Read CHAPTER III of From a Terrace in Prague , free online book, by Lieut.-Col. B. Granville Baker, on ReadCentral.com.

Deals in order of seniority with two of the hills on which Prague stands. First in order, Vysehrad, with its memories of Libusa and her supernatural gift. Refers also to one Premysl, Libusa’s chosen consort, and the long line of rulers his descendants. Tells of how the foundations of the Hradsany were laid according to Libus’s instructions. Tries to describe the Hradsany as seen to-day, inadequately be it admitted, but illustrations are added in order to help the readers comprehension of this crowning glory of Prague. Tells a story or two about sentries, one of which at least is intended to thrill. There is also mention of one Czech, of his discovery of the hill rip. This chapter shows also how by degrees the descendants of Premysl emerged from the mist of legend with the dawn of Christianity over these Slavonic tribes.

Duke Mnata and his wife Strzezislava flit across the stage. Then we linger on Borivoj and note that German influence begins to make itself felt. St. Methodius is also mentioned, as is one Svatopluk, Prince of Moravia. Finally we arrive at properly authenticated Princes of Bohemia, each labelled and dated correctly, St. Wenceslaus and his brother Boleslav. Mentions also a saintly lady Ludmilla and her daughter-in-law Dragomira in vivid contrast. Family dissensions among the Premysls which lead to such unpleasant happenings as the murder of St. Ludmilla and the consequent banishment of Dragomira by her son Wenceslaus, of whom there is so much to relate that he is worthy to open a fresh chapter.

Let us lift up our eyes unto the hills, the hills on which stands Prague, and if help do not come at once we may at least hope for inspiration; the beauty of the scene alone assures us. Look out from your terrace of a morning, a cloudless morning of early summer, and gainsay it if you can. The town is extending considerably, growing up the distant slopes on the far side of the river and trickling down into the little valleys, but the general outline of Prague is much the same as it has been for centuries; the eternal hills may be scarred and patched by us who have here no “abiding city,” but they remain.

I have already mentioned the hills on which Prague was built, and had decided that they are five in number, not seven as is popularly alleged. I have counted those hills several times over, and make their number five, and quite sufficient too; another two hills would mar the composition. At the risk of repeating myself, I maintain that Prague can well afford to be original and forgo any imitation of other cities by insisting on standing on seven hills; a truly great city should not descend to servile flattery. Paris, for example, undoubtedly a great city, is quite content to stand on two hills, Montmartre and Montparnasse, the latter quite worn flat by the levelling tendencies of modern times.

It is now time that we delved down into the history of Bohemia, and in this we gain inspiration from the hills of Prague, the works of man that crown them and the traditions, legends, shreds of history that cling to them. Of these hills that of Vysehrad is entitled to hold seniority in the history of Prague. It takes a place somewhat akin to that held by the Capitoline Hill of Rome. It was from here that the city started, though this hill has little left of former grandeur and shows nothing to compare with Rome’s monuments to a glorious past. A crumbling block of masonry, the story of which is quite unknown, a round chapel dating from the days when Christianity was young among the Slavs and still found ready martyrs in its cause even among princes, and an enceinte of brick fortifications, stone-faced and in Vauban’s best style, battered by Frederick the Great’s guns, are all that Vysehrad has to show by way of relics of a stormy past.

Vysehrad is about the first striking view you obtain of Prague as the train de luxe brings you round a bend before crossing the railway bridge over the Vltava. Travellers seeing Prague for the first time are apt to mistake this hill of Vysehrad for the castle. I did so myself; my delight, therefore, at the first sight of Prague’s crowning glory, the Hradsany, was all the greater.

