Wenceslas IV of Bohemia (26 February 1361 – 16 August 1419) was King of Bohemia and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire until his deposition in 1400.

Codex Entry

26.2.1361 — 16.8.1419

Wenceslas IV of Luxembourg was the son of the highly successful monarch Charles IV. He inherited the Bohemian throne and attained the German crown by election. However, he did not inherit his father's predisposition for ruling. Already during his lifetime he was known for being a weak, idle and moody ruler who was afflicted with many ailments, as well as difficulties meeting his royal obligations, despite the fact that he had been groomed for rule since early childhood (he was crowned Bohemian King at the age of only two years). He was more interested in hunting, alcohol, courtesans and pleasures of the court.

During his time as king, the lands of the Bohemian Crown underwent several wars and conflicts involving his relatives — his own brother Sigismund and his cousins, the Moravian Margraves. The event that triggered the Margraviate Wars was that Wenceslas occupied the vacated estates of the Olomouc Archdiocese, which by law belonged to the nobles.

Under the leadership of Jobst, the Moravian lords joined with Sigismund in open revolt against the King, which had less to do with the Olomouc estates than with the legitimacy of the rule of Wenceslas, who in the meantime had been stripped of the Imperial Crown by the imperial electors for his incompetence and unwillingness to rule. Later he also lost the power of the Bohemian Crown, when he made numerous concessions and awarded the nobles many privileges, de facto transferring the ruling power to them. His unwillingness to meet obligations resulted in his abduction twice (thereby removing him from the throne) — first in 1394 by the Czech nobles and then in 1402 by his brother Sigismund.

Wenceslas initially supported the reform proposals of Jan Hus and his adherents, but he did nothing to save the reformer's life when he was sentenced to be burned at the stake by the Church. He thus set in motion what was later to become the largest (and only more or less successful) popular revolt in Europe — the Hussite Wars. However, he did not live to see these events, since he died in 1419. After his death, his brother Sigismund of Hungary seized the crown - but he had to fight for it, since not everyone acknowledged his claim, and once he had the crown he did not live to enjoy it for long.