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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVII: The Crusades Against the Hussites,   pp. 586-646 ff. PDF (24.0 MB)

Page 590

and especially the usage of the chalice, to become general. To prove his
orthodoxy Wenceslas took the important but dangerous step of ejecting the
Hussites (or "Utraquists") from all but one or two churches in Prague.7 This
act of religious-political reaction led imme diately to the open outbreak
of a militant upheaval. One of the most vigorous of the revolutionary leaders,
the former Premonstratensian monk John Zelivsky, on July 30 led a crowd of
his followers to the city hall of the New Town of Prague, whose administration
had only recently, on the king's order, been taken away from Hussites and
put into the hands of reliable Catholics. What began as a parley turned into
a bloody struggle in which most of the members of the city council were killed
by being thrown out of the windows—the first "defenestration of Prague."8
This open act of rebellion infuriated king Wenceslas so much that he suffered
a sequence of strokes, culminating in his death on August 16. The heir to
his Bohemian kingdom, on the basis of normal dynastic succession, would be
none other than Sigismund of Hungary, king of the Romans. 
 Sigismund, obviously, would do everything in his power to realize this claim.
As a good orthodox Catholic he could hardly avoid trying to lead the people
of Bohemia back toward orthodoxy. There was strong antagonism against him
as the man considered responsible for the deaths of John Hus and his friend
Jerome of Prague, although he repeatedly denied any such responsibility.
But he was not without support among the Czech nobility, including even some
men who had disapproved of the way in which he had handled the trial of Hus
at Constance but who felt that they ought to be loyal to their "natural"
king. An even more solid basis of support for Sigismund existed in a number
of cities, not only those which, like Cheb, Kadah, Chomutov, and Usti in
northwestern Bohemia, or Jihlava, Znojmo, Brno, and Olomouc in Moravia, were
essentially German in character, but also cities in central Bohemia with
a mixed population such as Kutná Hora, east of Prague, Bohemia's greatest
center of silver mining and one of the main sources of regular income for
the crown. Even if Sigismund had had no other important reason to march,
as soon as possible, toward the very center of Bohemia, the chance of increasing
his income from the Kutná Hora silver mines would have been of considerable
interest to this ruler who was almost always in financial difficulties. And
Sigismund was advised to do just that by some of the leading Catholic barons.
7. Ibid., pp. 267—268. 
8. Kaminsky, "The Prague Insurrection of 30 July 1419," Medievalia et humanistica,
XVII (1966), 106—126. 

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