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Cosmas of Prague on Wiprecht of Groitzsch

As a result of his marriage to Judith, daughter of Duke/King Vratislav of Bohemia, Wiprecht of Groitzsch was sometimes involved in internal Czech politics.  He or his son thus appear in the Chronicle of the Czechs (Chronica Boemorum) as several key points.

These are listed below.  Note that while Cosmas and the Deeds of Wiprecht offer accounts of the same events, they do not agree.  We make no effort here to resolve those discrepancies.


1088: An exiled Czech noble approaches Wiprecht to act as mediator with this father-in-law Vratislav, a request Wiprecht deflects. (Beneda is subsequently killed by the Czech king.)

“1088. In the same times in which these deeds were reported, there was a certain warrior, who had the name Beneda, a high-spirited youth with an exceptional body, such that he was the equal of Hector in beauty and Turnus in arms. He was the son of Jurata, whose first ancestor was Taz. Having offended the king then (I do not know for what reason), he fled to Poland, where he was made a warrior of Lady Judith, wife of Duke Władysław. Returning from Poland after two years had passed, Beneda approached Wiprecht, King Vratislav’s son-in-law, asking that he might be able to return him to his lord’s original favor by his good word. But since this Wiprecht was a man very discerning in all matters (who also did not wish to offend his father-in-law in any way), he advised Beneda that he would be safer in the meantime with the bishop of Meissen, named Benno, and to secure him as his intercessor.”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 166-67.


1099 [before 28 February]: Wiprecht advises Duke Břetislav II of Bohemia on the selection of a new bishop of Prague.

“Thus he summoned Wiprecht, his brother-in-law through his sister, a wise man, well versed and shrewd in such matters, and said to him: “In the days of my father, King Vratislav, you were always first among his friends at court. You have observed the ways and life of the Czechs. You have come to know not only all the laymen but even the clergy inside and out. I want your advice now to choose a bishop.” To this the hero responded in his own words, not inappropriately: “At the time when your father the king still flourished,” Wiprecht said, “he valued my counsel. Now men of such character live, who consider themselves to be something when they are nothing, and whom the counsel of no one pleases except what they themselves know. But you know better. And you know that in this holy matter, those who consider the benefit of the holy church ought to be free of anger and hatred, of mercy and friendship. For where these things stand in the way, human opinion deceives the mind. Friendship does not bind me to anyone, nor does it overthrow mercy, stir up hatred, or ignite ire. For which reason, I should speak less before you about what the order of justice demands. A man named Hermann, known better to you than to us, is now your chaplain, as he was your father’s. He was always constant in the king’s service, faithful in the matters entrusted to him, a trustworthy executor of embassies to be carried out, chaste, sober, humble and kind, not violent, not ambitious, not haughty, and—what is the primary virtue in a cleric—he is especially learned. And insofar as one looks to human opinion, he is perceived to be a good man and brought to perfection if this one thing is not held against him: that he is a foreigner.” The duke, astonished at the unanimity of his own will and Wiprecht’s, said: “Your heart and mine hardly think differently. Because he is a foreigner, this will profit the church more. His kin will not exhaust it, the care of his freemen will not burden it, a crowd of his relatives will not despoil it. Whatever he brings from wherever he comes from, his bride and mother church will have the whole of it. Therefore I order that he be bishop of Prague.’”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 189-90.


1106:  Wiprecht conveys Henry IV from Bavaria to the Rhineland after the king’s retreat from battle against his son at Regensburg:

“Receiving him honorably, Duke Bořivoj gave him safe conduct through his land in the direction of Saxony, as the caesar himself had arranged, leading him to his brother-in-law Wiprecht. From that point, crossing both Saxony and the Rhine, he came to Liège.”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 203.


1109 (after 29 September): Wiprecht shelters and supports Bořivoj, former duke of Bohemia, in the succession crisis that followed the assassination of Duke Svatopluk.

“When Bořivoj heard that his younger brother Vladislav had obtained the throne of the realm after the death of Svatopluk, coming down from Poland without delay, he went to Sorbia, to Wiprecht, his brother-in-law through this sister. Relying on Wiprecht’s counsel and aid, and also on the promised support of certain perfidious men of ours, he entered the burg of Prague with day dawning on the vigil of the Lord’s Nativity and no one resisted him—alas, to the ruin and impoverishment of many.”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 216.


