Doubravka of Bohemia

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Doubravka of Bohemia
Duchess consort of the Polans
Bornc. 940/45
SpouseMieszko I of Poland
IssueBolesław I the Brave
FatherBoleslaus I, Duke of Bohemia

Doubravka of Bohemia, Dobrawa (Czech: Doubravka Přemyslovna, Polish: Dobrawa, Dąbrówka; ca. 940/45 – 977) was a Bohemian princess of the Přemyslid dynasty and by marriage Duchess of the Polans.

She was the daughter of Boleslaus I the Cruel, Duke of Bohemia, whose wife may have been the mysterious Biagota.[citation needed]

According to earlier sources, Doubravka urged her husband Mieszko I of Poland to accept baptism in 966, the year after their marriage. Modern historians believe, however, that the change of religion by Mieszko was one of the points discussed in the Polish-Bohemian agreement concluded soon before his marriage with Doubravka. Her role in his conversion is not considered now to be as important as it is often represented in medieval chronicles.

Early life[edit]

Doubravka of Bohemia (Dobrawa) according to Jan Matejko (1886)

Doubravka's date of birth is not known. The only indication is communicated by the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, who stated that the Bohemian princess at the time of her marriage with Mieszko I was an old woman.[1] The passage is regarded as tendentious and of little reliability, and some researchers believe that the statement was made with malicious intent.[2] It is possible that in the statement about Doubravka's age, Cosmas was making a reference to the age difference between her and her sister Mlada. That would give him a basis for determining Doubravka as "old." (The word Mlada means Young). It[citation needed] also found that Cosmas confuses Doubravka with Mieszko I's second wife Oda, who at the time of her marriage was around 19–25 years old, a relatively advanced age for a bride according to the customs of the Middle Ages. Some researchers have taken up speculative views, such as Jerzy Strzelczyk, who assumed that in the light of contemporary concepts and habits of marriage of that time (when as a rule marriages were contracted with teenage girls) is assumed that Doubravka had passed her early youth, so, it's probable that she was in her late teens or twenties.[3]

Nothing is known about Doubravka's childhood and youth. In 1895 Oswald Balzer refuted reports that previous to her marriage with Mieszko I, Doubravka was married to Gunther, Margrave of Merseburg and they had a son, Gunzelin. This view is based on the fact that Thietmar of Merseburg in his chronicles named Gunzelin, Gunther's son, brother of Bolesław I the Brave, Doubravka's son.[4] Currently, historians believed that Gunzelin and Bolesław I are in fact cousins or brothers-in-law.[5]

Marriage and Christianization of Poland[edit]

Dobrawa, Duchess of Poland. Painting by Jan Matejko

In the second half of 964[6] an alliance between Boleslav I the Cruel, Duke of Bohemia, and Mieszko I of Poland was concluded. In order to consolidate the agreement, in 965 Boleslav I's daughter Doubravka was married to Mieszko I. The marriage cemented the Polish-Bohemian alliance, which continued even after Doubravka's death.

Two independent sources attribute to Doubravka an important role in the conversion to Christianity of Mieszko I and Poland. The first is the chronicles of Thietmar, who was born two years before the death of Doubravka. He wrote that the Bohemian princess tried to persuade her husband to accept Christianity (even at the cost of breaking their marriage and with it the Polish-Bohemian alliance). In the end, she finally obtained the conversion of Mieszko I and with him, of all Poland.[7] In turn, the 12th-century chronicler Gallus Anonymus says that Doubravka came to Poland surrounded by secular and religious dignitaries. She agreed to marry Mieszko I providing that he was baptized. The Polish ruler accepted, and only then was able to marry the Bohemian princess.

Modern historians agree that the baptism of Mieszko I was dictated by political benefits and should not be attributed to any action of Doubravka. She is held to have had virtually no role in the conversion of her husband.[8] Historians note that the narrative of the conversion of Mieszko I thanks to Doubravka formed part of the tradition of the Church which stressed the conversion of Pagan rulers through the influence of women.[9]

Doubravka did have a significant role in the Christianization of the Poles. In her wedding procession, she arrived in Poland with Christian clergymen, among them possibly Jordan, ordained the first bishop of Poland in 968. Tradition attributes to Doubravka the establishment of the Holy Trinity and St. Wit Churches in Gniezno and the Church of the Virgin Mary in Ostrów Tumski, Poznań.