Seen against the evening sky, Vysehrad looks very imposing; it is at its best by winter twilight, when the heavy mass is dully reflected on the surface of the frozen river. Then you may gain some idea of what this rugged promontory stands for in the life-history of a race that has passed through great tribulation. Two Gothic spires point to the skies, rising from a church which, despite its newness, seems more in accord with the spirit of Prague than do the copper domes of Jesuit structures; but then this church is built on foundations so ancient as to defy investigation by the most assiduous chroniclers. No doubt those spires are right enough in their way, but they are almost painfully modern and unromantic compared to a square bit of crumbling masonry that clings limpet-like to the crags of Vysehrad overhanging the river at the feet of the twin church towers. For here, according to legend, is the cradle of the city of Prague. In popular parlance this bit of masonry is called Libusa’s bath, and hereby hangs a tale to introduce which we must hark back some fourteen centuries.

Some time in the sixth century nobody seems to know exactly or to care much when it was one Czech or Czechus was wandering about this land of Bohemia with a party of friends and relatives, probably a whole tribe of them. Czech seems to have had the country to himself; if he had met any strangers there would have been a fight, and we should have heard about it. It may therefore be assumed that the former occupants, probably lodgers only, had moved on. There was much movement going on in those early centuries of the Christian era, the main tendency being from north-east to south-west, from cold, damp and short-commons to warmth and plenty. Now we have sufficient reason to believe that Thuringians and Rugians abode for a while in Bohemia and parts of Bavaria, and Lombards in Moravia, and that these gentry, hearing of loot to be had in plenty farther south, left their temporary homes, crossed the Danube and made themselves unpopular elsewhere, leaving the lands of Bohemia and Moravia to anyone who cared to take them. This happened some time about the middle of the sixth century, which gives us something more definite to go upon as to Czech’s place in time. Anyway, there were Czech, his friends and relations wandering at their own sweet pleasure over the rolling wood-clad landscape of Bohemia. On this excursion Czech espied from afar a peculiar shaped hill (not one of the hills of Prague) to which he promptly gave the appropriate name of rip. Now this innocent-looking word is, by virtue of the sign placed over the R, pronounced in a peculiar manner; between the initial consonant and the “i” you should insert a sound somewhat like that of the French “j” as in “jamais,” for instance. Heaven and the Czechs only know what meaning you would convey did you neglect this euphonious concatenation of consonants and simply say “rip” probably something to cover the young person with confusion; but rightly pronounced, and with due regard to the soft but insistent sibilant, this mixture of sounds means toadstool. It is all so simple when once you know: rip = toadstool, and there you are. The description tallies too: the hill of rip does look like a toadstool; I have seen it myself, and am prepared to support Czech’s statement on oath. Anyway, rip stands there still, much the same as when Czech discovered it, but for a chapel dedicated to St. George on its summit, the result of some one else’s piety.

You can see rip for miles round, as it has chosen a fairly level plain out of which to arise much like a mushroom on the lawn after a rainy night. No wonder, then, that Czech made straight for rip, climbed to the top, looked around him, approved of what he saw, and decided to stay. He did, so did his friends and relatives and those that came after them, and no power on earth was able to shift them. The descendants of Czech are there still. One of these told me that the best and sturdiest type of Czech is bred round about rip; he was born thereabouts himself, and should know. I am prepared to believe it anyway, as my friend is certainly of the best and sturdiest type of Czech.

That much for Czech and his descendants; we must now skip a century or two which even Cosmas of Prague was unable to fill out with legend, and return to the lady whose bath I have already referred to. Not that I believe the ruined bits of wall to have contained a lady’s bathroom; I have tried to imagine Libusa using the place for the morning tub, and have failed to conjure up any picture that would carry conviction. However, I do not wish to prejudice the case; come out to Prague and judge for yourself.

Libusa was one of three sisters, daughters of Krok, Prince of Bohemia, or at least some part of it, for frontiers in those very early days were even more elastic than those drawn by International Commissions. Anyway, there was Krok lording it over as much of Bohemia as he could control, from his fastness of Vysehrad. Of Libusa’s sisters, Kazi and Teta, nothing but their names is known even in legend; they passed into oblivion on Krok’s demise, for he ordained that Libusa, his youngest daughter, should succeed him. Libusa, according to legend, was a model of all the virtues, and as in those days there was no ever-ready Press lurking to pounce on historical inaccuracies, we may accept the statement of kindly Saga.

