Guest Speaker Ivo Cerman Presents Lecture on Czech History

14 October 2011

By Klára Pinerová

As one of the most important specialists on nobility in Bohemia in the 17 th and 18th centuries, Ivo Cerman from the Faculty of Arts of the University of South Bohemia came to present a lecture 'New Perspectives on Czech Nobility in 17th and 18th Centuries', which was hosted by the Wirth Institute and Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences in Alberta.

Ivo Cerman belongs to the new generation of Czech historians who research the field of Bohemian nobility and Enlightenment separate from the nationalist stereotypes and Marxist clichés. He disproves a construction of the nationalist myth of nobility as a passive element of Czech society during the Enlightenment. On the contrary, he demonstrates that Bohemian nobility was very active not only in the political, but in the cultural sphere as well. The development of the negative viewpoint of the nobility in the early modern times in the Czech historiography was one of the significant points of his lecture. This tendency did not surface until 1848, when the role of the nobility was refused on the basis of the language concept of the nation. K. H. Borovský, one of the important persons during the Czech National Revival, spoke out strongly against the nobility in his articles, and developed this theory along with other historians. The change of this attitude can be observed in the 1990s, when new themes such as everyday life or involving the nobility in the political sphere appeared.

Mr. Cerman showed various pictures of castles in Kačina and Veltrusy, which he supplemented by an analysis of the meaning of sculptures and buildings. His lecture brought new perspectives on the Bohemian nobility during the Enlightenment and clarified some 'blind spots' in the Czech history.