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BOHEMIAN REFORMATION: Modlitby pobožné a křestǎnské [also křest’anske] z giných modliteb, giž prwe od mnohowzácných, wážných, učených a hognými dary od Ducha S. obdařených mužů, na swětlo wydaných : y také nynj w nowě, gednoho…



[Pious and Christian Prayers with Other Prayers, First , Given to the Light by Many Precious, Serious, Learned Men, Endowed with Abundant Gifts by the Holy Spirit …]


A rare book of prayers in Czech language, written for the Protestant milieu of Bohemia, was published on the eve of the Battle of White Mountain, that sealed the future of the Bohemian Reformation.

A fine example with a venerable provenance, dating back to the 17th century.


8°. [22 pp.], 602 pp, [12 pp.], crushed brown morocco with gold tooling and central profile bust portrait of Christ with halo, 18th c. labels on spine, mounted book plate and manuscript annotations and ex-libris on front endpapers, blind stamp with a coat of arms on first pages (wear to hinges & corners, small loss of materisl to the spine, internally clean with minor age-toning).

1 in stock


This exceedingly rare book in Czech language was published in 1619 for Czech speaking Protestants in Bohemia and includes songs, prayers for various times of the days and occasions, including prayers against Turks, various weather conditions, plague, greed, body pleasures, evil magic, Satan etc. Several prayers are put together in forms for verses.
According to the author Matěj Milinský, the texts were translated from various contemporary German sources. In the introduction Milinský emphasizes the importance of translations into Czech, a vernacular language that brings religious people closer to God than foreign languages.

The book was published on the eve of the Battle of White Mountain, when the Catholic Union defeated and suppressed the Protestant movement in the Habsburg Monarchy.

Only scarce Protestant printed material from that time survives until today.


Bohemian Reformation

The Reformation in Bohemia has a long history, starting in the second half of the 14th century in Prague. The movement, that demanded reformation of the Catholic church and preaching in vernacular languages, reached its peak with Jan Hus (c. 1370 – 1415). In the 16th century, similar movements in Europe contributed to empowerment of Bohemian Protestants, which soon included majority of the nobility and bourgeoisie.

The atmosphere in the Habsburg Monarchy started changing in the late 16th century after the Council of Trent, when the Catholic church introduced various new rules and better organization. Duke Ferdinand III (1578 – 1637), who at the age of 18, in 1596, took over the south part of the Habsburg Empire, called Inner Austria, declared an uncompromising removal of the protestant faith from his lands. Within five years his army destroyed churches and chapels, burnt evangelic books and expelled preachers.

In that time Prague became an oasis of religious tolerance and a secure exile for protestants from various areas. The capital of the Habsburg Monarchy, the city was dominated by the presence of emperor Rudolf II., a manic collector, art patron and supporter of sciences, who cared little about religion and even less about politics. Until Rudolf’s death in 1612 the protestants of Bohemia could enjoy last relatively relaxing years, although many of them not without worries for the future.

After 1612, under the new emperor, Matthias (1612–1619), the tensions between the Catholics and Protestants started rising rapidly. In 1618, protestant lords threw two catholic royal governors from the window of the imperial castle in Prague, the event today known as the Defenestration of Prague, which started the Thirty Years’ War.

The following year, on 28 August 1619, to horror of all the protestants left in the Habsburg Empire, mostly concentrated in Prague, Ferdinand III of Habsburg, who almost two decades before successfully erased Protestantism from his territory with sword and fire, was pronounced the new Emperor, Ferdinand II.

Our book was printed 22 days before Ferdinand’s coronation, in the last months of optimistic self-confidence of Bohemian protestants, who refused to accept Ferdinand as their emperor. Instead they have offered the crown to Calvinist Frederick V of the Palatinate.

In 1620, Ferdinand II of Habsburg’s army defeated the Protestant League at the White Mountain on the suburbs of Prague. The surviving rebels were executed after the battle, what was the final blow to the protestants of the Habsburg Empire.

In the following years the members of the Protestant Church, who would not convert, were suppressed, their books were destroyed and preachers were expelled.

In 1628, all the protestants, many of which were prominent noblemen, artists and handworkers, including the printer of our book, Daniel Karel z Karlsperka, were forced to leave the Habsburg Empire and leave behind their estates and all the property, that they could not carry.

Modlitby pobožné a křestǎnské was published in this last period of the Bohemian Reformation, only a year before printing of such books became impossible.


Matěj Milinský

Not much is known about the author Matěj Milinský, who was an estate manager or official of the Teplice district in northwestern Bohemia.

A Czech protestant preacher Michael Longolius Královický from Bořislav in Teplice district dedicated his Czech translation of Paul Nagel’s Complementum Astronomiae (printed by Daniel Karel in 1620) to Milinský. Longolius, who worked in the district for over 20 years, until 1620, when he was exiled to Germany for religious reasons, also mentions Matěj Milinský as his mentor.

The19th century literature lists two further works by Milinský, the first one being a translation from German Modlitby na desatero boží … (Prague 1619) and Verše o žádosti očí , žádosti těla a pýše života při Longoliově Complementu (Verses About the Desire of Eyes, Desire of Body and Pride of Life in Longolius’s Complementum…, Prague 1620). Today we could not trace any examples of those works.

