A Rich Cultural History: Jan Zizka (Part II)

CONTINUED FROM PART I

PARTNER CONTENT

Having defeated Sigismund’s army and retaken Prague, Zizka was the owner of a small castle near the town of Litomerice. Unlike his contemporaries, Zizka did not seek to own large amounts of property. The castle was the only piece of property he would ever have.

Zizka was already missing an eye, lost in an earlier battle. In 1421, while attacking Rabi Castle, he lost his remaining eye. His total blindness, however, did not prevent him from commanding his armies. Towards the end of that very eventful year, he and his followers were camped outside the city of Kutna Hora, valued for its silver mines. Sigismund managed to seize the city, and its inhabitants – mostly German – killed some of the Hussites. Zizka and his troops escaped the encircling army and retreated to Kolin. On January 6, 1422, with reinforcements having arrived, Zizka fought and defeated Sigismund’s troops at Nebovidy, between the cities of Kutna Hora and Kolin. Sigismund himself was among the troops, and barely escaped with his life. 12,000 of his men were not as lucky. On January 10, Zizka’s men stormed the city of Nemecky Brod, defeating Sigismund’s army and executing them.

Following the death of Jan Hus in 1415, it did not take long for the Hussites to split into factions. Zizka was head of the Taborites. These factions eventually began to fight one another, which led to civil war in 1423. On April 20, Zizka found himself in the unique position of fighting his own countrymen; not only that, but they were fellow Hussites. He won, of course, defeating noblemen of the Utraquist faction at Horice. Soon, however, all the Hussites learned that yet another crusade was being mounted against them. On June 24, all the factions reached an armistice at Konopiste. Once the fear of a crusade had abated, fighting broke out again.

Zizka found himself fighting one battle after another – some political, some literal. One of the short-term rulers of Bohemia was a Lithuanian prince by the name of Sigismund Korybut. During his brief time governing the region, Korybut had appointed a man named Borek as the governor of the city of Hradec Kralove. Once Korybut was gone, the residents of Hradec Kralove rejected Borek (a member of the Utraquist faction). The always-winning Zizka was called to help the city, handily defeating the Utraquists on August 4, 1423.

After an unsuccessful attempt to capture Hungary (which was ruled by none other than Sigismund), Zizka returned to Bohemia in 1424. It was none too soon, since civil war had broken out again. On January 6, Zizka defeated several Prague citizens as well as Utraquist members of the nobility at Skalice. He fought them again – and defeated them again – on June 7, at Malesov. Finally, on September 14, John of Rokycany (Jan z Rokycan) succeeded in uniting the factions against a common enemy, Sigismund. Some of his followers had control over certain areas of Moravia, and the Hussites agreed to attack and regain the territory. Zizka, of course, would lead the assault.

It was not to be. Jan Zizka, then in his sixties, died of the plague at Pribyslav on October 11, 1424. His place of burial is unknown. Vitkov Hill has an equestrian statue commemorating his exploits, and the Prague district of Zizkov is named for him.

Erin Naillon

Erin Naillon

I am an American living and working in Prague. I freelance in various areas, including photography/film, voice work, and, of course, writing.
Erin Naillon
About Erin Naillon 290 Articles
I am an American living and working in Prague. I freelance in various areas, including photography/film, voice work, and, of course, writing.