Wenceslaus and Wren

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King Wenceslaus II of Poland and Bohemia (27 September 1271–21 June 1305), drawn by Aleksander Lesser

Wenceslaus is the English and Latinized form of Veceslav, a Czech and Slovakian name which means “more glory.” The modern, contracted form is Václav, with a variant of Věnceslav. The Polish form is Wacław (older form Więcesław), the Bulgarian form is Ventseslav, the Russian and Ukrainian form is Vyacheslav, the Spanish form is Venceslás, the Italian form is Venceslao, the Romanian form is Veaceslav, the Hungarian form is Vencel, and the German form is Wenzeslaus (older form Wenzel).

Wenceslaus is mentioned in a bad light in Canto VII of Purgatorio, and held up as an example of a crappy king in Canto XIX of Paradiso. He was still alive during Dante’s otherworldly journey in 1300, though had passed on by the time Dante actually began writing his beautiful poem.

Wenceslaus, part of the Přemyslid Dynasty, was the fourth and youngest legitimate child of King Ottokar II, and the only surviving son. His mother was Queen Kunigunda, who was part of Russia’s Ryurikovich Dynasty on her father’s side. Shortly before his seventh birthday, his father passed away. Before Wenceslaus was old enough to rule in his own right, Margate Otto V of Brandenburg–Salzwedel and then his stepfather Záviš of Falkenštejn governed the kingdom.

At age thirteen, on 24 January 1285, Wenceslaus married Judith of Habsburg, daughter of King Rudolf I of Germany, to whom he’d become betrothed in 1276. In 1290, Wenceslaus had his stepfather beheaded for supposed treason and took the throne in his own right.

Under his rule, the empire expanded from the Baltic Sea to the Danube, important cities such as Plzeň were founded, the penny of Prague currency was created, Bohemia became Europe’s largest producer of silver, and the crowns of Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary were won. There was also great urban development, and he planned to build Central Europe’s first university.

Wren is obviously after the English word for the small songbird, derived from the Old English wrenna. I’m quite partial to Nature names, as long as they’re not too outlandish. Bird names as people names are kind of hit-or-miss, but I’ve always really liked the name Wren. It’s so sweet and simple, though perhaps works better as a middle name.

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2 comments on “Wenceslaus and Wren

  1. I’m always liked Wren, too. Obviously, Wenceslas the Second wasn’t the “Good King Wenceslas” from the carol. Given that Dante dislikes him so. 🙂

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