Bretislaus III, Duke of Bohemia

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Henry Bretislaus (Czech: Jindřich Břetislav; died 15 or 19 June 1197), known as Bretislaus III, was the duke of Bohemia from 1193 to his death. Being the bishop of Prague since 1182, he was also a prince of the Holy Roman Empire. He was a son of Henry, son of Vladislaus I.

After brilliant studies at the University of Paris, he was named provost of Vyšehrad, near Prague. In 1182, he accepted the diaconate from the hands of his cousin the archbishop of Salzburg, Adalbert III. He elected in the same year to be archbishop and went to Mainz to receive imperial affirmation. He was ordained a priest on 22 May and crowned bishop the following day. In the subsequent quarrels over the throne, he supported Ottokar, the son of the King Vladislaus II. Bretislaus was unable to pay the necessary tribute of 6,000 écus to the Emperor Henry VI for Ottokar's crown and his brother Vladislaus' margraviate of Moravia. While on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, he was captured by the emperor, who held him captive at his court.

In 1192, Ottokar I usurped the Czech throne from Wenceslaus II. Wenceslaus tried to petition the emperor for assistance, but was captured. Henry, however, was not ignorant of Bohemian affairs: in June 1193, he deposed Ottokar at the Diet of Worms. Ottokar was abandoned by the nobility and Henry exempted Bretislaus from the payment and appointed him duke.

Bretislaus had to secure his duchy by force of arms. By Christmas, he was keeping court at Prague. In 1195, he drove Vladislaus out of Moravia and installed one of his supporters in the march. Bretislaus also took part in an imperial campaign in Meissen, where his army plundered the churches. He planned to take part in the German Crusade of 1197 decided on at the diet of Worms of December 1195, but it was never actualised. He died on 15 or 19 June 1197 after a long illness.


Preceded by
Ottokar I
Duke of Bohemia
Succeeded by
Vladislaus III