Crown of Saint Wenceslas

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copy of the Crown in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle

Crown of Saint Wenceslas is the part of Bohemian Crown Jewels (also called Czech treasure) made in 1347. The eleventh king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV had it made for his coronation and forthwith he dedicated it to the first patron saint of the country St. Wenceslas and bequeathed it as a state crown for the coronation of future Bohemian kings, his successors to the Bohemian throne. On the orders of Charles IV the new Royal Crown was to be permanently deposited in St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle). It was used last time for the coronation of Bohemian king Ferdinand V in 1836.

Jewels[edit]

The St. Wenceslas Crown is wrought of 21 to 22 carat (88 to 92%) gold and decorated with precious stones and pearls. It contains a total of 19 sapphires, 44 spinels, 1 ruby, 30 emeralds and 20 pearls.

Location[edit]

Unlike many other European Royal treasures, the St. Wenceslas Crown is not displayed publicly, and only a replica is shown (see photo above). Along with the other Bohemian Crown jewels, it is kept in a chamber within St. Vitus Cathedral accessible by a door in the St. Wenceslas Chapel. The exact location of the chamber is not known to the general public. The entrance to the Jewels is locked by seven locks whose keys are held by the President of the Czech Republic, Chair of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament, Chair of the Senate of the Parliament, the Prime Minister, Mayor of Prague, Archbishop of Prague and the Dean of Metropolitan Capitule in Prague. The jewels are only taken from the chamber and displayed for periods of several days on notable occasions approximately once a decade. The last such occasion was in April 2008, commemorating 90th anniversary of Czechoslovak Independence.

Legend[edit]

An old Czech legend says that any usurper who places the crown on his head is doomed to die within a year, as the Crown is in personal property of St. Wenceslas and may only be worn by a rightful Bohemian king during his coronation. During World War II, Reinhard Heydrich, the Deputy Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, is said to have secretly "crowned" himself while inspecting St. Vitus' Cathedral, and was assassinated less than a year later by the Czech resistance. Although there is no evidence proving that Heydrich did so, the legend is widely believed.[1]

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