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Bohemia

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 11 April 2002

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the medieval kingdom of Bohemia which was at the crossroads of Europe and, during the 15th century, at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire. Under Charles IV, its cosmopolitan capital Prague became a cultural and intellectual centre, attracting scholars and artists from all over Europe. But Prague was awash with religious and political dissent. At its core stood the anarchist philosopher Jan Hus, whose ideas anticipated the Lutheran Reformation by a full century. He was burnt at the stake, but his followers, the Hussites, embarked on a series of wars that continue to mark the Czech and German characters even today. Why was Bohemia such a crucible of dissent and how were its ideas exported to the rest of Europe? What did it mean to be Bohemian then and how was the ancient kingdom of Bohemia, with its ferment of religious, national and ethnic ideologies, divided up to form the states of modern Central Europe? With Norman Davies, Professor Emeritus, University of London; Karin Friedrich, Lecturer in History, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London; Robert Pynsent, Professor of Czech and Slovak Literature, University College London.

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