Friday, 16 December 2016

Good King Wenceslas last looked on the Feast of Stephen …



I had absolutely no idea about Good King Wenceslas (907 – 935AD) – I have heartily sung his carol every year, without being aware of his story …




Another of those Bohemian tales … of intrigue, cruelty, murder and power struggles in the medieval period.



He was a good man … not a king, but a duke - who was murdered in AD 935 by his brother Boleslav: to whom he had generously given lands and status.



Boleslav town where Wenceslas lived

A mass burial site at Budec was found in 1982 … it is north of Prague … the Budec massacre is not mentioned in history, but it is speculated that it was part of “the wave of violence that reportedly followed the murder of the Duke”, while Boleslav secured the area.  The younger brother was more of the time and place in history: cruel and power hungry …



St Peter and Paul Church, Budec, Kladno
 ... a prehistoric place of settlement

The martyrdom of Wenceslas I, Duke of Bohemia … quickly gave rise to a reputation for heroic goodness, resulting in his being elevated to sainthood, posthumously declared king, seen as the patron saint of the Czech state, and who today comes down to us as a man of peace and goodwill.




St Wenceslas Chapel, St Vitus
Cathedral


Let us bring peace to our fellow citizens … helping make our world a better place for everyone – give and receive a smile, live and give hope ….





So let the last two lines of the carol ring out:


Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing.




Have blessed, peaceful, generous Christmases, New Years with remembrances into 2017 …


I'll be back in the New Year and around otherwise ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

69 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I love your final wishes - they epitomise the very best of the season.
Thank you - and I hope you find peace, happiness, love and laughter. And some tasty food.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Very interesting, I didn't know the story, even though I was aware he was a historical figure. I love that you do the research that I forget to do!

Merry Christmas, Hilary, and a very Happy New Year x

Mason Canyon said...

Interesting history about King Wenceslas. Sad that his brother was such a terrible person after he had given to him so generously. I agree with E.C. about your final wishes, that's what it's all about. Wishing you peace, happiness, love and joy for now and throughout the coming year.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Thank you for the history lesson, Hillary. I love learning 'the story behind' what we say, or in this case sing. I hope your Christmas is filled with love and goodness.

bazza said...

I suppose you know how Wenceslas like his pizzas; "Deep-pan crisp and even". (Sorry!) Have a lovely Christmas and New Year. I will be celebrating both plus Channukah!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Mike Goad said...

Interesting. My Czech ancestor were the most recent of my immigrant ancestors to come to America, yet I know little of Czech history. I am of 1/4 Czech descent. My grandmother was born in the U.S. just a couple of years after her parents arrived here.

Out on the prairie said...

A favorite song for me, my last name derived from this name. I am 5th generation, my family coming from Bohemia. On top of it I am also a Stephen.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a terrific post, especially your final words. I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas... and all the best in the new year.

Joanne said...

I've sung the song and never knew the tale. Thanks for this Christmas story. And yes - we must take heart with the final words and wishes
Merry Christmas to you and yours, and all the best for the coming new year

Jacqui Murray said...

Have a wonderful break, Hilary. I'll see you after the first!

Lenny Lee* said...

hi my grandblogmom! i just barely remember hearing this carol but didn't pay much attention to the words. i never knew who king wencesles was or anything about him. leave it to you to give us another cool history lesson. :) i looked up the words to the carol and read the whole thing. it's a really nice story about helping others. and for sure the last line sums it all up. what a really nice thought for Christmas and for the new year. im wishing you a happy happy Christmas and a wonderiffic new year. love you bunches!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC – I just wish we could get those thoughts for most people in the world – way too much tyranny going on … oh yes the tasty food!

@ Annalisa – I didn’t know the story .. but again a reference from a book … so I needed to find out and reckoned it’d be a good post for pre-Christmas …

@ Mason – it’s an interesting time in history and the younger brothers were so often much worse off – yet in this case the elder brother tried to make amends – to no avail. Thanks I do hope we can all live together in more harmony now and next year …

@ Aileen (I hope that’s the right name!) … just glad you also enjoyed the history here … and yes Christmas for us filled with joy and good cheer …

@ Bazza – yes – and I was going to include it – but you’ve done it for me!! – thank you … I see you aspire to the Gregorian calendar for Channukah … and can join with Christmas Day and the start to the New Year …

@ Mike – fascinating to find you’re a quarter Czech … the Patrick Leigh Fermor book “A Time of Gifts” is an interesting read … and he spends a lot of time in that area (500 years of history he goes into – in an enlightening way). I hope you’ve got as much history as possible about them - I think you will have.

@ Stephen – perhaps I’d better start spelling your name properly! Interesting history you’ve got … again like Mike, I hope you’ve got those records or at least some of them … it’s a good carol isn’t it.

