Political intrigues and true loves of the father of the fatherland Charles IV
When his beloved wife was laid in the cold earth after all the endless ceremonies, he had only a few moments to mourn and remember. There is no more time for regret… For a widower is a crowned head!
The newly crowned King Charles IV of Bohemia is up for grabs again. So far, he’s only fathered two daughters. And if they don’t marry well, it’s as if they don’t exist. So the ruler has a lot of catching up to do. The country needs a new queen. One who will give Charles a healthy, strong son. An heir to the throne!
The much-loved Frenchwoman
At just seven years old, they meet at the altar. It’s mid-May, the heat is stifling. In Paris, the Czech king Wenceslas is confirmed. He solemnly takes the name Karel. Before that, however, a child’s wedding takes place! The bride and groom, full of embarrassment, obediently accept their burden. „The French princess Blanka of Valois is the one for you. One day you will appreciate my choice!“ says John of Luxembourg, Charles‘ father. What does the young master say? He’d rather play than sweat dressed in formal attire. He’s not in the mood for a girl. But he’ll love his wife. Of course, many years after their uncertain „oui“…
The spouses do not meet again until they are of age. In the Middle Ages it was considered to be the completion of the fifteenth year of age. Before they can properly bond, however, Charles travels to Italy to take part in his father’s exploits there. He is said to be enjoying himself abroad, being tutored in the mysteries of love. What’s left for Blanca? Wait. Four whole years. But then she is invited to go with her French entourage to Prague, where Charles awaits her. It’s June, the beginning of a sultry summer. When the couple meet, the city skyline is hidden under the cover of night. It is not until the morning that Blanka discovers that instead of the sumptuous palaces and comfortable chambers she grew up in, the completely inadequate ruins of Prague Castle await her. She and Charles, who has been elected governor of the country, must turn them into a royal residence. But that is not all. Neither speaks Czech or at least German. Together they learn the pronunciation of words, putting together their first sentences. That’s why the people love Blanka. She is beautiful and yet humble. She is trying to get to grips with the Czech country and less than a year after her arrival she brings her first child, a daughter, Markéta, into the world.
A righteous ruler?
The second daughter, Katherine, is five years old when Charles and Blanka are crowned King and Queen of Bohemia in St. Vitus Cathedral on September 2, 1347. They are blessed by the 1st Archbishop of Prague, Arnošt of Pardubice. However, this does not bring them luck. A few months after the coronation Blanka suddenly falls ill and dies, she is only thirty-two years old. They say it was tuberculosis or plague. Some even say it may have been suicide… Charles is devastated. What was originally only a politically expedient marriage has turned into a harmonious marriage. He loved her, she respected him and was his support. But the king cannot be left alone, mired in grief and despair. So he negotiates in person with King Edward III of England. For he has taken a liking to his 16-year-old daughter Isabel…
But! There’s another candidate. The influential Wittelsbach family, with whom Charles is not on good terms. But marrying a woman of their blood could make things right. There is one available. Twenty-year-old Anna will receive an excellent dowry. And by marriage, Charles would consolidate his power in the Roman Empire. And that’s what he wants most. There’s a catch. The courtship in England is over. Slowly, the wedding is about to take place and the king can only have one wife. Charles is tactful, chooses every word. He’s teetering on the edge of his political abilities. But with success! He manages to break his engagement to Isabel, but relations with England remain friendly! So it’s time to plan his wedding to Anne.
Finally, a male offspring!
Anne of Palatinate is crowned Queen of Bohemia in 1349. She seems the ideal wife. She has no ambition to interfere in the running of the country. What’s more, they put the crown on her head when she’s already in the late stages of pregnancy. When she delivers the heir to the throne, Wenceslas, the people and Charles go wild with excitement. At just eleven months old, the king betroths his firstborn. The bride is to be Anna Svídnicka, heiress of Svídnice, the only Polish territory not part of the Bohemian Crown. Everything is suddenly so clear.
But unexpectedly, hard times come. First, the king himself falls ill with a strange illness that weakens him for a long time. The cause? A poorly mixed love potion! Anna, not very gifted with reason, is said to have accidentally poisoned her husband. The greatest blow comes in December 1351. Little Wenceslas dies, and thirteen months after him, so does his mother, Queen Anne. Charles is thirty-seven years old. Of his three children, only his eleven-year-old daughter Catherine, betrothed to Prince Rudolf of Habsburg, survives.
King Charles’s younger brother, Margrave John Henry, has a son. There is a danger that the House of Luxembourg will die out and the Habsburgs will inherit! There is nothing to be done, the King of Bohemia must once again go to the altar. And who is his chosen one? Who else but the fiancée of Charles’s dead son, Anna Svidnicka!
The first Empress of Bohemia
The marriage negotiations are completed in March 1353. Then in May the wedding takes place. In July, Anna is crowned Queen of Bohemia, and in February of the following year, she also receives the German crown. The girl returns to her mother for a year and only sees her husband again at his coronation as emperor. The young queen travels to Rome accompanied by Bohemian knights. They enter St. Peter’s Basilica side by side. It is here that the imperial crown is placed on their heads on 5 April 1355.
Everyone is waiting for Anna to announce the „happy event“. Time passes, tension builds… It is many years before the Queen gives birth to her first child. And it’s a daughter again, Eliska. Although the arrival of the baby girl is accompanied by a huge celebration, Charles loses patience. He stops believing he’s going to have a son! So he improves his relationship with his brother. Little Eliška is to marry one day to one of Jan Henry’s sons.
Their child would become the Emperor’s successor. As soon as the strange contract is properly negotiated, Anna announces another pregnancy. In February 1361, Emperor Charles finally becomes the father of the coveted heir, Wenceslas. The whole country celebrates for weeks, the king is delighted. A year later, Anne dies during a complicated childbirth. Along with the newborn, another baby boy. But she’s done her job.
Emperor Charles mourns the death of his young and, among other things, supposedly very intelligent wife. He’s locked up in Karlstejn for several months. No quick change of wives this time. But the father of the fatherland will enter the chomout once more!
Queen Mother Emeritus
The wedding of the forty-seven-year-old Charles to the sixteen-year-old Eliška Pomořanska takes place in May 1363 in Kraków, Poland. Upon arrival in Prague, the newlywed is crowned Queen of Bohemia. However, only two days after Charles‘ firstborn son Wenceslas! Why? To make it clear who would inherit. Who’s in charge at Prague Castle! Even for a young woman in her prime, the stresses of the reign are having a bad effect. It takes years before she gives birth to her first child. But then everything goes from bad to worse. The royal couple produce six children in all, four sons and two daughters. Considering Charles’s age and the time they spend together, it’s amazing how well they get on. The Emperor has to travel frequently.
Eliska loves her children and guards them like a hawk! She can’t stand her bullied stepson Václav. She rages against her eldest, Sigismund. But that can’t change the fact that Karel admires her: she is clever, stubborn and stubborn, and she is good with money.
When the Emperor dies of pneumonia on 29 November 1378, Wenceslas takes his place on the Czech throne. But the spoiled heir drinks heavily and indulges in revelry. He is simply not the man of steel that is supposed to lead the people. Rather than rule the country, he goes hunting. Eliska tries to make important decisions as regent. She craves power, she thrills to rule. Eventually, she slows down and decides to devote herself to raising her children. She lives out the end of her life in her eastern towns. She dies on 14 February 1393 in Hradec Králové, completely removed from the turmoil that moves the Bohemian kingdom.