Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Karlstejn-Short Historical Background

King Charles had four wives.

The first wife, Blanche (1316-1348) was the daughter of Charles, Count of Valois and half-sister to Philp VI of France. They ahd two daughters, Margaret (1335-1349) who married Louis I of Hungary and katharine (1347-1395) who married Rudolf IV of Austria and later Otto V, Duke of Bavaria.

The second wife, Anne (1329-1353) was the daughter of Count Palatine, Rudolf II. They had one son, Wenceslas who died young.

The third wife, Anne of Swidnica (1339-1362) was the daughter of Henryk II of Schweidnitz and Katharine of Anjou. They had two children, Wenceslas (1361-1419) also called Wenceslas the Drunkard who succeeded Charles to the throne and Elisabeth (1358-1373) who married Albert of Austria.

The fourth wife was Elisabeth of Pomerania (1345-1393) who was the daughter of the Duke of Boleslaw V of Hind Pomerania and Elisabeth of Poland. They had six children: Anne of Bohemia (1366-1394) who ws married to Richard II of England, the son of Edward the Black Prince; Sigismund (1368-1437) who succeeded Wenceslas the Drunkard to the throne, but was the dominant of the two as the King of Hungary and the margave of Brandenburg. Apparently Sigismund did not have much filial affection for his half-brother and did not pull his nuts from the fire when Wenceslas unduly complicated his own life with greed and religious strife. The third was John, Duke of Golitz (1370-1396); Charles (1372-1372); Margaret (1373-1410) who married John III, the Burgrave of Nuremburg and Heinrich (1377-1378).

Future conflicts are definitely set as the daughters were wed to opposing armies of the Hundred Years War between the French and the English. Internal disputes for succession were already created and complicated by the religious wars that followed Charles IV death. With the papal court in Avignon, the English were alienated and sided with the return of the papacy to Rome. Hussites derived their antagonism against the corruption of the enriched papacy and its aristocratic and autocratic trappings from John Wycliffe. Perhaps Charles thought that by marrying his daughters on both sides of the conflict, no matter what, someone would come out a winner.

Charles died in 1378 coincidental to the return of papacy to Rome. However, the religious struggles had already started, and with Wenceslas the Drunkard on the Prague throne, they were extenuated. He alienated himself with the Archbishop of Prague by having the vicar-general, John of Nepomuk dropped off Charles Bridge for refusing to submit to his demands. At stake was the properties of the Benedictine Abbey at Kladrau which he wanted to ursurp in order to pocket its wealth through a persoanlly appointed friend. Instead John of Nepomuk complied with the orders of the Archbishop, warning the monks to appoint an abbot immediately after the old abbot, Rarek's death. Not wanting to cause a furor on the other side, he tried to protect Jan Hus from Catholic persecution.

Hus gained diplomatic protection from Sigismund to go to Constance before a council to reconcile the widening schism in the church. Instead, Jan Hus was arrested and burned at stake, becoming an instant national martyr. In 1420, Karlstejn was assaulted by Hussites and angry inhabitants of Prague and later overwhelmed by Swedes. Wenceslas, alienated his half-brother by his policies, was left to the mercy of his enemies until the situation favored Sigismund. After the Swedes left, Karlstejn was abandoned.

Rudolf II had the castle renovated in the 16th century, but it was without defence and quickly surrendered to Ferdinand II in 1648. Again the Swedes occupied it. The castle was abandoned until the 18th century when the Austrian Emperopr Francis II and his son restored the most heavily damaged sections. In 1853, Karlstejn came under historical protection of the Cental Monuments Protection Commission in Vienna. Friederich Schmidt and Josef Mocker were appointed to direct its restoration during 1887-1889 to its present form. Josef Mocker was also in charge of the restoration of St Vitus Cathedral, clearing it of the undesirable Hapsburg clutter and returning it to its Gothic nature.


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