Hussite Wars
The Hussite Wars, also called the Bohemian Wars involved the military actions against and amongst the followers of Jan Hus
Jan Hus
Jan Hus , often referred to in English as John Hus or John Huss, was a Czech priest, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague...

 in Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 in the period 1419 to circa 1434. The Hussite Wars were notable for the extensive use of early hand-held gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 weapons such as hand cannons. The Hussite
The Hussites were a Christian movement following the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus , who became one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation...

 warriors were basically infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

, and their many defeats of larger armies with heavily armoured knights helped effect the infantry revolution. In the end, it was an inconclusive war.


The Hussite movement assumed a revolutionary character as soon as the news of the execution of Jan Hus
Jan Hus
Jan Hus , often referred to in English as John Hus or John Huss, was a Czech priest, philosopher, reformer, and master at Charles University in Prague...

 by order of the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

 (6 July 1415) reached Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

. The knights and nobles of Bohemia and Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

, who were in favour of church reform, sent a protest to the Council of Constance on (2 September 1415), known as the protestatio Bohemorum, which condemned the execution of Hus in the strongest language. The attitude of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxemburg KG was King of Hungary, of Croatia from 1387 to 1437, of Bohemia from 1419, and Holy Roman Emperor for four years from 1433 until 1437, the last Emperor of the House of Luxemburg. He was also King of Italy from 1431, and of Germany from 1411...

, who sent threatening letters to Bohemia declaring that he would shortly drown all Wycliffites and Hussites, greatly incensed the people.

Troubles broke out in various parts of Bohemia, and drove many Catholic priests from their parishes. Almost from the beginning the Hussites divided into two groups, though many minor divisions also arose among them. Shortly before his death Hus had accepted a doctrine preached during his absence by his adherents at Prague, namely that of Utraquism
Utraquism was a Christian dogma first proposed by Jacob of Mies in 1414. It maintained that the Eucharist should be administered "in both kinds" — as both bread and wine — to all the congregation, including the laity...

, or the obligation of the faithful to receive communion in both kinds (sub utraque specie). This doctrine became the watchword of the moderate Hussites known as the Utraquists or Calixtines, from the Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 calix (the chalice), in Czech
Czech language
Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers; it is the majority language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide. The language was known as Bohemian in English until the late 19th century...

 kališníci (from kalich); while the more extreme Hussites soon became known as the Taborites (táborité), named after the city of Tábor
Tábor is a city of the Czech Republic, in the South Bohemian Region. It is named after Mount Tabor, which is believed by many to be the place of the Transfiguration of Christ; however, the name became popular and nowadays translates to "camp" or "encampment" in the Czech language.The town was...

 that became their centre; or Orphans (sirotci) a name they adopted after the death of their beloved leader and general Jan Žižka
Jan Žižka
Jan Žižka z Trocnova a Kalicha , Czech general and Hussite leader, follower of Jan Hus, was born at small village Trocnov in Bohemia, into a gentried family. He was nicknamed "One-eyed Žižka"...


Under the influence of his brother Sigismund, King Wenceslaus IV (Václav in Czech, Wenzel in German) of Bohemia endeavored to stem the Hussite movement. A certain number of Hussites led by Nicolas of Hus — no relation of Jan Hus, though of the same town — left Prague. They held meetings in various parts of Bohemia, particularly at Sezimovo Ústí
Sezimovo Ústí
Sezimovo Ústí is a town in the South Bohemian Region, Czech Republic. It is located approximately 83 km south of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, and 60 km north of České Budějovice, the capital of the South Bohemian Region....

 (not to be confused with Ústí nad Labem
Ústí nad Labem
Ústí nad Labem is a city of the Czech Republic, in the Ústí nad Labem Region. The city is the 7th-most populous in the country.Ústí is situated in a mountainous district at the confluence of the Bílina and the Elbe Rivers, and, besides being an active river port, is an important railway junction...

), near the spot where the town of Tábor was founded soon afterwards. At these meetings they violently denounced Sigismund, and the people everywhere prepared for war.

