Political subdivision of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.

The Development of Administrative Boundaries

"Why do not we, the Czechs, use description of the towns, cities, in the same way as in the USA, for instance: Vienna, Fairfax, Virginia, USA ?" were often questions of my American friends, I received through the NET.

Yes, we do. But it is not a necessity. Mainly we do so, if more than one village of the same name is in the country. Thus you may read:

But more complicated is the situation, when I am trying to answer some questions referring to the genealogical search.
The administrative, political and judicial boundaries have been changed many, many times in our history. I would like to give you one example:

A small village called CESKA CIKANKA as given by the name, is located in Bohemia, but on the border between Bohemia and Moravia, that is formed by the Svratka river. On the other bank of the river (in fact it is only a creek) there is another settlement called MORAVSKA CIKANKA.
In last two centuries, CESKA CIKANKA belonged to various administrative units and there were more changes than one would think:

Until 1848 Ceska Cikanka belonged to the estate of RYCHMBURG, in the region CHRUDIM.

Between the years 1848 - 1855 the judicial district was SKUTEC and political district VYSOKE MYTO

In the years 1855 - 1867 there was a reorganization of the state administration and CIKANKA belonged to political and judicial district SKUTEC.

In 1867 the old administration was changed once more, the judicial district remained SKUTEC but political district changed and Cikanka belonged to CHRUDIM again.

Some time later in 1880s, because of better connection, the boundaries of judicial districts have changed and CIKANKA came under district court in HLINSKO instead of SKUTEC. The political administration stayed in CHRUDIM. This was unchanged for next 60 years.

In 1949 old political and judicial administration was abolished and new small districts were created. Thus between 1949 - 1960 CIKANKA was in district HLINSKO. The higher administrative unit was region (kraj) with the seat in PARDUBICE.

In 1961 there was a new reorganization which in fact has lasted until now. New administration did not respect the historic borders between Moravia and Bohemia and Cikanka was added to a large political district of ZDAR NAD SAZAVOU in the South Moravian Region.

In last year (1997) the Parliament of the Czech republic addopted a new law regarding the political division of the state. Unfortunately it does not take respect to old division between Moravia and Bohemia and again there will be changes. From the year 2000 CIKANKA will be in region JIHLAVA, political district ZDAR NAD SAZAVOU.

You can see that it is really not easy, to state in which district actually the village is (was) located.


From the general point of view:

We can divide the development of the administrative and political division in Bohemia and Moravia into the following time periods:

  1. The Feudal era until 1848
  2. The Austrian system of administration 1848 - 1918 which lasted in fact during the whole period of the first Czechoslovak republic until 1938,with small changes during the Nazi occupation and remained in the first years of the renewed republic until 1948/1949.
  3. The "first" socialist administrative division 1950 - 1961
  4. The "second" socialist administrative division which is valid until now.
  5. The new adopted division that will come in force in the year 2000.

Before I will describe these periods, it is necessary to mention the basic Czech and German (Austrian) terminology.

PANSTVI, STATEK basic administrative unit during feudalism
KRAJ a large region, including several districts.
The oldest administrative unit of the state
OKRES A basic unit of the state administration or jurisdiction
SOUDNI OKRES, OKRESNI SOUDA basic unit of the judicial administration. In few cases their boundaries were
totally different from administrative boundaries , but mostly two or three judicial districts (circles) formed one political district.
POLITICKY OKRES, OKRESNI HEJTMANSTVIA basic unit of administrative division of the state. Usually it consisted of one or more judicial circles.
OBECA smallest self-administrating unit, formed by one village (town), one cadastral unit, or by several villages, cadastral units
VES, VESNICE, dimin. form is VISKA (Dörfl-e) A complex of houses, more demographic or historical term than an administrative one.
SAMOTA A remote house or a group of two, three, five houses, apart of the village
MESTECKO, MESTYS Inter-level between village and town. The community that may have a central plazza (market square), it has historical privileges, mainly for organizing the yearly markets, sometimes coat of arms
MESTO An urban community with historical privileges for its inhabitants = bourgers. Town's coat of arms. We do not distinguish between town and city.


I will shortly describe only the administrative division of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia after loosing their independence, i.e. the period after 1648.