The text of our book was written in Teplice, a stronghold of Bohemian Protestants on the North-Western border, controlled by a landowner and nobleman Vilém Kinský (1574 – 1634), who refused to convert to Catholicism and left the country after the Battle of White Mountain in 1620. Kinsky died in the so-called Eger Bloodbath, a plot to purge the Imperial Army from Albrecht von Wallenstein.

Printer and Publisher Daniel Karel z Karlsperka

Daniel Karel z Karlsperka (also Daniel Karolides z Karlsberka, Daniel z Karlsperka, Carl von Carlsberck, Danyel Karel z Karlspergka, born after 1577- died after 1631) was born as Daniel Mělnický in a prominent bourgeoise protestant family in Prague, where he was active as a printer, publisher and owner of a bookbinding shop between 1612 and 1622. He produced over 100 books in Czech, German and Latin languages

In 1590 (or according to some other sources, in 1596), Daniel Karel’s father Karel Mělnický (1536-1599), an engineer, who architected the first water tower in Prague, located in Nové Město, received a hereditary new family name and noble title “Karel (or Carolides) of Karlsperk” from emperor Rudolf II, a title which applied to all of his children from two marriages.

Daniel Karel z Karlsperka learned craftmanship of printing in Germany and spent his first working years as the first printer of the Wallenstein Press (Valdštejnská tiskárna) in Dobrovice Castle in Mladá Boleslav. In 1612, he opened his own shop in Prague, where he was joined by an engraver Peter Rollos from Frankfurt, who was probably responsible for the decorative details.

After the Battle of White Mountain, in 1620, when the protestants were defeated, the work of Daniel Karel z Karlsperka suffered severely and his pamphlets such as Kronika stará kláštera boleslavského (1620), that were considered too protestant, were destroyed. He was recorded in Prague as a printer for another two years, after which his publishing activity vanishes from historical records.

Daniel Karel z Karlsperka was forced to emigrate after the expulsion of Protestants in 1628, but he returned to Prague three years later, after the allies of Gustav II Adolf of Sweden invaded Bohemia and briefly occupied Prague.

Daniel’s half-brother Jiří Carolides z Karlsperka (Georgius Carolides a Carlsperga also Georg von Karlsperk, 1569 – 1612) was one of the leading humanist poets of the court of Rudolf II. Same as Daniel Karel s Karlsperka, also Jiří’s widow Dorota Maušvicová, née Gregorová, went to exile after the expulsion of protestants, in 1628.

Note on Rarity

The book is very rare. It was printed a year before the Battle of White Mountain, where the Protestants were defeated by the Catholic Union and ensured Habsburg control for the next centuries. In the following years, the protestants in the Habsburg Monarchy were severely suppressed and in 1628, were forced to leave the Empire with only objects they could carry, leaving behind their properties and most of the belongings.

From 1620 on, books like this title were destroyed or left behind to uncertain destiny in the hands of Catholics, who were rapidly erasing evidences of the Protestantism in the country.

Many hundreds of libraries, owed by protestant intellectuals and noblemen of the Habsburg Monarchy are known to perish after 1628.

We could trace five institutional examples: Niedersächsische Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, The British Library, Czech National Library in Prague (sign. 54 C 91), Strahov Monastery in Prague (sign. AC XII 21) and Lyceum Library, Bratislava (. V.teol. 4158). A database of Czech publications (MARC21: Modlitby Pobožné a Křesťanské / z giných Modliteb … (cas.cz)) mentions an example in a private collection of Jindřich Nygrín (1890- 1962) in Ústí nad Orlicí in Czech Republic. It is unclear, where this example is now. A part of his collection was donated to the National Library and some books were sold after his death.


From the library of Étienne Baluze (1630 – 1718), a French scholar and librarian to the stateman Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619 – 1683).

Sold in 1719, to the English collector John Bridges (1666–1724).

Bridges library sale February-March 1726 (inscriptions on fly-leaf), when John Bridges’s collection of over 4000 books and manuscripts was sold at the public auction on February 7. His collection of prints was sold the following month.

The book becomes a part of the Macclesfield Collection.

In 2006, sold at the Sotherby’s sale: The Library of the Earls of Macclesfield removed from Shirburn Castle. Part Seven: Bibles 1477-1739, lot 2347.

References: OCLC 1063319627, 46190843. Cf. Josef Jungmann, Historie literatury české, aneb, Saustawný přehled spisů českých …, Volume 1, 1849, p. 600; František Štěpán Kott, Česko-německý slovník zvláště grammaticko-fraseologický, 6, 1890, p. 979; Josef Jireček, Rukoveť k dějinám literatury české do konce XVIII. věku: ve spůsobě slovnika, 1, 1875, pp. 33-34; Reinhard Lauer – Ulrike Jekutsch, Slavica Gottingensia: ältere Slavica in der Niedersächsischen …, 1995, 1, no. 4167; Josef Smolik. Památky archeologické a místopisné, Zprávy a drobnosti. Carolidesoné z Karlsperka, 15, 1892, p. 251-252; Petr Voit, Encyklopedie knihy: starší knihtisk a příbuzné obory mezi polovinou 15. a počátkem 19. století, Praha 2006 (on-line source: Valdštejnská tiskárna – Dobrovice – Encyklopedie knihy); Petr Voit, BSČZ, CAROLIDES z Karlsperka, rodina pražských humanist, (on-line source: CAROLIDES z Karlsperka rodina pražských humanistů – Personal (cas.cz))

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