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The Deeds of Wiprecht


Among other conversations with the duke, he said, 'I confess that I cannot wonder enough that you—such a great man, of such great title and power—bear with equanimity the loss and rejection of the royal title and authority. What is apparent enough is this: that counts and magnates, endowed with great power and honour, keeping faith and homage to your predecessors under oath, refuse to be subjected to your rule. I will demonstrate how unbecoming and unsuitable this should seem. I remember that a certain one of your predecessors was called "Buogo." I would not say counts or others powerful by virtue of nobility and wealth, but rather dukes and margraves, were fighting for his principate. He, having attained the rule and royal title, extended his empire into the province of the Seringi. Thus he shone forth more famous and more excellent than other princes who were equally powerful. Wherefore, if you should desire to restore the royal title’s loss, consider now to be the opportune time. The disordered res publica will provide a useful and effective opportunity. To the extent I will be able, I too am ready with both aid and counsel.' Having followed up on these things and others, the duke made it known that he judged them advantageous and promised Wiprecht that he was ready to comply in everything.
At that time, war and the greatest dissension arose between King Henry [IV], the son of the aforesaid Emperor Henry [III], and the Saxons, such that people despaired it could not be settled without bloodshed (perish the thought!). The emperor had in mind to make an expedition into Lombardy and Italy—and to avoid the turbulent faction of Saxons at the same time. Wiprecht therefore judged this to be a convenient time to complete the business that he had in mind. He went to the emperor, taking with him a few of his own men. Wiprecht promised that he was ready to set out with him for revenge against the enemies of the res publica with sixty of his own milites and their military equipment—even fighting at their own expense—on this condition, however: if the royal magnificence and the other leading men should judge him indispensable to the res publica, the emperor by his munificence would restore to Wiprecht every loss recently incurred by him in the Eastern region and would reward his allegiance. The princes and the emperor himself joyfully accepted these things. At this, after Wiprecht had obtained everyone’s goodwill, he judged the time favourable for him to disclose the reason why he had come. He declared himself ready to do not only these things for the benefit of the res publica, but even better things if the emperor and the princes would assent to his advice. Without delay, the emperor declared himself ready to offer his assent. Wiprecht suggested to him that it would do utterly no harm to the imperial dignity, but rather benefit it, if he would allow Duke Vratislav of Bohemia [to be made] into a king and would order him crowned. The duke would also weigh out four thousand talents for the royal treasury, and moreover would send his son with three hundred armed men on the expedition to Italy with the emperor. But the emperor, because his mind was already wavering about the disorder of the state of the res publica, was debating whether to refuse these men and demand those. After Wiprecht gave an oath that he would carry out the expedition with sixty milites, all the princes stood forth as sureties of the royal promise: if Wiprecht should match his deeds to his words, he would obtain from the emperor recompense, in dignities and benefices, worthy of him in every way and as might befit imperial magnificence—both for what great labour he might do in his service (voluntarily and beyond what was owed to him) and as a reward for the loyalty he was extending verbally. Dismissed by the king and the princes with this promise and a formal farewell, Wiprecht then returned to Vratislav in Bohemia. He made known what things the duke should carry out for the recovery of his dignity and his title: that he should dispatch four thousand marks of silver to the emperor and thirty pounds to the empress, and also that he should send his son Bořivoj with three hundred milites to Italy. Wiprecht persuaded him with splendid reasoning. So Wiprecht came to the court at Würzburg. At this court, after the princes had solemnly come together from everywhere (except the Saxons), the duke of Bohemia arrived, surrounded by magnates, the most excellent he had; Wiprecht led the way with the indicated quantity of treasure. Then, with the emperor granting it and the princes' judgment agreeing, Vratislav was raised up through royal consecration by the archbishop of Mainz and the bishops of Constance and Würzburg. After that, he swore an oath that he would send three hundred milites on the expedition, as had been agreed upon. Then the duke turned to Wiprecht and vigorously begged that he travel with his son. Wiprecht responded that this was not at all new to his solemn promise, since, for his own part, he had also sworn it to the emperor. Nevertheless, Vratislav brought it about that, with the king deciding it, Wiprecht would be permitted to always be next to his son’s tents. Thus, for certain, Wiprecht would be Bořivoj’s inseparable companion and partner. The duke sought this from the king, and it was decided. Then, he obtained permission from the king to return home, not forgetting his promise after the recovery of his honour. Back home, before everyone, Vratislav summoned Wiprecht, a man loyal and familiar to him, and entrusted his son to Wiprecht’s loyalty along with three hundred milites, generously and suitably readied with all their military equipment, together with money for expenses. He sent Wiprecht with them to augment the royal army.
