Prague Minos Guide

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13. - 14. century

Wenceslas III

The last king of the Premyslid dynasty
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Description

Wenceslas III was the last member of the Premyslid dynasty to be King of Bohemia.
Whispering tongues imputed him with drunkenness, sudden fits of rage, a weakness for houses of ill repute and other similar pastimes. The truth is that some rumors are based on facts, however it is never pointed out that the king reached power at a very early age and could hence be easily influenced from numerous sides.
He was an entreated son and the only legitimate heir to his father. Because of the latter’s frail health, he was thrust into great power too soon. He got used to power, which as we know corrupts people. In 1301, at the age of 12, he became King of Hungary, a result of the Premyslid’s foreign policy of expansionism. In Buda he found himself alone in a rather unfriendly environment, which must have done him some harm considering his youth. In 1303 the frail rule of the Premyslids in Hungary collapsed and Wenceslas II himself with his army had to save his son. In 1305 Wenceslas II died at the age of 35, and Wenceslas III became King of Bohemia, King of Poland, and even though it was only a formal title King of Hungary. He was only 16. The king hurled himself into the whirl of unrestrained life, supported by the profit-hungry noblemen who thus gained numerous benefices.
The king eventually abandoned this lifestyle and hurled himself frantically into States affaires. He married Viola of Cieszyn, whose rank was quite lower, but the union opened the path to Poland, showing the ambition of Wenceslas regarding the Polish crown. On the other hand he relinquished the Hungarian crown to his cousin Oto, Duke of Lower Bavaria, having reached the belief that the Premyslid administration couldn’t

sustain three realms.
In 1306 he decided to undertake a great expedition in Poland against Vladislas the Short, while intending to cut the nobility’s wings, who had gotten used to the ruler’s lax governance. His intentions were however tragically cut short on the 4th of August 1306 during an especially torrid summer, when he was killed in Olomouc. The question to know who stood behind the assassination was a great mystery and his contemporaries as well as later generations of historians have ever since then tried to find an answer. According to the Zbraslav Chronicle: “We are all puzzled about the fact that up to this day we still don’t know for sure, who was the perpetrator of such a shameful act. A knight, said to be Conrad of Botenstein of the Durynk family, was however seen jumping out a window of the palace, a knife covered in blood in his hand, and running away; those who were outside caught him and killed him for the assassination of the king before he could utter a word. Whether he was the culprit or whether it was somebody else I don’t know, only God knows, but I know and the whole world knows that the death of the young king generated a great deal of suffering.”
In this regard the names of Vladislas the Short or of Albert the Roman King were brought up, but the theory today is that the blame is to be attributed to the Czech nobility as a whole, who didn’t want a strong ruler. Be that as it may, an end was brought to the life of a man who might have proved to be a good ruler, but mainly – this assassination meant the end of the royal Premyslid dynasty in male tail. From then on the Czech lands became a quarry for foreign ruling dynasties, it was the end of an era.

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