Who was Good King Wenceslas?

Good King Wenceslas is the name of a Christmas carol. The lyrics tell the story of Good King Wenceslas going out in the cold weather to help a poor person on the Feast of Stephen.

The character in the carol is based on a real person – Wenceslaus I, a 10th century Duke of Bohemia.

Here are some facts about Good King Wenceslas.

  • Wenceslaus was brought up in a Christian household – his grandmother took care of him following his father’s death in 921.
  • Wenceslaus has been described as being well-educated and intelligent.
  • It is thought that Wenceslaus was killed by a group of noblemen led by his younger brother, Boleslav.
  • A cult of Wenceslas began soon after his death and the Good King was thought of as a martyr.
  • Legend states that Wenceslas gave alms to the poor and needy every night, walking in bare feet with only one his men accompanying him.
  • Armour worn by Wenceslas can be seen on display in Prague Castle.
  • The Good King Wenceslas carol was written by John Mason Neale. It was possible based on a Czech poem.
  • One legend from the Czech republic tells of a huge army under Blanik mountain, who will rise up and fight for the Czech people when they most need help. The army will be led by Wenceslas.

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