Wenceslas I

born 1205
died Sept. 32, 1253

King of Bohemia (1230–53).

He prevented Mongol armies from attacking Bohemia in 1241 but could not defend Moravia. He gained control of Austria and forced the Austrian estates to accept his son Přemysl Otakar II as their duke in 1251. Bohemia prospered under his reign, and an influx of German colonists and craftsmen enriched the country.

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▪ king of Bohemia

born 1205
died Sept. 23, 1253

      king of Bohemia from 1230 who brought Austria under his dynasty while using the influence of German colonists and craftsmen to keep Bohemia strong, prosperous, and culturally progressive.

      Succeeding his father, Přemysl Otakar I, in 1230, Wenceslas prevented Mongol armies from attacking Bohemia (1241) but could not defend Moravia, which was subsequently ravished by the Mongols before they moved into Hungary. The King's main foreign policy objective then became the acquisition of Austria. On the death of the last Babenberg duke of Austria, Frederick II (1246), Wenceslas secured the hand of the Duke's niece for his son Vladislas. But Vladislas soon died, and Wenceslas lost Austria. After suppressing a Bohemian revolt in 1248–49, however, he finally forced the Austrian estates to accept his son Přemysl Otakar II as their duke in 1251. Bohemia prospered under Wenceslas' reign. Towns grew and German merchants and colonists added considerably to the wealth of the country, while German influence at the court caused a rich flowering of the arts, especially literature and architecture.

▪ prince of Bohemia
also called  Saint Wenceslas,  Czech  Svatý Václav  
born c. 907, Stochov, near Prague
died Sept. 28, 929, Stará Boleslav, Bohemia; feast day September 28

      prince of Bohemia, martyr, and patron saint of Czechoslovakia.

      Wencelas was raised a Christian by his grandmother St. Ludmila, but his ambitious mother, Drahomíra (Dragomir), a pagan, had her murdered and acted as regent herself, until Wenceslas came of age in 924 or 925. Her court intrigues and the wishes of the people to end the conflicts between Christian and non-Christian factions in Bohemia led Wenceslas to take the reins of government. As duke he was pious, reportedly taking the vow of virginity, and encouraged the work of German missionary priests in the Christianization of Bohemia. His zeal in spreading Christianity, however, antagonized his non-Christian opponents.

      Faced with German invasions in 929, Wenceslas submitted to the German king Henry I the Fowler. His submission provoked some of the nobles to conspire against him, and they prompted his younger brother, Boleslav (Boleslav I) (Boleslaus), to murder him. Waylaid by Boleslav en route to mass, Wenceslas was killed at the church door. Frightened by the reports of miracles occurring at Wenceslas' tomb, Boleslav had his remains transferred in 932 to the Church of St. Vitus, Prague, which became a great pilgrimage site during the medieval period. Wenceslas was regarded as Bohemia's patron saint almost immediately after his assassination. His virtues are sung in the Christmas carol (19th century) “Good King Wenceslas.”

Additional Reading
Fr. Dvornik, The Life of Saint Wenceslas (1929).

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Universalium. 2010.

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