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The Story of Prague



cover

{i}

The Story of Prague

{ii}

The   Mediæval
Town   Series


VERONA.*
By Alethea Wiel.

CHARTRES.
By Cecil Headlam.

CAIRO.
By Stanley Lane-Poole.

BRUGES.
By Ernest Gilliat-Smith.

ROME.† [2nd Edition.
By Norwood Young.

FLORENCE.† [3rd Edition.
By Edmund G. Gardner.

ASSISI.* [2nd Edition.
By Lina Duff Gordon.


CONSTANTINOPLE.*
By William H. Hutton.

MOSCOW.*
By Wirt Gerrare.

ROUEN.† [2nd Edition.
By Theodore A. Cook.

NUREMBERG.* [3rd Edition.
By Cecil Headlam.

PERUGIA.* [4th Edition.
By Margaret Symonds and Lina Duff Gordon.

TOLEDO.*
By Hannah Lynch.


The volumes marked (*) are 3s. 6d. net in cloth, 4s. 6d. net in leather; those marked (†) are 4s. 6d. net in cloth, 5s. 6d. net in leather.

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{iv}


 

The Pulverthurm Prague
The Pulverthurm Prague

{v}

The    Story    of   PRAGUE
by          Count      Lützow
Illustrated  by  Nelly Erichsen



London:         J.    M.    Dent   &   Co.
Aldine House, 29 and 30 Bedford Street
Covent Garden W.C.     decorative image     decorative image       1902

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All rights reserved

{vii} 

To
Professor MORFILL, M.A.
Corresponding Member of the Royal Scientific Society
of Bohemia, who has so largely contributed
to making Bohemia known to England

{viii}

CONTENTS{ix}

  PAGE
Introduction xv
CHAPTER I
Prague at the Earliest Period 1
CHAPTER II
From the Reign of Charles IV. to the Executions at Prague in 1621 23
CHAPTER III
Prague in Modern Times 128
CHAPTER IV
Palaces 140
CHAPTER V
Churches and Monasteries 149
CHAPTER VI
The Bohemian Museum 164
CHAPTER VII
Walks in Prague 167
CHAPTER VIII
Walks and Excursions near Prague 197
Note 201
Appendix 203
Princes of Bohemia 204
Kings of Bohemia 205
Index 207

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{xi}

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

  PAGE

The Pulverthurm (photogravure)

Frontispiece

Tomb of Ottokar I.

6

The Jewish Cemetery

9

The Hradcany and Ottokar Towers

13

Charles IV., from Triforium of St. Vitus

16

The Gothic Projection, Carolinum

19

The Bridge Tower of the Malá Strana

27

Statue of St. John Nepomuk on the Bridge

30

Medals of Hus

33

Medals of Hus

39

The Bridge Tower of the Old Town

45

The Hradcany

53

View of Prague and Hradcany Castle

61

The Town Hall and Market-Place

71

South Porch of Tyn Church

75

Clock Tower in Town Hall of Staré Mesto

80

Chapel of Town Hall

83

Wenceslas Chapel, St. Vitus’s Cathedral

91

The East Gate of the Hradcany

97

Rudolph II.

101

Tombstone of Tycho Brahe in Tyn Church

104

The Royal Officials are Thrown from the Windows on May 23, 1618

111

Battle of the White Mountain, November 8, 1620

115

The Executions on the Market-Place of the Old Town of Prague on the 21st of June 1621

121

The Dungeon in the Town Hall

125

Bethlehem Chapel

127

The Old Synagogue

129

Secret Seal of the Malá Strana

133

The Oldest Great Seal of the Old Town

139

Gate of the Clam-Gallas Palace

141

The Hall of Vladislav in the Hradcany Castle

145

The Most Ancient Shield of the Old Town

148

View of Strahov

150

St. Vitus from the ‘Stag’s Ditch’

153

The Tyn Church

157

The Library, Strahov

161

Most Ancient Arms of the Malá Strana

163

The Powder Tower

169

Door of Old Synagogue

171

Jewish Town Hall and Old Synagogue

175

Chapel of St. Martin

182

Karlov

186

From the Bridge Looking Towards the Old Town

188

View of the Bridge from the Mills of the Old Town

191

The ‘Star’ Hunting Lodge

199

The Oldest Great Seal of the Malá Strana, Thirteenth Century

200

View of Prague in 1606, after Sadeler’s famous Engraving, in Three Sections

facing 206

Map of Prague

facing 212

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INTRODUCTION

FEW cities in the world have a more striking and feverish historical record than Prague, the ancient capital of Bohemia and of the lands of the Bohemian crown. It is a very ancient saying at Prague that when throwing a stone through a window you throw with it a morsel of history. The story of Prague is to a great extent the history of Bohemia, and all Bohemians have always shown a devoted affection for the ‘hundred-towered, golden Prague,’ as they fondly call it. As Mr. Arthur Symons has well said, Prague is to a Bohemian ‘still the epitome of the history of his country; he sees it, as a man sees the woman he loves, with her first beauty, and he loves it as a man loves a woman, more for what she has suffered.’ Foreigners, however, have not been backward in admiring the beauties of Prague. The words of Humboldt, who declared that Prague was the most beautiful inland town of Europe, have often been quoted, and it is certain that a traveller who looks at the town from the bridge, or the Strahov Monastery or the Belvedere, will share this opinion.

Yet Prague is, I think, very little known to Englishmen, and I received with great pleasure Mr. Dent’s suggestion that I should write a short sketch of the history of the capital of my country. It has, indeed, to me been a labour of love. The geographical situation of Prague is to some extent a clue to its historical importance. Bohemia, the Slavic land that lies furthest west, has always been the battlefield of the Slavic and {xvi}Teutonic races, and its capital, Prague, has for more than a thousand years been an outlying bastion of the Slav people, which, sometimes captured, has always been recovered. Within the time of men now living Prague had the appearance of a German city, while it has now a thoroughly Slav character. The town has therefore an intense interest for the student of history, and, indeed, of politics. For more than two centuries a religious conflict, interwoven with the racial struggle in a manner that cannot be defined in few words, attracted the attention of Europe to Bohemia, and particularly to Prague; for the battles of the Zizkov and the Vysehrad were fought within the precincts of the present city. But it is not only in the annals of war that Prague plays a pre-eminent part. The foundation of the University for a time made Prague one of the centres of European thought. Thanks to the enthusiasm and eloquence of Hus, the endeavour to reform the Church, which had failed in England, was for a time successful in Bohemia. Though he was not born at Prague, and died in a foreign country, the life of Hus belongs to Prague. The traveller cannot pass the Bethlehem Chapel or the Carolinum without thinking of the great reformer. Though the iconoclastic fury of the extreme Hussites and the rage of incessant civil warfare have deprived Prague of many of its ancient monuments, it is by no means so devoid of architectural beauty as has been stated by those who, perhaps, know the town only by hearsay. The three ancient round chapels, dating from the beginning of the tenth century, still remain as examples of the earliest ecclesiastical architecture of Prague. The Church of St. George, on the Hradcany Hill, which is now being carefully restored, is a very fine specimen of early romanesque architecture. The four towers at the outskirts of the Hradcany, which date from the thirteenth century,{xvii} are an interesting relic of the ancient fortifications of Prague. The principal churches of the town, St. Vitus’s Cathedral and the Tyn Church, frequently enlarged and altered, recall the vicissitudes of Bohemian history, in which they played such a prominent part. Ferdinand the First’s Belvedere villa is one of the finest Renaissance buildings in Northern Europe.

I have found no lack of materials while writing this short note on the story of Prague. I have of course mainly relied on the old chronicles, most of which are written in the national language. These almost unknown chroniclers are little inferior to those of Italy. Their fierce religious and racial animosities sometimes inspire them, and even carry away the reader, whatever his own views may be. Want of space has unfortunately obliged me to quote but sparingly from these ancient chronicles. Of modern historical works on Prague, Dr. Tomek’s Dejepis Mesta Prahy (History of the town of Prague) is vastly superior to all previous works of the present age. This book, written in the little-known Bohemian language, deserves to rank with Gregorovius’s Mediæval Rome as one of the greatest town-histories of the nineteenth century. The twelve volumes of Dr. Tomek’s work that have appeared up to now only bring the history of the city down to the year 1608. As the smallest of these volumes is more than double the size of this little book, it is unnecessary to say that I have not been able to avail myself of the contents of Dr. Tomek’s book to a large extent. I have mentioned, in an Appendix to this book, a few of the other works that I have consulted.

After giving an account of the story of Prague, I have in Chapters IV. and V. briefly referred to the most prominent objects of interest in the town. With the exception of the bridge—which every traveller will cross, however short his stay may be—the town hall {xviii}and the neighbouring Jewish churchyard, an account of these will be found in these two chapters. A somewhat fuller notice of the town will be found in Chapters VI., VII. and VIII., though here, too, it has been impossible to mention every subject of interest for the student of history, architecture and archæology. The history of Prague is to so great an extent that of Bohemia that I have at the end of this volume given a list of the rulers—princes, afterwards kings—of Bohemia, which the reader will, I think, find useful.

I have often been told by English friends that Prague is a very distant and ‘out-of-the-way’ place. I am, I think, entitled to dispute the correctness of this statement. Dresden, one of the towns most visited by English travellers, is only four hours from Prague. The train leaving Dresden at 11.18 reaches Prague at 3.11. Prague is also not distant from the Bohemian watering-places, Karlsbad, Marienbad and Franzensbad, and the distance would appear yet smaller were it not for the slowness of all Austrian, even express, trains. I may add a word on the hotels of Prague. Of the best of these hotels, three—the Hotel de Saxe, the ‘Blue Star,’ and the ‘Black Horse’—are situated close to the State Railway Station and the powder tower, while a fourth, the ‘Victoria,’ is in the Jungmann Street. In all these hotels the English traveller will often regret the absence of a reading or public sitting-room. Even when such a room is provided, it is often closed or used for private card parties. In late years I have during my many visits to Prague always stayed at the Hotel de Saxe, and I can conscientiously recommend it. To those who, for the purpose of study or for other reasons, intend making a somewhat lengthy stay at Prague, The Pension Finger (corner of the Vaclavské Námesti and the town park) can be recommended.

It remains to me to thank those who have kindly{xix} assisted me while I was preparing this little book. As on previous occasions, I have again had the privilege of frequently consulting Mr. Adolphus Patera, head librarian of the Bohemian Museum. Dr. Matejka, guardian of the print room of that museum, has most kindly permitted the reproduction of some of the treasures contained in that collection. Dr. Jaromir Celakovsky, archivist of the town of Prague, kindly granted permission that the interesting old town seals of Prague should be reproduced here. Monsignor Lehner kindly furnished me with some fresh information on the subject of early Bohemian ecclesiastical architecture, on which he is so great an authority. Dr. Zahradnik, canon and librarian of the Strahov Monastery, has given me much valuable information concerning his ancient monastery, and particularly concerning the library that he so ably and skilfully directs. I have also had the privilege of receiving advice from Professors Kalousek and Mourek.

LÜTZOW.

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Prague, November 28, 1901.{1}

The  Story  of  Prague

CHAPTER I

Prague at the Earliest Period

THE earliest tales of the foundation of Prague are as those of most very ancient cities—entirely mythical. Here, as elsewhere, very ancient legends and traditions take the place of genuine history. Yet a notice of such ancient towns that ignored these legends would be valueless. It is almost certain that the earliest inhabited spot within the precincts of the present city of Prague was the hill on the right bank of the Vltava or Moldau, known as the Vysehrad (‘higher castle’ or Acropolis). It is also probable that the ‘higher castle’ was from a very early date the residence of a prince who ruled over part of Bohemia, and the very ancient legend that refers to the Vysehrad as the residence of Krok or Crocus, the earliest Sovereign of Bohemia, is no doubt founded on this fact. Krok is said to have left no son, but three daughters, Kázi, Teta and Libussa. Libussa, though the youngest, succeeded her father as ruler of Bohemia. Libussa is described by the ancient chronicler, Cosmas of Prague, as ‘a wonderful woman among women, chaste in body, righteous in her morals, second to none as judge over the people, affable to all and even amiable, the pride and glory of the female sex, doing wise and manly deeds; but, as nobody is perfect, this so praiseworthy{2} woman was, alas, a soothsayer.’ The last words, no doubt, refer to Libussa’s prophecy of the future greatness of Prague, which will be mentioned presently.

The great merits of Libussa do not, however, appear to have reconciled the Bohemians to the rule of a woman. When Libussa had been sitting in judgment on a dispute between two nobles—brothers who both claimed the paternal inheritance—the one to whom the princess’s decision was unfavourable insulted her by exclaiming that it was a shame for a country to be ruled by a woman. Libussa then declared that she would no longer rule so ferocious a people. She bade the people disperse and reassemble on the following day, when she would accept as husband whomsoever they might select. The Bohemians, however, declared that they would leave the choice to her and accept as their ruler the man whom she would choose. Libussa, who here is represented as a visionary or soothsayer, then said, pointing to the distant hills, ‘Behind these hills is a small river called Belina and on its bank a farm named Stadic. Near that farm is a field and in that field your future ruler is ploughing with two oxen marked with various spots. His name is Premysl and his descendant will rule over you for ever. Take my horse and follow him; he will lead you to the spot.’

Guided by Libussa’s horse, the Bohemian envoys immediately set forth and found the peasant Premysl ploughing his field. They immediately saluted him as their ruler. Premysl mounted the horse and, followed by the Bohemian envoys, proceeded to the Vysehrad, where he was immediately betrothed to Libussa. The chroniclers tell us that when he arrived at the Vysehrad he still wore the dress of the Bohemian peasant, and that his rough shoes were preserved in the Vysehrad castle as late as the twelfth century. Premysl became the founder of a line that ruled in Bohemia up to 1306;{3} and the present King of Bohemia, Francis Joseph, is his successor in the female line.

To Libussa is ascribed the second foundation of a city on the site of the present town of Prague. It is said to have taken place on the left bank of the Vltava, on the Hradcany Hill. The spot then, and even far later, was covered by a dense forest; the ancient Slavs, it may be noted, generally chose secluded spots surrounded by forests as their dwelling-places. The oldest account, and therefore the most valuable, is that of the chronicler, Cosmas of Prague (about 1045 to 1125), whom I shall again quote. He tells us that Libussa, ‘standing on a high rock on the Vysehrad in presence of her husband Premysl, and the elders of the people incited by the spirit of prophecy uttered this prediction: I see a town the glory of which will reach the stars. There is a spot in the forest, thirty stades from this village, which the River Vltava encircles, and which to the north the stream Brusnice secures by its deep valley; and to the south a rocky hill, which from its rocks takes the name of Petrin,[1] towers above it.... When you have reached this spot you will find a man in the midst of the forest who is working at a door-sill for a house.[2] And as even mighty lords bend before a low door, so from this event you shall call the town which you will build “Praha.”... They proceed immediately to the ancient forest, and having found the sign which had been given them they build on this site a town, Prague, the mistress of all Bohemia.’

This is the most ancient record of the foundation of Prague on which all subsequent ones are based. The older castle on the Vysehrad, separated from the newer{4} foundation by the vast extent of land now occupied by the Staré Mesto (old town) and the Nové Mesto (new town) continued to be the frequent residence of the Bohemian princes.

The date of the foundation of Prague by Libussa is as uncertain as everything concerning that semi-mythical princess. Hajek of Libocan, a chronicler of the sixteenth century, gives the year 752 as the date of the foundation of the castle on the Hradcany Hill. It was at first of a very simple character, consisting probably but of wooden buildings. During the reign of Libussa’s successors—of whom little but their names is known[3]—we have scant information as regards the growth of Prague. After the introduction of Christianity one of the earliest Christian churches is stated to have been erected on the Hradcany at Prague. The new settlement rapidly extended itself, and from an early date we read of the ‘suburbium Pragense,’ which extended on both banks of the river and included the present Malá Strana (small quarter) at the foot of the Hradcany Hill, as well as that part of the Staré Mesto that is nearest to the Vltava. Though there is but little trustworthy information concerning this early period, it is certain that the city gradually spread out on both banks of the river. They were from the earliest historical period united by a bridge that stood near the site of the present far-famed bridge.

Buildings not connected with either the Vysehrad or the Hradcany settlements sprang up at a very early period. According to Professor Tomek, as early as the year 993 some houses stood on the site of the present Poric Street (close to the State Railway Station).

Immediately after the introduction of Christianity, but particularly during the reign of the pious Wenceslas {5}(920-935), many churches were erected at Prague, though the earliest building devoted to Christian worship was at Levy Hradec.[4] According to some accounts a church on the Hradcany was dedicated to the Virgin by Borivoj, the first Christian ruler of Bohemia. It was in this church that St. Wenceslas received the tonsure. The earliest church on the Vysehrad probably dates from nearly the same time. Prince Wenceslas—afterwards sainted—built several churches, and also laid the foundations of the first buildings on the spot where St. Vitus’s Cathedral now stands. Wenceslas was induced to build this church by the gift of an arm of St. Vitus, a precious relic that he received from the German King, Henry I. The first church of St. Vitus, like all the earliest religious buildings in Bohemia, was in the Romanesque style. In 939 the remains of St. Wenceslas were conveyed here from Stará Boleslav, where he had (in 935) been murdered by his treacherous younger brother, Boleslav.[5]

The successor of St. Wenceslas, Boleslav I., whom Palacky calls ‘one of the most powerful monarchs that ever occupied the Bohemian throne,’ greatly extended the frontiers of his country, a fact that necessarily largely increased the importance of his capital; but of yet greater importance for the development of Prague was—in accordance with the ideas of the time—the foundation of the bishopric in 973. It took place during the reign of Boleslav II., the son and successor of Boleslav I. Bohemia had formerly belonged to the diocese of Regensburg or Ratisbon. At the time of the foundation the Bohemian princes ruled not only over Bohemia and its sister lands (Moravia and Silesia), but also over Southern Poland, Galicia and a large{6} part of Northern Hungary. All these countries formed parts of the new bishopric of Prague. Palacky justly regrets that an archbishopric was not founded for so vast an extent of land. It is only several centuries later that Prague became an archbishopric. The first bishop, Thietmar, was, after a short time, succeeded by Vojtech or Adalbert, a Bohemian who was afterwards sainted and is still one of the patrons of the country. After the death of Boleslav II., in 999, civil war broke out in Bohemia, and the development of Prague was necessarily retarded.


 

TOMB OF OTTOKAR I.
TOMB OF OTTOKAR I.

The population of Prague—originally entirely Slavic—was at an early period increased by German immigrants. They first arrived at Prague as permanent residents during the reign of King Vratislav (1061-1092). They settled on the right bank of the Vltava, and, favoured by the Bohemian Sovereigns, increased rapidly. They were granted special privileges by Sobeslav, and these privileges were afterwards extended by King Wenceslas I. Thus the old town in distinction from the new town, afterwards founded by Charles IV., long had a somewhat German{7} character, and indeed only entirely lost it during the Hussite Wars. The old document stating that ‘no German or Jew shall be burgomaster of the old town of Prague,’ which is still shown in the town hall, only dates from this period.

The old town, however, always contained a strong Bohemian-Slavic element, and the fusion of the two nationalities undoubtedly became closer when, during the reign of King Wenceslas I., the old town was—probably about the year 1235—enclosed with walls. These walls starting from the Vltava, near the present bridge of Francis Joseph, followed the line of the Elizabeth Street and the Josefské Námesti till they reached the Prikopy or Graben. Thence they proceeded along the present Prikopy, Ovocná ulice and Ferdinandova ulice till they rejoined the river, near the spot where the national theatre now stands. The Graben, now the principal thoroughfare of Prague by its name, which signifies ditch or trench, still recalls its original destination. The Prasná Brana (powder tower or gate) marks the spot where one of the gates of the old town stood. According to Dr. Tomek the fortifications consisted of a double wall and double ditch, which was filled with water derived from the Vltava. With the exception of the Vysehrad and a few straggling buildings near the present Poric Street, the new walls contained all that part of Prague that was situated on the right bank of the river.

Premysl Ottokar II., the son and successor of Wenceslas I., was one of Bohemia’s greatest kings. Both by successful warfare and by skilful diplomacy he so greatly enlarged his dominions, that his rule at one time extended from the Adriatic in the South to the Baltic in the North. Though his many campaigns left him little leisure to reside in his capital, Ottokar enlarged both the town and the fortifications of Prague.{8}

In 1257 he greatly added to the fortifications that no doubt already existed on the Hradcany Hill. He caused the whole Hradcany Hill to be surrounded by a strong wall and the various towers to be connected by covered passages. Ten knights and 300 armed men were to keep constant watch and ward over the fortifications. The still existent towers—Daliborka, Mikulka, and the white and the black towers—formed part of these fortifications. Somewhat later the King also enclosed with walls the Malá Strana (small quarter)—that is to say, the buildings that extended from the foot of the Hradcany to the river. Here fortifications were necessary in three directions only, as in the direction of the Hradcany that fortress protected the newly enclosed settlement.

It appears probable that when the old town had been fortified a tête-de-pont had been built on the left bank of the Vltava, which, together with a similar building on the right bank, was to secure the bridge of Prague. The fortified gate on the left bank was now included in the new fortifications. It may here be remarked that when the old town had been fortified the Jewish quarter (vicus Judæorum) had been included in these fortifications; gates, however, separated the Jewish quarter from the rest of the old town.

The Jewish colony of Prague is of very ancient origin. According to Mr Foges,[6] who was himself a member of that community, Jews went there immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem, if not even before that event. Popular tradition, always given to exaggeration, indeed affirms that Jews first settled at{9}


 

THE JEWISH CEMETERY
THE JEWISH CEMETERY

{10}

{11}

Prague, or rather at Buiarnum, which stood on the spot where Libussa afterwards founded Prague, before the beginning of the Christian era, and being therefore guiltless of all participation in the Crucifixion they had fared better in Prague in mediæval times than in most other cities. It is true that Jew-baiting was not unknown in Prague. Mr Foges quotes from the original Hebrew a graphic account of the great persecution of the Jews in 1389. Yet, on the whole, we find at Prague fewer traces of the intense hatred of the Jews which is general elsewhere, and individual Jews often were in favour with the rulers of Bohemia. Thus the Rabbi Löwi Bezalel, who died in 1609, and is buried in the old Jewish cemetery, enjoyed the favour of Rudolph II. Bezalel, who was a student of astronomy and astrology, then intimately connected with it, was a friend of Tycho Brahe, who attracted Rudolph’s attention to the learned Jew. Bezalel was summoned to the royal palace, on the Hradcany, and a very lengthy interview between him and Rudolph took place. It is stated that Bezalel, during his whole lifetime, refused to give any account of this mysterious interview. He was probably a cabalist, and many quaint legends have centred round his name.