1109: Wiprecht further implicated in machinations concerning the Czech throne and Henry V, at odd with Wiprecht at the time.

“Meanwhile, Duke Vladislav had long since dispatched Comites Hermann and Sežima to King Henry, who was by chance celebrating the next Christmas in Bamberg. Promising him five hundred marks of silver, Vladislav humbly asked that Henry see fit—either by himself or through his messengers—to restore to him the duchy taken by his brother Bořivoj, at the instigation of Wiprecht. Although at that time the king was very angry with Wiprecht, nevertheless he burned more with love for the suggested payment.”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 221.


November 1123: Appointed Margrave [of Lusatia] by Henry V, Wiprecht and his Czech allies face armed opposition from Lothar and other Saxons, but battle is avoided.

“Just as the year was ending, the last offshoot of Margrave Dedo having been rooted out by fate, Emperor Henry IV [V], considering the margravate of this Dedo lacking an heir, put it under the power of Wiprecht. But there was in Saxony a certain man named Conrad, born from the tribe of this same Dedo and to whose hand that margravate pertained by law. For this reason Duke Lothar and other Saxons, truly indignant, started a war against the emperor and in opposition to Wiprecht.

At this time, Duke Vladislav and Otto, as the emperor had commanded them, crossed the forest with a combined army from both Bohemia and Moravia. They set up camp beyond the fortress of Gvozdec, opposite Duke Lothar. The archbishop of Mainz and Comes Wiprecht stood on the near side of the River Mldava with a heavily armed throng. Positioned in the middle, between the two camps, the Saxons separated them and simultaneously prevented their adversaries from uniting.

The duke of Bohemia and Otto then sent a message to the Saxons, saying: ‘We did not take up arms against you out of arrogance. We came in aid of the archbishop of Mainz and Comes Wiprecht, by the order of the emperor. Yet since they, who ought to be here and to join the first battle, are not here, cede the place to us alone so that we might have the opportunity to go home. In other words, it will seem that you have ceded and we have stood fast, and that we waited for them in the agreed-upon place.’ Duke Lothar responded to this, saying: ‘I am amazed that you, prudent men, do not discern by your wits the manifest deception by which you, brought into this without cause, have taken up arms against us innocents. Do you think any of the counsels of Archbishop Adalbert of Mainz are free of deception? Have you not yet experienced enough of his Attican prudence? Another Ulysses indeed, Wiprecht, who was educated around the footstool of this same archbishop, is well known to you. Why did they not come themselves to greet us, we who would gladly have greeted them back? But it is safer to wait from afar than to join in war with a force, and to join one’s own advantage to another’s disadvantage. Certainly anyone can see, even through bleary eyes, what they plot with their deception. They know and are well aware that, even if you are victorious, it will not be possible to conquer the Saxons without great damage to you; on the other hand, if we are able to prevail mightily, they will more easily be able invade Bohemia, widowed of her defenders. This is what the emperor wants; this is what the Archbishop of Mainz counsels. Your brother-in-law Wiprecht is always friendly with the Czechs. Your brother Soběslav, whom Wiprecht recently drove into Poland by a ruse, at your wish, will not be trusted by me further unless he quickly returns to that same Wiprecht. You should know that we are more ready to engage in battle than to cede this place to you.’ Having heard all this and wrongly trusting in these words composed with deception, the Czechs plundered the region around the burg of Meissen and returned home, with the sun tarrying in the sixth part of Sagittarius [24 November].”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 239-41.


1124 [ca. May]: Wiprecht dies.

“At this time, Wiprecht, the son-in-law of King Vratislav, died (about whom we made suffcient mention above). Seeing this, Soběslav [Vratislav’s youngest son]—because fortune and the king’s wealth helped his elder brother more—turned in the direction of Wiprecht’s son, his relative through his sister, whom he consoled about the death of his father.”

Cosmas of Prague, The Chronicle of the Czechs, trans. Lisa Wolverton (UPenn, 2009), 243.