Bohemian or Czech lands formed ever a special unit within the Austrian monarchy. They were called ZEME KORUNY CESKE, the Lands of the Bohemian Crown, the Crown Lands of Bohemia, in German die Boehmischen Kronlaender. They were formed by the Kingdom of Bohemia ( Kralovstvi ceske - Koenigreich Boehmen), the Margraviate of Moravia ( Markrebstvi moravske - Markgrafschaft Maehren) and Duchy of Silesia ( Vevodstvi slezske - Herzogtum Schlesien). All these parts had more or less different administration.

was divided in KRAJ (sg., Kraje pl.). Their number changed in various periods between 12 and 23, but in general we may talk about following KRAJ:
KOURIMSKO or kraj KourimskyKaurzimer KreisKourim
SLANSKO, kraj SlanskySlaaner Kreis Slany
HRADECKO, kraj Hradecky Gratzer Kreis Hradec Kralove, Koenigsgratz
CHRUDIMSKO, kraj Chrudimsky Chrudimer Kreis Chrudim
BOLESLAVSKO, kraj Boleslavsky Bunzlauer Kreis Mlada Boleslav Jungbunzlau
LITOMERICKO, kraj LitomerickyLeitmeritzer Kreis Litomerice, Leitmeritz
ZATECKO, kraj Zatecky Saatzer Kreis Zatec Saatz
PRACHENSKO, kraj Prachensky Prachener Kreis Rabi
PISECKO, kraj PiseckyPisecker Kreis Pisek
BECHYNSKO, kraj Bechynsky Bechiner Kreis Bechyne
CASLAVSKO, kraj Caslavsky Caslauer Kreis Caslav Caslau
PLZENSKO, kraj Plzensky Pilsener Kreis Plzen Pilsen
CHEBSKO and LOKETSKOEgerland and Elbogenerlandformed a special autonomous unit. They were in fact mortgages of the Roman emperors to the Bohemian kings.

In 18th century four largest KRAJE were divided into smaller units and thus in 1848 there were following Kraje (with the seats)

KOURIMSKO (Praha) SLANSKO or RAKOVNICKO (Rakovnik) - HRADECKO (Hradec Kralove - Königgrätz) - BYDZOVSKO (Jicin) - CHRUDIMSKO (Chrudim) - BOLESLAVSKO (Mlada Boleslav - Jungbunzlau) - LITOMERICKO (Litomerice - Leitmeritz) - ZATECKO (Zatec - Saaz) - PRACHENSKO (Pisek) - BUDEJOVICKO (Budejovice - Budweis) - TABORSKO (Tabor) - BEROUNSKO (Beroun) - PLZENSKO (Plzen - Pilsen) - KLATOVSKO (Klatovy - Klattau) - LOKETSKO (Loket - Ellbogen) - CHEBSKO ( Cheb - Eger) -.

These Kraje stayed even after 1848 (with some changes) but mainly as the circuits of the 2nd jurisdiction level until 1918.

Officialy the Kraje administration was abolished in 1848 and they came again into existence after the WW2, but substantially changed.

Moravia (Morava - Maehren) was divided into KRAJE as well. In 1848 they were following:

BRNENSKO, kraj Brnensky (Brno - Brünn)

ZNOJEMSKO, kraj Znojemsky (Znojmo - Znaim)

JIHLAVSKO, kraj Jihlavsky (Jihlava - Iglau)

OLOMOUCKO, kraj Olomoucky (Olomouc, Olmütz)

PREROVSKO, kraj Prerovsky, (Prerov, later also Novy Jicin - Neutitschein)

HRADISTSKO, kraj Hradistsky (Uherske Hradiste)

had a different division. All Lower and Upper Silesia was divided into principalities. When Maria Teresia in 1742 lost the most of the country in favour of Prussia, only following principalities stayed with Austrian monarchy:

Principality of OPAVA (Troppau - nearly all the original principality)

Principality of KRNOV (Jägerndorf - only the western part)

Principality of NISA (Neisse - only the southern part without the capital)

Principality of TESIN (Teschen).

When we have a look on the historical map of Austrian (Bohemian) Silesia, we can see, that the remaining country was separated by a part of Moravia like by a wedge, into two units. They were later known as OPAVA´s part of Silesia and TESIN´s part of (Austrian - Bohemian) Silesia.

The basic administrative and jurisdictional units within these three countries were the estates and all the power was in hands of the landowners. The number of estates reached several thousands until 1848.

II. PERIOD 1848 - 1938 (1948)

The serfdom in Bohemian Lands was abolished by Josef´s II decree at the end of the 18th centry, in 1848 then the last remnants of the feudal system - the compulsory work on the landowners´ possession, so called ROBOTA and the estate administration. New administrative and judicial system was created.

The country was divided into SOUDNI OKRES (GERISCHTSBEZIRK). Their number was approximately 300 in Bohemia and 150 in Moravia and Silesia. They were called after the town, where the district´s court was located. Two or three (in some cases four) judicial districts were united in one POLITICKY OKRES, also known as OKRESNI HEJTMANSTVI (BEZIRKSHAUPTMANNSCHAFT). Bohemia was formed by 80, later by more than 100 political districts, Moravia and Silesia approximately by 70 districts.

This division was unified for all Austrian part of Austria-Hungary and is still valid in the Republic of Austria.

The borders and seats of judicial districts were more or less stable for all this period. Boundaries of political districts developed and new political districts came into being with accordance of the development of industrial regions and changing needs of the state administration.

