The Slavniks/Slavníks or Slavnikids (Czech: Slavníkovci; German: Slawnikiden; Polish: S?awnikowice) was a dynasty in the Duchy of Bohemia during the 10th century. It is considered to be of White Croats origin. The center of the semi-independent principality was the gord of Libice located at the confluence of the rivers Cidlina and Elbe. The Slavníks competed with the P?emyslid dynasty for control over Bohemia and eventually succumbed to them.
The vast majority of what is known about the Slavnik family, is from the works by John Canaparius, Bruno of Querfurt, and Cosmas of Prague. Prince (dux) Slavník (+981), is generally considered as the founder of the dynasty, as there is no other known older relevant personality. He therefore also gave the name to the whole family. According to Bruno of Querfurt, Slavník was the grandson of the Saxon duke Henry I, by maternal line most probably of an unknown Slavic woman, with whom Otto I had an illegitimate son William. This connection explains the friendly relationship between Slavnik's son Vojt?ch, Saint Adalbert of Prague, with Otto III, and the Otto's efforts (Congress of Gniezno) around St. Adalbert's canonization, and the installation of Adalbert's brother Radim Gaudentius as the first archbishop of Gniezno Cathedral.
According to Canaprius and Bruno of Querfurt, Slavnik was a noble ruler, and although he ruled over a vast territory and had plenty of gold and silver and minions, he was a humble man, generous towards to the poor people. His wife St?ezislava, a noble woman characterized by modesty and compassion, came from a noble Slavic family, "worthy of his royal blood". As such, they were appreciated by both nobles and common people. Slavník had at least 6 sons, among whom two - Vojt?ch (Adalbert) and the illegitimate Radim (Gaudentius) - later became saints.
Slavnik's duchy tried to keep its quasi-independence by maintaining friendly relationships with its neighbours, such as with the blood-related Saxon Ottonian dynasty, or with the P?emyslid dynasty or Zlicans (supposedly related to St?ezislava), and with the Polish Piast dynasty.
Slavnik's heir was his son Sob?slav who rushed to consolidate the princedom's independence. For instance, he began to coin money in Libice, known among numismatists as the silver senars, in spite of the primacy of Prague. Prague was the capital of the Duchy of Bohemia, ruled by Boleslaus II, and the Diocese of Prague was founded there in 973. However, after Adalbert was appointed the head of the Diocese in 982, a conflict escalated between Boleslaus II of Bohemia and Poland's Duke Boles?aw I Chrobry in 985, and in 989 Adalbert left the Diocese, only to return in 991 or 992 when a truce was signed. Although he managed to found the B?evnov Monastery, as he was from another principality's noble family, he did not have enough authority and support by Boleslaus II in the Diocese, and in late 994 offered his episcopal see to Strachkvas, Boleslaus II's brother, who nevertheless refused it. In 995 Adalbert again temporarily left for Rome.
In these conflicts lies the answer of their downfall. Slavniks did not help Boleslaus II, they were either neutral or allied with Boles?aw I of Poland. This was a direct challenge to Boleslaus II; he could not afford any mighty rivals and was determined to add the Slavnik lands to his dukedom. In early September of 995, while Sob?slav was at war against Lusatian tribes as Boleslaw's and Otto III's ally, Boleslaus II with confederates (the Vr?ovci) stormed Libice on September 28, and massacred all of the family, although he originally promised a truce to Sob?slav's brothers until his return.
Only three Slavnik family members survived, because they were not present at Libice at that time: Sob?slav, Adalbert and Radim (Gaudentius).
Sob?slav temporarily lived in Poland and was comforted by Boles?aw I. The ruler also stood out as an intermediary for Adalbert toward Boleslaus II, appealing for Adalbert's return, but the nobility and the people did not accept Adalbert, as they were afraid of his possible vengeful intentions.
In 996, when Strachkvas P?emyslid was going to assume the office of a bishop in Prague, he suddenly died during the ceremony. The strength of the conflict of the two dynasties is also demonstrated by the P?emyslid rulers' refusal to ransom Saint Adalbert's body from the Prussians who murdered him, so it was purchased by Boles?aw I, and was quickly canonized by the common effort with Otto III.
Soon after, a temporary anarchy escalated in Bohemia, as two weak dukes Boleslaus III and Vladivoj followed, leading to the Boles?aw I's temporary control of Prague. Eventually, a year later, Sob?slav was killed by Bohemians defending a bridge near Prague, shielding the retreat of Polish forces from Prague in 1004.
According to the Czech archaeologist E. ?imek (1930), who researched the note by Cosmas of Prague, the center of the Slavnik's principality was Libice, a castrum located at the confluence of the rivers Cidlina and Elbe, and fort Stara Kou?im. It included castrum Litomy?l, and their border in the East went as far as castrum K?odzko on the Nisa river in now South-Western Poland. In the North their land went as far Charvatce, probably previous or newly founded settlement by the White Croats. In the West their territory stretched along the rivers Jizera, and further in the South-West along Vltava and in the short part M?e. The territory included settlements Netolice, Doudleby and Chýnov.
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