- Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
name=Saint Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
September 28, 935
Roman Catholic Churchand Eastern Orthodox Church
caption=Statue of Saint Wenceslaus in
Olomouc, Czech Republic
Stará Boleslav, Bohemia
attributes=Crown, dagger, eagle on a banner
Bohemia, Czech Republic, Prague
St Vitus Cathedral, Prague
Saint Wenceslaus or Saint Wenceslas ( _cs. Václav) Audio-IPA|Cs-svaty Vaclav.ogg| [ˈva:tslaf] , (c. 907 –
September 28, 935) was duke ("kníže") of Bohemiafrom 921 until his death. Wenceslas is best known in the English-speaking world as the subject of the Christmas carol" Good King Wenceslas."
He was the son of
Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia from the Přemyslid dynasty. His father was raised in a Christian milieu through his father, Bořivoj, who was converted by Saint Cyriland Saint Methodius, the "apostles to the Slavs". His mother Drahomírawas the daughter of a pagan tribal chief of Havolans and was baptized at the time of her marriage. Wenceslaus himself is venerated as Saint Wenceslaus and is the main patron saint of the Czech state.
In 921, when Wenceslaus was thirteen, his father died and he was brought up by his grandmother,
Saint Ludmila, who raised him as a Christian. A dispute between the fervently Christian regent and her daughter-in-law drove Ludmila to seek sanctuary at Tetín castlenear Beroun. Drahomíra, who was trying to garner support from the nobility, was furious about losing influence on her son and arranged to have Ludmila strangled at Tetín on September 15, 921.
According to some legends, having regained control of her son, Drahomíra set out to convert him to the old pagan religion. According to other legends she was herself a Christian. Very little is known about her rule.
In 924 or 925 Wenceslaus assumed government for himself and had Drahomíra exiled. After gaining the throne at the age of eighteen, he defeated a rebellious duke of
Kouřimnamed Radslav. He also founded a rotunda consecrated to St Vitusat Prague Castlein Prague, which exists as present-day St Vitus Cathedral.
Early in 929 the joint forces of
Arnulf of Bavariaand Henry I the Fowlerreached Praguein a sudden attack, which forced Wenceslaus to pledge allegiance to the latter.Clarifyme|date=March 2008 This resulted in resuming the payment of a traditional tribute which was first imposed in 806. One of the possible reasons for the attack was the formation of the anti-Saxon alliance between Bohemia, Polabian Slavsand Magyars.
In September of 935 (in older sources 929) a group of nobles allied with Wenceslaus's younger brother, Boleslaus (
Boleslav I of Bohemia), in a plot to kill the prince. After inviting his brother to the feast of Saints Cosmas and Damian in Stará Boleslav, three of Boleslaus' companions--Tira, Čsta and Hněvsa--murdered him on his way to church. Boleslaus thus succeeded him as the Duke/Prince ("kníže") of Bohemia.
Cosmas's Chronicle, one of Boleslav's sons was born on the day of Wenceslaus's death, and because of the ominous circumstance of his birth the infant was named Strachkvas, which means "a dreadful feast".
A statue of Saint Wenceslaus and other patrons of The Czech Republic (St Adalbert/Vojtěch of Prague, St Ludmila, St Prokop and St Agnes "Czech") is located at Wenceslaus square in
There are discrepancies in the records regarding the date of St Wenceslaus's death. It has been argued that Wenceslaus's remains were transferred to St Vitus's Church in 932, ruling out the later date; however, the year 935 is now favored by historians as the date of his murder. [The St Joseph's Catholic Missal, c. 1962, gives the date of his death as 938]
There is a tradition which states that Saint Wenceslaus's loyal servant,
Podevin, avenged his death by killing one of the chief conspirators. Podevin was executed by Boleslav.
Canonization and other memorials
After his death, Wenceslaus was
canonizedas a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several purported miracles that occurred after his death. Wenceslaus is the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic. His feast day is September 28.
Since 2000, this day is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, celebrated as "Czech Statehood Day".
In his honor, a statue of Wenceslaus clad in armour on horseback stands in Prague's "
Václavské Náměstí" ( Wenceslaus Square). The sculptor was Josef Václav Myslbek. A memorable parodyof this statue, created by David Černý, hangs in a Lucerna Palace gallery near the square.
Wenceslaus in legend
There are many legends about King Wenceslaus. An old one claims a huge army of knights sleep inside
Blaník, a mountain in the Czech Republic. The knights will wake and under the command of St. Wenceslaus will help the Motherland when it is in ultimate danger (see also King in the mountainlegends).
