between Germans and Slavs. This monumental work of scholarship strongly influenced the burgeoning Czech national consciousness.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Palacký, František


Born June 14, 1798, in Hodslavice, Moravia; died May 26, 1876, in Prague. Czech historian and philosopher. Cultural figure and leader of the Czech national movement in the 19th century. Son of a teacher.

In 1818, Palacký and P. J. Ŝafařík published the Principles of Czech Poetry, the manifesto of the Awakeners, showing the need for a revival of national culture and learning. His works on the philosophy of aesthetics— Short History of Aesthetics (1823) and The Study of the Beautiful (1827)—were the first philosophical works of the period of the national renaissance to be published in Czech. Palacký helped reorganize the Czech National Museum, which became an important center of the country’s scientific and cultural life, and was one of the founders of the Matice Česka, established in 1831. He founded the first Czech scientific journal, Časopis společnosti vlastenského museum v Čechách, in 1827 and served as its editor until 1838. He published numerous sources on the history, literature, and art of medieval Bohemia, including Czech chronicles. In the 1840’s he began publishing the multivolume collections of sources Archiv český and Fontes rerum Bohemicarum.

Palacký wrote numerous works on the history of Bohemia. His main work, the History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia, covers Czech history from the earliest times to 1526. He considered the Hussite movement to be the most important period in Czech history, regarding it as a struggle for freedom and legal rights, a striving for new social relations, and the Czech people’s contribution to humanity’s progressive development. His History played an important role in the development of Czech culture and the national liberation movement.

During the 1840’s, Palacký was a leader of the Czech bourgeois national liberal movement. During the Revolution of 1848–49, he proposed a detailed program of Austroslavism and presided over the Slavic Congress in Prague (1848). From the late 1840’s to the early 1860’s, he was a deputy to the Austrian Reichsrat and the Czech Diet. From the 1860’s he was one of the ideological leaders of the conservative wing of the Czech bourgeoisie, known as the Old Czech Party.


Déjiny národu českého v Cechách a v Moravě, vols. 1–6. Prague, 1939.


Udal’tsov, I. I. “K kharakteristike politicheskoi deiatel’nosti F. Palatskogo.” Voprosy istorii, 1950, no. 10.
Jetmarová, M. František Palacký. Prague, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.