Help support New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download or CD-ROM. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
Austrian crown land east of Bohemia. In the century before the Christian era the Germanic Quadi (a tribe closely related to the Macromanni, who had just driven the Celtic Boii from Bohemia) took possession of the modern Moravia. Of these two tribes settled in Bohemia and Moravia we know nothing beyond their collisions with the Romans e.g., their wars with Marcus Aurelius in A.D. 165 and 181 and with Valentinian I (364-75). The invasion of the Huns under Attila drove the majority of the Marcomanni and Quadi from their settlements. In the fifth century the deserted territory was occupied by Slav tribes. About the middle of the sixth century, these were conquered by the Atars, who advanced as far as Thuringia. The Slavs were delivered from the Avar yoke temporarily (622-58) by Samo, who was perhaps of Frankish parentage, and finally by Charlemagne, whose defeat of the Avars in 796 enabled the Moravians to recover the territory extending from Mannhartsberg to the mouth of the Gran. During this period a uniform principality had developed on Moravian soil, and received the name of the Kingdom of the Moimorides from the founder of the dynasty, Moimir. Moravia stood towards the Frankish Empire in relations of dependence; at least, the "Maharaner" brought presents to Emperor Louis at the Diet of Ratisbon in 822. When Moimir sought to assert his independence of the empire, he was deposed by the Germans and his nephew Wratislaw appointed prince. The latter's struggle for complete freedom ended in his betrayal into the hands of Louis the German by his nephew Swatopluk, who then attained to power under German protection.
In the ecclesiastical domain Wratislaw had also desired independence of the German Empire. Christianity had already been preached in Moravia, but had failed to reach the great mass of the people, as the German and Italian missionaries were ignorant of the vernacular speech. In 863 Wratislaw asked the Greek emperor to send new apostles acquainted with the Slav tongue. This monarch dispatched the brothers of Constantine (afterwards called Cyril) and Methodius in 864. Having only minor orders, the missionaries confined themselves to the training of the youth and the translation of a portion of the Bible into the Slav language, for which purpose they invented special Slav characters. In 867 they set out for Rome to seek papal permission to conduct the Divine Service in the vulgar tongue. Pope Adrian II, who consecrated both brothers bishops, is said to have acceded to their petition. While Constantine, having a presentiment of his approaching end (869), remained in Rome, Methodius returned to Moravia and there resumed his work of evangelization, in opposition to the German clergy. After the fall of Wratislaw, Methodius had to submit to the German spiritual authorities, was confined for two and half years in a German monastery, and was freed only at the strict command of the pope in 873. His activity was, however, even now narrowly restricted by the Bavarian bishops, although the use of the Slav Liturgy was expressly recognized by the pope in 880.
The understanding between Swatopluk and the Frankish Empire was of short duration. From 882 Swatopluk was engaged in fierce conflict with Arnulf, who administered Carinthia and Pannonia. In 885, however, a complete reconciliation took place, and the Moravian prince lent Arnulf his zealous support until the latter successfully established his claim to the German Crown. But the energetic Arnulf was not likely to tolerate any longer the growth of Swatopluk's power, so dangerous to his empire. In 892 war again broke out, and Swatopluk died in 895 before any decisive result had been reached. Subsequently the Moravian Kingdom was rent asunder by the struggle of various claimants for the throne, and in the first decade of the tenth century succumbed to the attack of Hungary at the battle of Presburg. The country remained in the hands of Hungary until the battle of Lechfeld in 955, when it was united with Bohemia by the Bohemian Duke Boleslaw of the Premysl family, the confederate of Emperor Otto I. Towards the end of the tenth century Moravia was conquered by the Polish duke, Boleslaw Chrobry (992-1025), but, when domestic disturbances broke out in Poland after his death, Duke Udalrich of Bohemia, with the assistance of his son Bretislaw, recovered Moravia from the Poles. Bretislaw administered the land as Duke of Moravia, and established his residence at Olmütz. With the booty from his campaigns against the Poles, he founded the first Moravian monastery, that of Raigern near Brünn (1048). The strife, caused by the law establishing in Bohemia the right of succession by seniority (1054), extended also to Moravia (which would have been divided to provide petty principalities for the younger sons of the ducal house), especially to the principalities of Brünn, Olmütz, and Znaim. The suzerainty of the Bohemian duke was however maintained. In 1063 Duke Wratislaw (1061-92) gave the land its own ecclesiastical centre by establishing the Diocese of Olmütz, which was placed under Mainz.
