"" Writer's Wanderings: Good King Wenceslas Really Was

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good King Wenceslas Really Was


Ever wonder about why we sing Good King Wenceslas at Christmas time? I was surprised to find the answer. King Wenceslas truly was a king--in Bohemia! Now that really piqued my interest since I have Bohemian roots (my grandfather came from Prague).

Born in the 10th century, Wenceslas was the son of Ratislav and Drahomora. His mother, Drahomora, was secretly pagan. Wenceslas was raised mostly influenced by his grandmother, Ludmila, who brought him up as a Christian. When a young teenager, his father was killed in battle and his mother became the reigning monarch. She tried to eradicate Christianity in the countryside, had Ludmila killed, and then tried to undo the teachings of Christianity instilled in Wenceslas.

The young man kept his beliefs hidden from his mother until he turned 18 and with the support of the people, deposed his mother. He then reinstated Christianity, stopped the persecution of the priests and began acts of charity toward the poor. Unfortunately his younger brother, Boleslav, who was raised with his mother's pagan beliefs, assasinated Wenceslas.

The five year reign of Wenceslas was impressive enough for him to become the patron saint of Czechoslovakia. The carol's words written by a Czech poet Vaclav Alois Svoboda were put to music by John Mason Neale in 1853. The carol is sung at Christmas time because it speaks of the Feast of Stephen (the church's first martyr) which is celebrated on December 26.

1 comment:

Mean Puppies Inc. said...

That's interesting, I had wondered who he was :)

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