On 2 September 1347, Charles was crowned King of Bohemia. On 11 July 1346, the prince-electors chose him as King of the Romans ( rex Romanorum) in opposition to Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor. Charles was crowned on 26 November 1346 in Bonn. After his opponent died, he was re-elected in 1349 and crowned King of the Romans.
Charles IV, byname Charles of Luxembourg, original name Wenceslas, Czech Karel Lucembursky, or Václav, German Karl Von Luxemburg, or Wenzel, (born May 14, 1316, Prague—died Nov. 29, 1378, Prague), German king and king of Bohemia (as Charles) from 1346 to 1378 and Holy Roman emperor from 1355 to 1378, one of the most learned and diplomatically skillful sovereigns of his time.
Jul 18, 2021 · Predecessor: Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor Successor: Wenceslaus I. Holy Roman Emperor, King of Italy: Reign 6 January/5 April 1355 – 29 November 1378 Coronation 6 January 1355, Milan (Italian royal), 5 April 1355, Rome (imperial) Predecessor: Louis IV Successor: Sigismund I
- May 14, 1316
- Praha, Böhmen, Deutschland (HRR)
- Flemming Allan Funch
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, is most famous for being the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1355-1378. He was the son of Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV and Beatrice of Sicily. Charles IV became Holy Roman Emperor when his father died in 1347. He was the last Holy Roman Emperor to be crowned in Rome.
- Early Life
- Early Reign
- Later Reign
- Evaluation and Legacy
- Patronage of Culture and The Arts
- Family and Children
- Named After Charles IV
Charles IV was born to King John of the Luxembourg dynasty and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia of the Czech Premyslid Dynasty in Prague. He was originally named Wenceslaus (Václav), the name of his maternal grandfather, King Wenceslaus II. He chose the name Charles at his confirmation in honor of his uncle, King Charles IV of France, at whose court he was resident for seven years. He received French education and was literate and fluent in five languages: Latin, Czech, German, French, and Italian. In 1331, he gained some experience of warfare in Italy with his father. At the beginning of 1333, Charles went to Lucca (Tuscany) to consolidate his rule there. In an effort to defend the city, Charles founded the nearby fortress and the town of Montecarlo (Charles' Mountain). From 1333, he administered the lands of the Bohemian Crown due to his father's frequent absence and deteriorating eyesight. In 1334, Charles was named Margrave of Moravia, the traditional title for heirs to the throne. Tw...
On 11 July 1346, in consequence of an alliance between his father and Pope Clement VI, relentless enemy of the emperor Louis IV, Charles was chosen as Roman king in opposition to Louis by some of the prince-electors at Rhens. As he had previously promised to be subservient to Clement, he made extensive concessions to the pope in 1347. Confirming the papacy in the possession of vast territories, he promised to annul the acts of Louis against Clement, to take no part in Italian affairs, and to defend and protect the church. Charles IV was in a very weak position in Germany. Owing to the terms of his election, he was derisively referred to as a "Priests' King" (Pfaffenkönig). Many bishops and nearly all of the Imperial cities remained loyal to Louis the Bavarian. Worse still, Charles backed the wrong side in the Hundred Years' War, losing his father and many of his best knights at the Battle of Crécyin August 1346, with Charles himself escaping from the field wounded. Charles initially...
Having made good use of the difficulties of his opponents, Charles was again elected in Frankfurt on 17 June 1349 and re-crowned at Aachen on 25 July 1349. He was soon the undisputed ruler of the Empire. Gifts or promises had won the support of the Rhenish and Swabian towns; a marriage alliance secured the friendship of the Habsburgs; and an alliance with Rudolf II of Bavaria, Count Palatine of the Rhine, was obtained when Charles, who had become a widower in 1348, married Rudolph's daughter Anna. In 1350, the king was visited at Prague by the Roman tribune Cola di Rienzo, who urged him to go to Italy, where the poet Petrarch and the citizens of Florence also implored his presence. Turning a deaf ear to these entreaties, Charles kept Cola in prison for a year, and then handed him as a prisoner to Clement at Avignon. Outside Prague, Charles attempted to expand the Bohemian crown lands, using his imperial authority to acquire fiefs in Silesia, the Upper Palatinate, and Franconia. The...