In spite of the departure of many prominent Hussites, the troubles at Prague continued. On 30 July 1419, when a Hussite procession headed by the priest Jan Želivský
Jan Želivský
Jan Želivský was a Czech priest and a radical representative of the Hussite reformation.He was a very popular priest, and led the Hussite procession through the streets of Prague that ended in the First Defenestration of Prague, which was one of the events that triggered the Hussite Wars.For a...

 marched through the streets of Prague, anti-Hussites threw stones at the Hussites from the windows of the town-hall of the ‘new town’
New Town Hall, Prague
The New Town Hall is the administrative centre of Prague's New Town Quarter, or "Nové Město". In 1419 it was the site of the first of the three defenestrations of Prague.-External links:*...

. The people, headed by Jan Žižka, threw the burgomaster and several town-councillors, who had instigated this outrage, from the windows and into the street (the first "Defenestration of Prague
Defenestrations of Prague
The Defenestrations of Prague were two incidents in the history of Bohemia. The first occurred in 1419 and the second in 1618, although the term "Defenestration of Prague" more commonly refers to the latter incident. Both helped to trigger prolonged conflict within Bohemia and beyond...

"), where they were killed by the fall.

It has been reputed that King Wenceslaus IV
Wenceslaus, King of the Romans
Wenceslaus ) was, by election, German King from 1376 and, by inheritance, King of Bohemia from 1378. He was the third Bohemian and second German monarch of the Luxembourg dynasty...

 was so stunned by the defenestration that he died from the shock shortly after on 16 August 1419. (Alternately, it is possible that he may have just died of natural causes.)

The outbreak of fighting

The death of the king resulted in renewed troubles in Prague and in almost all parts of Bohemia. Many Catholics, mostly Germans — for they had almost all remained faithful to the papal cause — suffered expulsion from the Bohemian cities. In Prague, in November 1419, severe fighting took place between the Hussites and the mercenaries whom Queen Sophia (widow of Wenceslaus and regent after the death of her husband) had hurriedly collected. After a considerable part of the city had been destroyed, the parties declared a truce on 13 November. The nobles, who though favourable to the Hussite cause supported the regent, promised to act as mediators with Sigismund, while the citizens of Prague consented to restore to the royal forces the castle of Vyšehrad
Vyšehrad is a castle located in the city of Prague, Czech Republic. It was probably built in the 10th century, on a hill over the Vltava River...

, which had fallen into their hands. Žižka, who disapproved of this compromise, left Prague and retired to Plzeň. Unable to maintain himself there he marched to southern Bohemia, and after defeating the Catholics at the battle of Sudoměř
Battle of Sudomer
The Battle of Sudomĕř was fought on the 25th of March, 1420, between Catholic and Hussite forces. The Hussites were led by Břeněk of Švihov - who was killed in battle - and Jan Žižka, whose forces proved victorious...

 (25 March 1420) in the first pitched battle of the Hussite wars, he arrived at Ústí, one of the earliest meeting-places of the Hussites. Not considering its situation sufficiently strong, he moved to the neighbouring new settlement of the Hussites, called by the biblical name of Tábor.

Tabor soon became the centre of the advanced Hussites, who differed from the Utraquists by recognizing only two sacraments - Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 and Communion
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 - and by rejecting most of the ceremony of the Roman Catholic Church. The ecclesiastical organization of Tabor had a somewhat puritanical character, and the government was established on a thoroughly democratic basis. Four captains of the people (hejtmané) were elected, one of whom was Žižka; and a very strictly military discipline was instituted.

Wagenburg tactics

Depending on the terrain, Hussites prepared carts for the battle, forming them into squares or circles. The carts were joined wheel to wheel by chains and positioned aslant, with their corners attached to each other, so that horses could be harnessed to them quickly, if necessary. In front of this wall of carts a ditch
Ditch (fortification)
A ditch in military engineering is an obstacle, designed to slow down or break up an attacking force, while a trench is intended to provide cover to the defenders...

 was dug by camp followers. The crew of each cart consisted of 16-22 soldiers: 4-8 crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

men, 2 handgun
A handgun is a firearm designed to be held and operated by one hand. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns ....

ners, 6-8 soldiers equipped with pikes
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

 or flails
Flail (weapon)
The flail is a hand weapon derived from the agricultural tool.The handle is attached to the striking part of a weapon by a flexible chain or cord...

