The Hussites were a pre-Protestant Christian movement that followed the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus, who became the best known representative of the Bohemian Reformation. The Hussite movement began in the Kingdom of Bohemia and spread throughout the remaining Lands of the Bohemian Crown, including Moravia and Silesia, it made inroads into the northern parts of the Kingdom of Hungary, but was rejected and gained infamy for the plundering behavior of the Hussite soldiers. There were very small temporary communities in Poland-Lithuania and Transylvania which moved to Bohemia after being confronted with religious intolerance, it was a regional movement. Hussites emerged as a majority Utraquist movement with a significant Taborite faction, smaller regional ones that included Adamites and Orphans. Major Hussite theologians included Petr Chelcicky, Jerome of Prague, others. A number of Czech national heroes were Hussite, including Jan Zizka, who led a fierce resistance to five consecutive crusades proclaimed on Hussite Bohemia by the Papacy.
Hussites were one of the most important forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. This predominantly religious movement was propelled by social issues and strengthened Czech national awareness. After the Council of Constance lured Jan Hus in with a letter of indemnity tried him for heresy and put him to death at the stake on 6 July 1415, the Hussites fought the Hussite Wars for their religious and political cause. After the Hussite Wars ended, the Catholic-supported Utraquist side came out victorious from conflict with the Taborites and became the most common representation of the Hussite faith in Bohemia. Catholics and Utraquists were emancipated in Bohemia after the religious peace of Kutná Hora in 1485. Bohemia and Moravia, or what is now the territory of the Czech Republic, remained majority Hussite for two centuries until Roman Catholicism was reimposed by the Holy Roman Emperor after the 1620 Battle of White Mountain during the Thirty Years' War. Due to this event and centuries of Habsburg persecution, Hussite traditions are represented in the Moravian Church, Unity of the Brethren, the refounded Czechoslovak Hussite churches among present-day Christians.
The arrest of Hus in 1414 caused considerable resentment in Czech lands. The authorities of both countries appealed urgently and to King Sigismund to release Jan Hus; when news of his death at the Council of Constance in 1415 arrived, disturbances broke out, directed against the clergy and against the monks. The Archbishop narrowly escaped from the effects of this popular anger; the treatment of Hus was felt to be a disgrace inflicted upon the whole country and his death was seen as a criminal act. King Wenceslaus, prompted by his grudge against Sigismund, at first gave free vent to his indignation at the course of events in Constance, his wife favoured the friends of Hus. Avowed Hussites stood at the head of the government. A league was formed by certain lords, who pledged themselves to protect the free preaching of the Gospel upon all their possessions and estates and to obey the power of the Bishops only where their orders accorded with the injunctions of the Bible; the university would arbitrate any disputed points.
The entire Hussite nobility joined the league. Other than verbal protest of the council's treatment of Hus, there was little evidence of any actions taken by the nobility until 1417. At that point several of the lesser nobility and some barons, signatories of the 1415 protest letter, removed Romanist priests from their parishes, replacing them with priests willing to give communion in both wine and bread; the chalice of wine became the central identifying symbol of the Hussite movement. If the king had joined, its resolutions would have received the sanction of the law; the prospect of a civil war began to emerge. Pope Martin V as Cardinal Otto of Colonna had attacked Hus with relentless severity, he energetically resumed the battle against Hus's teaching after the enactments of the Council of Constance. He wished to eradicate the doctrine of Hus, for which purpose the co-operation of King Wenceslaus had to be obtained. In 1418, Sigismund succeeded in winning his brother over to the standpoint of the council by pointing out the inevitability of a religious war if the heretics in Bohemia found further protection.
Hussite statesmen and army leaders had to leave the country and Roman Catholic priests were reinstated. These measures caused a general commotion which hastened the death of King Wenceslaus by a paralytic stroke in 1419, his heir was Sigismund. Hussitism organised itself during the years 1415–1419. From the beginning, there formed two parties, with a smaller number of people withdrawing from both parties around the pacifist Petr Chelčický, whose teachings would form the foundation of the Unitas Fratrum; the moderate party, who followed Hus more sought to conduct reform while leaving the whole hierarchical and liturgical order of the Church untouched. The more radical party identified itself more boldly with the doctrines of John Wycliffe, sharing his passionate hatred of the monastic clergy, his desire to return the Church to its supposed condition during the time of the apostles; this required the removal of the existing hierarchy and the secularisation of ecclesiastical possessions. The radicals preached the "sufficientia legis Christi"—the divine law is the sole rule and canon for human society, not only in the church, but in political and civi
Siege of Głogów
The Siege of Głogów or Defense of Głogów was fought on 24 August 1109 at the Silesian town of Głogów, between the Kingdom of Poland and the Holy Roman Empire. Recorded by the medieval chronicler Gallus Anonymus it is one of the most well known battles in Polish history; the Polish forces were led by Duke Bolesław III Wrymouth, while the Imperial forces were under command of King Henry V of Germany. Bolesław was victorious. After a long-term rivalry within the ruling Piast dynasty, Bolesław III in 1107 had expelled his elder half-brother and co-ruler Duke Zbigniew from Poland. Zbigniew fled to the Holy Roman Empire where he sought help from King Henry V; the king however did not take action, as he was stuck in an inner-Hungarian rivalry, supporting the Árpád prince Álmos against his brother King Coloman, had started an armed expedition to Bratislava. Henry tangled with Bolesław, when the Polish duke, loyal to King Coloman, took the occasion to campaign in the Bohemian lands in 1108: as soon as the Bohemian duke Svatopluk heard of the invasion, he left the Imperial army to oust the Polish troops.
