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Flag Wars and Stone Saints

Flag Wars and Stone Saints

How the Bohemian Lands Became Czech

Nancy M. Wingfield

ISBN 9780674025820

Publication date: 10/31/2007

In a new perspective on the formation of national identity in Central Europe, Nancy Wingfield analyzes what many historians have treated separately--the construction of the Czech and German nations--as a larger single phenomenon.

Czech and German nationalism worked off each other in dynamic ways. As external conditions changed, Czech and German nationalists found new uses for their pasts and new ways to stage them in public spaces for their ongoing national projects. These grassroots confrontations transformed public culture by reinforcing the centrality of nationality to everyday life and by tying nationalism to the exercise of power. The battles in the public sphere produced a cultural geography of national conflict associated with the unveiling of Joseph II statues that began in 1881, the Badeni Language Ordinances of 1897, the 1905 debate over a Czech-language university in Moravia, and the celebration of the emperor's sixtieth jubilee in 1908. The pattern of impassioned national conflict would be repeated for the duration of the monarchy and persist with even more violence into the First Czechoslovak Republic.

Numerous illustrations show how people absorbed, on many levels, visual clues that shaped how they identified themselves and their groups. This nuanced analysis is a valuable contribution to our understanding of Central European history, nationalism, and the uses of collective memory.


  • Wingfield effectively illuminates the process of 'becoming national' in the Czech lands in a lively study that enriches our understanding of how nationalism secured its victory. She sheds useful light on the roots of the antagonism between Czechs and Germans and uncovers the role this story played in preparing Czechoslovakia for the victory of the communists after World War II.

    —Hugh L. Agnew, George Washington University


  • Nancy M. Wingfield is Professor of History at Northern Illinois University.

Book Details

  • 374 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press