 (the flail was the Hussite "national weapon"), 2 shield carriers and 2 drivers.

The Hussites' battle consisted of two stages, the first defensive, the second an offensive counterattack. In the first stage the army placed the carts near the enemy army and by means of artillery fire provoked the enemy into battle. The artillery would usually inflict heavy casualties at close range.

In order to avoid more losses, the enemy knights finally attacked. Then the infantry hidden behind the carts used firearms and crossbows to ward off the attack, weakening the enemy. The shooters aimed first at the horses, depriving the cavalry of its main advantage. Many of the knights died as their horses were shot and they fell.

As soon as the enemy's morale was lowered, the second stage, an offensive counterattack, began. The infantry and the cavalry burst out from behind the carts striking violently at the enemy - mostly from the flanks. While fighting on the flanks and being shelled from the carts the enemy was not able to put up much resistance. They were forced to withdraw, leaving behind dismounted knights in heavy armor who were unable to escape the battlefield. The enemy armies suffered heavy losses and the Hussites soon had the reputation of not taking captives.

The first anti-Hussite crusade

After the death of his childless brother Wenceslaus, Sigismund had acquired a claim on the Bohemian crown, though it was then, and remained till much later, in question whether Bohemia was an hereditary or an elective monarchy. A firm adherent of the Church of Rome, Sigismund was successful in obtaining aid from Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V , born Odo Colonna, was Pope from 1417 to 1431. His election effectively ended the Western Schism .-Biography:...

, who issued a bull on 17 March 1420 which proclaimed a crusade “for the destruction of the Wycliffites, Hussites and all other heretic
Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

s in Bohemia". Sigismund and many German princes arrived before Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 on 30 June at the head of a vast army of crusaders from all parts of Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, largely consisting of adventurers attracted by the hope of pillage. They immediately began a siege of the city, which had, however, soon to be abandoned. Negotiations took place for a settlement of the religious differences. The united Hussites formulated their demands in a statement known as the “Four Articles of Prague". This document, the most important of the Hussite period, ran, in the wording of the contemporary chronicler, Laurence of Brezova, as follows:
"1. The word of God shall be preached and made known in the kingdom of Bohemia freely and in an orderly manner by the priests of the Lord.

2. The sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist shall be freely administered in the two kinds, that is bread and wine, to all the faithful in Christ who are not precluded by mortal sin - according to the word and disposition of Our Saviour.

3. The secular power over riches and worldly goods which the clergy possesses in contradiction to Christ’s precept, to the prejudice of its office and to the detriment of the secular arm, shall be taken and withdrawn from it, and the clergy itself shall be brought back to the evangelical rule and an apostolic life such as that which Christ and his apostles led.

4. All mortal sins, and in particular all public and other disorders, which are contrary to God’s law shall in every rank of life be duly and judiciously prohibited and destroyed by those whose office it is."

These articles, which contain the essence of the Hussite doctrine, were rejected by Sigismund, mainly through the influence of the papal legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

s, who considered them prejudicial to the authority of the Roman see. Hostilities therefore continued. Though Sigismund had retired from Prague, the castles of Vyšehrad
Vyšehrad is a castle located in the city of Prague, Czech Republic. It was probably built in the 10th century, on a hill over the Vltava River...

 and Hradčany
Hradčany , the Castle District, is the district of the city of Prague, Czech Republic, surrounding the Prague Castle.The castle is said to be the biggest castle in the world at about 570 meters in length and an average of about 130 meters wide. Its history stretches back to the 9th century...

 remained in possession of his troops. The citizens of Prague laid siege to the Vyšehrad (see Battle of Vyšehrad
Battle of Vyšehrad
The Battle of Vyšehrad was a series of engagements at the start of the Hussite War between Hussite forces and Catholic crusaders sent by Emperor Sigismund. The battle took place at the castle of Vyšehrad from August 16, 1419, to c...

