A Brief History
On March 4, 938, the relics of Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia, Prince of the Czechs, were translated, which means moved to a more permanent location. Not really a king during his life, Wenceslaus was posthumously promoted to “King of the Czechs” after his death.
Wenceslaus was born in Prague, Bohemia in 907, and became Duke in 921. In 935, he was assassinated by his own brother, the aptly named Boleslaus the Cruel. The family murders had begun when Wenceslaus’s own mother had his grandmother and regent killed to prevent the grandmother’s influence. The evil mother campaigned against Christianity, but when Wenceslaus became of age at 18 years, his mother was exiled, and Christianity gained prominence in Bohemia.
Almost immediately upon his murder, Wenceslaus became venerated as a martyr and a saint, a legend for Bohemians and Czechs to admire throughout the centuries. In his memory, the song “Saint Wenceslas Chorale” was composed as was the carol for Saint Stephen’s Day, “Good King Wenceslaus.”
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For more information, please see…
Baxter, William. The Legend of Good King Wenceslas: A Story of the Light of Christmas. Independently published, 2019,
Berend, Nora, et al. Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c.900–c.1300. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by Gryffindor of sheet music of “Good King Wenceslas” in a biscuit container from 1913, preserved at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
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