Left alone, King Henry was forced to abandon his Hungarian campaign. Chafing under this defeat, Henry associated himself with Zbigniew and requested Bolesław to reinstate his half-brother as co-ruler, as well as to pay an annual tribute to the Empire; the Polish duke categorically rejected both demands. The next year the German forces gathered at Erfurt, crossed the Polish border near Krosno on the Bóbr river and on St. Bartholomew's Day approached the fortified town of Głogów. At first they defeated a Polish garrison, stationed near the town, while Bolesław rushed from his battle against the Pomeranians at Nakło. According to Gallus' Gesta principum Polonorum, King Henry resorted to lay siege to Głogów but granted its citizens a five-day ceasefire to ask their king for permission to surrender, he even made the townsmen give up their children as hostages as a guarantee of the ceasefire and promised to give them back alive no matter what Bolesław's answer would be. The Polish duke however ordered the defense of Głogów.
After the five days were up, King Henry began to barrage the town. Breaking his promise, he chained the child hostages to his siege engines, hoping that the people of Głogów would not shoot their own offspring, which would allow him to conquer the Polish settlement. However, Gallus stated that his cruelty towards children only strengthened the resolve of Głogów's defenders. Several harsh attacks by the Imperial army were repulsed, while Henry suffered significant losses by Polish guerilla warriors. After many days of unsuccessful fighting, the king was forced to abandon the march south. King Henry's campaign turned out to be a complete failure, when it ended in Bolesław's final victory at the Battle of Hundsfeld. Duke Svatopluk was assassinated - by Bohemian Vršovci liensmen - still at the Głogów camp on September 21, his successor Vladislaus reconciled with Bolesław, whereafter Zbigniew was able to return to Poland in 1111, only to be arrested and blinded by his half-brother shortly afterwards.
Bolesław's position towards the Empire was strengthened, in the following years he was able to consolidate his rule in Pomerania and Lubusz Land. It was not until 1157, when Emperor Frederick Barbarossa in aid of the Silesian duke Władysław II the Exile launched a successful campaign to the Polish lands. After centuries-long ambivalent relations with Germany, the successful defense and the tradition of Henry's cruelty had evolved to a key element in the memory of the Polish nation. A first memorial stone was erected by the Głogów citizens on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the battle in 1959. On 1 September 1979 a large Socialist Realistic memorial to the Głogów children was inaugurated to commemorate not only the 870th anniversary but the 40th memorial day of the German Invasion of Poland; the Battle of Głogów is commemorated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the inscription "GLOGOW 1109". Battle of Głogów
Second Mongol invasion of Poland
The second Mongol invasion of Poland was carried out by general Boroldai in 1259–1260. During this invasion the cities of Sandomierz, Kraków, Lublin and Bytom were sacked by Mongols for the second time; the invasion began in late 1259, after a powerful Mongol army had been sent to the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia in order to punish King Daniel of Galicia for his independent actions. King Daniel had to comply to Mongol demands, in 1258, his forces joined the Mongols in the raid on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. To weaken Daniel's position, the Golden Horde decided to attack his allies, Hungarian King Béla IV, Duke of Kraków, Bolesław V the Chaste; the purpose of the invasion was to loot the divided Kingdom of Poland, to weaken Duke of Kraków Bolesław V the Chaste, whose province, Lesser Poland, began a process of fast development. According to the Mongol plan, the invaders were to enter Lesser Poland east of Lublin, head towards Zawichost. After crossing the Vistula, the Mongol army was to break into two columns, operating north and south of the Holy Cross Mountains.
