Wenceslaus of Bohemia

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Statue of Wenceslas in St. Vitus Cathedral , Parler Hut, 14th century. The head of the statue corresponds to the actual dimensions of Wenceslas skull.

Wenceslas of Bohemia (also Wenceslas of Bohemia , Czech Svatý Václav ; * around 908 , † September 28, 929 or 935 in Stará Boleslav ) was a Bohemian prince from the Přemyslid dynasty . Wenceslaus was ruler of a small region around Prague and at the same time head of the Bohemian tribal association. In his short reign, he had to the East Frankish King Henry I submit. He also had with opponents from the ranks of other Czech Grand to fight and finally by his brother I. Boleslav killed.

In the 10th century his veneration as a saint began. He was the patron saint of the Přemyslids and namesake for four other Bohemian rulers of that name . In the High Middle Ages he became the Bohemian patron saint . He is venerated in the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches to this day. In 2000, the Czech Republic declared the day of his death on 28 September a public holiday .

Saints ' legends tell of his life , which as high-ranking sources for the early 10th century attracted the attention of historians. These writings are also recognized by international experts because they allow the “Drama of the Bohemian Duke Wenceslaus” to be placed in a broader context of Christianization and the dispute between spiritual and secular power.


Youth and education

Parisian manuscript of the Dalimil Chronicle , 14th century. On the top left Drahomíra with her followers, on the right little Wenceslaus in the care of his grandmother Ludmilla.

Wenceslas was the eldest son of the Přemyslid prince Vratislav I and the Drahomíra of Stodor . When he was born at the beginning of the 10th century, rulership over Central Bohemia was still with his uncle Spytihněv I. Wenceslas place of birth was probably not Prague , but one of the castles of the so-called "Přemyslid domain", which served as the seat of non-ruling family members. Suitable: Budeč and Levý Hradec in the center of the country or Tetín , Libušín , Mělník , Stara Boleslav and Lštění that lay at the edge of the dominion. Wenceslas date of birth can only be estimated on the basis of chronological calculations. Mostly it is put around the year 908, because his father Vratislav took over the government in 915, and in the same year he had his son's hair cut. Usually it was only high-ranking male children around the age of seven who had to undergo the hair-cutting ritual . The solemn ceremony took place in St. Mary's Church in Prague Castle in the presence of a bishop.

The prince's son received an education that was unusual for his time and class: he learned to read. His teachers were his grandmother Ludmilla and a priest named Učeň, who taught him to memorize the Psalter at Budeč Castle . According to the legends, Wenceslaus was able to understand Slavic, Latin and even Greek books. His "erudition" offended the tribal chiefs. They feared that the necessary training to become a warrior would be neglected. When his father died in the spring of 921, Wenceslaus was around 13 years old. The tribal assembly elevated him to prince, but he was not yet able to govern independently. His mother Drahomíra was to rule, but the upbringing of Wenceslas and his brother Boleslav was left to the grandmother Ludmilla. Soon there was an argument between the two women. Ludmilla was murdered on September 16, 921 by followers of her daughter-in-law. Drahomíra continued the reign for another three or four years. It was not until 924 or 925 that Wenceslaus was old enough to take over government himself. He married - the woman's name is not known - and also fathered a son named Zbraslav with a concubine.

Domestic politics and religion

Gumpold of Mantua, Vita of St. Wenzel (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 11.2 Aug. 4 °, fol. 20v, written before 1006). On the left Wenceslas, who is blessed by the Archangel Michael . On the right Boleslav with his partisans.

Taking office in Bohemia in the early 10th century was a difficult and dangerous affair, even for a designated heir to the throne. Wenceslas' first known official act was to transfer the relics of the slain grandmother to Prague in 925 . At the same time he drove his mother out of the principality for a short time - both obvious and necessary demonstrations of power, for the tribe did not stand united behind him. Wenceslaus had his own strong entourage and partisans, and he had equally strong opponents who supported his mother and brother or had their own goals. There are indications that the takeover of government was already accompanied by rivalries. A legend claims that the nobility faked a plot to commit murder and thus turned the two brothers against each other. In another it is said that Wenceslas's party fought bloody battles against his mother's party. They unanimously report that the new prince seemed too young, too inexperienced and too pious to the great. Another testimony to the unstable situation is the fight with his neighbor Radslav von Kouřim . After Wenzel had defeated him, he left him in his position and contented himself with a gesture of submission. This indicates that the other princes in Bohemia accepted - sometimes involuntarily - a certain superiority of the ruler over the Prague Castle, but essentially remained independent. In any case, Wenzel could not shift this balance of power decisively in his favor, and it obviously ultimately led to his fall.

