Prague Minos Guide

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16. - 17. century

The story of don Julius Caesar d’Austria

The destiny of the deviant son of Emperor Rudolf II
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This tragic story has a sad ending, for the son as well as for the father. Rudolf’s longtime favorite and mistress, Kateřina Stradová, gave birth to a son in 1585. She was then just 18 years old. Rudolf wished his son to be raised in the tradition of Spanish infants and he had high hopes for him. Congenital dispositions started however to show at a very early age as well as the disturbed personality of the boy. The little angel would torture the house pets and was very aggressive against his child friends-companions. Growing up he started drinking and on the threshold of adulthood he had become an alcoholic. He also led an unbridled sexual life with sadistic tendencies. In his twenties, the young man and his henchmen had become the terror of the region, as they went on wicked quests looking for entertainment among the poor and the villagers. Rudolf could no longer overlook the complaints and shame and he ordered for the young man to be locked up in a monastery. There he wasn’t allowed alcohol and he would even sometimes be denied food, which only bolstered his fierceness. The Emperor however felt pity for his son’s suffering and granted him a relative freedom, relocating him to Český Krumlov, which the Emperor had already seized (Peter Vok of Rosenberg had to sell it for financial reasons). The debauched and bored son repaid his father by increasing his acts of violence, terrorizing even farther off regions. The city councilors expressed complaints,

but the whole matter was vehemently covered up, which gave Julius the opportunity to continue his violent “expeditions”, primarily to cottages with young girls. He eventually fell in love with the daughter of the local barber in 1607 (or so he said). The girl benefited for a time from her relation with her blue-blooded lover, but he soon got tired of her and his way of ending their relation was truly original. He stabbed her with a rapier in a fit of anger and threw her out the window. The girl survived her severe wounds and once healed, a messenger from Julius arrived to her door, with the message that she was to go to the castle so that he could make up to her for his deed. The girl being reluctant to comply, Julius tried a different way – he threatened to kill her whole family if she refused to come. The girl eventually turned out and there, in the castle, Julius bestially tortured her during several hours in front of his servants and then murdered her. It is said that he cut her body to pieces. This was the last act of Rudolf’s son. His mental disease progressed extremely fast. He destroyed all the furnishing, didn’t wash, cut up bed linens and attacked servants while emitting roaring sounds. Rudolf had to lock him up in a room under the guard of armed men and he eventually ordered his death by strangulation in 1609. The death was exposed as being the result of a natural cause, a throat abscess. Rudolf’s role as a father wasn’t made easy.

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