), and towards the end of October (1420) the garrison was on the point of capitulating through famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

. Sigismund attempted to relieve the fortress, but was decisively defeated by the Hussites on 1 November near the village of Pankrác
Pankrác is a neighborhood of Prague, Czech Republic. It is located south of the city centre on the hills of the right bank of the Vltava River and is part of the Prague 4 district as a deal of Nusle quarter. The name derives from the local baroque initially very old church of St Pancras, which is...

. The castles of Vyšehrad and Hradčany now capitulated, and shortly afterwards almost all Bohemia fell into the hands of the Hussites.

The second anti-Hussite crusade

Internal troubles prevented the followers of Hus from fully capitalising on their victory. At Prague a demagogue, the priest Jan Želivský
Jan Želivský
Jan Želivský was a Czech priest and a radical representative of the Hussite reformation.He was a very popular priest, and led the Hussite procession through the streets of Prague that ended in the First Defenestration of Prague, which was one of the events that triggered the Hussite Wars.For a...

, for a time obtained almost unlimited authority over the lower classes of the townsmen; and at Tábor a religious communistic movement (that of the so-called Adamites
The Adamites, or Adamians, were adherents of an Early Christian sect that flourished in North Africa in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, but knew later revivals.-Ancient Adamites:...

) was sternly suppressed by Žižka. Shortly afterwards a new crusade against the Hussites was undertaken. A large German army entered Bohemia and in August 1421 laid siege to the town of Žatec
Žatec is an old town in the Czech Republic, in Louny District, Ústí nad Labem Region. It has a population of 19,813 .The earliest historical reference to Sacz is in the Latin chronicle of Thietmar of Merseburg of 1004. During the 11th century it belonged to the Vršovci - a powerful Czech...

. After an unsuccessful attempt of storming the city, the crusaders retreated somewhat ingloriously on hearing that the Hussite troops were approaching. Sigismund only arrived in Bohemia at the end of the year 1421. He took possession of the town of Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora
Kutná Hora is a city in Bohemia, now the Czech Republic in the Central Bohemian Region.-History:The town began in 1142 with the settlement of the first Cistercian Monastery in Bohemia, Kloster Sedlitz, brought from the Imperial immediate Cistercian Waldsassen Abbey...

 but was decisively defeated by Jan Žižka at the Battle of Deutschbrod (Německý Brod) on 6 January 1422.

Civil war

Bohemia was for a time free from foreign intervention, but internal discord again broke out, caused partly by theological strife and partly by the ambition of agitators. Jan Želivský was on 9 March 1422 arrested by the town council of Prague and decapitated. There were troubles at Tábor also, where a more radical party opposed Žižka's authority. Bohemia obtained a temporary respite when, in 1422, Prince Sigismund Korybut
Sigismund Korybut
Sigismund Korybut was a duke from the Gediminid dynasty, best known as a military commander of the Hussite army and a governor of Bohemia and Prague during the Hussite Wars....

 of Lithuania (nephew of King Władysław II Jagiełło of Poland) briefly became ruler of the country. He was a governor sent by Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas, who accepted the Hussite proposal to be their new king. His authority was recognized by the Utraquist nobles, the citizens of Prague, and the more moderate Taborites. Sigismund Korybut, however, remained a short time in Bohemia, as in 1423 he was called to come back to Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

, after Jagiello had made a treaty with Sigismund. On his departure, civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

 broke out, the Taborites opposing in arms the more moderate Utraquists, who at this period are also called by the chroniclers the "Praguers", as Prague was their principal stronghold. On 27 April 1423, Žižka now again leading, the Taborites defeated the Utraquist army under Čeněk of Wartenberg
Cenek of Wartenberg
Čeněk of Wartenberg was a commander of the Royalist Bohemian forces at the start of the Hussite Wars. Up until the first half of 1420 he was a commander of the Utraquist League, a moderate faction of the Hussite movement...

 at the Battle of Hořice; and shortly afterwards an armistice was concluded at Konopilt.