According to Dr. Tomek the period between the circumvallation of the old town and the foundation of the new town was that in which the preponderance of the German element at Prague attained its height. The Sovereigns favoured the German immigrants, wishing to use them as a counterpoise to the overwhelming power of the masterful Bohemian nobles. The old chronicler Dalimil, when describing Ottokar II.’s departure on his last fatal campaign against Rudolph of Hapsburg, refers to the apathy of the Bohemians, many of whom considered themselves as neglected in favour of the Germans, and to the{12} King’s resentment. He is made to say: ‘When I return from the wars I will inflict much evil on the Bohemians. I will thus stain the Petrin[7] with their blood, that no Bohemian will any longer be seen on the bridge of Prague.’ The passage is interesting also, as showing how early the bridge of Prague became famous.[8]

The feelings expressed by Dalimil, who always writes as the champion of the Bohemian aristocracy, were, however, by no means universal among the Bohemians, many of whom were warmly attached to their Sovereign. We read that when, on June 27th, 1278, Ottokar left Prague for the last time ‘he took leave of all those whom he loved and who were faithful to him; the clergy and the whole people followed him to the city-gates with prayers and many tears.’ They seem to have foreseen the fatal defeat on the Marchfeld where Ottokar lost his life. When the news of his death reached Prague, lamentation was general from the royal palace to the lowliest hovel. Though Ottokar was under sentence of excommunication, the Bohemians, never very heedful of the Papal authority, thronged to the altars to pray for the eternal salvation of their beloved Sovereign, while the bells of all the churches of Prague, nearly a hundred in number, tolled. During the short reigns of his successors, the last Premyslide princes, Bohemia was involved in almost incessant war.

Soon after the extinction of the Premyslide dynasty{13}


 

THE HRADCANY AND OTTOKAR TOWERS
THE HRADCANY AND OTTOKAR TOWERS

{14}

{15}

(1306), John of Luxemburg, son of the German Emperor Henry VII., became King of Bohemia (in 1310). His adventurous reign concerns the annals of Prague but very little. A Sovereign who declared that ‘Paris was the most chivalrous town in the world, and that he only wished to live there,’ naturally neglected his Bohemian capital. The Bohemians complained that his short visits to Prague were only made for the purpose of obtaining financial aid from the Estates of Bohemia. His incessant campaigns, that extended from Lithuania and Hungary to Italy and France, indeed involved him in constant financial difficulties. It is characteristic of the knight-errant King that he seriously contemplated re-establishing at Prague the round-table of King Arthur. He invited all the most famous knights in Europe to that city in 1319; nobody, however, appears to have responded to his call.

After King John’s death on the battlefield of Crécy, his son Charles IV. (or I. as King of Bohemia) became his successor. Differing in most respects from his father, he was a devoted lover of Prague, and may almost be considered a second founder of the city. The districts of Prague, the Malá Strana and the Staré Mesto, that were already enclosed by walls, had become insufficient to shelter the ever-increasing population. Charles therefore decided on building a new city on the right bank of the Vltava. The old chronicler, Benes of Weitmil, tells us that ‘in the year of the Lord MCCCXLVIII., on the day of St. Marc, our Lord Charles, King of the Romans and of Bohemia, laid the first stone, and founded the new city of Prague, building a very strong wall with ramparts and high towers extending from the Castle of Vysehrad to Poric. The Vysehrad Hill also he surrounded with a wall and very strong towers, and the whole work was carried out within{16} two years. And he also ordered that gardens and vineyards should be planted around the city of Prague.’ It is interesting to note in connection with this statement of the old chronicler that Dr. Tomek also tells us that during the reign of Charles many citizens bought land outside the town and established vineyards there.

The new town received great privileges from Charles, and the foundation of the University, which contributed largely to increasing the population of the town, also had a very favourable effect on the new community. The ‘new town,’ the limits of which were soon extended, enjoyed the rank of a royal town, a name given to those cities only that had been awarded special privileges by the Bohemian Kings.

CHARLES IV., FROM TRIFORIUM OF ST. VITUS
CHARLES IV., FROM TRIFORIUM
OF ST. VITUS

Charles had, while temporary ruler of Bohemia during the absence of his father, succeeded in persuading the Papal See to raise the bishopric of Prague to an archbishopric. It was through his influence also that his friend Ernest of Pardubic, a member of one of the oldest noble families of Bohemia, was chosen as first Archbishop of Prague.

It was on Ernest also that Charles conferred the dignity of being the first Chancellor of the newly-founded University of Prague. That foundation is, as regards the annals of the world, the most important event in the history of Prague. That a movement in favour of Church reform should originate here at a time when Geneva and Wittenberg were unknown as centres of theological strife was only rendered possible{17} by the fact that Prague had become the site of one of the then very scanty universities.

At the meeting of the Estates at Prague in 1348 Charles made the following statement: ‘One of our greatest endeavours is that Bohemia our kingdom, for which we feel greater affection than for any of our other lands, should, through our action, be adorned by a great number of learned men; thus will the faithful inhabitants of that kingdom, who incessantly thirst for the fruits of learning, be no longer obliged to beg for foreign alms, rather will they find a table prepared for them in their own kingdom; thus will the natural sagacity of their minds move them to become cultured by the possession of knowledge.’ Charles concluded by informing the assembly that he had resolved to found the University of Prague.

Faithful to his predilection for France, Charles modelled his regulations for the new University entirely on those of the University of Paris. The students were divided into ‘nations’ according to their nationality. In Prague we find the Bohemian, Polish, Bavarian and Saxon ‘nations’; each of these separately elected members to the general council of the University.

The new foundation seems to have been very successful from the first. Benes of Weitmil writes: ‘The University’ (studium) ‘became so great that nothing equal to it existed in all Germany; and students came there from all parts—from England, France, Lombardy, Poland, and all the surrounding countries, sons of nobles and princes, and prelates of the Church from all parts of the world.’

No special building seems at first to have been erected for the University. Many professors delivered their lectures at their own apartments, while of the five professors of the theological faculty one lectured in St. Vitus’s Cathedral, the other four, all monks,{18} in the monasteries to which they belonged. The lectures were at first always delivered in Latin, and it is, therefore, equally incorrect to maintain that the Prague University was at its beginning a genuinely German one as to say that it had, from the origin, a really Bohemian—national—character.

In the last years of his life Charles caused several colleges to be built for the benefit of the students. The first of these colleges was founded when Charles bought the ‘house of the Jew Lazarus in the old town,’ which afforded a dwelling-place for twelve professors. Charles also gave a library to the newly-founded college. During the reign of his son this, the most important of these foundations, was transferred to the building known as the ‘Carolinum,’ which henceforth became the centre of the University.

Everything connected with the University was to Charles of the greatest interest, and the Sovereign was often present at the ‘disputations’ which, according to the mediæval custom, took place there.

Charles was also the founder of a confraternity or guild of artists, of which painters, sculptors, wood-carvers and goldsmiths were members, and which, as Palacky says, took the place of a modern academy of arts.

Charles—who, as his very curious Latin memoirs prove—was a very devout Christian, was a great church builder. He rebuilt and enlarged St. Vitus’s Cathedral, and among his many ecclesiastical constructions the Karlov and the Church and Monastery of Emaus may be mentioned.

The great prosperity that Bohemia and Prague in particular enjoyed during the reign of Charles produced a tendency to luxury, and had a somewhat harmful influence on the morality of the people and of the wealthy clergy in particular. Thence arose a strong and general demand for Church reform which{19}

THE GOTHIC PROJECTION, CAROLINUM
THE GOTHIC PROJECTION, CAROLINUM

afterwards culminated in Hus. It would be very tempting to refer here to the forerunners of Hus who lived during the reign of Charles, but here, as everywhere, the need of compression confronts me. Yet a short mention should be made of Conrad Waldhauser and Milic of Kromerize. The former, an Austrian by birth, was called to Prague in 1358 by Charles, and preached at several churches there, but principally at the Tyn Church, where he became rector about the year 1360. Though he generally preached in German, his sermons, containing eloquent denunciations of the immorality and luxury of the times, greatly impressed the Praguers, even the vast Tyn Church occasionally became insufficient to contain his audience, and he sometimes preached in the streets and market-places. He strongly inveighed against the immorality and extravagance of the citizens of Prague, and the result of his preaching was very striking. We read that the women of Prague discarded{20} the jewelry to which they were accustomed, their precious veils, their dresses trimmed with gold and pearls, and adopted simple clothing; usury ceased, and many who had formerly committed that sin declared themselves ready to compensate their former victims. Many citizens who had led an immoral life did public penance, and henceforth gave a good example to others.

As was perhaps inevitable, the great success obtained by Waldhauser was resented by other preachers at Prague. This feeling became more intense when Waldhauser attacked the mendicant friars. In 1364 the Dominican monks accused him of heresy, and brought two points in which, they said, his teaching was contrary to the Church, before Archbishop Ernest. Waldhauser lost no time in presenting his defence, and when the Archbishop appointed day and hour, when anyone who had any grievance against Conrad might appear before the Archiepiscopal Court, no accuser came forth.

This success seems to have encouraged Waldhauser to continue his denunciations of the corruption of the clergy. He was again accused, both by the Dominican and Augustine friars. The latter especially accused him of apostasy. Waldhauser defended himself in a Latin Apologia, which has been preserved. Its tone allows us to infer that his attacks against the immorality of the monks must have been very violent. It is a proof of the liberal mind of Charles, who has by German writers often been accused of undue subservience to the Church of Rome, that Waldhauser none the less retained his office as rector of the Tyn Church up to his death.

Yet greater was the fervour of Milic, who, in 1369, succeeded Waldhauser as rector of the Tyn Church. Milic had early in life held important offices at the Court of Charles. A canon of the Cathedral of{21} Prague, he had also been appointed Vice-Chancellor of the Court, and had for some time in that capacity accompanied Charles during his travels. The desire for Church reform and a return to the primitive Church, then so prevalent in Bohemia, induced Milic to renounce all his honours and to seek refuge in poverty. After having acted as curate for some time in a poor village, Milic returned to Prague, where his sermons, preached in the Church of St. Nicholas in the Malá Strana, soon attracted general attention. Following in the steps of Waldhauser, he eloquently denounced the corruption of his times; but he seems to have strayed further from the doctrine of Rome than Waldhauser had done. Incessant study of the Apocalypse, and the horror which the evil ways of his day inspired in him, appear to have ripened in his mind the idea that the end of the world was approaching. He gave expression to his views not only in his sermons, but also in a written work, entitled, Libellus de Antechristo. The monks of Prague, his enemies, as they had been those of Waldhauser, denounced him to the Papal See, and Milic started for Rome, where, in the absence of Pope Urban, he was imprisoned. After the Pontiff’s arrival an interview between him and Milic took place, when Urban, recognising the purity of his motives, caused him to be liberated, and allowed him to return to Prague. Through the favour of Charles he here obtained the rectorship of the Tyn Church, as already mentioned. Coming from a thoroughly Slavic part of Moravia, Milic was well acquainted with the national language, and, indeed, only learnt German late in life. His sermons, therefore, attracted yet more attention than those of his predecessor. Milic did not limit himself to invectives against vice, but endeavoured by his own activity to reform the people of{22} Prague. Through his influence the ill-famed buildings known as Benatky (Venice) were destroyed and a building erected on the spot to which the name of ‘Jerusalem’ was given, the first instance of the adoption of biblical names, that afterwards became so frequent in Bohemia. The fallen women who had formerly dwelt at Benatky now lived as penitents at ‘Jerusalem,’ and were the object of Milic’s particular care.

At the end of his life Milic again incurred the hostility of the ecclesiastical authorities. He repaired to the Papal Court at Avignon in 1374, but died (there) before the ecclesiastical court before which his case was brought and had pronounced judgment. His memory was long held in reverence by the Bohemians.[9]

The reign of Charles I. marks so important a step in the development of Prague that it may be interesting to note here the various divisions of the city such as they existed during his reign, and after he had so greatly enlarged the city. Prague then consisted of three ‘royal’ cities, that is to say, communities that had received special privileges from the Sovereign. They were the old town (Staré Mesto), new town (Nové Mesto), both on the right bank of the Vltava, and the Malá Strana (small quarter), on the left bank of the river. Besides these the community of Hradcany was under the rule of the burgrave of the Prague castle, and that of Vysehrad under that of the abbot of the monastery of that name. All these and some minor communities enjoyed special privileges, greater in some, smaller in other cases. Charles, however, in the last year of his life, united for a time the two royal cities on the right bank of the river.{23}

CHAPTER II

From the Reign of Charles IV. to the Executions at Prague in 1621

CHARLES died in 1378 and was succeeded by his son Wenceslas, who, at least in his earlier years, certainly does not deserve the exaggerated censure of German historians. These historical judgments are, to a great extent, founded on the opinions unfavourable to Wenceslas that were expressed by strongly Romanist chroniclers, who were influenced by the favour that the King, and yet more his consort, Princess Sophia of Bavaria, for a time showed to Hus and the movement in favour of Church reform. Wenceslas, who was only seventeen when he ascended the throne, maintained all the trusty councillors of his father in their official positions, and Palacky is no doubt right in stating that, during the first years of Wenceslas’s reign, Bohemia was as prosperous as it had been during that of his father. It was said that such perfect security prevailed in the country that one carrying a bag of gold on his head could have traversed Bohemia from end to end without incurring any risk.

Unfortunately for Wenceslas the old councillors of Charles soon followed their master to the grave, while the difficulties caused by the Papal schism (which will be mentioned later in connection with the Church reform movement) from the first confronted the young King. In this case, as indeed in his foreign policy generally, Wenceslas did not follow the example of{24} his father, who had been a firm friend of France. He concluded an alliance with England, which was strengthened by the marriage of Wenceslas’s sister Anne to King Richard II. of England.

Wenceslas followed his father’s example in mainly residing at Prague, and he soon became very popular with the citizens. It was said he visited the shops of bakers and butchers and inquired the prices of their goods. If these proved higher than was authorised by the regulations, Wenceslas ordered the goods to be given away to the poor and the vendors to be severely punished. Less praiseworthy than these mediæval methods of enforcing justice were the King’s nocturnal excursions through the streets of Prague, on which he was accompanied by boon companions not generally chosen from the higher ranks of the nobility. The King thus became estranged from the proud Bohemian aristocracy, and civil war eventually broke out. It was, as Dr Tomek has shown, in consequence of his desire to mix more freely with the citizens that Wenceslas abandoned the royal residence on the Hradcany and took up his abode in a building close to the Celetná ulice and the powder tower. The young King is said to have greatly enjoyed his comparative privacy, and even to have arranged public festivities on the neighbouring Staromestské Námesti.

The animosity of the Bohemian nobles against their Sovereign, as already mentioned, eventually led to civil war. In 1393 most of the prominent Bohemian nobles formed a confederacy against Wenceslas, which is known in history as the ‘league of the lords.’ The King’s own cousin, Jodocuo of Moravia, as well as Albert III., Duke of Austria, and William, Margrave of Meissen, joined the confederacy. On Wenceslas refusing to grant the demands of the confederates, who wished to limit his power, and especially his right to{25} choose his councillors, he was seized by the lords at his castle near Beroun and conveyed as a prisoner to Prague. The citizens of Prague, however, with whom Wenceslas was still popular, took the part of their King and besieged the castle of the Hradcany, where he was confined. In June 1394 an army, led by Duke John of Görlitz, a brother of Wenceslas, arrived before Prague to attempt to liberate the imprisoned Sovereign. The citizens of the new town joyfully received the Duke of Görlitz and joined his forces, while those of the old town, who—intimidated by the league of lords—at first attempted some resistance, were soon forced to capitulate. The lords, no longer believing their prisoner safe at Prague, conveyed him first to Kruman, a castle of the lords of Rosenberg, one of the leaders of the league, and afterwards to Wildberg. A temporary compromise was concluded soon afterwards, and, after granting most of the demands of the confederates, Wenceslas regained his liberty.

Discord soon again broke out between the King and the nobles, who were encouraged by Rupert, Elector Palatine, whom the Germans had chosen as King after deposing Wenceslas. In 1401 an army led by the Margrave of Meissen, an ally of the Elector Palatine, entered Bohemia, and, after devastating a large part of the country, besieged Prague. The city that had not seen a foreign enemy at its gates for more than a hundred years was terrified, while the horrible cruelties committed by the Germans excited the indignation of the people. The young preacher Hus here for the first time gave expression to the feelings of his countrymen when, in one of his first sermons in the Bethlehem Chapel, he declared that the Bohemians ‘were more wretched than dogs or snakes, for a dog defends the couch on which he lies, and, if another dog tries to drive him away, he fights with him, and a snake does{26} the same; but us the Germans oppress without resistance.’

Prague was, however, not captured by the Margrave of Meissen, and another of the many temporary agreements between the King and the Bohemian nobles, which were so frequent in the reign of Wenceslas, was concluded.

In the following year Wenceslas again became a prisoner. By order of his brother Sigismund, King of Hungary, whom he had foolishly invited to Prague, Wenceslas was seized in the royal residence, near the powder tower, and conveyed first to the Hradcany castle and afterwards to Vienna, where Sigismund entrusted him to the custody of his ally the Duke of Austria. In the following year, however, Wenceslas succeeded in making his escape from Vienna. He returned to Bohemia, where he was now joyfully received by the people, who had suffered greatly during the time that the rapacious Sigismund had illegally ruled over Bohemia.

King Wenceslas’s nature seems to have deteriorated with increasing years; his tendency to drink became stronger; his capacity for work decreased; he became more and more incapable of controlling his always violent temper. A proof of this is the King’s well-known conflict with John of Pomuk or Nepomuk. The size of this book—perhaps fortunately for the writer—precludes entering into controversial matters. I will therefore only remark that recent historians have thrown some doubts on the tale of John of Nepomuk. Palacky declared that St. John Nepomucene belongs solely to legend, in no wise to Bohemian history. Recently even some Roman Catholic writers have agreed with him. I will now give the legend in its earliest form, as it appears in Hajek’s chronicle. Hajek writes under the date of 1383 that ‘King{27}


 

THE BRIDGE TOWER OF THE MALÁ STRANA
THE BRIDGE TOWER OF THE MALÁ STRANA

{28}

{29}

Wenceslas gave himself over to much disorder, frequenting various games, plays and dances. His wife, a very noble and honourable lady, blamed him....’

In consequence of such reproof the King was incensed against his wife, and conceived great hatred for her, so that he sought for some cause enabling him to deprive her of her life. The day after the feast of the Holy Sigismund he summoned before him the priest, John of Nepomuk, a master of the University of Prague, canon of the Prague Church, and confessor of the Queen. He requested him to tell him what sins the Queen had confessed to him before God. The priest answered, ‘O King, my lord, I have assuredly not retained this in my memory, and if I had, it would not be beseeming for me to do this, neither is it beseeming for you to make such inquiries.’ The King was incensed, and caused him to be thrown into a grievous subterranean dungeon; then, being unable to obtain anything from him, he sent for the executioner, and ordered that he should be cruelly tortured; but being unable even then to obtain any information from him, he ordered that he should be brought at night to the bridge of Prague, fettered, and thrown into the waters to drown. After this had been done, on that night and on the following one many lights could be seen over the body that was floating on the stream. The King, hearing of this miracle, left for his Castle of Zebrák, and the prelates of the cathedral took the body out of the water and carried it solemnly to the Monastery of the Holy Cross on the citadel of Prague’ (i.e., the Hradcany), ‘then they buried it in St. Vitus’s Cathedral ... afterwards many and manifold wonders took place there, and therefore many declared that he was one of God’s martyrs and a saint.’

The principal event of the later years of the reign of Wenceslas was the Hussite movement, of which Prague{30} was the centre. As has already been mentioned, a strong feeling hostile to the corruption of the Church of Rome had existed during the reign of Charles. Subsequent events had not unnaturally strengthened this feeling. Two, afterwards three, rival candidates claimed the Pontificate, and employed the terrible threats usual among mediæval theologians against the adherents of their rivals. It was inevitable that the authority of the Church of Rome should suffer from this discord, particularly in Bohemia, where Waldhauser and Milic had left many successors. Of these, by far the greatest was Hus, whose career is so closely connected with Prague that I shall briefly allude to it here.

STATUE OF ST. JOHN NEPOMUK ON THE BRIDGE
STATUE OF ST. JOHN NEPOMUK ON THE BRIDGE

John Hus, or of Husinec, was born at the village of that name about the year 1369. The 6th of July was traditionally believed to be the day of his birth, and as it was also the day of his death, the day was always celebrated in the Bohemian Church up to{31} the time when the battle of the White Mountain re-established the Church of Rome in Bohemia. He arrived at Prague at a very early age, and in September 1393 took the degree of Bachelor of Arts at the University there. In the following year he became a Bachelor of Divinity, and in 1396 Master of Arts. His reputation for great learning spread very rapidly at the University. In 1401 he became Dean of the Faculty of Arts, and in the following year, at an unusually early age, for the first time Rector of the University. But it was only from the time that he began preaching in the Bethlehem Chapel that his name became widely known to those also who were not connected with the University.

The Bethlehem Chapel, situated in what is still known as the Bethlehem Place—‘Betlemské Námesti’—was founded in 1391 by John of Milheim, one of King Wenceslas’s courtiers, together with ‘Kriz the Shopkeeper,’ as he is called in the contemporary records, a wealthy tradesman of Prague.

Following the example of Milic, whose foundation had been called ‘Jerusalem,’ Milheim and Kriz also gave a Biblical name to the new chapel. Both founders were favourable to Church reform and partisans of the national movement. Sermons were always preached in Bohemian at Bethlehem, and the brilliant eloquence of Hus, of which we can still judge, as some of his sermons have been preserved, attracted the general attention of the people of Prague. It is noteworthy that during the first years of his priesthood—he was consecrated as a priest about the year 1400—Hus was on good terms with his ecclesiastical superiors. Even after the first disputes concerning Wycliffe’s teaching had arisen, Hus was, as he himself mentions, requested by the newly appointed Archbishop of Prague ‘to bring all irregularities contrary to the rules of the{32} Church’ to the Archbishop’s notice. It should here already be mentioned that the teaching of Hus differed from that of Rome far less than was the case with most Church Reformers. As Dr. Harnack has written,[10] Hus, like Wycliffe, ‘only denied the alleged right of the clergy to represent the Church and administer its sacraments even when they did not fulfil God’s commandments. How—he declared—can the functions of priests be valid if the presupposition of all they do in the Church and for the Church, namely, obedience to the law of God, is absent. The quintessence of that law is the Sermon of the Mount and the example of the humble life of Jesus; yet the whole of Scripture is the law of God.’

The first disputes between Hus and his ecclesiastical superiors broke out in 1403. On May 28th of that year a full meeting of the members of the University, memorable as the beginning of the Hussite struggle, took place at the Carolinum. It was finally decided that forty-five so-called ‘articles’ culled from the writings of Wycliffe, twenty-four of which had already been condemned by the Council of Blackfriars, should be declared heretical, and that all members of the University should be forbidden to circulate them. Hus and his friends, who were accused of spreading the heretical opinions of Wycliffe in Bohemia, protested against this sentence and maintained that the ‘articles’ contained many statements that were not to be found in Wycliffe’s writings.

