War for the Faith movie poster
In the previous article ("Czech Republic on the Eve of the Hussite Wars") was told about the events in the Czech Republic on the eve of the Hussite wars and the youth of one of the main characters of this country, Jan Zizka. Today we will talk about battles, victories of this commander and his death.
Jan Zizka, engraving
Jan ижižka and the Taborites
Ižka quickly gained prestige among the rebels, becoming the recognized military leader of their left wing - the Taborites. He won universal respect, among other things, with his personal courage: until Zizka lost his second eye, he always personally took part in battles, fighting not with a sword, but with a six-fighter.
Banner of the Taborites from the Tabor Museum. Here, in addition to the bowl, we see the famous battle flail and the weapon Yana Zizki
Zizka at the head of the army. Miniature from the Jena Codex (late XNUMXth - early XNUMXth centuries). In his hand we see a six-man
It was Zizka who managed to create a real army of scattered and poorly armed rebels who were gathering at Mount Tabor.
Jan Zizka, a monument in the town of Tabor, Czech Republic
Jan Zizka's army
As you know, Jan ižka, having under his command, in addition to a certain number of knights, many not trained in military science and weakly armed townspeople and peasants, has achieved tremendous success in wars with professional armies. He owed his successes to new tactics, which provided for the widespread use of the Wagenburgs in field battles.
Wagenburg, from XNUMXth century engraving
Jana Zizki's Wagenburg is not just wagons (wagons) placed in a circle. This had happened before him. Firstly, the carts in the Zizka army were interconnected with chains and belts: the front wheel of one cart was connected to the rear wheel of the neighboring one. Secondly, and this is the main thing, the Zizki Wagenburg consisted of separate tactical units - dozens and rows of carts. Rows of carts, if necessary, could organize their own separate Wagenburg. Both dozens and ranks had their own commanders.
Hussite carriage, reconstruction, Tabora Museum
War wagons of the Hussites, reconstruction of Toman, XNUMXth century
The carriage crews, which numbered up to 20 people, were permanent (and were not recruited from random people before the battle) and spent a lot of time in training to develop the construction of a general Wagenburg.
The warriors attached to the wagon, like the crew of a modern tank, had various combat specialties, and each of them performed only the task assigned to him, without being distracted by outsiders. The crew consisted of a commander, 2 riders, from 2 to 4 spearmen, arrows from a bow and squeaker, chain guards who fought in close combat, and 2 shitniki who covered people and horses.
Hussite cold weapons and firearms:
Thus, the Hussite carts, if necessary, very quickly united into one fortified camp, fiercely snarling at any attempts to attack. And then Wagenburg released swarms of counterattacking warriors who could chase the enemy, or, in case of failure, return to the protection of their wagon.
Another feature of the ižka Wagenburg was the massive use of firearms by its defenders and the presence of field artillery (which ižka created - the first in Europe). So, in the winter of 1429-1430, the Hussite army had about 300 field artillery pieces, 60 heavy large-caliber bombards and about 3 pishchals. Batteries of small cannons (short-barreled howfnits and long-barreled ramsters) on wooden decks, installed in the direction of the main blow, literally swept away the attackers. And for the siege of cities, bombards with a caliber of up to 000 millimeters were used.
A sheet of a German manuscript of the mid-XNUMXth century, depicting the Wagenburg of the Hussites, hand-held shooters and ram-rattles on carts
Jan ižka was also the first to use an artillery maneuver - the rapid movement of cannons mounted on carts from one flank to another.
The unsuccessful attempt to use the Czech experience by the enemies of the Hussites in 1431, during the V Crusade, speaks of how difficult the construction and defense of the real Wagenburg was.
The cavalry of the Hussites was few in number and was used mainly for reconnaissance or pursuit of a defeated enemy.
It is believed that it was Zizka in 1423 that developed the military regulations - the first in Western Europe.
Ahead of his troops and even in front of ižka himself was usually the priest Jan Čapek, who composed the famous Hussite hymn Ktož jsú Boží bojovníci? ("Who are God's warriors?").
As for the size of Jan Zizka's army, at different times it was from 4 to 8 thousand people. But she was often joined by the militia from the surrounding villages and towns.
Battles and victories of Jan Zizka
At the end of 1419, ižka, without compromising with the more moderate leaders of the rebels, who had concluded a truce with the king, left Prague for Plzeз.
When in 1420, 75 km from Prague on Mount Tabor, a military rebel camp was created, Jan ижižka became one of the four hetmans of the Taborites, but actually headed them. Even then, it never entered anyone's head to challenge his authority.
In March 1420, the Судižka rebels won their first victory at Sudomerz: his detachment, consisting of only 400 people, repulsed the attack of 2 thousand royal knights during the retreat from Pilsen. Here the Taborites successfully applied the Wagenburg tactics for the first time.
And in July 1420, 4 thousand rebels managed to defeat the 30-thousand-strong army of the crusaders on Vitkov Mountain near Prague, next to which the village of Zizkov was later founded. Now it is part of Prague, and there is a monument on Vitkov Mountain.
