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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 606

thousand men and nearly all its ample materiel, no longer existed. Sigismund
went first to Brno, where he could reasonably feel safe, and soon afterward
returned to Hungary. It was the greatest defeat he had suffered since the
catastrophe of Nicopolis a quarter of a century before. 
 Zizka's victory over Sigismund, after the failure of the first part of the
1421 crusade in western Bohemia, not only had great military significance;
it also influenced the political situation. Ever since the spring of 1420,
there had been negotiations between the Hussites and king Vladislav of Poland
and grand duke Vitold of Lithuania, con cerning the possibility that one
of them might accept the crown of St. Wenceslas.51 Vladislav had never actually
contemplated such a step, even though he felt bitter about Sigismund's decision
against him and in favor of the Teutonic order. Vitold, on the other hand,
seriously considered the offer to become king of Bohemia, although he was
unwilling to approve the Four Articles, which the Czechs asked him to accept
and protect. The Bohemian estates had actually elected (or, as it was called,
"postulated") him at a diet held at Kutná Hora in August 1421, when
the situation of Hussite Bohemia did not seem promising. A second crusade
was imminent, as every body knew. The fate of the first crusade had not convinced
most observers that the second, too, would be a total failure. On the contrary,
the pope, his legate, king Sigismund, and the German princes had all been
optimistic about the outcome of the impending invasion. Vitold was cautious
enough not to burden himself with the military, political, and theological
dangers which close cooperation with the "heretics" would entail. 
 Vladislav went even further, offering Sigismund Polish support against the
Czechs if Sigismund would revise his Breslau award. However, this possibility
disappeared when a Czech embassy sent to Poland and Lithuania was arrested
by the duke of Ratibor and extradited to Sigismund, to the extreme anger
of Vitold himself and of a large number of the Polish and Lithuanian gentry.52
Above all, the second crusade, both the early western part involving the
electors and the later part directed by Sigismund himself, left little doubt
of Hussite Bohemia's ability to withstand even a large-scale invasion. Vitold
now took a step which he had been considering for some time. He declared,
in a letter to pope Martin dated March 5, 1422, 53 
51. About this and the ensuing diplomatic developments see Bartos, Husitskd
revoluce, I, 
177 ff., and Heymann, Zizka, pp. 165—166, 269 ff., 319 ff. 
52. Ibid., pp. 320—321, and the documents cited there in notes 6—8.
53. U.B., I, 186 ff. 

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