From the second half of the 12th century, the affairs of the City were overseen by the ‘rychtář’ (village magistrate), who acted as a representative of the king, together with the City Council. The City Council was made up of aldermen (twelve in each of Prague towns) and had the function of advisory and judicial board for the ‘rychtář’.
The post of ‘rychtář’ had been fast loosing its significance until the 15th century when it was finally morphed into a police official who reported to the city council. From the end of the 13th century, the City was led just by the City Council. Its members were nominated by the ruler. Originally the council changed every year and its members rotated in the post of its chairman alias ‘burgomaster’ every month. Later on, the council sometimes stayed on in the post longer and the number of aldermen was increased, as happened for example in Old Town when it went up to eighteen. This happened for example when the ruler wasn’t present.
The full bloom of Prague municipalities falls into the period between1440 and 1547. At this time the influence of the Czech estates (Czech society was divided into estates alias classes) dominated royal power and Prague Old Town headed the estate of the towns and led the powerful alliance of independent royal towns. Mottos that were part of its period coat of arms ‘Praga caput regni’ (Prague, the Capital of the Empire) and ‘Praga mater urbium’ (Prague, the Mother of Towns) convey well the privileged standing and ambitions of Prague burghers. Sadly, however, this terrific flowering finished abruptly after the tragically unsuccessful anti-Habsburg uprising in 1547.
The burgomaster who started his term of office as the first one at the beginning of the year gradually started to be called ‘primas’. Later on, from 1588, this was translated to Latin as ‘primátor ‘(mayor), the term that is used up to the present day.
Prague towns were later on united by the Joseph II Decree into one Royal Capital City of Prague. It was headed by the City Hall that was composed of a burgomaster, two deputy burgomasters and 28 experienced municipal councillors. The title burgomaster was replaced by its Czech version ‘starosta’ and the golden chain with its big medal became a symbol of his office in 1897.
Following the foundation of the Czechoslovakian Republic and creation of Greater Prague (1st January 1922), the city administrative system was preserved, but the municipal boards of seniors were renamed to town councils. Greater Prague was headed by the central town council and the title ‘primátor’ was established for the chief ‘starosta’ of Greater Prague.
List of Prague burgomasters, ‘starostas’ and ‘primátors’:
- Bernard Augustin Zahořanský z Vorlíka (burgomaster1784-1788)
- Ondřej Steiner (burgomaster 1788-1799 and 1804-1810)
- Jan Jindřich Neuber (burgomaster 1800-1804)
- Jan Jiří Karl (burgomaster 1811-1819)
- Josef Kirpal (burgomaster 1820-1823)
- Petr Sporschil (burgomaster 1826-1838)
- Josef Müller (burgomaster 1839-1848)
- JUDr. Antonín Strobach (burgomaster 1848)
- Tomáš Pštross (burgomaster 1848)
- JUDr. Václav Vaňka (burgomaster 1848-1861)
- František Václav Pštross (burgomaster 1861-1863)
- JUDr. Václav Bělský (burgomaster 1863-1867)
- JUDr. Karel Leopold Klaudy (burgomaster 1868-1869)
- František Dittrich (starosta 1870-1873)
- Josef Huleš (starosta 1873-1876)
- Emilián Skramlík (starosta 1876-1882)
- JUDr. Tomáš Černý (starosta 1882–1885)
- Ferdinand Vališ (starosta 1885–1887)
- JUDr. Jindřich Štolc (starosta 1887-1893)
- Čeněk Gregor (starosta 1893-1896)
- JUDr. Jan Podlipný (starosta 1897-1900)
- JUDr. Vladimír Srb (starosta 1900-1906)
- JUDr. Karel Groš (starosta 1906-1918)
- JUDr. Přemysl Šámal (1918-1919)
- JUDr. Karel Baxa (1919-1937)
- PhDr. Petr Zenkl (1937-1939 and 1945-1946)
- JUDr. Otakar Klapka (1939-1940)
- JUDr. Alois Říha (1940-1945)
- JUDr. Václav Vacek (1945 and 1946-1954)
- Adolf Svoboda (1954-1964)
- Ludvík Černý (1964-1970)
- JUDr. RSDr. Zdeněk Zuska (1970-1981)
- Ing. František Štafa (1981-1988)
- Zdeněk Horčík (1988-1989)
- PaedDr. Josef Hájek (1989-1990)
- Jaroslav Kořán (1990-1991)
- Ing. Milan Kondr (1991-1993)
- RNDr. Jan Koukal, Csc. (1993-1998)
- Ing. arch. Jan Kasl (1998-2002)
- RNDr. Igor Němec (2002)
- MUDr. Pavel Bém (2002 - 2010)
- Doc. MUDr. Bohuslav Svoboda, CSc. (since 2010)