Also the Christianity had not yet become established at the beginning of the 10th century. The fourth baptized ruler of Bohemia ruled over a largely non-Christian country. Although he had good relations with Bishop Tuto of Regensburg , he did not do any offensive missionary work. There were only a few clergy in the country: a handful of Bavarian clerics who were subordinate to an Archipresbyter , and priests who had fled from Great Moravia, which fell in 907 . Their presence in Bohemia is undisputed, but their number and influence are completely in the dark. Under these conditions, the new religion remained limited to his principality and only included the upper class in the most important castles there. Wenceslas' most lasting achievement in the religious field was the construction of a rotunda , which he had built on the site of the later St. Vitus Cathedral with Tuto's consent . It was already the third church on the premises of Prague Castle, but while his predecessors chose more remote places, the later national saint placed his sacred building in the middle of the castle rock, where some historians suspect two central elements of the old religion and social order : the holy burnt offering hill Žiži and the stone throne , which all Bohemian princes had to climb when they took office in the High Middle Ages. Both sanctuaries were known to Cosmas of Prague two centuries later and were probably later overbuilt by the Gothic cathedral. With his building, Wenzel placed the ideal center of the country in a Christian context and thus created a bridge between the old and the new order.

Bohemia and Europe

Seal of Henry I from 927, which shows the East Franconian king in a triumphal pose. From Otto Posse: The Seal of the German Emperors and Kings, Volume 5, p. 11, Heinrich I. No. 2

In terms of foreign policy, Bohemia stood between three powers during Wenceslas reign. An agreement with the Hungarians , who had ravaged Europe since the beginning of the 10th century , must have existed for a long time, because the Hungarian warriors were able to move unhindered across Bohemian territory on their way to their raids in the west. The Elbe Slavic tribes in the north were traditional allies of the Přemyslids: Wenceslas mother was a Heveller princess , his grandmother probably came from the Sorbian tribe . The eastern kingdom was Bohemia, however, a serious threat, because the loose tribal confederation, let alone the small central Bohemian Přemyslidengebiet could not exist militarily against the Frankish troops. Wenzel's predecessors had already submitted to Arnulf of Carinthia in 895 and obliged to pay tribute in order to free themselves from the sovereignty of Great Moravia . This covenant, including the obligation to pay tribute, had passed to the Duchy of Bavaria . In Wenceslas time it was primarily intended to offer protection from Saxony , which played an increasingly important role in the association of tribal duchies and whose Duke Heinrich I also achieved the dignity of East Franconia in 919. The Hungarian wars and tributes in particular brought with them expenses for the king that Saxony was unable to afford on its own. Raids and raids in the “barbaric” East opened up a new source of income. In addition to wax and horses, Bohemia had slaves in particular . The Bohemian upper class itself had already entered this lucrative slave market in the 920s, which brought Arab and Byzantine money into the country.

When the Bavarian Duke Arnulf reached an agreement with his former opponent Heinrich I in 921, this meant a catastrophe for Bohemia. Regent Drahomíra had the Bavarian clergy expelled from the country in the same year and thus placed herself in open enmity with her direct neighbor in the west. A year later, Arnulf invaded Bohemia - with unknown results. After Wenceslas took office in 924/925, the Regensburg clergy returned to Prague, but the rapprochement was not permanent. Obviously it was out of the question for the Bohemian greats to automatically transfer the old loyalty relationship from the Bavarian duke to the East Franconian king. The unresolved relationship between Bohemia and his kingdom was only able to decide in his favor for Henry I in 929. In the course of his Slav campaign, he first conquered the Heveller capital of Brandenburg and had Prince Tugumir and his sister - close relatives of Drahomíra and thus Wenceslas - brought to Saxony as hostages. Then he attacked the Daleminzier and then pushed together with Duke Arnulf in a surprise maneuver as far as Prague. Obviously there was no big fight because the Bohemians hardly had time to gather troops. However, Henry I did not resort to the means of a massacre, as in the Daleminian main castle Gana , and he did not take hostages as in Brandenburg. Instead he negotiated with Wenzel. As a result of these negotiations in the early summer of 929, the old tribute was renewed and the taxes - probably in the form of cattle and precious metals - had passed from Bavaria to the king.

