Bretislaus I Premyslid (Duke) of BOHEMIA & MORAVIA

Bretislaus I Premyslid (Duke) of BOHEMIA & MORAVIA


Type Value Date Place Sources
Name Bretislaus I Premyslid (Duke) of BOHEMIA & MORAVIA
Name Bretislav I Premyslid (Duke) of BOHEMIA
Occupation Duke of Bohemia and Moravia point in time between 1035 and 1055


Type Date Place Sources
birth about 1005 Prague, Bohemia (now in Czech Republic) search of this place
death 10. January 1055 Chrudim, East Bohemia (now in Czech Republic) search of this place
marriage 1020

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Bretislaus I (Czech: Bretislav) (1002/1005 - 10 January 1055), known as the Bohemian Achilles, of the house of the Premyslids, was Duke of Bohemia from 1035 until his death. Youth Bretislaus was the son of Duke Oldrich and his low-born concubine Božena. As an illegitimate son could not obtain a desirable wife by conventional means, he chose to kidnap his future wife Judith of Schweinfurt (Czech: Jitka), a daughter of the Bavarian noble Henry of Schweinfurt, Margrave of Nordgau, in 1019 at Schweinfurt. During his father’s reign, in 1019 or 1029,[1] Bretislaus took back Moravia from Poland. About 1031 he invaded Hungary in order to prevent its expansion under king Stephen. The partition of Bohemia between Oldrich and his brother Jaromír in 1034 was probably the reason why Bretislaus fled beyond the Bohemian border, only to come back to take the throne after Jaromír’s abdication. Raid into Poland In 1035 Bretislaus helped Emperor Conrad II in his war against the Lusatians. In 1039 he invaded Little and Great Poland, captured Poznan and sacked Gniezno, bringing the relics of St. Adalbert, Radim Gaudentius and the Five Brothers back with him. On the way back he conquered part of Silesia including Wroclaw (Czech: Vratislav). His main goal was to set up an archbishopric in Prague and create a large state subject only to the Holy Roman Empire. His raid had an unintended enduring influence on Polish history, as the plundering and destruction of Gniezno pushed the next Polish rulers to move their capital to Kraków, which would retain this role for many centuries ahead. In 1040 the German King Henry III invaded Bohemia, but was forced to retreat after he lost the battle at Brudek (a pass in the Bohemian Forest). The following year Henry III invaded again, skirted the border defences and laid siege to Bretislaus in Prague. Forced by a mutiny among his nobles and betrayed by his bishop, Bretislaus had to renounce all of his conquests save for Moravia. In 1047, Emperor Henry III negotiated a peace treaty between Bretislaus and the Poles. This pact worked in Bretislaus' favour, as the Polish ruler swore never again to attack Bohemia in return for an annual subsidy to Gniezno. Domestic policy Bretislaus was the author of decrees concerning the rules of Christianization, which included a ban on polygamy and trade on holidays. It was in 1030 that Bretislaus married the afore-mentioned Judith. Before his death, Bretislaus organised the succession (in 1054) and issued the famous Seniority Law, introducing agnatic seniority for order of succession. Younger members of the dynasty were supposed to govern fiefs (technically, parts of Moravia), but only at the Duke's discretion. Result of this institution was relative indivisibility of the Czech lands, but also alternation of rules of stronger (or perhaps more political) dukes with periods of bitter fraction wars of members of the dynasty. It was effectively ended by elevation of Bohemia to kingdom under Ottokar I of Bohemia, when primogeniture became the ruling principle. His eldest son Spytihnev was to succeed him as Duke of Bohemia with control over that territory. Moravia was incorporated into the Bohemian duchy, but divided between three of his younger sons. The Olomouc Appanage went to Vratislaus; the Znojmo Appanage went to Konrád; and the Brno Appanage went to Otto. The youngest son, Jaromír, entered the church and became Bishop of Prague. Bretislaus died at Chrudim in 1055 during his preparation for another invasion of Hungary and was succeeded by his son Spytihnev II as Duke of Bohemia. His younger children were left the region of Moravia. Otto and Vratislav were shut out of the government by Spytihnev, but after his death both gained control of Moravia and Bohemia, respectively. Notes ^ The exact date of the conquest of Moravia is unknown; Czech (and some Slovak) historians assert the earlier date, while their German and Polish colleagues recognize the latter one Historical records of the early Premyslid rulers are scanty. According to legend, Prince Borivoj is said to have been converted to Christianity by Saint Methodius (fl. mid-9th century). Bohemia was consolidated politically in the 10th century, and the best known of its rulers at this time was Borivoj's grandson Winceslas, or Vaclav, whose zeal for spreading Christianity in his dominions prompted his murder by his pagan brother Boleslav I (reigned 929-967). Vaclav subsequently came to be venerated as the patron saint of Bohemia. During the rule of Boleslav II (967-999), the Christian church in Bohemia was organized and a bishopric was founded in Prague. Boleslav II's death was followed by a period of fratricidal warfare between his sons that terminated in 1012 when the youngest son, Oldrich, established himself as prince of Bohemia. Oldrich died in 1037 and was succeeded by his son Bretislav I (1037-55). For the next century and a half, disputes and feuds among the members of the Premyslid family hindered Bohemia's political development, the chief source of discord being the absence of any strict law of succession to the Bohemian throne. At some periods the principle of seniority was observed, while at other times the deceased prince's oldest son attained the throne. During this period of disarray Bohemia became increasingly dependent on the Holy Roman Empire to the west. The Premyslid prince Vratislav II (1061-92) obtained from the Holy Roman emperor Henry IV the title of King of Bohemia as a personal (i.e., nonhereditary) privilege.


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