The Moravian petty princes repeatedly rebelled against the sovereignty of the Bohemian duke; thus when, on the death of Wratislaw II, Bretislaw II appointed his brother his successor in contravention of the law regulating succession by seniority, long wars were waged against him by the rightful heir, Duke Udalrich of Brünn (1101, 1105, and 1107). These wars reached their climax in 1125, when Prince Otto of Olmütz rose against Duke Sobeslaw, the youngest son of Wratislaw II, and was supported by Lothair of Supplinburg. Lothair led an army in person for his confederate Otto, but was defeated in a decisive battle near Kulm (1126). Sobeslaw (1125-40) and his nephew and successor, Wladislaw II, energetically maintained the Bohemian supremacy over Moravia; during the reign of the latter the Moravian branch of the Premysl family became extinct, where-upon Prince Conrad Otto of Znaim, who probably belonged to the collateral line of the Bohemian Premysls, united the three divisions of the Moravain kingdom (1174). On his attempting also to annex Bohemia (from which, on the death of Wladislaw, his son Frederick had been expelled by his barons), Barbarossa, to whom Frederick had fled, summoned both the Premysl nobles to appear before his tribunal at Ratisbon, and decided (29 Sept., 1182) that Frederick should rule in Bohemia, but that thenceforth Conrad Otto should hold Moravia as an immediate margraviate, independent of Bohemia. After Conrad Otto's death in Sicily (1191), a new war of succession broke out between the brothers Ottokar and Henry Wladislaw: to avoid bloodshed, the latter renounced in 1197 his claims to Bohemia, accepting Moravia as a margraviate feudatory to the Bohemian crown. Thenceforth, this was the political condition of Moravia.
The German colonization of Moravia, begun under Henry Wladislaw, greatly increased under his successors Henry Wladislaw II and Premysl, as the invasions of the Mongols in 1241 and the Cumans in 1252 had swept away numbers of the inhabitants into captivity. This immigration of Germans led to the formation of German townships, the development of which was encouraged by the Premysl family, especially by Ottakar II. The privileges, accorded to these towns, were based generally on those of Magdeburg and Nuremberg. After Ottakar had fallen in the battle of Marchfeld fighting against Rudolf of Hapsburg (1278), Moravia remained for five years as a pledge in Rudolf's hands, but was then under Ottakar's successor, Wenceslaus II, reunited with Bohemia, though its area was somewhat reduced. With Wenceslaus III the ruling line of the Premysls became extinct in 1306. Moravia at first fell with Bohemia to Albert I of Hapsburg; then on Albert's death in 1307 to Henry of Carinthia, and in 1309 to John of Luxemburg, son of Emperor Henry VII. In the Privilege of 1311 John granted the country important liberties, which formed the foundation of the subsequently augmented rights of the estates. Under the provincial governor Henry of Lipa and Margrave Charles (1333), later Emperor Charles IV, a new period of prosperity began. In 1349 Charles enfeoffed his brother John in the margraviate. In 1371 John divided the country among his three sons, Jobst (Jodocus) receiving the title of Ancient Margrave and Overlord; his two younger sons were also given the title of Margrave, but they were to hold their lands in fief from Jobst. This partition and the great Western Schism, which evoked two ecclesiastical parties in Moravia as elsewhere, gave rise to much discord and disturbances between 1380 and 1405. On the death of the childless Jobst, Moravia, as a vacant fief, reverted to the Bohemian Crown, and its administration was entrusted to certain district governors by Wenceslaus IV.
