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Vladislaus II, Duke and King of Bohemia

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Vladislaus II
Denar of Vladislaus II
Duke of Bohemia
ReignFebruary 1140 – 11 January 1158
PredecessorSoběslav I
Successorhimself as king
King of Bohemia
Reign11 January 1158 – 1173
Coronation11 January 1158, Regensburg
Predecessorhimself as duke
SuccessorFrederick as duke
Bornc. 1110
Died18 January 1174(1174-01-18) (aged 63–64)
Meerane, Germany
SpouseGertrude of Babenberg
Judith of Thuringia
Frederick, Duke of Bohemia
Adalbert III, Archbishop of Salzburg
Ottokar I, King of Bohemia
Vladislaus III, Duke of Bohemia
FatherVladislaus I, Duke of Bohemia
MotherRicheza of Berg

Vladislaus II or Vladislav II (c. 1110 – 18 January 1174) was the Duke of Bohemia from 1140 and then King of Bohemia from 1158 until his abdication in 1173. He was the second Bohemian king after Vratislaus II, but in neither case was the royal title hereditary.

Vladislav was the son of Vladislav I and Richeza of Berg. He was married twice, first to Gertrude of Babenberg and then to Judith of Thuringia.



He was an adventurous youth. Having no expectation of reaching the throne during the reign of his uncle Soběslav I, he moved to Bavaria. He returned at the death of Soběslav in 1140 and, with the help of his brother-in-law, the king of Germany, Conrad III, he was elected Duke of Bohemia by the Bohemian nobility.

At first, Vladislav had to contend with the claims of his cousin, the son of Soběslav who was also named Vladislav. At Soběslav's request, Emperor Lothair II recognised the rights of his son at the Diet of Bamberg in May 1138. Then, in June, the nobility affirmed them at Sadská. Another diet at Bamberg confirmed the succession of the son of Vladislav, however, in April 1140. The local dukes Conrad II of Znojmo, Vratislaus II of Brno, and Otto III of Olomouc, gave him trouble. They were excommunicated by Jindřich Zdík, bishop of Olomouc, who was then driven out of his diocese. The territorial dukes then defeated Vladislav through treason at Vysoká on 22 April 1142, but their siege of Prague failed. Vladislav kept his throne with the assistance of Conrad III of Germany, whose half-sister Gertrude of Babenberg he married.

In 1147, Vladislav accompanied Conrad on the Second Crusade, but halted his march at Constantinople and subsequently returned.[1] On his way back to Bohemia, he passed through Kiev and Kraków.

After the election of Frederick Barbarossa to succeed Conrad in 1152, Vladislav was summoned to attend a diet at Merseburg in May 1152. According to Vincent of Prague, he refused and sent Bishop Daniel of Prague as his representative instead. In October 1155, he met Frederick near the Bohemian border. He attended Frederick's wedding to Beatrice of Burgundy in Würzburg in June 1156. It was there that he and Frederick reached an agreement whereby Vladislav would take part in Frederick's upcoming Italian expedition and Frederick would raise Vladislav to the kingship.[2]


On 11 January 1158, the secret arrangement of 1156 was put into effect at an imperial diet in Regensburg. Frederick crowned Vladislav with a diadem (called by the chroniclers a diadema or circulus) evidently distinct from his own imperial crown. On 18 January he issued a privilege to Vladislav regulating his use of the crown and other insignia. Frederick made the grant of the royal title and crown in perpetuity, but they were not used after Vladislav's abdication. Upon the latter's return to Bohemia, the aristocracy strongly opposed both his commitment to campaigning in Italy and his unilateral amendment to the Bohemian constitution. They acquiesced only when he agreed to assume the costs of the Italian expedition himself.[2]

He was also invested with Upper Lusatia at Regensburg. He duly accompanied Frederick to Milan in 1158. His coronation was celebrated in a second ceremony at Milan on 8 September. Vladislav was a firm ally of the emperor Frederick. During the Italian expeditions of 1161, 1162, and 1167, Vladislav entrusted the command of the Czech contingent to his brother Duke Děpold I of Jamnitz and his son Frederick.

After the revolt of the Moravian dukes, Vladislav gradually took control of the strongholds of Moravia: Brno with the death of Vratislaus II in 1156, Olomouc with the death of Otto III (in spite of the claims of Soběslav, the son of Duke Soběslav, who was imprisoned), and finally Znojmo with the death of Conrad II. Vladislav also intervened in Hungary in 1163 on behalf of the emperor. He married his second son, Sviatopluk, to a Hungarian princess and had diplomatic contact with Emperor Manuel I Comnenus of Byzantium.

In 1167, Daniel I, bishop of Prague since 1148 and Vladislav's greatest advisor, died. As a result, relations between the kings of Bohemia and Germany were strained. When his son Adalbert (Vojtěch) III became archbishop of Salzburg in 1169, the emperor suspected him of supporting Pope Alexander III.


Eager to impose his son Frederick on the throne of the still-elective duchy of Bohemia, he abdicated in 1173 without either the consensus of the Bohemian noblemen or the emperor's permission. Frederick kept the throne for less than one year before yielding his place to Soběslav II, the elder son of Soběslav I.

Vladislav lived in Thuringia in the lands of his second wife, where he died in January 1174. He was buried in the Cathedral of Meissen. His reign was marked by the founding of numerous Premonstratensian and Cistercian abbeys in Bohemia, as well as the construction of a stone bridge across the Vltava River in Prague: the construct was named the Judith Bridge in honour of Vladislav's second wife. The bridge was destroyed in a flood in 1342 and the Charles Bridge was built in its place.

Family and children[edit]

By his first wife, Gertrude of Babenberg (died 4 August 1150), he had the following issue:

By his second wife, Judith of Thuringia (married 1155), daughter of Louis I, Landgrave of Thuringia, he had the following issue:


  1. ^ Mahoney 2011, p. 44.
  2. ^ a b Freed 2016, pp. 170–173.


  • Freed, John B. (2016). Frederick Barbarossa: The Prince and the Myth. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-122763.
  • Mahoney, William (2011). The History of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0313363061.
Regnal titles
Preceded by Duke of Bohemia
Title next held by
Title last held by
Vratislaus II
King of Bohemia
Title next held by
Ottokar I