4 2003 Dějiny English
obálka čísla

As is well known, everybody has his/her own family tree. Generally, manifold vestiges of the past life rise to the surface. Really, we are their components and continuation. Indeed, genealogy is a rather old history, which is in a state of constant development.

Allow me to open up one of those charts. To simplify matters, let us narrow our view by focusing our attention on solely seven preceding generations. In such an event when I start with myself, all those who preceded me loom up extensively in a huge cluster. Acutally, within those seven generations in question, there are already 127 names and fates, which represent a continous large row of hopes, wretched dispairs, expectations, vanity and happiness, grace and tragedy. Yes, they always crop up with their beginnings and their ends.

In fact, when bombs were dropped on my town of birth during the WWII, I was in my early childhood naturally unable to comprehend what was going on in this world. To wit, my father was becoming a young man. At that time, the last Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, called such men up for military service. Accordingly, my father was detailed to Innsbruck (Austria). My grandfather was born during such years, when big political and social fightings were taking place, resulting from the foregoing repercussions of various conflicts, originally arising at Paris Commune in France in those days. As for my great-grandparents, they spent their childhood in an amosphere of the strengthening National Revival, burgeoning within the Austrian Empire at that time. Well, an almost withering-away nation was yearning after its own recognition and self-confidence. Withal, those were also the days, when the famous musical comedy "Fidlovacka" was often played, in order to boost thereby further Czech national consciouness.

Also, a group of Czech patriots, like Joseph Jungmann, John Kollar, etc.were then dreaming about the Slavs' greatness. It was just in those days, when the very harsh oppression by the rigorous Austrian Alexander Bach took place. He was a Viennese attorney at law. Before long, he became a member of the Austrian government body in such capacity as Secretary of the Interior. His almost 50 years period of performing of his duties were characterized by imposing an extremely severe ruling. That is why that space of time is often called an " Era of Neoabsolutism". Such an environment entailed a great variation of hopes and/or disappointments, as well as many promises and numerous deceits. These were also the times, when the Austian Emperor imposed his "October Decree".. Into the bargain, Bismarck's Prussian soldiers invaded.

Bohemia in 1866. All these occurrences had, of course, a very detrimental influence on the development of the life of individuals, casuing them very many problems. Regrettably, in retrospect, our opinion about these scenarios is nowadays viewed in a rather colorful way, as we perceive those past times as an idyllic period.

The oldest great-grandmother was born three years after the fall of The Bastille (used as State prison) in Paris (France), which was destroyed by the populace of Prais on 14 July 1789. She practically passed her childhood during the time which was marked by many disturbing unrests. As everyone know, at the beginning of the 19th cebntury, especially central Europe was constantly distressed by the Napoleonic war activities. Afterwards, as soon as peace was finally attained, it was soon diversified by an era of another Austrian absolutism. This time, it occurred under the sway of prince Klement Venceslaus Metternich, who became a State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire. This again was an interval of general political silencing when everybody had to be on one's utter guard before the numerous police spies. The critical height of this period was the time around the year 1848.

All this happened in the coourse of time, when Karel Havlicek Borovsky, a Czech journalist, played an important role in Czechs' lives. Above all, he was proud of being Czech, not Slav. The police spies quickly found him, and as many others of that generation, he was also silenced by ill-treatment and tortured to death. Those were the results of absolutism of both Bach's and Metternich's ruling...

The great-grandfathers, their wifes, and their fellow-citizens passed their lives throughout the periods of the Czech and Hungarian Kingdom of Maria Thereia as well as Joseph II. Thereafter, they were exposed to the Prussian invasion of Boehmia (nowadays Cechy), when such foreign soldiers were fighting at the Czech town of Kolin (Cologne) in 1867. The desastrous war of seven years was for many of the people the beginning of a new life. None the less, they were watching all the developments of manufacturing with gtreat astonishment. They were also astounded by numerous reforms and innovations, such as street house numbering, etc.

In the seventh generation of my family tree, the predecessors were witnessing a period of deep feudalism. The majority of my forefathers were serfs, cottagers, farmers or of any other craft professions. If we want to consider an example, we could quote Jacob Tichy, who was a neighbor, a councellor, a gingerbread producer, and a wax manufacturer. He was born on February 11, 1738, married on October 29, 1771, and died in 1815. As for the eigth generation, we found that one of the ancestors was born in the year, when John Sladky Kozina, a leader of the men-at-arms resistance in the southwestern border region of Bohemia, called Chodsko, was executed in November 1695. Considering the ninth generation, we could notice that it was a space of time, when all the marvellous baroque constructions were built. Much to our regret, we must admit that this time was also filled with deep grief and sadness, because it was a period of deadening of the national hope.

My progenitor, who lived at that time, was listed as a tailor master, a neighbor and a judge. He married a daughter of the tapster at a country church. Their first son, a future baker master, was born exactly within nine months from their wedding day. The last vestiges in my genealogy were leading me to the tenth generation. Can yoiu imagine that this great, great.....&c.-grandfather was born in the year, when the "Winter King" (1619-1620) Frederick (Bedrich) the Patinate (Falcky) held the rule, and passed his young age during the 30 Years-War [ 1618-1630 ] He also spent a part of his life in the course of the Hapsburg government.