@ Susan – thanks so much … I just hope this world will come together and not be so belligerent … everyone gets on gently with everyone else …

@ Joanne – me too … sung happily away, but now the story line is found I shall in future sing with a different timbre.

@ Jacqui – thanks so much and yes into 2017 we go …

@ Lenny:GrandBlogSon – another comment – how wonderful and I’m so glad you enjoyed the history lesson!! That’s great you looked the carol up and read the words through … exactly helping others …

If we remember and help others to remember … we might make a difference as we are out and about – I hope so …

Love the word ‘wonderiffic’ … fantastic one .. and Lenny, thanks so much for your thoughts and love across the airways …

Thanks everyone – wonderful comments all round … little bit of history, a few Bohemian commenters … the mix of life … Be of Good Cheer to all … Hilary

Janie Junebug said...

Boleslav looks as if it's the name of someone who would be nasty.

Love,
Janie

Jo said...

Thanks for the history lesson Hilary. Fascinating how we know of him but not his actual story. Period of violence indeed.

I wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope it will be better than 2016 which has not been good for me.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Hilary....

Definitely an interesting tale. Thanks for always sharing these informative tidbits....

HAPPY HOLIDAYS to you, TOO!!!!

ALL the best for 2017, too!

Patsy said...

I didn't know anything about Wenceslas either, Hilary although I did think the carol was probably based on a real person.

I hope you have a lovely Christmas.

DMS said...

I have sung this song so many times- but had no idea about its history! Wow! This is an awesome bit of information to have. I think it is wonderful that you put him in the spotlight. Thanks for sharing!

Merry Christmas!
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Janie - there are some excellent names if one looks back .. but I agree Boleslav sounds rather unpleasant - which he was ...

@ Jo - glad you enjoy the story line - I know I was fascinated by his history .. made me look into that period a little more .. which was violent at times.

Thanks for your thoughts - I've had a bad year ... and I'd like to redress that in 2017 ... and for you too - a healthier year ahead.

@ Michael - it is an interesting story and about medieval Europe ... which I'm enjoying learning more about. Let's have better 2017s ...

@ Patsy - things evolve so much through our history ... into a poem, it becomes a carol, from a carol then a play or tv film, comedy and perhaps even into an RPG ...

@ Jess - like me ... nor did I. Just delighted you're so pleased to find out more about our Good King ... it's opened new doors for me ...

Cheers to you - have a very happy last week before Christmas comes around ... as we head towards 2017 ... Hilary

Optimistic Existentialist said...

What fascinating history...wow. Thank you, as always, for sharing :)

Have a Merry Christmas :)

Anabel Marsh said...

Interesting history. A peaceful and happy Christmas to you too.

A Cuban In London said...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family, too.

Greetings from London.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - many thanks ... you must be nearby now - perhaps a visit sometime. Hope all is going well for you both ... have a lovely German Christmas.

@ Anabel - history is interesting ... thank goodness someone wrote it down!

@ Mario - thanks for coming by ...

Happy Christmas to one and all - cheers Hilary

Suzanne Furness said...

I learnt a little more about King Wenceslas this week at 'school' not all the detail you here but it was in my mind, so really good to read about the real history and go deeper. Thank you, Hilary.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Fascinating--I had no background on the duke and enjoyed reading about him (now I'll have something to think about when I sing the song!)

Enjoy your blog break and have a very merry Christmas!

Shammickite said...

Don't call your baby Boleslav!
I've always liked that carol, one of the reasons being that I am able to pick out the melody on the piano using one finger, which is quite an achievement seeing that I have no musical ability whatsoever. Another reason is that it tells a nice story. I have a lovely mental image of the tired little page following in the snowy footsteps of the King.
My best wishes to you and your family for Christmas happiness and 2017.

Liz A. said...

Such brutal times. Terrible that it came via a brother.

dolorah said...

Words to live by ;)

Seasons greetings to yu also Hilary.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Hi Hilary! What a tragic story behind the Christmas Carol. It's sad that he died so
young and was murdered by his brother. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a
happy & healthy New Year! Looking forward to more of your fascinating stories in 2017!

Julie

Nilanjana Bose said...

Hmmm...'cruel and power hungry'...now why do those attributes seem so modern to me? Not restricted to those times and places I am afraid :)

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and an awesome happy New Year!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Suzanne - oh how interesting the subjects tied in ... but I'm glad my little extras enhanced your understanding .. it's a lovely carol.

@ Elizabeth - I didn't either, so I was quite pleased to find out some more ... and yes when I join in the carols I'll remember the history.

@ Shammi - good to see you ... I fall into your camp - no musical ability either and I wouldn't be able to pick out the tune on the piano - so clever you. They are good descriptive words aren't they ... the dutiful page following his king through thick and even snow ..

@ Liz - the times were brutal ... the younger brother often felt outdone.

