The land of Bohemia (modern Slovakia and the Czech Republic) is the rising star of Eastern Europe in the early 13th Century. Vast mineral deposits of gold and silver have enriched its landed magnates and created powerful noble families, particularly the Premyslid family of the Cechové tribe. With land holdings from the Labe (Elbe in German) to the Vltava (Moldau in German) rivers, this family holds the hereditary claim to the King of Bohemia, as well as the Margrave of Moravia. They have converted their peasants into serfs, who largely grow crops and raise cattle. However, they have also supervised the migration of Germans into the kingdom, and as a result, the climate is not secure.
Ties to Germany are relatively new (first evidenced with the ascendancy of Sobeslav to the Bohemian throne in 1140), but strong. Sobeslav had grown up in the court of the German Hohenstaufens in Bavaria, and requested consent from the German Emperor to claim his seat. Each Bohemian king since this time has honored this tradition, and despite is independent status, Bohemia is now considered part of the Holy Roman Empire. Further, the Bishop of Prague is under the diocese of the Archbishop of Mainz.
The current Bohemian King, Premysl Otakar (1197-1230), invited German colonists to settle the land (including that of his brother Vladislav, the Margrave of Moravia), since they are known for their adept mining skills. Germans have introduced the iron plough, three-field cultivation, and quickly transformed much of the land. Further, the king has granted the colonists the 'German right', which grants them outright ownership of any forests which they clear and transform into farmland.
Today, Germans dominate the urban areas of the nation, particularly the richest towns of the kingdom, Prague, Kutna Hora, and Nemecky´ Brod (their presence is so pronounced, that such towns have well-known Germanic names... Kutna Hora for example, is called Küttenberg). In fact, linked by roads to Austria, travelers can make the journey from Wien to Prague and have the impression they haven't left German-speaking regions.
There is a great resentment among the Czech nobility to the Germanification of the kingdom. In fact, animosity has permeated the region for centuries. Prince Rotislav in the 10th Century requested Orthodox teachers from the Byzantine Empire to thwart the influence of the Western Christian influence of Salzburg and Passau. Although the effort largely failed, it can still be inferred by the existence of both Cyrillic and Old Slavonic (original written languages incorporating both Greek characters and new letters devised to bring the local Czechs into the Orthodox faith).
Czech nobles feel their power-base ebbing with the influx of Germans, and have been known to butcher German settlers in retaliation. Many of the nobles are quite powerful, particularly the Slavnikovci family in eastern Moravia. The nobles have their own system of roads linking their castles, and charge tolls to use them. Towns are largely pro-King and pro-German (under royal protection), while the rural regions are under the authority of individual czech nobles. Influence of these nobles extends eastward into the land of Slovakia (across the Vlara pass), beyond the easternmost border of the Empire.
Rabenstein has had rather limited interaction with the rich but troubled lands of Moravia and Bohemia. However, consternation at the Moravian Covenant of Lacrimare Saxum (Weeping Rock) lured an expedition to the region in 1207 (see the tale Tales Along the Road to Bohemia).
Breclav is a fortified settlement in the March of Moravia that straddles the confluence of the Jihlava and Morava rivers. An inn, the Silver Wheel, is known to Rabenstein due to the redcap Aestrius, who recommended it to the Magi. A grizzled old man named Stefaník is the hostler, and expects both payment in silver and a gift of some kind (he assured the Magi of lodging at any time in the future).
The fortress of the "hedge wizard" Samo Svaty´(discovered to be the renounced Hermetic wizard Hecunáh of Callimachus in the adventure summary King Samo, Master of Lepers). Oravsky Podzámok is built on a limestone crag overlooking the Orava river, and has recently attracted throngs of lepers due to the purported healing powers of its ruler. Particularly well-defended by its advantageous geography, Bogomile heretics have also recently inhabited the fortress.
Also known as Lobkowitz to the Germans, Lobkovíce is a small settlement in the marshes of Dürnkrat, north of Vienna. An expedition from Rabenstein stayed in the village with Anheta of Arteman, investigating a folk legend (see the Tale of the Morena, recited in the adventure summary Tales Along the Road to Bohemia). Having aided the villagers, a future expedition from Rabenstein would surely be well-received.
A large town along the Morava river, just above the confluence of the Ostravice, and known as Olmütz in German. This is the nearest sizable town to Weeping Rock Covenant, and probably lies near to Zlín, home to Czech nobles that clashed with an expedition from Rabenstein in 1207 (see The Hunting Party of Master Imre of Zlín, recited in the adventure summary Tales Along the Road to Bohemia).
Also known as Küttenberg, this is the wealthiest Bohemian town next to Prague. A rich silver-mining center, it is surrounded by coniferous woodlands, the forest of Hory (as is much of the landscape in Bohemia).
This page last modified on 12/4/02.
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