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Charles IV. (Karel IV.)

Charles IV. (Karel IV.)

On Friday, May 14, Charles IV. would celebrate his 705 birthday. Why was this ruler so important to our history? How is it possible that every Czech knows him and even those who don’t like history very much? Here’s the answer.

Charles was the son of the Czech queen Elisabeth of Premyslids and king John from the Luxembourg dynasty. He was one of the most important rulers of the High Middle Ages. He was extraordinarily educated and intelligent, fluent in five languages (French, German, Czech, Latin and Italian). He was a great diplomat and tried to maintain good relations with the surrounding countries. His 4 marriages also helped him with that.

He was the first Czech king who also became emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and was the last crowned king of Burgundy.

As a child, he was sent to France for upbringing, where he was married to Blanka of Valois at the age of seven.
After Blanka’s death, he married 3 more times. Each of these marriages brought him another territory, property, but also a strong position in Europe. During his reign, Bohemia and especially Prague were the center of Europe.

Painting of the Charles IV. from 1371

Among his most important achievements are the founding of Charles University in 1348. Furthermore, the construction of Charles Bridge which began in 1357, the construction of Karsltejn Castle, the founding of the New Town of Prague and last but not least the spa town of Karlovy Vary.

Karlstejn Castle.
Karlovy Vary.
The building on the right is the original part of Charles University in Prague.

As you can see, Charles IV. was really the king with a big K. This has also been proven by a poll from 2005, when the Czechs voted for the greatest personality in the history of our country. And guess who won – CHARLES IV.

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