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Matters of interest

Karlstejn is like a good vine. Passing years took none of his beauty. We could actually claim the opposite. He grew into a majestic cultural sight, one that greets hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Its rich history is linked with lots of names, titles, things and events. We will only look at the most interesting pieces.

The Crown Lands of Bohemia

Most of us happen to know the medieval marking of our lands from high school history. It came into being in the same year as Karlstejn. Our lands were at the peak of their glory in that year. The credit goes to the eleventh Czech king, the king of Lombardia and Arelatia, the Roman emperor, the count of Luxembourg, our father of homeland – Charles IV. It was a well educated and wise ruler. He spoke German, French, Latin, Italian and after a visit to French court, Czech as well. He built the cathedral of St Vitus and the Stone Bridge. He also funded The New city of Prague and Charles University. Up until this point we were taught only correct facts in our classes of history. However it may not be entirely correct to claim that Charles IV was of a peaceful nature and never started a war. He loved jousts and other tournaments. He took place in them even after being rebuked by the pope for “behavior that is not adequate for royal dignity. Nevertheless we can very calmly state that the Crown Lands of Bohemia never again regained the glory of the Carolinian Era.

A quartette of Charles’ wives

Charles IV was a rather tall person for the medieval perspective. He was 173 centimeters tall. He had a muscular, robust figure and if we count in the fact that he ruled an empire, we do not have to wonder why women were crazy about him. Altogether he had four wives. The most recognized was Alžběta Pomořanská. It is said that she was incredibly strong. She could bend iron rods with her bare hands. The story about how much she loved her husband is told in a comedy “Night over Karlstejn” (Noc na Karlštejně) by Jaroslav Vrchlický. We cannot blame the king for swiftly recovering from a death of one wife and again marrying another. Those days it was a wise political move. For is it not better to gain new lands as dower rather than lead peaceful people to wars for conquering them?!

The crown of St Wenceslas

Charles IV became the king after the death of his father John of Luxembourg. In the year 1347 he was crowned along with his first wife Blanka of Valois. For this occasion he had the crown of St Wenceslas crafted. The crown stayed for some time in Karlstejn. Today we may find it in the cathedral of St Vitus of the Prague castle. Seven representatives of public life of the Czech Republic are each in possession of one of the seven keys to the chamber, where the crown is kept. Some of them have to kneel to unlock the door. The crown is made from twenty four carat gold and weights two and half kilograms. It is decorated with nineteen sapphires, twenty four spinels, rubies, thirty emeralds and nineteen pearls. Even if it was possible to sell the jewel, it is not doable to estimate the price. The historical value far overthrows the costs of the medieval goldsmiths, including the material. Price expressed in numbers of the replica stored in Karlstejn treasury is over one million Czech crowns.

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