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History of the town of Rychnov nad Kněžnou


hist1

The first time Rychnov was mentioned in writing was in a document by Ottokar II of Bohemia from 1 February 1258. Ottokar II of Bohemia issued the document as the Duke of Austria. He gained Austria through marriage with Margaret of Babenberg. The document concerns the affairs of the Monastery in St. Florian near Linz, Germany, where it can still be perused in the monastery archive, its condition perfect, as if it was written only yesterday. One of the signatures on the one but last line of the document belongs to one of the members of king’s entourage, Hermann de Richenawe (Heřman z Rychnova). This first written mention is the starting point in the recorded history of the town.

The right to its own coat of arms and the privileges to use green-wax seals and to hold two markets a year (the first to be held on the Wednesday after St. Vitus day- 15 June, the second one on the Monday after St. Matthew’s day-21 September) were made official by a royal charter of Vladislaus II, bearing the date 6 March 1488, which is deposited in the archives of the Kolowrat castle in Rychnov.

Rychnov was subject to its manorial overlords, on which it was obviously dependent. The efforts to gain the privileges of a royal town came to fruition only as late as 1561, when the Emperor Ferdinand I gave the town the right to select the town elders, an auxiliary administrative body. The first written mention of the Rychnov town-hall building comes from 1596. The affairs of the township were managed by the town council with a burgomaster at its head. It was in charge of dealing with all the economic, financial, security and legal agenda of the town. Its executive body was formed by the town and manorial magistrate. Other council functionaries included the town scribe, night watcher etc. There were twelve town councillors, each holding the post of the burgomaster for a month. In later times the office-term of the burgomaster would be longer. It was only the burgomaster who received any financial or material reward for holding the office. The council was supervised by local nobility and since the half of the 18th century it would be appointed by the lord of the manor. In the same period the post of salaried burgomaster, and those of licensed councillors, were introduced, apart from unlicensed councillors, who were elected from among the town’s citizens. Among other matters the council supervised fire safety, quality and quantity of goods and collecting of fees. In 1753 the council was represented by town councillors and elders, as well as a town magistrate and a committee of neighbours. The game-keepers, watermen, sextons, gravediggers were all employed by the council. According to a record from 1756 left by the town chronicler, it was in this year that pillories and gallows were done away with. The history of capital punishment can be traced in records from 16th century onwards. The gallows stood to the left of the road to the nearby town of Solnice, in a location known as At Justice. The executioner’s job was usually connected with that of a knacker.

 

hist1Between the years 1784 and 1849 the administrative and justice were in the hands of the town council headed by the burgomaster, who had to have higher education and whose magistrate councillors were required to have legal education. In 1790 the burgomaster presided over the council with one licensed and two unlicensed councillors. The burgomaster and councillors were elected by the citizens and approved by the manorial nobility and the highest administrative body of the land. In 1797 the committee of neighbours was cancelled, followed by the office of the town magistrate, which was replaced by the newly introduced post of police inspector two years later.

A demesne court for dominions of Rychnov and Černíkovice was established in Rychnov in 1783, existing alongside a town court founded by a decree issued on 16 April 1789, and consisting of the burgomaster, two licensed and two unlicensed councillors and a record-keeper.

Since 1850 political administration and courts were separated, with the town council (municipal committee) and municipal board performing the administrative duties. The judicial agenda was taken on by a newly-established district court, the lowest civil court, which became active on 27 May 1850.

 

The end of World War II brought about considerable change in civil service and administration. On 5 May 1945 the so-called revolutionary national committee started to operate. Since then there was a municipal national committee in the district town of Rychnov nad Kněžnou. In 1950 some of the nearby villages were made part of the municipality, only to be separated again until 1 January 1981, when Dlouhá Ves, Jahodov, Jámy, Jedlina, Lipovka, Litohrady, Lukavice, Nový a Starý Lokot, Roveň, Slemeno and Synkov became integrated. These thirteen villages have historically belonged to the administrative and judicial district of Rychnov nad Kněžnou, Litohrady belonged to the demesne of Solnice in 1848, Synkov belonged to Častolovice dominium, the rest to dominiums of Rychnov and Černíkovice.

In the elections of 1986 ninety-six representatives of the Municipal National Committee in Rychnov nad Kněžnou were elected.

After the events of 17 November 1989 the system of civil service and administration, which had been built in the decades following the year 1945, underwent some dramatic changes. After the negotiations with the Civil Forum the spectrum of political representation in the elected assembly changed. The then-chairman of the committee, JuDr Z. Plachetka, stepped down to be replaced by MUDr Zdeněk Kašpar, who held the post until the first free elections. MVDr František Bartoš became the head of the local administration on 3 December 1990, when he was elected the mayor. In the second half of the same year, on 5 September, the Municipal Act ČNR č. 367 Sb. was issued. This Act has remained almost unchanged until present day.

According to this Act a town is every municipality with a Municipal National Committee active at the time when the Act was issued. A municipality acts in legal relationships under its own name and bears responsibility arising from these relationships. It has its own property and financial resources to manage independently. A municipality is independent in running of its own affairs. In enacting its authority it respects laws and regulations, concerning implementation of these laws, issued by central authorities. It also takes part in executing state administration to the extent set by special laws. In the course of its performing this delegated task of state administration it abides by the laws and other legal regulations and within their bounds by decisions of the cabinet and directives of central authorities of state administration. A municipality is further responsible for economic, social and cultural development, together with protecting and facilitating conditions for good development of the environment in its area.

The head of a municipality is a mayor, who accounts for his actions to the municipal board. The number of members of the board in Rychnov is twenty-one. The council has seven members including the mayor and their deputy.

After 1989 the villages of Jahodov, Lukavice, Slemeno and Synkov separated from the municipality. Currently the town of Rychnov consists of the following parts: Dlouhá Ves, Jámy, Lipovka, Litohrady, Lokot, Panská Habrová, Roveň and Rychnov.

The municipal law allows towns to use a municipal coat of arms and a flag. The coat of arms of Rychnov nad Kněžnou bears a maiden riding on a deer, and as to the flag it was announced to the council in reply to its request, addressed to the home office in 1939, that its flag consists of three stripes in the colours white, green and red, the middle stripe being of half the width of the other two. The council acknowledged this during its session of 31 October 1939.

 

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