Hussite Wars

Hussite Wars, series of conflicts in the 15th cent., caused by the rise of the Hussites in Bohemia and Moravia. It was a religious struggle between Hussites and the Roman Catholic Church, a national struggle between Czechs and Germans, and a social struggle between the landed and peasant classes. On the death (1419) of Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia (see Wenceslaus, emperor), the Hussites in Bohemia and Moravia took up arms to prevent his brother—their archenemy, Emperor Sigismund—from entering into his succession. John Zizka, the Hussite military leader, expelled Sigismund in 1420 and routed him again at Kutna Hora in 1422. From 1419 to 1436, Bohemia had no effective king, although Witowt of Lithuania was elected (1421) antiking and sent his nephew, Sigismund Korybut, to Bohemia as his vicar. Korybut took the crown in 1424 and held it until 1427. After the death (1424) of Zizka the division between the radical and the moderate parties of the Hussites—the Taborites and the Utraquists—widened. A Taborite, Procopius the Great, succeeded Zizka as military commander of the Hussites. In 1425–26 a Hussite army invaded Silesia and Saxony, and in 1429–30 the united Hussite forces penetrated as far as Franconia. Several crusades against the Hussites were utterly routed by the Czechs, whose military organization and tactics were much superior to those of their opponents. Negotiations with the Council of Basel began, especially through the Univ. of Prague, and in 1433 the Czech delegates arrived at Basel (see Basel, Council of). The result was the conclusion of the Compactata, by which the moderate Hussites were taken back into the Catholic Church. The Compactata were rejected by the Taborites. Civil war now broke out between the Utraquists and the Taborites (predominantly the party of the lower classes). At the decisive battle of Lipany (1434) the Taborites were routed and Procopius was killed. At a council meeting (1436) at Jihlava the Compactata were ratified and Sigismund was recognized as king of Bohemia. On the death (1439) of Sigismund's successor, Albert II, the Utraquist leader George of Podebrad governed Bohemia—first in the name of Ladislaus V and from 1458 as king. He refused to accept the papal revocation (1462) of the Compactata and was declared deposed in 1466. A new war began between George and the nobles, and in 1468, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary attacked Bohemia. By the time peace was made (1478), long after George's death, the religious element of the wars had largely disappeared.

See H. Kaminsky, History of the Hussite Revolution (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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