In 1354, Charles crossed the Alps without an army, received the Lombard crown in St. Ambrose Basilica, Milan, on 5 January 1355, and was crowned emperor at Rome by a cardinal in April of the same year. His sole object appears to have been to obtain the Imperial crown in peace, in accordance with a promise previously made to Pope Clement. He only remained in the city for a few hours, in spite of the expressed wishes of the Roman people. Having virtually abandoned all the Imperial rights in Italy, the emperor re-crossed the Alps, pursued by the scornful words of Petrarch, but laden with considerable wealth. On his return, Charles was occupied with the administration of the Empire, then just recovering from the Black Death, and in 1356, he promulgated the famous Golden Bullto regulate the election of the king. Having given Moravia to one brother, John Henry, and erected the county of Luxembourg into a duchy for another, Wenceslaus, he was unremitting in his efforts to secure other terr...
His second journey to Italy took place in 1368, when he had a meeting with Pope Urban V at Viterbo, was besieged in his palace at Siena, and left the country before the end of 1369. During his later years, the emperor took little part in German affairs beyond securing the election of his son Wenceslaus as king of the Romans in 1376, and negotiating a peace between the Swabian League of Cities and some nobles in 1378. After dividing his lands between his three sons and his nephews, he died in November 1378 at Prague, where he was buried, and where a statue was erected to his memory in 1848. Charles IV suffered from gout(metabolic arthritis), a painful disease quite common in that time.
The reign of Charles IV was characterised by a transformation in the nature of the Empire and is remembered as the Golden Age of Bohemia. He promulgated the Golden Bull of 1356whereby the succession to the imperial title was laid down, which held for the next four centuries. He also organized the states of the empire into peace-keeping confederations. In these, the Imperial cities figured prominently. The Swabian Landfriede confederation of 1370 was made up almost entirely of Imperial Cities. At the same time, the leagues were organized and led by the crown and its agents. As with the electors, the cities that served in these leagues were given privileges to aid in their efforts to keep the peace. He assured his dominance over the eastern borders of the Empire through succession treaties with the Habsburgs and the purchase of Brandenburg. He also claimed imperial lordship over the crusader states of Prussia and Livonia.
Prague became the capital of the Holy Roman Empire during the reign of Charles IV. The name of the royal founder and patron remains on many monuments and institutions, for example Charles University, Charles Bridge, Charles Square. High Gothic Prague Castle and part of the cathedral of Saint Vitus by Peter Parler were also built under his patronage. Finally, the first flowering of manuscript painting in Prague dates from Charles' reign. In the present Czech Republic, he is still regarded as Pater Patriae (father of the country or otec vlasti), a title first coined by Adalbertus Ranconis de Ericinioat his funeral. Charles also had strong ties to Nuremberg, staying within its city walls 52 times and thereby strengthening its reputation amongst German cities. Charles was the patron of the Nuremberg Frauenkirche, built between 1352 and 1362 (the architect was likely Peter Parler), where the imperial court worshipped during its stays in Nuremberg. Charles's imperial policy was focused on...
Charles was married four times. His first wife was Blanche of Valois, (1316–48), daughter of Charles, Count of Valois, and a half-sister of Philip VI of France. They had three children: 1. son (b.1334), died young 2. Margaret of Bohemia (1335 - 1349); married Louis I of Hungary. 3. Catherine of Bohemia (1342–95); married Rudolf IV of Austria and Otto V, Duke of Bavaria, Elector of Brandenburg. He secondly married Anna of Bavaria, (1329–53), daughter of Rudolf II, Duke of Bavaria; they had one son: 1. Wenceslaus (1350–51). His third wife was Anna von Schweidnitz, (1339–62), daughter of Henry II, Duke of Świdnica and Katharina of Anjou (daughter of Charles I Robert, King of Hungary), by whom he had three children: 1. Elisabeth of Bohemia (19 April 1358 – 4 September 1373); married Albert III of Austria. 2. Wenceslaus (1361–1419); later elected King of Germany (formally King of the Romans) and, on his father's death, became King of Bohemia (as Wenceslaus IV) and Emperor-elect of the Ho...
