The real story behind the carol Good King Wenceslas
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Ludmilla fled Prague and returned to her castle at Tetin, where she hoped to live a quiet life of prayer and spend her days serving the poor. But Drahomira saw Ludmilla as a threat. She knew that, as long as his grandmother was alive and could offer her support, Wenceslas would try to rule Bohemia as a Christian country when he became duke. So, in C.

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They accomplished their mission by strangling her to death. Once Ludmilla was dead, Drahomira insisted that Wenceslas join her in practicing the indigenous religious ceremonies. While he seemed outwardly compliant, Wenceslas secretly continued in his Christian beliefs.

When he was 18, the remaining Christian nobles supported Wenceslas in a rebellion against his mother. The uprising was successful, and Drahomira was sent into exile at Budech. And so, at age 20, Wenceslas became Duke of Bohemia. He based his political rule on his Christian faith. He promised to be faithful to God and to the Church, and he promised to rule with justice and mercy.

WENCESLAS: The Man, the Myth, the Christmas Carol

He pardoned his mother, reinstated the Christian religion in Bohemia, and ended the persecution of the priests. The people loved him for his generosity, his concern for justice, and his intolerance of oppression. He provided housing and clothing for the poor. It was said that he would bring provisions to the poor in the middle of the night, so they would not be shamed and embarrassed by having others know how destitute they were.

He spent long hours in prayer, and his prayer book was well-worn from frequent use. While the people loved him, many of the nobles were not pleased with this turn of events. They thought that Wenceslas was too religious, and that he was not concerned with the independence of Bohemia. When the young duke signed a treaty with the German king, Henry I, to create a peaceful alliance and avoid further bloodshed, the nobles were furious. They had a different agenda. They wanted Bohemia to be an independent country. So they began to plot against Wenceslas. This group of nobles was led by Wenceslas' mother, Drahomira, and his younger brother Boleslav.

Boleslav was particularly susceptible to the influence of the two nobles who had assassinated his grandmother Ludmilla. The two nobles repeatedly reminded Boleslav that, now that Wenceslas had a son, he was further down the line of succession to the throne. The nobles told Boleslav that, if he did not act soon, he would lose his opportunity to reign over an independent Bohemia.


Boleslav's ambitions got the best of him, and he joined the nobles and his mother in their plot against Wenceslas. On September 27, C. While we was there, he attended Mass to celebrate the feastday of Saints Cosmos and Damian. Wenceslas apparently received a warning that his life would be in danger after the church service, but he replied with a toast to St. Michael: "To St. In other projects Wikimedia Commons Wikisource.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Good King Wenceslaus The first, third, and fifth verses, performed by the chorus of the U. Problems playing this file? See media help. Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen, When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even; Brightly shone the moon that night, tho' the frost was cruel, When a poor man came in sight, gath'ring winter fuel.

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(Saint) Wenceslaus I Wenceslas I or Václav the Good was the duke (kníže) of Bohemia from until his assassination in His younger brother, Boleslaus . "Good King Wenceslas" is a Christmas carol that tells a story of a Bohemian king going on a journey and braving harsh winter weather to give alms to a poor.

Tempus adest floridum, surgunt namque flores Vernales in omnibus, imitantur mores Hoc quod frigus laeserat, reparant calores Cernimus hoc fieri, per multos labores. Spring has now unwrapped the flowers, the day is fast reviving, Life in all her growing powers towards the light is striving: Gone the iron touch of cold, winter time and frost time, Seedlings, working through the mould, now make up for lost time.

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Tempus adest floridum, surgunt namque flores vernales mox; in omnibus immutantur mores. Hoc, quod frigus laeserat, reparant calores; Cernimus hoc fieri per multos colores. Now comes the time of flowers, and the blossoms appear; now in all things comes the transformation of Spring. What the cold harmed, the warmth repairs, as we see by all these colours.

Where and what his dwelling? Sunt prata plena floribus, iucunda aspectu Ubi iuvat cernere, herbas cum delectu Gramina et plantae hyeme quiescunt Vernali in tempore virent et accrescunt. Herb and plant that, winter long, slumbered at their leisure, Now bestirring, green and strong, find in growth their pleasure; All the world with beauty fills, gold the green enhancing, Flowers make glee among the hills, set the meadows dancing.

Irish Rovers - Good King Wenceslas

Stant prata plena floribus, in quibus nos ludamus! Virgines cum clericis simul procedamus, Per amorem Veneris ludum faciamus, ceteris virginibus ut hoc referamus! The fields in which we play are full of flowers. Maidens and clerics, let us go out together, let us play for the love of Venus, that we may teach the other maidens. Haec vobis pulchre monstrant Deum creatorem Quem quoque nos credimus omnium factorem O tempus ergo hilare, quo laetari libet Renovato nam mundo, nos novari decet.

Through each wonder of fair days God Himself expresses; Beauty follows all His ways, as the world He blesses: So, as He renews the earth, Artist without rival, In His grace of glad new birth we must seek revival.

An nescis, o carissima, quod sic adamaris? Si tu esses Helena, vellem esse Paris!

Good King Wenceslas: What Will We Risk for Justice?

Tamen potest fieri noster amor talis. Dost thou not know, dearest, how much thou art loved? If thou wert Helen, I would be Paris. So great is our love that it can be so. Tread thou in them boldly Thou shalt find the winter's rage freeze thy blood less coldly. Terra ornatur floribus et multo decore Nos honestis moribus et vero amore Gaudeamus igitur tempore iucundo Laudemusque Dominum pectoris ex fundo. Boleslav greatly expanded the kingdom of Bohemia, adding parts of Moravia not already in his kingdom, a good bit of Silesia and most of what is today Slovakia.

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When he died in after a year reign, Boleslav left behind a kingdom geographically similar to what the Czech Republic is today. As for poor Wenceslas, his untimely death may have been the best thing to happen to him. Perhaps to atone for his act of fratricide, Boleslav had his brother's bones buried in the church of St. Vitus in Prague. The relics made the church the center of a cult to the Christian martyr and soon Bohemian pilgrims were flocking to the holy site. The celebration of Wenceslas' life became so prominent that a national holiday was created called Wenceslas' Feast Day, celebrated for the first time on September 28, Within another generation, he was officially declared Bohemia's patron saint.

Wenceslas remains a potent symbol of Czech patriotism and independence to this day—not bad for a prince who didn't make it to his 30s. So where does the Christmas carol fit into all this? Fast forward about years to London when John Mason Neale, son of an Anglican clergyman, was born in After being ordained in , chronic poor health prevented Neale from being appointed to a parish. Instead, he was made chief official of Sackville College in Sackville, despite its name, was not an institute of higher learning but an almshouse that sheltered the poor and underprivileged.

Neale took his charge seriously and worked tirelessly to better the lot of the unfortunate. In he co-founded the Sisterhood of St. Margaret, a religious order whose duty was to nurse the sick. To many Anglicans, this smacked too much of Roman Catholicism, and they accused Neale of being an agent of Rome. He was physically attacked by a crowd at a funeral service and several times was nearly stoned by mobs who also threatened to burn down his house.