Shortly after this first debate, Zbynek Zajic of Hasenburg became Archbishop of Prague, and it seemed for a time that religious peace had returned to the country. But in 1408 the clergy of Prague and of the whole archbishopric of Prague brought forward a protest against Hus’s preaching at the Bethlehem Chapel,{33}


 

MEDALS OF HUS
MEDALS OF HUS

{34}

{35}

stating that he had, ‘in opposition to the decisions of the Holy Church and to the opinions of the Holy Fathers, and to the injury, shame, detriment and scandal of the whole clergy and the people generally,’ declared heretics the priests who took payment for ecclesiastical functions, and blamed the ecclesiastics who held numerous benefices. Hus, indeed, defended himself eloquently, but he was none the less deprived of the office of preacher before the Synod, which the archbishop had conferred on him some time before.

Relations between the archbishop and Hus became yet more embittered when the latter addressed to his ecclesiastical superior a letter of remonstrance which Dr. Lechler, a Protestant divine, describes as ‘reaching the extreme limit of what is permissible to a priest when writing to his ecclesiastical superiors.’ In this letter, written on behalf of Velenovic, a priest of Prague, who was accused of favouring Wycliffe’s views, Hus admonished the archbishop ‘to love the good, not to be influenced by flattery, to be a friend of the humble and not to hinder those who work steadfastly at the harvest of the Lord.’

At this period the racial and the religious struggle in Bohemia proceeded simultaneously; those who favoured the movement for Church reform were also warm friends of the Bohemian nationality. It was therefore a great triumph for this party, of which Hus was now the leader, when King Wenceslas, in January 1409, issued the ‘Decrees of Kutna Hora,’ which secured the permanent supremacy of the Bohemian nation at the University of Prague. The result was the departure of the German masters and students from Prague. They left the University probably in the number of five thousand, though some Bohemian writers give a much higher figure. After Archbishop Zbynek had recognised Alexander as the{36} legitimate Pope, the proceedings against Hus had a much more rapid development. On July 15, 1410, Wycliffe’s writings were solemnly burnt in the courtyard of the archiepiscopal palace that was then situated in the Malá Strana, near the bridge.

The burning of Wycliffe’s works met with almost universal disapproval at Prague. A contemporary chronicler writes: ‘Instantly a great sedition and discord began. Some said that many other books besides those of Wycliffe had been burnt; therefore the people began to riot, the courtiers of the King were incensed against the canons and priests; many opprobrious songs against the archbishop were sung in the streets.’

Hus, at a meeting of the University, energetically defended Wycliffe’s teaching; he also, contrary to the positive orders of the archbishop, continued his sermons in the Bethlehem Chapel. On March 15, 1411, the sentence of excommunication which had been pronounced against Hus some time previously was published in the churches of Prague, while the town itself was placed under interdict. Endeavours to effect a settlement indeed still continued.

In May 1412, however, the difficulties caused by the Papal schism brought the reform movement in Bohemia to a crisis. King Ladislas of Naples, who still recognised Gregory the Twelfth as Pope, had thus incurred the enmity of John XXIII., who had succeeded Alexander V. as Roman Pope. John, therefore, resolved to go to war with the King of Naples, and—a proceeding which it must be added was not exceptional in those days—to obtain the necessary funds by the granting of indulgences. It was declared that all those who either took part in the campaign against Naples, or assisted the enterprise by grants of money, should receive the same remission of sins which had formerly been promised to the Crusaders who had{37} liberated the sepulchre of Christ. The Bohemians, who were not long after to suffer from a ‘crusade’ similar to that now proclaimed against Naples, received the news of the Papal decision with great displeasure. When Wenceslas Tiem, Dean of Passau, arrived at Prague, with the purpose of collecting, by the sale of indulgences, funds for the Papal See, public excitement was naturally yet greater. Boxes to receive the donations of the faithful were placed before the Cathedral Church of St. Vitus, the Tyn Church, and on the Vysehrad. These proceedings caused particular indignation at the University, where the party favourable to Church reform now had entirely the upper hand. Hus summoned the members of the University to a disputatio, according to the mediæval custom. It took place in the large hall of the Carolinum, and the subject of the disputatio was formulated in the question ‘whether according to the law of Jesus Christ it was permissible and befitting for the honour of God, the salvation of the Christian people and the welfare of the kingdom, that the faithful of Christ should approve of the Papal bulls which proclaimed a crusade against Ladislas, King of Apulia, and his accomplices?’ Both Hus and Jerome of Prague violently attacked the use of indulgences for the purpose of supplying the Roman See with funds for temporal purposes. The theological faculty soon after again condemned the forty-five ‘articles’ from Wycliffe’s writings, and added six more that were attributed to Hus and said to contain the views on indulgences which he had expressed at the recent disputatio. Pope John also took action against Hus, and decreed the ‘aggravation’ of the sentence of excommunication that had already been pronounced against him. The movement had thus taken a distinctly revolutionary character, and Hus fled from Prague in November 1412, after having published{38} an ‘Appeal from the Sentence of the Roman Pontiff to the Supreme Judge, Jesus Christ.’ He first retired to Kozi Hradek, a castle belonging to one of his adherents, John of Usti.

Shortly after his departure from Prague an attempt was made there to assuage the religious discord. A diocesan synod met there in the archiepiscopal palace. Hus was not present, but was represented by Magister John of Jesenic. Little is known of the deliberations of this assembly, though the documents in which both the Hussite and the Romanist divines formulated their views have been preserved. This conference proved abortive, as did also a subsequent attempt of King Wenceslas to bring the disputed questions before a committee, which was to consist of four members and over which Albik, then Archbishop of Prague, was to preside. When it was decided to affirm that both parties were in accordance with the Church with regard to the doctrine of the Sacrament of the Altar, the Romanist divines immediately protested, declaring that they were not a ‘party,’ and demanding that the word ‘Church’ should be defined as the Holy Roman Church, of which Pope John XXIII. is the head, and of which the cardinals are the members. The negotiations thus failed from the first, to the great indignation of King Wenceslas, who, indeed, exiled from Prague some of the German Romanist divines. The racial struggle, as so frequently in Bohemia, continued simultaneously with the religious one, and about this time, through the influence of the King, the majority of the town council of the old town, which had been German, became Bohemian, and, therefore, favourable to the cause of Hus.

Hus, who appears to have several times visited Prague secretly at this time, had meanwhile left the castle of Usti, and was, on the invitation of Lord{39}


 

MEDALS OF HUS
MEDALS OF HUS

{40}

{41}

Henry of Lazan, one of the King’s courtiers, residing at the castle of Krakovec, situated considerably nearer to Prague. Contrary to the Papal commands he frequently visited the neighbouring towns and villages, preaching in favour of Church reform.

All attempts to settle the religious differences in Bohemia having failed, the questions raised by Hus were finally brought before a wider forum. On the suggestion of Sigismund, King of Hungary, and afterwards German Emperor, Hus proceeded to the council that met at Constance in November 1414. He had previously, according to the momentous words of Professor Tomek, received from Sigismund a safe-conduct, according to which he was ‘to come unmolested to Constance, there have free audience, and return unharmed, should he not submit to the authority of the council.’

None the less Hus was imprisoned shortly after his arrival at Constance, and was—as will be known to most readers—burnt alive on July 6, 1415.

The death of Hus caused general indignation in Prague. Almost all the parish priests who ventured to praise, or even to excuse the execution of Hus, were driven from their homes. The Bohemian nobles who met at Prague in September (1415), and who were joined by many Moravian nobles, also expressed their indignation strongly. They addressed to the council a letter known as the ‘Protestatio Bohemorum,’ accusing it of having ‘condemned the venerable magister (i.e., Hus) without having convicted him of any error, merely on the strength of evil statements of treacherous enemies and traitors, and of having deprived him of his life in the most cruel fashion, to the eternal shame and offence of Bohemia and Moravia.’ They further declared ‘before the council and the whole world that Magister John{42} Hus was a man of pure life and irreproachable fame, who taught the law of Scripture according to the doctrine of the fathers and of the Church, who loathed all errors and heresies, who, by word, writing and deed, admonished us and all the faithful to desire peace and to love our neighbours, and by his own quiet and edifying life guided us in the path of godliness.’

A few days after sending to Constance this declaration that caused great indignation there, the knights and nobles united in a solemn covenant for mutual defence. They pledged themselves to defend the liberty of preaching the word of God, to obey the Pope and the bishops of Bohemia as long as their commands were not contrary to Scripture, and meanwhile to recognise the University of Prague as the supreme authority in all matters of doctrine. The University thus first acquired the important position of arbiter in matters of doctrine which it held during the Hussite wars, and, indeed, only entirely lost after the battle of the White Mountain. The fact that the King and Queen were known to favour the national movement alone prevented an immediate general outbreak. Matters became yet more serious when—following the advice of his treacherous younger brother, Sigismund—Wenceslas endeavoured to stem the current.

In 1419 the King issued a decree ordaining that all priests who had been deprived of their livings because of their disapproval of communion in the two kinds, should be reinstated. Only in three churches were the Utraquists, as the adherents of the new doctrine were called, to continue to hold their religious services. The Utraquists, to show their strength, instituted processions through the streets of Prague, during which the sacrament was carried before the faithful. One{43} of the most zealous Utraquists was the priest, John of Zelivo, a former Præmonstrate monk. On July 30, 1419, he headed a procession which, after violently interrupting a religious service which was being held in the Church of St. Stephen, according to the Roman rites, marched to the town hall of the Nové Mesto, situated in the Karlovo Námesti. The release of some adherents of the new faith who had been imprisoned there was demanded, but refused by the burgomaster, who was a Romanist. The Utraquists then, ‘as an affront, called him a German and a hater of the chalice.’[11] Meanwhile the town councillors had barricaded their hall and threw stones on the crowd below, one of which struck the monstrance that Zelivo was carrying. The crowd—led, it is said, by Zizka, afterwards famous as a Hussite leader—stormed the town hall and threw the town councillors into the market-place below, where they were killed by the people.

This ‘defenestration,’ as it was called in Bohemia, marks the beginning of the great religious struggle in Bohemia, as the defenestration from the Hradcany windows in 1618 marks its end; for only two years after the last-named event the battle of the White Mountain established religious uniformity in Bohemia.

The defenestration was followed almost immediately by the death of Wenceslas, who succumbed to repeated apoplectic fits on August 16, 1419. His death was the signal of yet more serious riots, during which many churches and monasteries were destroyed and many valuable relics of Bohemian art perished. The Puritan character of the movement is proved by the fact that no plundering took place and that many houses of evil fame were destroyed. Temporary quiet was established when it became known that Queen Sophia, who was{44} favourable to the national movement, had assumed the Regency. Yet the interval of peace was but short. Armed meetings of Hussites were held in all parts of Bohemia, and it became known that such a meeting had been planned at Prague also for November 10. The Queen and her councillors therefore considered it necessary to take precautions. The Hradcany Castle, the Strahov Monastery and the archbishop’s palace received strong garrisons of German mercenaries. The defence of the Vysehrad was entrusted to the former bodyguard of King Wenceslas. This fortress was carried by assault by the Hussites on October 25; the soldiers of Wenceslas, who probably sympathised with the national cause, offering but very slight resistance. The Praguers, reinforced by allies from the surrounding country, now attacked the Malá Strana. They stormed the bridge (November 4) and occupied the buildings immediately beyond it; and it seemed for a time possible that they should even obtain possession of the Hradcany Castle, from which Queen Sophia fled hastily. Nightfall for a time put a stop to the fighting, but all foresaw that the battle would continue. As an ancient chronicler writes: ‘This night was a dreadful and anxious one for all Prague; during all night the large bells rang, summoning the citizens to remain under arms for the continued battle in the Malá Strana; only long after midnight there was quiet for a short time.’

Fighting was resumed on the following day, and the Royal troops, commanded by Cenek of Wartenberg, who had replaced Queen Sophia as Regent, also received reinforcements. The Royal troops destroyed the town hall of the Malá Strana, and also burnt down the monastery of St. Nicholas in the same part of the town, while the Praguers entirely destroyed the archiepiscopal palace that is said to have contained{45}


 

THE BRIDGE TOWER OF THE OLD TOWN
THE BRIDGE TOWER OF THE OLD TOWN

{46}

{47}

many art treasures. Zizka, the great leader of the Taborites—as the more advanced Hussites were called, from the name of the town that was their centre—here first showed his great military ability. The citizens now became desirous for peace, while the Utraquist nobles who had remained faithful to the Royal cause were yet reluctant to continue warfare against those whose creed they shared. A truce was concluded on November 13, according to which the Praguers were to give up the Vysehrad to the Royal troops, while the Utraquist nobles promised to aid their countrymen in defending the Hussite creed. Zizka and the more advanced Church reformers, distrusting the compromise, left Prague for the time, proceeding to Plzen, and afterwards to Tabor.

Meanwhile King Sigismund arrived in the Bohemian lands, of which he claimed the succession as heir of his brother. He first proceeded to Brünn (or Brno), the capital of Moravia. Many Bohemian nobles and officials appeared at his court, and a deputation of the citizens of Prague also appeared before him on December 29. The Praguers assured the King of their loyalty, begging only ‘to be allowed to remain faithful to that which they had learnt from the Holy Writ.’ Sigismund received the envoys most ungraciously, obliged them to continue kneeling longer than was customary, and overwhelmed them with reproaches and insults. He finally dismissed them with the solemn command that they should, as a proof of their obedience, cause the chains that had been placed at the corners of the Prague streets for purpose of defence to be instantly removed, and the fortifications which the citizens had constructed opposite the Hradcany Hill to be destroyed. He also enjoined them to inflict no further injury on the monks.

The magistrates of Prague did not dare to disobey{48} the Royal commands. On January 4, 1420, the chains that had been placed in the streets were deposited in the town hall of the Staré Mesto, and the fortifications that had been erected on the approaches of the Hradcany were destroyed. Many monks, priests and Germans who had left Prague during the recent disturbances returned, believing that the hour of their triumph had come. A contemporary chronicler[12] tells us that ‘the Germans laughed and joyfully clapped their hands, saying, “now these heretical Hussites and Wycliffites will perish, and there will be an end of them.” ’ The Bohemian and Hussite citizens, on the other hand, not unnaturally looked forward to the future with great apprehension.

Sigismund did not, as was expected, immediately proceed to Prague. He for a time took up his residence at Breslau, the capital of Silesia, where he collected a large armed force. Through his influence Pope Martin V. issued a bull in which he called the whole Christian world to arms against ‘the Wycleffites, Hussites, and other heretics, their furtherers, harbourers and defenders.’

It is not perhaps easy for a modern reader to conceive the effect such a declaration of war produced on the Bohemians, for a crusade had hitherto almost always only been preached against heathens, infidels and Turks. The whole nation rose in arms against Sigismund. The indignation was particularly great at Prague, where the news was received that, by orders of Sigismund, John Krasa, one of the leading citizens, had been dragged through the streets of Breslau by horses and then burnt at the stake. John of Zelivo, in his sermons, denounced Sigismund violently in language drawn from the Apocalypse. The audience, inflamed by his eloquence, swore to sacrifice life and fortune for the cause of the{49} chalice. Those hostile to Church reform not unnaturally dreaded the outbreak of hostilities, and we read that seven hundred families from the old, and seven hundred families from the new town, either sought refuge in the castles of Hradcany and Vysehrad, that were held by Sigismund’s troops, or left Prague altogether. The citizens in no way hindered their departure, which, indeed, in view of the coming siege, was advantageous to the Hussite cause. Those who remained were yet more determined to resist Sigismund to the utmost. On the suggestion of John of Zelivo the citizens who remained in the town, the Hussite preachers, and the members of the University, met on April 3 (1420) at the town hall of the Staré Mesto. All present swore to defend, to the last drop of blood, the right of receiving communion according to the Utraquist faith, and to resist all, and particularly the so-called ‘Crusaders,’ who might endeavour to harm the Utraquists. As leaders in the defence of the menaced capital they elected eight captains—four from the old and four from the new—to whom the keys of the town gates and those of the town hall were entrusted. The assembly addressed a manifesto to all the towns of Bohemia, begging them to send envoys to Prague to concert on the common defence. This manifesto attacked the Church of Rome in the most violent manner. It was stated that the Roman Church ‘was not their mother, but their stepmother; that she had poured out her poison like the most furious serpent, and had raised up the cross, the emblem of love and peace, for the purpose of inciting to hatred and murder; that she had, by false promises of absolution, incited the Germans, born enemies of Bohemia and of the Slav race, to begin the war of extermination which they had always contemplated.’

Even the Regent, Cenek of Wartenberg, for a time{50} sided with his countrymen. Together with other great noblemen he summoned ‘all Bohemians and Moravians who were zealous for the Word of God and the welfare of the Bohemian nation to join him in opposing the Hungarian and Roman King Sigismund.’ Continuation of warfare was thus a certainty, and the Hussites unfortunately again began to destroy the churches and monasteries belonging to adherents of Rome.

Cenek of Wartenberg and the other Bohemian nobles were naturally indignant at the conduct of their new allies. They therefore lent a willing ear to the envoys of Sigismund. Wartenberg, abandoning the national cause, concluded a private treaty with the King, that at first remained secret. On the condition that he, his family, and the tenants on his estates, should be allowed to worship according to the Utraquist creed, he consented to admit the Royal troops into the castle on the Hradcany. The citizens, exasperated by Wartenberg’s treachery, endeavoured to recover possession of the castle, but their desperate attack was repulsed by the Royal troops. Simultaneously, fighting also began in the new town, the Royal troops that held the Vysehrad making a successful sortie and defeating the citizens of the new town.

The Praguers now wished to negotiate with the King, while the Royal troops had also suffered severe losses. An armistice of six days was concluded, and the citizens sent another deputation to the King. Sigismund, who was then at Kutna Hora, received the envoys even more ungraciously than before. As the Praguers afterwards wrote to the Venetians: ‘The King became harder than steel; as one stung by fury, he began to agitate his limbs as a madman.’ He declared that it was his duty to destroy all heresy by fire and sword, even should he have to extirpate the{51} whole population of Bohemia and colonise the country with foreign immigrants.

On the return of the envoys another meeting of the citizens took place in the town hall of the Staré Mesto, where great enthusiasm prevailed. It was again decided that all should risk their lives and fortunes for the cause of religious freedom, and fight to the last. An Utraquist nobleman, Hynek Krusina of Lichtenberg, was chosen as commander-in-chief. A message was also sent to Zizka and the other Taborite leaders, stating that ‘if they wished verily to obey God’s law they should march to their aid without delay, and with as many men as they could muster.’ After some skirmishing with the Royal troops, Zizka and his men arrived at Prague (May 20, 1420), where they were joyfully received by the citizens. From other parts of Bohemia also many nationalists hurried to the defence of the menaced capital.

Hearing that the Praguers had received reinforcements, Sigismund did not march straight on Prague, but proceeded to Melnik, where he halted for some time. By his orders and those of the Papal Legate, Ferdinand, Bishop of Lucca, horrible cruelties were committed against the population of the neighbouring country, and particularly the citizens of Slané and Litomerice.[13] In a period of intense religious passion such cruelties inevitably led to reprisals. We read that the Hussites who were besieging the Hradcany burnt alive nine Romanist monks in view of the Royal garrison.

Sigismund, whose army had been reinforced by numerous ‘Crusaders,’ now decided to march on Prague. Almost all countries of Europe contributed to this vast army. According to a contemporary{52} writer there were numbered among the Crusaders ‘Hungarians, Croatians, Dalmatians, Bulgarians, Sicilians, Wallachians, Cumanians, Jazyges, Ruthenians, Racians, Slovacks, Carniolians, Styrians, Austrians, Bavarians, Francs, Swabians, Switzers, Frenchmen, Arragonians or Spaniards, Englishmen, men of Brabant, Dutchmen, Westphalians, men of Saxony, Thuringia, the Voigtland, Meissen, Lusatia, and the march of Brandenburg, Silesians, Poles, Moravians and “renégate” Bohemians.’ A letter written by the Praguers merely states that innumerable men from more than thirty kingdoms and provinces arrived before their city, while Monstrelet, a contemporary, writes that ‘Il arriva tant de gens qu à peine se pouvaient ils nombrer.’ Most of the princes who ruled these countless countries had accompanied their troops. We read that all the German Electors, except the Elector of Saxony, Albert Duke of Austria, forty-three men of princely rank, Brunorius della Scala of Verona, the Patriarch of Aquileja, many counts of the empire, knights and nobles, were with the crusading army.

Sigismund and his forces first entered the Vysehrad fortress, and then, crossing the river, provisioned the Hradcany Castle, the siege of which the Hussites were obliged to abandon. The vast army—according to the chroniclers it consisted of 100,000 or 150,000 men, but the latter figure is probably nearer to truth—now encircled Prague in every direction. The German soldiers, who were encamped on the left bank of the Vltava, opposite the Staré Mesto, insulted their enemies by incessant cries of ‘Ha, ha! Hus! Hus! Ketzer![14] Ketzer!’

The Praguers and their scanty allies meanwhile fearlessly and confidently prepared to encounter the world in arms against them. With them, as afterwards{53}


 

THE HRADCANY
THE HRADCANY

with the Puritans, absolute confidence in Scripture rendered despondency impossible; for, to borrow the words of Mr. John Morley, ‘No criticism had then impaired the position of the Bible as the direct Word of God, a single book one and whole, one page as inspired as another.’ A thorough knowledge of the Old Testament is evident in all the contemporary records of those stirring times. No man or woman{54} of Prague doubted that the Lord, who had once struck down the forces of Sennacherib, would now strike down those of Sigismund.

The 14th of July was fixed by Sigismund for the general attack. It was decided that the Royal forces that were quartered in the Hradcany Castle should attack the adjoining Malá Strana and the bridge tower on the left bank of the Vltava, while the forces on the Vysehrad would endeavour to storm the new town, which was at the foot of that fortress. A third army was to attack the old town from the so-called Spitalské Pole (hospital field), which was situated on the spot where the suburb of Karlin, or Karolinenthal, now stands. An attack was also to be made on the hill then known as the Vitkov, but which has, after the victorious Taborite leader, since that day been called the Zizkov, or Zizka’s Hill. This hill was the key of the position of the defenders, who depended on its possession for maintaining their communications with the country. The Zizkov was held by Zizka and his Taborites, who had thrown up slight fortifications. The Germans attacked the hill with a strong force, and, in spite of the heroism of Zizka, who fought in the front rank, for a time drove the Bohemians back. One of the small earthworks was held for a long time by only twenty-six men, two women and one girl, against several hundred Germans. When the Taborites were for a time forced to retreat, one of these women refused to leave her post, saying that a true Christian must never give way to Antichrist. She was immediately cut down by the Germans. This incident is very characteristic of the indomitable religious enthusiasm that for a time rendered the Bohemians invincible. The clanging of all the church bells hastily summoned the citizens, who, led by a priest carrying the monstrance, hurried to the aid of their allies.{55} The Germans were completely routed; many were killed during their flight from the hill—then much steeper than at the present day—and many perished in the Vltava. As soon as victory seemed certain, the Taborites and Praguers knelt down on the battlefield and intoned the ‘Te Deum Laudamus,’ while the whole town was filled with unspeakable joy.