The dependency on Heinrich continued throughout Wenceslas' life and reign. The fact that Boleslav went over to opposition to Henry I immediately after his brother's death and waged war against the empire for 14 years favored the image of Wenceslaus as a “weak” and “German-friendly” ruler, a “strong” and self-confident ruler Brother followed. More recent publications, on the other hand, see an important achievement in the fact that Wenzel was able to assert himself as a negotiating partner of Henry I in the critical situation of 929. His relatives and allies in the Elbe Slavic tribes, who sidelined not least because of their vehement rejection of Christianity, did not manage to do so. In this way, Wenzel contributed to the fact that Bohemia remained independent in the newly emerging European order. The conversion of the tribe into a state was actually only accomplished by Boleslav.


Gumpold of Mantua, Vita of St. Wenzel (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 11.2 Aug. 4 °, fol. 21r, written before 1006). Wenceslas death. From left: Wenceslaus snatches the sword from Boleslav. Boleslav attacks Wenceslaus, who takes refuge in the church. A priest closes the door.

Wenzel died a violent death in Altbunzlau on September 28, 929 or 935 . He fell victim to a conspiracy headed by his brother Boleslav. Since the prince was invulnerable in Prague, Boleslav invited him to a festival in honor of Saints Cosmas and Damian , to whom the church in his castle was consecrated. Wenceslaus was warned by his followers. He accepted the invitation anyway, but took his entourage with him for protection . During the feast, the conspirators were therefore unable to achieve anything and that night came up with a new plan. When the prince wanted to go to prayer the next morning while his companions were still sleeping off their intoxication, his brother attacked him and hit him on the head. Wenceslaus managed to snatch the sword from Boleslav. He tried to escape to the church, but the priest, a follower of Boleslav, locked the door on him. In front of the church door there was a fight with the other conspirators, in which Wenceslaus was defeated.

While the sources largely agree in describing the events, no agreement has yet been reached on the year of death. The legends and chronicles name the year 929 according to the Christian calendar , or years according to the Byzantine calendar , which also correspond to the year 929. The chronicler Widukind von Corvey, on the other hand, describes Wenzel's death in the context of the years 935/936. For both 929 and 935, September 28 fell on a Monday, so both dates are eligible. The motive for murder is also controversial. The hagiographic sources only name Boleslav's "diabolical lust for power" and say nothing about the possible background to the fraternal conflict. Wenceslas alliance with the Saxon king may have played a role; a connection with Christianization is also possible. The motive is so unclear that some researchers question a planned murder and assume manslaughter.



St. Wenzel working in the fields. Velislav Bible, 14th century

With the exception of two short notes in the chronicle of Widukind von Corvey , who does not even mention the name of the prince, Wenceslaus of Bohemia only reports legends of saints . Czech Medieval Studies has dealt with these texts in many detailed studies, examined their relationships, reconstructed lost texts and tried to separate the hagiographic topoi from historical reality, because the legends are the most important sources not only for Wenceslas life. For large areas of the early 10th century in Bohemia and the beginning of the Bohemian state, there would be no written evidence at all without these hagiographic texts. Since they show the cultural connections between Bohemia and the West, they also found some interest in German-language history.

The five oldest surviving Wenceslas Vites date from the 10th and early 11th centuries. A short text called crescente fide was probably written in two versions in the Regensburg monastery of St. Emmeram and in Prague before the Prague diocese was founded in 973 . The first Old Church Slavonic legend Ecce nunc , which is just as short and ancient, comes from Bohemia . The legend Avulsa igitur was written by Bishop Gumpold of Mantua between 973 and 983 on behalf of Otto II. The Christian legend was written in Prague shortly before the turn of the millennium. The legend of the Italian scholar Laurentius finally dates to around 1039. The legend Fuit in provincia Boemorum , which is dedicated to Wenceslas grandmother Ludmilla and also dates from the 10th century, is closely related to this oldest layer of tradition . All of these texts are considered historical sources of the first order. In a later layer of tradition, a number of other Wenceslas legends emerged from the 11th to the 14th century, which are important for the cult of saints that was emerging.

