Kunigunda Slavonia

Anonymous, author’s interpretation of Kunigunda in the public domain. Image Credit: WikiCommons.

By Gabby Storey

Kunigunda was born in 1245 in Ruthenia, a descriptor for some of the earlier Rus’ lands. Her parents were Rostislav Mikhailovich, future ruler of Belgrade and Slavonia, and his wife Anna of Hungary.

Her maternal grandfather was Béla IV of Hungary, and her paternal grandfather, Michael of Chernigov, was the last Grand Prince of Kiev.

She was married to Ottokar II, king of Bohemia, in Pressburg on 25 October 1261 as part of an alliance between Hungary and Bohemia. They were crowned two months later in St. Vittus Cathedral, Prague. Together they had at least three children: Kunigunde, Agnes, and Wenceslaus.

The alliance between Hungary and Bohemia became fractured after Kunigunda’s uncle, Stephen, succeeded to the Hungarian throne. Kunigunda’s loyalties were torn between her marital and natal families, though it appears she remained loyal to Ottokar.

In 1278 Ottokar attempted to recover lands taken by Rudolph I of Germany, and was later killed that year in battle. Kunigunda therefore became regent of Bohemia in 1278, ruling on behalf of her son Wenceslaus who was betrothed to Rudolph’s daughter, Judith.

Wenceslaus was taken into captivity by Ottokar’s nephew, Otto, in January/February 1279 alongside Kunigunda, although she escaped later that summer.

She continued to work to rule Bohemia and ensure her son’s release, though this did not occur until Otto’s government in Bohemia ceased in 1283. Kunigunda married for a second time in 1285 to Záviš, Lord of Falkenštejn, a Bohemian noble. She died a few months later.

Recommended Reading

Alfred Thomas, The Court of Richard II and Bohemian Culture. Literature and Art in the Age of Chaucer and the Gawain Poet (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2020)

Gabriela V. Šarochová, Radostný úděl vdovský: královny-vdovy přemyslovských Čech (Prague: Dokořán, 2004)

Kateřina Charvátová, Václav II.: král český a polský (Prague: Vyšehrad, 2007).

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