Good King Wenceslas - The Real Story

A fascinating account of the true story behind the popular Good King, in this unique book.

About the Book

Our book tells the story of Good King Wenceslas as he is known from the popular Christmas carol

Saint Wenceslas

The book is unique: there has been nothing like it published before in the English-speaking world. It covers the early history of Bohemia and Central Europe, and how young Wenceslas was born into the ruling dynasty of Bohemian dukes, princes and kings. Good King Wenceslas is also known as Saint Wenceslas (in the UK) or Saint Wenceslaus (in the USA).

You can learn not only about the life and death of Wenceslas, but also the history of his country after his death, with interesting stories like that of the Anglo-Saxon Princess Adivea (Elfgifa), daughter of King Edward the Elder, who was married, far from England, to Wenceslas's nephew, Boleslav II.

Good King Wenceslas - The Real Story, in its first edition is a collectors' item with many colour pictures and illustrations.

The author, Jan Rejzl is happy to sign and dedicate the book for you.

Good King Wenceslas - The Real Story

Here is a brief synopsis of The Real Story behind the Christmas Carol.

Statue of st Wenceslas in Wenceslas Square in Prague

Legends and archaeology tell us about the early days of the Slavonic people in Bohemia. One legend, about Duchess Libuse, describes us how she was judging a dispute between two men. An unfair criticism of her judgment by the man who lost his dispute made her call for Premysl, a ploughman, to become her husband and to rule with her. Thus the foundation was laid for the Premyslid dynasty of dukes, princes and kings which ruled Bohemia for almost a thousand years.

The arrival of Christianity from Moravia brought the first writing in the Slavonic language and also introduced wine growing, and new customs and practices such as building with stone and mortar. The first church of St Clement was built in the Roman way by Wenceslas's grandfather, Borivoj, in Levy Hradec, Premyslid's main castle before a new seat was established in Prague.

A thousand-year-old oak tree still stands in the grounds of what was once a border castle, Stochov, where according to folk legends, young Wenceslas was born. It is said that his grandmother, Ludmila, planted the oak tree there at the time of Wenceslas's birth. Nannies watered the sapling with baby Wenceslas's bath water and thus giving the tree its unusual staying powers. The book also tells about the special ritual for cutting Wenceslas's hair.

Young Wencelsas was influenced by Ludmila and educated in Slavonic reading and writing by her priest, Paul, who in turn has been educated by the Greek missionaries, Cyril and Methodius.

A mural depicting Wenceslas' duel with Radslav

Christianity was also preached in Bohemia by priests from the West, using Latin and thus the first Latin school was established in Budec. Only the church remains. It is one of the oldest places still standing today, where young Wenceslas prayed and worshipped with his teachers and fellow pupils. Excavations found sharp instruments called 'stiluses' with which pupils were writing on wax-covered plates.

Legends tell us that the young Wenceslas helped with the harvest of corn and grapes, and that his joy in preparing bread and wine for religious purposes stayed with him into adulthood.

Wencelsas lost his father at the age of thirteen and, as the oldest male, he was enthroned. However, his mother, Drahomira ruled until he was eighteen. Drahomira had Wenceslas's grandmother, Ludmila, murdered and in many ways returned the country to a pagan way of life, allowing priests to be persecuted.

Wenceslas, once he came of age, made a firm return to the Christian way of life. He built the Rotunda of St Vitus, a sophisticated construction for its time, in Prague Castle.

Priests brought education into the country and Wenceslas used them as advisers in contrast to his mother (right of the picture), who had persecuted them during her rule.

Wenceslas lived and ruled like a true Christian. He is depicted providing shelter to orphans (left) and buying children out of slavery (right).

Wenceslas was not afraid to stand up to the neighbouring Duke Radslav. To save bloodshed on both sides, Wenceslas challenged Radslav to a duel.

Wenceslas had a good relationship with King Henry the Fowler of Saxony from whom he received the relics of Saint Vitus to place in his rotunda.

Wenceslas was at one time considering going to Rome and dedicating himself to the religious life. He had discussions with his brother Boleslav about passing the throne over to him.

Before he could do this, Wenceslas's life ended in 935, when he was murdered in front of the door to the church of Sts Cosmas and Damian.

There is a lot more to the story of Good King Wenceslas (Wenceslaus), which is revealed in the book you can now order.

Order the Book

One copy of Good King Wenceslas is £9.99 UK Sterling, and can be ordered securely via PayPal.

Postage and packaging is £1.99 within the United Kingdom via Royal Mail, and £3.99 Internationally via Air Mail.

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The Author

Jan Rejzl was born in 1948 in Stara Boleslav in the Czech Republic and was introduced to the story of Saint Wenceslas at an early age in the Basilica of Saint Wenceslas in Stara Boleslav.

Whilst in Britain, Jan heard the Christmas carol: 'Good King Wenceslas looked out...' and was able to tell friends the real story of St Wenceslas.

Jan Rejzl upon publishing his book, Good King Wenceslas the Real Story

In 1968, during Dubcek's Prague Spring, Jan went to Great Britain for a holiday. A twenty-year-old student, he found himself in East Anglia when the Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia. On his return, Jan found that the spirit of the Prague Spring had disapeared beneath the pressure of the Soviet-led occupation. He managed to leave the country permanently for England in the summer of 1969.

In the autumn of 1988, after nineteen years in Britain, Jan returned to Czechoslovakia for a week's holiday and started to research the history behind the story of St Wenceslas, collecting books and visiting important sites in his home town and elsewhere in Bohemia. Jan visited Bohemia regularly to continue his research and write this book before it was finally published in 1995.

E-mail Jan by clicking here.