Vratislaus II of Bohemia

Vratislaus II of Bohemia

Vratislaus II or Wratislaus II ( _cs. Vratislav II) (died 14 January 1092), the son of Bretislaus I and Judith of Schweinfurt, daughter of Henry of Schweinfurt, was the first King of Bohemia from 15 June 1085. The royal title was a grant, however, from the Holy Roman Emperor and was not hereditary. Before being raised to kingship, he had ruled Bohemia as duke since 1061. He was one of the greatest of medieval Bohemian rulers.

On his father's death in 1055, Vratislaus became duke of Olomouc. He fell out with his brother Spytihnev II and was exiled to Hungary. Vratislaus regained his Moravian ducal throne with Hungarian assistance and eventually reconciled with his brother and succeed him as duke of Bohemia.

Campaigns of Henry IV

Vratislaus was an ally of the Emperor Henry IV. He supported Henry in both the Investiture Controversy and the rebellions in Saxony which dominated his long reign. Pope Gregory VII, having already gained the support of Boleslaus II of Poland, was keen on roping in the duke of Bohemia to surround the emperor with adversaries fighting for the church. The pope confirmed Vratislaus in the privilege of wearing the mitre and tunic which his predecessors had had. The pope also expressed gratitude for the regular payment of tribute to the Holy See. Vratislaus was often at odds with his brother Jaromir, the bishop of Prague, and he wore his religious vestments around the bishop to irritate him. Jaromir, for his part, ignored the creation of a new Moravian diocese by Vratislaus in 1063. Jaromir even went so far as to take by arms the relics removed from Prague to Moravia. Despite the pope's support for Vratislaus' new see, the Bohemian duke was unswayed in his loyalty to the emperor.

The Saxons revolted under their Duke Magnus and Otto of Nordheim, Duke of Bavaria, in 1070 and Boleslaus of Poland attacked Bohemia in 1071. In August 1073, Henry responded with an invasion of Poland, but a new Saxon revolt drew him back in 1075. Vratislaus joined him and they defeated the rebels on June 9 at the First Battle of Langensalza. The Bohemian troops showed conspicuous bravery. Henry then took Jaromir to Germany to be his chancellor by the name of Gebhard and Vratislaus was greatly relieved.

Vratislaus also took part in the wars against the anti-kings who opposed Henry's rule and were elected by a part of the nobility to replace him. At the Battle of Flarchheim, only through the aid of Vratislaus' contingent was the imperial army capable of overcoming the rebels of the papally-approved claimant Rudolf of Rheinfelden, Duke of Swabia. Vratislaus even succeeded in seizing Rudolf's gold sword. The gold sword was carried in front of Vratislaus on state occasions. Vratislaus raised an army to serve in Henry's Italian campaign of 1081. In 1083, Vratislaus and his Bohemians were with Henry when they entered the Eternal City itself. Despite his serving an excommunicate emperor, Vratislaus maintained good relations with the papacy. Nonetheless, Gregory refused to grant Vratislaus permission to use the Slavonic liturgy. Never, however, did Vratislaus link his fate with that of Henry's antipope, Clement III.


Vratislaus coveted the largely Slavic marches of Meissen and Lusatia, but, in spite of Henry's promises and Bohemian successes against the rebellious margraves, he never received them. He held Lower Lusatia between 1075 and 1086, but in 1088, with the insurrection of Egbert II of Meissen, Henry granted the region to Henry of Ostmark. Vratislaus was thereafter cool to Henry's military adventures. He never adjusted his loyalty, but he abstained from giving the emperor martial aid.

Internal affairs

It was a Premyslid tradition that Moravia would be entrusted to the younger brothers of the ruling prince. In Vratislaus' case, his two younger brothers Conrad and Otto inherited Brno and Olomouc and the youngest, Jaromir, entered the church. However, enmity grew between the brothers. It was then that Vratislaus founded the diocese of Olmütz (diocese of Olomouc), under the Archbishopric of Mainz, to counter Otto's authority within his province. Both pope and emperor took a hand in refereeing the conflict, which was partially fixed with Henry's appointment of Jaromir as chancellor in 1077. In April 1085, a "reichstag" convened in Mainz suppressed the Moravian see and, but Vratislaus later refounded the see. Jaromir protested in Rome to Pope Urban II, but died in 1090.

Sadly for Vratislaus, his last years were occupied by dynastic quarrelling. When his brother Otto died in 1086, he gave Olomouc to his son Boleslaus, which was seen to be an act against the interests of Conrad. Vratislaus raised an army against Conrad and sent it out under his other son Bretislaus. Instead, this son turned on him. Vratislaus, in keeping with Bohemian custom, designated an heir: Conrad. Thus reconciled with his surviving brother, the two demolished Bretislaus, who fled to Hungary.

Vratislaus died of a hunting wound on January 14, 1092, after a reign of thirty years.


Vratislaus was married three times. His first five died during premature childbirth. He married the second time in 1057 to Adelaide, daughter of Andrew I of Hungary, who died in 1061. They had fourt children:
*Vratislaus (-1061)
*Judith (1056/58-1086), married to Ladislaus I Herman, son of Casimir I of Poland
*Ludmila(-after 1100)
*Bretislaus II of Bohemia (c. 1060–December 22 1100), Duke of Bohemia

In 1062, Vratislaus married a third time to Świętosława I of Bohemia, a daughter of Casimir I of Poland. They had five children:
*Boleslaus (-1091)
*Borivoj II of Bohemia (c. 1064-February 2,1124), Duke of Bohemia
*Vladislaus I of Bohemia (-April 12 1125), Duke of Bohemia
*Sobeslav I of Bohemia (-February 14 1140), Duke of Bohemia
*Judith (c. 1066-9 December 1108), married to Wiprecht de Groitzsch

SLF=Vratislaus II of Bohemia
FAT=Bretislaus I of Bohemia
FAF=Oldrich of Bohemia
FFF=Boleslaus II of Bohemia
FFM=Emma of Melnik
MOT=Judith of Schweinfurt
MOF=Henry of Schweinfurt
MFF=Berthold, Margrave of the Nordmark
MFM=Eilika of Walbeck


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