History of the town
- The first written reference to the town
The area around the confluence of the Elbe, Úpa and Metuje rivers was populated as early as 40,000 B. C., during the Lower Palaeolithic. The first historically documented reference to Jaroměř is dated as late as 1126, when a castle founded by the Přemyslid Prince Jaromír stood where Saint Nicolas Church stands now. Jaroměř was first mentioned as a town in 1298, during the rule of Wenceslaus II, when Přemysl Otakar II gave the fortified settlement the higher status of a royal town, which belonged to the wife of Wenceslaus II, Eliška Rejčka, from 1307, as a dowry town of Czech Queens.
- The royal dowry town of Jaroměř
At the beginning of the Hussite upheavals Jaroměř, as a royal town administered by the German patriciate, was on the side of the king and Roman emperor, Sigismund of Luxemburg. However, when the Hussite troops led by Jan Žižka of Trocnov arrived on 6 May 1421, the town had no choice but to surrender and then swear allegiance to the Chalice. Jaroměř remained on the side of the Ultraquists until the fateful Battle of Lipany. Two years after that unsuccessful battle it again submitted to Emperor Sigismund, who gave it to his wife, Queen Barbara, in 1437. The town, which had become stronger during the Hussite wars, did not want to give up its privileges and submit to the Queen, who, feeling exasperated, pledged it to George of Poděbrady in 1445. As a result of the wrong done to the Queen, Jaroměř got a new coat of arms – instead of the original double scale it had to use a lioness with a double crown coiled around it.
- The Renaissance, Baroque and M. B. Braun
At the end of the first half of the 15th century Jaroměř was almost totally destroyed by fire and was also hit by the plague epidemics, which were common during that time. In spite of that, in the post-Thirty-Year-War period, which had caused a lot of damage and loss to Jaroměř, many buildings and works of art were created there during the High Renaissance and Baroque periods. The town hall building does not currently resemble the architecture of the Renaissance because, unfortunately, it was later rebuilt, so now its style is not uniform. However, the face of Jaroměř has been significantly shaped by Baroque scenes, including the Marian column and the Crying Woman statue in the cemetery, both attributed to sculptor Matthias Brown, as well as the decoration of the gothic Saint Nicolas Church, whose high altar was created by a local native, Matěj Krupka.
- The fortress town of Josefov
During the reign of Enlightenment rulers the Czech lands went through great reforms but there was also a threat of a Prussian invasion. The Empress Maria Theresa lost Silesia and Kladsko, where the northern Czech line of defence was situated. Thus, she had to make up for the lost Silesian fortresses by building new fortresses, which was a breaking point for Jaroměř. In the nearby village of Ples a fortress was founded, whose building quickly began to change the landscape, and its further modifications affected especially the beds of the rivers, whose confluence was moved to a different place. On 3 October 1780 the foundation stone was laid in the presence of Emperor Joseph II and within an incredible seven years the construction was completed and ceremonially handed over to the Bohemian commander. Four years after the completion of the fortress, in 1791, Jaroměř was given the higher status of a free royal town and in 1793, under the reign of Francis II, the Ples fortress was renamed Josefov. The town of Josefov was given its coat of arms by Ferdinand V on 3 March 1836.
In its own time the fortress was one of the masterpieces of fortification, but it was never attacked. In 1866 the Prussian troops simply avoided it, so it was closed down in 1888.
- The first train in the Jaroměř-Josefov station
In the 19th century, called the “steam century”, industry and business developed in Jaroměř, which required an improvement of transport. As a result, a railroad track was built. A condition of that was that the station and part of the track would be under the direct protection (and possibly under the fire) of the Josefov cannons. The first train arrived at the Josefov-Jaroměř station on 27 October 1857 and as early as November 4 train service between that station and Pardubice was started.
- The new Na Ostrově school
The most important event of this period is the revolutionary year of 1848. Like in many other towns, a National Guard was founded here. The revolutionary period finished when the whole Jaroměř found itself in the state of siege. Shortly after that, the National Guard was dissolved. In those years the Josefov fortress played the undignified role of a hard labour prison. However, the 19th century was not only a dark side of the history of Jaroměř. In 1885 a new school called Na Ostrově and a new access road with a bridge over the Labe were built.
- World War I
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared total mobilisation and Jaroměř became overcrowded with soldiers training the conscripts. The progress of the cold war and the incapability of the Austrian armies on the battlefield were compensated by incessant police surveillance. The end of the war was accompanied by an epidemic of the Spanish flu. Of the Jaroměř citizens fighting in WWI 218 fell. Thirty-eight of them were the inhabitants of Josefov. We must not forget the resistance movement abroad. Ninety-two local men enlisted in the French, Italian and Russian legions. The war years are commemorated by two beautiful lime trees in Josefov’s square. They were planted on 2 December 1914 in honour of Emperor and King Francis Joseph I’s sixty-six years on the throne.
- Post-WWI years
Immediately after the war and after the establishment of the independent state of Czechoslovakia on 28 October 1918 the District National Committee in Jaroměř was founded. As a result, Czech officers removed the German ones from their posts. Therefore, the citizens of Jaroměř felt chagrined when the National Committee was dissolved in 1918 and its powers were transferred to the District Executive Office in Dvůr Králové nad Labem. However, Jaroměř continued to strive to obtain the district town status. This effort was partly successful when the Jaroměř Self-Governing District was established, but in 1929 it was merged with the Dvůr Králové District. That was only changed in October 1945, when Jaroměř finally became a district town. On 30 June 1960, during the re-organisation of the state administration, the district status was cancelled again and the area was divided between the District Offices in Hradec Králové and Náchod. In the 1920’s Jaroměř saw tumultuous building boom, which was, however, subsided at the beginning of the 1930s halting completely later on and being followed by the Great Depression. In spite of that, during the post-WWI period the town was enriched with a large number of buildings as well as many artists directly connected with Jaroměř. However, a new danger arose in the second half of the 1930s – German Nazism.
- The German occupation
The first German occupation forces arrived in Jaroměř on March 15 1939 before six o’clock in the morning. A Wehrmacht officer, Major Konopatzki, was appointed commander of the town. A lot of men could not accept the occupation and decided to leave the country and fight for freedom abroad. The first allied troops in the area of our town were the American Army soldiers on 8th May 1945, but the town had to wait for its liberation a few more days. The names of all the killed citizens of Jaroměř and Josefov are inscribed on the bronze plaques at the Liberation Memorial (Památník osvobození) next to the Municipal Theatre.
- The Merge of Josefov and Jaroměř
The gradual growth of Jaroměř and Josefov climaxed in 1948, when these two separate towns were merged into one. The villages of Dolní Dolce and Jezbiny also became parts of Jaroměř. This state was confirmed by the National Committee in Prague on 19 October 1948.