Ottokar II Přemysl

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Ottokar II Přemysl ( Codex Gelnhausen )

Ottokar II Přemysl or Přemysl Ottokar II , Czech Přemysl Otakar II (* around 1232 - † August 26, 1278 in Dürnkrut , in Lower Austria ) from the Bohemian Přemyslid dynasty , was King of Bohemia from 1253 to 1278 .

From 1251 he was also Duke of Austria , from 1261 Duke of Styria and from 1269 Duke of Carinthia and Carniola . In doing so, he had achieved an abundance of power never before or later for a Přemyslid, which is also evident in his multiple applications for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire .


Ottokar Přemysl was the second son of King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia and Kunigunde of Swabia . His year of birth is unknown. However, the years 1230, autumn 1232 or early 1233 are considered. Ottokar Přemysl was named after his grandfather Ottokar I. Přemysl . Philipp of Carinthia , Chancellor of Bohemia, may have been appointed tutor of Ottokar Přemysl . His schooling was probably limited to learning history and perhaps some Latin and German. In keeping with the times, however, he was probably still illiterate. If he was raised to be a clergyman as a second-born, his level of education would have to be set higher.

Ottokar Přemysl as Margrave of Moravia

The first confirmed event in the life of Ottokar Přemysl is his father's elevation to Margrave of Moravia on March 27, 1247. This was preceded by the death of his older brother Vladislav . Ottokar Přemysl stayed in Moravia mostly in the Brno residence . His political measures were aimed at strengthening the economic strength of Moravia after the destruction of the Mongol invasion in 1241. In 1247 he opposed his father by opposing the impeachment of the Olomouc bishop Konrad . The following year was planning Wenceslas I wish the Curia a campaign in Austria and thus triggered a pro- Staufer uprising of some discontented with his governance of nobles. They managed to occupy a large part of the Premyslid domain in a short time. Ottokar Přemysl, who can probably not be counted among the actual authors of the revolt, was elected by the rebels in Prague on July 31, 1248 as the “younger king” and thus became their nominal leader. A defeat of the rebels at Brüx was followed by an agreement with Wenceslaus I at the beginning of November 1248, in which Ottokar Přemysl was granted at least an equal position with his father. After further armed conflicts, Ottokar Přemysl's position as co-regent was confirmed in negotiations in March 1249.

In April 1249 , Pope Innocent IV excommunicated Ottokar Přemysl because of the Staufer-friendly orientation of the uprising. Thereupon the latter lost part of his appendix and after the conquest of Prague by Wenceslaus I had to submit to his father in August of the same year, for which he was again enfeoffed with the Margraviate of Moravia. During the further course of the negotiations, Wenzel had his son arrested for a few months in the West Bohemian castle Pfraumberg . In the following period, Ottokar Přemysl was able to expand his influence when his father gradually withdrew from politics in order to pursue his passion for hunting.

Heir apparent and Duke of Austria

Ottokar II welcomes the guests at his niece's wedding party (1923, from the Slavic epic by Alfons Mucha )

This dispute ended when Wenzel began to get involved in developments in Austria. With the death of Duke Friedrich II in the battle of the Leitha in 1246, the male line of the Babenbergs died out there. He left behind a niece Gertrud and a sister Margarete . After the death of her uncle, Gertrud first married Ottokar's brother Vladislav and after his death in early 1247 the Margrave Hermann VI. von Baden , who died in 1250 and was just as unable to assert himself in the state as the imperial administrator Otto von Bayern . At the end of 1250 Wenceslas invaded the country. According to other sources, he was called by the Austrian estates to end the turmoil. With the consent of the nobility, Wenzel appointed his son Ottokar as governor. At the same time, Wenzel and Ottokar signed a peace treaty that made their son Margrave of Moravia in 1251. Ottokar thus held the classic position of rule of the Bohemian heir to the throne. In the same year Ottokar moved into Austria and was soon recognized by the estates as a duke. However , there was no enfeoffment from King Conrad IV . In order to legitimize his dignity, he married Margaret, almost thirty years his senior, on February 11, 1252 in the castle chapel of Hainburg .

Bohemian king

Map showing Ottokar II's sphere of influence between 1253 and 1271
Seal of Přemysl Otakar II.

King Wenceslas I died in 1253 and Ottokar took over the crown. His express goal was the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. However, he did not take part in the election personally. He was convinced that his wealth would be enough to receive this title.

The Hungarian king Béla IV felt threatened by this increase in power in the neighboring empire. Together with the Bavarian Wittelsbachers , he took action against Ottokar. The curia finally brokered a peace ( Peace of Oven ), in which a large part of Styria was added to Hungary. Ottokar II used the following temporary peace phase to support the Teutonic Order on two trips to Prussia (crusades) in the Baltic States against the Pruzzen . In the winter of 1254 he moved to Samland to suppress the Sami uprising. After the victory he contributed to Christianizing the population around the town of Königsberg, which was later named after him . With these actions he wanted above all to strengthen his position vis-à-vis the Curia.

In 1260 he defeated the Hungarians again in the battle of Kressenbrunn , which forced Hungary to the Peace of Vienna (1261) and Ottokar secured possession and the ducal dignity of Styria. In order to confirm this agreement, he divorced Margarete and married Kunigunde von Halitsch , a granddaughter of the King of Hungary. He also exerted great influence on the imperial level, as Kings Alfonso X and Richard of Cornwall each sought to secure his support. In 1266 he occupied the Egerland, which was immediately part of the empire . In 1267 he set out on his third trip to Prussia to support the Teutonic Order, this time to Lithuania .

