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Traces of the Pilsen History

The New Town of Pilsen was founded at the confluence of four rivers - Radbuza, Mze, Uhlava and Uslava - following a decree issued  by the Czech king Wenceslas II. He did so in 1295. Since the very beginning, the town became a busy trade center located at the crossroads of two important trade routes. They were linking the Czech lands with German cities Nuremburg and Regensburg. In the 14th century, Pilsen was the third largest town after Prague and Kutna Hora. It comprised 290 houses on an area of 20 ha. Its population was 3,000 inhabitants.   In the 16th century, after several fires that damaged the inner center of the town, Italian architects and builders contributed significantly to the changing character of the city. The most renowned among them was Giovanni de Statia. The Holy Roman Emperor, Czech king Rudolf II, resided in Pilsen twice between 1599-1600. It was in the time of the Estates revolt. He fell in love with the city. He even bought two houses neighbouring with the town hall and had them reconstructed according to his taste. Later, in 1618, Pilsen was besieged and captured by Count Mansfeld's army. Many Baroque style buildings dating to the end of the 17th century were designed by Jakub Auguston. Sculptures were done by Kristian Widman. The historical heart of the City - almost identical with the original Gothic layout - was declared protected historic city reserve in 1989.

Pilsen experienced a tremendous growth in the first half of the 19th century. The City Brewery was founded in 1842 and the Skoda Works in 1859. With the population of 167, 000 inhabitants, Pilsen prides itself on being the seat of the University of West Bohemia and Bishopric.

Historic Overview

10th century

976: first written record of a castle called Plzen
992: bishop st. Vojtech founded a small monastery and a church Kostelec of the Virgin Mary, nowaday's Church of st. George in Doubravka

13th century

1295: New Pilsen was founded at the order of the king Wenceslas II. Plans were made by the royal architect Jindrich. The town stretched on 20 ha. Its  layout was formed by a rectangular net of 15 streets and a square.

14th century

1307: first written record about a brewery in Pilsen. The oldest known town seal was attached to the document.
1328: first mention of a Latin school in the town

15th century

1411: Master John Hus wrote a letter to the Pilseners, in which he prided their moral behavior and appealed to them for persisting
1414: burghers led by the priest Vaclava Koranda senior expelled members of the Order of German Knights out of the town
1419: Novembre: Vaclav Koranda brought a group of South-Bohemian Hussites to Pilsen. They were led by John Hus. 
1420: March: Hussites left the town for Tabor. Pilsen has stayed loyal to the Roman-Catholic Church since. 
1421: Zizka besieged Pilsen for the first time - without success
1427: Hussites besieged the town, later again in 1431 and 1433-1434
1434: September 19 - Zikmund's Golden Bull freed the town citizens from royal tallage, duties, tolls, and other charges
1449: Pilsen became member of the anti-Podebrady Unity of Strakonice 
1460: Great Bolevec Lake founded 
1466: Pilseners turned away from the Czech king Gerge of Podebrady
1466: Prague chapter receiving Communion of consecrated bread resided in Pilsen till 1478
1468: Pilseners recognized Matyas of Hungary as the Czech king
1480: Pilseners gained the town magistrate's office
1485-1486: first Czech book - Trojanska Chronicle - was printed in Pilsen

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16th century

1507: devastating fire destroyed 2/3 of the town, further fires in 1525, 1526, 1601, 1604, 1729, 1792, and 1835
1546: after death of Matous of Svihov, the last parson of the Order of the German Knights, the town received a patronage right over the parish church
1578: town council agreed that no non-Catholic person can become a town burgher.  Since, Pilsen has stayed a faithful Catholic town
1599: emperor Rudolf II escaped to Pilsen from the plague epidemic in Prague. He resided in the town till 1600. Pilsen became thus temporarily the capital of the empire.

17th century

1619:

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1633: Albrecht of Valdstejn stayed in the town till February 1634; He was murdered in Cheb on February 25 in 1634.
1635: plague in Pilsen, further epidemics in 1648, 1680, 1714; 1832 - outbreak of cholery
1681: plague column erected at the town square; It bears the first marks of Baroque in Pilsen. 
1695: Jan Sladky Kozina was executed in Pilsen; he was the leader of rebels of Domazlice region. His carcass was left hanging on the gallows for more than a year.

