Vaclav Hajek z Libocan

Vaclav Hajek z Libocan

Czech priest and chronicler
Country: Czech

Content:
  1. Biography of Václav Hájek of Libočany
  2. Introduction
  3. Early Life and Career
  4. Work at the Augustinian Monastery
  5. The Czech Chronicle
  6. Legacy

Biography of Václav Hájek of Libočany

Introduction

Václav Hájek of Libočany was a Czech priest and chronicler, best known for his work "Czech Chronicle" which gained popularity during his time. He was born in the late 15th century into a noble family in the vicinity of Žatec.

Early Life and Career

Hájek initially served as a Utraquist priest, but in 1521, he converted to Catholicism and became a Catholic priest. He served in various positions, including as a priest in Rožmitál in 1526 and as a dean in Karlštejn and a priest in Tětin from 1527 to 1534. Later, he became the protector of Stará Boleslav.

Work at the Augustinian Monastery

From 1524, Hájek gained popularity as a preacher at the St. Thomas Augustinian Monastery in Lesser Town, Prague. Due to the support from the Catholic nobility, he held numerous profitable church positions. However, he often neglected his duties and engaged in intrigues, leading to the loss of these positions.

The Czech Chronicle

In response to the Hussites' plan to publish a new Czech chronicle, some Catholic nobles approached Hájek and requested him to compose a pro-Catholic chronicle. They granted him access to the Main Czech Archive. For his work, which was published in 1541, Hájek collected a vast amount of sources, including Czech and foreign chronicles, extracts from charters and property registers, and records of folk legends and traditions. The Chronicle covers the period from 644 (the arrival of the legendary Czech in Bohemia) to 1526 (the coronation of Ferdinand I of Habsburg). When sources did not provide sufficient information, Hájek did not hesitate to invent history, even down to the smallest details. Despite being criticized for its exaggerated "poetic" nature, the chronicle became one of the most read and popular books of its time.

Legacy

For a long time, Hájek's Chronicle was regarded not only as an entertaining literary work on Czech history but also as an authoritative and reliable historical source. However, during the Enlightenment era, historians began to view the chronicle as a symbol of falsification. Despite this, the Chronicle continued to be published and read, and it served as a source of inspiration for many authors and artists during the national revival movement. In 1718, a German translation of the Chronicle was published, further spreading its influence. Even Johann Wolfgang von Goethe admitted to studying Czech history through Hájek's Chronicle.

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