The Breslau Psalter

Anna Premyslid, mother of Henry III, Duke of Breslau


The reference to Henry in the prayer on fol. 146r would have been relevant also to Anna Premyslid (d. 1265), the widowed duchess of Henry II of Breslau (d. 1241) and mother of Henry III. Anna belonged to one of the most powerful and pious dynasties in Central Europe, the Premyslid rulers of Bohemia. Her brother was Wenceslas I, King of Bohemia (1230-1253). Her sister, Agnes of Bohemia (1211-1282), founded the Franciscan convent of St Clare in Prague. St Clare (canonised in 1255) is included in the Litany of the Breslau Psalter. The feast of the 3rd-century Roman saint Agnes (21 January) is among the few written in red and accorded an Octave in the Calendar, honouring Anna’s sister Agnes. The feast of St Wenceslas of Prague (28 September) is also written in red in the Calendar. He is included in the Litany as well, together with Saints Vitus and Adalbert of Prague. If Anna commissioned the Psalter for herself or for her daughter-in-law, Helen, work on it must have started before her death in 1265. Given the extensive pictorial programme, work would have continued after her death, most probably under the patronage of her younger son, Vladislav (d. 1270). He returned from Padua to become Bishop of Passau and Archbishop of Salzburg in 1265, and Bishop of Breslau in 1268. Vladislav ruled Breslau as regent after his brother’s assassination in 1266 and took care of his son, the future Henry IV, sending him for safety to Ottokar II, King of Bohemia (1253-1278).