By Claire E. Nolte (auth.)
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Extra info for The Sokol in the Czech Lands to 1914: Training for the Nation
5 Nevertheless, his impassioned defense of the Czech language before Emperor Leopold II in 1791 resulted in the establishment of a Chair in Czech Language and Literature at the University of Prague two years later. The next generation of Awakeners abandoned the cautious stance of their Enlightened predecessors to embrace a Romantic notion of national destiny. 6 They carried the Awakening beyond language reform to a broad cultural revival, and reinterpreted Bohemian State Rights to have national significance.
Julius Grégr, Edvard’s brother and the powerful editor of Národní listy, returned from Moscow cured of his earlier polonophile sentiments to espouse Russian leadership of the Slavic world. Czech intellectuals struggled to learn Russian; a wave of Czech immigrants set out for the Russian hinterland, as much in search of career opportunities as to find the Slavic homeland; and the tábory resounded with the singing of the Russian national anthem and “Hej! ” In the Austrian half of the newly created Dual Monarchy, a government of German liberals followed a centralist policy.
This was largely due to the work of Miroslav Tyrš, who spearheaded the formation of the first Sokol club in 1862 and remained at the helm of the organization until just before his death in 1884. He charted the club’s ideological and national course, created and implemented its gymnastic program, and oversaw its organizational development. Tyrš’s activities were not limited to gymnastics although, like Jahn, it provided the arena for his most enduring accomplishment. He was active for a while in politics and devoted the last 15 years of his life to developing a Czech presence in the field of art and esthetics.