Bohemian royal Premyslid dynasty died out 700 years ago

Wenceslas III

Exactly 700 years have passed since the last male member of the Bohemian royal dynasty, the Premyslids, died. On August 4, 1306, king Wenceslas III. was murdered in the town of Olomouc at the age of just 16. The death of the young king marked the end of a 450-year Premyslid rule in Bohemia.

Prince Premysl
The name of the Premyslid dynasty comes from its mythical founder, Prince Premysl, who was believed to reign in what is now Bohemia shortly after the Slavic tribes settled in the area. The first historic Premyslid - and also Christian - prince was Borivoj I. in the 9th century, and in 1212, Premysl Otakar I. acquired the title of hereditary king for his descendants. Marie Mzykova from the National Institute for Monument Preservation.

"The Premyslid dynasty has a prominent place in Czech history. It was the Premyslids who founded Czech statehood. They weren't only the rulers of Bohemia. The last Premyslids ruled also Hungary and Poland and their kingdom stretched from the Adriatic to the Baltic. They started building the state in the 9th century and the peak of their power was in the second half of the 12th century."

Wenceslas III
The direct lineage was severed when young Wenceslas, king of Bohemia and Poland at the time, was stabbed to death by an unknown assassin during his visit to Olomouc in Moravia. After four years of turmoil and instability, his sister Elisabeth of Bohemia maried John of Luxembourg, who became King of Bohemia in her name. But some distant descendants of the dynasty still live today. Genealogists have found some 20 noble families with some Premyslid blood, including the British and Dutch royal families. Some historians dispute the findings and say that in the long run, everybody is everybody else's relative in Europe. However, Zdenek Sternberk, a member of the Sternberg noble family, considers himself to be a descendant of the Premyslid dynasty.

"In my view the dynasty was more important than the Luxembourgs because they founded Czech statehood in the days when there were only various tribes fighting one another. They lived on in the person of Elisabeth of Bohemia, who was the mother of Emperor Charles IV. Charles IV. would never have been such a competent monarch of such an outstanding merit if he wasn't half Premyslid."

A number of events are being held this summer to mark the anniversary. The Czech National Bank has issued a silver commemorative coin and organised a two-day event bringing together the descendants of noble families which connect their lineage to the Premyslids. A new play with the title Wenceslas III. by Jan Sulovsky premieres in Olomouc on Friday and the church in Zbraslav where Wenceslas was buried is holding a commemorative service.