When Duke Wenceslas I of Luxembourg died heirless in 1383, he bequeathed the rule of the duchy to his eldest nephew Wenceslas II, son of his elder half-brother Charles IV. As such, Wenceslas II had grown up at the royal court in Prague and had followed in his father’s footsteps as both King of Bohemia and Roman King. As Count of Luxembourg and King of Bohemia, Wenceslas (II)’ grandfather John the Blind (d. 1346) had decades earlier faced the challenging task of ruling two territories, with centres of power more than 700 kilometres apart, at the same time. In 1388, the conditions for rule were further complicated when Wenceslas II pledged the dynasty’s ancestral lands to his cousin, Margrave Josse of Moravia. For several decades, the duchy was to remain in the hands of changing lienholders, so that the inhabitants of the territory were permanently confronted with a kind of ‘dual lordship’. This paper examines what this special situation meant for the actors involved in rule and how political processes took shape in such a multi-level system. It shows how actors from the different levels of power interacted with each other and what self-image and strategies of action they developed under the given conditions.
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