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George of Poděbrady

*1420 (probably in Poděbrady), †1471 (Prague)

Originally a member of the Kunštát nobility, George was crowned King of Bohemia in 1458. In 1437 he took over the family property and entered the domestic political scene. In 1448 he and his supporters obtained possession of Prague and he became the effective ruler of the country. In 1452 he was conferred the regency, a post he continued to occupy during the reign of Ladislaus the Posthumous; on his death George was elected King of Bohemia on Prague’s Old Town Square. George’s rule was based on a recognition of the Jihlava Compacta (an agreement between the Hussites and the Catholics drawn up in 1436 which recognized religious freedom for all) the Papal curia, the Czech nobility and the King of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus. During the period from 1462–64, a delegation was sent by George to the courts of the European rulers in an attempt to create a union of Christian rulers able to face the Turkish threat and to resolve their relations in a peaceful manner. Despite the fact that his plan was not understood at the time, it is now seen as one of the first efforts to achieve European integration. In 1466 Pope Paul II pronounced George of Poděbrady a heretic, excommunicated him from the church and declared a crusade against him, lead by Matthias Corvinus, which resulted in Matthias’ capture in Vilémova. Before his death, George ensured that the throne would pass to the Lithuanian-Polish dynasty of Jagiellon.

 

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