King Ottokar II of Bohemia: a lesser known role model for Intermarium

In terms of ethnic composition and a geostrategic purpose, the geopolitical union of Intermarium is often viewed as a solely Slavic and even anti-German, just like anti-Russian, union, which has historical grounds. Today, in the globalized world, the scope of its meanings includes rivalry with the geopolitical power of the Russian Federation in Eastern Europe / Eurasia and with the European Union, in fact, dominated by Germany, in Western Europe. However, the conditions of the global state imply that the competition of power blocs, in the end, always targets the planetary domination.

As a result, the modern Intermarium doctrine should have its planetary extension, too. It means that Intermarium, to begin with, must be considered in the paneuropean context, both ethnoculturally and geostrategically. Consequently, as a union of Central and Eastern European countries, Intermarium overlaps with German doctrines of Mitteleuropa (Central, Middle Europe) without the expansionist impulse (like those by Friedrich Naumann or Max Weber).

In this respect, the reign of Czech king Přemysl II Otakar / Ottokar (1230-1278), at the same time, stands as an example of both voluntary Germanization (peaceful German colonists were invited to Bohemia and Moravia by Přemyslids bringing the agricultural revolution and the legal status to the towns; the city of Königsberg, currently Kaliningrad, is named after its founder Ottokar II who joined the crusade against Pagan Baltic Prussians) and strengthening the Slavonic influence in the region (one of 20 large canvasses of «The Slav Epic» cycle by Czech painter Alfons Mucha is dedicated to Ottokar II as the forger of a lasting Slavonic alliances in Europe).

Although Mucha overinterpreted the alliance between Bohemia and Hungary sealed at the wedding of Ottokar’s niece Kunigunda of Brandenburg with a son of Hungarian King Bela IV as a «union of Slavonic dynasties» (he depicted at the gathering King Daniel of Galicia, Serbian King Stefan Uroš and his sons Dragutin and Milutin, Dukes of Croatia, Bosnia, Transylvania, and more), his diplomacy and dynastic marriages did serve the purpose of the region’s political consolidation.

As a far-sighted ruler, Ottokar II was well aware of the fact that the external forces took the advantage of the disunity of the region’s countries. Before the alliance with Hungary was sealed and the two countries were at war with each other, Ottokar II was credited with the following consideration, according to which he did not want, «by enfeebling the great kingdom of Hungary, once more open to the Tartars the road to the two kingdoms.»

Bohemia, in Bismarck’s words, «a God formed fortress in the heart of the continent,» under the rule of Ottokar II did play a role of Europe’s shield. Not incidentally, Robert Steuckers contended that «since then Europe has not been able to finish any great design in the Mediterranean.» He drew attention to the fact that Ottokar II of Bohemia «wanted to create a realm linking the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic,» which was a demo version of modern Intermarium doctrines implemented in practice.

The state of Ottokar II was stretching from the Sudeten mountains to the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Under his reign, Bohemia has become the mightest European country in the XIII century, more precisely, the most powerful state of the Holy Roman Empire which had a remarkable control over vassal subjects, incuding the Church.

It was the reason, though, why Ottokar II was feared by his political rivals and has never been elected for the imperial German throne, regardless of his ethnic origin. He died as a hero with a sword in his hand during the Battle on the Marchfeld with prevailing forces led by Rudolf of Habsburg in 1278. The battle marked the beginning of Habsburg’s rule over Austria, yet as a German province, and the decline of Central Europe as a superpower.

In Royal and Noble Nicknames, we find the following compendium of Ottokar II achievements:

«Ottokar II of Bohemia, King of Bohemia, 1253-1278, Duke of Austria, 1251, Duke of Styria, 1260, Duke of Carinthia, 1269, Duke of Carniola, 1269 (c1233-1278).

The Iron King: «His crusading spirit led Premysl II to the Baltic in 1255, where he gave welcome assistance to the Teutonic Order in its atempts to subdue Samland. The city of Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad), which was founded by Premysl II in the conquered part of Prussia, still recalls thememory of this valiant Czech, called the Iron King by his contemporaries.» (Dvornik, p. 28)

The King of Gold and Iron: «From the thirteenth century, the Czech kingdom was one of the most robust states in all of Europe, with a growing population and a vigorous economy. This, in turn, made the Czech nobility and rulers all the more rich and powerful, and enabled king Przemysl Otakar II to expand his territory rather extensively (if briefly). Otakar II was quite well-known in his time, and he even makes an appearance in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Otokar II, also known as the «King of Gold and Iron» (because of his considerable wealth and his considerable military might) defeated the armies of the Hungarian king in 1256 and again in 1260. This military victory allowed him to annex the Alpine countries (today’s Austria and beyond) — extending his territories all the way to the Adriatic Sea. Some people claim that this brief period — in which Bohemia controlled territory bordering on the sea — is the basis for Shakespeare’s infamous ‘Bohemian seacoast’ from his play, ‘The Tempest.’…». «…Dying as he had lived according to the knightly code, Premysl Otakar II, ‘King of Gold and Iron,’ became an inspiration to contemporary and future writers.» (Agnew, p. 22)

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