(Between the years 1855 - 1867 the state tried to realize the reform of the administration. For this time all the political districts were united on the level of judicial districts with these and unified political-judicial authorities were established in all seats of original judicial districts. This solution showed not to be functional and hardly practical and since 1867 the old stand, i.e. judicial districts and former political districts were re-established).

Later I will prepare list of all districts with subdivision into judicial circles (districts).



The old system of judicial and political districts did not comply with the new communist administration. The lawyers and the court's personnel were mostly loyal to the old democratic tradition and had to be replaced. Therefore new district courts were established in the seats of political districts, thus their number actually dropped to 1/3. The district authorities were dissolved and replaced by the elected National district committees, in this stage in the seats of old political districts. Some changes were made and new districts formed, or the seat was transferred to neighboring town. Their total number in the Czech part of Czechoslovakia was still some 170 - 180 districts.

After 100 years the second level of administrative division was again created - the KRAJE. 10 - 15 districts formed one KRAJ.

They did not reflect the historical boundaries between Bohemia and Moravia, mainly the region of Jihlava consisted of districts on both sides of former border. Here is the list of these KRAJE:

kraj PRAZSKY (Praha)

kraj BUDEJOVICKY (Ceske Budejovice - Budweis)

kraj PLZENSKY (Plzen - Pilsen)

kraj KARLOVARSKY (Karlovy Vary - Karlsbad)

kraj USTECKY (Usti nad Labem- Aussig a.d. Elbe)

kraj LIBERECKY (Liberec - Reichenberg)

kraj HRADECKY (Hradec Kralove - Königgrätz)

kraj PARDUBICKY (Pardubice - Pardubitz)

kraj JIHLAVSKY (Jihlava - Iglau)

kraj BRNENSKY (Brno - Brünn)

kraj OLOMOUCKY (Olomouc - Olmütz)

kraj OSTRAVSKY (Ostrava - Ostrau)

kraj GOTTWALDOVSKY (Gottwaldov - Zlin)

PERIOD 1961 - 1997 (2000)

In 1961, which was the year of proclaiming of "the socialist constitution" a new changed administrative division of the state was adopted. In the Czech part of the state 7 regions (Kraje) with 72 new larger districts were created, which totally neglected the old boundaries. In many cases seats of new districts were concentrated mainly in industrial centers that started rapidly to grow and the old traditional administrative and cultural centers felt behind. Some Moravian towns (Svitavy, Moravska Trebova, Dacice) appeared in Bohemia during the night.

Unfortunately this big error has not been remedied now, after 1989, and the government insists on unchanged status and even refuses any discussion concerning the creation of the historical division of the country into Bohemia and Moravia or at least accepting old boundaries between them.

The division of the state is following: (the abbreviations are unofficial)



After years of discussions and disputes the parliament adopted a constitutional law last year, referring to a new administrative division of the state. Main principle : the existing districts will be preserved, only new KRAJE are to be formed:

They will be:


kraj BUDEJOVICKY (Ceske Budejovice): CB, CK, JH, PI, PC, ST, TA

kraj PLZENSKY (Plzen): DO, KT, PM, PN, PJ, RO

krak KARLOVARSKY (Karlovy Vary): CH, KV, SO, TC

kraj USTECKY (Usti n.Lab.): CL, CV, LT, LN, MO, TE, UL

kraj LIBERECKY (Liberec): DE, JN, LI, SM

kraj HRADECKY (Hradec Kralove): HK, JI, NA, RK, TU

kraj PARDUBICKY (Pardubice): CR, PA, SY, UO

kraj JIHLAVSKY (Jihlava): PE, HB, JI, TR, ZR

kraj BRNENSKY (Brno): BK, BM, BZ, BV, HO, VY, ZN

kraj ZLINSKY (Zlin): ZL, KM, UH, VS

kraj OLOMOUCKY (Olomouc): PV, OL, SU, PR

kraj OSTRAVSKY (Ostrava): BR, FM, KI, NJ, OP, OV

There is in fact no substantial change if we compare these KRAJE with those in period 1949 - 1960.Only the boundaries conserve the existing districts boundaries.


You see that it is not easy to state the name of the district, especially for you, who are involved in genealogical research in our country. To name an existing district is useless, since the archival funds are kept in the State Archives according to old administrative division, but not in general. For instance vital registers are in Archives according to the existing districts, whereas the land registers are in Archives filed as per the stand until 1948.

I quoted the changes of administrative division for the village of CESKA CIKANKA. The vital registers of the parish of SVRATKA are in Archives in BRNO, since SVRATKA, where C. Cikanka belongs to, is in district of ZDAR nad Sazavou in South Moravia. The land registers are kept in east Bohemian Archives in ZAMRSK, because all the land registers are filed according to old judicial districts, and in this case it was HLINSKO, that is now located in the district of Chrudim in eastern Bohemian region or kraj.

24.3.1998 12:07:04 Karel Kysilka