Czech ambassador’s tribute to fellow countryman
The Czech Ambassador to Great Britain paid a visit to St Andrews today (Tuesday 19th March, 2002) to visit the site where fellow Czech Pavel Kravaø was burned at the stake for heresy.
Dr Pavel Seifter was taken on a walking tour to the site where it is believed that Pavel Kravaø, an emissary of the Bohemian Husites, was burned to death in 1433.
Dr Seifter’s visit was a result of his interest in the research of Dr Paul Vy¿ný of the University’s School of History, who specialises in the history of Central and Eastern Europe, and has a particular interest in Pavel Kravaø.
“Currently, Pavel Kravaø has no memorial in St Andrews, but I hope that the visit of the Czech Ambassador will stimulate interest in the installation of a plaque and, in the longer term, also lead to a memorial scholarship enabling students from the Czech Republic to study at the University,” said Dr Vysný.
Known in Scotland as ‘Paul Craw’, Pavel Kravaø was burned at the stake for heresy in the centre of the town in 1433. This event is believed to have taken place close to the Mercat Cross, which, in today’s Market Street, is marked by a cross of red stones set in the cobbled surface of the roadway.
As an envoy of the Hussites, who were in open rebellion against the Catholic Church, Pavel Kravaø’s ill-fated visit to St Andrews, then the ecclesiastical centre of Scotland, is believed to have been undertaken in search of allies for the Hussite cause.
Dr Seifter was welcomed to the University by Deputy Principal, Professor Colin Vincent, and in addition to his visit to the site of the burning, he met with staff and students of the History of Central and Eastern Europe. He also examined primary sources of the burning at the University Library, and visited the University Chapel to inspect ceremonial maces.
Dr Seifter, worked as a window cleaner for over 20 years after being dismissed from a lecturing position as a result of the Soviet invasion of 1968. In 1989, after the fall of Communism, he became a core member of the Civic Forum opposition movement during the Velvet Revolution of 1989. He joined the office of Czech President Václav Havel in 1993, and was appointed Ambassador to Great Britain in 1997.
Dr Seifter has published a number of articles on the democratic transition of Czechoslovakia and foreign and security policy, and is in Scotland to attend a conference of British, Czech and Slovak historians at the University of Dundee.
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