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13. století

Wenceslas I

The fourth King of Bohemia, a great warrior and drinker
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Wenceslas was the eldest son of the first hereditary king, Premyslid Ottokar I, who had managed to obtain the hereditary royal title for the House of the Premyslids through the Golden Bull of Sicily (1212). Wenceslas was thus the first Premyslid to be raised since his early age to become king. He was a special child – he suffered from neurosis and had severe mental fits, he would in turns engage in wild parties or run to the forest in search of solitude. We know that he hated the sound of bells, which provoked seizures similar to epileptic fits. Not a single bell was permitted to ring in his presence. He was also a great hunter of game, losing an eye during a hunting trip.
He ascended the throne after the death of his father in 1230 and was immediately involved in a conflict with his rather quarrelsome neighbor Frederick II of Austria (known as the Warlike). Their on and off conflict lasted until 1246, when Wenceslas and Frederick reconciled and Frederick’s niece Gertrude was betrothed to Wenceslas’ eldest son.
In the early years of his reign, Wenceslas also had clashes with his brother Premyslid of the Moravian Margrave, who was unhappy with the division of “his” estates. Wenceslas repressed

both rebellions (1233; 1237) and eventually the brothers reconciled.
Wenceslas fought as the great knight of Christianity against the danger threatening Europe in 1240 – the invasion by the Tatars (the Mongols). The king’s prestige increased greatly during these defensive expeditions, even though he never achieved any major victory over the phenomenal Tatars and Europe was primarily saved by chance (the death of the Grand Khan in the far Karakorum).
By the end of his reign, Wenceslas had managed to penetrate Austria through marital schemes and remained there in spite of the dangerous domestic dissension with his son Premyslid and rebellious Czech lords, unpleased with the passivity of Wenceslas and the neglect of his responsibilities as a king. After having repressed his son’s rebellion and having shortly imprisoned him, he focused again on international affairs. In agreement with his son he successfully gained Austria and on the eve of his death, the Premyslids were controlling all of Austria. Wenceslas died in 1253. He reigned in the era of knights, jousts and the ascent of high feudalism, but he distinguished himself by the founding of towns (Prague Old Town, Jihlava, Cheb, Brno).


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