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Wenceslaus IV of Luxembourg

*1361 (Nuremburg, Germany), †1419 (Prague)

King of Bohemia and member of the House of Luxembourg, he was the son of Charles IV of Luxembourg and Anne Svídnica (1339–1362). He was crowned King of Bohemia at the age of two, was the head of the municipal authority at the age of seven and rules from 1378; between 1376 and 1400 he was King of the Romans. The period of Wenceslaus’ reign was complicated by the decline of the church and the rise of reform movements. Wenceslaus did not fulfil his father’s hopes of a successful continuation of his own life’s work: his government was chaotic and confused, he was more interested in hunting and merrymaking than affairs of state. His disputes with his brother, Sigismund of Luxembourg and his cousin Jobst from the Moravian branch of the family led to his being taken captive on two separate occasions (1394 and 1402–03) and significantly curbed Wenceslaus’ authority. Wenceslaus’ conflict with Jan of Jenštejn, the Archbishop of Prague concerning the amount of political power held by the church in the Czech lands ended in 1393 with the death of the Vicar General, Jan of Nepomuc. In the beginning Wenceslaus stood on the side of the reformation and supported Jan Hus, Rector of the University of Prague and in 1409 he issued the Decree of Kutná Hora, which supported the members of the Bohemian university nation, but he broke away from Hus around 1412 after a disagreement about the sale of indulgences. He was buried at the monastery at Zbraslav, but the Hussites disinterred his body from its grave a year later and it was not until 1423 that Wenceslaus’ remains were placed in the St. Vitus’ Cathedral at Prague Castle.

 

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