Alternate History

Wenceslaus II of Luxembourg (The Kalmar Union)

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Wenceslaus II
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Wenceslaus II
King of Bohemia (as Wenceslaus V) & Duke of Luxembourg
Reign 9th September, 1536 - 3rd February, 1540
Predecessor John III
Successor Joanna
King of Hungary (as Wenceslaus III)
Reign 9th September, 1536 - 3rd February, 1540
Predecessor John III
Successor Henry of Prague
Margrave of Brandenburg
Reign 9th September, 1536 - 3rd February, 1540
Predecessor John III
Successor Joanna
Spouse Katherine of Wessex

Amalia of Poland

Issue Joanna

Henry of Prague

House Luxembourg-Limburg
Father John III
Mother Bianca of Milan
Born 9th September, 1495
Ghent, Flanders
Died 3rd February, 1540
Prague, Bohemia

Wenceslaus II was briefly King of Bohemia and Hungary in the 16th century. His reign would initiate a relative decline in the Luxembourg dynasty's fortunes or at least its pre-eminent reach across Europe and he is usually regarded as a failure of a monarch.

The only legitmate son of John III, Wenceslaus was brought up in Flanders, a contrast to his mostly Czech-educated forebears. He naturally favoured Flemish and Luxembourgois advisors, which displeased the Czech and Hungarian contigents of the realm while he spoke Czech 'badly', Hungarian 'worse'. Furthermore his early marriage to Katherine of Wessex rather than a Czech, Polish or Italian princess, though arranged by his father to further Luxembourg's diplomacy, appeared to reaffirm that the prince's priorities lay in the western half of the Luxembourg lands. Following Katherine's death in 1527 he would take Amalia of Poland as his second wife, a sop to Eastern interests but barely changing his focus.

While his father directed war south of the Alps Wenceslaus was left largely to manage German affairs. Chief amongst them was the growing issue of Luther and the gathering Reformation. During the 1520s John had been concilatory, meeting revolt amongst the peasantry with armed force but treating the theologians with respect hoping to reconcile them to the Catholic chruch. Wenceslaus by nature was much more confrontational and at the 1529 diet in Spires he pushed for excommunication not only of Luther and his allies but all the Lutheran-leaning lords. Attempting to have the Imperial Ban put on all the heretical lords he effectively pushed them into organising an armed league to protect their interests. Wenceslaus therefore virtually guaranteed that Germany would be riven in two armed camps.

When he finally took the throne, following the death of his father in 1536, he expected to be installed with the all Imperial pomp his father had enjoyed. The electors had very different plans however and one after another refused to endorse his election. This rejection of his authority apparently blindsided him and he spent the autumn and winter of 1536 raging at his nobles, his advisors and even his family; his wife in turn complaining bitterly to her Polish relatives. That the electors took another three years to choose an emperor was beside the point; his career as prince and his meddling in the contraversies surrounding Luther and the Reformation had alienated him from much of Germany. Furthermore many wished to punish him for his father's shortcomings. Therefore for the Catholic princes the Luxembourg position was far too lenient and had not cracked down hard enough on the 'heretics'. For the Protestants, they had been far too harsh and controlling.

Domestically his position was little better. John had run down his treasuries in the pursuit of intermiable wars and as a quick fix Wenceslaus sold off titles, mining rights and even church offices to the highest bidders, a move which did little to endear him to many nobles who were trying hard to combat accusations of corruption. Taxation in the Low Countries continued unabated, pushing more and more into Lutheranism and brewing revolt. This did however stabilise the finances a little and, as he never embarked on any of his own wars (though inherited a low-intensity fight over the Neapolitan crown), there was a little respite which allowed the strengthening of outdated laws.

His death in 1540 marked a definitive end to Luxembourg's medieval growth. His 2 year-old son, Henry, officially inherited the realm, however he was only crowned in Hungary and elsewhere his eldest daughter Joanna held power on his behalf. Meanwhile religious matters would tear the kingdoms apart.

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