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Přemyslid early medieval castle system - introduction

Přemyslid early medieval castle system or the castle organization was a system of early medieval strongholds, which Boleslav I began to build before the middle of the 10th century and which was to ensure the organization of the Přemyslid estate first in Bohemia and from the first half of the 11th century in Moravia. The castle system was gradually completed within the old settlement area until the reign of Břetislav I. and functioned until the first half of the 13th century.


rotunda of Peter and Paulin Starý Plzenec

After seizing power, Boleslav I began to systematically liquidate local rulers throughout Bohemia. Archaeologically, some fortifications from this period were examined, which were conquered and destroyed. On the site of these a castles or in their vicinity, the monarch began to establish his own Přemyslid fortified settlements, where he appointed a loyal administrator. These Přemyslid fortifications became the basis for direct control of the conquered areas, which were divided into castle districts (provinciae, civitates).


archeological finds from the Počáply (Museum Příram)

In his district, the castellan had the duty to represent the princely power, was responsible for the regular selection of the tribute (tributum pacis), enforced various services for the prince on the people settled here. He was also a judge. In later centuries, his duties were partly taken over by "vilik", especially the collection of benefits and the execution of non-free persons. Markets took place here and there was a church. In the vicinity of this administrative center, perhaps gradually a system of so-called service villages.


earthwork-Počáply fortified settlement (Archeologický atlas)

The castle system gradually disappeared during the first half of the 13th century, when the Přemyslid state underwent a large number of changes. The end of it was mainly due to the efforts of the castellans and the nobility connected to this administrative center to gain private land ownership.

In the years 950–1150, 22 fortified settlements belonged to the basic administrative centers. Their network was gradually supplemented by less important castles, which could only perform part of the tasks of the country's administration.