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Czech Republic : who was Charles IV, the Holy Roman Emperor ?

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There are the monuments of Prague that contribute to its architectural beauty, but there are also its descendants who have helped build and develop the Czech culture that we are fortunate to know today.

Numerous events have taken place there over the centuries, with a succession of more or less well-known leaders. In this article, we will talk about a famous king who reigned over Bohemia for three decades.

Who was Charles IV?

charles iv

This name must surely sound familiar and remind you of a certain king of France. Indeed, the name Charles IV was none other than the uncle and godfather of “Václav,” the future Charles IV, King of Bohemia. Václav decided, thanks to different alliances, to change his name at the time of his confirmation by the Church.

His education took place in France for seven years. It was strict for the young child but allowed him to master no less than five languages (Czech, French, Latin, German, and Italian), making him a very cultured child for his age.

His religious education was not neglected either, and the Pope of the time, John XXII, granted him his first marriage to Blanche de Vallois at the age of seven.

The Coronations of Charles IV

On November 26, 1346, at the age of 30, Charles IV acquired his first royal title with a coronation in Bonn as King of the Romans, where quarrels and conspiracies were rife. Barely a year later, his father, John of Luxembourg, also known as John the Blind, died in battle, allowing Charles IV to be crowned King of Bohemia on September 2, 1347.

Finally, a few years later, on Easter day, Charles IV had his last coronation on April 5, 1355, in Rome by a famous cardinal of the time (Pierre Bertrand the Younger) as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

In the span of nine years, Charles IV was crowned three times, increasing his influence on the European continent and asserting his authority over his people for 32 years.

Charles IV in Czech Culture

Thanks to his solid education acquired in France during his youth, Charles IV sought to develop an artistic and cultural side in Prague. This led to significant expansions of the city to accommodate several markets, such as the horse market, the hay market, and the livestock market.

Charles University

charles university

Charles IV was committed to providing higher education in his kingdom. That is why he founded the first university in the Germanic world in 1348, called “Charles University in Prague” now known as Charles University. Even today, this university has a worldwide reputation and welcomes many foreign students.

Karlštejn Castle

karlstejn castle

If you take the train from Prague to Pilsen, there is a good chance you will pass by a famous and renowned castle called Karlštejn, named after the village where it is located. Charles IV had it built the same year as Charles University.

Historians say it was built according to the plans of a French architect named Matthieu d’Arras. This castle served as an imperial residence, a resting place for the emperor, a reception venue for important visitors, and also as a storage place for precious relics and jewels of the Czech crown.

Wine from Mělník

melnik czech republic

Charles IV brought a famous Burgundy grape variety to Bohemia to cultivate local wine. You can still drink it today in the famous small town of Mělník, located an hour north of Prague. We invite you to read our dedicated article on Mělník wine to learn more about the subject.

Charles Bridge

charles bridge

Without a doubt, it is the most popular bridge in the capital, with construction starting in 1357. It was built to provide a direct link between Malá Strana and the Old Town.

Even today, it is unknown who the true architect of this globally renowned bridge was. It is also featured on our list of must-see monuments in Prague.

Charles IV, Pillar of Czech Culture and Tradition

Although he was the king of Bohemia nearly seven centuries ago, Charles IV contributed to the development and embellishment of the city of Prague throughout his life.

He constantly promoted progress in the city of a thousand spires and displayed a certain grandeur that is still visible to this day.