Bořivoj I, Duke of Bohemia

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The Baptism of Duke Bořivoj, a historical painting by Václav Ignác Leopold Markovský

Bořivoj I (Czech pronunciation: [ˈbɔr̝ɪvɔj]) (c. 852 – c. 889) was the first historically documented Duke of Bohemia (c. 867 – c. 889) and founder of the Přemyslid dynasty. Bohemia was at these times subordinated to Great Moravia.

As the head of the Přemyslids who dominated the environs of present-day Prague, Bořivoj declared himself kníže - in Latin dux, which means sovereign prince - around the year 867 A.D. His title was later translated by German scholars as "duke" of the Bohemians (Czechs). Although the German dukes of the era held the same title, the meaning of his title was in fact completely different. In contrast to the German dukes, the Czech dux denoted a sovereign ruler.[citation needed] Bořivoj was recognised as such around 872 by his overlord Svatopluk I of Great Moravia, who dispatched Bishop Methodius to begin the conversion of the Bohemian Slavs to Christianity (see Christianization of Bohemia).

In 872 Bořivoj militarily supported Svatopluk in its dispute with East Francian king, Louis the German, and in south Bohemia they defeated the German armies. Bořivoj and his wife Ludmila were baptised by Methodius (probably in 883), and the latter became an enthusiastic evangelist, although the religion failed to take root among Bořivoj's subjects.

In the years 883/884 Bořivoj was deposed by a revolt in support of his kinsman Strojmír. He was restored in 885 only with the support of his suzerain Svatopluk of Moravia. When Bořivoj died about 4 years later, his sons still minors, Svatopluk took over the rule of Bohemia himself.

As with most of the early Bohemian rulers, Bořivoj is a shadowy figure; exact dates for his reign and vital statistics cannot be established. Nonetheless, several major fortifications and religious foundations are said to have dated from this time. In old Czech legends he is said to have been son of a Bohemian prince named Hostivít.

Preceded by
Duke of Bohemia
c. 870 – c. 889
Succeeded by
Spytihněv I