1902 Encyclopedia > Moravia

Moravia




MORAVIA (in German MAHBEN), a margraviate and crownland in the Cisleithan part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, lies between 15° 5' and 18° 45' E. long., and 48° 50' and 50° 10' N. lat. Its superficial extent is about 8580 square miles. Physically Moravia may be described as a mountainous plateau sloping from north to south, and bordered on three sides by mountain ranges of considerable elevation. On the north it is separated from Austrian and Prussian Silesia by the Sudetes, which attain a height of 4775 feet in the Altvater or Schneeberg, and sink gradually towards the west, where the valley of the Oder forms a break between the German mountains and the Carpathians. The latter are the dividing range between Moravia and Hungary, having here an average height of 3000 to 4000 feet. On the west are the so-called Bohemian-Moravian mountains, forming the elevated east margin of Bohemia and descend-ing in terraces, but without clearly-defined ridges, to the river March. Branches of these different ranges intersect the whole country, making the surface very irregular, except towards the south, where it consists of fertile and extensive plains. Owing to this configuration of the soil the climate varies more than might be expected in so small an area, so that, while the vine and maize are cultivated successfully in the southern plains, the weather in the mountainous districts is somewhat rigorous. The mean average temperature at Brünn is 48° Fahr. The harvest amid the mountains is often four or five weeks later than that in the south. Almost the whole of Moravia belongs to the basin of the March or Mora va, from which it derives its name, and which, after traversing the entire length of the country in a course of 140 miles and receiving numerous tributaries (Thaya, Hanna, &c), enters the Dan-ube at Pressburg. The Oder rises among the mountains in the north-east of Moravia, but soon turns to the north and quits the country. With the exception of a stretch of the March none of the rivers are navigable. Moravia is destitute of lakes, but contains numerous large ponds. There are also several mineral springs.

Wheat . . 454,480 qrs.
Rve . . . 1,242,480 ,,
Barley . . 981,190 ,,
Oats . . . 1,497,450 „
Maize . . 48,100 ,,
Potatoes . l,271,850cwt.

Nearly 97 per cent, of the soil of Moravia is productive, arable land occupying 53, gardens and meadows 8/5, pasturage 9, and forests 26 per cent, of the total. It is one of the chief corn-growing regions of the Austrian empire, and also produces excellent hemp, flax, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. The following table shows the amount of the chief crops in 1881 :—_

Leguminous crops 27,850 cwt.
Beet (for sugar) 11,533,340 „
Flax . . . . 47,100 „
Hemp .... 6,260 „
Fruit .... 1,106,570 ,, Wine .... 2,869,460 gall.

Large quantities of hay and other fodder, besides hops, clover-seed, anise, fennel, &c, are also raised. The forests on the slopes of the Sudetes produce abundance of excellent timber. The live-stock of Moravia in 1880 consisted of 122,858 horses, 677,807 cattle, 158,852 sheep, 205,976 swine, and 116,880 goats. The breed of sheep on the Carpathians is of an improved quality, and the horses bred in the fertile plain of the Hanna are highly esteemed. Geese and poultry are also reared. In 1880 Moravia con-tained 83,440 beehives, and the produce of wax and honey may be estimated at 3500 to 4000 cwts.

The mineral wealth of Moravia, consisting chiefly of coal and iron, is very considerable. In 1881 the produce included 392,625 tons of anthracite coal, 50,665 tons of lignite, 5700 tons of iron-ore, 1713 tons of graphite, and smaller quantities of alum, potter's clay, and roofing-slate. The mines give employment to 4500 persons, and the annual value of the raw minerals produced is about £370,000. The amount of raw and cast iron produced by the ironworks and foundries in 1880 was 40,000 tons,, and the value about £320,000.

In point of industry Moravia belongs to the foremost provinces of the empire. The principal manufactures are woollen, cotton, linen, and cast-iron goods, beet-sugar, leather, and brandy. Its woollen cloths and flannels, the manufacture of which centres in Brünn, have long been celebrated. The linen manufacture is decreasing in im-portance as cotton manufactures develop. The quantity of sugar made from beetroot is steadily increasing; in 1880 about 600,000 cwts. of sugar were produced in fifty-seven factories. About 10 per cent, of the total value of the manufactures of Austria, representing an annual amount of £13,000,000 to £15,000,000, falls to the share of Moravia. The trade of Moravia consists mainly in the exchange of the various raw and manufactured materials, above men-tioned for colonial produce, salt, and raw manufacturing material. The lack of navigable rivers or canals is com-pensated by good roads and an extensive railway system. The most important commercial towns are Brünn for manu-factures and Olmütz for live-stock.





In educational matters Moravia compares favourably with most of the Austrian states. It contains 10 gymnasia, 10 real-gymnasia, 13 real-schools, numerous schools for special purposes, and nearly 2000 lower schools. The old university of Brünn is now represented by a technical academy and a theological seminary. Of children of school-going age 79 per cent., attend school regularly. In 1870 about 46 per cent, of the Moravian recruits could write their names, as compared with the extremes of 83J per cent, in Lower Austria and \\ per cent, in Dalmatia. Fully 95 per cent, of the inhabitants are Roman Catholics under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the archbishop of Olmütz and the bishop of Brünn, while about 2 per cent, are Jews, and 3 per cent. Protestants.