The third anti-Hussite crusade

Papal influence had meanwhile succeeded in calling forth a new crusade against Bohemia, but it resulted in complete failure. In spite of the endeavours of their rulers, Poles and Lithuanians did not wish to attack the kindred Czechs; the Germans were prevented by internal discord from taking joint action against the Hussites; and the King of Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, who had landed in Germany with a large force intending to take part in the crusade, soon returned to his own country. Free for a time from foreign aggression, the Hussites invaded Moravia, where a large part of the population favoured their creed; but, paralysed again by dissensions, they soon returned to Bohemia. The city of Hradec Králové
Hradec Králové
Hradec Králové is a city of the Czech Republic, in the Hradec Králové Region of Bohemia. The city's economy is based on food-processing technology, photochemical, and electronics manufacture. Traditional industries include musical instrument manufacturing – the best known being PETROF pianos...

, which had been under Utraquist rule, espoused the doctrine of Tabor, and called Žižka to its aid. After several military successes gained by Žižka in 1423 and the following year, a treaty of peace between the Hussites was concluded on 13 September 1424 at Libeň, a village near Prague, now part of that city.

Campaigns of 1426 and 1427

In 1426 the Hussites were again attacked by foreign enemies. In June of that year their forces, led by Prokop the Great
Prokop the Great
Prokop or Prokop the Great was one of the most prominent Hussite generals of the Hussite Wars...

 - who took the command of the Taborites shortly after Žižka's death in October 1424 - and Sigismund Korybut, who had returned to Bohemia, signally defeated the Germans at Ústí nad Labem
Ústí nad Labem
Ústí nad Labem is a city of the Czech Republic, in the Ústí nad Labem Region. The city is the 7th-most populous in the country.Ústí is situated in a mountainous district at the confluence of the Bílina and the Elbe Rivers, and, besides being an active river port, is an important railway junction...

. After this great victory, and another at the Battle of Tachov
Battle of Tachov
The Battle of Tachov or Battle of Mies was a battle fought on 4 August 1427 near the Bohemian towns of Tachov and Stříbro . It was part of the Hussite Wars, and it was the first battle in which war wagons were used by the crusaders. The battle showed that the Wagenburg could not be used...

 in 1427, the Hussites repeatedly invaded Germany, though they made no attempt to occupy permanently any part of the country.

Polish and Lithuanian involvement

From 1421 to 1427 the Hussites received military support from the Poles. Poland, though a devoutly Catholic nation, was supporting the Hussites on non-religious grounds. Poland's motive was revenge against Germany for the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War (1409-1411). Because of this, Jan Žižka arranged for the crown of Bohemia to be offered to Jagiello, the King of Poland, who, under pressure from his own advisors, refused it. The crown was then offered to Grand Duke Vytautas of Lithuania and Vytautas accepted it, with the condition that the Hussites reunite with the Catholic Church. In 1422, Žižka accepted the Polish king's nephew, Sigismund Korybut, as regent of Bohemia for Vytautas. Korybut never managed to return the Hussites to the Catholic Church; and he even had to resort to force of arms when dealing with the various factions. Korybut did not tolerate the Protestant rebels breaking their promise of reuniting with the Catholic Church. On a few occasions, he even fought against both the Taborites and the Orebites
Orebites were followers of the Hussites in Eastern Bohemia. The founders took part in the procession on the Mount Oreb near Třebechovice pod Orebem. Later most of the noble supporters belonged to the East Bohemian church known as the Bohemian Brethren. The ideological founder of the Orebites...

 to try to force them into reuniting. Large scale Polish involvement was ended in 1427 when Korybut was arrested by the Hussites after Polish plans to hand over the Hussite forces to Emperor Sigismund were discovered. The Poles, however, did not really want to withdraw; the only reason they did is because the Pope planned to call a crusade against Poland if they did not.

