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The Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Age

 
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The Czech Lands experienced an economic decline in the early 15th century. The 16th century, under the rule of Rudolph II, was a time of great economic growth. It was also during this period that chemistry became rooted in the Czech Lands thanks to Rudolph's alchemists.

 
 
The early 15th century is connected with the Hussite revolt, which caused a notable economic decline. Due to this uprising, the country faced international isolation since the pope, and thus the whole of Catholic Europe, declared a ban on trading with the “heretic” Bohemia, which was de facto a trade embargo. The state was significantly weakened, and in such a situation it was definitely unable to actively support the development of production, crafts and trade. Due to epidemics, famine and other negative accompanying phenomena of the Hussite revolt, the population in the Czech provinces declined 40–50%. It took some time for the country’s wounds to heal. Whatever positive aspects the Hussite movement had had, undoubtedly contributing to a great national self-awareness, in terms of the economic life the effects were quite negative.

After the inauguration of  George of Poděbrady the economic situation was markedly revived, and the king’s diplomatic activities were instrumental in supporting international trade development. The country quickly recovered from the economic depression caused by the political instability of the previous years.

In the 16th century, there was a great expansion. Production became ever more sophisticated, due also to the inflow of foreign craft masters, again mostly from Germany and Italy. During the reign of  Rudolph II,  Prague virtually became the capital city of the kingdom, and Rudolph’s court was filled with the greatest artists and scientists of that time. The alchemic workshops at Prague Castle were witness to, in addition to the quaint attempts at devising the Stone of Wisdom, etc., the first discoveries in natural science, in particular in chemistry. Here we can find the roots of an important industry that was later to influence economic life in the Czech provinces more than almost any other industrial activity.

 
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Added: 02.01.2010
 
 
 

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