As in Bohemia, where similar political and ecclesiastical conditions prevailed, Hussitism made rapid and great progress in Moravia under the feeble rule of Wenceslaus, especially among the nobility and peasantry; the Bishop of Olmütz and almost all the imperial cities inhabited by Germans, however, remained true to the Catholic cause. On Wenceslau's death his brother, Emperor Sigismund, was recognized in Moravia as margrave, although the Bohemians refused to recognize him as king. Against the Hussites, who, under the leadership of two apostate priests, had established a fortified camp in the neighbourhood of Ungarisch-Hradisch (Neu Tabor), the emperor received vigorous support from Duke Albert of Austria. In 1423 Albert received for these services the Margraviate of Moravia in fief. After the chief power of the fanatical Hussites in Bohemia had been crushed in the battle near Lipau (1434), a treaty of peace was also arranged in Moravia, according to which the Hussites were allowed to receive Communion under both species, these Compactata, as they were called, being published at the Diet of Iglau (1436). Under Albert's son, Wladislaw Posthumus (1449), began the first attempts to stem Utraquism and to restore to the Catholic Church its earlier dominant position. Especially efficacious towards this end was the missionary activity of St. John Capistran, whose ignorance of the native speech, however, prevented him from attaining complete success. George of Podiebrand, who became King of Bohemia on Wladislaw's death in 1457, had to resort to arms to secure recognition in Moravia from the German and Catholic towns. In 1464 he promised the Moravian Estates that the margraviate should never be separated from the Crown of Bohemia by sale, exchange, or mortgage. After his death, however, the strife between Matthias Corvinus and Wladislaw of Poland for the Bohemian Crown resulted in the peace of 1478, according to which Corvinus received Moravia for life and Wladislaw Bohemia. On the death of Corvinus, Moravia also fell under the sway of Wladislaw (1490). Thanks to the excellent administration of the governor Ctibor of Cymburg (1469-94), who, although a Utraquist, enjoyed the confidence of both princes, Wladislaw was able to leave to his son Louis II in 1516, considering the troubled era, a splendidly ordered land. Louis was slain in the Battle of Mohács against the Turks (1526). As he was childless, Ferdinand of Hapsburg, husband of Anna Jagellon, the sister of Louis, claimed Moravia with Bohemia and Hungary. His claim was admitted by the assembly of the Moravian Estates, who did homage to Ferdinand at Brünn and Olmütz in 1527.
Turning to ecclesiastical affairs, there was in Moravia in the fifteenth century, besides the Catholics and Utraquists, a third confession, the so-called "Brethren's Union". This body had spread widely, thanks mainly to the patronage of certain influential nobles, who could defy all decrees of banishment. Luther's teaching thus found a favourable soil in Moravia, and spread rapidly, especially in the cities of Olmütz, Znaim, and Iglau. From 1526 Moravia was also the refuge and new home of the Anabaptists, the adherents of Hubmaier, the Gabrielists, and the Moravian Brethren, who later emigrated to Russia and thence to the United States. The friendly attitude of Emperor Maximilian II (1564-76) towards Protestantism favoured the growth of all these non-Catholic movements. With the foundation of the Jesuit Colleges of Brünn and Olmütz (1574) the Catholic Counter-Reformation set in, its direction being undertaken by Franz von Dietrichstein, Bishop of Olmütz (1599-1636). The Bohemian rising against the emperor in 1618 extended for a short time to Moravia, and on 19 August, 1619, the opposition party of the Moravian Estates voted in common with the Bohemian Estates at Prague for the deposition of Ferdinand and the election of Frederick of the Palatinate as King of Bohemia. In Feb., 1620, the latter succeeded in making his entry into Brünn as Margrave of Moravia, but the Battle of the White Mountain gave victory to the cause of the emperor and Catholicism, and the imperial generals occupied the land. Sharp punishment was meted out to the leaders of the rebellion and the revolting cities; in 1622 the Anabaptists were compelled to leave the land, and in 1623-8 the Brethren's Union.
An imperial edict of 9 March, 1628, ordered the return to the Catholic Church, and compelled all recusants to emigrate. The Protestant religion, however, continued under the surface, especially in the German townships. From 1642 Moravia was the theatre of the devastating wars between the imperial forces and the Swedes, who maintained a foothold in the land until the Peace of 1648 (in Olmütz 1650). Sixty-three castles, twenty-two large towns, and three hundred and thirty villages were destroyed, and the plague swept away thousands of the inhabitants whom the war had spared. On the conclusion of the Thirty Years' War the Catholic restoration was actively resumed. From Olmütz, Brünn, Iglau, Znaim, and Hradisch outwards, the Jesuits displayed a fruitful activity by holding missions far and wide, while the Piarists performed valuable service by establishing schools in numerous places. The lack of secular clergy, however, continued for a long time an obstacle to complete Catholicization. Under Leopold I, Joseph I, and Charles VI, Moravia enjoyed as a rule peaceful conditions, although in 1633 the Turks and Tatars penetrated as far as Olmütz and Brünn, devastating the land. The wars begun by Frederick II of Prussia for the possession of Silesia reduced Moravia to a piteous state, especially northern Moravia and Olmütz. Maria Theresa and Joseph II introduced extensive alterations in almost all branches of the administrative system. The administration was greatly centralized, the autonomy of the estates and the Diet was abolished, and in 1782 Moravia was united with Silesia for purposes of administration. In favour of the Protestants a patent of tolerance was issued, while on the other hand thirteen monasteries for men and six for women were suppressed. The University of Olmütz, deserted after the suppression of the Jesuit Order, was transferred in 1778 to Brünn, where a bishopric had been founded in 1777, Olmütz being simultaneously raised to an archdiocese. Emperor Leopold restored to the estates a certain independence.
