Palacky and Otin: the place where he found happiness.

František Palacký was born on the 14th of June 1798 in the small village of Hodslavice in Northern Moravia. His father was a Lutheran preacher who opened an Evangelical school in Hodslavice, where little František learned to read and write. When the boy was nine years old, he was sent to the Lyceum in Kunin near Nový Jičín to study German. František was a talented student – by the age of 19 he was fluent in 11 languages.

As a student he made a living by giving private lessons, writing articles in magazines and even working as a servant in wealthy homes. During his studies, his interest in Czech history increased. To his father’s disappointment, he decided not to become a priest. In 1823 he received an offer to become a librarian in a Prague museum, which he accepted with a great enthusiasm. A few months later, he moved to Prague.

At that time wealthy and aristocratic families of Prague hosted salons, where the news of modern life, philosophy, literature, music, fine art and politics were discussed in these circles. The entertainment program at the salons included musical performances and theatrical plays.

The most famous salon in Prague in 1811-1827 was the salon of a prominent lawyer Jan Mechura. Although it was a men’s salon, the daughters of Mechura took part in the musical program. His elder daughter played the harp and the younger one was a talented singer. Everybody in the salon spoke German. At that time it was the main language of communication of the Czech high society. The guests of the salons were mainly members of the noble families, but among them there were also brilliantly educated people without aristocratic heritage.

Even at the age of thirty, František Palacký came to the forefront of Czech cultural and social life . Thanks not only to his brilliant education, knowledge of foreign languages, but also to his personal charm, impeccable manners and musical talent.

After moving to Prague in 1825, Palacký became friends with the composer Leopold Mechura who invited him to the house of his father, the lawyer Jan Mechura, where a society of musicians gathered at that time. There he met Leopold’s sisters – Antonia and Tereza (1807-1860). He fell in love with Tereza. Then in July 1826 (being the official fiancé of Tereza) František Palacký was invited to Chateau Otin, one of the mansions of Mechura’s family. The wedding took place a year later when Palacký became an editor of the National Museum Journal thereby he achieved the financial and social status allowing him to marry Tereza. The publication of the Czech magazine was a controversial project, even Czech patriots at that time did not see the point to have a magazine in the Czech language. However, the National Museum Magazine had become phenomenally popular, and was the most respected publication in its field.

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The wedding of František and Tereza took place on the 16th of September 1827 at Mechura’s estate in Otin. The wedding procession went through the linden tree alley which still leads from Chateau Otin to Predslav church. On the way to the altar the bride was accompanied by her brother Leopold, and Palacky by his sister Toni. It was a beautiful wedding, celebrated by the whole neighbourhood.

For the protestant and liberal Palacký, marrying a woman from a conservative, strictly Catholic family, was an unusual choice. However, it turned out to be a very successful story, which brought genuine happiness to both. Jan Mechura prepared a prenuptial agreement trying to control his son-in-law. But their marriage was a happy one, and there was no need for parental interference!

As for the baroque Gloriette on the edge of the Otin’s park, it witnessed not only the happy end of Palacký and Tereza love story but also witnessed the glut of his work in the following years. Here he wrote two volumes of the main work of his life – “The History of the Czech People in Bohemia and Moravia.”.

One can hardly name the view of the meadow in front of Gloriette as mournfully as František Palacký saw it. Between two World Wars there were festivals and balls in honour of Jan Hus and Fratišek Palacký.

The view from the stone bench under one of the lindens also became different over the years – vegetation had changed the nature of the landscape, it is not the same as it was when František Palacký spent his time there. But the historical buildings, beautiful countryside of the Sumava region are still there to inspire us. We only need to listen to our hearts and imagination.

Author: Marina Dobusheva

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