Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

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Boleslaus I the Cruel, also called Boleslav I (Czech: Boleslav I. Ukrutný) (died July 15, 967 or 972), was the duke (dux in latin, which means sovereign prince) of Bohemia from 929 or 935 to his death. His father was Vratislaus I.

Boleslav is notorious for the murder of his brother Saint Wenceslas, through which he became duke of Bohemia. Wenceslaus was murdered during a feast; at precisely that time Boleslav's son was born. He received a strange name: Strachkvas, which meant "a dreadful feast". Being remorseful of what he had done, Boleslav promised to devote his son to religion and educate him as a clergyman. He kept his word.

Despite the fratricide, Boleslav is generally respected by Czech historians as an energetic ruler. Citing Wenceslas' religious policies as the cause of Boleslav's fratricide seems unlikely as Boleslav in no way impeded the growth of Christianity in Bohemia, and in fact he actually sent his daughter Mlada, a nun, to the Pope in Rome to ask permission to make Prague a bishopric.

One major policy shift after the death of Wenceslas was regarding Czech-German relations. It is usually asserted that Wenceslas was an obedient client of the German King Henry the Fowler. Boleslav, on the other hand, found himself almost immediately at war with Henry's successor Otto the Great. This conflict, presumably consisting of border raids (the general pattern of warfare in this region at the time) between Boleslav on one side and the margrave of the Ostmark on the other, reached its conclusion in 950 when Boleslav signed a peace with Otto. He promised to pay tribute. Five years later, the armies of Czechs and Germans allied against the Magyars in the victorious Lech river on August 10, 955. Boleslav had also helped Otto to crush an uprising of Slavs on the Lower Elbe in 953.

After the Battle of Lech, the rest of the huge Magyar army turned to Bohemia, where it was crushed by Boleslav. Because of this victory, Boleslav freed Moravia from Magyar raids and expanded his territory to Upper Silesia and Malopolska. Boleslav saw the growth of Polish strength to the north of his borders and he accordingly arranged for his daughter Dubrawka to marry the Piast prince Mieszko I in 965. He had another son named Strachkvas. His wife may have been Biagota. He was succeeded by his son Boleslaus the Pious.

Sources

  • Ancestral Roots of Certain American Colonists Who Came to America Before 1700 by Frederick Lewis Weis; Line 244-7
  • The Plantagenet Ancestry by William Henry Turton, Page 85

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