Chronology of St Agnes of Prague
This timeline follows the research which prompted the Czech Republic to select the year 2011 for the centenary of the birth of St Agnes. Ottokar I and Constance of Hungary had eight children; two of them bore the name Aneska (Agnes) the first was born in 1205 and died in infancy, the second, their youngest child, was born in 1211.
1211 Birth of Agnes of Prague to Ottokar I and Constance of Hungary, the last of their children.
Birth of Henry (VII) son of the emperor Frederick II.
1212 March 18 Palm Sunday Clare receives the habit from Francis at the Portiuncula.
Frederick II recognises Ottokar I as King of Bohemia and first elector of the Imperial princes.
1213 Genghiz Khan’s Mongol forces occupy China
1214 Agnes is engaged to ‘A polish duke’ (Candor lucis Eterne, I) a son of Henry II (the Bearded) of Silesia and St Hedwig of Andachs. Agnes is entrusted to Hedwig’s daughter, Gertrude, Abbess of the Cistercians at Trebnitz, where she is very happy. The son to whom Agnes is engaged is frequently referred to as Boleslav whose dates (1191 - 1206/08) render this impossible. The more likely candidate is Wladislav (before 1208 - 1214/17) who could conceivably have had Boleslav amongst his baptismal names.
d of Daniel III Malik, Bishop of Prague. Andre of Prague elected his successor.
1215 Innocent IV grants the Privilege of Poverty to Clare
IV Lateran Council reforms Church and forbids new Orders.
1217 Agnes returns to Bohemia and is sent to continue her education with the Premonstratensians at Doksan for one year according to the Candor lucis eterne I.
The first Friars come to Prague.
1219 Agnes returns to the palace of Prague and is formally engaged to Henry (VII) King of Sicily, the son of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen. Henry was, at that time, living with his guardians in Vienna at the court of Frederick II Babenberg, Duke of Austria. Agnes, aged 8, now continues her education there and learns German. We can presume she learned Latin - St Clare’s letters to her are in that language.
Cardinal Hugolino’s Constitutions imposed on San Damiano and first Poor Clare houses.
1220 The Empress Constanza, mother of Henry (VII) dies in Sicily.
1222 Henry (VII) is crowned King of the German Nations (Rex Romanorum). Agnes presumably attends the ceremony at Aachen.
1223 Mongols (Tartars) conquer Russia and begin to move toward Eastern Europe.
1224 Wenceslaus, Agnes’ brother, marries Kunigunde Hohenstaufen, second daughter of Philip of Swabia.
d of Bishop Andre of Prague.
1225 Henry (VII) is now under the tutelage of Archbishop Englebert of Cologne who arranges a marriage between Henry and Margaret Babenburg, the heiress of Frederick II, Duke of Austria. Agnes is sent home. Despite her pleading, war breaks out between her father and Frederick Babenburg.
Election to Prague See of Bishop Peregrin of Vartembarka, who dies soon after and is succeeded by Budilov, who dies the following year
1226 d St Francis
Election of Bishop John II of Prague
c1227-1230 Ottokar I is approached by Henry III of England for Agnes’ hand. The match is forbidden by the emperor Frederick II, who is by now himself a widower and asks for Agnes’ hand.
1229 Agnes appeals to Pope Gregory IX and refuses the hand of emperor Frederick. The Bull Sicut manifestum est of Gregory supports her.
1230 Ottokar I dies and Agnes’ brother Wenceslaus I succeeds.
The Bull: Quo elongati removes Clare’s sisters from the jurisdiction of the Friars. Clare offers to starve. Care of friars restored.
1231 Agnes founds her Poor Clare house and establishes the Friars Minor and the Crosiers of the Red Star to work with the poor in Prague.
1233 November 11, 5 sisters from Italy, and separately 7 young Bohemian noblewomen enter ‘Paradise House’ Agnes’ new monastery.
1234 1st letter of Clare to Agnes.
Bull for the foundation of Prague: Sincerum animi tui
Pentecost Agnes enters her own monastery apparently with another 7 young Bohemian women.
1235 Cum relicta saeculi, the Bull of Gregory IX attempts to provide material support for the Poor Clares in Prague and to link them institutionally with the Hospice of the Croziers. The Croziers followed a version of the rule of St Augustine devised for them by the then Franciscan Provincial of Saxony, John of Piancarpino, who had supported Agnes throughout this time, according to the Anglican scholar Gilliat Smith.
2nd letter of Clare to Agnes
1236 d. of Bishop John II of Prague, succeeded by Bernard of Sulevic.
