First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Taxis, king of the Hungarians, determined to avenge his subjects, whom he wished to rule in Italy, but who had been driven out by the Bavarians; and he rapidly overran Italy with an army. For this reason the Italians were so frightened that they feared that this was to be their final extermination. But Berengar sent to Taxis his son Adelbert, who mollified him to such an extent that for ten pecks of silver coins (as they report) he spared Italy.

The Hungarians first overran Germany, then Gaul, destroying everything. Later they made the Bulgarians tributary. Then followed a deluge of barbarous people which overflowed many countries without restraint. These barbarians also passed through Friuli in Italy, and devastated and destroyed everything by fire and pillage. Alberic the margrave, who through envy and ingratitude had been driven out of Rome, called in the Hungarians to oppress the city; but they did not reach the Roman borders. They did, however, overrun and devastate almost all Etruria, causing much grief by fire and murder, carrying off with them to Hungary all the women and boys who could not escape. Afterwards, in the time of Emperor Otto I, they overran Germany.

Before this time Bohemia was converted to the faith; and there Borivoj (Worzivous), the last pagan duke, and his spouse Ludmila (Ludimilla) were baptized by Saint Methodius, the archbishop of Moravia, in 905. Of the said Ludmila it is said that she was such a holy woman who performed miracles. Both, after accepting the truth of Christianity, greatly enhanced and spread the Christian religion among the Bohemians.[The early history of Bohemia is involved in obscurity. The first attempts to introduce Christianity undoubtedly came from Germany, but met with little success, due to distrust between these nations. Matters were different when Christianity approached them from Moravia where its doctrines had been taught by Cyril and Methodius – Greek monks of Thessalonica. About 873 the Bohemian prince Borziwoj was baptized by Methodius, and the Bohemians rapidly adopted the Christian faith. Among the rulers of Bohemia the most famous in this period was Wenzel, or Wenceslaus, surnamed the Holy, who, in 935, was murdered by his brother Boleslas, and was afterward canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. ]

Spytihnev (Spitigneus), the son of Borivoj (Borziwogii), the first Christian duke of Bohemia, attained the dukedom after the death of his father; but he died without male heirs, leaving the dukedom to his brother Wratislas (Vratislai). Now Drahomira (Drahomitia), wife of said Wratislas, a cunning and wicked woman, bore unto her husband two sons, namely Wenceslas (Ventzeslaum) and Boleslas. The elder she placed in the care of her mother-in-law; the younger she nurtured herself. Each of the children adopted the morals of his foster-mother, Wenceslas being good and inclined to all the virtues, while Boleslas was an idolater and inclined to every vice. The father (Wratislas) ordered the children placed under the guidance of Ludmila until their majority. This offended Drahomira so sorely that she caused Ludmila her mother-in-law to be strangled in the castle of Tetin (Thetin). And thereupon she undertook the regency for the children. She was cruel to all persons, despised Wenceslas, and sought to advance his brother before him.[See note to Wenceslas, below.]

Wenceslas (Venceslaus), duke of Bohemia, son of the aforesaid Wratislas (Vratislai), was reared by Ludmila (Ludimilla), the holy woman, as aforesaid, and was educated in wisdom, church lore, and the Holy Scriptures. He was, as they say, a man of moderation in food and drink, erect and handsome in person, and retained his virgin chastity to the end. Neither by night nor day did he neglect a single divine service or office. At night he walked barefoot on ice and snow, yet suffered not from the frost. At the request of the people he took over the dukedom while his mother still lived. And so the name and fame of Wenceslas marvelously grew, and he became illustrious among the people. But the more he was loved by others, the more he was hated by his mother and brother. Now a feast was provided for him, and he was invited. And having foretold his own death, and availed himself of the confessional according to Christian custom, he went into his brother’s house; and there his brother murdered him. For the miracles he performed the church enrolled him among the saintly martyrs.

Wenceslas. After the death of Borzivoj of Bohemia, who had introduced the Christian faith into the country, the throne was occupied by his son Spytihnev I and Wratislas I in rapid succession. Both were Christian princes who labored to advance the faith among their subjects, and built several churches. Wratislas I had married Drahomira, daughter of the heathen prince of the Luticians; and by her he became the father of two sons, Wenceslas, (old bohemian, Waceslaw; German, Wenzel) and Boleslas, and four daughters. Duke Wenceslas, who succeeded his father about 926, was then nearly 18 years of age. He had been brought up by his gentle and Christian grandmother, Ludmila. His mother Drahomira, an ambitious woman, at once seized the regency, and to put away the woman whom Bohemia loved and honored, and who might have disputed her right to act as regent, she sent assassins to Tetin, where Ludmila had fled to escape her, and had her strangled with her own veil. The rule of Drahomira was not beneficial to the country for she stirred up a powerful enemy in Henry the Fowler, king of Germany and Emperor of the East, who in 928 invaded Bohemia and appeared before Prague in 928. In the meantime Wenceslas, though only twenty years of age, had assumed the government independently of his mother; and he speedily came to terms with the emperor without bloodshed, engaging to pay him an annual tribute of 500 marks of silver and 120 head of oxen; and he took the oath of allegiance to the imperial crown. He remained true to Henry I throughout his reign, and never allowed his kinsmen or nobles to shake his fidelity. His brother Boleslas, an ambitious headstrong youth, was an element of discord and danger. He had received the district of Bunzlau as his portion, and although he recognized Wenceslas as his sovereign, yet he exercised within his district all the rights of an independent prince. He was the very opposite of his brother, who always tempered justice with mercy. Boleslas treated his subjects with harshness and rapacity. Drahomira and Boleslas were discontented with their position of inferiority. They were on the side of those who looked upon the German alliance with disfavor, and even plotted against Wenceslas, so that the duke was forced to banish his mother from Bohemia, although she was later permitted to return.

With Wenceslas religion was a passion, not a matter of politics as with his brother. He built churches in every city and invited priests to Bohemia. He was skilled in reading, fed and clothed the poor, protected widows and children and purchased the freedom of hapless prisoners. The story is told of how on a winter’s night he carried a bundle of sticks to a poor old man who was suffering from the cold. Its most famous version today is found in the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas.”

Noting the discontent of the pagan party, and those opposed to the German alliance, which was gradually spreading over the land, Boleslas resolved to take advantage of it to seize the helm of government. Duke Wenceslas was accustomed to make yearly visits to the principal cities of the realm at the dedication festivals of their churches. On the feast of Saints Cosmos and Damian (September 27) in 936 he came to Altbunzlau, the castle of his brother Boleslas, to be present at the celebration of the feast of these saints, to whom the church there was dedicated. His purpose was to return to Prague after high mass, but Boleslas entreated him to remain for the banquet he had prepared in honor of his presence. Although private warnings of treason reached Wenceslas, he refused to distrust his brother; but when on the following morning Wenceslas went to church, Boleslas met him at the door, and with the assistance of three servants slew him.

Otto, King Henry’s (Heinrici) son, born to him by Matilda (Mathildo), the daughter of King Theodoric of Saxony, was the successor of his father in the kingdom. This Otto performed many celebrated deeds in the German and French kingdoms. And after the praise and fame of his virtues had spread into Italy, and Pope Agapetus and many of the Italian nobles had been distressed by the tyranny of Berengar and his son Adelbert, they appealed to this king Otto for help against them. At once, then, with fifty thousand warriors he marched through Friuli in Italy and deposed Berengar from the empire and Adelbert from the kingdom; and he took over Italy, released Adelaide (Alundam) from imprisonment, and took her to wife.[A repetition. See Berengar IV, Folio CLXXVII recto, above.]