In their declared intention to celebrate a saint, all legends attribute unprovable traits and deeds to the murdered Přemyslid prince. So Wenzel lived like a clergyman, almost like a monk . He is said to have cut grain, pressed wine and baked hosts himself . As the ruling prince, he freed prisoners from dungeons, tore down the gallows and ransomed slaves. It was his wish to voluntarily hand over the dignity of prince to Boleslav and to enter a monastery in Rome . Some of this seems possible. However, most of this information no longer associates modern researchers with the historical prince, because above all they describe ideal rulership characteristics from the point of view of pious authors. Together with the miracles that were ascribed to Wenceslaus after his death and the number of which grew steadily, an image of the patron, protector and eternal ruler of Bohemia solidified, which has endured into modern times.


Gumpold of Mantua, Vita of St. Wenzel (Wolfenbüttel, Herzog August Bibliothek, Cod. Guelf. 11.2 Aug. 4 °, fol. 18v, written before 1006). Christ puts the martyr's crown on Wenceslas . In front of him in Proskynese Emma , who commissioned the manuscript.

The oldest pictures of St. Wenceslas can be found in a manuscript written shortly before 1006, which Princess Emma of Bohemia commissioned. The text reproduces the Wenceslas vita of Bishop Gumpold of Mantua, the illustrations also show details of the Christian legend. His image has also appeared on coins and seals since the early 11th century. Statues and book illuminations complete the picture since the high Middle Ages.

The Middle Ages have two iconographic basic types of patrons: the prince and the warrior. The portraits of princes show him standing or enthroned. At the beginning he is often decorated with a martyr's crown, later he wears a ducal hat, a ducal crown, less often a royal crown. In the warrior portraits, Wenceslas was usually shown in full armor with a helmet , standing or riding on a white horse. His attributes also include the shield, the lance and the sword.

A "representative" type of image of St. Wenceslas was formed in the 14th century during the reign of Charles IV . It shows a standing figure in full armor, with a cloak and a royal crown, in his right hand a lance with a cohort and on his right shoulder a shield with the Wenceslas eagle.

Patron saint of Bohemia

The cult of Wenceslas developed shortly after his death. In the only sparsely Christianized country, the worship of the killed prince was not an expression of broad popular piety , but began with a "state act". By the end of the 960s at the latest, Boleslav I had his brother's relics transferred to St. Vitus' Church in Prague . He thus strengthened his position in negotiations with Rome for an independent Prague diocese. Around 970 Wenzel was accepted into the sacramentary in Regensburg and was given its own day of remembrance . According to the custom of the time, he was established as the new saint . In this context, the oldest legends arose that depict Wenceslaus as a monk and peace-loving prince and emphasize his martyrdom and Christian lifestyle.

From the second half of the 11th century the picture changed. He now appeared as a warrior in full armor and became the protector of the land in need and in danger of war. In the 12th century the idea arose that Wenceslaus was the real, eternal ruler of Bohemia who guaranteed peace in the country. The ruling princes were considered his earthly representatives, the medieval nation his servants (familia sancti Venceslai) .

From the 13th century a strong, self-confident class of nobility emerged in Bohemia , and Wenceslas' role changed again. He was no longer just the house saint of the ruling dynasty, who gave the Přemyslids their power, but the patron saint of the whole country. Already Wenceslas II proposed selected nobles at his coronation in 1297 as " Knights of St. Wenceslas" (rytíři svatováclavští) , in later centuries the Bohemian kings continued this tradition. Although the Přemyslids no longer regarded themselves as his earthly representatives, they still felt a bond with him: In the 13th century, Wenceslaus was the preferred name of the first-born heir to the throne, and with Wenceslas I , Wenceslaus II and Wenceslaus III. there were three kings with this name in Bohemia within less than 100 years. Charles IV also bore the name of the patron saint when he was baptized. He did not use it later, but the climax of the medieval cult of Wenceslas fell during his reign. The coronation jewels, the Wenceslas Chapel and lavishly decorated manuscripts with Wenceslas motifs date from this period.