Monument to ižka on Vitkov Mountain
The situation then was as follows: the inhabitants of Prague blocked the royal garrison in the fortress, and each side hoped for help. Sigismund I, who led the First Crusade, led to Prague, in addition to his troops, detachments of Brandenburg, Palatinate, Trier, Cologne and Maine electors, dukes of Austria and Bavaria, as well as a number of Italian mercenaries. There were two Crusader armies: one advanced from the northeast, the other from the south.
To the aid of the Hussites came the Taborites, led by Zhizhka. Ižka came first and, contrary to everyone's expectations, deployed his troops not outside the walls of Prague, but on Vitková Hill, building on it a small field fortress surrounded by a moat - two wooden log cabins, walls of stone and clay, and a moat. The Taborites repulsed the first attack in front of the citizens of Prague with great damage to the enemy, and during the second the crusaders were attacked from the rear by the enthusiastic inhabitants of Prague. The victory was complete and unconditional, it led to the demoralization of opponents and the failure of the Crusade.
In November, the rebels won another victory at Pankratz and captured Vysehrad.
This is how the loud glory of Jan Zizka began, and soon it came to the point that the opponents retreated, only having learned whose troops were in front of them.
But at the same time, the contradictions between various groups of the Hussites grew, and in 1421 the troops of ižka defeated two radical sects: the Picarts and the Adamites.
Zizka was not even stopped by the loss of his second eye during the siege of the city of Robi in 1421:
“An arrow dug deep into his only seeing eye. Zeman Kotsovsky was, as they say, the shooter whose arrow hit the famous leader. They also interpret that during that siege, a chip from a pear, split by the enemy's core, flew into the eye of Zhizhka.
After his recovery, ižka continued to accompany his troops on a specially made carriage for him and led them in battles.
In January 1422, his troops defeated the army of new crusaders at Gabr (Second Crusade). However, near the city of Kutná Hora, his army was in a critical situation: the townspeople whom he had come to defend cut the Hussite garrison and opened the gates to the crusaders. Caught between two fires, Zizka surprised the opponents once again: putting artillery pieces on his wagons, he attacked the crusader army under their volleys and broke through the enemy ranks. Sigismund did not dare to pursue him. This was followed by a series of minor skirmishes, in which the crusaders invariably suffered heavy losses. In the end, the aliens decided to leave the Czech Republic, the soldiers of ižka went to see them off, and it all ended in a real flight of the crusaders: they were pursued to Nemetsky Brod, where the Catholics abandoned a wagon train of 500 carts. Then ижižka drove the crusaders away from the town of Zhatets (Zaats).
Zizka won another victory on Mount Vladar near the town of Zhlutits: a swift counterattack led to a panicky flight of enemy soldiers. As a result of these victories, Zizka managed to transfer the hostilities to enemy territory. And the opponents of the Hussites managed to organize a new crusade only in 1425, after the death of the Terrible Blind.
Meanwhile, in Prague, the struggle between moderate Hussites and radicals continued, which ended with the execution of Jan Zelivsky, who organized the defenestration. After that, the inhabitants of Prague decided to invite to the vacant throne first the Polish king Jagiello, then the Grand Duke of Lithuania Vitovt. Those were wary of getting into the Czech adventure, but Vitovt decided to take this country with someone else's hands: he sent to Prague the son of the Novgorod-Seversky prince, Sigismund Koributovich, subject to him.
Diebold Lauber. Zygimont Karybutavic - at the head of 51 Banners in the Battle of Grunwald
The fact is that Sigismund of Luxembourg supported then the worst enemies of the Lithuanians - the Teutonic Order, with which the war was just going on. And hitting him from the rear seemed like a good idea.
Sigismund Koributovich and "Prince Friedrich of Russia"
With Koributovich came a detachment of five thousand from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (it included mainly Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians). Apparently, the Russian commander of the Hussites, Prince Fyodor Ostrozhsky, who is called Frederick in European sources, arrived with him. And then he began to call himself that: "Friedrich, by God's grace, a prince from Russia, Pan on Veseli" or "Friedrich, a prince from Ostrog."
These soldiers were in the Czech Republic for 8 years. But with Fedor it was very interesting. He fought a lot and actively and was taken prisoner, from which, during a campaign in Silesia in 1428, he was rescued by Prokop the Naked. In his army, Fedor became the commander of a detachment of his compatriots. And then the prince suddenly goes over to the side of the Utraquists.
During the battle of Trnava on April 28, 1430, the Russian prince fights against his recent allies. At the head of the Hungarian detachment, he broke into the Wagenburg "orphans" (about them - later) and almost defeated them, but his subordinates too quickly switched to plundering the enemy's property. Velek Kudelnik, who commanded the "orphans", died in this battle. And in 1433, we again see Fyodor of Ostrog as Taborit hetman - he heads the Hussite garrison in the Slovak city of Zilina. In April, he captured the city of Ruzomberok in northern Slovakia, which caused panic in Presburg (Bratislava), where the wife of Emperor Sigismund, Barbara, was. In June 1438, Fyodor found himself in the Polish army heading to Bohemia to support Prince Casimir, who claims the Czech throne. The following year, he is again mentioned among the former Hussite hetmans who, on the border of Moravia and Slovakia, fight against the imperial troops of Gaspar Schlick. And in 1460 in the hired Czech detachment of Mladvanek, hired by the Austrians, there is "Wenceslas, Duke of Ostrog from Russia" - probably the son of this adventurer.
