Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

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Wenceslaus I (Czech: Václav [ˈvaːtslaf]  ( listen); c. 907 – September 28, 935), or Wenceslas I, was duke (kníže) of Bohemia from 921 until his death. Wenceslas is the subject of the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas".

He was the son of Vratislav I, Duke of Bohemia from the Přemyslid dynasty. His father was raised in a Christian milieu through his own father, Borivoj I of Bohemia, who was converted by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, the "apostles to the Slavs". His mother Drahomíra was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief of Havolans and was baptised at the time of her marriage. Wenceslaus' murder in September of 935 was the result of a plot involving his younger brother Boleslav I of Bohemia. He is venerated as Saint Wenceslaus and is the main patron saint of the Czech state.




In 921, when Wenceslaus was thirteen, his father died and he was brought up by his grandmother, Saint Ludmila, who raised him as a Christian. A dispute between the fervently Christian regent and her daughter-in-law drove Ludmila to seek sanctuary at Tetín Castle near Beroun. Drahomíra, who was trying to garner support from the nobility, was furious about losing influence on her son and arranged to have Ludmila strangled at Tetín on September 15, 921.

According to some legends, having regained control of her son, Drahomíra set out to convert him to the old pagan religion. According to other legends she was herself a Christian. Very little is known about her rule.


In 924 or 925 Wenceslaus assumed government for himself and had Drahomíra exiled. After gaining the throne at the age of eighteen, he defeated a rebellious duke of Kouřim named Radslav. He also founded a rotunda consecrated to St Vitus at Prague Castle in Prague, which exists as present-day St Vitus Cathedral.

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