Bretislaus I (Czech: Břetislav) (born between 1002 and 1005, died 10 January 1055), known as The Bohemian Achilles, of the house of the Přemyslids, was the duke of Bohemia from 1035 till death.

Bretislaus was a son of duke Oldrich and his low-born concubine Božena . In 1019, at Schweinfurt, he kidnapped his future wife Judith of Schweinfurt (Jitka), a daughter of a Bavarian magnate, margrave Henry of Schweinfurt of Nordgau.

Bretislaus I of Bohemia is kidnapping his future wife Judith of Schweinfurt from a monastery.
From the Chronicle of Dalimil.

During his father’s reign, in 1029, he took back Moravia from Poland. About 1031 Bretislaus invaded Hungary in order to prevent its expansion under king Stephen. The partition of Bohemia between Oldřich and his brother Jaromir in 1034 was probably the reason why Bretislaus fled beyond Bohemian border only to come back to take the throne after Jaromir’s abdication.

In 1035 Bretislaus helped Emperor Conrad II in his war against the Lusatians. In 1039 he invaded Little and Great Poland, captured Poznan and sacked Gniezno, bringing the relics of St Adalbert back with him. On the way back he conquered part of Silesia including Wrocław. His main goal was to set up an archbishopric in Prague and create a large state subject only to the Holy Roman Empire. In 1040 the German King Henry III invaded Bohemia but was forced to retreat after he lost the battle at Brudek. However, the following year Henry III invaded again, skirted the border defences and laid siege to Bretislaus in Prague. Forced by a mutiny among his nobles and betrayed by his bishop, Bretislaus had to renounce all of his conquests save for Moravia.

In 1047, Emperor Henry III negotiated a peace treaty between Bretislaus and the Poles. This pact worked in Bretislaus' favour as the Polish ruler swore never again to attack Bohemia in return for an annual subsidy to Gniezno. In 1054 Bretislaus issued the famous Seniority Law. For the first time this act stated that Bohemia and Moravia would pass directly through the senior line of the Přemyslid dynasty. Younger members of the dynasty were allowed to govern Moravia, but only at the Duke's discretion.

Bretislaus was the author of decrees concerning the rules of Christianization, which included a ban on polygamy or trade on holidays.

Bretislaus died at Chrudim in 1055 during his preparation for another invasion of Hungary and was succeeded by his son Spytihnev II.

It was in 1030 that he married the aforementioned Judith. Before his death, Bretislaus organised the succession. His eldest son, Spytihnev, was to succeed him as duke of Bohemia with control over that territory. Moravia was put under the Bohemian crown, but divided between three of his younger sons. Olomouc went to Vratislaus, Znojmo went to Conrad, and Brno went to Otto. The youngest son, Jaromir, entered the church and became bishop of Prague.


Offspring of Judith von Schweinfurt and Bretislaus I of Bohemia (c1003-1055)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Spytihnev II of Bohemia (1031-1061) 1031 28 January 1061 Hidda von Lausitz (c1031-aft1061)
Vratislaus II of Bohemia (?-1092) 1035 14 January 1058 Maria Adelaide of Hungary (c1040-1062) Maria Adelaide of Hungary (c1040-1062) Swietoslawa of Poland (c1048-1126)
Conrad I of Bohemia (1036-1092) 1036 6 September 1092 Hildburg von Chiemgau (c1043-c1090)
Otto of Bohemia (c1040-1087) 1040 6 September 1087 Euphemia of Hungary (aft1050-1111)
Jaromir of Bohemia (aft1035-1090) 1035 26 June 1090 Esztergom

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Duke of Bohemia
Succeeded by
Spytihnev II

Footnotes (including sources)

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Bretislaus I, Duke of Bohemia. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.