Defenestrations of Prague

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A contemporary woodcut of the defenestration in 1618.

Two incidents in the history of Bohemia are known as the Defenestrations of Prague, the first in 1419 and the second in 1618 (though the second is generally considered The Defenestration of Prague). Both helped to trigger prolonged conflict within Bohemia and beyond. (A defenestration is an act of throwing someone or something out of a window.)

The First Defenestration of Prague involved the killing of seven members of the hostile city council by a crowd of radical Czech Hussites on July 30, 1419. The prolonged Hussite Wars broke out shortly afterward, lasting until 1436.

The Second Defenestration of Prague was an event central to the initiation of the Thirty Years' War in 1618. The Bohemian aristocracy was effectively in revolt following the election of Ferdinand, Duke of Styria and a Catholic, to rule the Holy Roman Empire, which included Bohemia. In 1617, Roman Catholic officials ordered the construction of some Protestant chapels to cease, thus violating the right of freedom of religious expression as granted in the Majesttsbrief (Letter of Majesty) that had been issued by Emperor Rudolf II in 1609. At Prague Castle on May 23, 1618, an assembly of Protestants tried two Imperial governors (Vilem Slavata and Jaroslav Martinic) for violating the Letter of Majesty, found them guilty and threw them, together with their scribe Fabricius, out of the high castle windows and into a large and conveniently-placed pile of manure. All three survived.

Roman Catholic Imperial officials claimed that they survived due to the mercy of benevolent angels assisting the righteousness of the Catholic cause. Protestant pamphleteers asserted that their survival had more to do with the horse manure in which they landed.

An English translation of part of Slavata's report of the incident is printed in Henry Frederick Schwarz, The Imperial Privy Council in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1943, issued as volume LIII of Harvard Historical Studies), pp. 344-347.

On March 10, 1948, Jan Masaryk, Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia (the only remaining non-socialist minister) was found dead outside the bathroom window of the Foreign Ministry building in Prague, following the establishment of a Communist-dominated government a month earlier. While it was unclear for a long time whether it was actually murdered, in early 2004 police concluded that he was indeed assassinated and had not committed suicide as the official report claimed. The circumstances of how he was assassinated are still unclear, however. This event is not usually called defenestration of Prague, though.

External links

cs:Pražská defenestrace de:Prager Fenstersturz fr:Dfenestration de Prague it:Defenestrazione di Praga no:Defenestrasjonene i Praha pl:Defenestracja praska


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