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Josef Dobrovský

Josef Dobrovský

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Josef Dobrovský was an important Czech philologist, historian and founder of Slavonic studies in the Czech lands. He was born on 17 August 1753 in Ďarmotech near Raab in Hungary. In 1787 he came to the General Seminary for the education of priests in Hradisko near Olomouc, where he became pro-rector and in 1789 also rector. He performed his office in an exemplary manner, but after the death of Joseph II the general seminaries were closed and Dobrovský returned to Prague.

He was the son of soldier Jakub Doubravský. His father was transferred to Klatovy and the family settled in Horšovský Týn. In 1769 Dobrovský went to Prague to study philosophy and also completed his theology studies there. For years he worked as a teacher of philosophy and mathematics for the Counts of Nostitz. In 1787 he was ordained a priest. In the same year he became pro-rector and later rector of the general seminary in Hradisko near Olomouc. In Olomouc he prepared his History of Czech Language and Literature (Geschichte der böhmischen Sprache und Literatur). In 1790, however, the seminaries were closed and Dobrovský, who had retired, returned to Prague, where he continued to live as a respected private scholar on a state pension and also financially supported by the Counts of Nostitz. It was at this time that he wrote many seminal works for Slavic studies, philology and historiography. Although he did not write in Czech and did not believe in the future of the Czech language, he is often included in Czech literature because he contributed significantly to the preservation of the Czech language through his philological works.

He helped found the Royal Society of Sciences and the National Museum. He also influenced the young generation of Enlightenment scholars. His pupils were František Palacký and Václav Hanka. In 1828 he came to Brno to study in the local libraries. He fell ill and died while hospitalized there on 6 January 1829.


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