Baptism of fourteen Czech princes in 845
The baptism of fourteen Czech princes in 845 took place on January 13 at the court of Louis II. The Germans probably in Regensburg on the territory of the then East Frankish Empire. This completely unique event is recorded only in the Fuld annals, and even here the information about this act is given very strictly and concisely. A total of 14 princes of the Czech tribe and their companions took part in the baptism, but the source is silent about further details. It was most likely the tribe's free decision to profess the Christian faith. The decision was perhaps also prompted by the defeat of the Obodrit tribe in 844. Although the princes accepted baptism, they later apparently confirmed their opposition to Christianity due to the policy of King Louis II of East Franconia. Germans. Archaeological excavations have not found traces of the response to this act.
Bohemia had been tributary dependent on the Frankish Empire since 806, when it was conquered by Charlemagne. However, this system began to collapse in the second half of the 1920s. When Ludvík Němec later retreated before his father and Emperor Ludvík I. the Pious over the "land of the Slavs", the Czechs put obstacles in his way, which meant that at that time the Czech tribe had already fallen away from the empire. Another change occurred in the Treaty of Verdun, signed in 843, according to which the territory of the then Frankish Empire was divided by the three sons of Louis I the Pious. The third of the sons, Louis II. The German, received the eastern part of the empire, which then became the East Frankish Empire. Louis II he had previously ruled in this area as King of Bavaria, and the Treaty of Verdun put him in an attempt to restore de facto power over the Slavic principalities. Already in the 1940s, after the formation of the East Frankish Empire, King Louis undertook various expeditions to the east, the aim was to conquer the Slavic tribes and force them to pay tribute. He gradually penetrated the pagan territories surrounding the borders of his kingdom and carried out raids against them. The key event was the defeat of the Obodrites, one of the tribes of the Elbe Slavs, in August 844, during which the Obodrit prince Gostimysl also died. Subsequently, Louis divided the occupied country among other princes, who were probably still subject to Gostimysl. This defeat apparently surprised the Czech princes and increased their fear of a future Frankish offensive that would endanger their territory and lives. According to Dušan Třeštík, the Czech nobles were baptized precisely in order to prevent a conflict with the King of East Franconia. Třeštík also admitted that the Czechs could have been inspired by the baptism of the Moravians in 831, which brought the Moravian principality more moderate relations with the empire. According to historian Václav Novotný, the rulers again lacked protection from King Ludvík, and therefore accepted baptism.
It is not known where the princes went to Regensburg together or where they met, so the length of the trip is unknown. It is also worth mentioning that there were severe frosts in January that year and it is not clear why the Czech gentlemen traveled to Regensburg in such a winter. Although there were a total of fourteen princes, the Bavarian Geographer, who wrote a documentary about the cities on the north side of the Danube, probably in 843 in the circle of King Louis II. Němce, states that at that time there were 15 fortifications in the Czech Basin. This would mean that 15 princes ruled in Bohemia at the time and the baptism was accepted by an overwhelming majority. Dušan Třeštík . The Czechs were not united at that time and there was no prince who had a privileged position among others. There were perhaps no preliminary negotiations with King Louis, so Ludvík may have been surprised by the news of the baptism. The baptism took place on January 13, 845. Fuld