There is a similar legend in
Praguewhich says that when the Motherland is in danger or in its darkest times and close to ruin, the equestrian statue of King Wenceslaus in Wenceclaus Square will come to life, raise the army sleeping in Blaník, and upon crossing the Charles Bridgehis horse will stumble and trip over a stone, revealing the legendary sword of Bruncvík. With this sword, King Wenceslaus will slay all the enemies of the Czechs, bringing peace and prosperity to the land.
He is the subject of the popular
Boxing Dayand Christmas Carol " Good King Wenceslas."
There is a 1994 television film entitled "Good King Wenceslaus" which is a highly fictional account of his early life. The film stars
Jonathan Brandisin the title role, supported by Leo McKern, Stefanie Powers, and Joan Fontaineas Ludmila. [imdb title|0109919|Good King Wenceslas (1994)]
Wenceslaus is a major character in Ogden Nash's comic epic poem "The Christmas that Almost Wasn't," in which a boy awakens Wenceslaus and his knights to save a kingdom from usurpers who have outlawed Christmas. [
Ogden Nash, "The Christmas that Almost Wasn't," Little, Brown and Company, 1957 OCLC|1211904]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15587b.htm Catholic Encyclopedia: "St. Wenceslaus"]
* [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/saintw03.htm Patron Saints Index: "St. Wenceslaus"]
* [http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=592 Catholic Online: "St. Wenceslaus"]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Wenceslaus II, Duke of Bohemia — Wenceslaus II ( cs. Václav) (1137 ndash;1192) was the son of Sobeslav I and brother of Sobeslav II. He was the duke of Bohemia following Conrad II in 1191. He was the duke of Olomouc and Brno, but was deposed by Duke Frederick in 1179 and exiled … Wikipedia
Wenceslaus I, Duke of Luxembourg — Wenceslaus I (also Wenceslas , Venceslas , Wenzel , or Václav , often called Wenceslaus of Bohemia in chronicles) (Prague, 25 February 1337 ndash; Luxembourg, 7 December 1383) was the first Duke of Luxembourg from 1355. He was the son of John the … Wikipedia
Vratislaus I, Duke of Bohemia — Vratislaus I of Bohemia, liber depictus, Český Krumlov, 14th century Vratislaus (or Wratislaus) I (Czech: Vratislav I) (c. 888 – February 13, 921), a scion of the Přemyslid dynasty, was Duke of Bohemia from 915 to 921. He was the son of Duke… … Wikipedia
Conrad II, Duke of Bohemia — Conrad II Otto (Czech: Konrád Ota) (died 9 September 1191) was a member of Přemyslid dynasty, son of Duke Conrad II of Znojmo. He was the duke of Znojmo from 1177 until he was made margrave of Moravia from 1182 to 1186. He was then duke of… … Wikipedia
Conrad I, Duke of Bohemia — Conrad I of Brno (Czech: Konrád I. Brněnský) (died 6 September 1092) was the duke of Bohemia for eight months in 1092. He was the brother and successor of Vratislaus II (died 14 January 1092). He was the third son of Bretislaus I and Judith of… … Wikipedia
Boleslaus II, Duke of Bohemia — For another (Boleslaw) Boleslaus the Pious, see Boleslaus of Greater Poland. Boleslaus II the Pious ( cs. Boleslav II. Pobožný; c. 920 ndash; February 7 999) was the duke of Bohemia from 972, a member of the Přemyslid dynasty.The son of Boleslaw… … Wikipedia
Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia — Boleslaus I the Cruel also called Boleslav I ( cs. Boleslav I. Ukrutný) (died July 15, 967 or 972) was the prince of Bohemia from 929 or 935 to his death. His father was Vratislaus I. Boleslav is notorious for the murder of his brother Saint… … Wikipedia
Oldrich, Duke of Bohemia — Oldrich redirects here. For the 1,000 year old oak tree, see Oldřich Oak. Oldrich (also Ulrich or Oldřich) (ca. 975 – 11 November 1034) was the duke of Bohemia from 1012 to 1033 and briefly in 1034. He was a son of Boleslaus II and brother of… … Wikipedia
Svatopluk, Duke of Bohemia — Svatopluk the Lion (died 21 September 1109) was the duke of Bohemia from 1107 to his assassination. He was a son of Otto I of Olomouc and Euphemia of Hungary and grandson of Bretislaus I of Bohemia. Duke of Olomouc since 1091, he was at enmity… … Wikipedia
Wenceslaus — Wenceslaus, Wenceslas, Venceslas, or Wenzeslaus may refer to: * Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia (907–935 or 929) * Wenceslaus II, Duke of Bohemia (died 1192) * Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, King of Bohemia (1230–1253) * Wenceslaus II of Bohemia, King of … Wikipedia