The other attacks on the city were also unsuccessful. Sigismund had remained in the rear with part of his army, and returned to his camp as soon as he saw the defeat of his troops. According to the Austrian chronicler, Ebendorf of Haselbach, the King ‘smiled—it is said—over the fate of the brave Christians who had succumbed to the heretics, who had triumphed over them.’

On Monday, July 15—the battle had been fought on a Sunday—solemn processions through the streets of Prague, led by the Hussite clergy, took place in celebration of the great victory. Zizka, however, who believed a new attack probable, hastily collected a large crowd of men and women, who, under his direction, strengthened and enlarged the fortifications on the Vitkov, the scene of the victory of the day before.

The supposition of the Taborite leader, however, proved erroneous, for the victory on Zizka’s Hill practically ended the siege of Prague. It is as impossible to explain this as it is to account for the fact that the by no means decisive defeat of Marathon should have induced the Persians to abandon for a time their intention of conquering Greece. It is certain that dissensions broke out in the vast camps of the Crusaders. The foreign allies of Sigismund distrusted all Bohemians, even those who were on the side of the King, while the latter, who had, as Palacky writes, learnt that ‘even the largest force is insufficient to subdue a strong and resolute people,’ now felt more disposed to listen to the{56} words of those Bohemian nobles who, indeed, sided with their Sovereign, but did not share the German desire to extirpate the whole Bohemian nation. These men suggested negotiations between the King and his Hussite subjects. Such negotiations were facilitated by the fact that the united Hussites had, meanwhile, drawn up a summary of their demands, which is known as ‘The Articles of Prague.’[15] It will here be sufficient to state that the Bohemians demanded freedom of preaching, the use of the chalice at communion, obligatory poverty of the clergy and severe regulations against mortal sins. It was decided that a conference should take place in the open air among the ruins of the Malá Strana, at which the magisters of the University, with the chiefs of the Praguers and Taborites, were to meet some German nobles, envoys of King Sigismund, and the Patriarch of Aquilya, and Simon, Bishop of Trace, who acted as representatives of the Papal See. The meeting led to no result, as the representatives of the Roman Church declared that no decision of the Church could be contested or discussed. The magisters of the Prague University expressed surprise that the Papal envoys attributed greater authority to the ‘fallible Church than to the infallible words of Christ.’

The failure of these negotiations no doubt confirmed Sigismund in his resolution of leaving the neighbourhood of Prague. The dissensions in his army became more and more envenomed; serious epidemics broke out among the troops; a great fire destroyed large parts of the encampments. Before abandoning the siege, however, Sigismund caused himself to be crowned King of Bohemia in St. Vitus’s Cathedral.

The writers hostile to Sigismund lay stress on the{57} absence of many nobles whose Court dignities rendered their presence at coronations necessary. They also mention that no representatives of the Bohemian cities, none in particular of Prague, ‘the mother of all Bohemian cities,’ assisted at the ceremony.

Two days afterwards Sigismund broke up his camp and retired to Kutna Hora, thus giving the signal of departure to the Crusaders, who hurriedly returned to their countries. Royal troops, however, continued to hold the castles of Vysehrad and Hradcany.

The citizens now immediately began the siege of the Vysehrad. After a time the defenders, who were suffering from hunger, were compelled to conclude a truce for three days, according to which they would capitulate if they had received no aid by the morning of November 1. Sigismund meanwhile had returned to the neighbourhood of Prague with an army consisting mainly of Moravians, and containing many Utraquist nobles from that country. On the other hand many of the Bohemian nobles, such as Hynek Krusina of Lichtenberg, who was first in command, Victor of Podebrad (father of the future King), and many others openly joined the national cause.

The Vysehrad Castle was now surrounded in every direction. Zavis Bradaty, with the citizens of Zatec and Loun, and a large force of armed peasants, were encamped between the Karlov[16] and the Botic stream. Next to them were the troops of the Utraquist nobles and of the Orebite[17] community, while the citizens of Prague held the post of honour nearest to the village of Pankrac, whence the attack of the relieving army was expected. At the last moment forty Taborite{58} horsemen, led by Nicholas of Hus,[18] joined the Praguers.

The King arrived at the village of Pankrac on October 31, and sent a message to the commander of his troops on the Hradcany telling him that he would attack the citizens on the following morning, and ordering him also to attack the bridge from the Malá Strana. ‘But’—as a contemporary chronicler writes—‘God, who is ever an enemy of the haughty and a friend of the humble, caused this message to fall into the hands of the Praguers.’ The citizens and their allies therefore spent the whole night in preparing for battle. The former trenches had, of course, been constructed for besieging the Vysehrad; but the Praguers, who held the most important position, hastily threw up earthworks on a spot where the fish ponds, still frequent in that neighbourhood, rendered the attack more difficult.

In the morning (November 1) Sigismund rode to the summit of a little hill beyond the village of Pankrac, and in view of the Vysehrad, and waved his sword as a signal to the garrison to attack the rear of the enemy’s army. ‘But, as according to God’s will,’ the chronicler writes, ‘the hour had already passed, the garrison did not stir.’ A few German soldiers who formed part of the garrison, indeed attempted to come to Sigismund’s aid, but were held back by their Bohemian comrades. Seeing that no sortie from the Vysehrad was intended, several of the Moravian nobles rode up to the King and advised him not to attack the Praguers, otherwise both he and his people would suffer much evil. The King answered, ‘I must war with these peasants to-day.’ Then Henry of Plumlov, Captain of Moravia, said, ‘Be certain that this day{59} will have an evil end; I dread the fighting-clubs[19] of the peasants.’ The King answered, ‘I know that you Moravians are cowards and faithless to me.’ Then Lord Henry and the other Moravian lords mounted their horses and cried, ‘We will obey your order and we shall be there, where you will not be.’ The nobles attacked the strong position of the Praguers with great vigour, and for a moment the citizens wavered. Then Krusina hurried to the spot where they stood, and exclaimed with a loud voice, ‘Dear brethren! turn back again and be to-day brave knights in Christ’s battle, for it is God’s, not our fight, that we are fighting to-day. You will see for sure that God will deliver all His and our enemies into our hands.’ Hardly had he ceased speaking when the cry, ‘The enemy is flying,’ was heard. The citizens speedily rallied, and, assuming the offensive, drove the Moravian nobles back into the marshy ground that extended from the Vysehrad to the village of Pankrac. A great massacre of the nobles, whose heavy armour impeded their movements, took place, and flight soon became general. Sigismund himself, who, regardless of the taunts of the Moravian nobles had again remained with the rear of his army, did not halt till he had reached the town of Cesky Brod. A very large number of Moravian nobles fell in this battle, and many also died of their wounds at the village of Pankrac, after receiving communion in the two kinds, as the pious chronicler states. It is touching to note that the Praguers sorrowed over the death of the Moravian nobles, who, though they had fought against the city, yet belonged to the same race as the citizens. The citadel of Vysehrad surrendered on the day of the battle, and on June 7, 1421, the garrison of the Hradcany—which had unsuccessfully{60} attempted a diversion during the battle of the Vysehrad—also capitulated.

One of the most important results of the battles of the Zizkov and of the Vysehrad was the temporary hegemony over Bohemia, or at least the greatest part of the country, which the city of Prague obtained. The ‘mother and head of the Bohemian cities,’ which had gloriously and successfully defended the religious and political liberty of the country, not unfairly claimed the leadership. The once powerful Bohemian nobility had been weakened by dissension. Some of its members still, though reluctantly, remained faithful to Sigismund. Others, perhaps also reluctantly, recognised the city of Prague as their over-lord, though they never—as was the case in some Italian cities—became merged in the mass of the citizens. The Taborites, who had taken but little part in the ‘crowning mercy’ of the Vysehrad, had not yet attained the height of their power.

The strong attitude assumed by the predominant city appears very clearly in the manifesto[20] which the Praguers, in union with some of their allies among the nobles, issued a few days after the victory of the Vysehrad. This document is a stirring appeal to the national feeling, and such an appeal has rarely remained unheeded in Bohemia.

After violent denunciations of Sigismund, who, it was stated, had preferred to the Bohemians ‘the Germans and Hungarians, the cruellest enemies of our nation,’ and who was ready to sacrifice a kingdom, were there but no Bohemians in Bohemia, the citizens declared that they would consider all who favoured such a King as men who desired the ruin of the country. They would, therefore, consider such men as open enemies of God and of the nation.

It is interesting to give a brief outline of the{61}


 

VIEW OF PRAGUE AND HRADCANY CASTLE
VIEW OF PRAGUE AND HRADCANY CASTLE

{62}

{63}

constitution of Prague at the moment of her greatest power. This constitution may be defined as that of a theocratic republic, though attempts to obtain a new Sovereign in succession to Sigismund always continued. The principal legislative authority was at this period concentrated in the ‘great assembly’ (Veliká Obec), of which almost all citizens formed part, and which met in the open air in the market-places. The executive power was in the hands of the burgomaster and of the town councillors, who were elected by the great assembly. Though the separation between the old town and the new town continued, it seems at this period to have been an almost nominal one.

Less easy to define, but perhaps yet greater, was the influence of the preachers, mainly founded on the almost exclusive interest in theological controversy that was then general in Bohemia. John of Zelivo, who has already been mentioned, for a time acquired boundless popularity among the citizens. His influence largely contributed to securing to Prague the hegemony over Bohemia, and after his downfall and death, to which I shall presently refer, Prague soon lost its predominant position.

Warfare with Sigismund continued in spite of his great defeat, and the citizens of Prague played a prominent part in it. Their party, to accentuate the hegemony of the city, is generally called ‘the Praguers’ by the old chroniclers, in distinction both from the Romanists and the Taborites. The scene of the subsequent Hussite warfare was, however, generally distant from Prague, and therefore requires no notice here. It is only occasionally that Prague again becomes the centre of events.

Such was the case when, on April 21, 1421, ‘to the surprise and horror of all Christendom,’ the Archbishop of Prague, Conrad of Vechta, declared that he{64} accepted ‘The Articles of Prague,’ thus joining the national Church. The news was joyfully received by the citizens of Prague. The Te Deum Laudamus was sung and the bells of all the churches were rung. All swore to obey the archbishop and to defend him. Only a few of the preachers who were favourable to Tabor looked with displeasure on the ‘healing of the anti-Christian monster.’ On the other hand, Conrad was not unnaturally overwhelmed with abuse by the Romanists. Dr. Tomek writes: ‘Archbishop Conrad was neither better nor worse than the majority of the Bohemian ecclesiastics of high rank at that period.’ To the student of the times a certain amount of scepticism may, in an exalted Bohemian ecclesiastic of the period, appear, though unpardonable, hardly inexplicable. Shortly afterwards, in accordance with a decision of a meeting of the Estates at Caslav, a synod of the Bohemian clergy assembled at the Carolinum in Prague.

Archbishop Conrad was indeed not present, but he had delegated as his representatives several Hussite clergymen, of whom Magisters Pribram and Jacobellus were the most eminent. The synod resulted in a failure, mainly in consequence of the obstinacy of the delegates of Tabor.

Internal discord broke out in Prague not long after the failure of the synod. Under the leadership of John of Zelivo, the democratic party in the city acquired ever-increasing strength, and opposed the provisional government of comparatively moderate views, which had been established at the assembly of Caslav. The more moderate party firmly believed in the possibility of securing an agreement with Rome, if the Bohemians but limited their demands to ‘The Articles of Prague,’ and eschewed ultra-revolutionary tendencies both in Church and State. That{65} the views of the moderate Hussites were to a certain extent justified is proved by the fact that a settlement on the lines they contemplated was eventually obtained at the Council of Basel. But compromises are as distasteful to religious as to political fanatics, and Zelivo’s influence rendered all attempts at conciliation illusory. Zelivo’s undefined power became more and more pronounced, and it is undoubtedly through his influence—though evidence is not quite conclusive—that an Utraquist noble of moderate views, John of Sadlo,[21] who had come to Prague to justify himself against probably untrue accusations, was, when he appeared in the town hall, immediately arrested and decapitated without trial or judgment.

Reaction against the ultra-democratic, or rather anarchist, party soon increased among the citizens, and the influence of their aristocratic allies was also used to the detriment of Zelivo. An eye-witness of his fall and death has left us a detailed account of the events. John was enticed to the town hall of the Staré Mesto, under the pretext of seeking his advice concerning a new campaign against Sigismund. He was at first kindly received, but the magistrates suddenly called in their officials, who seized Zelivo. He attempted to remonstrate, but the burgomaster of the old town said, ‘It cannot be otherwise, priest John!’ Zelivo was allowed time for confession, and then decapitated. Rioting almost immediately ensued, particularly after a priest had shown John’s head to the people. Many houses in the old town, particularly in the Jewish quarter, were pillaged. The people insisted on the election of new town councillors, and{66} several men, who were principally instrumental in plotting Zelivo’s death, were decapitated. His death none the less greatly diminished the power of the democratic party, particularly in the old town, as no demagogue of equal ability succeeded Zelivo.

Order was to a certain extent re-established in Prague during the short rule of Prince Sigismund Korybut of Lithuania, a nephew of the King of Poland, whom the Utraquist nobles wished to substitute to Sigismund of Hungary as their ruler. Korybut arrived at Prague in May 1422, and remained there to the end of that year. He unsuccessfully attempted the siege of the Karlstyn that was still held by the Royal troops. This failure, as well as the influence of the King of Poland, induced Korybut to leave Prague, though, as events proved, only temporarily.

Shortly afterwards dissensions, ending in civil war, arose between the Praguers and the Taborites. The internal dissensions were not, however, of long duration, as the news of a new ‘crusade’ reunited all Bohemia, and the Treaty of Konopist (1423) for a time restored internal tranquillity. Unfortunately the truce lasted but for a short time. The new crusade proved a yet greater failure than those that had preceded it. The Germans and other crusaders speedily recrossed the frontier without even having encountered the Hussites on the field of battle, and we find the Praguers and Taborites again at war in 1424. Through the intervention of Korybut, who had meanwhile returned to Prague, another conference took place on the so-called Spitalské Pole (hospital field). Mainly through the eloquence of a young preacher at the Tyn Church, Rokycan, afterwards famous as Utraquist Archbishop of Prague, an agreement was obtained. It is a curious proof of the mutual distrust that prevailed that an agreement had{67} been previously made, according to which the party that violated the truce should be fined a considerable sum, and that a large heap of stones should be placed in the Spitalské Pole for the purpose of stoning immediately all disturbers of the peace.

After the meetings at Konopist and on the Spitalské Pole, many others took place, in all of which the minutiæ of theology were discussed with that intense interest in religious controversy that was characteristic of the Bohemians of that time; of such meetings we may mention that held in the Hradcany in 1424, and the somewhat later one at the Carolinum.

Religious dissensions also caused the downfall of Korybut in 1427. The clergy of Prague were then divided into two parties: the more moderate one led by Magister Pribram, which Korybut favoured, and the advanced one, which was more in sympathy with the Taborites, and which had as leaders Rokycan, Jacobellus, and Peter Payne, who, in consequence of his English origin, was known as ‘Magister Englis.’ He played a considerable part in the contest, as a contemporary song tells us that—

‘The devil sent us Englis;
He walks stealthily through Prague,
Spreading doctrines from England
That are not wholesome for the Bohemians.’[22]

In consequence of Korybut’s support of the moderate party the advanced Hussites resolved to depose him. On April 17, 1427, he was surprised, captured without bloodshed, and conveyed to the Castle of Waldstein, near Boleslav. In September some of the nobles of his party attempted to obtain possession of Prague with the aid of Korybut’s partisans in the city. They succeeded in entering the town, and penetrated as far{68} as the Staromestské Námesti. Desperate fighting ensued, but the advanced Hussites were finally victorious, and almost all the invaders were killed or made prisoners. Shortly afterwards Korybut was released and allowed to return to his own country.

It is only quite at the end of the Hussite Wars that the capital again becomes the scene of strife. After the great defeat of the troops of the last crusade at Tauss (or Domazlice), the Church of Rome had for a time abandoned the idea of subduing Bohemia by force of arms. A Council assembled at Basel, and after prolonged negotiations the Bohemians consented to be represented there. Their envoys, among whom were Rokycan, afterwards Archbishop of Prague; Prokop the Great, leader of the Taborites; Nicholas of Pelhrimov, surnamed Biskupec; Peter Payne, the ‘English Hussite,’ and many others arrived at Basel on January 4, 1433. The negotiations began there, and afterwards continued at Prague, where the Council sent envoys, and where the Estates met in the Carolinum on June 12. Though these negotiations with the Council as yet proved unsuccessful, the delegates of the Council, before leaving Prague in January 1434, urgently exhorted the Utraquist nobles to take a more active part in the politics of their country, and to use their influence in favour of an agreement with Rome.

These words made a great impression on the Bohemian nobility, which viewed with great displeasure the almost complete extinction of its formerly overwhelming power. The struggle in Bohemia now became rather one between aristocracy and democracy than between contending religious parties. In direct connection with this new phase of the Bohemian struggle are the troubles{69} that broke out at Prague. Ever since 1429 great antagonism, founded partly on local, partly on political differences, existed between the old and the new town. The former gradually became an ally of the Utraquist, and even of the Romanist nobles, while the men of the new town drew nearer and nearer to the Taborites. In 1434 Ales of Riesenburg was elected Regent of Bohemia, and a league ‘for the restoration of peace and order in the country’ was formed. It was joined by almost the entire nobility of Bohemia and by the citizens of Plzen, Melnik, and the Staré Mesto of Prague. The citizens of the Nové Mesto refused to join the confederacy; guided by the Taborite general, Prokop the Great, they began to prepare for war, and barricaded their streets that were nearest to the old town. Called in by the citizens of the old town, the nobles marched to their aid. Unable to arrive there directly, they crossed the Vltava to the Malá Strana, that was then under the rule of the old town. Joining the citizens here they together attacked the new town, which was subdued after some fighting. The men of the new town, who defended their town hall, resisted for some time, but capitulated after receiving permission to leave the city. A large part of the new town was pillaged by the army of the nobles, and their allies, the victorious citizens of the Staré Mesto, henceforth claimed supremacy over the new town.

Prokop hurriedly left Prague and wrote to Prokupek, the commander of the Taborite forces before Plzen, that ‘by God’s permission the false barons with the citizens of the old town have attacked our dear brethren, the citizens of the new town; they killed some and conquered the town.’ A few months later the great battle of Lipan resulted in the victory of the aristocratic party, and the ‘fall of{70} Tabor,’ to use the words of the great Bohemian historian Palacky.

The defeat of the democratic party paved the way to the recognition of Sigismund as King. After prolonged negotiations at the Council of Basel and meetings of the Estates at Brno and Jihlava,[23] the Bohemians recognised Sigismund as their King, while he promised to obtain for them certain religious concessions, of which the permission to receive communion in the two kinds was the most important. A document known as the ‘Compacts’ enumerated these concessions.

On August 23, 1436, Sigismund arrived at the gates of Prague, where he was met by the magistrates of the three cities.[24] Amidst great rejoicings of the people, he proceeded to the Tyn Church, where Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Rokycan according to the Utraquist rites.

On the following Sunday, August 26, the magistrates of the three towns, in the market-place of the old town, appeared before Sigismund, who was sitting on a throne in his imperial robes, but wearing the Bohemian crown. They brought to him the keys of the town gates, which Sigismund immediately returned to them in proof of his entire reliance on their fidelity. He also confirmed all the ancient privileges of Prague, and again granted the men of the Nové Mesto independence from the old town.

The short period during which Sigismund was destined to reign over Bohemia was yet sufficiently prolonged to witness the destruction of the short-lived friendship between the King and his Bohemian subjects. Sigismund, who was during his whole life a fervent adherent of the Church of Rome, had accepted the Compacts as reluctantly as they had been granted{71}


 

THE TOWN HALL AND MARKET-PLACE
THE TOWN HALL AND MARKET-PLACE

{72}

{73}

by the Church of Rome. He had also promised to use his influence with the Papal See to obtain the recognition of Rokycan as Archbishop of Prague. The Estates had elected him to that office at a meeting which they held in September 1435, but Rome now, and indeed always, refused to recognise him as Archbishop of Prague. The attitude of Sigismund in this matter was undoubtedly propitious. As Dr Tomek writes: ‘Publicly Sigismund wrote to the Council recommending it to confirm Rokycan’s nomination as Archbishop; secretly he advised the contrary.’ Bishop Philibert of Contances, who had taken part in the previous negotiations between the Council of Basel and the Bohemians, had accompanied Sigismund to Prague. Though without any recognised position in the country, Philibert endeavoured to exercise archiepiscopal functions at Prague, thus encroaching on the rights of Rokycan. Discord between the two ecclesiastics very soon began, and Philibert, who had assisted at a religious service held by Rokycan in the Tyn Church, noted with great displeasure that the sermon was preached in Bohemian, and that several hymns were also sung in that language.

While Sigismund in these disputes favoured the Roman Church, to the great displeasure of the Bohemians, other causes also contributed to his increasing unpopularity. Sigismund had awarded all the State offices either to Romanists or to such Utraquists as were nearest to Rome, thus excluding the enormous majority of the Bohemians. The King’s cruelty to the Taborite lord, John Rohác of Duba, was also viewed with great displeasure by the people. Rohác had remained in arms even after the general pacification. His castle, to which he had given the biblical name of Zion, long resisted the Royal arms. He was finally obliged to capitulate, and was by{74} Sigismund’s orders executed on the Staromestské Námesti at Prague. This caused renewed warfare, as John Kolda, lord of Zampach, who with Rohác was one of the few nobles who was to the last faithful to Tabor, rose in arms against Sigismund.

Though there was thus no real concord, the short reign of Sigismund was marked by a ceremony that formally concluded the Hussite Wars. Papal legates brought the sanction of the Compacts to Prague. On April 13, 1437, a decree was read out in Corpus Christi Chapel, in the presence of Sigismund, his Consort and the Papal legates, stating ‘that no one should revile the Bohemians and Moravians for receiving communion in the two kinds, or for availing themselves of the other right granted by the Compacts, but that they should be considered true and faithful sons of the Church.’ Tablets containing this statement were placed in the Corpus Christi Chapel.[25]

This ceremony hardly even for a time interrupted the religious struggle. The animosity of the Papal legate and the more veiled hostility of Sigismund induced Rokycan, who had been deprived of his living at the Tyn Church, to leave Prague and seek refuge at the castle of one of the Utraquist nobles. Partly in consequence of incessant political and ecclesiastical troubles, Sigismund’s already weak health now became seriously impaired. He resolved to return to Hungary, but died on the journey at Znaym (December 9, 1437).

Though most of Sigismund’s undertakings proved failures, he was successful in his principal dynastic ambition, which was to secure the succession to the Bohemian throne—Sigismund had no male heirs—to his son-in-law Albert, Archduke of Austria. The{75}


 

SOUTH PORCH OF TYN CHURCH
SOUTH PORCH OF TYN CHURCH

{76}

{77}

Bohemian Estates, though somewhat reluctantly, elected Albert as their Sovereign, and he was crowned King of Bohemia at Prague on July 29, 1438.