Beautiful rides (Chevauchée)

Spanilé jízdy, or beautiful rides, as the Hussites called them, were undertaken in many different foreign lands. Throughout the Hussite Wars, especially under the leadership of Prokop the Great, invasions were made into Silesia
Silesia is a historical region of Central Europe located mostly in Poland, with smaller parts also in the Czech Republic, and Germany.Silesia is rich in mineral and natural resources, and includes several important industrial areas. Silesia's largest city and historical capital is Wrocław...

, Saxony
The Free State of Saxony is a landlocked state of Germany, contingent with Brandenburg, Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia, Bavaria, the Czech Republic and Poland. It is the tenth-largest German state in area, with of Germany's sixteen states....

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, Lusatia
Lusatia is a historical region in Central Europe. It stretches from the Bóbr and Kwisa rivers in the east to the Elbe valley in the west, today located within the German states of Saxony and Brandenburg as well as in the Lower Silesian and Lubusz voivodeships of western Poland...

, and Meissen
Meissen is a town of approximately 30,000 about northwest of Dresden on both banks of the Elbe river in the Free State of Saxony, in eastern Germany. Meissen is the home of Meissen porcelain, the Albrechtsburg castle, the Gothic Meissen Cathedral and the Meissen Frauenkirche...

. Every raid that the Hussites carried out was against a country that had supplied the Germans with men during the anti-Hussite crusades. These raids were made to try to strike enough fear in these areas to make sure that they would not help out the Germans again. However, the raids did not have the desired effect; these countries kept supplying soldiers to the crusade against the Hussites. During yet another war
Polish–Teutonic War (1431–1435)
The Lithuanian Civil War of 1431–1435 was a conflict over the succession to the throne of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, after Vytautas the Great died in 1430 without leaving an heir. The war was fought on the one side by Švitrigaila, allied with the Teutonic Knights, and on the other by Sigismund...

 between Poland and the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
The State of the Teutonic Order, , also Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights or Ordensstaat , was formed in 1224 during the Northern Crusades, the Teutonic Knights' conquest of the pagan West-Baltic Old Prussians in the 13th century....

, some Hussite raiders helped the Poles. In 1433, a Hussite army of 7,000 fighting men marched through Neumark into Prussia and captured Dirschau on the Vistula River. They would eventually reach the mouth of the Vistula where it enters the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 near Danzig. There, they performed a great victory celebration to show that nothing but the ocean could stop the Hussites. The Prussian historian Heinrich von Treitschke
Heinrich von Treitschke
Heinrich Gotthard von Treitschke was a nationalist German historian and political writer during the time of the German Empire.-Early life and teaching career:...

 would later write that they had "greeted the sea with a wild Czech song about God's warriors, and filled their water bottles with brine in token that the Baltic once more obeyed the Slavs".

Peace talks and renewed wars

The almost uninterrupted series of victories of the Hussites now rendered vain all hope of subduing them by force of arms. Moreover, the conspicuously democratic character of the Hussite movement caused the German princes, who were afraid that such views might extend to their own countries, to desire peace. Many Hussites, particularly the Utraquist clergy, were also in favour of peace. Negotiations for this purpose were to take place at the ecumenical council which had been summoned to meet at Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 on 3 March 1431. The Roman See reluctantly consented to the presence of heretics at this council, but indignantly rejected the suggestion of the Hussites that members of the Greek Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

, and representatives of all Christian creeds, should also be present. Before definitely giving its consent to peace negotiations, the Roman Church determined on making a last effort to reduce the Hussites to subjection; this resulted in the 5th Crusade against the Hussites.

On 1 August 1431 a large army of crusaders under Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg
Frederick I, Elector of Brandenburg
Frederick was Burgrave of Nuremberg as Frederick VI and Elector of Brandenburg as Frederick I. He was a son of Burgrave Frederick V of Nuremberg and Elisabeth of Meissen, and was the first member of the House of Hohenzollern to rule the Margraviate of Brandenburg.- Biography :Frederick entered...

, whom Cardinal Cesarini accompanied as papal legate
Papal legate
A papal legate – from the Latin, authentic Roman title Legatus – is a personal representative of the pope to foreign nations, or to some part of the Catholic Church. He is empowered on matters of Catholic Faith and for the settlement of ecclesiastical matters....

