The day the First Republic abolished the nobility: they lost their titles, their orders, it didn’t break them.

105 years ago, the newly formed Czechoslovak state treated the noble families living in its territory very ruthlessly. On Tuesday 10 December 1918, he passed the Abolition of Peerages, Orders and Titles Act, which came into force eight days later. However, the aristocracy did not hate the republic.

Zdenko Radslav Kinský, an important First Republic horse breeder, was the head of the Czechoslovak Jockey Club in the 1930s and began by declaring the allegiance of the Czech nobility to the Czechoslovak state in 1938.

| Photo: Wikimedia Commons, author unknown, free work

From the beginning of the new Czechoslovak Republic, there was a certain tension between it and the strata of the new political confederation that were considered to be the bearers of the monarchy’s legacy. It was especially noble and Catholic Church. The close relationship with Austria-Hungary expressed by the slogan “union of throne and altar” and the fact that the nobles represented a privileged class in the monarchy, the republican public of the time resented the church.

“The new state was created as a democratically organized republic, which at its foundation emphasized the equal and equal status of all citizens, which was in stark contrast to the status-based vision of a world without a naturally egalitarian principle,” Zdeněk Hazdra said in the thesis. Nobles in the service of the Masaryk Republic.

Existing problems

By accepting the new law, the nobles lost not only their noble titles, but all social benefits. Mostly, they could not work in government services, high military posts or bureaucratic apparatuses. They often have nothing to finance their current residences. But they managed to overcome this situation.

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“Representatives of individual noble families that remained after the separation Austria-Hungary In the territory of Bohemia and Moravia, they had to cope with the new conditions in one way or another. Almost everyone would welcome the establishment of a constitutional monarchy or the federal arrangement of Austria-Hungary, where all nations would have equal rights. Fate willed otherwise and the dream of constitutional monarchy vanished.

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What choice did traditional Czech noble families have? They can either leave the territory of the republic or stay. The following noble families played a very active role in the new republic: The SchwarzenbergsKinští, Lobkowicz, Kolowrat-Krakovský and Bořk from Dohalice,” he said earlier. Hodon’s Diary Historian Marek Varega from the Masaryk Museum in Hodonin.

Maximilian Erwin Lobkowicz (1888–1967), nobleman, lawyer, politician and diplomat from the principal branch of the Prince Rudnik Lobkowicz familyMaximilian Erwin Lobkowicz (1888–1967), nobleman, lawyer, politician and diplomat from the principal branch of the Prince Rudnik Lobkowicz familySource: Wikimedia Commons, author unknown, free work

Representatives of these families did not adopt a negative attitude towards the new state, but accepted it positively and volunteered for its services. According to Varega, the original idea of ​​the first president also believed in this Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, who intended to take advantage of their experience and international contacts by inducting them into the diplomatic service. However, in the end, this idea was not fully implemented, mainly due to the aforementioned new law, which left the nobles behind in filling the offices.

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Nevertheless, some nobles of the First Republic served Czechoslovak diplomacy. This involved, for example, Max Lobkovich, a member of the Czechoslovak foreign representation in London, followed after 1938. Edward Benes In exile in London, he served as ambassador and later consul of the Czechoslovak government.

The first entrepreneur

Another major blow to the Czech aristocracy was the land reform of 1919, which deprived noble families of their land. In the name of social peace, the newly established Czechoslovak government purchased a third of the land for sale to medium and small farmers. In practice, the first “nationalization” took place.

Aristocratic families responded to this by engaging in business, often to avoid debt. “A new era demanded new ideas, and that’s why we look to the Czech nobility Do business in various industries From services like hotels to factories to the traditional agricultural area,” Varega explained.

Recall the story of the Czech lord Mikulas from Pabna-Litik:

Mikulas, from Bubna-Litsis, was Minister of Agriculture in the protectorate government of Alois Elias until January 1942.

Czech Duke Mikulas of Bubna-Litić: Resisted the Nazis, Escaped the Communists

For example, the Czech German-speaking aristocrat Mikulas from Pabna-LitikBorn on June 14, 1897 on the family estate in Doudleby nad Orlici, Doudleb lived as a ranger and forester in the First Republic, although the range was also divided based on land reform.

“I have never been a Czech citizen, but I am a Czech nobleman, and nothing in the world can tear me apart,” he wrote to his girlfriend Hedwig Kurzová on October 7, 1938.

According to Hastra, Count Jindrich Kolovrat-Krakowsky, the “terrible terrible” of the Czech aristocracy, belonged to a very enthusiastic, democratically minded and unquestionably pro-Masaryk and patriotic people.

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“In the mid-twenties, he managed the foreign trade of a syndicate of Czechoslovak engineering companies and became famous for his progressive views on social issues, which he successfully implemented on his estate in West Bohemia (in the Kladovsk region and the Pilsen region). He did not believe much in his aristocratic origins, although he was well aware of it. On the contrary , he sought company outside aristocratic circles, such as progressive entrepreneurs or avant-garde artists.By the way, the mother of his children and later his wife, Marie Klimtova, came from a Prague family. Butcher“, said Hastra.

In a sense, the aristocracy could be said to have behaved more “nobly” than the First Republic. It also emerged in times of threat to the Republic Hitler’s Germany After the establishment of the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in 1938 and 1939, a significant part of the Czech nobility decided to express their loyalty to the Czech nation and the Czech state with several declarations, despite considerable risk.

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