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The central European region of Bohemia (Čechy in Czech, Böhmen in German) occupies the western and middle thirds of today's Czech Republic. With an area of 52,750 sq. km. and 6.25 million of the country's 10.3 million inabitants, Bohemia is bounded by Germany to the west, Poland to the north-east, the Czech province of Moravia to the east and Austria to the south. Bohemia's borders are marked with mountain ranges such as the Bohemian Forest[?], the Ore Mountains or Krkonoše as part of the Sudeten mountains.

Roman authors provide the first clear reference to this area as the home of the Boii, a Celtic people. As part of the territory often crossed during the major Germanic and Slavic migrations, the area was settled from the 1st century BC by Germanic (probably Suebic) peoples including the Marcomanni. After their migration to the south-west, they were replaced around the 6th century by the Slavic precursors of today's Czechs.

After freeing themselves from the rule of the Avars in the 7th century, Bohemia's Slavic inhabitants came (in the 9th century) under the rule of the Premysl dynasty, which continued until 1306. With Bohemia's conversion to Christianity in the 9th century, close relations were forged with the East Frankish kingdom, then part of the so-called Carolingian empire, later the nucleus of the Holy Roman Empire of which Bohemia was an autonomous part from the 10th century.

The title of "King of Bohemia", already granted to the Premyslid dukes Vratislav II[?] (1085) and Vladislav II[?] (1158), became hereditary (1198) under Ottokar I, whose grandson Ottokar II (king 1253-1278) founded a short-lived empire covering also modern Austria. The mid-13th century saw the beginning of substantial German immigration as the court sought to make good the losses resulting from the brief Mongol invasion of 1241.

Bohemia was granted freedom of religion on July 6, 1609.

Bohemia in the Holy Roman Empire

Prague was one of the great cities of the Holy Roman Empire. Bohemia was an independent kingdom until 1627. In the early 17th century opposition to Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor as King of Bohemia led to the Thirty Years War and the selection of an alternative protestant king, Frederick V, Elector Palatine.

Modern Bohemia

After World War I, Bohemia, which had been part of Austria-Hungary, became the cornerstone of the newly-formed country of Czechoslovakia.

Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, German Nazi troops occupied Bohemia and other parts of Czechoslovakia starting on March 15, 1939.

See also : Rulers of Bohemia

Bohemia is also a place in the State of New York in the United States of America: see Bohemia, New York.

See also: bohemian for other definition.

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