, crossed the Bohemian border. On 8 August the crusaders reached the city of Domažlice
Domažlice is a town in the Plzeň Region of the Czech Republic.Domažlice is also a Municipality with Extended Competence and a Municipality with Commissioned Local Authority within the same borders.-History:...

 and began besieging it. On the 14th August, a Hussite relief army reinforced with some 6,000 Polish hussites and under the command of Prokop
Prokop the Great
Prokop or Prokop the Great was one of the most prominent Hussite generals of the Hussite Wars...

 arrived, and completely routed the crusaders at the resulting Battle of Domažlice
Battle of Domažlice
The Battle of Domažlice or Battle of Taus was fought on August 14, 1431 as the part of the 5th crusade against Hussites. The crusade was sent to Bohemia after the negotiations they were held in Pressburg and Cheb between Hussites and the emperor Sigismund had failed.The Imperial army was...

. As the legend has it, upon seeing the Hussite banners and hearing their battle hymn "Ktož jsú boží bojovníci" ("Ye Who are Warriors of God"), the invading Papal forces immediately took to flight.

On 15 October the members of the council, already assembled at Basel, issued a formal invitation to the Hussites to take part in its deliberations. Prolonged negotiations ensued; but finally a Hussite embassy, led by Prokop and including John of Rokycan
John of Rokycan
John of Rokycan, also known as Jan of Rokycany, in Czech language Jan Rokycana, Jan z Rokycana and Jan z Rokycan was a Hussite theologian, archbishop of Prague and a key figure in Bohemian church history.- Life :In his youth, John of Rokycan entered the Augustinian monastery in Rokycany...

, the Taborite bishop Nicolas of Pelhřimov, the ‘English Hussite’ Peter Payne
Peter Payne
Peter Payne was an English theologian, diplomat, Lollard and Taborite, the son of a Frenchman by an English wife, he was born at Hough-on-the-Hill near Grantham....

 and many others, arrived at Basel on 4 January 1433. It was found impossible to reach an agreement. Negotiations were not, however, broken off, and a change in the political situation of Bohemia finally resulted in a settlement. In 1434 war again broke out between the Utraquists and the Taborites. On 30 May of that year the Taborite army, led by Prokop the Great and Prokop the Lesser, who both fell in the battle, was totally defeated and almost annihilated at Lipany
Battle of Lipany
The Battle of Lipany or Lipan, also called the Battle of Česky Brod, was fought at Lipany 40 km east of Prague on 30 May 1434 and virtually ended the Hussite Wars...


An end to the Polish Hussite movement in Poland would arrive as well: the Polish Hussites, often reinforced by their Czech Slav brethren, had been raiding there for years, and the royal Polish forces under Władysław III of Varna would defeat the Hussites at the Battle of Grotniki
Battle of Grotniki
The Battle of Grotniki took place on May 4, 1439 in the vicinity of Grotniki Duże, a village near Nowy Korczyn, currently in Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship....

, bringing the Hussite Wars to an end.

Peace agreement

The moderate party thus obtained the upper hand; and it formulated its demands in a document which was finally accepted by the Church of Rome in a slightly modified form, and which is known as ‘the compacts.’ The compacts, mainly founded on the articles of Prague, declare that:—

I. The Holy Sacrament is to be given freely in both kinds to all Christians in Bohemia and Moravia, and to those elsewhere who adhere to the faith of these two countries.

2. All mortal sins shall be punished and extirpated by those whose office it is so to do.

3. The word of God is to be freely and truthfully preached by the priests of the Lord, and by worthy deacons.

4. The priests in the time of the law of grace shall claim no ownership of worldly possessions.

On 5 July 1436 the compacts were formally accepted and signed at Jihlava
Jihlava is a city in the Czech Republic. Jihlava is a centre of the Vysočina Region, situated on the Jihlava river on the ancient frontier between Moravia and Bohemia, and is the oldest mining town in the Czech Republic, ca. 50 years older than Kutná Hora.Among the principal buildings are the...