During his short reign Albert obtained but little popularity in Bohemia. A thorough German and a fervent Roman Catholic, his views, both as regards racial and religious matters, were in opposition to those of the majority of his new subjects. Though he had governed Moravia as representative of his father-in-law, Sigismund, for a considerable period, he had always declined to learn the Bohemian language, a point on which the Bohemians have, perhaps not unnaturally, been very susceptible at all times. Albert, who was also King of Hungary, was soon obliged to return to that country. Sultan Murad the Second had invaded Servia and the adjoining districts of Southern Hungary. During the campaign against the Turks Albert was seized with sickness, and died (October 27, 1439) after having only reigned two years over Bohemia.

A very tumultuous, almost anarchical, period in Bohemia followed the death of Albert. The national or Utraquist party, headed by Ptacek, and afterwards by George of Podebrad, was in constant conflict with the Austrian or Romanist nobles, whose leader was Ulrich of Rosenberg. On February 22, 1440, Albert’s widow gave birth to a son, known in history as Ladislas Posthumus; but as the question whether the Bohemian crown was hereditary or elective then was still in dispute, this did not contribute as largely to the stability of the common-wealth as might otherwise have been the case. Religious strife also continued. In 1448 a new Papal envoy, Cardinal John of Carvajal, arrived at Prague, and was at first joyfully received by the people. Public opinion, however, soon changed. Carvajal declared that the Pope would never recognise Rokycan as archbishop,{78} and expressed great disapproval when informed that in a convent he visited communion was administered in the two kinds. His conduct generally did not tend to give the Puritan Praguers a favourable opinion of the dignitaries of the Roman Church. When negotiating with George of Podebrad, the head of the national party, who referred to the Compacts, the cardinal denied all knowledge of them. Podebrad therefore sent him the original of that valuable document. Shortly afterwards, Carvajal, frightened by the hostility of the citizens who threatened him with the fate of Hus, precipitately left Prague. It was immediately discovered that the Compacts had disappeared. Rokycan and Magister Pribram appealed to the magistrates, and the cardinal was pursued by armed forces. When arrested he was unable to deny the theft, but he begged to be allowed, to avoid public disgrace, only to open his luggage on his arrival at Benesov. This was granted to him, and he was escorted to that town. Here the Compacts were found hidden away among his luggage, and were brought back to Prague.

The mission of the cardinal thus proved an entire failure, and, indeed, only envenomed the religious struggle. Civil war was inevitable; it was only doubtful which party would begin hostilities.

It is probable that George of Podebrad and the other national leaders had arrived at the conclusion that the differences between their party and the Austrian one could only be settled by the force of arms, ever since the failure of the negotiations which had taken place at the great meetings of the Estates at Prague in 1446. Podebrad appears to have had evidence proving that the attempts at a reconciliation which the Bohemians had made through frequent embassies to Rome had been frustrated by the secret machinations of Rosenberg, the leader of the Austrian{79} and Romanist party. Still no warlike steps were taken till after the failure of Carvajal’s mission to Prague. But immediately afterwards Podebrad assembled an army of about 9000 men near Kutna Hora and marched on Prague.

Municipal authority in the city was then in the hands of those Utraquists whose views were nearest to those of Rome, but the large majority of the citizens of Prague favoured the national party. To pacify the people the magistrates had, immediately after Carvajal’s departure, assembled the masters and priests at the Carolinum, and enjoined on all present not to speak in a derogatory manner of the Utraquist communion and the Articles of Prague. This decision was made known to the citizens from the town hall, but it did not lessen the distrust of the nationalists. After a vain attempt at negotiations, and after having declared feud to the town, Podebrad obtained possession of the Vysehrad by surprise and almost without loss of life (September 3). Continuing their march before daybreak, Podebrad’s troops then took possession of the adjoining Nové Mesto, and afterwards of the old town. Here also Podebrad’s men met with little opposition. Their war cry, ‘Kunstat Hr,’[26] terrified their enemies, while it rejoiced the large majority of the citizens who sympathised with Podebrad. The march of the national army from the new town to the town hall of the old city, where Podebrad and his principal generals took up their residence, became a triumphal procession. The town-captain, Hanus of Kolowrat, and several of the town councillors succeeded in making their escapes, but the burgrave, Menhard of Hradec, was captured and imprisoned by order of Podebrad.

The capture of Prague by Podebrad caused great{80} internal changes in the capital. Rokycan returned to Prague, and was reinstated in all his former dignities. On the other hand, the Romanist canons of St. Vitus’s Cathedral mostly fled to Plzen. Podebrad’s rule did not however remain uncontested. The lords and cities that were opposed to him formed a league against him, which, from the town where his opponents met, was called ‘the confederacy of Strakonic.’ A record of the desultory warfare that ensued, in which Podebrad and the national party were generally victorious, is beyond the purpose of this little book. Podebrad continued to rule the country, and up to the time that Ladislas was able to exercise, at least nominally, the royal power, he governed Prague under the title of ‘Gubernator et rector civitatum Pragensium,’ the same designation that Korybut had formerly assumed.

CLOCK TOWER IN TOWN HALL OF STARÉ MESTO
CLOCK TOWER IN TOWN HALL OF STARÉ MESTO

{81}

In 1452 the Estates of Bohemia met at Prague and recognised Ladislas as their King, and in the following year he was, on October 28, crowned as King of Bohemia in St. Vitus’s Cathedral. The ceremony was performed by the Bishop of Olmütz, as King Ladislas, then only fourteen years old, yet refused to be crowned by Rokycan, the Utraquist Archbishop of Prague. In consequence of the youth of the King, Podebrad continued to rule Bohemia, not without much difficulty, as the young King’s open sympathy with Rome and marked hostility to Rokycan embittered the enormous Utraquist majority of the Bohemian population.

Ladislas, who had proceeded to Hungary in 1456, returned in the following year to Prague. Shortly after his return the young King, who was on the point of being betrothed to Magdalen, daughter of Charles VII., King of France, was attacked by a mysterious illness that was similar to the Asiatic plague, if not identical with it. That terrible illness had, since the Turkish invasion, spread widely in Hungary, from which country Ladislas had just returned. The King summoned Podebrad to his bedside, took leave of him in touching words, and then died on the third day of his illness (November 23, 1457).

The body of Ladislas was conveyed to St. Vitus’s Cathedral on November 25. The Romanist chronicler, Eschenloer, who was then at Prague, writes: ‘The sorrow and wailing of the people was very great. Rokycan walked nearest to the bier with his sacrilegious clergy, carrying the sacrament and lighted candles. Then the good’ (i.e., Romanist) ‘clergy in small number followed.’

The premature death of Ladislas again brought the difficult question of the succession to the throne before the nobles and citizens of Bohemia. Foreign candidates, such as William, Duke of Saxony, Charles{82} VII. of France, who endeavoured to obtain the crown for his son Charles, and Casimir, King of Poland, were represented by envoys when the Estates met in the town hall of the Staré Mesto on March 1.

The Utraquist members of the assembly had, indeed, from the first decided to choose one of their number, Podebrad, whom they considered most worthy of the crown, but the votes of the Romanist envoys were uncertain. Prolonged debates took place, which on the following day were continued ‘with great seriousness and conscientiousness.’ Finally the high burgrave, Sternberg, declared for Podebrad, and kneeling before his old friend, exclaimed: ‘Long live George, our gracious King and Lord.’ All the other nobles and knights followed his example, and the unanimous election[27] was enthusiastically received by the crowd that had assembled outside the town hall. George was then conducted to the neighbouring Tyn Church, where he was received by Archbishop Rokycan.

Though George had been chosen unanimously, difficulties arose almost immediately with regard to his coronation, a ceremony to which the Bohemians have always attached the utmost importance. Finally, through the intervention of King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, two Hungarian bishops undertook to crown the King, and the ceremony was performed with much splendour in St. Vitus’s Cathedral on May 7, 1458. The chroniclers state that when the crown was placed on the King’s head one of the largest jewels fell to the ground. This was afterwards interpreted as signifying that Breslau, which as capital of Silesia was one of the greatest towns in the lands of the Bohemian crown, would never be in Podebrad’s power. During his{83}


 

CHAPEL OF TOWN HALL
CHAPEL OF TOWN HALL

{84}

{85}

eventful reign (1458-1471) King George was engaged in constant warfare with the rebellious Catholic nobles and with King Matthias of Hungary. That prince had indeed been an ally of George at the beginning of his reign, but his views changed when it became certain that an agreement between the Papal See and Podebrad was impossible. The King of Hungary now declared war against Bohemia, and attempted to supplant George as ruler of that country.

In 1452 the King assembled the Estates at Prague; the Bohemian envoys, who had just returned from Rome, the Papal legate and the Romanist bishops of Breslau and Olmütz were also present. The King presided, sitting under a baldachin with his consort, Queen Johanna, at his right and his sons at his left. Podebrad spoke strongly of the treachery of the Roman Court, and ended by declaring ‘that the Pope should know that he would not sell his faith for a kingdom, that he, his wife and his children were ready to risk their kingdom and their lives for the blessed blood’ (i.e., communion in the two kinds). This speech greatly affected all present, few of whom could refrain from tears.

The campaigns that occupied the last years of Podebrad hardly belong to a history of Prague.

On February 22, 1471, Archbishop Rokycan died, only a few weeks before his old ally King George, who died of dropsy on March 22 of the same year.

It had, no doubt, originally been a favourite design of Podebrad to found a national dynasty in Bohemia, but the necessities of his frequent wars had obliged him to favour the succession of Prince Vladislav of Poland, thus securing the valuable help of Poland for his country. It had indeed been tacitly settled during George’s lifetime, but the Estates maintained their traditional right of choosing their King, and met for{86} that purpose at Kutna Hora. Besides Vladislav, several other candidates strove to obtain the Bohemian crown. The most important were Albert, Duke of Saxony, and King Matthias of Hungary. The whole influence of Rome was used in favour of the last-named candidate. The letter which the Papal legate, Rudolph, Bishop of Breslau, addressed to the Bohemians, and Praguers in particular, is interesting as formulating the argument against Hussitism, founded on the decline of Prague, that has been, before and since that time, constantly repeated. After stating that Christ on leaving the world had appointed St. Peter his representative, and that the Roman bishops, whom all faithful Christians should obey, were his successors, the legate admonishes the Praguers to remember the former glory of their city, which, while it was faithful to Rome, had surpassed all other towns, even Nuremberg, Cöln and Vienna, in wealth, power and wisdom; even Florence, Venice and Rome had scarcely equalled her.[28] The citizens should therefore abandon their Hussite errors and recognise Matthias as their King. This appeal does not appear to have impressed the Praguers or the other Bohemians much, for Vladislav was elected King with but little opposition. He arrived at Prague on August 19, 1471, and was met outside the town by the clergy and the people, who conducted him to the Royal residence. He was there presented with a Bible by the magisters of the University, ‘that reading it he{87} might learn to rule both himself and his people according to the will of God.’

Vladislav, as Palacky has noted, was the first Bohemian Sovereign who was almost constantly absent from the country, while his consort, Anna de Foix, was the only Queen of Bohemia who never set her foot on the national soil. Vladislav, as was inevitable in consequence of his education, favoured the Romanists as far as it was in his power to do so. Through his influence the principal municipal offices at Prague were entrusted to men who, though nominally Utraquists, favoured the cause of Rome in every way. During the absence of the King riots broke out at Prague in 1483. The more ardent Hussite preachers violently attacked the government both of the King and of the town magistrates. The magistrates of Prague therefore resolved to seize these preachers, and it was rumoured that they had, in union with the magistrates of the Malá Strana and some Romanist lords, resolved a general massacre of the Utraquists in the city. One of the magistrates of the old town, Tomasek, surnamed ‘of the Golden Star,’ was reported to have told a neighbour, a fervent Hussite, that on the Sunday before St. Wenceslas (September 28) ‘they would give the Utraquists bloody cakes to eat.’ The menace was of course understood. Both parties began arming, and on September 24 civic warfare began. The great bells of the Tyn Church were rung, and the people stormed the neighbouring town hall. The burgomaster was, according to what may almost be called a national custom, thrown from the windows of the town hall, and several of the councillors were wounded or imprisoned. Far more sanguinary were the events in the new town. Here, also, the town hall was stormed, many of the town councillors were killed, and a general massacre of Romanists, particularly priests and monks, ensued.{88} Finally, in the new and in the old town, as well as in the Malá Strana—where the revolution appears to have been far less violent—new magistrates were elected, and the magistrates of the three towns concluded an alliance for mutual defence. King Vladislav, who had approved of the plans of the former magistrates—it is impossible to state to what extent—was powerless.

The citizens of Prague, indeed, for a time obtained almost complete autonomy, which they preserved up to the reign of Ferdinand I., and to a certain extent up to 1547.

Vladislav died in Hungary in 1516, and was succeeded by his son Louis, who had already been crowned as King of Bohemia when a child of three years. Louis, like his father, was King of Hungary also, and spent a great part of his life in that country.

As his representative in Bohemia, he appointed Leo of Rozmital, but afterwards replaced him by Duke Charles of Münsterberg, a grandson of King George, who assumed the title of Regent. Though the latter attempted somewhat to curb the turbulent citizens, yet Prague enjoyed almost complete independence, and feuds not dissimilar from those of ancient Italian cities broke out. Personal ambitions and animosities masqueraded in the garb of religious differences. We possess a precious contemporary account of these struggles in the chronicles of Bartos, surnamed ‘The Writer.’ Two demagogues, Pasek and Hlavsa,[29] contended for the supremacy over the citizens of Prague; both belonged to the Utraquist Church, but while the views of Hlavsa, who was largely influenced by Gallus Cahera, rector of the Tyn{89} Church and a personal friend of Luther, were more advanced, Pasek belonged to that shade of Utraquism that was nearest to Rome. Bartos has eloquently described the conflicts that arose. I can here only allude briefly to the coup d’état of 1524, by which the reactionary party for a time obtained the upper hand. On August 9 a crowd of Pasek’s partisans invaded the town hall of the Staré Mesto and arrested all councillors who were of the Lutheran creed. Pasek henceforth ruled over Prague as a dictator, and issued severe decrees against all who ‘favoured foreign heresies.’

King Louis, who was then residing in Hungary, received the news of the success of the reactionary party with great joy, but the ever-increasing danger from Turkey did not admit of his interfering actively in the affairs of Bohemia.

Two years later King Louis perished at the Battle of Mohác, in Hungary, and the Bohemian throne was again vacant.

The death of King Louis found the lands of the Bohemian crown in a state of almost complete anarchy, as both Vladislav and Louis had given their attention mainly to the other countries over which they ruled. Yet the question as to the hereditary character of the throne still being undecided, as soon as the news of the death of the King reached Prague, September 9, 1526, it was rumoured that many princes, undeterred by the precarious condition of the country, aspired to the Bohemian throne. These were, besides Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, brother-in-law of the late King, two Bavarian and two Saxon princes, Sigismund, King of Poland, and two great Bohemian nobles, Leo of Rozmital and Charles of Münsterberg. The Estates met at Prague on October 8, and the deliberations were somewhat prolonged. It was finally decided that each Estate should choose four electors from their number.{90} The twelve electors met on October 23 in the Wenceslas Chapel of St. Vitus’s Cathedral. When they had finished their deliberations, they stated that they had chosen a King, but that the choice would only be made public on the following day. On October 24 Leo of Rozmital announced to the Estates assembled in the Hradcany Castle that Archduke Ferdinand of Austria had been elected King. All present then sang the national song ‘Svaty Václave.’ On February 24 of the following year Ferdinand was crowned in St. Vitus’s Cathedral. The following days were spent in great rejoicings, tournaments and balls in the Hradcany Castle. It was noted that—the Queen only excepted—the new King danced with no lady but the wife of Leo of Rozmital, whose exertions had largely aided him in obtaining the Bohemian crown.

The life of Ferdinand, who was also King of Hungary, frequently ruler of Germany, and Roman Emperor during the last years of his life, has only occasional connection with Prague. The fact that he caused the beautiful Renaissance building known as the Belvedere to be erected at Prague proves, however, that he was not devoid of interest in his Bohemian capital. Ferdinand strenuously endeavoured to strengthen the Royal power in Bohemia. He rescinded the decree of the demagogue Pasek, which had united the old and the new town in one community; and Pasek, though he vainly attempted to curry favour with the King, was struck off the list of the magistrates.

Gallus Cahera, preacher of the Tyn Church, who had now joined the reactionary party, was exiled from all the Habsburg dominions, and in 1530 Pasek himself was for a short time expelled from Prague. On the other hand, Hlavsa and some of his Lutheran partisans, who had been exiled by Pasek, were permitted to return to the Bohemian capital.{91}


 

WENCESLAS CHAPEL, ST. VITUS’S CATHEDRAL
WENCESLAS CHAPEL, ST. VITUS’S CATHEDRAL

{92}

{93}

Though Ferdinand, as these facts prove, showed more moderation—at least at the beginning of his reign—than the Bohemians had expected, he was yet unable to establish religious tranquillity in the country. He was more successful in his endeavours to strengthen the Royal prerogative and limit the power of the Estates. That power was to a great extent founded on their right of electing the Sovereign. It was, therefore, a great success for the Royalist cause when the King, skilfully using the circumstance that a great fire in Prague (1541) destroyed all the ancient State documents, succeeded in persuading the Estates to recognise a new charter, which declared that Ferdinand had been accepted as King in consequence of the hereditary rights of his wife, Queen Anna, who was a sister of King Louis. It must, however, be mentioned that this curtailing of the privileges of the Bohemian Estates contributed to the revolutionary movement of 1547.

In that year troubles broke out in Bohemia in connection with the war that Charles V. and his brother Ferdinand were waging against the leaders of the German Protestants, John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, and Philip, Landgrave of Hessé. Ferdinand claimed military aid from his Bohemian subjects, which the then almost entirely Protestant population of the country was not unnaturally unwilling to grant. Sixt of Ottersdorf, who, as clerk, and afterwards chancellor of the old town, played a considerable part in these events, has left us an interesting account of these troubles.[30] In 1546 Ferdinand assembled the Estates and urged them to equip an armed force against the Turks. They consented, but when it appeared that their levies were to attack, not the Turks, but Saxony, the largest part of the Bohemian army refused to cross{94} the Saxon frontier. On January 1, 1547, Sixt of Ottersdorf presented to King Ferdinand—who, during the then customary interruption of hostilities in winter, had returned to Prague—the usual new-year gifts on the part of the citizens, ‘expressing in a Latin speech hopes that the coming year would end all disturbances and wars in the Christian world; for they were caused only by some unquiet men.’ In reply to this ambiguous speech the King stated that he accepted their gifts and good wishes, and that he hoped that with the aid of the Praguers and his other subjects he would shortly be able to restore peace to the empire. On the following day the King ordered the citizens of the old and new towns to equip 300 armed men each. This, as the contemporary writers state, caused great displeasure, as the citizens had no doubt that they were ordered to arm against the men of their own faith.

A few days later he decreed a general arming of the people, reminding the Bohemians of an ancient decree, according to which those who did not give their aid when Bohemia was in danger should lose their lives and their estates. He therefore summoned all to join him in arms at Litomerice, but a few Romanist lords alone obeyed the Royal command. The feeling was general that the Diet’s sanction was necessary for such a general armament. The Praguers took the lead in the opposition to Ferdinand, and the movement in their city had a strongly democratic character.[31] Mistrusting the energy of their magistrates, the citizens, both of the old and of the new town, at a general meeting on January 23, 1547, resolved that in future all matters of great importance should be decided at general meetings of the{95} citizens, who were to be called together by the town bells. They further declared that a general arming of the people, without the consent of the Diet, was contrary to the law of the land. Many Bohemian towns, such as Kolin, Kourim, Caslav, Cesky Brod, made common cause with Prague, which they recognised as the ‘head of the Estate of the citizens.’ Many knights and nobles, particularly those who belonged to the ‘unity’ of the Bohemian brethren, were in sympathy with the towns, and, indeed, agreed to their suggestion that a meeting of the Estates should take place. This was distinctly unconstitutional, as the King alone had the right of summoning the Estates. On February 13 a private meeting of the nobles took place at the house of Lord Bohus Kostka, in the Celetná Ulice. All present agreed to act in accord with the citizens, and after a prolonged conference ‘proceeded to the Staromestské Námesti singing “True Christians, let us strongly hope”; they then lifted their hats, berets and caps when passing the Tyn Church, and retired to their abodes.’

A more formal meeting of the Estates took place in the following month. King Ferdinand had, indeed, written from Dresden to the high officials of Prague, ordering them to do everything in their power to prevent this meeting of the Estates, who had not been summoned by their King. They, none the less, met on March 18 at the Carolinum, where 800 nobles, knights and representatives of the Bohemian towns (except Plzen and Budejovice) were present. They formed a confederacy and formulated their demands in forty-five articles, which mainly tended to curtailing the Royal prerogative, securing religious freedom, and affirming the elective character of the Bohemian throne. It was resolved to bring these demands before King Ferdinand by a deputation chosen from among the{96} members of the Diet, and the Estates also entered into negotiations with the Protestant princes of Germany, and resolved to equip an army.

Shortly afterwards the news of the great Protestant defeat at Mühlberg (April 24, 1547) reached Prague. The citizens at first discredited the truth of the reports, but when the evil news was confirmed they, as well as the other Bohemians, found themselves obliged to confront the difficult position to which a policy, which was at once venturesome and timid, had led them; for they had acted in a manner that would necessarily irritate their Sovereign, while they had done little or nothing to aid the Protestant cause. It was finally decided to disband their army—this was one of Ferdinand’s principal demands—to congratulate Ferdinand on his victory, to alter the instructions that had been given to the envoys who were to bring their claims before the King, while still maintaining the grievances of the Bohemians. The envoys—among them was Sixt, the historian—joined the King, with whom was his brother, Charles V., in the camp before Wittenberg, which they were then besieging. They were received both by the Emperor and by Ferdinand, who told them that they would later signify their pleasure with regard to Bohemia. The Estates should meanwhile renounce all alliances that were hostile to their King.

Ferdinand had already decided to avail himself of the momentary position for the purpose of strengthening the Royal power. Acute politician as he was, he clearly saw that nothing would so greatly further his purpose as causing dissension among the Bohemian Estates. He resolved to deal more severely with the towns than with the knights and nobles. He marched to Litomerice with a large force, and here issued a proclamation, stating that he would receive graciously{97}


 

THE EAST GATE OF THE HRADCANY
THE EAST GATE OF THE HRADCANY

all knights and nobles, who had been merely misled by others; of the townsmen no mention was made. On July 2 Ferdinand arrived at Prague, and first occupied the Hradcany Castle without resistance. His army, consisting principally of Spaniards and Walloons, then surrounded the old and new towns, committing great depredations in the outskirts of Prague. Some fighting took place, and the lower order of the Praguers began to arm, and decided to defend the bridge. The counsels of the wealthier and wiser citizens, who knew that resistance was hopeless, however, soon prevailed, and the cities surrendered. Ferdinand summoned the more important citizens to appear before him at the Hradcany Castle. On July 8 he received the deputies, about 600 in number, in the{98} hall of Vladislav. With the King were the great dignitaries of Bohemia and Moravia, the Bishops of Olmütz and Breslau, and Prince Augustus, brother of Maurice of Saxony.