[Here follow the entire Italian Campaign and Lion sections]
—namely five hundred shallow bowls, just as many silver and gold dishes, and 4,000 marks—
Wiprecht, together with the king of Bohemia's son, named Bořivoj, approached him and asked for permission to leave. The emperor sought Wiprecht’s advice as to how to send off the Czech as befits imperial honour. Wiprecht said: 'In this, it will seem enough if you offer sufficient silver for his and his men’s expenses, along with two bowls and as many dishes. Also, you should bestow two dishes on each of his milites, together with two sets of clothes, as is fitting the royal munificence. In addition, by letters you should make known to his father every act of strength they accomplished in your company.' Approving his advice, the emperor inquired once more: What recompense might Wiprecht himself request as gifts out of the royal offerings? Wiprecht indicated he was ready to request nothing now, but later when it might be convenient. Nevertheless, he indicated this desire: that, with the Czech king's son mediating and interceding wisely on his behalf (as he had confidence), he be commended to Bořivoj’s father for remuneration. Thus, he might be recompensed for serving not the emperor but the Czech king, who was not unmindful of his own honour and title, recently regained by Wiprecht's faithful and wise guidance. And so indeed, what Wiprecht had prudently recommended, the emperor ordered done. Having dismissed them, he said farewell. Thereafter, departing from the king with Wiprecht, the Czech king's son saw his birthplace again. There, with a crowd of magnates gathered together and permission given to speak, they set forth the success of all of their affairs. They also displayed the emperor’s letters and the rewards they had received from him. Afterwards, Bořivoj grasped Wiprecht’s hand and said, 'Father, the lord emperor committed this man to your diligence for the attainment of this request: that you might reward with a worthy recompense his most devoted service, which he has thus far most vigorously shown to the whole kingdom, with me as a witness.' The Czech king therefore ordered that a shield of the most exquisite workmanship be brought out, perfectly decorated with gold and silver engravings, and also a bow with a quiver, which the king of Hungary had recently sent—and that they be offered to Wiprecht with a great abundance of gold and silver. But he wanted to take none of these things except the bow and quiver, saying that he could acquire much gold and silver by the hard work of his own strength. Judging therefore that Wiprecht wanted more and better things, the king had another shield again brought out, one more decorated and laden with better gifts, together with a chess board edged in gold with pieces skilfully carved of ivory and crystal. But Wiprecht did not want to take any of these things except the board and pieces. A third time the king ordered a shield to be laden with similar things, with an ivory horn placed on top; in addition, he offered twenty horses outfitted with saddles ingeniously made. But from these Wiprecht took nothing except the horn. Therefore the king’s mind began to waver: what was there of great enough value, that, having been offered, Wiprecht would not refuse to accept? The son, more privy than the father to Wiprecht’s desire, drew his father out privately and advised that he marry his daughter, now grown-up, to him. Bořivoj asserted that this would be more to his advantage for the defence of his territory than if he were to marry her to the king of the Russians or Hungarians. The joyful king assented, and had her come forth. Named Judith, she was elegant in appearance and adorned with garments woven with gold and with various jewelled ornaments . Then, calling Wiprecht forward, he handed her over to his safe-keeping. Wiprecht accepted her with not a little thanks and, with the king nodding approval, commended all those ornaments to his chamberlains to be saved, thus providing himself future advantages. But Wiprecht refused to accept the part of that province [i.e., Bohemia] which the king had assigned to his daughter for her dowry; instead, he demanded and procured in exchange two districts outside it, namely Nisen and Bautzen. Having accepted these, he built a castle by the name of Schwerzau, which would be a safe fortress for his wife.