The František Palacký Honorary Medal for Merit in the Historical Sciences


The František Palacký Honorary Medal
for Merit in the Historical Sciences

awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences

This honour was established by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences on September 2, 1965 as an Honorary Plaquette for outstanding contributions in the social sciences, particularly in the fields of history, philosophy, law and sociology. Since the second half of the year 1995, it has been awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences as an Honorary Medal.

František Palacký (1798–1876) was a great Czech historian and leading politician of his period. His thoughts were influenced by works of Schiller, Herder and Schelling, and matured under influence of Kant. An early interest in esthetics was carried over into the field of history.

Works in this field involved archive studies and older histories of the Czech lands, with a concentration primarily on the Hussites and the period of Jiří z Poděbrad. Palacký's crowning and most significant work was “The History of the Czech Nation in Bohemia and Moravia” (in Czech “Dějiny národu českého v Čechách i v Moravě”), which presented a self-contained, philosophically grounded interpretation of Czech history up to 1526. Palacký's “Old Czech Chronicles” (in Czech “Staří letopisové Čeští”) was the first Czech book published by the Royal Czech Society of Sciences even before Palacký became a member. Palacký's erudite scholarship in Czech history is comparable to the extensive work of French historians Thierry, Guizot and Michelet, German historians Rank and Niebuhr, or the British historian Macaulay.

František Palacký was at the source of everything which was connected to development of Czech national life and education, above all with the establishment of the “National Museum Magazine” (in Czech “Časopis společnosti vlasteneckého musea”), “The Czech Foundation” (in Czech “Matice české”) and the “National Theatre Building Association” (in Czech “Sbor pro postavení Národního divadla”). He worked as an organiser in distinguished cultural institutions for the prosperity of Czech literature and science, he took an interest in raising the level of general education, organised effort to publish encyclopedia and Czech scientific literature.

The direction and tendencies of the nation were connected within his political theories. Palacký's point of view can be described as liberally conservative with an emphasis on the idea of equal rights of nations within the Austrian Empire and a proclaimed effort not to be closed to foreign cultural influences. As a practical politician, he was a representative in the provincial Parliament. Gratitude and respect for his life's work have brought him the title “father of the nation.”

František Palacký became, mainly for his achievement in the field of history, a member of several foreign academies and learned societies, and he was knighted.

The František Palacký medal was designed by academic sculptor and medallist Jaroslav Staněk, a student of Prof. B. Stefan.

List of awarded medals