1237 Licet velut ignis Imposes total abstinence from meat on the Prague community and all Poor Clare and Cistercian houses
1238 Pia credulitate tenentes grants Prague the Privilege of Poverty.
Agnes proposes her own rule (or re-proposes Clare’s statutes) to Gregory, who replies in the bull Angelis gaudium supporting his own rule and calling the ‘Form of Life’ Francis has given to Clare ‘milk for babes’!
1239 Foundation of Trnava (from Prague?) Queen Constance is its principal patron
1240 d. Agnes’ mother, Queen Constance. Mongols sack Kiev and approach borders of Poland
d of Bishop Bernard of Prague, succeeded by Mikulas of Reisenburku.
1241 The Mongol Invasion
After a series of successes in Silesia at Sandomierz, Tursk and Chmielnik:
March 24 Krakow seized and burned
March 27 The Mongols, having failed to take Breslau, hear that Wencelsaus, Agnes brother is two days march away. To prevent him reaching his brother in law, Henry the Pius, the Mongols anticipate their strategy and meet Henry at Legnica
April 8 Battle of Legnica. Combined army of Teutonic Knights, Polish and Bohemian forces led Henry the Pius, the Duke of Silesia and husband of Agnes’ sister Anna, defeated by Subutai. Henry the Pius and Boleslaus of Moravia killed. Their army is almost wiped out.
April 10 Battle of Mohi. Hungarians under Agnes’ uncle Bela III defeated.
At least one third of Hungarian population is killed.
Subutai devastates Moravia
Wenceslaus, unable to arrive at Legnica in time, falls back to gather reinforcements from Thuringia and Saxony, but is overtaken by the vanguard of the Mongol army under Baidar Khan and Kadan at Klodzko. Faced with a concerted opposition the Mongols, amazingly, retreat.
1242 The news of the death of Ögedei Khan reaches the Mongol army. Since many of their generals were descendants of Genghiz Khan, they raced back to Karakorum for the Kurultai to elect of the next Great Khan. Although they remained a threat and made subsequent raids, they were too busy fighting each other ever to return in full force. To those, like the people of Bohemia, who lived on the route of Subutai’s declared path to the Atlantic, it seemed a miracle of prayer.
Henry (VII) Agnes’ erstwhile fiancée, who had been imprisoned in Apulia since a supposed rebellion against his father the Emperor Frederick, was summoned to appear before him. Seemingly, rather than face his father’s well-known cruelties, he rode his horse off a bridge on the way to the meeting, and died as a result of the fall. Investigation of his remains in 1999 revealed that he was, in fact, a leper.
1243 Agnes renews her request to have her rule confirmed, Innocent IV refuses.
1246 d. Frederick II Babenburg
1247 Agnes' nephew, Vladislaus, Wenceslaus’ eldest son, marries Gertrude Babenberg and claims Austria. He dies the same year.
Innocent IV imposes his own rule on the Poor Clares in the Bull Cum omnis vero religio - however, he replaces the Rule of Benedict with the Rule of Francis.
1249 Foundation of Poor Clares at Olmuc in Moravia.
1250 Civil War in Bohemia over Ottokar (II).
Innocent IV further declares that none of the Poor Clares have to accept his rule if they don’t care for it!
1251 Wenceslaus I invades Austria. Ottokar (II) is now his heir. Originally intended for the church, Ottokar, relaxes into hunting, drinking and the high life. Since he cannot marry his brother’s wife, his father marries him to the other Babenburg heiress, Agnes’ old companion from her days in Vienna, Margaret, widow of Henry (VII) by this, consolidating the Bohemian claim to Austria. Margaret was, by this time over fifty, young Ottokar was eighteen!
1253 Clare’s 4th and last letter to Agnes
Clare’s Rule, the Form of Life is confirmed
d of Clare.
d of Wenceslaus I at Kraluv Dvur.
He is buried in the Church of Agnes’ Monastery.
Process for Clare’s canonisation opened
Agnes applies for and obtains the Form of Life of Clare
c1254 (or earlier) Foundation of Poor Clares at Zavichost, Poland
1256 Canonization of Clare
1258 d of Bishop Mikulas of Prague, succeeded by John III Drazic.
1260 War against Hungary. Ottokar II defeats Hungarians at Kressenbrun.
Ottokar had a son, Nickolas of Troppau, by one of Margaret Babenberg’s waiting women, whom he tried hard to get the Pope to recognize as his heir. The Pope having refused, Ottokar repudiated Margaret, while retaining Austria and, subsequent to the Battle of Kressenbrun, he marries the grand-daughter of Bela IV, Kunigunda of Slavonia. His son by her, Wenceslaus (II) 1271 - 1305 will eventually succeeded him.
1261 Ottokar II crowned. He founds the Church of the Saviour beside the Church of St Francis, adjacent to Agnes’ monastery. The remains of his father Wenceslaus are moved there.
