Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Monday, 28 September 2020

St Wenceslas and the Emperor Charles IV

Today is the feast of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia, and revered in that country as an exemplary ruler. There is an account of his life and murder, and of his cult and legend, at Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

One of the principal devotees of St Wenceslas was the fourteenth century Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, who was also King of Bohemia. That realm was his territorial power base within the Empire and he sought to develop Prague as a worthy capital. This included the rebuilding of the cathedral of St Vitus, of the Charles Bridge, the founding of the Charles University - the first in the Empire - and the building of his castle at Karlstejn outside the city. Artists were employed to celebrate the cult of St Wenceslas and to celebrate the Emperor and his family. One of the Emperor’s commissions was the Crown of St Wenceslas. Made in 1346-7 it was originally displayed on a reliquary bust of the saint. It has served ever since as the Crown of Bohemia, and was last used at a coronation in 1836. There is a history of it at Crown of Saint Wenceslas.

The crown and its history and legends are also described in Legends of the Bohemian Crown Jewels

         The Crown of Saint Wenceslas
                    Image: Wikipedia 

The Emperor Charles IV was to be crowned many times - I think he must hold the record amongst European monarchs - receiving coronation as King of Bohemia, King of the Romans ( twice ), King of Italy, King of Burgundy and Holy Roman Emperor. This is set  out in an article on Medieval Histories at Crowns of Charles IV of Bohemia

The same site has a series of interesting articles about the  Emperor, his life, reign and patronage, as well as his place in the Czech memory, which can be accessed from Charles IV (1316 - 1378) – King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor

  St Wenceslas Pray for Bohemia, Pray for us

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