Prague Minos Guide

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17. století

Prague and the marauding Swedes 1648

A final episode of the Thirty Year War
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At the end of the Thirty Year War, Swedish troops were occupying the Czech lands. During the ongoing negotiations, Swedish generals became worried that the sudden signature of the peace agreement could jeopardize their plans to capture a significant prey, the imperial town of Prague. First to reach Prague, General Königsmarck used deception and took advantage of the fact that the deserting imperial officer Arnošt of Ottowald let him take the Lesser Town as well as the Prague Castle almost without a fight. Immediately after, the Swedish rabble of soldiers started looting the town which amounted to 12 million golden coins. Königsmarck however placed Emperor Rudolf the Second´s rare collections under strong guard and declared them state property.
In the beginning of August 1648, a second Swedish army arrived near Prague under the command of General Wittenberg, soon after the Old Town came under intensive bombardment. Nonetheless, a direct attack did not occur and so the commander of the city, Count Colloredo, had the time to organize the defensive troops

which consisted of volunteers from the burghers, including a legion of students from the Charles University.
Towards the end of September a third Swedish army came close to Prague commanded by the Swedish heir of the throne, Prince Carl Gustaf. In October, three Swedish armies launched a number of attacks against the city which however resisted thanks to the courage of the citizen soldiers. In November, Carl Gustaf received a report about the signed Peace of Westphalia and ordered his troops to leave. Thus, the occupation of Prague ended.
219 volunteers lost their lives but the city proved its loyalty to the Habsburgs and its change of mood since the year of 1618 and the lost battle of the White Mountain. Clearly, Catholicism was doing well. For Prague, the looting implied the loss of unique artwork. One of the most important was for instance the rare Codex Gigas, from the middle ages, which was in 2008 lent to the Czech Republic by the Swedish Government for exhibition purposes under the condition that it would be returned back to Sweden...


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