Historica 2/2018



Lynn Hunt
Writing History Today: From Postmodern Challenge to Global History

History as a field of study has been going through rapid mutations in the last decades. Post-modernism challenged the notion of a unitary self and even the notion of truth. Identity politics undermined national narratives by showing how many had been left out of the accounts. More recently, global history has shifted attention away from nation-states toward the international migration of peoples and goods. Historians need to lead the way in working through these issues in order to provide a history that is adequate to the challenges of citizenship in the twenty-first century. This is all the more true as lying about the past has moved from the margins to the centre of political life in many places.

Charles Ingrao
The Changing Face of Habsburg History: Truth or Consequences?

Recent decades have witnessed a torrent of Anglo-American scholarship about the Habsburg monarchy. Beginning with R. J. W. Evans’ classic The Making of the Habsburg Monarchy 1550–1700, Early Modern historians have stressed both its eccentricities and its valuable contributions to the European modernization process. Meanwhile, nineteenth- and twentieth-century scholars have stressed its emergence as a liberal constitutional monarchy with a dynamic economy, a vibrant, highly educated civil society, a fiercely professional bureaucracy, and an impartial judiciary that actually sustained the unfettered development of multiple national movements. Their findings and interpretations pose an existential challenge to the traditional proprietary “nationalist” narratives that still prevail in the successor states, particularly those that have sharpened the divisions within and between the democratic states of contemporary Central Europe.


Douglas Biggs
“Our Dearest Uncle:” Edmund of Langley, Duke of York, and the Resumption of Richard II’s Personal Rule, 1389–1392

The middle years of Richard II’s reign (1377–1399) have received a good deal of attention in the past twenty-five years. Yet, the resumption of Richard’s personal rule, one of the most important events from the late 1380s and early 1390s, has received only passing analysis. This article considers the politics surrounding Richard II’s resumption of personal rule in May 1389. It argues that Richard II did not have the political muscle to undertake this act alone and unaided. It also argues that the key player in the king’s return to power was his uncle, Edmund of Langley, Duke of York. The new Royal Council and high officers of state that were appointed in the weeks after May 3 were all “elder statesmen” and Edmund of Langley’s friends, not those of Richard II. As such the events of 1389 represent a shift back to a more moderate government and a government run by collaboration and consensus which lasted until politics again began to spin out of control in 1397.

Jan Stejskal
Meeting the Emperor: Several Days in Ferrara in 1433

The study is concerned with the history of diplomacy using the brief example of a meeting with Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg in Ferrara in September 1433. The main goal of the paper is to analyze briefly orations delivered by various envoys in the presence of the Emperor as well as to analyze the link between them defined by their Humanism and their love for arts and letters.

Ondřej Jakubec
The Conversion and Reconversion of Sacral Architecture in the Confessional Cultures of the Early Modern Era

This text aims at introducing the specific conversions of sacral buildings in the Bohemian Lands in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the context of the rivalry between denominations. The terms “conversion” and “reconversion” relates to logically different processes which accompanied the appropriation of sacral buildings by particular denominations. In the sixteenth century, members of new, reformed denominations usually moved into churches used previously by the general church. They often modified them for their purposes and thus the buildings and interiors underwent the process of a specific conversion (or “reformation”). Also the Catholics, esp. after 1620, regained these converted churches and adapted them back according to their needs – they reconverted them. The main issue of the study, apart from several case studies of converted and reconverted churches in the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, proposes a question as to what really happens when a church undergoes conversion or re-conversion? The transformation naturally affects its material elements but it is the socio-religious context that primarily changes: the liturgy, rituals, prayers, chants, and various religious practices which the congregation performs. The converted sacral building was a centre of public life and had great symbolic potential. The phenomenological aspect of architecture reflects the fact that architecture is defined by not only its forms but above all by the social relations it contains and generates. In multi-denominational areas and transitional time periods, these relations are numerous and complex, often finding their expression in various “building strategies” as instruments of individual denominations’ identity politics.

Jitka Kohoutová
Representation of Motherhood Identity in the Ego-Documents from the Family of Sofie Podlipská

The modernisation processes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had a fundamental impact on the structure of society, on social and work relations, and on the roles that an individual played in the social space. Among other things, family concepts were transformed and social categories were redefined, with feminine and masculine identities also being reshaped in connection with this. The following text focuses on motherhood as one of the aspects of feminine identity and how it is represented in ego-documents. The aim of this paper is thus to analyse the discourses which reflect how reality as well as the subjectivity of motherhood identity is understood and constructed. More precisely, the paper will focus on the ways motherhood identity and its reflection in everyday practices are represented in personal reflections, i.e., in this case in the private diaries, correspondence, and memoirs written in the family of Sofie Podlipská.


Dana Dvořáčková Malá et. al., Dvůr a církev v českých zemích středověku (Praha: Historický ústav, 2017). Reviewed by: Jiří Gregor

Joachim Bahlcke, Kateřina Bobková-Valentová, and Jiří Mikulec, eds., Religiöse Gewalt, konfessionelle Konflikte und Modelle von Gewaltprävention in Mitteleuropa (15. – 18. Jahrhundert) [Religious Violence, Confessional Conflicts, and Models for Violence Prevention in Central Europe (Fifteenth–Eighteenth Centuries)] (Praha: Historický ústav, 2017; Stuttgart: Universität Stuttgart, 2017). Reviewed by: Aneta Kubalová

Lukáš Fasora, Josef Hybeš (1850–1921). Život, dílo a mýtus [Josef Hybeš (1850–1921): Life, Work, and Myth] (Praha: Lidové noviny, 2017). Reviewed by: Kristýna Olszarová