Doubravka and Mieszko I had at least one son, Bolesław the Brave (b. 967 – d. 17 June 1025). A daughter, called Świętosława or Sigrid the Haughty, married first King Eric the Victorious of Sweden and later King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, by whom she was the mother of Canute the Great. Gunhilda of Poland, who married Swyen Forkbeard, is usually identified as this daughter. There is a hypothesis asserting the existence of another daughter of Mieszko I who was married to a Pomeranian Slavic prince. She could have been the daughter of either Doubravka or one of Mieszko's previous pagan wives. Also, a theory has been advanced (apparently recorded by Thietmar of Prague and supported by Oswald Balzer in 1895) that Vladivoj (c. 981 – January 1003), who ruled as duke of Bohemia from 1002 until 1003, was another son of Doubravka and Mieszko I.[citation needed] Although modern historians have rejected this hypothesis,[citation needed] Czech historiography has supported the notion of mixed Piast-Přemyslid parentage for Vladivoj.[10]

Death and burial[edit]

Doubravka died in 977. In his study of 1888, Józef Ignacy Kraszewski wrote that "her tomb was discovered in Gniezno Cathedral. It was a simple stone marked with a cross. Purple robes and a weighty gold loincloth were the only objects found in her tomb."[11] A similar view of Doubravka's burial place was expressed earlier, in 1843, by Edward Raczyński in his study Wspomnienia Wielkopolski to jest województw poznańskiego, kaliskiego i gnieźnieńskiego (Memories of the Greater Poland districts of Poznań, Kalisz and Gniezno).[12] However, the burial place of the Bohemian princess is now considered to be unknown.[13]

Doubravka's death weakened the Polish-Bohemian alliance, which finally collapsed in the mid-980s.


  1. ^ Chronicle of Cosmas of Prague: translated, introduction and commentary developed by Maria Wojciechowska, Warsaw 1968, lib. I cap. 27, p. 149.
  2. ^ H. Łowmiański, Religia Słowian i jej upadek, Warsaw p. 338, footnote 889.
  3. ^ J. Strzelczyk, Bolesław Chrobry, p. 15.
  4. ^ Thietmari chronicon, vol. V, cap. 18, p. 274; vol. V, cap. 36, p. 300; vol. VI, cap. 54, p. 390.
  5. ^ View, inter alia, of Herbert Ludat.
  6. ^ Date fixed by H. Łowmiański, Początki Polski, vol. V, p. 548.
  7. ^ Thietmari chronicon, vol. IV, cap. 56.
  8. ^ J. Dowiat, Metryka chrztu Mieszka I, p. 79; Andrzej Feliks Grabski, Bolesław Chrobry. Zarys dziejów politycznych i wojskowych, p. 26; S. Trawkowski, Monarchia Mieszka I i Bolesława Chrobrego, pp. 116–117; H. Łowmiański, Początki Polski, vol. V, p. 549.
  9. ^ A. F. Grabski, Mieszko I, Warsaw 1973, p. 93.
  10. ^ Krzemieńska, Barbara (1999). Břetislav I.: Čechy a střední Evropa v prvé polovině XI. století [Bretislaus I: Bohemia and Central Europe in 1st Half of the 11th Century] (in Czech) (2nd. ed.). Praha: Garamond. pp. 28–29. ISBN 80-901760-7-0.
  11. ^ J. I. Kraszewski, Wizerunki, p. 12
  12. ^ E. Raczyński, Wspomnienia Wielkopolski to jest województw poznańskiego, kaliskiego i gnieźnieńskiego, Poznań 1843, vol. II, pp 356–360.
  13. ^ K. Jasiński, Rodowód pierwszych Piastów, p. 78.
Doubravka of Bohemia
Born: ca. 940/45 Died: 977
Royal titles
Preceded by Duchess consort of the Polans
Succeeded by