The Napoleonic era did not pass by without leaving a landmark in Moravia, for at Austerlitz, in the centre of the land, was fought the decisive battle of the Third Coalition War, and the subsequent contest between Austria and Napoleon took place partly in Moravia (Battle of Znaim). The Restoration was followed by many years of peace. The Austrian Revolution of 1848 gave Moravia and the other crown lands of Austria a constitution, substantially unaltered today, and admitted the co-operation of the people in the making of laws. In 1866 Moravia was the scene of the latest war between Austria and Prussia, which was decided at the Battle of Königgrätz, and a Moravian town, Nikolsburg, witnessed the preliminary negotiations which resulted in the Peace of Prague. In the subsequent era of peace Moravia made great strides in cultural and economical development. The national quarrels between the Germans and Czechs, which even today (1910) convulse Austria and especially the portion of Bohemia bordering on Moravia, found a friendly settlement in Moravia in 1905. The electoral conditions were altered so as to include in addition to the three electoral classes of the landed interests, the cities, and the rural districts a fourth general electoral class consisting of every qualified voter; separate German and Czech electoral districts were established according to the national land registers, and curiæ of the separate nationalities were instituted to settle all disputes involving the question on nationality. The question of language in the case of the autonomous national and district authorities has been settled on a bilingual basis, and the division of the school board according to nationality accomplished. Although, by the acceptance of this franchise reform, the Germans lost their previous majority in the Diet, they gave their consent to the change in the interests of public peace.
Politically speaking the Margraviate of Moravia is an Austrian crown land, the highest administrative authority being vested in the governor at Brünn. The Diet consists of 149 deputies: 2 members with individual vote, the Archbishop of Olmütz and the Bishop of Brünn; 30 members of the landed interests (10 German, 20 Czech); 3 deputies from the Chamber of Commerce of Olmütz and from that of Brünn; 40 representatives of the towns (20 German, 20 Czech); 51 representatives of the rural communes (14 German); 20 deputies from the electoral curiæ (6 German). In the Imperial Diet of the Austrian Crownlands Moravia is represented by 49 deputies. Ecclesiastically, the land is divided into the dioceses of Olmütz and Brünn, which are treated in separate articles. The Protestants have 1 Superintendentur, 14 Seniorate, and 45 parishes; the Jews 50 cultural districts. The area of Moravia is 8573 square miles. According to the census of 1900 the population of Moravia was 2,437,706 inhabitants, including 2,325,574 Catholics, 185 Uniats, 66,365 Protestants, 44,255 Jews; and, according to nationality, 695,492 Germans and 1,727,270 Czechs. At the beginning of 1909 the population was estimated at 2,591,980.
PITTER, Monasticon histor. diplomat. omnium Moravi monasteriorum (11 vols., 1760); Codex diplomat. et epist. Moravi (15 vols., Olmütz and Brünn, 1836-1903); ERBEN AND EMLER, Regesta diplomat. necon epist. Bohemi et Moravi (19 vols., Prague, 1855); A. WOLNY, Die Markgrafschaft Mähren (6 vols., Brünn, 1835); G. WOLNY, Kirchl. Topographie von Mähren (8 vols., Brünn, 1855); DUDIK, Mährens allg. Gesch. (12 vols. and index, Brünn, 1860-88); WEINBRENNER, Mähren u. das Bistum Brünn (Vienna, 1877); BRETHOLZ, Gesch. Mährens (2 vols., Brünn, 1893-5); TRAUTENBERGER, Chronik der Landeshauptstadt Brünn (5 vols., Brünn, 1892-8); Die österreich. Monarchie in Wort u. Bild, XVII: Mähren u. Schlesien (Vienna, 1897); PROKOP, Mähren in kunstgeschichtl. Beziehung (4 vols., Brünn, 1904); DVORAK, Gesch. der Markgrafschaft Mähren (Brünn, 1906); Zeitschr. des deutschen Ver. für Gesch. Mährens u. Schlesiens (1897).
APA citation. (1911). Moravia. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10561a.htm
MLA citation. "Moravia." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10561a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Bruce C. Berger.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.