Defenestration-Old Town Square, PragueJanuary 19, 2017 in Czech Republic
I learned a new word while in Prague: defenestration. It's a cool word I really like. It means to throw someone out the window to their death. The people of Prague define this as a time of cleansing in which bodies fly out windows from very high locations and this has happened twice in their history, very pivotal moments in the Czech's historical tapestry.
The First Defenestration of Prague to place in the early 1400's and brought about the Hussite Wars. In school, I had been taught that Martin Luther brought about Protestant Reform. However, I have since learned that a Czech man by the name of Jan Želivský, a Hussite priest, came before Luther. Jan Hus believed Mass should be said in common language, not Latin and indulgences (a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins, usually paid in coins or favors to the church/priests) are the wrong way to go about having sins absolved. Jan Hus was very vocal about his opposition to the Roman Catholic Church's practices so the city of Prague took some Hussites captive. Jan Has and his followers took up arms and marched on the city council, demanding the Hussites be released. City Council refused so the ppl threw the city council, some 13 members, out the window. This event precipitated the Hussites Wars, which lasted until 1436. The Hussites prevailed and the Bohemian lands for the next 200 or so years were quite lenient in their religious freedoms. Protestants, Catholics, and Jews lived and worshipped where they wanted to in Prague for a little while.
Jan Has is honored in Old Town Square by a huge statue. During the Nazi occupation of Prague, citizens would silently protest the German presence by sitting peacefully at the base of the Jan Has statue in the Square
The next defenestration took place around 1621. The Bohemian King was quite religiously tolerant, there had been religious freedom for almost 200 years. The Holy Roman Emperor, who happened to be the Austrian-Hungarian king wanted the Bohemian lands for his own, so in the name of the Church declared the Bohemian King was too lenient. Austrian-Hungarian king sent some representatives of the Church with an armed guard, who the Czechs defenestrated, but the two men didn't die. The legend says they were saved from death by angels but in reality there was a pile of horse manure under the window that softened their landing. The Holy Roman Emperor was pretty upset about the fact the Czechs threw the Church's reps out the window and declared war. He sent his army to Prague, rounded up the heads of all the royal Bohemian families and their sons (21 total) and brutally beheaded them in the Town Square for all to see, in retribution for the defenestration. Hence the start of the Thirty Years War. This completely wiped out the Bohemian nobility bloodlines and why there is no longer Bohemian royalty.
This event is commemorated in 21 cobblestone crosses and swords crossed with a crown of thorns to represent their martyrdom in Old Prague Square with the date, 1621.Read more