Good King Wenceslas - The Real Story
Here is a brief synopsis of The Real Story behind the Christmas Carol.
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.
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.