Another Sordid European “Game of Thrones”

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A Brief History

On April 12, 1012, Jaromir, Duke of Bohemia, was deposed by the Duke Oldřich of Bohemia.  Of course, merely deposing a royal leader is not good enough, so the Duke Oldřich also had Jaromir blinded before the unlucky now former Duke was forced to flee to Poland.  But it gets worse!

Digging Deeper

Oldřich was the brother of Jaromir, and both of them had been exiled by their other brother, Duke Boleslaus III in 1002.  It seems Jaromir had rebelled against Boleslaus III, and the irritated Duke had Jaromir castrated (his own brother!) before banishing both brothers and their mother.

Of course, the convoluted manner of European royalty (calling it “nobility is a laughing matter) also caused Boleslaus III to in turn be deposed by his own cousin, Vladivoj, with the help of Duke Bolesław I the Brave of Poland.  (Follow closely, as this is more intricate and sordid than the Game of Thrones television series on HBO.)  Vladivoj lasted almost a year before dying, and was replaced by Jaromir who had returned to Bohemia to claim the throne with the support of the Bohemian nobility.  Of course, Bolesław I the Brave would have none this nonsense and invaded Bohemia and reinstalled Boleslaus III as Duke of Bohemia, who, as you would expect, had many of the Bohemian nobles that had backed Jaromir killed.

While the brothers went back and forth over who would reign as Duke, and in 1012, with Jaromir currently reigning, the other brother, Oldřich, defeated and deposed Jaromir and this time had  the unlucky Duke blinded.  Those not familiar with the real life “game of thrones” in Europe would be inclined to believe Jaromir would not risk the next personal atrocity on whatever list of maiming his brothers had in their repertoire of terrible things to do to a brother and just stay in exile.  No way Jose!  Jaromir came back in 1033 and regained the Dukedom, deposing Oldřich with the support of Emperor Conrad II of the Holy Roman Empire.

This time, Jaromir ruled for only a year as Bretislaus I, the son of Oldřich, deposed Jaromir and allowed Oldřich to once again rule Bohemia.  Jaromir was imprisoned this time, apparently to prevent yet another coup.  Jaromir was murdered in prison in either 1035 or1038, probably by the Vršovci clan.  (Boleslaw III had ordered a massacre of the Vršovci clan back in 1003 which cost him the support of the Bohemian nobles, which is how Jaromir was able to regain the throne.)  We do not know why the Vršovci’s killed Jaromir.  Does it even matter?

Bonus tidbit: If you were wondering, Jaromir and his brothers were part of the Přemyslid dynasty.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Agnew, Hugh. The Czechs and the Lands of the Bohemian Crown. Hoover Institution Press, 2004.

Martin, George R. R. George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set. Bantam, 2012.

The featured image in this article, a depiction of Oldřich and his wife Božena entering Prague from the Chronicle of Dalimil, is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 70 years or fewer.


About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.