Moravia sends 36 members to the Austrian reichstag, 9 of these representing the. landed proprietors, 16 the' towns and chambers of commerce, and 11 the peasantry. 811

Provincial affairs are managed by the landtag, consisting of the Soman Catholic archbishop and bishop, 30 repre-sentatives of the landed gentry, 37 representatives of the towns and chambers of commerce, and 31 representatives of the country districts. There are six courts of justice of the first instance in Moravia, and one of the second instance (at Briinn), whence appeal lies to the supreme court at Vienna. For military and judicial purposes Moravia is united with Austrian Silesia.

Moravia belongs to the group of old Slavonic states which have preserved their nationality while losing their political independence. Upwards of 70 per cent, of the inhabitants are Slavs, who are scarcely distinguishable from their Bohemian neighbours. The differences in dialect between the two countries are very slight, and are being gradually lost in a common literary language. The name of Czech, however, is usually reserved for the Bohemians, while the Slavs of Moravia and West Hungary are called Moravians and Slovaks. The Czechs have lost sight of their ancient tribal names, but the Moravians are still divided into numerous secondary groups (Hovaks, Hanaks, efce.), differing slightly in costume and dialect. The peasants usually wear a national costume. In the south of Moravia are a few thousand Croats, still preserving their manners and language after three centuries' separation from their kinsmen in Croatia; and in the north-east are numerous Poles. The Germans form about 26 per cent, of the population, and are found mostly in the towns and in the border districts. The Jews are the best educated of the inhabitants, and in a few small towns form a full half of the population. Their sympathies generally lie with the Germans. In 1880 the population was 2,153,407, showing an increase of 136,133 since 1869. Moravia is one of the most densely-populated parts of Austria-Hungary, the proportion being 252 persons per square mile. About 12 per cent, of the births are illegitimate. The chief towns are Briinn, the capital and industrial centre (82,660 inha-bitants), Olmiitz, a strong fortress defending the " Moravian Gate" (20,176 inhabitants), Znaim, and Iglau.

History.—At the earliest period of which we have any record Moravia was occupied by the Boii, the Celtic race which has per-petuated its name in Bohemia. Afterwards it was inhabited by the Germanic Quadi, who accompanied the Vandals in their westward migration ; and they were replaced in the 5th century by the Rugii and Heruli. The latter tribes were succeeded about the year 550 A.D. by the Lombards, and these in their turn were soon forced to retire before an overwhelming invasion of Slavs, who, on their settlement there, took the name of Moravians (German, Mehranen or Mahreni) from the river Morava. These new colonists became the permanent inhabitants of this district, and in spite of the hostility of the Avars on the east founded the kingdom of Great Moravia, which was considerably more extensive than the province now bearing the name. Towards the end of the 8th century they aided Charle-magne in putting an end to the Avar kingdom, and were rewarded by receiving part of it, corresponding to North Hungary, as a fief of the German emperor, whose supremacy they also acknowledged more or less for their other possessions. After the death of Charlemagne the Moravian princes took advantage of the dissen-sions of his successors to enlarge their territories and assert their independence, and Rastislaus (circa 850) even formed an alliance with the Bulgarians and the Byzantine emperor. The chief result of the alliance with the latter was the conversion of the Moravians to Christianity by two Greek monks, Cyril and Methodius, des-patched from Constantinople. Rastislaus finally fell into the hands of Louis the German, who blinded him, and forced him to end his days as a monk ; but his successor, Suatopluk (ob. 890), was equally vigorous, and extended the kingdom of Great Moravia to the Oder on the west and the Gran on the east. At this period there seemed a strong probability of the junction of the north-western and south-eastern Slavs, and the formation of a great Slavonic power to the east of the German empire. This prospect, however, was dissipated by the invasions of the Magyar hordes in the 10th century, the brunt of which was borne by Moravia. The invaders were encouraged by the German monarchs and aided by the dissensions and mismanagement of the successors of Suatopluk, and in a short time completely subdued the eastern part of Great Moravia.. The name of Moravia was henceforth confined to the district to which it now applies. For about a century the posses-sion of this marchland was disputed by Hungary, Poland, and Bohemia, but in 1029 it was finally incorporated with Bohemia, and so became an integral part of the German empire. Towards the close of the 12th century Moravia was raised to the dignity of a margraviate, but with the proviso that it should be held as a fief of the crown of Bohemia. It henceforth shared the fortunes of this country, and was usually assigned as an apanage to younger members of the Bohemian royal house. In 1410 Jobst, margrave of Moravia, was made emperor of Germany, but died a few months after his election. In 1526, on the death of Louis II. of Hungary, Moravia came with the rest of that prince's possessions into the hands of the Austrian house. During the Thirty Years' War the depopulation of Moravia was so great that after the peace of West-phalia the states-general published an edict giving every man permission to take two wives, in order to "repeople the country." After the Seven Years' War Moravia was united in one province with the remnant of Silesia, but in 1849 it was made a separate and independent crownland. The most noticeable feature of recent Moravian history has been the active sympathy of its inhabitants with the anti-Teutonic home-rule agitation of the Bohemian Czechs (see BOHEMIA).

Authorities.—Dudik, Mdhrens allgemeine Geschichte (Brünn, 1860-76); Wolny, Die Markgrafschaft Mdhren, topographisch, stutistisch, und historisch geschildert (Briinn, 1835-40) ; D'Elvert, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Neugestaltung Mahrens im 17ten Jahrhundert (1867) ; Trampler, Heimatskunde der Mark Mdhren (Vienna, 1877) ; Statistische Jahrhiicher of the Imperial Statistical Commission (Vienna). (J. F. M.)






The above article was written by: J. F. Muirhead, Leipzic (Leipzig).



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