Libusa had a rare gift, one which proved uncomfortable to other ladies of legend similarly endowed, uncomfortable both to themselves and their belongings, the gift of prophecy. She foretold the future greatness of Prague, and undoubtedly spotted a winner. This was not the only occasion either, for she did herself a good turn too by means of her supernatural power. As it happened, despite her possession of all the virtues, she had trouble with her subjects, who declared themselves weary of petticoat government and urged her to look round for a husband. She did, calling to aid her uncanny gift. The discussion with her subjects probably took place in the open, high up on Vysehrad. Libusa, with that far-away gaze proper to all soothsaying, pointed out over the distant hills, saying, “Behind those hills is a small river called Belna, and on its bank a farm named Stadic. Near that farm is a field, and in that field your future ruler is ploughing with two spotted oxen. His name is Premysl, and his descendants will rule over you for ever. Take my horse and follow it; you will be led to the place.”

The lady was not quite correct about Premysl and his descendants they have ceased to rule over the Czechs, and are now replaced by a sovereign people; but she certainly was right in her description of her future husband and his surroundings. The search party, following Libusa’s horse, found Premysl busy at his plough, roped him in and brought him to their Princess. Legend again asserts that Premysl made a first-class husband and ruler (he probably did exactly as his wife told him) and his descendants reigned with varying fortunes, until the first years of the fourteenth century a very good innings for the lineage of Premysl, the sturdy farmer, and that far-seeing lady Libusa, his wife. During those centuries the Czechs had consolidated into an important kingdom; from a misty chaos of heathen Slavonic tribes had grown a people brave and generous, with a culture all its own, and above all with a surpassing gift of expressing itself in music.

It must not be supposed that Libusa rested content with being wife to Premysl, just keeping house, mending clothes and minding the babies. She continued her activities as directress of her people’s fortunes, and is made responsible, among other matters, for choosing the site of the Hradsany, the Castle of Prague, and this is what the chronicler has to say about it.

One day as Libusa looked out from her fastness over the river towards the wooded heights to northward, she was moved by the gift of prophecy to which she was addicted when deeply stirred.

Her own abode, built by her father, hung upon that rocky crag called Vysehrad, and was probably by no means roomy; Krok, her father, had no doubt found it a convenient spot, being somewhat difficult of access in those days to armed visitors, who were likely to prove a disturbing element. The ancient Slav preferred to build in secluded spots, on heights amid forests for choice, there was so much to guard against in those dark ages, so the wooded heights that Libusa looked out upon must have appealed to her strongly. Anyway, she decided to act, prefacing action by some quite useful sooth-saying. According to the chronicler Cosmas of Prague, who lived three or four centuries after Libusa had passed away, the following impressive scene was enacted: Libusa, standing on a high rock on the Vysehrad in presence of her husband Premysl and the elders of the people, incited by the spirit of prophecy, uttered this prediction: “I see a town, the glory of which will reach the stars. There is a spot in the forest, thirty stades from this village which the River Vltava encircles, and which to the north the stream Brusnice secures by its deep valley; and to the south a hill, which from its rocks takes the name Petrin, towers above it. When you have reached this spot you will find a man in the midst of the forest, who is working at a door-sill for a house; even mighty lords bend before a low door. From this you shall call the town which you will build there ‘Praha.’” The elders did as they were bid, and so Prague arose. The Czech name is Praha, the derivation possibly from prah= door.