It is a proof of the importance of the town of Prague that it was customary that the Bohemian King should give his hand to the magistrates of the city when they appeared before him. On this occasion, however, Ferdinand omitted to do this, and, indeed, turned his back on the citizens as a mark of displeasure. Some time elapsed before he ordered a paper that contained the grievances against the citizens of Prague, who were accused of being the principal instigators of the recent disturbances, to be read to the deputies. The townsmen attempted no defence, and, in their name, Sixt of Ottersdorf declared that the citizens surrendered unconditionally to their Sovereign. The King ordered Ludanic, Captain of Moravia, to inform the citizens that he would shortly convey his decision to them. He had meanwhile ordered Jacob Fikar, burgomaster of the old town, and one of the town councillors, who had both not appeared before him, to be arrested. Then only were the citizens informed of the conditions under which they would be pardoned. They were to abandon all confederacies, even those between the Prague cities, to surrender all papers dealing with their negotiations with the Elector of Saxony, to submit for revision all the papers containing the ancient privileges of the Prague cities, to give up all arms, and to return to the Crown all landed estates that belonged to it, but had been temporarily granted to the citizens. The last paragraph, in a somewhat veiled manner, stipulated the confiscation of considerable estates that had long belonged to the Prague cities. The citizens were, however, obliged to accept all the King’s demands.{99}

The King then convoked the Estates for August 22, but he resolved that, as a deterrent example, the execution of the four most prominent national leaders should immediately precede this meeting of the Diet, which has ever since been known as the Krvavy Snem (i.e., bloody Diet). On August 20 two knights and two citizens, one of whom was Fikar, were decapitated on the market-place before the Hradcany Castle. Other less severe punishments were inflicted on some of the members of the nationalist leaders, particularly on those who were members of the community of the Bohemian Brethren, who were suspected of having strongly favoured an alliance with the German Protestants. The head of that community, John Augusta, was arrested at Litomysl, imprisoned in the ‘White Tower’ on the Hradcany, and cruelly tortured there.

The ‘bloody Diet’ accepted all the King’s proposals, though they largely limited its powers, and comparative quiet continued in Prague during the remaining years of Ferdinand’s rule.

Ferdinand died in 1564, and the news of his death reached Prague on July 28. His eldest son, Maximilian, who had already been crowned King of Bohemia, succeeded his father without any opposition. His well-known inclination to Protestantism rendered the Utraquist majority of the Estates favourable to him, while the Romanists were traditionally partisans of the House of Habsburg.

Little need in this sketch of the story of Prague be said of the twelve years (1564-1576) during which Maximilian reigned over Bohemia. He visited Prague and held Diets there in 1567, 1571 and 1575. On these occasions the proceedings were similar and, it may be added, monotonous. Maximilian invariably demanded grants of money to enable him to carry on{100} war against the Turks, and the Estates, with equal regularity, claimed that further concessions should be made to the Utraquists, or rather Protestants as they should now be called. At the Diet of 1575 the Lutherans and Bohemian brethren jointly drew up a profession of faith which is known as the ‘Confessio Bohemica.’ The King did not indeed recognise it, but he granted the Protestants, now the great majority of the population, independence from the old Utraquist consistory. They were allowed to choose fifteen ‘defenders,’ five from each Estate, to whom the government of the Protestant Church was to be entrusted. No doubt, largely in consequence of this concession, the Estates accepted Maximilian’s eldest son, Rudolph, as heir to the throne, and consented to his coronation during the lifetime of his father. Some objections were raised with regard to Rudolph’s ignorance of the Bohemian language, and it was stipulated that he should, in the absence of his father, reside in Prague, that he might thoroughly learn the language and the laws of the country over which he was once to rule.

The Estates deputed seven nobles and seven knights, who proceeded to the Karlstyn on September 20, for the purpose of fetching the Royal insignia of Bohemia that were preserved there. On their return the coronation took place, with the same ceremonial as that of Maximilian, who had also been crowned during the lifetime of his father. According to the custom Rudolph was crowned in St. Vitus’s Cathedral. He first proceeded to the Chapel of St. Wenceslas, where the Romanist Archbishop and his clergy received him. He then entered the main church, and the burgrave, William of Rosenberg, then asked the assembled Estates whether they consented to the coronation of Rudolph as King. They all, with loud voices,{101}


 

RUDOLPH II.
RUDOLPH II.

{102}

{103}

expressed their consent. Rudolph was then crowned by the Romanist Archbishop, with the assistance of William of Rosenberg.

The accession of Rudolph to the Bohemian throne followed very closely on his coronation. Maximilian died in 1576, and his son immediately proceeded to Prague, where he resided almost continually during his reign. His life is therefore in closer connection with Prague than that of almost any other Bohemian ruler, Charles IV. only excepted.

Rudolph’s character was a very singular one, and it is certain that he occasionally suffered from melancholia. With a thorough knowledge and a great love of art, he combined an intense dislike of the affairs of the State. No king did more for the embellishment of Prague. According to a contemporary epigram, Prague, that had been of wood at the time of Libussa, afterwards became marble, but golden under Rudolph. Rudolph was a great collector of paintings, sculpture, and even mere ‘curiosities.’ His agents travelled all over Europe; thus Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Madonna,’ one of the few picture’s from Rudolph’s collection that is still at Prague, was purchased at Venice and carried ‘by four stout men’ across the Alps to Prague.

Among the artists who, on Rudolph’s invitation, visited Prague, was the engraver Sadeler, a native of the Netherlands. His engravings of Prague—three of which are reproduced in this volume—are among the most interesting ancient records of the city.

More questionable was Rudolph’s taste for chemistry and astronomy, or rather for alchemy and astrology. The astronomers Keppler, Tycho Brahe, and his assistant Tennagel, who afterwards fell in disgrace, were Rudolph’s guests on the Hradcany. His taste for alchemy attracted many to Prague who were supposed{104} to be adepts in that science. It must, however, be stated in defence of Rudolph that alchemy was by no means, in his day, an utterly discredited science. Even a century later Spinoza considered it as worthy of consideration. Rudolph by no means hesitated to punish those alchemists whom he considered as impostors. It is interesting to note that among these alchemists there were two English adventurers—Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley.[32]

TOMBSTONE OF TYCHO BRAHE IN TYN CHURCH
TOMBSTONE OF TYCHO BRAHE IN TYN CHURCH

The earlier years of Rudolph’s reign were a period of peace and prosperity in Bohemia. His latter years were embittered by the treachery and perfidy of his ambitious younger brother Matthias. The real cause of the conflict was that Rudolph, who had no legitimate offspring, refused to make any arrangements as to the succession{105} to the thrones of Bohemia and Hungary. It was as a mere pretext that Matthias brought forward the grievance that Rudolph had refused to sanction a treaty with Turkey that he had concluded in his brother’s name. Matthias occupied Moravia, and took possession of that country almost without resistance. He then entered Bohemia and advanced as far as Caslav. Rudolph, though reluctantly, summoned the Bohemian Estates to Prague on May 8, 1608. Though the usual ecclesiastical grievances were brought forward, it soon became evident that the Bohemians did not wish to abandon Rudolph in favour of his brother. The latter had meanwhile advanced as far as Liben,[33] where peace negotiations took place. A treaty was finally signed there by which Rudolph ceded Upper and Lower Austria and Moravia to his brother, but retained Bohemia for his lifetime. In the evening Matthias gave a large banquet in his camp; there were two tables, at each of which a hundred guests were seated. Many healths were drank, and a somewhat scandalous contemporary writer tells us that many of Rudolph’s envoys ‘only returned to Prague about midnight, and very intoxicated.’

Even the cession of almost all his possessions did not ensure Rudolph’s tranquillity during the remaining years of his life. Many nobles who had sided with him against his brother now again brought their demand of religious freedom before him. The leader of the Protestants was now Wenceslas of Budova, whose pious and somewhat Puritan character renders him one of the most interesting figures of the last years of Bohemian independence. When Rudolph had prorogued the Diet of 1609 the Estates continued their meetings in the{106} town hall of the Nové Mesto. Budova, who presided, always began the deliberations by calling on all present to pray. All then knelt down and sang a hymn.

For a moment civil war seemed inevitable. Rudolph’s attitude, indeed, had at first been conciliatory. He has been credited by various historians with a religious fanaticism that was absolutely alien to his nature. Yet the Spanish ambassador, Zuniga, and Archduke Leopold, a kinsman of Rudolph’s and a brother of Archduke Ferdinand, afterwards King of Bohemia, succeeded in persuading the apathetic Sovereign to send a message to the Estates, in which he promised the Protestants the same amount of toleration which they had enjoyed under Ferdinand I.; he thus withdrew even the concessions that had been made to the Protestants by the more liberal-minded Maximilian. The Protestant Estates considered this message as a declaration of war; they decided to arm, and chose thirty ‘directors’—ten from each order—who established themselves at the town hall of the Staré Mesto, forming, as the historian Gindely says, a provisional government. Rudolph, however, finally gave way, and on July 9, 1609, signed the famed ‘Letter of Majesty.’ He recognised the ‘Confessio Bohemica,’[34] granted the Protestants the administration of the University, and empowered them to elect thirty ‘defenders’ from their number who were to act as guardians of the rights of the Protestants.

There is no doubt that Rudolph granted these extensive concessions reluctantly, and that he sought an opportunity for retracting them. He entered into negotiations with Archduke Leopold, who was then Bishop of Passau. Under the pretence of interfering in the religious troubles that had broken out in Germany,{107} Leopold collected a considerable armed force, which in 1611 invaded Bohemia. Leopold, no doubt, wished to free Rudolph from the control of the Protestants, and probably hoped to obtain the Bohemian crown as a reward, to the exclusion of Matthias and of his own brother Ferdinand. The men of Passau soon occupied a large part of Southern Bohemia, marched rapidly on Prague, and encamped on the White Mountain, immediately outside the city walls. After scaling the walls of the Malá Strana they attacked the neighbouring Hradcany Castle, where Leopold was then residing as a guest of Rudolph. Desperate fighting in the Malá Strana took place between the men of Passau and a small force that the Bohemian Estates had hurriedly raised, and which was commanded by Count Thurn. The invaders succeeded in driving the Bohemians from the Malá Strana, but their attempt to obtain possession of the bridge, and thus to secure access to the old town, failed.

Leopold, who thought victory certain, now assumed the command of his troops, and summoned the old and new towns to surrender. This was declined, and as the army of the Estates received constant reinforcements, Leopold and his troops were obliged to leave Prague secretly on the night of March 11. Matthias had meanwhile arrived at Prague, and Rudolph was forced to abdicate in his favour. He did not long survive his deposition, but died on January 10, 1612.

During the brief reign of Matthias (1611-1619) the religious troubles in Bohemia continued and reached their climax in the famous defenestration of Prague. Matthias, like his brother, was childless, and the question of the succession to the Bohemian throne was therefore urgent. The Estates met at Prague in 1617, and through the influence of the Government{108} officials, Archduke Ferdinand of Styria was accepted as heir to the throne. Only one of the officials, Count Thurn, burgrave of the Karlstyn, opposed the acceptation, and was therefore deprived of his office. The decision which assured the Bohemian crown to Ferdinand, a determined persecutor of the Protestants, necessarily hastened the progress of events. The Protestants knew that war to the knife awaited them; the only question was when hostilities should begin. The initiative finally, however, came from the Catholics. In direct violation of the agreements of 1609[35] the Romanist Archbishop of Prague caused the Protestant church at Hrob (or Klostergrab) to be destroyed, while the abbot of Broumov (Braunau) ordered the Protestant church in the town of that name, which was under his jurisdiction, to be closed.

The Protestant ‘defenders’ took immediate action. They summoned their Protestant Estates to a consultation, which began on March 6, 1618, in the Carolinum. Though King Matthias had forbidden the meeting, a large number of nobles and knights and a few townsmen were present.

Count Thurn now became the leader of the Protestant Estates, and there is little doubt that he from the first considered war inevitable. He spoke eloquently of the grievances of the Protestants, alluding particularly to the recent occurrences at Hrob and Broumov, and suggested that a remonstrance should be addressed to the Government officials at Prague. The Protestants agreed to this, and also resolved, should this step prove ineffective, to address their complaints directly to King Matthias,{109} who then resided in Vienna. As an answer could not be immediately expected, it was decided that the Protestants should meet again on May 21. Before that date, however, the leaders of the movement issued a manifesto, that was read in all the Utraquist and Protestant churches of Prague, in which, though the Sovereign was not attacked, the Royal councillors, particularly the chief judge Slavata, and Martinic, the new burgrave of the Karlstyn, who had replaced Thurn, were directly accused of using their influence over the Sovereign in a manner hostile to the Bohemian people. On May 21, the Estates, as had been agreed, met again at the Carolinum. They were immediately summoned to the Hradcany Palace, where a Royal message prohibiting their meetings was read to them. They none the less met again on the 22nd, when Thurn suggested that the Estates should, on the following day, proceed to the Hradcany in a body and in full armour. He threw out dark hints that a small deputation would not be safe in the vast precincts of the Hradcany; if the gates were closed after their arrival, they would be separated from the town, and a general massacre of the envoys might ensue. A more secret meeting took place late in the evening, at the Smiricky Palace.[36] Besides Thurn, a few other leaders, Colonna of Fels, Budova, Ruppa, two nobles of the Kinsky and two of the Rican family were present. Ulrich of Kinsky proposed that the Royal councillors should be poniarded in the council chamber, but Thurn’s suggestion that they should be thrown from the windows of the{110} Hradcany Palace prevailed. This was, in Bohemia, the traditional death penalty for traitors. As the Estates afterwards quaintly stated, ‘they followed the example of that which was done to Jezebel, the tormentor of the Israelite people, and also that of the Romans and other famed nations, who were in the habit of throwing from rocks and other elevated places those who disturbed the peace of the common-wealth.’

Early on the morning of the memorable 23rd of May the representatives of Protestantism in Bohemia proceeded to the Hradcany; all were in full armour, and most of them were followed by one or more retainers. They first proceeded to the hall, where the Estates usually met. The address to the King which the defenders had prepared was here read to them. All then entered the hall of the Royal councillors, where a very stormy discussion arose. Count Slik, Thurn, Kinsky and others violently accused Martinic and Slavata, the two principal councillors, of being traitors. Slik particularly accused Martinic of having deprived ‘that noble Bohemian hero, Count Thurn,’ of his office of burgrave of the Karlstyn. He added that, ‘as long as old men, honest and wise, had governed Bohemia the country had prospered, but since they (i.e., Martinic and Slavata), worthless disciples of the Jesuits, had pushed themselves forward, the ruin of the country had began.’

What now happened can be best given in the words of the contemporary historian, Skála ze Zhore:—‘No mercy was granted them, and first the Lord of Smecno (i.e., Martinic) was dragged to the window near which the secretaries generally worked; for Kinsky was quicker and had more aid than Count Thurn, who had seized Slavata. Then they were{111}


 

THE ROYAL OFFICIALS ARE THROWN FROM THE WINDOWS ON MAY
23, 1618
THE ROYAL OFFICIALS ARE THROWN FROM THE WINDOWS ON MAY 23, 1618

{112}

{113}

both thrown, dressed in their cloaks and with their rapiers and decorations, just as they had been found in the councillors’ office, one after the other, head foremost out of the western window into a moat beneath the palace, which by a wall was separated from the other deeper moat. They loudly screamed, “Ach, ach, Ouvé!” and attempted to hold on to the window-frame, but were at last obliged to let go, as they were struck on their hands.’ It remains to add that neither of the nobles nor Fabricius, their secretary, who was also thrown from the window, perished; a circumstance that the Catholics afterwards attributed to a miracle.

Immediately after the defenestration the Estates elected thirty ‘directors’—chosen in equal number from the three Estates—who were to constitute a provisional Government. Ruppa, one of the most gifted of the Bohemian nobles, became head of this Government, while Thurn assumed command of the army which the Estates hurriedly raised. On March 20, 1619, Matthias died, and though the Estates had recognised Ferdinand as his successor, the throne became practically vacant; for it was very unlikely that the Protestants who had risen in arms against Matthias would now accept a far more intransigent Romanist as their ruler.

On July 8 a general Diet, that is to say one consisting of deputies of Moravia and Silesia as well as Bohemia, met at Prague. On August 3 this assembly pronounced the deposition of Ferdinand as King of the Bohemian lands, and on the 26th the crown was offered to Frederick, Count Palatine. There were other candidates, but an eloquent speech of Ruppa decided in Frederick’s favour. He assured the Bohemians that they would obtain powerful allies if they elected Frederick, and specially referred to{114}

Inscription on Picture.

The Bohemian leaders—Anhalt the Elder, Hohenlohe, Thurn the Elder and the Younger, Anhalt the Younger, John of Bubna, Henry Slik (of the Moravian allies), Stubenvoll (of the German allies), the Duke of Weimar. The Imperialist leaders—Maximilian of Bavaria, Buguoy, Tieffenbach (of the German league), Tilly, Pappenheim, Des Fours, Caralli and others.



 
Inscription on Picture.
The Bohemian leaders—Anhalt the Elder, Hohenlohe, Thurn the Elder and
the Younger, Anhalt the Younger, John of Bubna, Henry Slik (of the
Moravian allies), Stubenvoll (of the German allies), the Duke of Weimar.
The Imperialist leaders—Maximilian of Bavaria, Buguoy, Tieffenbach (of
the German league), Tilly, Pappenheim, Des Fours, Caralli and others.
BATTLE OF THE WHITE MOUNTAIN, NOVEMBER 8, 1620

{115}

{116}

{117}

James I. of England, the father-in-law of their new Sovereign.

After some hesitation, Frederick accepted the crown and proceeded to Bohemia accompanied by his consort. They arrived at the ‘Star’ Palace, immediately outside Prague, early in the morning of October 31, and on the same day made their solemn entry into the town. Many Bohemian nobles who had awaited their new Sovereign at the ‘Star’ joined the procession to the Hradcany Castle. At the Strahov gate they were met by the guilds of Prague carrying their banners, and by numerous peasants ‘all clad in the old Bohemian dress and bearing arms that had been used during the Hussite Wars.’ On November 4 Frederick was crowned King of Bohemia in St. Vitus’s Cathedral, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth took place there three days later.

The winning manners of Frederick at first obtained for him considerable popularity, and when Queen Elizabeth gave birth to a son—Prince Rupert—on December 26 the citizens of Prague greatly rejoiced. Difficulties, however, soon arose. The King was ignorant of the national language, and seems to have made no attempt to acquire it. When Frederick’s Calvinist divines persuaded him to have the altars and paintings removed from St. Vitus’s Cathedral, Lutherans, Utraquists and Romanists were equally indignant.

Queen Elizabeth never secured even that limited amount of popularity that her consort obtained. She was accompanied principally by English ladies, and was believed to have spoken to them in an unfavourable manner of her new country. She had hardly any intercourse with the Bohemian ladies, few of whom knew French, and none English. They strongly disapproved of their new Queen, who, they said, ‘had no settled hours either for her meals or for her prayers,’{118} and even of the low dresses which she and her English ladies wore.

Frederick remained at Prague up to September 28, 1620, and then only joined his army in Southern Bohemia that was opposing the advance of the Austrians. He found his soldiers already entirely disorganised, and was forced to retreat on Prague. His forces reached the White Mountain, immediately outside the town, on the evening of November 7. The enemies, who were in close pursuit, attacked the Bohemians on the following day. Frederick had meanwhile returned to Prague to join his consort. Neither this proof of conjugal affection, nor the fact that an immediate attack of the Catholic forces may not have appeared probable, can in any way excuse what was practically desertion.

It is certain that the Catholic commanders were not at first unanimous as to the policy of attacking the Bohemians at a moment when the Catholic army was exhausted by prolonged marches. Buguoy I., who commanded the Austrian forces, advised delay, but the opinion of the Duke of Bavaria and Tilly, who insisted on an immediate attack, prevailed. The numerous Jesuits and other friars who accompanied the army also declared that no delay should be granted to the heretics. It was also taken into consideration that Christian of Anhalt, Commander-in-Chief of the Protestant forces, was hastily throwing up earthworks on the plateau of the White Mountain, and endeavouring to re-establish discipline among his troops, which had been demoralised by their continuous retreat. A deferred attack might therefore be more hazardous than an immediate one.

Even before the council of war had decided on an immediate attack, a small Bavarian force—not yet{119} supported by the mass of the Catholic army—attacked the right flank of the Bohemians. The younger Count Slik, who commanded some of the Moravian troops, hurriedly rode up to Christian of Anhalt, begging his permission to attack the Bavarians on their march. ‘It was a weighty and fateful moment in the history of the Bohemian people.’[37] Anhalt at first favoured the suggestion, but on the advice of Hohenlohe, who was second in command, he finally refused his consent. The whole Catholic army soon united, and advanced on the whole line. Though the younger Count Thurn’s infantry successfully beat back an attack of the Austrian infantry, and the son of Christian of Anhalt made a successful cavalry charge, the Catholics were soon victorious, and the earthworks were, after a short defence, carried by the troops of Austria, Bavaria and Spain. Of the Protestant forces the Hungarian horsemen, whom Gabriel Bethlen, Prince of Transsylvania, had sent to Bohemia, first took to flight. They attempted to cross the Vltava by a ford near the present suburb of Smichov, and many perished in the river. Flight soon became general, and the conduct of the Bohemians and their allies was most unworthy of the ancient glory of the country. There were some exceptions to the well-nigh general cowardice. A small Moravian force under Count Slik retreated to the wall of the ‘Star’ Park, where they defended themselves with desperate courage.[38] When almost all had been killed, those who remained surrendered. The battle, and with it the fate of Bohemia, was then decided. As proof of the heroism of the Moravians, contemporary writers tell us that along the ‘Star’ walls[39] the dead at some places lay ten or twelve high.{120}

Inscription above Central Picture.

‘True representation of the executions at Prague. How by the most gracious order and command of his Roman Imperial Majesty the former Bohemian Directors, Counts, Lords, Knights and men of the Estate of the citizens were, on Saturday, the 9th of June of this year 1621, condemned in the royal castle of the Hradcany, and then, on Monday, June 21, punished and executed on the market-place of the old town.’


Inscription under Central Picture.

‘This design shows clearly how the 24 men were decapitated one after the other, and how three others were then hanged.’


Inscription under Upper Engraving Right Side.

‘Here you see the twelve heads exposed on the bridge tower of Prague.’


Inscription under Lower Engraving Right Side.

‘How three men are whipped with rods, while the tongue of one is nailed to the gallows.’



