Beloved Holy Roman Emperor – King Charles IV

King Charles the IV’s in Prague

Father of the Homeland, Holy Roman Emperor, The Greatest Czech – these honorable titles give us a glimpse of just how much the people of Czech love King Charles the IV. What’s not to love? After all, Prague became the center of politics, economics, and culture under his rule. Today, we see his legacy in Prague and the rest of Czech.

A quick Biography of the Beloved King of Czech King Charles the IV

King Prague monument
King Prague monument

When King Charles the IV was born in 1316, he was first named Václav in honor of King Wenceslas, whose line his mother Eliška Přemyslovna descended from. He later changed his name, preferring to be named after Charles the Great to emphasize his affinity to his father’s ancestry. Being the eldest son of John of Luxembourg, King Charles the IV was the heir to their county and also eventually the throne as King of Bohemia.

When the Emperor was 7 years old, he was sent to France to receive proper education at the French court. During his stay in the country, he met friends who later became instrumental to his coronation as king. This included the man who eventually became Pope Clement VI. It was also in France where he married his first wife, Blanch of Valois.

In 1333, Charles IV of Prague returned to Bohemia. He was appointed as the Margrave of Moravia and tasked to administer the Czech Kingdom. In 1341, he was recognized as the heir to the crown, but it wasn’t until 1346 when he inherited the title King of Bohemia. In 1355, he was also formally instated as the Holy Roman Emperor.

By the time he died in 1378, he had achieved many feats that made Prague one of the most developed cities in Europe.Now you may be curious as to who ruled after Charles IV? His son from his last wife, Sigismund of Luxembourg succeeded the famous King after his death at the age of 62.

The Legacy of Emperor Charles IV

Now, you may be asking, what did Charles IV do? Why does he remain so popular, even though he lived over 600 years ago? Among the most notable contributions of Charles IV to Prague was its promotion from a bishopric to an archbishopric in the 14th century. In that same year, he also initiated the construction of Saint Vitus Cathedral to serve as the new seat for the archbishop. He achieved this as the administrator of the Czech kingdom years before he was crowned as the head of the Holy Roman Empire. This showed early on his capabilities to lead and govern a nation. 

Another church was built under King Charles the IV leadership. The Church of the Lady of Snow was established as the new coronation church. It was also during this time that the first Benedictine monastery, the Emmaus Monastery, was built in Prague.

After his Czech royal coronation in 1347, King Charles the IV strove to transform Prague into a new Jerusalem. In 1348, the New Town was founded and built at an outstanding pace. The area developed was three times larger than the Old Town and remains a central district in Prague today.

Even beyond Prague, several places are still celebrated in honor of him. These include the spa city of Karlovy Vary, his favorite place of rest at the Karlštejn Castle, the Lauf castle near Nuremberg, and the medieval city of Montecarlo.

Sites Named After King Charles the IV in Prague

With his vast contributions to the great progress of Prague, it comes to no surprise that landmarks are named after him. When in the City of Spires, make sure to visit these three places and other sites named after King Charles the IV.

Charles University

Before Charles IV of Prague became king, those who wanted higher education in the country had to go to England, Italy, France, or Spain. To make higher learning more accessible, he founded Charles University in 1348. From its original four faculties of theology, law, arts, and medicine, it now has 17 faculties spread across various buildings throughout Prague.

Nestled in the heart of Central Europe, the university in Central Europe stands as a testament to the rich historical tapestry of the region. Amidst the stunning backdrop of Prague Castle and the awe-inspiring St. Vitus Cathedral, this institution has witnessed the passage of time and the echoes of remarkable events. It was under the patronage of the House of Luxembourg that Charles IV of France, a visionary Bohemian king, embarked on a transformative journey of enlightenment. As the tumultuous Battle of Crécy raged on, Charles IV’s ties with his cousin Philip VI of France were strained, yet his dedication to his Bohemian realm remained unwavering. Against this backdrop, amidst the grandeur of St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles was crowned King of Bohemia, forever intertwining his legacy with the intricate threads of Central European history.

Charles Bridge

The famous Charles Bridge, Prague
The famous Charles Bridge, Prague

When Judith Bridge was swept away by a flood, a new stone bridge was erected in its place. Named the Charles Bridge, it is now one of the oldest preserved stone bridges in the city and is also among the most visited monuments in the entire country. The construction of Charles Bridge to honour the famous King Charles the IV took well 45 years, but it is still an amazing feat that stands strong till date, considering the technological limitations during that time.

Charles Square

Prague, Czech Republic - 6 September 2019 Old town square in Prague with the astronomical clock tower
Prague, Czech Republic 6 September 2019: Old town square in Prague with the astronomical clock tower

Called by locals as Karlovo náměstí, this large medieval square is at the heart of New Town. This is where you will find among the oldest buildings in Prague such as the New Town Hall, the Church of St. Ignatius, and the Faust House. The square also has a small park dotted with sculptures of famous Czechs.

Discover King Charles the IV’s Legacy Through Walking Tours

One of the best ways to learn more about King Charles and his legacy is to join walking tours. While you can easily explore Prague on your own, guided tours give you that little bit of extra insight into the history and culture of the city. You’re bound to learn some interesting tidbits from the guides that you might not otherwise find out on your own.

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