Prague Minos Guide

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14. - 15. století

John Zizka of Trocnov

Most famous Hussite military leader
Significant photo
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He was the greatest Hussite commander, the inventor of the winning tactics based on ramparts on wheels. He never lost a single battle in the course of his career as a military leader.
Zizka was the son of a squire and lived in Trocnov, not far from the domain of the powerful Rosenbergs. If we believe the anthropological examination of the skull found in Caslav (its authenticity is however questioned), when he was 11 he was hit by a sharp weapon and lost his eye. After 1400, many petty squires including Zizka got into arguments with the Rosenbergs, following which Zizka joined the gang of one Matej that used to plunder the Rosenbergs’ goods. He also worked as a mercenary for some Czech nobles: they too disliked the Rosenbergs, in particular considering the conflict between the Rosenbergs and King Wenceslas IV. A peace settlement was reached in 1409 and Zizka was pardoned. He then went to Poland to work as a mercenary, where he was also hoping to acquire some property. He fought on the Polish side against the expansionism of the Order

of the Teutonic Knights in the battle of Grunwald in 1410.
In the next stage of his life he worked at the royal court, where people remembered him from the Rosenberg resistance. In Prague he met Jan Hus and became a fervent listener of his sermons. In 1419 he participated to the Defenestration of Prague, following which he enrolled as a soldier in the Hussite league. He went to Pilsen with definite plans for the town, but wasn’t able to achieve them and left for the newly founded town of Tabor, where he became captain of the people and soon after the main Hussite general. The first crusade also initiated Zizka’s greatest period of fame. In 1420 he first defeated the crusaders at the battle at Sudomer and later he overcame Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg on the Vitkov hill. Zizka managed to build a well-organized force (he is said to have written Zizka’s Military Regulations), which soon was able to control the development of events in the Czech lands. He died a blind man, in battle at Malesov, which ended up being a victorious one.


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