The town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian monastery in Bohemia, Sedlec Monastery, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey. By 1260 German miners began to mine for silver in the mountain region, which they named Kuttenberg, and which was part of the monastery property. The name of the mountain is said to have derived from the monks' cowls (the Kutten) or from the word mining (kutání in old Czech). Under Abbot Heinrich Heidenreich the territory greatly advanced due to the silver mines which gained importance during the economic boom of the 13th century.
The earliest traces of silver have been found dating back to the 10th century, when Bohemia already had been in the crossroads of long-distance trade for many centuries. Silver dinars have been discovered belonging to the period between 982-995 in the settlement of Malín, which is now a part of Kutná Hora.
From the 13th to 16th centuries the city competed with Prague economically, culturally and politically. Since 1995 the city center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1300 when King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia issued the new royal mining code Ius regale montanorum. This was a legal document that specified all administrative as well as technical terms and conditions necessary for the operation of mines. The city developed with great rapidity, and at the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in 1419 was the second most important city in Bohemia, after Prague, having become the favourite residence of several Bohemian kings. It was here that, on January 18, 1409, Wenceslaus IV signed the famous Decree of Kutná Hora, by which the Czech university nation was given three votes in the elections to the faculty of Prague University as against one for the three other nations.
In 1420 Emperor Sigismund made the city the base for his unsuccessful attack on the Taborites during the Hussite Wars, leading to the Battle of Kutná Hora. Kuttenberg (Kutná