Ernest Denis (1849-1921)
Some time ago there appeared a short story in the newspapers about a memorial plaque being placed on the house No. 4 on Malostranske namesti to commemorate Professor Ernest Denis - "whose name is generally unknown."
This is not entirely true. The older generation still remembers that the railway station in Tesnov used to be called the Denis Station and that Ernest Denis was a friend and a very important supporter of Thomas G. Masaryk and helped a great deal in our struggle for freedom.
Ernest Denis was born in Nimes, France in a Protestant family. He devoted his life to studying history, geography and languages and spent about 3 years in Middle Europe to study Czech, Russian, Polish and Bulgarian and the history of those nations. He became very interested in Czech history and admired the work of Frantisek Palacky. After returning to France he became professor of history and foreign literatures at various universities. In 1905 he was named full professor at the Sorbonne. He loved to spend his vacations in the Czech lands whose history fascinated him. He became an ardent friend and admirer of the Czech people and their struggle for survival through the centuries. He loved the various Czech traditions, the skills and hard work of the people, the music, literature and poetry. He traveled extensively in the Czech lands and visited many interesting and historic sites. He wrote numerous books about the Czechs; for example: "Bohemia after the White Mountain", "The Hussites," "Hus et la Guerre des Hussites", "Les Origines de L'unite des Freres Bohemes", "Georges de Podebrady" and others.
Ernest Denis was one of the first scholars to support the Czech fight for freedom and cooperated with Thomas G. Masaryk, Edward Benes and Milan R. Stefanik during WWI. He rejoiced when the Czechoslovak Republic was established. All his life he lectured enthusiastically about the Czech people and their history to his students. He contributed to the journal "La Nation Tscheque", founded the revue " Le Monde Slave"and established a chair for Slavic studies at the University of Paris called: "Chair Ernest Denis -History of the Slavic Nations, Foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic." He was named Member of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. The French Institute in Prague is also named after him. A statue of Ernest Denis by the artist Spaniel has been erected in Nimeshis birthplace.Dagmar Stetinova Translated by Marie Dolanska
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