Břetislav II.

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Břetislav II. Detail from the fresco in the rotunda of St. Catherine in Znojmo, 1134.

Břetislav II. († December 22, 1100 ) was a ruling prince of Bohemia from the Přemyslid family . During his reign he had to contend with competitors from his own family, especially the Moravian branch of the ruling dynasty. His edicts , with which he wanted to finally enforce Christianity among the population, are well known.


Břetislav II was the eldest son of King Vratislav II. His unusually long reign was marked by disputes and competition within the Bohemian and Moravian Přemyslid dynasties. Břetislav, too, had to leave the country for a short time around 1090 for fear of his father and sought protection in Hungary with over 2000 warriors and followers. The Bohemian royal crown was not hereditary at the time of Vratislav II and was lost with his death in 1092. In accordance with the seniority principle , Konrad I initially took the prince's chair in Prague. However, he died after eight months. After that, Břetislav II became the legal successor.

Hostilities within the dynasty continued during his reign. In 1099 the duke attacked the Moravian Přemyslids Oldřich and Liutpold , chased them away and transferred the Moravian rule to his half-brother Bořivoj II. In order to secure his successor on the Prague throne, the duke turned to Emperor Henry IV with the request, to give his half-brother Bohemia as a fief . In doing so, he not only suspended the seniority principle, but also strengthened the influence of the empire in Bohemia. In addition to the Moravian theater of war, war against Poland also broke out under his rule . In 1096 he destroyed the Polish fortifications of Wartha in order to build his own permanent castle in Kamenz .

Břetislav II tried in a large-scale Christianization program to eradicate the remaining non-Christian customs of his subjects. He had the sacred groves felled and bans against pagan burials and funeral rituals. The edicts of the duke provided important knowledge about the pre-Christian religion in Bohemia. He also had the monks in the Sázava monastery , who performed their offices in the Slavic language, chased away and replaced them with Latin-speaking friars.

In 1096 the first crusade to liberate Jerusalem began . The crusaders from the Rhine region , France and Germany took the route via Bohemia to Hungary in the first crusade in 1096 . On the way they “converted” mainly Jews to Christianity . The Duke also adopted this procedure and, using violence, baptized the Jews in Prague . When a large number of Prague's Jews wanted to leave the country in 1098, he had their property confiscated. This event is classified as the first Bohemian pogrom .

Břetislav II married in 1094 Liutgard von Bogen , with whom he had a son named Břetislav. He died a violent death in 1100. On his return from hunting in the Zbečno area , a horseman struck him with an arrow. The murderer named Lorek was later found and murdered with his own dagger. It was assumed that it was a contract killing of the last survivors of the Vršovci family , but his half-brother and successor Bořivoj and his mother Swatawa were also suspected of instigating the attack. He was buried in the St. Vitus Basilica, the predecessor of St. Vitus Cathedral .


  • Used literature:
    • Summer, Petr; Třeštík, Dušan; Žemlička, Josef, et al .: Přemyslovci. Budování českého státu . Praha: Nakladatelství Lidové noviny, 2009. 779 pp. ISBN 978-80-7106-352-0 .
  • Further reading:
    • Barbara Krzemieńska: Břetislav II. Pokus oakteristiku osobnosti panovníka . In: Československý časopis historický 35, 1987, pp. 722–731.
    • Josef Žemlička: Poslední lov knížete Břetislava . In: T. Borovský et al: Ad vita et honorem (Festschrift for J. Mezník), Brno 2003, pp. 231–246.

Web links

Commons : Bretislaus II of Bohemia  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Konrad I. Duke of Bohemia
Bořivoj II.