By Claire E. Nolte (auth.)
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Extra info for The Sokol in the Czech Lands to 1914: Training for the Nation
2 That this same nobility should, 150 years later, develop an interest in the culture of their peasants, had less to do with feelings of national solidarity than with a desire to assert their provincial privileges against the encroachments of the Habsburg enlightened despots. The nobles built their program around the concept of Bohemian State Rights, which implied a special position for the lands of the Bohemian Crown within the Habsburg Empire, and they supported research into Czech history and culture to demonstrate the distinctiveness of the Czech area as a justification for federalist concessions.
41 He sought to aid this effort by subjecting Czech art to standards of classical esthetics while at the same time educating the Czech public about art and its values. Given this didactic tendency, it is not surprising that Tyrš carried out his first effort at artistic analysis in a program of popular education. The Art Alliance, which had sponsored the Shakespeare festival, provided him a forum to launch his new career. ”42 Tyrš’s marriage to Renata Fügnerová, the only child of his Sokol collaborator, Jindrich Fügner, was an important factor in his decision to embark on a new career.
In his keynote speech, he issued a call for moral renewal that referred to neighboring Vítkov Hill, site of a Hussite victory in 1420: From the hill over there, the warriors of God routed the arrogant throngs of their enemies. On this plain, as the warriors of light and truth, let us prepare ourselves for another contest, one which will be decided only by moral and spiritual strengths. ”39 34 The Sokol in the Czech Lands to 1914 This sort of rhetorical flourish brought Tyrš a seat in the Bohemian Diet in 1869, but following the policy of passive resistance, he did not assume his mandate.