The Hradsany Hill was thus by Princess Libusa indicated as the pinnacle on which should rest for ever the glory of Prague and of Bohemia. Glory is a doubtful gift and costly, and the history of Prague shows clearly that this is true. No doubt work was started at once on a castle to crown the hill. Libusa probably saw to it that there was no time wasted. This would be some time about the middle of the eighth century, but history, as handed down from those days, is wrapped about with mystery and legend from the obscurity of which events gradually detached themselves. It was not till Christianity had got a firm hold of the Czech people that any half-way reliable records were kept.

We will take it for granted that it was Libusa who, with the seer’s eye penetrating the future, laid the foundations of that right royal pile, Prague’s crown of glory, the Hradsany. We have the authority of Cosmas for this; also Smetana composed an opera all about Libusa, so all our doubts are dispelled. We have noticed the site, and that it is admirably adapted to defence, a rocky eminence rising like a promontory above the broad Vltava, its steep sides falling down to the river on the eastern side, and to deep-cut valleys to north and south. The position offers a wide view over the rolling plains to westward. It was from this side chiefly that the attackers came Germans in the cause of the Holy Roman Empire, mercenaries of many nations that swelled the imperial hosts arrayed against Protestant Bohemia, marauding armies of Swedes, all these surged up against the walls and towers of Prague’s Royal Castle. They broke and passed away like the fleeting cloud shadows you may watch floating across the fields and wooded slopes of Jilove, cerny Kostelec and Zbraslav to the blue hills of Hradesin beyond. But the castle still stands a sentinel over ancient Prague.

It must have been a pleasant post, that of sentry upon a look-out tower of the Castle of Prague. What with the ever-changing beauty of the landscape and the chance of noticing a hostile force approaching with colours flying and spear-heads a-glitter in the sun, with, moreover, a prospect of a fight, a sentry’s life should have been a happy one. It would be expected of the sentry that he should not be so held by the fascination of the scene as to omit to report any unusual occurrence. I have known such a thing happen even to an otherwise well-regulated sentry. It was in Mandalay where from a wooden tower in the middle of Fort Dufferin a sentry held watch and ward over the town. One bright afternoon the town caught fire. The sentry was so much impressed by the grandeur of the scene that he quite forgot to report the matter, and a large part of the town was utterly destroyed. That man might have been qualified as an artist, an author or a poet; as a sentry he was disappointing.

There are no records of sentry yarns dating back to the really exciting times in the history of the Hradsany; I have discovered only one, and that of a comparatively recent date. The event narrated happened in the autumn of 1753 at 11 p.m. The sentry was a grenadier; please note the accuracy of detail which should dispel any doubt as to the truth of the story the grenadier touch is especially convincing. This grenadier, it would seem, was posted in the inner court of the castle, probably at the entrance to what is now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Propaganda (places of that kind want a deal of watching). The grenadier was probably as bored as any sentry can be up till midnight sharp, when things began to happen. First of all, the dark mass of the cathedral was suddenly brilliantly illuminated from within. Then from that little side entrance to the cathedral emerged a tall figure all in white. The sentry challenged, as a sentry should. No use. The tall figure strode up to the sentry, halted before him, cast a handful of corn at his feet and stalked back the way it came. Lights out!... The next night at the same hour the programme was repeated before a new sentry, also a grenadier: the former one had probably reported himself sick. On the second night the apparition cast down a handful of silver coin. The grenadier left them all lying on the ground this is the only part of the story that strikes me as weak. On the third night, the military being represented as before, the tall figure reappeared with commendable punctuality. On this occasion the management had arranged a display of moonlight in order to show up the pallid features, blood-stained clouts and other accessories suitable to a first-class apparition. Moreover, this being positively its last appearance in public, the tall figure spake: “1754 rich harvest, 1755 gold in plenty, 1756 blood in streams.” And so it happened. In the year 1754 there was a record harvest in Bohemia, the year 1755 brought considerable wealth into the country (the handful of silver was probably something on account), and in 1756 the Seven Years’ War broke out. So the story must be true, all except that little bit about the grenadier leaving all the silver lying on the ground.