Fyodor Ostrozhsky became an episodic character in A. Sapkovsky's trilogy "God's Warriors", and in the first book the author speaks of him with sympathy, and in the third - derogatory.
But back to Sigismund Koributovich.
Oddly enough, he almost managed to reconcile the warring parties and restore order in the country. But on September 27, 1422, Poland, Lithuania and the Teutons concluded the Treaty of Meln, after which the presence of the Lithuanian appointee in Bohemia became undesirable for everyone. His departure led to a new round of confrontation in the Czech Republic, and Jan ižka had already smashed the chalice near the city of Goritsa.
At this time, he disagreed with the Taborites. Among the reasons is the following:
“All the priests of ižka served Mass in vestments; he did not like the fact that the priests from Tabor perform the rite in worldly clothes and rough boots. That is why, they say, he called them "shoemakers", and they called his priests "rag-pickers."
(A. Irasek, "Old Czech Legends".)
With his troops loyal to him, Zizka established a foothold in the north-east of the Czech Republic - in Hradec Kralove (Small Tabor), where the Orebit brotherhood was founded. From here, in the middle of 1423, улižka moved to Moravia and Hungary. Through the Small Carpathians, his army reached the Danube and then penetrated into Hungary at a distance of 130-140 km. However, here ižka met stubborn resistance, and therefore considered it reasonable to return to the Czech Republic. His enemies considered this expedition unsuccessful and immediately began to prepare for a new battle. In June 1424, in the Battle of Malešov, ižka's troops clashed with the Prague residents and the moderate Calixtian Hussites (better known as the chashniks). They tried to attack the Wagenburg Taborites, but their ranks were upset by the carts with stones lowered from the mountain. After the artillery bombardment, the infantrymen of Zhizhka finally overthrew the Chashniks soldiers, the cavalry completed the rout. After this victory, Zizka occupied Prague.
Meanwhile, Sigismund Koributovich unexpectedly returned to the Czech Republic without permission, which led to some stabilization of the situation. Jagiello and Vitovt confiscated all the estates from him, the Pope excommunicated him from the church, but in Prague he was neither hot nor cold. Having abandoned the tit in his hands, Koributovich chose a crane in the sky.
Looking ahead, let's say that he never managed to catch the crane, and when he returned to his homeland, he did not guess, choosing between the rivaling Sigismund Keistutovich and Svidrigaido Olgerdovich, and was executed by order of Sigismund in 1435.
The death of Jan Zizka
Jan ижižka was at the pinnacle of fame and had no worthy opponents either in the Czech Republic or abroad, but he had only a few months to live.
On October 11, 1424, during the siege of Příbislav, ižka died of a disease that the chroniclers traditionally declared a plague.
A. Liebscher. Death of Jan Zizka on October 11, 1424
Now, at the place of death of the great commander, there is a small village of Zhizhkovo Pole, where in the second half of the 10th century a mound XNUMX meters high was poured and a pedestal was installed, which crowned a bowl. On the stones under the cone, the names of the battles he won are written.
Memorial sign in Zizkovo Pole
Historia Bohemica of Pope Pius II claims that the dying ižka bequeathed that the skin removed from him be pulled onto a war drum so that he could terrify enemies even after death. Georges Sand claimed to have seen a letter from Frederick II to Voltaire, in which the king claimed to have found this drum and, as one of the trophies, took it with him to Berlin. Probably all the same, that we have a place with the next historical descriptions.
Jan ижižka was buried in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Hradec Kralove, and then the body was transferred to Časlav, where his beloved six-man was hanged at the grave.
In 1623, after the defeat of the Protestants at the Battle of White Mountain, Ferdinand II of Habsburg ordered to destroy the grave of the Czech hero, but his alleged remains were found in 1910.
However, let's go back to the XNUMXth century. After the death of their leader, the soldiers of the Zizka army and members of the Orebit community began to call themselves "orphans". A. Irasek describes their grief in the "Old Czech Legends":
“And all hearts contracted with great grief. Bearded, hardened, valiant men shed bitter tears, and since then the people of Zizka have adopted the name of "orphans", likening themselves to children who have lost their father. "
This innocent word soon became known throughout Europe, and the fear that these "orphans" instilled in their opponents was not childish at all. At the head of the "orphans" first appeared Kunesh from Belovice, who acted in close alliance with Jan Hvezda, who commanded the Taborites. However, the most famous leaders of the left wing of the Hussites were two Procopas: Naked, also known by the nickname Great, and Small. They won many victories, but died in a decisive battle with Catholics and Utraquists in 1434.
We will talk about battles and "pleasant walks" (spaniel jizdy) of "orphans" and taborites, their defeat and death of leaders in the tragic battle of Lipany in the next article.