In the Hussite Wars , Wenceslaus was still venerated on both sides, only the radical Taborites consistently rejected any cult of saints. It was not until the 16th century that its veneration subsided with the spread of Protestantism . This changed fundamentally after the Battle of White Mountain . The pious baroque patriotism connected everything nationally with its name, even remotely. There were Wenceslas schools, a Wenceslas publishing house that published Czech books, a Wenceslas Bible in the Czech language and many other things that made the name of the country's patron a national symbol. The belief in the helper in need culminated at the time of the Napoleonic Wars in the popular legend of Václav Matěj Kramérius about the sleeping army of knights in Blaník , which will wake up at the moment of greatest danger and with Wenceslaus at its head will come to the aid of the people.

The 19th century later abandoned the belief in sleeping knights, but the national symbol retained it. In the revolutionary year of 1848, it was not only the National Guards who gave themselves the name of Wenceslas, but the horse market in Prague was also renamed Wenceslas Square that year . In 1847 Václav Alois Svoboda wrote a poem about the "good King Wenceslas", which became the basis of a popular English Christmas carol called Good King Wenceslas . In 1912, the sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek created the equestrian statue that still dominates the square today. In the 19th century and the early 20th century, many well-known Czech artists and historians dealt with Wenceslas person and time. For the 1000th anniversary of death in 1929, celebrations lasting several days took place, which had been prepared for years and which were used to represent the Czechoslovak state at home and abroad. 750,000 spectators gathered in Prague for the main procession on September 29th. The completion of St. Vitus Cathedral after almost 600 years of construction was also part of the “Millennium”. In the following years, a multi-volume compendium (Svatováclavský sborník) was published , which summarized the complete state of research on the Wenceslas cult . Even during the protectorate , the saint served both sides: the resistance and the German occupiers, who from 1944 onwards awarded the "Wenceslas Eagle", a medal for particularly compliant collaborators . Since the end of communism, the Czech Wenceslas cult has again emphasized the religious component. For example, pilgrimages , processions and folk services will take place again on the 28th of September .

Cult objects and relics

Wenceslas helmet . Photograph from 1903

The mortal remains of Wenceslas rest in the Wenceslas Chapel of St. Vitus Cathedral. Parts of the bones found their way into other churches as relics early on: for example in Halberstadt (992), Bamberg (1012 and 1019), Erfurt (1104) and Windberg (1142 and 1167). His skull relic is kept separately in the cathedral treasury and brought to Stará Boleslav once a year on September 28 , where the main celebrations take place at the place of his martyrdom .

The cathedral treasure also contains some items that are said to have been Wenceslas personal property. These include the Wenceslas helmet , chain mail and a sword with a wooden scabbard . In fact, the helmet and chain mail date from around the turn of the millennium; the sword was made on behalf of Charles IV . Only the scabbard could be from the early 10th century, but the date is uncertain. Wenzel's hairy robe ( silicon ), a festive robe , a leather shoe, drinking vessels and a gospel book are said to have been part of the cathedral treasury in earlier times. Neither have they survived, nor is the lance of St. Wenceslaus, who led the Bohemian army in battles as a guarantee of victory.

The Wenceslas crown , part of the Bohemian coronation insignia, the Charles, dates from the 14th century . IV. Had it made on the occasion of his coronation as King of Bohemia in 1347. The legend has grown up around the Wenceslas crown that anyone who wears it wrongly dies a violent death within a year, followed by his eldest son. Knowing about this legend, the incumbent Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich allegedly briefly put on the Wenceslas crown at a symbolic handover of keys in the Crown Chamber on November 19, 1941. In the crown chamber of St. Vitus Cathedral, the Wenceslas crown, together with the other crown jewels, is kept in a safe to this day, the seven keys of which are given to the highest representatives of the Czech state.