We were really still watching the Hradsany grow out of Libusa’s prophecy. The chronicler left it to others to find out where the building stood for which the man in the forest was carpentering the door-sill as described by Libusa. That great lady simply said that the work was going on in the forest which surely extended down to the river-bank in those days. This may have encouraged the belief that the first house, built by Libusa herself, of course, stood somewhere below the Castle Hill it is said on the site of the old posting house, but some one obliterated all trace of it by erecting a church, dedicated to St. Procopius, above it, no doubt as part of the business of stamping out paganism. The Church of St. Procopius is no longer in evidence, and as there have been further additions and improvements to the quarter of Prague in question since the eighth century, it is now quite impossible, even to the liveliest imagination, to fix upon the spot where stood that first house. It does not matter very much either. The Hradsany itself is easily the most imposing and interesting sight which Prague has to offer.

The massive strength of the castle, the Hradsany, holds your gaze from whatever quarter of Prague you may happen to look out. The castle, as we know, has a hill to itself, up the sides of which rise clustering palaces, churches, convents and monasteries, buildings of grey stone and red-tiled roofs, standing amidst terraced gardens. In spring this ancient quarter decks itself with glorious apparel of white of cherry, pear and plum, with here and there the delicate pink of almond blossom; in winter, when the snow lies “smooth and crisp and even,” the scene is changed into a fairy network as of delicate lace on a foundation of grey and purple; in all seasons it is beautiful.

The first sight of the Hradsany conveys an impression of sheer strength, much as does Gibraltar; it also suggests a lion couchant but watchful and strong to protect the city at its feet; this effect is particularly noticeable from the Fuerstenberg garden. The beauty of this massive pile grows upon you gradually as you see it under the ever-varying atmospheric conditions of Prague. By all the canons of art the long straight lines of the Hradsany should be unlovely. The towers which broke those lines no longer stand out boldly as shown in old prints and engravings, at least on the townward side of the castle. They have been gradually merged into the general mass of the building as time and progress brought greater demands for living room and lessened the need of defensive measures. The straight outlines are still broken here and there by some trace of the ancient building showing through, a mullioned window, an old stack of chimneys, but on the whole, the mass by itself is heavy and uniform. Nevertheless, the general effect is splendid, whether you see this stately pile standing out strong and massive above the mist from the river or rising in tiers out of dimmed silvery greys against an evening sky all gold and emerald, or flushed with sunset scarlet. The crown of all this terraced glory is the great cathedral. A square massive tower stands up out of the body of the church. A purist may find fault with the mixture of styles this tower incorporates. The bulk of its structure is Gothic; at the base of the superstructure appears a nondescript medley of styles (nondescript at least in the eyes of a dilettante) out of which arises a concern of domes and cupolas one above the other, supported at each corner by little pinnacles crowned with onion-shaped tops. The copper coating of these domes and cupolas gives a distinctive touch of colour to the whole edifice of warm grey stone; this note of green you will find repeated elsewhere on the churches and other buildings of Prague, a piquant note but alien to the spirit of Prague both ancient and modern. There has been talk of removing the superstructure from the main tower of the cathedral and replacing it by a Gothic spire such as adorn the towers that flank the west front of the building, spires that gleam like lacework when standing out sunlit against dark banks of cloud. It were best to leave the superstructure of the main tower as it is; it marks an epoch and serves as reminder of a tyranny now overpast. The highest point of the main tower is not adorned with a usual emblem of our faith, a cross or a cock, but flaunts instead the “Lion of Bohemia” in all his rampant pride of a double tail. I shall have more to say about this wonderful heraldic animal on some future occasion; it is significant that this crest swings over the sacred fane where rest the remains of St. Wenceslaus, over the cradle of Bohemia’s religious life.