 (Iglau), in Moravia, by King Sigismund, by the Hussite delegates, and by the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church. The last-named, however, refused to recognize as archbishop of Prague John of Rokycan
John of Rokycan
John of Rokycan, also known as Jan of Rokycany, in Czech language Jan Rokycana, Jan z Rokycana and Jan z Rokycan was a Hussite theologian, archbishop of Prague and a key figure in Bohemian church history.- Life :In his youth, John of Rokycan entered the Augustinian monastery in Rokycany...

, who had been elected to that dignity by the estates of Bohemia.


The Utraquist creed, frequently varying in its details, continued to be that of the established church of Bohemia until all non-Catholic religious services were prohibited shortly after the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620. The Taborite party never recovered from its defeat at Lipany, and after the town of Tábor had been captured by George of Poděbrady
George of Podebrady
George of Kunštát and Poděbrady , also known as Poděbrad or Podiebrad , was King of Bohemia...

 in 1452, Utraquist religious worship was established there. The Bohemian brethren
Unity of the Brethren
The Unity of the Brethren is a Christian denomination whose roots are in the pre-reformation work of priest and philosopher Jan Hus, who was martyred in 1415.-History in Bohemia:...

, whose intellectual originator was Petr Chelčický but whose actual founders were Brother Gregory, a nephew of Archbishop Rokycany, and Michael, curate of Žamberk, to a certain extent continued the Taborite traditions, and in the 15th and 16th centuries included most of the strongest opponents of Rome in Bohemia.

J. A. Komenský (Comenius
John Amos Comenius ; ; Latinized: Iohannes Amos Comenius) was a Czech teacher, educator, and writer. He served as the last bishop of Unity of the Brethren, and became a religious refugee and one of the earliest champions of universal education, a concept eventually set forth in his book Didactica...

), a member of the brotherhood, claimed for the members of his church that they were the genuine inheritors of the doctrines of Hus. After the beginning of the German Reformation, many Utraquists adopted to a large extent the doctrines of Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 and of John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 and, in 1567, obtained the repeal of the compacts which no longer seemed sufficiently far-reaching. From the end of the 16th century the inheritors of the Hussite tradition in Bohemia were included in the more general name of "Protestants" borne by the adherents of the Reformation.

At the end of the Hussite Wars in 1431 the lands of Bohemia had been totally ravished. The bishopric of Würzburg was left in such bad shape after the Hussite Wars, that the impoverishment of the people was still evident in 1476. The poor conditions contributed directly to the peasant conspiracy that broke out that same year in Würzburg.

All histories of Bohemia devote a large amount of space to the Hussite movement. See:
  • Count Lützow, Bohemia; an Historical Sketch (London, 1896)
  • František Palacký, Geschichte von Böhmen
  • Bachmann, Geschichte Böhmens
  • L. Krummel, Geschichte der böhmischen Reformation (Gotha, 1866)
  • L. Krummel, Utraquisten und Taboriten (Gotha, 187 i)
  • Ernest Denis, Huss et la guerre des Hussites (Paris, 1878)
  • H. Toman, Husitské válečnictví (Prague, 1898).

Original text from 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

See also

  • Czechoslovak Hussite Church
    Czechoslovak Hussite Church
    The Czechoslovak Hussite Church is a Christian Church which separated from the Roman Catholic Church after World War I in former Czechoslovakia. It traces its tradition back to the Hussite reformers and acknowledges Jan Hus as its predecessor...

  • The Slav Epic
    The Slav Epic
    The Slav Epic is a cycle of 20 large canvases painted by Czech Art Nouveau painter Alfons Mucha between 1910 and 1928. The cycle depicts the history of Czechs and other Slavic peoples. In 1928, after finishing his monumental work, Mucha bestowed the cycle to the city of Prague on condition that...

     (Painting: "The meeting at Křížky: Sub utraque")

Further reading

  • Kaminsky, Howard. A History of the Hussite Revolution. University of California Press, 1967. ISBN 978-1592446315 (paperback, 2004).
  • Turnbull, Stephen. The Hussite Wars (1419–36), Osprey Publishing, ISBN 1-84176-665-8

External links

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