During this time he also signed an inheritance contract with the childless Duke Ulrich III. of Carinthia . Ulrich died in 1269 and Ottokar inherited Carinthia and Carniola . In doing so, however, he attracted the hostility of the local nobility. The majority of the imperial princes began to worry about the increase in power of the Bohemian king.

This attitude found expression in 1273 when a new king was elected in the empire. Ottokar was suspicious of the electors because of his abundance of power, they chose the supposedly "poor count" Rudolf von Habsburg . Ottokar did not recognize the election and the new king. In return, he demanded the return of appropriated imperial territories, which was primarily aimed at Ottokar and Austria, Styria and the Egerland. At the Diet of Augsburg in 1275 Ottokar was dismissed, whereupon Rudolf the imperial ban imposed on him. As a result, Ottokar lost the last of his support within the empire and in the neighboring territories. Even within Bohemia, a strong aristocratic opposition refused to support the king. In the south of his territory an open uprising broke out, in which influential Bohemian families like the Witigonen , led by Zawisch von Falkenstein and Boresch von Riesenburg, took part. Ottokar was forced to forego all acquisitions in Vienna (Peace of Vienna) in 1276. He only had Bohemia and Moravia. When he tried shortly after to restore his dominion by force of arms, the battle of Marchfeld broke out on August 26, 1278 . Ottokar was killed on the battlefield, probably through an act of revenge by a Carinthian knight; Rudolf emerged victorious from the battle.

After his death he was laid out in the Minorite Church in Vienna for 30 weeks and in 1279 was buried in the crypt of the monastery church of the Znojmo Minorite Monastery. It was not until 1297 that his remains were transferred to Prague .

Tumba of Ottokar II in the
St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague

Struggle for succession

After his death Rudolf von Habsburg took power in Moravia. The Olomouc bishop Bruno von Schauenburg was entrusted with the administration . In Bohemia the king's widow Kunigunde asked the ally of the Premyslids, Otto V , Margrave of Brandenburg , for help.

Otto V, distantly related to the Bohemian ruling house, moved with his army to Bohemia and encountered intense internal power struggles. Above all, the opponents of the Premyslids, especially the Witigonen , stormed royal cities and estates in South Bohemia. The lords of Lichtenburg (descendants of those von Ronow ) occupied Deutschbrod and bitter fighting raged in other areas as well. Otto tried to take advantage of this situation, but finally had to admit defeat to the overwhelming power of the Habsburgs .

Ottokar's burial crown in Prague Castle

Ottokar II Přemysl's successor as King of Bohemia was his underage son Wenceslaus II (Václav II in Czech), who was not able to actually take power until 1288.


In Austria, Ottokar founded the cities of Marchegg , Leoben and Bruck an der Mur . He had the Romanesque westwork of St. Stephen's Church begun by Duke Friedrich II of Babenberg continue to be built, as did the Hofburg .

In Bohemia , too , he promoted the cities against the nobility. The residential city of Prague in particular benefited from the lively construction activity he initiated. Ottokar revitalized the previously sparsely populated outskirts of Bohemia by inviting farmers and craftsmen "from Swabia" to settle and giving them royal liberties. On the other hand, he demanded the surrender of all illegally acquired goods from the nobility and had new castles razed. The first written rhyming chronicle in the Czech language, which was written during his reign, criticized Ottokar's behavior. Indeed, his rigid policy of confrontation could not stop the general increase in power of the Bohemian nobility in the 13th century.

In the Teutonic Order on the Baltic Sea, where Ottokar II took part in trips to Prussia twice, the Teutonic Order is said to have built a castle called Conigsberg in 1255 at the instigation of the Bohemian king. The surrounding town was granted town charter in 1283; it became famous as Koenigsberg and has been called Kaliningrad since 1946.

Ottokar was also responsible for drawing new boundaries within the Austrian states; the beginnings of the province of Upper Austria go back to him.

After Ottokar's death, Austria fell to the Habsburgs, who would rule it until the end of the monarchy in 1918.


First marriage: February 11, 1252 Margarete von Babenberg (1205–1267), childless, divorce in 1261

Second marriage: Kunigunde von Halitsch (1246–1285)

Illegitimate children with lady-in-waiting Anna (? Margarete,? Agnes) von Chuenring (all?)

Royal cities founded by Ottokar II Přemysl




Lower Austria

Template for the drama

Franz Grillparzer took his tragic story as a template for the drama King Ottokar's Glück und Ende in 1825 .


Web links

Commons : Ottokar II. Přemysl  - collection of pictures

Individual evidence

  1. he used both versions himself; Czech name form is Otakar , also Ottokar II of Bohemia .
  2. Jörg K. Hoensch: Přemysl Otakar II of Bohemia. Graz u. a. 1989, p. 14; The fact that Wenzel I was staying in the Cistercian monastery of Sedletz together with Albrecht I of Saxony-Wittenberg at that time speaks for the dating to the year 1233 . There Albrecht could have become the godfather of the newborn.
  3. ^ Oswald Redlich: Rudolf von Habsburg . Verlag der Wagner'schen Universitäts-Buchhandlung, 1903, p. 240/41 ( ).
  4. Jörg K. Hoensch: Přemysl Otakar II of Bohemia. Graz u. a. 1989, p. 248.
predecessor Office successor
Ulrich III. Duke of Carinthia and Carniola
Rudolf I.
Friedrich I. Duke of Styria
Rudolf I.
Wenceslaus I. King of Bohemia
Wenceslas II
Friedrich I. Duke of Austria
Rudolf I.
( Wenceslaus I. ) Co-regent in the Kingdom of Bohemia
( Wenceslaus I. )
Vladislav V. Margrave of Moravia
Rudolf I.