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Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
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Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor

The Roman Emperor Charles IV of the House of Luxembourg (May 14, 131629 November 1378) was elected rival king of the Romans in 1346 to emperor Louis IV, succeeded his father John of Luxembourg as king of Bohemia in 1346, and was crowned as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 1355. Since 1349 Charles IV was uncontested ruler of the Holy Roman Empire till his death in 1378.

During his reign imperial policy refocused on the Germanic sphere and abandoned the ideal of the Holy Roman Empire as a universal monarchy. Charles IV concentrated his energies chiefly on the economic and intellectual development of Bohemia, founding the University of Prague in 1348 and encouraging the early humanists – he is known to have corresponded with Petrarch. Owing to his activity as a builder and patron, art and architecture flourished in his capital; construction of the Charles Bridge and of the Hradčany;, completion of Saint Vitus Cathedral by Peter Parler are among best examples. From the reign of Charles IV dates the first flowering of manuscript painting in Prague. In 1356 he issued the Golden Bull, which codified the procedures for imperial elections, but had the disastrous effect of causing minor princes who were left out of the electoral process to lose allegiance to the empire.

His French education left a lasting mark on Charles. His father, known as John the Blind, king of Bohemia, was an ardent francophile and patron of the poet Guillaume de Machaut (he died at Crécy in 1346 while fighting on the French side). Charles's sister Bona, married the eldest son of Philip VI of France, the future John II of France, in 1335. Thus, Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg was the maternal uncle of King Charles V of France, who solicited his relative's advice at Metz in 1356 during the Parisian Revolt. This family connection was celebrated publicly when Charles IV made a solemn visit to his nephew in 1378, just months before his death. A detailed account of the occasion, enriched by many splendid miniatures, can be found in Charles V's copy of the Grandes Chroniques de France.

Charles married four times. His first wife was Blanche (Czech:Blanka z Valois, 13161348), daughter of Charles, Count of Valois, a half – sister of Philip IV of France. They had two daughters, Margaret (1335-1349), who married Louis I of Hungary; and Katharina (1342-1395), who married Rudolf IV of Austria and Otto V of Bavaria, Elector of Brandenburg.

He secondly married Anne (Czech:Anna Falcká, 13291353), daughter of the Elector Palatine Rudolph II, but they had no children.

His third wife was Anne of Swidnica (Czech:Anna Svídnická, 13391362), by whom he had a son Wenceslaus (13611419), Charles's successor as Emperor and king of Bohemia.

His fourth wife was Elizabeth of Pomerania (Czech:Alžběta Pomořanská, 1345 or 13471393). They had four children:

Preceded by:
Louis IV
King of Germany
Also Holy Roman Emperor
Succeeded by:
Wenceslaus

Preceded by:
John the Blind of Luxemburg
List of Czech rulers Succeeded by:
Wenceslaus IV