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Friday, December 25, 2009

Good King Wenceslas

Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia (907-935)
His father died when Wenceslas was 13, leaving him to be raised by his mother and grandmother. Like many families, there was conflict on how to raise the children.

The father and grandmother were Christian while the mother, Drahmira, was pagan.The mother was furious for the interference his grandmother caused in raising Wenceslas as a Christian, so angry she plotted to have the grandmother strangled.

Wenceslas gained the throne when he was 18 and had his mother exiled. This did not stop his brother from making an attempt on his life. While on his way to church, Wenceslas was murdered by his younger brother and two friends.

The people never forgot the kind noble, and though he is referred to as a king, the title is a tribute to his character, not his actual rank.

Legends have sprung about the duke:
One claims a huge army of knights sleep within the mountains waiting to be called into battle at Wenceslas' command.
A legend in Prague says the statue of King Wenceslaus will come to life and slay the enemies of the Czechs in thier darkest hour.

In a ballad, his kindness lives on.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of StephenWhen the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and evenBrightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sightGath'ring winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, tellingYonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither.
"Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


Linda Banche said...

I thought Good King Wenceslas was English, since the Christmas carol is British. You learn something every day.

Jen Childers said...

I always thought that too. I had song in my head and decided to look him up.
Have a great new year!

Nan Hawthorne, Shield-wall Books said...

Love Historical Hussies?

Nominate it and any other historical fiction or fact blogs you love at .

Deadline for nominations: january 10


Historical Blogs: Fiction & Fact

Jen Childers said...

Hi Nan,
I'm glad you like us. The link didn't work, would you mind pasting it to the comment section?
Thanks a bunch,

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