Patronage and Remembrance Day

Miloslav Cardinal Vlk with the relics of St. Wenceslaus in the procession on September 28, 2006

The first churches were consecrated to Wenceslaus as early as the 10th century. Up to the year 1000 there were three Wenceslas churches in Bohemia . In comparison, four houses of worship were consecrated to Mary , one of the most popular early medieval church patronesses. By the 13th century, the number of church patrons Wenceslas rose to eleven. Even the St. Vitus Cathedral was the 11th and 13th century, the three cartridge Veit , Wenzel and Adalbert . At the height of the medieval cult of Wenceslas in the 14th century, the magnificently decorated Wenceslas Chapel, designed by Peter Parler and containing the tomb of the saint , was built in the cathedral . At the beginning of the Hussite Wars , Wenceslas' popularity as a church patron declined. In addition to the Czech Republic, Wenceslas churches can also be found in Germany, Poland and the United States , where Czech emigrants founded around 30 Wenceslas communities in the 19th century. Wenzel is also shown in the coat of arms of the city of Wurzen .

His Catholic and Orthodox Memorial Day is September 28th. In the Catholic Church, this is a non-mandatory day of remembrance in the general Roman calendar . In the Czech Republic, September 28th in 2000 was declared a national holiday, despite disputes about its symbolic content. Prime Minister Miloš Zeman even declared St. Wenceslaus a symbol of servility and collaboration. On the day of remembrance and on other occasions when the national independence of the Czech Republic is affected, meetings and demonstrations traditionally take place in Prague's Wenceslas Square near Myslbek's equestrian monument. From the proclamation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 to the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the main rallies always took place here. The statue, which the medievalist Dušan Třeštík called the Bohemian navel of the world , is still a symbol of the Czech statehood in the country.



  • Latin legends
    • Passio s. Venceszlai incipiens verbis Crescente fide christiana. - made around 975, received in a Bavarian and a Bohemian review. Edited by Jaroslav Ludvíkovský: Nově zjištěný rukopis legendy Crescente fide a jeho význam pro datování Kristiána. Listy filologické 81, 1958, pp. 58-63. E-Text ( Memento from June 29, 2001 in the Internet Archive )
    • Avulsa igitur - Gumpoldi Mantuani episcopi Passio Vencezlai martyris. - originated in Mantua during the reign of Otto II (973-983). J. Emler, Fontes rerum Bohemicarum I., Prague 1873, pp. 146-166. E-Text ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
    • Legenda Christiani . Vita et passio sancti Wenceslai et sancte Ludmile ave eius. - Christian legend, written around 992–994. Published by Jaroslav Ludvíkovský, Prague 1978. E-Text ( Memento from September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
    • Laurentius legend. - written by Laurentius in Montecassino in the middle of the 11th century. Edited by Francis Newton: Laurentius monachus casinensis archiepiscopus amalfitanus opera . Sources on the intellectual history of the Middle Ages 7, Weimar 1973. (digitized version)
    • Licet Plura. - Translation homily of the 12th century. Ed. By Josef Pekař: The Wenceslas and Ludmila legends and the authenticity of Christian. Prague 1906.
    • Oportet nos fratres. - an arrangement by Gumpold in rhymed prose from the beginning of the 12th century. Ed. By Josef Pekař: The Wenceslas and Ludmila legends.
    • Oriente iam sole. - 13th century (first review), 14th century (second review) - Ed. By Josef Pekař: The Wenceslas and Ludmila legends.
    • Ut annuncietur. - 13th Century. Ed. A. Podlaha: Vita sancti Venceslai incipiens verbis Ut annuncietur. Prague 1917.
  • Old Church Slavonic texts
    • All Old Church Slavonic texts were edited in the original version with a Czech translation by Josef Vajs in: Sborník staroslovanských literárních památek o Sv. Václavu a Sv. Lidmile , Prague 1929. Recent translations into Czech with critical commentary by AI Rogov, E. Bláhová, AV Konzal: Staroslověnské legendy českého původu . Vyšehrad, Prague 1976. In detail these are:
    • The first Old Church Slavonic legend that originated in Bohemia in the 10th century. It is preserved in three editorial offices, two of which were recorded in Cyrillic and one in Glagolitic script.
    • The Second Old Church Slavonic legend , largely a translation of the Latin legend avulsa igitur by Gumpold, originated in the Sázava monastery at the end of the 10th or 11th century.
    • Prologue legends about Bohemian saints originated in Russia, probably at the end of the 11th to the beginning of the 13th century. Two prologue texts report on Wenzel: a short vita and a translation .
    • The Office of St. Wenceslaus has been preserved in a Menäon (liturgical monthly book) from Novgorod from the years 1095-1096. The text itself was probably written at the end of the 10th century. The author was familiar with the first and second Old Church Slavonic legends and the Latin crescente fide .