The columns were to unite near Chęciny, head southwards, to Kraków. Altogether, Mongol forces under Boroldai were 30,000 strong, with Ruthenian units of King Daniel of Galicia, his brother Vasilko Romanovich and Lithuanians or Yotvingians; the events that took place in the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia echoed in Lesser Poland, in late 1258, preparations for the defence of Kraków began. The work was abandoned, Piast dynasty dukes returned to their internal quarrels. In October 1259, right before the invasion, Duke of Greater Poland Bolesław the Pious allied himself with Duke Bolesław V the Chaste and Duke of Mazovia Siemowit I, in order to attack Duke of Kujawy, Casimir I of Kuyavia. A few weeks Lesser Poland was invaded by the Mongol hordes; the Mongolian army concentrated near Chełm, after capturing Polish towns east of the Vistula, the invaders appeared at Sandomierz. Boroldai ordered Ruthenian auxiliary units to besiege and capture the city, while main Mongol forces marched westwards toward the Holy Cross Mountains.
Their march was marked by an orgy of destruction. The Mongols limited their advance to Radom in the north and Sulejów in the west, did not enter other Polish provinces; the two columns of the invading army joined forces near Kielce and Chęciny, in mid-January 1260. At the same time, the siege of Sandomierz continued. Defenders of the city fiercely resisted all attacks of the Ruthenian forces. After several weeks, Mongol leaders began negotiations with the Poles, who were commanded by a man named Piotr of Krepa. Ruthenian princes, which took part in the siege, advised Piotr of Krepa to accept Mongol offers, abandon Sandomierz, in exchange of safe passage for all residents of the city. Facing hunger and epidemics, the Poles left Sandomierz on February 2, 1260; the city itself was burned to the ground. On February 5, main Mongol forces abandoned Sandomierz. All units joined forces on February 10–12, entered densely populated southern Lesser Poland. After looting the abbeys at Jędrzejów, Mogila and Miechów, the invaders flooded the region in an orgy of murder and destruction.
In the second half of February, the Mongols reached Kraków capturing the city, but without the Wawel Hill, fortified and defended. To prevent Silesian Piast dukes from sending their support to Lesser Poland, Boroldai sent some units to the area of Bytom. Duke Bolesław V the Chaste himself fled with his wife Kinga of Poland. In late March 1260, the Mongols left Lesser Poland eastward along the Carpathian foothills; the province that they had invaded was destroyed with rich loot taken. Some 10,000 Poles were taken with the invaders as slaves; the success of the Golden Horde was complete, as they managed to destroy an anti-Mongol alliance, subjugate the Kingdom of Galicia–Volhynia
Battle of Płowce
The Battle of Płowce took place on 27 September 1331 between the Kingdom of Poland and the Teutonic Order. The Teutonic Order attempted to take Brześć Kujawski after standing all day in the sun; the German army from the Teutonic Order had 7,000 men, was opposed by a Polish army of 5,000 men. On 27 September 1331, one-third of the Teutonic Order's force of knights under Dietrich von Altenburg left the blockaded peasant town of Płowce; the Poles, under Władyslaw Łokietek and his son Casimir attacked in a frontal assault. They were joined by Polish detachments hiding in a forest to the left of the town. During the first phase of the battle Prince Casimir was ordered to depart so as not to deprive the Polish Kingdom of the presumptive heir. Despite this, in three hours the Teutonic knights had been defeated and their leader captured; the Polish forces were victorious in this phase of the battle, took prisoner 56 knights, freed many Polish captives. However, upon hearing the sounds of battle from Płowce, rear elements of the German formations rushed to aid their fellow knights, soon another third of the Teutonic Order's forces arrived.
The long and bloody battle continued until dark, with high casualties on both sides. Poland scored a clear victory, with Reuss von Plauen, commander of the German army, another 40 knights taken prisoner by the Poles. After fleeing Płowce, the knights withdrew to Toruń. Despite the Polish victory on the field, the battle is traditionally regarded as inconclusive given that the Teutonic Order was not destroyed, it was an important battle for Poland, just regaining its stature as a country on the international scene, held its own against a powerful military force. An estimated over 4,000 men were said to have fallen on the field of the battle. Of these, 73 were Knight Brothers of the Teutonic Order. Over one half of the dead were Germans, who had to retreat back to Toruń, their death toll climbing to one third of all their knights taking part in the war; the Polish armies suffering heavy casualties, did not follow the retreating Germans. The Battle of Plowce is commemorated on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the inscription "PLOWCE 27 IX 1331"
Battle of Domažlice
The Battle of Domažlice or Battle of Taus or Battle of Tausch was fought on 14 August 1431 as the part of the 5th crusade against Hussites. The crusade was sent to Bohemia after negotiations, held in Pressburg and Cheb, between Hussites and the emperor Sigismund had failed; the Imperial army was besieging the city of Domažlice since 8 August, when the sight of the approaching and singing Hussite relief army led by Prokop the Bald and hearing their battle hymn "Ktož jsú boží bojovníci", led to mass panicking among the crusaders, who fled through the Bohemian Forest. The Hussites set after the fleeing Imperial army and annihilated its remnants completely. 8,000 wagons and all the equipment of the crusaders were captured. The crusader army was accompanied by papal legate Julian Cesarini who escaped, but lost his whole luggage in the retreat, including the secret correspondence and the Papal bull charging him to hire crusaders. Ich Wolkenstein, by Dieter Kühn.