Castles built or established by Charles IV. 1. Karlstein Castle, 1348–55 in Central Bohemian Region for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia, especially the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire (later the Czech Crown Jewelswere also kept there) 2. Kašperk Castle (Karlsberg), 1356 in Klatovy District 3. Lauf (Wenzelsburg) - built on the way connecting Prague and Nuremberg in Bohemian Palatinate, inside survived 112 coats of arms of the Czech Kingdom 4. Montecarloin Italy 5. Radyně (Karlskrone) – around 1360 in Plzeň Region 6. Hrádek u Purkarce(Karlshaus) - around 1357 7. Tepenec(Twingenberg, Karlsburg) 8. Karlsfried Castle
Other places named after Charles: 1. Karlštejncastle, Czech Republic 2. Karlštejn(town), Czech Republic 3. Charles Bridge, Prague (Karlův most) 4. Charles University, Prague (Karlova Univerzita) 5. Karlovy Varyspa, Czech Republic 6. Carlsbad(several places in the United States) 7. Charles Square, Prague (Karlovo náměstí) 8. Montecarlo (Charles' Mountain) fort and village in Italy 9. 16951 Carolus Quartus(an asteroid)
- Holy Roman Emperor
- Bohemian Cultural Revival
- Further Reading
In the mid-14th century the title of Holy Roman emperor was useful more for dynastic aggrandizement than as a sign of political power. The series of emperors from hitherto obscure families—Hapsburgs, Nassaus, Wittelsbachs, and Luxemburgs—who had held the title from 1273 had been elected precisely because they were unlikely to create a genuine imperial monarchy. The real power in the empire lay in the hands of the princes (the electors) who elected each emperor and in the hands of the other aristocrats and individual cities who vied with them for rights and privileges. The imperial title gave its holder only certain rights to appoint some kinds of officials, to issue some privileges, and to receive certain incomes from Italy and Germany. It also attracted dynastic jealousy and political opposition from those who feared too powerful or too ambitious an emperor. Charles faced the same problems as his predecessors: lack of an imperial administration or legal structure, lack of money, an...
The establishment of the house of Luxemburg on the Bohemian throne in the person of Charles's father, John, in 1310 had begun the rise of Bohemian power and prestige in Christendom. John, although away from Bohemia for the last 20 years of his life, had strengthened the power and, more importantly, the prestige of the Crown by his chivalrous adventures and by his judicious acquisition of territories for his kingdom. Charles's talent, administrative experience, papal connections, and genuine love for Bohemia led him to continue his father's policy. In 1348 Charles established the great University of Prague and, in the following years, rebuilt much of Prague, his capital, adding the famous New Town to the city by a spectacular bridge across the Vltava, and built the famous castle of Karlstein, from which he governed both empire and kingdom. Charles's patronage of learning and the arts resulted in the fertilization of native Bohemian culture with the work of artists and scholars brough...
The standard biography of Charles IV in English is Bede Jarrett, The Emperor Charles IV (1935). Another fullength study is Gerald G. Walsh, The Emperor Charles IV, 1316-1378: A Study in Holy Roman Imperialism (1924). There is a short account in the Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 3 (1932). Background works which include excellent studies of Charles IV are Denys Hay, Europe in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1966), and R. R. Betts, Essays in Czech History(1969). □
Charles IV was king of Bohemia and also the first Bohemian ruler to become Holy Roman Emperor. Born in Prague to King John of Luxembourg and Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, he belonged to the ‘House of Luxembourg’ from his father’s side and to the ‘House of Premyslid’ from his mother’s.