@ Donna - thank you ... yes "find the poor and help, we will get the blessing in due course" ...

@ Julie - it's the way of the times, as now - I fear ... just interesting someone could write such haunting words, which were then set to such a beautiful carolling tune ...

@ Nila - I'm afraid that's true - we are living in those times ... and probably worse as they are inflicted on so many innocents.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments - and I share your wishes for a peaceful and blessed Christmas and happy 2017 ... Hilary

Rhonda Albom said...

I did know that King Wenceslas was a duke and awarded his king title posthumously.

Lynn said...

Lovely to have the history behind that carol! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year, Hilary. Hugs!

Denise Covey said...

A very blessed Christmas to you Hilary. May 2017 bring you good fortune, good health and happiness. I loved seeing Wenceslas Square in Prague. What a beautiful city!

Denise :-)

Hart Johnson said...

Love these bits of history you dig up. This would make a pretty good mini-series. Very fitting reminder for the Christmas season, too.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Poor Duke Wenceslas. We still remember him, though, or at least sing about him. I wonder what he would have thought about that? "You will be murdered by your brother, but people will sing your song for hundreds of years."

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Rhonda - that's good you knew about Wenceslas .. I certainly didn't - but I do now!!

@ Lynn - many thanks and yes the history behind the carol is interesting ...

@ Denise - thank you .. definitely may 2017 bring me good fortune, good health and happiness - I need it. When I went to Wenceslas Square in 1974 - it was shrouded in plastic as they were repairing the Square after the 1969 Russian invasion ...

@ Hart - many thanks and you're right I could do a little mini-series sometime ... glad it's a good reminder for the Christmas season ...

@ Dianne - yes poor old Duke: he had a rough time ... and sometimes one wonders about people in history ... what they'd think today and of our world ... life is very different.

Cheers to you all - lovely to see you - Hilary

Robert Bennett said...

Reading these made me realize that I actually know/knew nothing about Bohemia. I've heard it referenced, surely; but I didn't actually know anything at all about the location.

N. R. Williams said...

I love 'Good King Wenceslas.' I recently learned of his history on a historical program I like. All those years that I sang that song I thought it was all made up. Glad he was a real person. His ending tragic. Someone should write a book inspired by him.

Nancy

D Biswas said...

Sounds like a good man.

Thanks for your visits and the kind words at my blog. Truly appreciate them.

Wish you happy holidays, Hilary!

cleemckenzie said...

Of course I Iearned something new here today. Wenceslas wasn't a king? And all these years I never questioned the song.

May you have a wonderful Christmas, sing joyously and celebrate the coming of the new year in good health.

Mark Noce said...

Wow, I had no idea either! Thanks for the education:) Happy holidays to you! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Robert - history is a wonderful thing .. we have 'bohemian' which takes us there ... or gives us that flavour of a life style. Shakespeare mentions the coast of Bohemia ... I posted about it in August ... that's another bit of history ...

@ Nancy - the hymn is one the old time favourites. That's great he was represented on one of your historical programmes ... I suspect someone will have written about him ... I found this out from a paragraph in a book ... "Time of Gifts" by Patrick Leigh Fermor ...

@ Damyanti - yes he must have been - sadly short lived. Pleasure always good to visit you ...

@ Lee - oh I know ... we keep overriding our cherished knowledge ... but history comes to the fore and reminds us. How often we don't question ...

@ Mark - it always amazes me when I come across something that refutes what I've come to understand as historical fact ...

Cheers to you all - have great fun this festive time ... and thanks so much for your visits ... Hilary

Shannon Lawrence said...

I didn't know his history either. Thank you! And have a Merry Christmas!

jabblog said...

Merry Christmas, Hilary, and a Peaceful and Healthy 2017.

mail4rosey said...

Merry Christmas to you!! It's good to learn the history of the duke/king. :) I too, have sang about him without a clue of who he was... but now, I know!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thank you for this information, Hilary. I had no idea. Makes me wonder why I didn't learn it in Sunday school. Merry Christmas, my dear friend.

J Lenni Dorner said...

Fascinating history lesson! Great pic of the town. Looks like a nice place. Have a great holiday, Hillary!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Shannon - by the look of it we all join that clan of the unknowns ... now we know scenario ...

@ Janice - thank you ...

@ Rosey - It is extraordinary how we can go through life happily singing or reading things without being aware of the back story ...

@ Joylene - I guess you had lots more important things to learn in Sunday School - adding history (particularly this era of history) into the mix would have added to the complication of learning.

@ JL - thanks for the visit ...

Cheers to you all - and enjoy these last couple of days before Christmas itself comes around ... Hilary

Vanessa Morgan said...

Happy holidays!

LD Masterson said...

Fascinating. I love learning about things we know (the carol) but don't know (the history). Merry Christmas.