  • Widukindi monachi Corbeiensis rerum gestarum Saxonicarum libri tres. = The Saxon history of the Widukind von Korvei (= Monumenta Germaniae Historica . Scriptores. 7: Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi. Vol. 60). Edited by Paul Hirsch , Hans-Eberhard Lohmann. Hahn, Hanover 1935, E-Text at the Bibliotheca Augustana . The two short passages on Wenceslas can be found in I, 35, 50-51 and II, 3, 68 .

Image sources

  • Matthias Hutský: Pictures on the life and martyrdom of St. Wenceslas Duke of Bohemia, Prague 1585. Facsimile of Cod. Ser. n.2633 d. Austrian Nationalbibl., Vienna. From d. Latin. u. Czech v. Eva Bauerová u. Gregor Bauer, with contributions from Karel Stejskal u. Eduard Petru. London, Opus Publishing 1997, ISBN 3-7845-7411-4 .
  • Velislav Bible : The picture code from 1325–1349 includes 747 illustrations on biblical subjects and the Wenceslas and Ludmilla legends. It is one of the national cultural monuments of the Czech Republic.


  • Used literature
    • Petr Charvát: Zrod českého státu 568-1055 (= Edice Historika ), Vyšehrad, Prague 2007, ISBN 978-80-7021-845-7 (Historical study of the emergence of the Bohemian state. The work includes archaeological results and includes the Focus on economic and social history).
    • Jiří Hošna: Druhý život svatého Václava . Prague 1997, ISBN 80-85866-27-7 (analysis of the motives of the Wenceslas legends).
    • Petr Kubín (Ed.): Svatý Václav . Prague 2010, ISBN 978-80-87258-23-1 (anthology with 25 articles on the Wenceslas topic, each with a German or English summary).
    • Jana Nechutová: The Latin Literature of the Middle Ages in Bohemia . Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar 2007, ISBN 978-3-412-20070-1 .
    • Pavla Obrazová, Jan Vlk: Maior Gloria. Svatý kníže Václav . Paseka, Prague and Litomyšl 1994, ISBN 80-85192-94-2 . (Description of the Wenceslas cult from the oldest time to the present day)
    • Dušan Třeštík : Počátky Přemyslovců . Nakladatelství lidové noviny, 1998, ISBN 80-7106-138-7 (fundamental historical study of the emergence of the Přemyslid dynasty, with detailed textual criticism of all relevant sources).
  • further reading
    • Josef Kalousek : Obrana knížete Václava Svatého proti smyšlenkám a křivým úsudkům o jeho povaze (Defense of the Holy Prince Wenceslas against fictions and misjudgments about his character). The work was published as a political pamphlet in 1872 and in the second edition, significantly expanded to a scientific treatise, in 1901. Although it was of secondary importance as a historical work, it was widely received because of its political theses and influenced research on Wenzel and himself in the first half of the 20th century Time.
    • Záviš Kalandra : České pohanství (Czech paganism). Ms. Borový, Prague 1947, new edition by Dauphin 2003, ISBN 80-86019-82-9 . Kalandra was the first to try to apply the methods of historical science and comparative mythology to the early history of Bohemia. The work is received to this day and is considered methodologically groundbreaking, but its conclusions are overwhelmingly rejected.
    • Lutz Mohr : Saint Wenzel (Vaclav) of Bohemia between Spree and Neisse - legend and history . In: History – Fate – Shaping. In search of historical traces between Oberlausitzer Bergland and Schluckenauer Zipfel. Oberlausitzer Verlag, Zittau 2019, ISBN 978-3-946795-22-3 .
    • August Naegle : St. Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia. With a foreword by Cardinal Dominik Duka OP, Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia . A. Opitz, Warnsdorf 1929; Reprint: Kulmbach 2014, ISBN 978-3-943506-22-8 .

