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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 617

crusade and desperate in the face of defeat, tried to save his cause by displaying
the papal banner. As none of the former leaders was willing to renew the
enterprise without much of an army, the cardinal decided to pass the banner
on to John, the young palsgrave of Neumarkt, but this gesture had no influence
upon the ensuing events, as the palsgrave could not collect even a small
army. Nor is there any reason to assume—as Frederick of Brandenburg
claimed toward the end of his report to the king84 —that the chances
of this crusade for success would have been much better if only "der Cardinal
von Engellant" had arrived sooner at the main theater of war. 
 In fact the slaughter of the crusaders had just begun at the time when the
German armies started their headlong flight from the region around Tachov
across the mountain forests of Bohemia's western border to the safer region
of the Upper Palatinate. Tile losses that the crusaders suffered during their
hasty retreat remain un known. The only source which attempts an estimate,
the Augsburg chronicle,85 presehts the obviously impossible figure of 100,000
dead. All we can guess is that the losses, both in men and in materiel, were
heavy, until their flight had taken the crusading troops over into Germany.
 There was no further pursuit beyond the border on the part of the Hussites.
Their army, led again by Prokop but including also, in addition to the Taborite
troops, those of the Orebites (since Zizka's death called "Orphans") and
of Prague, found a more immediately challenging object to attack: the strong
border city and fortress of Tachov. It had seemed unconquerable, since it
had, six years earlier, successfully resisted even the great Zizka, who had
conquered so many towns.86 Now, apart from its largely German and exclusively
Catholic population, it ilad been strengthened by a number of crusaders,
who may have felt safer there than in continued flight westward, or have
stayed there witil tile purpose of resisting the enemy. The Hussites acted
more effectively than the German army had only a few days earlier when they
besieged Stflbro. Prokop used not only siege artillery but also incendiary
missiles, and ordered his forces to dig holes in the base of the walls.87
After less than a week the city's defenses collapsed. Urgent calls for help,
sent to Frederick of Brandenburg (then at Wunsiedel near Bayreuth) and to
other princes, either were ignored or arrived too late.88 Three days after
84. U.B., I, 542. 
85. Chroniken der deutschen Städte, V-2, 92. 
86. See Heymann, Zizka, p. 202. 
87. Bartosek of Drahonice, in Fontes rerum Bohemicarum, V, 597. 
88. U.B., I, 542. 

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