Bohuslav Balbin

Written by Gabriela Striczova

Category: Notables

Bohuslav Balbin is known as a Czech writer, who lived in the 17th century. Society sees him also as a geographer, historian and pedagogue. He was born on December 3rd in Hradec Kralove in the so-called “Vodickov house”. His family was not rich when he was born.
His father died in 1622, after that his mother was supported by Nicholas from Schonfeldt, later he was raised by a family friend Ota from Oppersdorf at the castle in Castolovice. When he was a child he was seriously ill, then he got better and survived all his six siblings- his healing was considered as a miracle.

Bohuslav attended Jesuits schools and later he joined the Society of Jesus. He was interested in philosophy and he studied it at the University of Olomouc, where his life was influenced by Nicholas Leczycky, about whom he later wrote a book.
Part of his life was writing books, he wrote more than 30 books, the most important is Miscellanea Historica regni Bohemiae, in this book is described his native land, its history and geography. His first writing was Legatio Apollinis coelestis ad universitatem Pragensem etc., it was not a historical book, but a humanistic verse work. His career started with writing latin poems, then he moved to historical books, which made the biggest part of his work. In Czech, he is known mostly for “Apology for the Slavic and especially Czech language”.

Besides being a writer, Balbin was also a successful pedagogue. He excelled in terms of pedagogy. He was a loving teacher who supported his students and passed on his experience to them. Balbin taught as a teacher for a total of 13 years. He taught, for example, in Prague, Brno and Cesky Krumlov. In 1661 he was banned from working with students and was even threatened with expulsion from the order. Historians have assumed that this was a consequence of his superiors’ hostile attitude towards Balbin. Historian Jan Kucera and Jiri Rak believe that the cause may have been Balbin’s possible homosexual sexual orientation.

Balbin fought censorship due to the publication of the book Vytah for a long time. For this reason, he was transferred to Klatovy. Vytah is very important because it is an overview of the history of the Czech lands from early Christian times.

On 29th November, 1688 Bohuslav died of a stroke, four days before his 67th birthday. Before he had a stroke, he became paralyzed and could only use his left hand, then he went blind and used a scribe to write instead of him.

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