1269 War with Hungary. Ottokar claims Carinthia and Carniola after further defeating the Hungarians. Famine
1273 Ottokar II fails to get himself elected King of the Germans and revolts against Rudolf I Hapsburg the successful candidate.
1278 Ottokar II is killed fighting Rudolf’s forces at Jedenspeigen. Civil war in Bohemia as the suppoerters of his seven year old son, Wenceslaus II, try to establish him as king. Widespread violence and famine. Young Wenceslaus’ guardian, Otto of Brandenburg, keeps him imprisoned and his stepfather, Zavis of Falkenstein, tries to rule through his mother Kunigunda.
d of Bishop John III of Prague, succeeded by Tobias of Bechyne 1778 - 1294.
1282 6 March Agnes dies. In the violent political situation the Bishops are afraid to come to Agnes’ funeral and the common people are afraid to let her be buried.
1283 Young Wenceslaus II is able to return to Prague. In 1285 he marries Jutta of Hapsburg and in 1290 begins to rule in his own name, having executed Zavis! Wenceslaus and Jutta have ten children of which Elizabeth is the fifth. After the murder of her brother, Wenceslaus III, Elizabeth becomes ruler of Bohemia with her husband John of Luxembourg. Miracles for Elizabeth at Agnes’ intercession are described in chapter XII.
1316-20 The regular flooding of Agnes’ Monastery, Paradise House and the Churches, described in Chapter XII of the Candor Lucis eterne, becomes a serious problem.
1328 Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia and Bishop John IV Drazik (1301-1343) of Prague present the Process for Agnes’ canonisation to John XXII at Avignon. Elizabeth, 1292-1330, is the daughter of Wenceslaus II, and wife of John of Luxembourg (John the Blind) 1296 -1346, son of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII. She is, by this time estranged from her husband, in so great financial need that she is unable to support a court and dying of Tuberculosis. The Candor Lucis eterne is presumed to have been written at this time.
c 1419 - 1434 Hussite Wars. The sisters are forced to leave Paradise House.
c1470 The monastery is partially rebuilt. The Sisters return.
1556 The Poor Clares are evicted and the Monastery given to the Dominicans.
1629 Poor Clares return.
1689 House partly burns down and is restored.
1782 Paradise House is closed by the Emperor Joseph II as part of his ‘Liberalisation’ policy. Around 600 monastic and contemplative houses are closed and 380,000 religious sent home. Paradise House is made over into workshops, warehouses and homes for the poor.
1874 Agnes is beatified by Pius IX in Rome.
1888 The buildings of Paradise House are partly demolished in an urban planning scheme.
1918 Bohemia becomes part of the republic of Czechoslovakia
1940 Restoration work begins on the former Monastic buildings.
1945 Czechoslovakia ceded to Russian influence as part of the Yalta Agreement at the end of the II World War. Czech Communist party wins election.
1948 Coup d’etat makes Czechoslovakia a one Party Communist state.
1949 Establishment of Government Office of Church Affairs. Creation of National Catholic Church.
1950 Closure of most Catholic Seminaries and Religious Houses. The Contemplatives (of all traditions) who would not, or could not go home were settled in ‘Concentration Monasteries’ working for the state.
1960 the Communist government designates the Churches and Monastic buildings part of the National Art Gallery.
1968 The ‘Prague Spring’ fails, ending with occupation by Soviet Pact army.
1989 John Paul II proclaimed the upcoming canonization of Agnes of Prague and requested the Communist government to receive him in Prague with a view to performing the ceremony outside the Cathedral of St Vitus. The Communist Government refused. John Paul offered to come to Prague and perform the canonisation at the airport - which is international territory. The Communist Government refused. The Pope then settled to canonize Agnes in Rome, on 12 November. In Prague and elsewhere, huge crowds assembled to pray and to show solidarity on the occasion. These developed into the student demonstrations of the Velvet Revolution. On November 29, twenty-seven days later, the Communist party dominance ordained in the constitution was abolished, the government resigned and on the 10 December the Husak government was sworn in.
Agnes is still the champion and the mother of her country.
1990 - 1997 Young women who had struggled to create an underground Poor Clare life in the Czech Republic since before the ‘Prague Spring’, one of whom had been the daughter of a leading Communist official, are able to leave and form their Poor Clare life with our Sisters at Paderborn in Germany
1997 The sisters return to the Czech Republic and found a House at Brno (Brünn). Mother Maria Thoma is the first Abbess. Both Mother Maria Thoma and our Mother Maria Francesca, were, before their conversion, Palottine Missionary Sisters; they made their Novitiate together!
2011 The Eighth centenary of Agnes’ birth. The Czech state gives Agnes the official title: ‘The Saint who Overthrew Communism’!