History of Prachatice - The Period of Decline
In 1609, Emperor Rudolph II, who had previously bought the city from Petr Vok of Rožmberk, elevated the status of Prachatice to a royal city. The ensuing years brought one calamity after another to Prachatice. First came the unsuccessful uprising of the Bohemian estates against the Emperor, in which Prachatice stood on the losing side – against the Emperor. Shortly before the Battle of White Mountain, on 27 September 1620, during the “Czech Wars”, the city was conquered by Charles Bucquoy‘s army. The conquerors, it is said, murdered nearly 1,800 inhabitants of Prachatice. The following Thirty Years‘ War, the pillaging of the city by Swedish troops in 1641, and the plague six years later all signified the pinnacle of ruin for the city.
During this period, the general upheavals made the route dangerous due to bands of thieves, and so it was used less, fell into disrepair, and became difficult to pass. What‘s more, the Habsburgs saw to it that Bohemia could only import salt exclusively from Austria. Passau, at the other end of the route, responded in kind by terminating their purchase of goods from Bohemia. With this, the merchant activity on the route practically fell silent, and the transportation route lost its significance, ceasing completely at the beginning of the 18th century. Prachatice and the entire region around it quickly began to lose both importance and money from this point in history.
From 1621 Prachatice was ruled by the Eggenberg family, who held their seat in Český Krumlov and belonged to the “post-White Mountain” nobility. This family died out in 1719 and Prachatice passed to their successors, the Schwarzenbergs, in whose hands the city remained until 1848.
In 1832, Prachatice was struck by catastrophe – on April 13th, an enormous fire broke out killing eight inhabitants and destroying 137 houses as well as damaging the St. Jacob Church. Most of the characteristic gables of the Renaissance burgher homes fell victim to the flames. The historical Old Town was damaged, but fortunately most buildings that bore the Medieval character of the city remained intact.
The construction of the railway was a positive step, connecting Prachatice with Vodňany in 1893 and later with the town of Volary (1899). Even though the transportation connection with “the outside world” did not completely resolve the onerous economic situation, it did help to develop enterprise, particularly in logging and timberwork. Other industrial enterprises grew up as well: a brewery, brick factory, vinegar plant, and Jungbauer‘s factory for electrotechnical components. The enduring, albeit unremarkable, prosperity of the city awoke a new wave of architectural activity after the centuries of stagnation. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, there were several interesting examples of modern architecture that emerged, the most important of which is doubtlessly the Pseudo-Renaissance New Town Hall from 1903.
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