Josef Petráň (1930-2017) is justly ranked among the most pivotal Czech historians of the 20th century and the 21th century’s early years. As Professor of Czech History at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University he educated three generations of students and principally impacted upon the develompment of historiography in the Czech Lands. His extensive publishing activity, spanning from 1951 until 2018 (books published posthumously by his wife and fellow researcher Lydia Petráňová), is marked by an all-encompassing breadth of themes, methodological thoroughness and a continuing focus on the key themes of Czech and Central European history of the Late Middle Ages up to present times. The work of Josef Petráň progressed under the difficult conditions of the Communist regime (he himself was persecuted repeatedly), yet it nevertheless became an expression of free thinking and effort to present the truthful interpretation of history against regime propaganda; however, some of his seminal works could only be published after 1989. This article presents a brief outline of the life and work of Josef Petráň (Part I); it then focuses on the evaluation of his works from the field of the economic and social history of the Early Modern Age (Part II) and finally on works from the history of culture and education, in particular Charles University (Part III).