Hence, the individual acts are changing. but not the theatre itself...... Their lives were causing them many sufferings and distresses, but still it always gave them some hope. Well, new children of every generation have constantly been born. Luckily, they brought happiness and blessing, which were enabling them to taste a real sense of their lives. Unfortunately, there were also those, who were often continously aging and dying, as if it were not normal. By good fortune, mothers were bearing new children. The very sad part of it was that these children might be serving as soldiers in the Emperor's army, whenever he waged a war. Regrettably, those have never come to a stop. Therefore, any real sense of our lives is thereby not solved, not even that one of a simple livelihood. It is true that we are very often talking about these matters from time to time. Only our death returns to us with a great certainty, and she is constantly toying with us as with some puppets exposed to a wind, which helps to empty the "poppy-heads". Thus, within a period of 300 years, ten generations have ben covered.

A family tree has still much deeper meaning ..... Actually, it grows like a real tree. In its growth, it attains its respective height, it has its roots which are fantastically twisted or tied up in numerous knots. In the long run, we do not even become aware of the hard facts, how intertwined and akin we are to each other. In such an event when we really want to comprehend all that conglomeration, we are obliged to dig further and deeper into those particulars to get the whole dimension. In such an event when we wish to take as a basis the effective strength of those 300 years, covered by our genealogy, we have to get to the bottom of the matter. It is true that we may avail ourselves of all the people whom we know at the very least by names, making use of their births and deaths. But afterwards, many momenteous factors arise to be deliberated upon. The more so, when we start immersing ouselves into the depths of times immemorial, which we may only venture by using mathematical systems. Accordingly, we arrive at a conclusion which is both simple and fanciful. That is to say that within rhe preceding thousand years, which have in reality created existence of the Czech state, a great diversity is at our disposal. During that period at least 35 generations have interchanged themselves subsequently. As a matter of fact, they were actually much more multifarious. This is especially valid when one takes into account that the persons' life span was at that time shorter, which in turn resulted in a muc h quicker change of generations. Consequently, we reach a fantastic conclusion. Supposing that we follow e.g. a flock of locusts based on a geometrical row. We notice that considering every one of its members, a new proper swarm of life is created. Bearing in mind resemblance to it, we may observe women spinners, as they twist individual threads into invariably growing interweaving.

Let us think over the epoch of contemporaries of Saint Venceslaus (born in 907 and assissinated in 935; he founded the Church of St. Vitus at the Prague castle). We perceive that from that time on, we have behind us an extremely large army of predecessors. In such count, we may not even take into consideration all the side offshoots, brothers, uncles, cousins, etc. As a results, we may consider exclusively only direct parents. Providing that we always bear in mind all the parents of the parents "ad infinitum", we may observe an extensive picture of a very queer chessboard. By the way, such peculiar mosaic recalls to our mind a legendary reward, granted and applied in those olden days, based on multiple golden grains to be deposited in each of the tiny fields similar to those of a chessboard. Well, such is then our family tree.

It really is all but incredible how the individual relationships intertwine. In fact, they are mutually growing by way of additions and multiplications. So, we arrive at an almost impossible and well-nigh unbelievable number of 34 359, 738 367 persons. Nevertheless, should we relapse in primary sources of the Slav settlements of our lands, we have to reflect on 55 generations, facing an astronomoical figure of 36 billions of direct ancestors. According to our calculations, these fugures are correct. Errors are to be found elsewhere. A justification for them is to be found in the reality that many of those indications, in fact a great majority of them, are simply occasioned by the growth of the repeated registries.

Consequently, it is rather difficult to discern the individual branches of the same racial tribe. Hence, we are no more in a position to differentiate the pertaining individualities. Only the rich top of the family tree is recognizable. Much to our regret, we must admit that a greater part of the whole forebears' gamut was recorded several times, which was carried out subsequently by their followers. Notwithstanding, we are convinced that we are not at all aliens to each other . The distant consanguinity returns in a new blood, thus creating a fresh wine in a single large vineyard. Our mutual kinship which may even have been frogotten gathers a new fresh breath in spite of the former congeniality, which may have been forgotten in the meantime. This really is then just a large family tree, creating the whole nation. Sisters and brothers have been converging together in emulation of their great-grandfathers and/or grandmothers by adopting their social life. In so doing, they placed us finally at the end of the twisting road, leading us from the mythological mountain Rip, located in northern part of Bohemia, up to our times. Thus, we are closely knitted kinship where mutual relationships have high values, but we also become at the same time aware of our joint reponsibility. The latter has its serious meaning for every day of our lives, especially as it covers all those of us, who will carry on the torch of the continuing life development within our wonderful family tree.

Zdenek Pokorny
(Translated by Charles Opatrny)

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