Vladislaus II (Vladislav) (c.1110–18 January 1174) was the second king of Bohemia from 1158. Before that he had been duke of Bohemia from 1140. He abdicated in 1172, the royal title was not yet hereditary. In 1212 the Emperor Frederick made it hereditary.
He was an adventurous youth and, having no possibility of reaching the throne during the reign of his uncle Sobeslav I, he moved to Bavaria. He returned at the death of Sobeslav in 1140 and, with the help of his brother-in-law, the king of Germany, Conrad III, he was elected prince of Bohemia.
At first, he had to contend with the claims of his cousin, the son of Sobeslav, also named Vladislav. By Sobeslav's request, the Emperor Lothair II had recognised the rights of his son at the Diet of Bamberg in May 1138, then, in June, the nobility affirmed them at Sadska. Another diet at Bamberg confirmed the succession of the son of Vladislav, however, in April 1140. The local dukes, Conrad II of Znojmo, Vratislaus II of Brno, and Otto III of Olomouc, gave him trouble. They were excommunicated by Henry Zdik, bishop of Olomouc, who was then driven out of his diocese. The territorial dukes then defeated Vladislav through treason at Vyoska on 22 April 1142, but their siege of Prague failed. Vladislav kept his throne through the help of Conrad III of Germany, whose half-sister Gertrude of Babenberg he married.
In 1147, he accompanied the king on the Second Crusade, but halted his march at Constantinople. On his way back to Bohemia he passed through Kiev and Kraków. Thanks to his friendship with Conrad's successor, the emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Vladislav was elected king of Bohemia on 11 January 1158, becoming the second Bohemian prince to boast such an imperial title after Vratislaus II. He was also invested with Upper Lusatia at Regensburg and his coronation was celebrated in a second ceremony at Milan on 8 September. Vladislav was a firm ally of Barbarossa. He duly accompanied him to Milan in 1158. During the Italian expeditions of 1161, 1162, and 1167, Vladislav entrusted the command of the Czech contingent to his brother Duke Děpold I of Jamnitz and his son Frederick.
After the revolt of the Moravian dukes, Vladislav gradually took the control of the strongholds of Moravia: Brünn Brno with the death of Vratislaus II in 1156, Olmütz Olomouc with the death of Otto III (in spite of the claims of Sobeslav, the son of Duke Sobeslav, who was imprisoned), and finally Znojmo with the death of Conrad II. Vladislav also intervened in Hungary in 1163 on behalf of the emperor. He married his second son, Sviatopluk, to a Hungarian princess and had diplomatic contact with Manuel I Comnenus. In 1164, he even married his six-year-old daughter Helena to Peter, son of Manuel.
In 1167, Daniel I, bishop of Prague since 1148 and Vladislav's greatest advisor, died. As a result, relations between the kings of Bohemia and Germany were strained. When his son (Vojtech) Adalbert III became archbishop of Salzburg in 1169, the emperor suspected him of supporting Pope Alexander III.
Eager to impose his son Frederick on the throne of the still-elective duchy of Bohemia, he abdicated without either the consensus of the Bohemian noblemen or the Emperor's permission. Frederick kept the throne for less than one year, before yielding the place to Sobeslav II, the elder son of Sobeslav I.
Vladislav lived in Thuringia in the lands of his second wife, where he died in January 1174. He was buried in the Cathedral of Meissen. His reign was marked by the founding of numerous Premonstratensian and Cistercian abbeys in Bohemia, as well as the construction of a stone bridge across Vltava in Prague: the construct was named Judith Bridge in honour of Vladislav's second wife.
By his second wife, Judith of Thuringia (married 1155), daughter of Louis I, Landgrave of Thuringia, he had the following issue: