Domestic project

The Construction of Noble Identity in the Works of Bohuslav Balbín

Provider: The Czech Science Foundation
| Project duration: 2024–2026
| Project ID: GA24-10417S

Bohuslav Balbín was one of the most important Czech scholars of the 17th century. The scope and significance of his work is perhaps comparable only to that of Jan Amos Komenský, who, however, has received much more attention in historical research and general awareness. One of the determining factors for Balbin's work was his relationship to the Czech nobility. The leading representatives of the nobility supported him and made their archives available to him, and he in turn dedicated his works to them and compiled the story of their family history. Bohuslav Balbín dedicated the first two books of the second decade of his monumental, multi-volume work Miscellanea historica regni Bohemiae (Diversities from the History of the Bohemian Kingdom) directly to the history of the Bohemian nobility. The annotated critical edition of both volumes in Czech translation represents the first of the two main goals of our project. An integral part of this edition will be a historical and genealogical-heraldic analysis of Balbín's text, which will thus be made available to the professional and lay public.

The second goal, which will grow out of a broad contextualization of Balbín's work, will be to understand how the Bohemian and Moravian nobility constructed their identity in the early modern period through their own history. The edited part of the Miscellanea, as well as other writings in which Bohuslav Balbín and his contemporaries discussed the history of important noble families, will therefore represent a kind of tool with which to grasp the complex and multilayered problem of identity construction of a certain socially exclusive community. This historical theme can be traced not only in a Czech or Central European context, but also in a pan-European context, which in turn creates a network of contexts in which Balbin's work can be understood. The meeting of experts at the planned international conference in 2025, whose published results will set the framework for further research on the topic, will make it possible to broaden the research horizon.

An essential dimension of our project is the applicability of its results and their maximum accessibility. The printed edition will therefore be accompanied by an electronic edition, which will make it possible, among other things, to navigate through the often complicated genealogical tables that are the main content of the second book of the second decade of the Miscellanea. Our project therefore brings together historians and translators from Latin with information technology experts who will make the results of the basic research accessible and thus enable their user-friendly application.



Institute of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences


National Archives