Wenceslaus

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Wenceslaus,

1361–1419, Holy Roman emperor (uncrowned) and German king (1378–1400), king of Bohemia (1378–1419) as Wenceslaus IV, elector of Brandenburg (1373–76), son and successor of Emperor Charles IV. He was, even more than his father, a Bohemian rather than German king. Although gifted, he was given to drunkenness and violent fits of temper. It was largely through his support that his half-brother SigismundSigismund
, 1368–1437, Holy Roman emperor (1433–37), German king (1410–37), king of Hungary (1387–1437) and of Bohemia (1419–37), elector of Brandenburg (1376–1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
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 was able to take possession (1387) of Hungary.

Residing in Bohemia, Wenceslaus could do little to end the conflict in Germany between the nobles and the imperial towns. In the general war from 1386 to 1389, Wenceslaus finally sided with the nobles, who were favored by the Peace of Eger (or Peace of Cheb). In the Great SchismSchism, Great,
or Schism of the West,
division in the Roman Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. There was no question of faith or practice involved; the schism was a matter of persons and politics.
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, Wenceslaus, like his father, at first supported the Roman pope, Urban VI, but in 1398 he agreed with Charles VI of France that both rival popes should resign and a new pope be elected. The two weak monarchs were unable to execute this plan.

As early as 1380, Wenceslaus's neglect of German affairs caused the princes to demand that he name a vicar for Germany. Dissatisfied with his appointment (1396) of Sigismund, they were further provoked by his entente with France and his sale (1395) of Milan as a hereditary fief to Gian Galeazzo Visconti (see under ViscontiVisconti
, Italian family that ruled Milan from the 13th cent. until 1447. In the 12th cent. members of the family received the title of viscount, from which the name is derived.
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). They deposed him from the German kingship and elected (1400) RupertRupert,
1352–1410, German king (1400–1410), elector palatine of the Rhine. He was elected German king after the deposition of Wenceslaus. Seeking the imperial crown, Rupert went to Italy.
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 of the Palatinate. Wenceslaus refused to recognize the deposition, but he retired to Bohemia; in 1411, after Rupert's death, he surrendered his claim to Germany to Sigismund.

In Bohemia, Wenceslaus was early embroiled with the nobles and higher clergy, especially with the archbishop of Prague. Constant civil war with the nobles twice led to Wenceslaus's imprisonment (1394, 1402–3); Sigismund was both times involved in the plot. As an enemy of the higher clergy, Wenceslaus supported John HussHuss, John
, Czech Jan Hus , 1369?–1415, Czech religious reformer. Early Life

Of peasant origin, he was born in Husinec, Bohemia (from which his name is derived). He studied theology at the Univ. of Prague, was ordained a priest c.
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, the Czech religious reformer. The Decree of Kutna Hora (1409), which gave the Czechs preponderance in voting for the rector of the Univ. of Prague led to the election of Huss as rector. The king attempted to prevent the burning of the writings of John WyclifWyclif, Wycliffe, Wickliffe, or Wiclif, John
, c.1328–1384, English religious reformer. A Yorkshireman by birth, Wyclif studied and taught theology and philosophy at Oxford.
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 and the termination of Huss's preaching and sought to persuade John XXIII (see Cossa, BaldassareCossa, Baldassare
, c.1370–1419, Neapolitan churchman, antipope (1410–15; see Schism, Great) with the name John XXIII. He had a military career before entering the service of the church.
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) to suspend proceedings against Huss. When the interdict was laid on Prague (1412), he persuaded the reformer to leave the city, but continued to support him covertly.

Wenceslaus avoided suppressing the national and religious outburst that followed the burning of Huss, but pressure from Sigismund, then German king, and the rise of the radical Hussite leader John ZizkaZizka, John
, Czech Jan Žižka , d. 1424, Bohemian military leader and head of the Hussite forces during the anti-Hussite crusades of Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund.
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 cooled his feelings toward the Hussites. The reform took on a rebellious character, and after serious riots several town councilors appointed by the king were thrown from the windows of the town hall (the first Defenestration of Prague, July 30, 1419) and were killed. Wenceslaus died shortly afterward and was succeeded by Sigismund as king of Bohemia. The Hussite WarsHussite Wars,
series of conflicts in the 15th cent., caused by the rise of the Hussites in Bohemia and Moravia. It was a religious struggle between Hussites and the Roman Catholic Church, a national struggle between Czechs and Germans, and a social struggle between the landed
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 prevented Sigismund from being accepted as king until 1436.

Wenceslaus

, Wenceslas
1. 1361--1419, Holy Roman Emperor (1378--1400) and, as Wenceslaus IV, king of Bohemia (1378--1419)
2. Saint, known as Good King Wenceslaus. ?907--929, duke of Bohemia (?925--29); patron saint of Bohemia. Feast day: Sept. 28
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