Heršpice - Slavkov

Heršpice - Slavkov

Heršpice, a little village in the South Moravian Region, is located only six kilometres from Slavkov, at the border of the Ždánický Forest National Park, 281 metres above sea level. The village has the population of fewer than 600 people. In the 13th century Heršpice belonged to the Slavkov domain. In 1237 Václav I presented the Order of German Knights with it and in 1411 it became possession of Václav IV. From the early 16th century to 1919 the domain was owned by the Kounics whose most notable member V. A. Kounic, after beeing appointed a Chancellor by Marie Terezie, was influencing Austrian foreign policy for forty years. At the turn of the 19th and 20th century, Dr Václav Duke Kounic built hostels for students in Brno. The hostels became famous during German occupation as a gestapo prison and its torture and execution place.

Close to Heršpice, you can find the remnants of Konůvky which was a medieval village supposed to have been destroyed in 1468 during a campaign of the Hungarian army against George of Poděbrady. In the house No. 45 Franz Joseph I, the Austrian Emperor met the Russian Czar Alexander II before the Battle of Slavkov in 1805. There is a Roman Catholic St. Matthew’s Chapel from 1870 in Heršpice.

The Protestant church with its tower visible from afar dominates the village. History of the congregation of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren in Heršpice is connected with the history of reformation movement in the Slavkov area. Members of the Unity of Brethren were working here in the 16th century and until 1622, they were a majority together with other Protestants. After the lost Battle of the White Mountain, though, no other religion except for Catholic was permitted and secret Protestants met in ”a prayer valley“. When revealed, they were severely punished and many of them forced to leave their homes where they never returned again.

After the Toleration Patent was proclaimed, the Protestants started to meet in Heršpice. At first, they attended the Klobouky congregation – the worn ”Helvetic pavement“ is recalled up to these days. After lots of delay, an independent congregation was established in 1870. Protestants in Heršpice started to build their own church in 1864. The building, not amenable to reform law, was consecrated five years later, then its tower was erected in 1899. The large, light, one-nave church with a valuable organ has been repaired several times but the biggest restoration was done in the 1990s. The rectory dating back to 1874 was later rebuilt to get its present look. There is also a Protestant cemetery which is a part of the whole complex.

The local Protestant congregation experienced a great event on the 31st of August 1880 when it was joined by professor T. G. Masaryk.

The Heršpice congregation also has a preaching station in Slavkov in a nice little functionalist chapel near the local castle.