The Hussite Wars called the Bohemian Wars or the Hussite Revolution, were fought between the Christian Hussites and the combined Christian Catholic forces of Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, the Papacy and various European monarchs loyal to the Catholic Church, as well as among various Hussite factions themselves. After initial clashes, the Utraquists changed sides in 1423 to fight alongside Roman Catholics and opposed the Taborites and other Hussite spinoffs; these wars lasted from 1419 to 1434. The Hussite community included most of the Czech population of the Kingdom of Bohemia and formed a major spontaneous military power, they defeated five consecutive crusades proclaimed against them by the Pope, intervened in the wars of neighboring countries. The Hussite Wars were notable for the extensive use of early hand-held firearms such as hand cannons; the fighting ended after 1434, when the moderate Utraquist faction of the Hussites defeated the radical Taborite faction. The Hussites agreed to submit to the authority of the King of Bohemia and the Roman Catholic Church, were allowed to practice their somewhat variant rite.
Starting around 1402, priest and scholar Jan Hus denounced what he judged as the corruption of the Church and the Papacy, he promoted some of the reformist ideas of English theologian John Wycliffe. His preaching was heeded in Bohemia, provoked suppression by the Church, which had declared many of Wycliffe's ideas heretical. In 1411, in the course of the Western Schism, "Antipope" John XXIII proclaimed a "crusade" against King Ladislaus of Naples, the protector of rival Pope Gregory XII. To raise money for this, he proclaimed indulgences in Bohemia. Hus bitterly denounced this and explicitly quoted Wycliffe against it, provoking further complaints of heresy but winning much support in Bohemia. In 1414, Sigismund of Hungary convened the Council of Constance to end the Schism and resolve other religious controversies. Hus went to the Council, under a safe-conduct from Sigismund, but was imprisoned and executed on 6 July 1415; the knights and nobles of Bohemia and Moravia, who were in favour of church reform, sent the protestatio Bohemorum to the Council of Constance on 2 September 1415, which condemned the execution of Hus in the strongest language.
This angered Sigismund, "King of the Romans", brother of King Wenceslaus of Bohemia. He had been persuaded by the Council, he sent threatening letters to Bohemia declaring that he would shortly drown all Wycliffites and Hussites incensing the people. Disorder broke out in various parts of Bohemia, drove many Catholic priests from their parishes. From the beginning the Hussites divided into two main groups, though many minor divisions arose among them. Shortly before his death Hus had accepted the doctrine of Utraquism preached during his absence by his adherents at Prague: the obligation of the faithful to receive communion in both kinds and wine; this doctrine became the watchword of the moderate Hussites known as the Utraquists or Calixtines, from the Latin calix, in Czech kališníci. The more extreme Hussites became known as Taborites, after the city of Tábor that became their center. Under the influence of Sigismund, Wenceslaus endeavoured to stem the Hussite movement. A number of Hussites led by Mikuláš of Hus — no relation of Jan Hus — left Prague.
They held meetings in various parts of Bohemia at Sezimovo Ústí, near the spot where the town of Tábor was founded soon afterwards. At these meetings they violently denounced Sigismund, the people everywhere prepared for war. In spite of the departure of many prominent Hussites, the troubles at Prague continued. On 30 July 1419 Hussite procession headed by the priest Jan Želivský attacked New Town Hall in Prague and threw the king's representatives, the burgomaster, some town councillors from the windows into the street, where several were killed by the fall, after a rock was thrown from the town hall and hit Želivský, it has been suggested that Wenceslaus was so stunned by the defenestration that it caused his death on 16 August 1419. The death of Wenceslaus resulted in renewed troubles in Prague and in all parts of Bohemia. Many Catholics Germans — still faithful to the Pope — were expelled from the Bohemian cities. Wenceslaus' widow Sophia of Bavaria, acting as regent in Bohemia, hurriedly collected a force of mercenaries and tried to gain control of Prague, which led to severe fighting.
After a considerable part of the city had been damaged or destroyed, the parties declared a truce on 13 November. The nobles, sympathetic to the Hussite cause, but supporting the regent, promised to act as mediators with Sigismund, while the citizens of Prague consented to restore to the royal forces the castle of Vyšehrad, which had fallen into their hands. Žižka, who disapproved of this compromise, left Prague and retired to Plzeň. Unable to maintain himself there he marched to southern Bohemia, he defeated the Catholics at the Battle of the first pitched battle of the Hussite wars. After Sudoměř, he moved to one of the earliest meeting-places of the Hussites. Not considering its situation sufficiently strong, he moved to the neighboring new settlement of the Hussites, called by the biblical name of Tábor. Tábor soon became the center of the most militant Hussites, who differed from the Utraquists