 
THE EXECUTIONS ON THE MARKET-PLACE OF THE OLD TOWN OF
PRAGUE ON THE 21ST OF JUNE 1621
THE EXECUTIONS ON THE MARKET-PLACE OF THE OLD TOWN OF PRAGUE ON THE 21ST OF JUNE 1621

{121}

{122}

{123}

The news that the battle had begun reached Frederick in the banqueting hall of the Hradcany Castle, where he was entertaining the English ambassadors, whom his father-in-law James I. had sent to Prague. He mounted his horse and rode to the Strahov gate, only arriving there in time to witness the rout and flight of his army. The sight of the battlefield and even, as an eye-witness tells us, the terrible wailing of the women,[40] greatly impressed Frederick, and he hurriedly returned to the Hradcany. From here he proceeded with Queen Elizabeth to the old town, and the defeated army also crossed to the right bank of the river. A council of war was held late in the evening, at which most of Frederick’s generals spoke in favour of instant retreat. The King himself made some pretence of resolution. But when, on the following morning, Elizabeth left Prague, the King—a modern Antony, without Antony’s bravery—‘hastily mounted his horse, thus giving the signal for a general flight.’

The battle of the White Mountain is one of the greatest landmarks in the history of Bohemia, and of Prague in particular. I will not here refer to the complete change in the condition of Bohemia which it caused, the complete suppression of Protestantism, the complete annihilation of the ancient constitution of the land, the almost complete, though but temporary, extinction of the national language.

But before ending my account of Prague as the capital of an independent country, I must briefly refer to the executions on June 21, 1621. Immediately after the suppression of the national movement it appeared probable{124} that the Austrian policy would be a lenient one. But sterner councils soon prevailed at Vienna. In February Slik, Budova, Divis Cernin, Kaplir, as well as Jessenius, the rector of the University, and some of the leading townsmen, were arrested. There was no pretence of conducting the trial according to the ancient legal institutions of the country, which granted great privileges to nobles. A special tribunal was constituted, and its members were instructed to judge with the greatest severity.

The judges arrived from Vienna on March 13, 1621, and the court sat for the first time at the Hradcany Castle on the 15th of that month. The judges did not fail to act according to their instructions. Their decision, which Ferdinand confirmed on May 23, the anniversary of the defenestration, pronounced the confiscation of the estates of all the accused. There were twenty-seven death sentences; of the condemned men twenty-four were to be decapitated, three hanged. In some cases torture was added to the death penalty. Thus Divis Cernin, captain of the Hradcany Castle, who had opened the gates of that castle to the Protestants, Count Slik, Bohuslav Michalovic and others were to have a hand cut off before execution, while the tongue of Jessenius, rector of the Prague University, whom the Bohemians had employed in their negotiations with Transsylvania, and whose eloquence the Imperialists dreaded, was to be cut out. Not many of these additional punishments were, however, actually carried out.

Besides these death sentences many Bohemians were condemned to prison for lengthy periods, while others were expelled from Prague, and it was ordered that they should be whipped with rods till they reached the city gates.{125}


 

THE DUNGEON IN THE TOWN HALL
THE DUNGEON IN THE TOWN HALL

On June 19 the prisoners were informed of their fate, and on the following day their wives and children, as well as three Lutheran clergymen, were admitted to visit them. It is on the narrative of these clergymen that the great historian Skála has based his account of the last movements of the prisoners and their execution.[41] The day fixed for the executions was June 21, and on the previous day all prisoners who were not already confined in the dungeons of the{126} town hall of Staré Mesto were conveyed there, as the executions were to take place in the immediately adjacent market-place. They met their fate with great fortitude, and spent their time mainly in singing hymns. They conversed freely with the Lutheran clergymen. Budova said, ‘I am weary of my days. May God deign to receive my soul, that I may not behold the disaster that, as I know, has overcome my country.’ Count Slik said, ‘I am before the tribunal of the world, and expect immediate death. But those who have judged me will have to appear before the awful tribunal of Him who will judge more justly.’

Early on the morning of June 21 a cannon-shot was fired as a signal that the executioners were to begin. One by one the prisoners were conducted to the market-place, ‘that mournful stage and slaughter-house of Antichrist,’ as Skála calls it. Each man when proceeding to his death took leave of his comrades in a pleasant manner, as if he were going to a banquet or some pastime. ‘I go before you,’ he said, ‘that I may first see the glory of God, the glory of our beloved Redeemer; but I await you directly after me; in this hour grief already vanishes, and a new heartfelt and eternal happiness begins.’ Full preparations had been made by the Imperial authorities to prevent disturbances. The whole market-place was lined with troops, and orders had been given that the drums should beat during the whole time that the executions lasted. A tribune had been erected, from which the Austrian authorities watched the executions. Slik was first led forth, and after him twenty-three others were decapitated. The tongue of Jessenius was cut out before his execution, and a hand of Michalovic was cut off. Three citizens of Prague then suffered death on the gallows. To{127} further accentuate the reign of terror that had begun, the heads of twelve of the nobles who had been decapitated were exposed on the towers of the bridge of Prague, six on the bridge tower of the Malá Strana, six on that of the old town.


 

BETHLEHEM CHAPEL
BETHLEHEM CHAPEL

{128}

CHAPTER III

Prague in Modern Times

AFTER the battle of the White Mountain, the interest of the story of Prague declines for a time. A period of strenuous reaction in Church and State, during which the Government endeavours to efface the memorials of past national glory, cannot be picturesque. As it was necessary to replace by new architectural monuments the ancient buildings that recalled events that it was now thought desirable to forget, Prague was in the seventeenth and eighteenth century covered with buildings in the rococo and ‘Jesuite’ styles, which often unfavourably impress the passing traveller who is unable to discern that they are by no means connected with the period of Bohemia’s greatness.

During the Thirty Years’ War Prague several times again plays a considerable part. After Gustavus Adolphus’s great victory at Breitenfeld in 1831, his Saxon allies occupied Prague in November of that year. They were accompanied by many Bohemian exiles, who caused the heads of the twelve patriots that were still exposed on the bridge towers to be removed and buried with great solemnity in the Tyn Church. Preparations were even made to re-establish Protestantism, but in May of the following year Wallenstein’s army stormed the Malá Strana and the Hradcany Castle, and the Saxons shortly afterwards entirely evacuated Bohemia, though not before amassing{129}


 

THE OLD SYNAGOGUE
THE OLD SYNAGOGUE

{130}

{131}

a large amount of plunder. Many of the treasures of Rudolph’s collections in the Hradcany Castle thus found their way to Dresden.

In 1648 Prague was the scene of the last struggles of the war that had begun there thirty years before. A Swedish force, under General Königsmark, entered Bohemia in that year and advanced rapidly on Prague. Negotiations for peace had begun in the previous year, and it has been often wondered why this last Swedish incursion took place. Bohemian writers have surmised that the desire for plunder, and particularly the attraction of Rudolph’s far-famed collections, were partly the motive. The Swedes obtained possession of the part of Prague that lies on the left bank of the river through the treachery of Otowalsky, an Imperial officer who had been dismissed from the service. He informed the Swedes that the walls of the Malá Strana were under repair, and that there was therefore a temporary gap in them. In the night of July 26 the Swedish troops entered the town by this gap, opened the Strahov gate and seized the Malá Strana and the Hradcany. The Swedes were, however, unable to obtain possession of the part of the town on the right bank of the Vltava, even after a second Swedish army had joined them in October. The citizens, now mostly Catholics, headed by Jesuit monks, bravely defended the bridge of Prague, and the Jewish colony, always a considerable one at Prague, also bravely took part in the defence.

On November 3, the news of the conclusion of the Treaty of Westphalia reached Prague and put a stop to hostilities.

There is little to note of Prague in the following years; it was not the scene of warlike events, and the former municipal struggles ceased under a severely absolutist Government.

Prague is now an Austrian provincial town, though{132} Bohemia has always officially been described as a kingdom, not as a province.

It was only during the Austrian War of Succession (1741-1748) that the annals of Prague again became of some interest. The male line of the house of Habsburg became extinct after the death of Charles VI., and a European coalition was formed for the purpose of excluding his daughter Maria Theresa from the throne. The Elector of Bavaria, who claimed the Bohemian crown, entered the country with an army of Frenchmen and Bavarians, while a Saxon army also invaded Bohemia. These armies met before Prague, and carried the town by assault on November 26, 1741. The Elector of Bavaria immediately assumed the title of King of Bohemia, and was crowned in St. Vitus’s Cathedral by the Archbishop of Prague.

More than 400 knights and nobles did homage to the new King, and a German writer has noted, somewhat maliciously, that among them were representatives of many of the old Bohemian families, such as Cernin, Kolowrat, Kinsky, Lützow, Lazansky, Waldstein and many others.

The Elector left Bohemia immediately after his coronation, but a French army under Marshal Belleisle remained at Prague. The town was now besieged by the Austrian forces, and the French, after a brave defence, succeeded in evacuating the town and retreating safely to Eger, where they joined another French army that had been sent to their relief. Prague was now occupied by the troops of Maria Theresa, who was crowned there in 1743.

An event of great importance in the municipal annals of Prague took place during the reign of Maria Theresa. The communities of the old town, the new town and the ‘small quarter’ were united into one municipal{133} corporation. This change had not, of course, the importance which it would have had in earlier and freer days; for the burgomaster was then a Government official, appointed by the authorities of Vienna. It is only since 1848 that the citizens of Prague have recovered the right of electing the head of their community.

The first years of the reign of Maria Theresa were very stormy ones for Prague.

SECRET SEAL OF THE MALÁ STRANA
SECRET SEAL OF THE MALÁ STRANA

In 1744 Frederick the Great entered Bohemia, and stormed Prague on September 12, after a terrible bombardment, during which 150 houses in the new town and a large part of the city walls were destroyed. Frederick did not remain long at Prague; the arrival of a large Austrian army under Charles of Lorraine obliged him to retire into Silesia.

Prague was not destined long to enjoy the blessings of peace. In 1757, the second year of the Seven Years’ War, Frederick the Great arrived before Prague with a large army on May 2 and encamped on the White Mountain. He crossed the Vltava on the 5th to unite his army with the Prussian forces on the right bank of the river, and on the{134} following day a great battle took place between the Prussians and Austrians between the village of Sterbohol, four and a half miles from Prague, and the city itself. Carlyle has given us a very spirited, though somewhat inaccurate, description of this great battle, which he calls ‘the famed Battle of Prag; which sounded through all the world—and used to deafen us in drawing-rooms within man’s memory.’ The battle ended with a complete defeat of the Imperialists, and the Austrian army had—as Carlyle words it—‘to roll pell-mell into Prague and hastily close the door behind it.’ The town was again so fiercely bombarded that whole streets were in ruins, and St. Vitus’s Cathedral and other historical buildings greatly suffered. The Austrian victory at Kolin obliged the Prussians to raise the siege of Prague.

The battle of 1757 is the last warlike event with which Prague is connected, if we except the civil tumult in 1848. The town played no part in the later events of the Seven Years’ War, nor in the long struggle between Austria and France that, with short intervals, lasted from 1792 to 1815.

In the peaceful years that followed the Congress of Vienna (1815) the Bohemian nation strove—as far as the jealousy of a strictly absolutist Government permitted—to recover some of its ancient rights and privileges, and particularly to revive the national language. Prague was the centre of this movement, particularly after the foundation of the Bohemian Museum.

A visitor to Prague who enters at all into communications with the inhabitants will hear so much of this movement that I do not think I should here pass it over altogether in silence. The Bohemian language that, during the period of independence, had gradually{135} taken the place of Latin as the recognised language of the state, declined after the battle of the White Mountain. During the reign of Maria Theresa, and to a far greater extent during that of the Emperor Joseph II., the Austrian authorities used even more energy in their endeavours to substitute German in Bohemia for the native language than had been done immediately after the great defeat. Among other measures tending to this purpose, it was decreed that German should exclusively be used in the Bohemian schools. The stern determination—enemies, no doubt, would call it obstinacy—of the Bohemian nation defeated these attempts, though the native language was for a time almost relegated to the villages and outlying districts of Bohemia. The renascence of the national language in Bohemia, in the early years of the nineteenth century, is almost unique. It was, however, based on a great historic past, and thus differs greatly from the recent attempts to revive the Irish and Welsh languages, though the comparison has often been made. It is not my purpose to analyse here the tangled and involved causes which resulted in the great fact that a buried nationality burst its grave-clothes and reappeared radiant in the world. It may, however, be briefly noted that the Bohemian national movement was undoubtedly an offspring of the Romantic movement, the influence of which was felt all over Europe at the beginning of the last century. The revival of the Bohemian language is due to a small group of learned men, of whom Jungmann, Kolar, Safarik and Palacky were the most prominent. These men, few in number, showed that enthusiasm touching, though it may appear absurd to some, which champions of apparently hopeless causes often display. Many anecdotes to this purpose are still circulated in Prague. Thus it was said that a few of the ‘patriots,’ as the adherents of{136} the national cause were called, feasted almost to excess as a token of joy when they noticed on the Graben ‘two well-dressed men who were talking Bohemian.’ On the other hand, they were deeply depressed when two young girls of the citizen class, who had been talking Bohemian, suddenly dropped into German on their approach, saying, ‘Take care they hear us talking Bohemian; they will take us for peasants.’

As was natural in the case of so musical a nation as Bohemia, the patriotic movement found expression in music also. Early in the nineteenth century ‘Slavic balls’ were instituted at Prague. At these balls the hall was entirely decorated in the Bohemian national colours (red and white), and conversation in Bohemian was alone allowed. It was the intention of the originators of these gatherings to send out the invitations in the Bohemian language, but the Austrian police officials, with the inquisitiveness characteristic of the Metternich period soon became acquainted with this intention, and raised objections. It was finally decided that the invitations should be both in German and in Bohemian. The old national songs were again sung as far as the police authorities permitted. New songs, celebrating the glory of Bohemia, also were composed. Such were the one beginning with the words ‘Já jsem Cech a kdo je vic?’ i.e., ‘I am a Bohemian, and who is more?’ that was composed by Rubes. Yet better known is the famed ‘Kde je domov muy?’ (Where is my country?) which the traveller will constantly hear at Prague, as the present Government, wiser than its predecessor, raises no objection to its being sung. The song has indeed become the national air of Bohemia. It was composed by Joseph Tyl (1808-1856), one of the best modern Bohemian dramatists, and by him introduced{137} into one of his plays. When Mr. Kohl visited Prague in 1841 the song, which he curiously enough believed to be of ancient origin, was already sung everywhere in the city. He translated some lines of the song, and though his translation by no means does justice to the beauty of the original, I will transcribe it here, as giving the traveller some idea of the contents of a song to which he will hear constant allusions—

‘Where is my house? where is my home?
Streams among the meadows creeping,
Brooks from rock to rock are leaping,
Everywhere bloom spring and flowers
Within this paradise of ours;
There, ’tis there, the beauteous land!
Bohemia, my fatherland!
Where is my house? where is my home?
Knowst thou the country loved of God,
Where noble souls in well-shaped forms reside,
Where the free glance crushes the foeman’s pride?
There wilt thou find of Cechs, the honoured race,
Among the Cechs be aye my dwelling-place.’

The patriots themselves do not at first appear to have felt certain of the victory of the cause. Thus we are told that when Jungmann received the visit of two other patriots in his modest lodgings in the street which now bears his name, he said, in a fit of depression, ‘It needs only that the ceiling of this room should fall in, and there would be an end of Bohemian literature.’ He was, of course, alluding to the small number of the ‘patriots.’

In 1848 disturbances broke out at Prague. A Slavic Congress, comprising representatives of all branches of that race, met there under the presidency of Palacky, the great Bohemian statesman and historian, whose name has already been mentioned. Its deliberations were soon interrupted by the turbulence{138} of the extreme nationalists. Stormy public meetings were held, and on June 12 Mass was read on the Václavské Námesti in the presence of a large crowd. Students returning from the service in the Celetná Ulice came into conflict with the soldiers, who fired on the people. Immediately numerous barricades were thrown up, and street-fighting continued up to the 17th, when the city surrendered unconditionally to Prince Windischgrätz, the Austrian commander. Absolutist and military government now again prevailed at Prague.

Since the year 1860 attempts were again made to establish representative institutions in Austria. The Bohemian diet again assembled, though no longer in the Hradcany Castle, but in a palace at the foot of that hill near the Malostranské Námesti.

In 1866, during the Austro-Prussian war, Prague was occupied by the Prussians without resistance on July 8. They remained there for some time, and here too (at the ‘Blue Star’ Hotel) the treaty that concluded the war was signed on August 23.

In the year 1871 it seemed probable that the Bohemians would obtain the restitution of their ancient constitution, of course modified to suit modern ideas, and Prague began to prepare for the coronation of the Sovereign. Unfortunately the negotiations between Count Hohenwart, then head of the Austrian Government, and the Bohemian leader, Prince George Lobkovic—whose great talents are far too little known beyond the Bohemian borders—failed at the last moment. Count Hohenwart’s cabinet was succeeded by ministers whose tendencies were German, and it is only since 1879 that concessions have been made to the Bohemians.

Since that time the Bohemian cause has made vast progress. The foundation of the Bohemian University,{139} and of a Bohemian academy, which was richly endowed by the patriotic architect Hlarka, have greatly contributed to restore to Prague its former Bohemian character.


 

THE OLDEST GREAT SEAL OF THE OLD TOWN
THE OLDEST GREAT SEAL OF THE OLD TOWN

{140}

CHAPTER IV

Palaces

PRAGUE, the winter residence of the wealthy and powerful Bohemian nobility, is a city of palaces, but it will here be sufficient to mention those only that have considerable historical or artistic interest.

As has already been mentioned, many of the palaces of Prague were built in the last years of the Thirty Years’ War, or in the immediately subsequent period. Such are the Nostic Palace in the Graben or Prikapy, the great Waldstein Palace, the palace of Count Clam-Gallas, which will be mentioned presently, the Cernin Palace on the Hradcany, now converted into barracks, and many others.

Of the palaces that are situated on the right bank of the Vltava, the most interesting is the Kinsky Palace, which was built in the eighteenth century according to the plans of the architect Luragho. It contains an extensive library, particularly rich in works concerning the French revolutionary period—of these there are 17,470—a valuable collection of engravings, and the archives of the family of the Princes Kinsky. The celebrated Bohemian poet, Celakovsky, for some time held the post of librarian here.

The only other palace on the right bank of the Vltava which I shall mention is that of the Count Clam-Gallas, a handsome building that also dates from the eighteenth century. It originally belonged to Count Gallas, a descendant of one of Wallenstein’s generals. By one of history’s little ironies the palace{141} was, in 1866, for a time the residence of the Prussian prince Charles, while the Count Clam-Gallas, to whom the palace then belonged, was one of the Austrian leaders in the disastrous campaign of that year.


 

GATE OF THE CLAM-GALLAS PALACE
GATE OF THE CLAM-GALLAS PALACE

Far more numerous are the palaces on the left bank of the Vltava in the Malá Strana and Hradcany districts, which constitutes what may be called the Faubourg St. Germain of Prague. In some of the short and narrow streets in this part of the town there were{142}—as in mediæval Italy—sometimes several palaces of one family from which the street took its name. We still meet with names such as the Thun Street and the Waldstein Street.

But of all these palaces the one that deserves fullest notice is the Royal castle on the Hradcany. According to the chronicler Cosmos, there was, in the eleventh century, already a castle (in Bohemian, ‘hrad’) on the spot where the present palace stands. This earliest building was soon destroyed, and that which succeeded it was burnt down in 1303.

When Charles IV. first arrived at Prague he found the Royal castle, as he himself noted, ‘deserted, ruined, almost levelled to the ground.’ He was indeed at first obliged to accept the hospitality of a citizen of the old town. Charles, who delighted in building, and particularly in adorning his favourite city, Prague, immediately decided to rebuild the castle. He is said to have resolved to imitate the Louvres Palace, as he had seen it in Paris. In consequence of the many civil wars, hardly any traces of Charles’s castle, of which the old writers have given a most striking description, can now be found. Charles strongly fortified his castle in the direction of the Malá Strana. The steep access to the Hradcany in that direction is a remnant of these fortifications. During the Hussite Wars the castle was used as a fortress, and it suffered greatly during those wars. The castle was greatly injured during the two sieges (1420 and 1421), when Sigismund’s troops were here besieged by the Praguers, but its fate was far worse after Sigismund’s troops had been forced to capitulate. The citizens rushed into the castle resolved to entirely demolish the stronghold of the hated King Sigismund. The town magistrates and the nobles, allied with the Praguers, succeeded indeed in averting the complete destruction of the{143} time-honoured castle, but it was greatly damaged. After the end of the Hussite War, Sigismund, during his short reign, undertook some repairs, but the castle remained uninhabited.

The Bohemian Kings, since the time of Wenceslas, resided in the old town on the right bank of the Vltava. This continued up to the reign of Vladislav II. That King, who resided in the buildings known as the Kraluv Dvur, near the powder tower, intimidated by the menaces of his turbulent neighbours, the citizens of the old town, resolved to transfer his residence to the left bank of the Vltava. He crossed the river in a boat at night-time, and sought refuge behind the strong walls of the dilapidated Hradcany, and began to build there a new Royal residence. Some of the oldest parts of the existent building date from his time. Large additions were made by Ferdinand I., Matthias and Rudolph.

Rudolph, like Charles IV., chose Prague as his permanent residence, and he is the last King of Bohemia who lived continuously in his capital. His artistic and scientific tastes, to which reference has already been made, caused him to feel a great desire for solitude. He generally lived in the north wing of the castle, where he established an observatory and vast laboratories for chemical research. On the other hand, he appears to have neglected the portion of the castle that had been built by Vladislav II. He even allowed the far-famed hall of Vladislav to be turned into a ‘bazaar where various tradesmen exhibited their wares and met to discuss their business.’ Sadeler’s engraving—reproduced in this volume—gives a good idea of the appearance of Vladislav’s hall at this period.

Rudolph accumulated in the Hradcany Castle vast collections, which have long since been dispersed. Though they were plundered by the Saxons in 1632,{144} and again by the Swedes in 1648, many works of art seem still to have remained, for a sale was held as late as in 1782, when Joseph II. intended to turn the Hradcany Castle into barracks.

Since Rudolph’s time the rulers of Bohemia have but rarely inhabited the Hradcany for any considerable time, though Maria Theresa caused it to be largely rebuilt after the buildings had suffered very much from the Prussian bombardment. Her son Joseph II., as already mentioned, proposed turning the vast agglomeration of buildings on the Hradcany hill into barracks, but the plan was never carried out. From his abdication in 1848 to the year of his death, the Emperor Ferdinand inhabited the Hradcany Palace, and the gifted Crown Prince Rudolph resided here for some time. More recently the reigning Emperor has, in 1891 and 1901, received the nobility of Bohemia in the Hradcany Castle.