Gingi Freeman said...

I was JUST telling my husband the history of this song / historical figure while we were decorating the Christmas tree earlier this week!! Not only had he not heard the story.. he had never heard the song!! I was shocked! - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Yet another one of your wonderful stories. Thank you, Hilary! Merry Christmas!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Vanessa - many thanks .. you too

@ LD - that's great .. it is interesting finding out about things ..

@ Gingi - good to see you and glad you're educating your dearly beloved! He'll hear the carol over this Christmas won't he?!

@ Mary - pleasure ... I enjoy offering something interesting to read with an historical take ...

Cheers and have wonderful Christmases and happy New Years in the days ahead ... Hilary

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Spot-on, Hilary! Have a wonderful Christmas and nothing but good in the year ahead. Thanks for all the great posts x.

D.G. Hudson said...

Good King Wencelas as a story has appeared on Mysteries at the Museum or one of those shows where they investigate 'what we have heard' with the real historical truth (or as much of it as we can find). I have always liked that Christmas carol. And yes, it is sad when brother kills brother, but in the royal lines that seemed to happen a lot. It was dangerous to be born royal, and wonder who would be next in line for the throne or even the dukedom. An excellent post for the holidays! Have a great holiday, Hilary and best wishes for the new year, 2017!

Theresa Milstein said...

I agree, we need peace more than ever. Thank you. I wish you a happy holiday season.

I love the history lessons I learn here!

M. Denise C. said...

I always have liked that song, Hilary. It is great to know some history behind the name. Merry Christmas and Happy 2017!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Mike - many thanks ... so glad we can tie in occasionally ... and I so enjoy your posts - historically correct and a delight to see your photos ...

@ DG - lovely to see you ... interesting to read about the Mysteries at the Museum - I hadn't heard of these shows. Life was a challenge back then for those born after the first born son, but also the women ... the classic one we know about is Richard III and the Princes in the Tower ... he need to get rid of the Princes to succeed to the throne of England. Also William the Conqueror defeating Harold ... thanks for your visit ...

@ Theresa - thanks for the link on FB to the Massachusetts - interesting to know about. The most important thing at the moment is peace, goodwill to all men ... good to see you ...

@ Denise - the Carol is a good one ... the visualisation is quite extraordinary to 'see' ... and I'm glad you enjoyed the history ..

Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment ... have a wonderful last week of 2016 ... cheers Hilary

Robert Bennett said...

I've actually never heard this carol before. Had to go and look it up. Thanks!

Juliet Batten said...

Oh what brutal times, when you can't trust your own brother. Thanks for uncovering another interesting story Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Robert - it is definitely one of our classics - a constant in our carolling and Christmas lives ... so I'm glad you checked it out.

@ Juliet - cruel times they were ... but if you lost out because you were the younger member of the family, or worse a daughter/sister or widow ... it wasn't much fun either - sometimes things would work out ... but I'm pleased I came across the history ...

Cheers to you both - Hilary

Silvia Villalobos said...

Interesting story, Hilary. History offers so many cautionary tales, if only we would listen, or read, and try to remember. Thank you for sharing it here.
Good words for the end the year. May 2017 bring joy peace and good health.
Happy new year! See you in 2017.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Silvia - it still does and once a century or so ... they pop up once more - glad you appreciated the storyline ... and yes good words to take with us into 2017 ... thank you ... Happy New Year to you too .. Hilary

Keith's Ramblings said...

It's easy to think that all that remains is hope, especially after the topsy-turvy year that's just gesturing a rude farewell. As you probably noticed I've been scarce if not somewhat absent for a while, hence my late arrival on parade! I look forward to learning more from your words of wisdom in the year to come and maybe sharing a beverage or two together in the months to come. Happy New Year!

Nasreen said...

Hi Hilary,

He sounds like a good man.

Wishing you and your family a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

mail4rosey said...

I'm here to wish you a wonderful new year!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Keith - I sincerely hope 2017 will be kinder. It's always nice to see you and yes - that would be lovely to meet up sometime. My words of wisdom - well ... thank you!

@ Nas - Wenceslas was a good man ... pity he didn't live on ... cruelty seems to take care of so many ... let's hope we can find those good men in 2017 ..

@ Rosey - thank you so much ..

It's here - 2017 - ... have a wonderful year ahead with your family and friends and us lot, the bloggers! Cheers to you all - Hilary

Deborah Weber said...

What a fascinating post Hilary - I always delight in the interesting lens you offer for our viewing. Wishing you a most fabulous 2017. I'm most curious to see what unfolds.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deborah - many thanks ... I didn't properly know the story, so it was good to be able to write it up ... and I'm delighted you enjoy coming over and seeing what I've written. Thanks - and Happy New Year ...oh it will be interesting ... difficult for us here I suspect - cheers Hilary