Esteemed Friends, Heretics, Traitors: Changes in the Perception of Post-White Mountain Émigrés from Slaný
This study addresses a previously unexamined aspect of post-White Mountain exile: the way the image of those who had left the Bohemian lands gradually changed in their original social environment. The author carries out an analytical probe into the particular social environment of the Royal Town of Slaný, from which one of the largest waves of refugees from the Kingdom of Bohemia left for Saxony in the 1620s. Drawing on provincial, municipal and church sources, he endeavours to show how the picture of the local exiles gradually changed from a thoroughly tolerant attitude to one of unequivocally negative rejection. Several factors lay behind this change. Heavy pressure from above, at provincial and patrimonial level, was put to bear on the Slaný burghers, spreading a negative image of the exiles. After 1635, in connection with the alliance concluded between the Emperor and the Saxon Elector, this pressure differentiated. From below, it first took the form of an attempt by individual townspeople to acquire – by circulating a negative image of the exiles – social and financial benefits in the newly forming post-White Mountain society. This shift was later supported by a wave of popular religiosity evoked by the events of the Thirty Years War, by generational change, and by a complete transformation of local denominational identification and collective identity. The author would like in his further work to compare this local probe into the urban environment with research into urban communities with a different social dynamic and geography, and later to undertake similar research in the context of the lower and upper nobility.