18th century

1714: Dominican convent founded

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1776: grammar school established in Pilsen
1779: Elisabethan property reforms: serfs allowed to rent and use shares of the town lordly yards
1786: population of the city rose to 5.246 inhabitants
1788: municipal government established in the town

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1795: demolition of medieval town walls began 
1799: Russian army passed via the town. The Russians were an ally of Austria in the war against Napoleon. General Suvorov stayed in the town on December 16 - 18.

19th century

1804: philosophical institute established

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1818: first Czech theatre performance shown in Pilsen 
1819: Czech trivial school founded - the first Czech school in the town
1827: D. L. Levita's tannery founded, the third biggest in Bohemia
1832: first stone theatre in Pilsen founded, hospital opened up
1835: fire damaged the spire of St. Bartholomew's Church

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1836 February 2: J. V. Sedlacek died. He was a representative of the first revivalistic generation in Pilsen. 
1840 - 43: composer Bedrich Smetana studied in Pilsen
1842: burghers' brewery began brewing beer
1849: Sasky bridge - nowaday's Roosevelt bridge - made accessible
1856: July 11: J. K. Tyl died in Pilsen. He is buried at the Mikulas cemetery. 
1858: telegraph connection to Marienbad established, Pilsen square and main streets were lit by gas lamps
1859: Waldstein engineering entreprise established, it was purchased by Emil Skoda in 1869 
1859: town square - nowaday's Square of the Republic - was paved with cobblestones
1861: February 18: J. F. Smetana died. He was a representative of the second generation of Pilsen revivalists.
1861: rail connection linked Pilsen to Furth im Wald, further tracks allowed connection of Pilsen and Prague (1862), Ceske Budejovice and Vienna (1868), Pilsen and Cheb (1872), Pilsen and Zatec (1873), Pilsen and Zelezna Ruda (1878)
1866: two-month occupation by Prussian soldiers

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1889: new town waterworks established at Homolka
1899: town power station built, town electric rail established linking Bory to Lochotin - its creator was ing. Frantisek Krizik

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1899: Skoda's entreprise turned into an l.t.d. company

20th century

1902: new hospital opened up at Bory
1902: new theatre building opened up - nowady's J. K. Tyl theatre
1906 May 4: Frantisek Schwarz died. He was a representative of the third revival generation in Pilsen.
1917 May 25: 300 people died after an explosion in an ammunition factory at Bolevec 
1917 August 14: martial law inhibited in Pilsen, cancelled in a fortnight
1918 June 21: 6 children died after shooting at a hungry crowd of children in Koterovska Street
1918 October 28: declaration of existence of the Czechoslovak Republic
1924: Great Pilsen established by annexing the communities of Doubravka, Doudlevce, Lobzy, and Skvrnany. After the annexation, Pilsen had 108.023 inhabitants.
1938: Litice, a village near Pilsen, was annexed to Germany by occupational troops
1941: first trolleybuss lines opened up
1942: town government was established in Pilsen, annexation of Bolevec, Bozkov, Bukovec, Cernice, Hradiste, Koterov, Radobycice, Ujezd
1942 - 45: 926 people died and 6.777 houses were damaged in 11 air raids
1945: May 5: Pilsen citizens spontaneously rose against German invaders
1945: in the morning of May 6, American army entered the town, Pilsen was liberated from the Nazi oppression 
1945: Medical Department of the Charles University established in Pilsen
1948: Pedagogical faculty established in Pilsen
1949: Technical school of engineering and electrotechnics eatablished in Pilsen
1953 June 1: Pilsen citizens demonstrated against monetary reform and the communist regime, the uprisal was suppressed by the militia and the comunist power. Memorial of the liberation with a statue of T. G. Masaryk was put down.
1957: construction of blocks of flats started - 1957 Slovany, 1961 Doubravka, 1966 Bory, 1968 Slovany, 1974 Lochotin, 1989 Vinice
1972: Pilsen inhabitants reach the number of 150.000
1976: administrative body of nowaday's Pilsen came to existence. After a period of temporary annexations and separations Cernice, Radobycice, Koterov, Cerveny Hradek, Krimice, Radcice, (Litice already in 1970) became deffinitely parts of Pilsen
1985: first section of the Lochotin hospital opened up
1990: Pilsen was home of 175,038 inhabitants
1991: University of Western Bohemia established
1993: bishopric opened up 

Published: 2016-04-12, Martin Pecuch