The History of Jindřichův Hradec
Jindřichův Hradec is one of the most important historical cities in the Czech Republic. In 2007, the city received the prize of being named "The historical city of the year", promoted by the Ministry of Culture as an appreciation for ongoing efforts to preserve historical monuments.
Already in the 10th century, the Slavic castle protected a trade route from Austria to Bohemia, by guarding and overseeing the route from a ridge above the confluence of the Nežárka River and Hamerský brook. An artificial pond – the Vajgar pond, was built to strengthen the power of the castle. Later, at the beginning of the 13th century, a medieval residence was established here. The medieval settlement was established by Vítkovec Jindřich, who gave the entire line of the Hradec clan a new name – the Lords of Hradec. Later the city took the same name.
THE LORDS OF HRADEC (the beginning of the 13th century – 1604)
Throughout its entire history, this old Czech clan was one of the most powerful families and clans in the country and, together with the Rosenberg family (clan), dominated south Bohemia and influenced the politics of the country until the beginning of the 17th century. According to a legend, "the forefather" of the Vítkovci family, the famous Vítek of Prčice divided large properties and estates in South Bohemia and his crests depicting a five-petal rose among his five sons. The oldest son Jindřich inherited the Hradec estate.
First, using the old castle foundation, Jindřich built a castle above the confluence of the Nežárka River and the Hamerský Brook In documents from 1220, Jindřich is mentioned and connected with a nickname "de Novo Castro," which means "the new castle". That was the year, when the first written record about Jindřichův Hradec was made. The settlement around the castle grew rapidly and in the late 13th century it became a town. The first record when Jindřichův Hradec is documented as a city may be found in a document that dates back to 1293.
For four centuries Jindřichův Hradec was the residence of the Lords of Hradec, who contributed tremendously to the city's development. The castle and the city have gradually developed into a big and representative noble settlement.
The death of Jáchym Oldřich (Joachim Ulrich), the last male descendant of the clan in 1604, ended the reign of the Lords of Hradec, which lasted for four centuries. The legacy was passed over to Jáchym´s sister Lucie, married to Vilém Slavata.
THE SLAVATA FAMILY (1604-1693)
After the death of Jáchym Oldřich of Hradec, the extensive property was passed over to Vilém Slavata, the husband of Lucie Otýlie of Hradec and control over the vast estates was assumed by the Slavata clan.
Vilém Slavata, a well-known participant of the Defenestration of Prague, was one of the most respected masters in the country. According to records from 1654, Jindřichův Hradec was the largest city after Prague and the richest city of all serf cities in Bohemia. During the reign of the Slavata clan, crafts flourished and the city prospered, but if we compare this time with the previous periods, the castle or the chateau did not change much and no architectonic modifications were done.
THE ČERNÍN CLAN (1693-1945)
Heřman Jakub Černín of Chudenice acquired the Hradec estates through a marriage to Maria Josefa Slavata and the Černín family became the third ancient and very important Czech clan to takeover Jindřichův Hradec.
Regents of the Černín family resided more in Prague (the Černín Palace) or in rural settlements in South Bohemia, such as the nearby castle Jemčina) than in Jindřichův Hradec and after a devastating town fire in 1773, which also hit the chateau (mostly buildings located on the 3rd courtyard), Jindřichův Hradec was no longer considered a residential town and the castle buildings were increasingly used for farming purposes.
The city benefited for centuries from its cloth manufacturing traditions. However, cloth manufacturing was replaced later by large textile production plants. In the mid-18th century, the city of Jindřichův Hradec became the second cloth manufacturing city in Bohemia, right after Liberec and for example, as far as the number of inhabited houses was concerned, Jindřichův Hradec took the lead before Česke Budějovice.
During the 19th century, when the national consciousness began to emerge, the inhabitants of the city lived active cultural lives – they organised ballroom dancing, formed educational associations, amateur theatre associations (the Jablonski association) and singing gatherings (Smetana). Musical traditions were always very strong and are still alive today.
During the 1880s the newly built railway road from Prague to Vienna went around the city, which caused, together with the shortage of minerals and material supplies, a slowdown of the city's industrial production. The importance of the city began to fade away. Although during the late eighties, the city of Jindřichův Hradec was connected to the railway lines, a narrow-track railway was built here, and thanks to the inventor František Křižík, Jindřichův Hradec became the second city in Bohemia with streets lit by electric lamps (1887). Despite that however, the city remains a rather distant provincial town, disconnected from the social and cultural tourist centres. At the beginning of the 20th century a tapestry manufacturing workshop was established in the city and soon became very famous. During the first half of the 20th century, textile production, agriculture and food processing industries (production of syrups and spirits) were the most important businesses in the city.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle underwent a partial reconstruction under the command of Viennese architect Humbert Walcher of Moltheim. After that, disturbed events of the first half of the 20th century (the two world wars and economic crisis) followed. In 1945, when the Decree of the President Beneš was applied, the castle was confiscated and taken from the Černín family and transferred under the state ownership.
JINDŘICHŮV HRADEC AFTER 1945
After the war, the district of Jindřichův Hradec was restored, and joined with the Třeboňský and Dačický districts and became the largest in the Czech Republic.
After the communist takeover in 1948, all local business were nationalised, as were all other businesses throughout the entire country. The economic development was based more and more on the textile industry (cotton processing plants) and on the industrial machine plant Lada, manufacturing sewing and knitting machines. The Fruta plant took over the syrup and spirit production. A large-capacity dairy plant became a very important plant in the city.
After 1989, when the communist dictatorship was overthrown, the situation changed dramatically. New private business began to appear. The entire historical centre of the chateau was gradually restored. In 1994, the Faculty of Management at the University of South Bohemia was opened – today known as the Faculty of Management at the University of Economics in Prague.
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