You will remember Libusa’s vision of an endless succession of little Premysls. She overrated Premysl a bit as a good wife should, for the Premysl dynasty ended abruptly with the murder of Wenceslaus III in 1306 at the hand of some unknown assassins at Olomouc, by the Germans called Olmuetz. Nevertheless, the family had had a good long spell of life and plenty to keep them busy during those six or seven centuries; it produced some very fine rulers; all honour to old farmer Premysl. The first eleven scions of that line are very faint figures; they are not even dated; only a few of them show more than a shadowy outline in the mist of legend and dawning history. Of these early rulers there is echo of one Mnata, who is said to have built the first stone house on the Hradsany for his wife Strzezislava. I wonder what he called her for short? Strz sounds a bit abrupt, Slava is too general among Slavonic people: perhaps he called her Cissie. Strzezislava is certainly too rich for ordinary household use. Cosmas passes by this point in silence, which is a pity; it is just those intimate little touches that foster pleasant social relations and justify the chronicler’s attitude of omniscience; our illustrated Press has reached perfection in that line. Mnata and Strzezislava flit across the stage and pass into oblivion without the benefit of gramophone and cinema. Then emerges one Borivoj, first of that name, who stands out more distinctly against the background of misty legend, probably by reason of his having embraced Christianity; he also embraced a lady, Ludmilla, who became his wife and one of Bohemias moat popular saints and patrons. It happened that Borivoj had occasion to ask his neighbour Svatopluk, Prince of Moravia, for protection, and then he became acquainted with that energetic missionary, St. Methodius. Unhappily we have no precise information concerning date and place of this picturesque event. The chronicler has done his best by giving the following story to fill up the blank. He narrates that Borivoj was not allowed to sit at table with Svatopluk, but was given a low stool apart, as being unfit to associate with Christian company. This is what the Christian chronicler says, and he made it his business to bear testimony on all occasions. It is, however, quite conceivable that Borivojs manners were not up to refined Moravian form. Anyway, Borivoj allowed himself to be converted, and as there is no mention of his table manners we may assume that he reached the required standard.

After all, manners are a matter of relativity, and not so long ago, somewhere about 1700, the Austrian Court found it necessary to issue a handbook thereon, in which guests bidden to the imperial banquets were requested not to throw their chicken bones under the table, it made so much extra work for the servants. There is quite a modern touch about this.

With all the fervour of a convert, Borivoj set about the salvation of his people from heathen darkness. I have sought diligently for some records of the beliefs held by this branch of the Slavonic race. There is no evidence of any deities of strong if unpleasant personality, such as that obstinate, one-eyed Wotan, or that destructive bully Thor, whose brutality coloured German mentality down to most recent days, and seems to do so still. Neither seem those Slavs to have been subject to visitations in their homes by such doubtful characters as Hermes, nor was their sense of propriety outraged by the “carryings on” of Zeus. No doubt they had some benign deity, and also a malignant, jealous one, no western creed is complete without the latter at least, if only for the benefit of the priests, but they have left no trace on a people that has suffered so much from the wickedness and stupidity of their human oppressors. The western Slavs in general and the sons of Czech in particular, had their flights of fairies, sprites, pixies and other lovable immortals. They are here still; even I, a stranger, claim to have heard them in “den heiteren Regionen, wo die reinen Formen wohnen,” on the sun-kissed snow of the mountains, in the whispering voices of the forest and the song of the burn in the glen. A sight of these benign beings has been denied me for this I make the heavy cuisine of Bohemia responsible; but their spirit lives on and informs the sons of Czech in the realm of the spirit, in art and poetry, above all in music.

