“The greatness and fall of King Ottokar” Grilparzer in brief summary

In the Prague Castle of the King of Bohemia, Přemysl Ottokar, confusion reigns among his courtiers. Ottokar dissolves the marriage with his wife Margarita of Austria, the widow of the German Emperor Heinrich von Hohenstaufen. The king concluded this marriage for reasons of profit, in order to take possession of Austria, which belongs to the queen by inheritance. This is well understood by Margarita – the “queen of tears”, who lost two children in her first marriage. She already has neither hope nor the desire to have an heir. She became the wife of Ottokar in order to avoid endless wars, wishing to connect the world with Bohemia and Austria. In her eyes, the venerable Von Rosenberg family started intrigues, tearing down the already weak ties of her marriage with Ottokar, to marry the king on the young Berthe von Rosenberg and get closer to the throne. However, because of his self-interest plans, Ottokar quickly abandons the girl, not caring at all about her honor and the honor of her family. He already has other plans. This Margaret tells Count Rudolph von Habsburg, the future emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, bitterly noticing how much evil Ottokar committed. Noble Margarita, heiress of the ancient family, is forced to give him before divorce her inherited Austria and Styria, so as not to cause new bloodshed. She still believes in the mind and humanity of Ottokar.

The power of Ottokar has no barrier and no borders. He wants to conquer all of medieval Europe. For his Prague, he wants the same power and glory that he enjoyed in the 13th century. Paris, Cologne, London and Vienna. Strengthening the power of the Czech Republic requires more and more sacrifices. Without doubting the understanding of Margarita, Ottokar confidently informs her that he “launched his hand” and to Hungary, intending to make a marriage with Kunigunda, the granddaughter of the Hungarian king. “My country is now marrying and bred me,” he cynically declares. In vain Marguerite warns him that unrighteous deeds are usually accompanied by manifestations of anger and betrayal behind the winner’s back. Ottokar feels his strength and good fortune, he is not afraid of enemies, but is indifferent to human destinies.

The princes of the Holy Roman Empire sent an embassy to Ottokar with an offer to accept the imperial crown, if at the ceremony of electing the emperor at the Seim in Frankfurt the choice would fall on him. But the presumptuous king does not hurry with the answer, “first let them choose”, then he will answer. Neither he, nor his courtiers, no one doubts that they will choose him – the strongest. Fear will make such a choice.

Meanwhile, in the throne room of the royal castle, to the sounds of fanfare, a motley bohemian nobility and military commanders, knights of Austria, Carinthia and Styria gathered. The Tatar ambassadors came to ask for peace. With his children and Kunigunda, the King of Hungary is present. Everyone glorifies Ottokar, everyone is in a hurry to prove his devotion and proclaim him, not yet elected, the German emperor.

Ambassadors of the Holy Roman Empire and Count von Habsburg, under their protection, withdraw from the feast the unwanted now Marguerite here. They are outraged by the cruelty and cunning of Ottokar.

The young queen, the beautiful “arrogant Magyar” was already disappointed in her elderly wife, who is only interested in public affairs. Kunigunda misses the gay paternal court, where she was enthusiastically served by all the men of the kingdom. With her gets an affair Civic von Rosenberg, until the uncovered secret enemy of Ottokar, his court and confidant. But women – this is only a means of prosperity for Ottokar, but that intelligent Tsivish dare not encroach on the honor of the king, he is sure. Like a thunderbolt in the midst of a clear sky, for all there is a message that at the famous Seim in Frankfurt, the German Emperor is elected not by Ottokar, but by Rudolf von Habsburg. The opinion of those who resented the irrepressible power-hungryness of Ottokar, his inhuman acts, lack of rights, created on the lands subordinate to him, won. The empire needs a just sovereign,

The new German emperor invites Ottokar to discuss the necessity of returning all those lands that were...

captured by sword or intrigues. This will be a just and lawful act, in the interests of the Holy Roman Empire. But what can the Bohemian King answer to the emperor, except by refusing to meet and threatening new bloody wars, replacing him with politics?

On the Danube, on the opposite banks are the armies of Rudolf von Habsburg and Ottokar. In the Bohemian camp of the king, panic reigns, the Austrians and the Styrians run to the side of the emperor. In futile rage, Ottokar threatens to turn Austria into a desolate desert. But the harsh reality forces him, an experienced warrior, to recognize the inevitability of the peace negotiations offered him by the emperor.

Rudolf von Habsburg is a wise, caring and just ruler, he is completely devoid of ambition, he lives only in the interests of the empire and his subjects. This is the exact opposite of Otkar. Two months after his election, he managed to rally the princes around him, he even respected opponents. Lacking the ego of Ottokar, Rudolph proposes a no-man’s land for negotiations. Civic von Rosenberg persuades Ottokar to continue the war, promising victory. After a long internal struggle, Ottokar agrees to negotiate, convinced by the only courtier who is loyal to him, the Chancellor, who believes that only in this way Ottokar will be able to preserve his honor and glory, to save the country from bloodshed.

At the meeting, in the crown and armor, the arrogant Ottokar finds himself in an unusual position for him. The Emperor firmly demands that Ottokar return what belongs to the empire by right, to that part of Austria. At this time, the mayor of Vienna brings the emperor keys from the capital. The knights of Styria voluntarily come to look for protection from Ottokar from the emperor. “The Lord’s will” forbids fighting, Rudolf believes. Having become emperor in the “sacred choice”, having realized the burden of his responsibility to the people and every individual, Rudolf swore “peace to defend and rightly rule”, To this he calls and Ottokar, for to give peace to the people means to make him happy.

Ottokar agrees to return all the lands, while accepting – the permission to rule Bohemia and Moravia. He agrees to the emperor’s demand to kneel at this ceremony – not before mortals, as Rudolph explains, but “before the empire and God.” Rudolph delicately separates the tent from the tent kneeling from unnecessary looks. This is hampered by Tsivish, having cut the tent and exposing the king in front of the shocked retinue.

Rudolf invites Ottokar to a feast in honor of the “bloodless victory.” But Ottokar, feeling humiliated, tears off the crown and runs away.

For two days he disappears from everyone, and then he comes to the door of his castle, sits at the threshold, so as not to “defile” the castle with himself. Before him passes Burt, thrown to them, who has fallen into insanity. The young queen curses her fate and remembers the king those recent times when he sacrificed other people’s lives. She refuses to be his wife until the disgrace of the defeat of the king is washed away.

He warmed Kunigunda, Ottokar decides to break the peace treaty and collect an army for the battle with the emperor. Now he is defeated in everything – on the battlefields and in his personal life. Kunigunda escapes with Tsivish in the camp of the emperor. From the “broken heart” Margaret dies. Resentment, pain and regret for an unjustly lived life seize Ottokar. Before the last in his life battle, he realizes how tragic and disastrous his rule was. And not from the fear of death, but from sincere repentance asks God’s judgment on himself: “Kill me, do not touch my people.”

The life of Ottokar ends in a duel with a knight once betrayed to him, avenging the deceased through the fault of Ottokar’s father, for his beloved Bert. Before the coffin with the body of Ottokar, the prayers of the insane Bertha and the instructions of Rudolph, who passes his rule to Austria, are heard. The German Emperor warns the continuers of his kind from the most terrible pride – the desire for world power, Let the greatness and fall of Ottokar serve as a reminder and reproach!


“The greatness and fall of King Ottokar” Grilparzer in brief summary