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Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
Boleslaus I the Cruel
Reign 935–967/972
Spouse(s) Biagota
Noble family Přemyslids
Father Vratislaus I of Bohemia
Mother Drahomíra
Born c. 915
Died 967 or 972

Boleslaus I the Cruel, also called Boleslav I (Czech: Boleslav I. Ukrutný) (c. 915 – 15 July, 967 or 972), was the ruler (kníže, "duke" or "prince") of the Duchy of Bohemia from 935 to his death. He was the son of Vratislaus I and the younger brother of his predecessor, Wenceslaus I.

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

Despite the fratricide, Boleslav is generally respected by Czech historians as an energetic ruler who significantly strengthened the Bohemian state and expanded its territory. The pro-Christian religious policies pursued by Wenceslaus do not appear to have been a cause for Boleslav's fratricide, since Boleslav in no way impeded the growth of Christianity in Bohemia, and in fact actually sent his daughter Mlada, a nun, to the Pope in Rome to ask permission to make Prague a bishopric.

One of Boleslav's major concerns was the tribute paid yearly to the German (East Frankish) kings as stated in the peace treaty Henry the Fowler had established with Boleslaus' brother Saint Wenceslaus I. He stopped the payment shortly after he ascended the throne, which led to the prolonged war with King Otto the Great. Boleslaus attacked an ally of the Saxons in northwest Bohemia in 936 and defeated two of Otto's armies (from Thuringia and Merseburg). Then war deteriorated to a border raids (the general pattern of warfare in this region at the time), reached its conclusion in 950 when Otto besieged a castle owned by Boleslavs' son, Boleslav signed a peace treaty with Otto. Despite being undefeated, he promised to resume the payment of the tribute. Five years later, the armies of Czechs and Germans allied against the Magyars in the victorious Battle of Lechfeld on 10 August 955. Boleslav had also helped Otto to crush an uprising of Slavs (Stojgněv and Nakon) on the Lower Elbe in Mecklenburg in 953.[1]

Duchy of Bohemia during the reign of Boleslav I and Boleslav II.

Overwhelming invading Hungarians has the same benefits for Germans and Czechs. Less obvious is what Boleslav wanted to gain with his participation in the war against the oborite Slavic dukes in far north. Probably, Boleslav wanted to ensure that his powerful German neighbors did not interfere with him in spreading the Bohemian estates to the east.[2]

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 Lesser Poland. To strengthen the Bohemian-Polish alliance, Boleslav's daughter Dobrawa married the pagan Piast prince Mieszko I in 965, and helped bring Christianity to Poland. He was succeeded by his oldest son Boleslaus the Pious.

Marriage and children

Boleslav's wife may have been Biagota. It is unknown if she was the mother of all his four adult children:


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  1. ^ "Boje polabských Slovanů za nezávislost v letech 928 – 955" (in Česky). E-středově Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Boleslav I." (in Česky). Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
Boleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
Born: c. 915 Died: 967 or 972
Preceded by
Wenceslaus I
Duke of Bohemia
Succeeded by
Boleslaus II
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