Borivoj plunged into Christianity with enthusiasm; he is known to have built a church at Levy Hradec, and is said to have laid the foundations of another on the Castle Hill. It appears, however, that the pace he set was rather too hot for his people; they raised a deal of trouble, and Borivoj had to call in the German King Arnulf to help in restoring order. This step did not bring unmixed blessings; it gave the Germans an excuse for interfering in Bohemian affairs. Now Arnulf was a Carolingian, of bastard blood indeed, but nevertheless under the Holy Roman Empire obsession, and therefore convinced of the German right to round up all Christian countries into that Empire. In this action of Borivoj we see the first instalment of the endless trouble caused by the obsession which originated with Charlemagne as mentioned in the first chapter. Moreover, this German intervention gave to the inhabitants of Bohemia their first experience of religious dissension. Their first contact with Christianity brought them the choice of rival liturgies, the Latin as favoured by the Germans with their “Holy Roman” idea, and the Slavonic which St. Methodius had introduced. So Christianity in Bohemia began with an exhibition of divergent religious views, which may account for a good deal of the suffering brought upon this country for its own salvation and its neighbours’ benefit.

Borivoj’s successors, Spytihnev I and Vratislav I, were kept so busy guarding their country against Magyar inroads that it seems they had no time to worry about religious differences. Neighbour Svatopluk’s extensive empire had fallen to pieces owing to the quarrels of his sons and under Magyar aggression; this gave Spytihnev the opportunity of freeing himself from the supremacy of Moravia which Borivoj had accepted in return for assistance rendered him by Svatopluk and the Slavonic liturgy thrown into the bargain. This, again, brought the Germans nearer to Bohemia, as neither Spytihnev nor Vratislav were strong enough to stand alone. As politics and Church worked hand in hand in those days, the Germans imposed the Bishop of Ratisbon, and with him the Latin liturgy, on Bohemia, whereas such Slavs as had taken to Christianity at all were rather inclined to the other version. This must have caused a good deal of trouble, so it is not to be wondered at if the rulers of Bohemia recalled happier, simpler days. There came a certain reaction in the affairs of the Premysl family. We have noted the saintly lady Ludmilla, wife of Borivoj, the first Christian Prince of Bohemia. Ludmilla was very pious indeed; you will find frescoes illustrating her good deeds, adorning the walls of Karlov Tyn (Karlstein), a fine old castle of which I will tell you more by and by. It is quite impossible to be so picturesquely good and pious as was Ludmilla, in these days of mail-orders, wholesale departments, banking accounts and cheque-books. There was another lady of the Premysl family, and she, according to all accounts, was neither good nor pious. She was a reactionary, a thorough-paced pagan, and it was this lady who caused trouble in the household. The lady’s name was Dragomira; she had married Borivoj’s second son, and had been left a widow with three sons. This did not have the usual soothing effect upon the lady. Dragomira, as regent during the minority of her sons, had revived paganism, and this brought her into conflict with the German King, Henry the Fowler. Pious Ludmilla, Dragomira’s mother-in-law, was much upset about this conflict, for with all her good works she found time to take an active interest in foreign politics. Here were all the elements of a hearty family row; in addition, Dragomira’s sons took different sides: Wenceslaus with his grandmother Ludmilla, Boleslav the younger with his pagan mother. The chronicler sides entirely with Ludmilla and Wenceslaus in his narrative of the domestic dissensions of the Premysl family. He shows no sympathy for the other side, does not realize that Dragomira must have got very weary of her mother-in-law’s piety and annoyed at that lady’s interference in the education of her sons. There is a great deal to be said for Dragomira’s point of view, and it is a pity that her remarks on the rival Christian liturgies, Latin and Slavonic, have not been handed down to us. Dragomira certainly carried matters too far when she strangled Ludmilla with her own veil one evening in chapel; she made the mistake of furnishing the other side with a first-class saint and royal martyr.

Wenceslaus, the pious elder son, was extremely annoyed at this open demonstration of family discord. Dragomira was sent into exile; her name was never mentioned again. The treatment meted out to his mother made of young Boleslav a more determined pagan than he was before; he sat up at night hatching heathen plots against brother Wenceslaus. Boleslav’s reincarnation is probably to be found among international financiers of the present day. The result of his machinations must be told in a fresh chapter.