Trams on Radecky street
(now Žižkova street
), c. 1909
The city was founded in 1265 by King Ottokar II of Bohemia, who granted its municipal charter in 1265. The siting and planning of the city was carried out by the king's knight Hirzo. The settlers were coming from the Bohemian Forest and Upper Austria. The royal city was created as a platform of the king's power in South Bohemia and to counterbalance the powerful noble House of Rosenberg, which became extinct in 1611.
In 1341 King John of Bohemia allowed Jewish families to reside within the city walls, and the first synagogue was built in 1380; however several pogroms occurred in the late 15th and early 16th century. Since the Hussite Wars, the city was traditionally a bulwark of the Catholic Church during the long-lasting religious conflicts in the Kingdom of Bohemia. A part of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526, Budejovice remained a loyal supporter of Emperor Ferdinand II in the Thirty Years' War. Budějovice underwent a short occupation by Prussia during the Silesian Wars, and the war between the Habsburgs and the French army in 1742.
In 1762 the Piarists established a gymnasium here and Emperor Joseph II founded the diocese in 1785. In 1847, the production of Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth pencils was relocated from Vienna to Budějovice.
During the Second World War in March 1945, Budějovice was twice targeted by U.S. Air Force raids that greatly damaged the city and caused great loss of life. At the end of the war, on 9 May 1945, Soviet troops liberated the city. On the following day, the Red Army and the American Army met on the main square in a joint celebration of the city's liberation.