Web links

Commons : Wenceslaus of Bohemia  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Ferdinand Seibt: Wenceslas legends. In: Kaiser and Church. Articles from 1978–1997. Munich 1997, pp. 17–58, here: p. 44.
  2. Jiří Sláma: Kníže svatý Václav. In: Kubín: Svatý Václav, pp. 31–51, which reflects the current state of research. Detailed description in Třeštík: Počátky, pp. 196–209.
  3. The rivalry between Wenceslas and Boleslav highlights the first Old Church Slavonic legend, see Vajs: Sborník, p. 22. The hostility of Wenceslas and Drahomíra is described by the Christian legend, see Ludvíkovský: Vita et passio, p. 45. For a text analysis of the legends, see also Třeštík: Počátky, esp. Pp. 117-138.
  4. Třeštík: Počátky, p. 420. The episode with Radslav already handed down the Christian legend , the name of the prince can only be found in the Chronicle of Dalimil .
  5. ^ Petr Charvát: Svatý Václav a raný český stát. In: Kubín: Svatý Václav, pp. 81–85, more detailed in Charvát: Zrod, and Třeštík, Počátky, pp. 389–418.
  6. Jiří Sláma: Kníže svatý Václav. P. 43.
  7. On the slave trade in the 10th century see Dušan Třeštík: "Veliké město Slovanů jménem Praha." Státy a otroci ve střední Evropě v 10. století. In: Přemyslovský stát kolem roku 1000: na pamět knížete Boleslava II (7. února 999). Praha, Nakl. Lidové Noviny, 2000, ISBN 80-7106-272-3 , pp. 49-70.
  8. ^ Třeštík: Počátky, p. 403.
  9. Widukind, I, 35, 50-51.
  10. Jiří Sláma: Kníže svatý Václav. Pp. 31-51. For more details, see Třeštík: Počátky, pp. 389–418.
  11. Widukind II, 3, 68.
  12. ^ Třeštík: Počátky, pp. 209–262. There you will also find details of the dispute over the date of death. For the rejection of the murder see z. B. Charvát: Zrod, p. 187.
  13. Ferdinand Seibt: Wenceslas legends. In: Kaiser and Church. Articles from 1978–1997. Munich 1997, pp. 17–58, here: p. 53.
  14. January Kalivoda: Nejstarší Svatováclavská hagiografie v evropském literárním kontextu přelomu tisíciletí . In Kubín: Svatý Václav, pp. 51–60. Nechutová: The Latin Literature, pp. 41–54. For an analysis of the motives of the Wenceslas legends, see also Jiří Hošna: Druhý život svatého Václava .
  15. January Royt: iconography svatého Václava ve středověku. In: Kubín: Svatý Václav, pp. 301–327.
  16. ^ FM Bartoš: Kníže Václav svatý v dějinách a legendě. Prague 1929, 40f. Quoted from Josef Stauber: The oldest biography of Prince Wenzeslaus and its place of origin Regensburg. In: The pagan and Christian slavery. Wiesbaden 1970, p. 185.
  17. ^ Dušan Třeštík: The dynastic saints and patrons of the country: Wenzel, Ludmilla and Adalbert. In: Alfred Wieczorek and Hans-Martin Hinz: Europe's center around 1000. Contributions to history, art and archeology 2. Wiss. Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, Stuttgart 2000, pp. 834-838.
  18. Obrazová, Vlk: Maior Gloria. Pp. 142-154.
  19. Obrazová, Vlk: Maior Gloria. Pp. 167-192.
  20. A comprehensive account of the millennium by Petr Placák: Svatováclavské milénium . Babylon 2002, ISBN 80-902804-2-0 .
  21. Obrazová, Vlk: Maior Gloria. Pp. 195-227.
  22. Obrazová, Vlk: Maior Gloria. Pp. 113-116, 149, 228.
  23. Obrazová, Vlk: Maior Gloria. Pp. 134, 137, 200.
  24. https://www.wurzen.de/portal/seiten/stadtwappen-900000164-22901.html
  25. ^ Minutes of the parliamentary debate on May 19, 2000
  26. ^ Dušan Třeštík: Svatý Václav je stále s námi . Mladá Fronta dnes, May 3, 2004, p. 6.
predecessor Office successor
Vratislav I. Duke of Bohemia
921–929 / 935
Boleslav I.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 28, 2011 in this version .