Philipp Friedrick Von Rieger - Encyclopedia

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PHILIPP FRIEDRICK VON RIEGER (1818-1903), Bohemian politician and publicist, was born on the 18th of December 1818 at Semil in the circle of Jicin, Bohemia. He first came into prominence as one of the Czech leaders in the revolution of 1848. He was returned by seven constituencies to the Reichtstag at Vienna, where he was the leader of the Czech party. In 1853 he married a daughter of the historian Palacky. In 1858 he started the Slovnik naucny, the Czech national encyclopaedia, the first volume of which was published in 1859, the 11th and last in 1874. He was also instrumental in founding the first Czech political daily newspaper published in Prague, which appeared on the 1st of January 1861, and of which he was for awhile the editor. After the issue of the "October diploma" of 1860, Rieger, with his father-in-law, Palacky, undertook the leadership of the reconstituted Czech party, and after the decision of this party in 1863 no longer to attend the Austrian Reichsrath, he led the agitation in favour of the restoration of the Bohemian kingdom. In 1871 he conducted the negotiations with the Hohenenwarth ministry for a federal constitution of the empire, which broke down owing to his extreme attitude in the matter of Bohemian independence. On the reappearance of the Czechs in the Bohemian diet (1878) and the Austrian Reichsrath (1879) Rieger was one of the leaders of the federalist majority supporting Count Taaffe's government and the chief of the so-called "Old Czechs." On his seventieth birthday (December 10, 1888) he received a national gift of 100,000 gulden; but, in spite of this evidence of his popularity, his conservatism, his close connexion with the Bohemian nobility and his clerical tendencies brought him into conflict with the growing influence of the radical "Young Czech" party, and in 1891, together with the other "Old Czechs," he was defeated at the poll. In March 1897 he was created a baron (Freiherr) and given a seat in the Upper House. He continued occasionally to interfere in politics; but his influence was now at an end, though when he died, on the 3rd of March 1903, his funeral at Prague was made the occasion of a magnificent demonstration of respect.

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