The vast and imposing Hradcany Palace has the greatest historical interest, and well deserves the attention of the visitor. We enter the first of the three courtyards from the Hradcany Square, famous as the site of the executions that preceded the meeting of the ‘bloody diet.’ The first courtyard is divided by a railing from the square, and is entered by a gateway embellished by four colossal mythological statues by Platzer. The buildings surrounding this first court are modernised dwelling-rooms, sometimes inhabited by members of the Imperial family. Passing through a portal, built by King Matthias in 1614, we enter the second court. It is considerably larger than the first one. Immediately opposite the portal is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which dates from the seventeenth century, but has been frequently altered. It was thoroughly restored and modernised (1852-1858) during the time that the late Emperor Ferdinand resided in the castle. In the north wing of this court{145}


 

THE HALL OF VLADISLAV IN THE HRADCANY CASTLE
THE HALL OF VLADISLAV IN THE HRADCANY CASTLE

{146}

{147}

are the so-called German and Spanish halls. They were built during the reign of the Emperor Ferdinand I. The former for a time contained the famed collections of Rudolph; the latter has, since the time of the Empress Maria Theresa, occasionally been used for court functions. Balls were given here during the stay of the Crown Prince Rudolph, and the reigning Emperor has several times here received the representatives of Bohemia.

We now enter the third court, where we see, to our left, St. Vitus’s Cathedral, while to the right is the most interesting part of the palace—that which dates from the time of King Vladislav. It was built between 1484 and 1502 by the celebrated architect Benes, of Loun, in what is known in Bohemia as the Vladislav style, a transition between Gothic and the style of the Renaissance. Benes was, with Matthew Reysek, the originator of this style of architecture, to which many of the most interesting buildings in Prague belong. Here is the ‘hall of Vladislav,’ where the Bohemian nobles did homage to their Sovereign after his coronation, and where the coronation banquet was held. When finished—in 1502—the hall of Vladislav excited general admiration. A contemporary chronicler writes that ‘there was no building like it in all Europe, none that was longer, higher and broader, and yet had no pillars.’

Historically very interesting is the chamber where the Bohemian Estates met up to 1848. It clearly indicates their relative position. While the nobles and the clergy (who only after the Battle of the White Mountain became one of the Estates) occupied benches to the left and right of the throne, the few town representatives were placed on an isolated platform surrounded by a wooden railing. In this part of the Hradcany, also, is the old council chamber, the scene of the famous defenestration of 1618.{148}

Of the other palaces in this part of Prague, the Waldstein Palace—in the square of that name—first deserves notice. The building dates from the time of the great Wallenstein, who began its construction shortly after the Battle of the White Mountain. To make room for the foundations of the vast edifice 23[42] houses were demolished. The building was finished in 1630, and, after the death of the Duke of Friedland, it was given by the Emperor to his chamberlain, Maximilian of Waldstein. It has ever since continued in the possession of that branch of the Waldstein family. It has a very fine Renaissance hall, a chapel with paintings attributed to divers Italian painters, and extensive gardens that are the finest at Prague.

In the Thun Street is the palace of Count Oswald Thun, which contains some good pictures and some very fine porcelain. In the steep Ostruhova Ulice are the palaces of Count Francis Thun, the Morzin Palace, which has a very fine façade, and many others. On the Hradcany Place, opposite the Royal residence, is the vast Schwarzenberg—formerly Rosenberg—Palace. The Fürstenberg and Lobkovic Palaces also deserve mention.


 

THE MOST ANCIENT SHIELD OF THE OLD TOWN
THE MOST ANCIENT SHIELD
OF THE OLD TOWN

{149}

CHAPTER V

Churches and Monasteries

THE churches of Prague are, and always have been, very numerous. We read that at the funeral of King Ottokar, in 1278, the bells of nearly a hundred churches pealed. The oldest ecclesiastical buildings in Prague were small round chapels of a Romanesque character, three of which are still in existence, though they were formerly far more numerous. Many churches were destroyed during the Hussite Wars, and many were restored, in deplorably bad taste, during the Catholic re-action that followed the Battle of the White Mountain. I shall in this chapter refer only to the most important churches and monasteries, though I may allude to a few others when writing of walks in and near Prague.

The Cathedral Church of St. Vitus, near the Royal castle of the Hradcany, deserves first mention. It has already been noted that the gift of a relic of St. Vitus induced Prince Wenceslas to erect a church in honour of that saint. This small church, built in the Romanesque style,[43] was not finished when Wenceslas was cruelly murdered by his treacherous younger brother Boleslav. When Wenceslas’s body was transported here the church became known as the Church of St. Vitus and St. Wenceslas, and after the second{150} Bishop of Prague, the martyred Adalbert, had been also buried here, it was for a time known as ‘the Church of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert.’[44]


 

VIEW OF STRAHOV
VIEW OF STRAHOV

This first church, which was probably of very modest dimensions, soon became too small for the pious visitors who wished to venerate there the relics of Wenceslas and the martyred Bishop of Prague. The church which, to use the words of Monsignore Lehner, had become ‘the metropolitan church of the whole Bohemian empire’—then extending further than at almost any other period—remained insufficient even when a smaller church or chapel adjoining it had been erected. Prince Spytihnev II., therefore, resolved to build a larger church on the Hradcany Hill, and, space being very restricted, he demolished the old building of Wenceslas to make room for the new church, which, like the previous one, was in the{151} Romanesque style. The new church was destroyed during the frequent civic tumults of Prague. Shortly after the foundation of the Archbishopric of Prague and during the reign of King John, it was decided to build a new cathedral on the Hradcany Hill. Charles, through whose influence the impecunious King John had given his consent to the building, took the greatest interest in it, both during the lifetime of his father and after he had succeeded him as King. As architect he chose Matthew of Arras, whom he had met during one of his visits to Avignon. After some years, the building was continued by Peter Parler and his son John. The records of the cathedral tell us that in 1418 Master Peter, generally known as Petrlik, was architect. The great buildings erected in the Gothic style, which by this time was generally adopted in Bohemia, progressed very slowly. The Hussite troubles caused a complete interruption of the work. During the reign of Vladislav II. attempts were made to continue the building, and it is probably rightly conjectured that the King entrusted this task also to his favourite architect, Benes of Loun. The Thirty Years’ War again stopped all endeavours to finish the building of the cathedral, and in the following century the bombardment by Frederick the Great greatly damaged the cathedral.

Within recent years patriotic efforts have been made to finish at last this building, of which every Bohemian, independently of his religious views and his political opinions, is necessarily proud. A society was formed for this purpose in 1859, and the restoration and rebuilding has, it must be admitted, very slowly proceeded ever since that date. The work was at first entrusted to the architect, Joseph Mocker, who had very successfully restored the bridge towers and the powder-tower at Prague. Since his death (in 1899) the work has{152} been entrusted to Mr. Charles Hilbert. I shall now briefly refer to the cathedral as it now is, and I may mention, as it is impossible to give here a full account of the treasures which it contains, that an excellent guide book, published in German as well as in the language of the country, can be obtained in the church.

Entering the church, we first see at our left the famous Wenceslas chapel, the most magnificent of all. We enter it through bronze gates, on which is a brass ring, to which the saint is said to have clung when murderously attacked by his brother. The walls of the chapel are inlaid with Bohemian precious stones; above are curious frescoes of the time of Charles IV. The chapel also contains a candelabrum with a statue of the saint, said to be the work of Peter Fischer; a painting of the school of Lucas Cranach, representing the murder of Wenceslas; and the armour and helmet of the saint. From this chapel a secret passage leads to the room where the Bohemian crown jewels are preserved. We next come to the Martinic chapel, that of St. Simon and Juda, and then that of the Waldstein family; opposite the last-named chapel is a wood-carving representing the devastation of the church by Frederick of the Palatinate, which has already been mentioned in these pages.

Between the Waldstein and the Vlasim chapels is the Royal oratory or pew, which is connected by a covered passage with the Hradcany Castle. The oratory was built during the reign of Vladislav II. by Benes of Loun.

Opposite the Vlasim chapel—built by Ocko of Vlasim, Archbishop of Prague, who died in 1380—is the shrine of St. John Nepomuk, which greatly attracts the attention of the visitors to the cathedral, though it has more barbaric splendour than artistic value. In{153}


 

ST. VITUS FROM THE ‘STAG’S DITCH’
ST. VITUS FROM THE ‘STAG’S DITCH’

{154}

{155}

the nave of the church is the monument to the Bohemian kings, erected under Rudolph’s reign by Colin of Malines.

Charles IV. and his four wives, Ladislas, Posthumus, George of Podebrad, Ferdinand I., Maximilian, as well as Rudolph himself, are buried here.

Next to St. Vitus in importance is the Tyn Church in the market-place of the old town. It has great historical interest as having been the stronghold of the Hussite movement during its whole duration, as has been already mentioned. Waldhauser and Milic, the precursors of Hus, preached here, and here, also, Archbishop Rokycan delivered his fiery sermons.

Of the many later preachers at this church, Gallus Cahera deserves notice. A personal friend of Luther, he strove to transform the ancient Utraquism of Bohemia into the Lutheranism that was then just beginning to dawn on the world.

George of Podebrad proceeded to this church with the Bohemian nobles immediately after they had elected him as their King, and was joyfully received by Rokycan and the Utraquist clergy.

The Tyn Church was of very modest origin. It was originally a chapel attached to the building known as the ‘Tyn,’ which German merchants who traded with Bohemia erected to exhibit their wares.

The present building, begun in the fourteenth century, was finished in the fifteenth, during the reign of King George. It has suffered less from barbarous ‘restorers’ than most of the Prague churches. The fine façade built by Podebrad remains, but the statue of that King, which represented him as pointing upward with his sword to a chalice, of which he was so valiant a defender, was removed by the Jesuits in 1623 as being an ‘Utraquist emblem.’ They, at the same time, caused the two great bells of the Tyn Church that{156} had been known as ‘Hus’ and ‘Hieronymus’ to be removed and recast; but when they had been refounded and the Jesuits had again placed them in their former position, it was found, to the great delight of those who still secretly sympathised with the ancient faith, that the sound was unaltered.[45]

The interior of the church contains some paintings by Skreta, a handsome—though renovated—pulpit from which Rokycan is said to have preached, and the tomb of Tycho Brahe.

One of the finest churches in Prague is that of St. Nicholas, on the Malostranské Námesti, built in the seventeenth century in the style of the Italian Renaissance.

Of the many monasteries of Prague, I shall first mention the premonstratension Monastery of Mount Sion or Strahov. It is situated at the extremity of the Malá Strana, and the name of Strahov is derived from the Bohemian word ‘straz,’ guard, as a guard was formerly established here to secure the safety of travellers arriving at Prague by the Strahov gate.

The monastery was founded in 1142 by Bishop Zdik of Olmütz, during the reign of King Vladislav I. The first building was of very modest dimensions, and both the monastery and the church that belongs to it were rebuilt several times before the present structure was erected by Italian architects at the end of the seventeenth century. Considerable changes have also recently been made in the monastery. The church belonging to the monastery contains the tomb of Pappenheim, the great general of the Thirty Years’ War, and other monuments. A very handsome railing divides the choir from the rest of the church.

In the small picture gallery is the much-repainted{157}


 

THE TYN CHURCH

THE TYN CHURCH

{158}

{159}

Madonna by Albrecht Dürer, that once belonged to Rudolph, and a good Tiepolo. But the most interesting part of the building is the library.

It occupies several halls, in one of which are the very handsome bookshelves that were brought here from the suppressed Monastery of Klosterbruck. In one hall we see over the doors small shelves with wire grating, in which the books condemned by the Index, but which the monks read by special permission, were formerly contained. The library is very rich in Oriental MSS., incunables and early printed Bibles; among these is the priceless Utraquist Bohemian Bible, printed at Venice, the first edition of the celebrated Bible of Kralice, and a rare copy of the Biblia Pollyglotta Briani Waltoni in Latin, Hebrew, Samaritan, Greek, Chaldæan, Syrian, Arabic, Æthiopian and Persian. Though printed in London in 1657, it is dedicated to King Charles II. The view from the gardens of the Strahov Monastery is one of the finest in Prague.

On the left bank of the river also is the Capuchin Monastery on the Loretto Place and the church dedicated to St. Mary, which adjoins it. The buildings occupy the spot where the town residences of several Protestant nobles stood who were exiled after the Battle of the White Mountain. Princess Catherine of Lobkovic purchased the ground in 1625 and built here a chapel in imitation of the Santo Casa, and a treasury[46] which is the most valuable in Bohemia, and is far more interesting than the better known treasury of St. Vitus’s Cathedral. It consists mainly of donations of the seventeenth century, and most of the contents are in the rococo style.

‘The treasury was first founded by Catherine of Lobkovic, and was enriched by gifts of members of{160} almost all the great Bohemian families. A crucifix, the gift of Cardinal Harrach, and a monstrance—said to contain 6580 diamonds—a foundation of Countess Kolovrat, are amongst the most interesting objects. The treasury contains also a very fine picture of the Madonna and Child, attributed in the catalogue to Albrecht Dürer, and said to have formed part of Rudolph collection.[47] It is more probably a work of Adrian of Utrecht.’

The monastery was founded somewhat later, and the Church of St. Mary was built in 1661, and greatly enlarged by Countess Margaret of Waldstein in 1718.

On the right bank of the Vltava in the Vysehrad Street is the Emaus Monastery and Church of the Benedictines. It was founded in 1347 by Charles IV. to take the place of the ancient Slavic monastery of St. Prokop on the Sazava,[48] where the Greek or Slavic ritual, which in Bohemia is more ancient than that of Rome, had been used. Charles had obtained the consent of Pope Clement VI. for his new foundation principally by stating that there were in Bohemia many dissidents and unbelieving men who, when the Gospel was expounded and preached to them in Latin, did not heed it, but who might be guided to the Christian faith by men of their own race. This foundation, as Palacky tells us, was, next to the University, the one that interested King Charles most. On his summons many Slavic monks from Croatia, Dalmatia and Bosnia assembled in the new monastery. Charles obtained for them the right of using the Slavonic language for their ecclesiastical functions, and employing the Cyrillic alphabet. The monastery possessed a valuable collection of MSS.{161}


 

THE LIBRARY, STRAHOV
THE LIBRARY, STRAHOV

{162}

{163}

that has been long dispersed. Its greatest treasure was an ancient Slavic MS. containing the evangel, which had once belonged to St. Prokop, the first abbot of the Sazava Monastery, and was traditionally reported to have been written by him. This valuable MS. was brought to France and—by one of history’s little ironies—became the texte du sacre used at the coronations of the Kings of France.[49]

During the Hussite Wars the church and monastery were in the hands of the Utraquists, but it was restored to the Roman Catholics towards the end of the sixteenth century. We read that in 1592 riots near this church occurred, because the abbot had allowed his labourers to work on the 6th of July, which was then still a day sacred to the memory of John Hus.

The monastery still shows some traces of its antiquity. It contains two pictures that date from the time of Charles, and a Royal chapel, divided by a railing from the rest of the church. Over the entrance of the chapel is a portrait of Ferdinand III., who presented the monastery to the Benedictines of Mont Serrat. In the cloisters are some frescoes that also date from the time of Charles IV. Emaus was purchased in 1880 by German Benedictines, who have restored it with much care and good taste.


 

MOST ANCIENT ARMS OF THE MALÁ STRANA
MOST ANCIENT ARMS OF
THE MALÁ STRANA

{164}

CHAPTER VI

The Bohemian Museum

THE Bohemian Museum (Museum Kralovstvi Ceskéhö) has a great and twofold interest, both as containing most valuable relics of the past of Bohemia and as constituting the most important monument of the ‘Resurrection’ of Bohemia in the nineteenth century. I have already briefly referred to that movement, of which the Bohemian Museum is, with the National Theatre, the most prominent architectural expression. The society of the Bohemian Museum was founded on April 15, 1818, mainly through the exertions of Counts Kolowrat, Sternberg and Klebelsberg. Almost the whole Bohemian nobility favoured the new enterprise, and among its earliest patrons were members of the Auersberg, Kinsky, Schwarzenberg, Thun, Trautmannsdorf, Waldstein, Wratislaw families. I shall not, I hope, be accused of undue pride if I mention that I find the names of Counts Rudolph and Jerome Lützow in one of the earliest lists of members. It is of more general interest to note that the list of members for the year 1824 contains as ‘Ehrermietglied’ the name of ‘Von Göthe, Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenachser, Staatsminister and Geheimer Rath.’ This fact is noteworthy as proving how entirely the great mind of Göthe was exempt from the narrow-minded racial prejudice, which generally renders the Germans hostile to the development of the Bohemian people.{165}

The collections of the museum were first housed in a modest building on the Hradcany, and then transferred to a larger building in the Prikopy or Graben. This also became insufficient, and the Bohemian Diet resolved in 1884 to erect the present building at the upper end of the Václavske Námesti—on the spot where the horse gate (Konska brána) of the new town stood. It was completed in 1891, and the museum was opened by the Archduke Charles Louis on the 18th of May of that year. The exterior of the building is decorated with statues. Entering the building, we first reach the fine vestibule, which is decorated with great splendour. The ground floor, besides this large hall, contains (at the left angle) the archives, the rich library—the use of which is liberally granted to foreign visitors—the valuable print-room, and several halls used by patriotic associations. Ascending the fine marble staircase, we first reach the so-called ‘Pantheon,’ a large, handsome hall in which the meetings of the society of the museum and of the Bohemian Academy are held.

Walking through the rooms according to their numbering, we find in Hall I. a very interesting collection of MSS. and early printed works from the library and archives that are exhibited here. Here are the MSS. of many ancient Bohemian books that have been recently reprinted, among them the famed MS. of Kralové Dvur, the genuineness of which has raised so great a controversy in Bohemia. It has been placed next to an undoubtedly genuine early Bohemian MS., and to those that are not experts in palæography the two appear absolutely identical. The collection of early printed works is also very interesting; among them is the first book printed in Bohemian, the Kronyka Trojanská, printed at Plzen in 1468. On the walls hang ancient engravings, mostly by Sadeler,{166} representing views of Prague in the seventeenth century; two of these are reproduced in this volume. It would be interesting to deal more fully with this hall that contains an epitome of the history and literature of Bohemia, but want of space renders this impossible. I may add that an excellent catalogue is sold in the museum. Hall II. contains a valuable collection of coins, medals and seals. The collection of Bohemian coins is complete. After Hall III., used for offices, we arrive at Halls IV., V. and VI., which contain prehistoric remains discovered in various parts of Bohemia. Hall VII. requires little notice, but Hall VIII. is one of the most interesting. It contains a noteworthy collection of arms and armoury. Here are several specimens of the famed “cep” or battle-club of the Hussites, very curious painted Hussite shields, some of which bear the arms of Prague, the sword with which the Bohemian leaders were decapitated on the memorable 21st of June 1621, and the sword of Gustavus Adolphus. Here, too, the tablets commemorating the Compacts are preserved. The other halls on this and on the second floor contain most valuable mineralogical, zoological and botanical collections, which, being almost entirely confined to Bohemia, are most instructive to those who wish to study these features of the country. On the second floor there is also a very curious collection of figures representing the—now partly extinct—national costumes of the various parts of Bohemia.{167}

CHAPTER VII

Walks in Prague

ALMOST all the best hotels of Prague are situated near the State Railway Station, in the Hybernská Ulice and the adjoining angle of the Graben. This will therefore be the usual starting-place for those who have sufficient time to walk leisurely through the streets of Prague. As the former divisions of the town have great historical importance, I shall refer separately—firstly to the old town, then to the new town and Vysehrad, lastly to the Malá Strana and Hradcany. For the last-named walk the traveller will start from the bridge. Immediately opposite the Hybernská Ulice is the powder tower. The original building on this spot, as already mentioned, formed part of the ancient fortifications of the old town, which King Wenceslas I. erected in the thirteenth century. The present building was built in 1475 by King Vladislav II. It is in what is known in Bohemia as the Vladislav style, and is the work of Matthew Reysek, one of the originators of that style of architecture. The building was used as a powder magazine during the reign of Leopold I., and then acquired the designation that it still bears. The powder tower was skilfully restored in 1883 by the talented architect Joseph Mocker.

Walking down the Celetná Ulice we pass on our right the spot where a Royal residence, known as the King’s Court, Kraluv Dvur, which was inhabited by several Bohemian Kings, once stood. We soon reach the market-place of the old town. Both the Celetná{168} Ulice and the market-place contain many ancient houses—the family residences of citizens of the old town—that well deserve notice. The recent demolitions have not as yet much changed the character of the market-place, while the Celetná Ulice is happily, as yet, untouched. The market-place, the forum of Prague, plays a great part in the story of the town. During the days of independence the burghers assembled here, and the meetings were often very stormy, particularly when the citizens were displeased with the decisions of the town council that met at the radnice. It was on the market-place too that the memorable executions on June 21, 1621, took place. In the centre of the market-place a statue of the Madonna, erected by Ferdinand III., commemorates the successful repulse of the Swedish attack on Prague in 1648.

The Tyn Church and the Kinsky Palace, which have already been mentioned, are also situated in the market-place. But we must now visit the town hall (radnice) that has so often been referred to in these pages. The very curious ancient clock will attract the attention of the visitor. It was constructed in 1490 by Magister Hanus. Besides the hours, it indicates the time of the rising and setting of the moon and sun. Above the clock is a small window, at which figures, representing Christ and the Apostles, appear whenever the clock strikes a new hour. There are almost always spectators in the market-place opposite the clock-tower, who await the appearance of these figures. The town hall has been built and rebuilt at various periods. It is certain that a building in which the councillors of the old town met was erected on the ground where the present town hall stands in 1338, but the building has been frequently enlarged by the purchase of adjoining houses. The oldest existent portions of the building{169}


 

THE POWDER TOWER
THE POWDER TOWER

{170}

{171}

DOOR OF OLD SYNAGOGUE
DOOR OF OLD SYNAGOGUE

are the tower and the Chapel of St. Lawrence, which date from the year 1381. To the left of the tower is the main entrance to the town hall, and on the first floor we enter the ancient council chamber, which adjoins the Chapel of St. Lawrence. It was built during the reign of Vladislav II., and contains a ceiling with very fine carvings. The walls are adorned with carvings that represent the armorial bearings of the Prague guilds. One of the halls that the traveller should also visit is that of the primator or burgomaster. It contains portraits of all the burgomasters of the old town—afterwards of the whole community of Prague—since the sixteenth century. Recently a modern large council chamber has been erected. It contains two paintings by Brozik representing Hus before the Council of Constance, and the election of George of Podebrad as King, an event which took place within this building. The town hall has, however, been so much changed since that period that it is not exactly known in what part of the building this momentous event occurred. Of historical interest are the{172} dungeons of the town hall, which have remained exactly as they were when the Bohemian patriots were confined here in 1621 on the eve of their decapitation. Immediately behind the town hall is the Renaissance Church of St. Nicholas,[50] which, by permission of the city, is now used for the services of the Russian community.

Turning to the right we reach the Joseph Street, which marks the boundary of the Jewish town, now called Joseph’s town, the ancient ghetto of Prague, that still preserves its mediæval character. Entering the Rabbi Street, we see at our left the Jewish town hall, perhaps one of the most picturesque buildings in Prague. Immediately opposite is the far-famed old synagogue, built in the early Gothic style about the beginning of the thirteenth century. Over the vaulting is a large flag given to the Jews by the Emperor Ferdinand III. for their bravery during the siege of 1648. It was ‘the highest honour that could then be conferred on a Jew,’ as the guide rather pathetically states. Adjoining the synagogue is the Jewish cemetery, one of the best-known spots in Prague. It is very extensive, and contains countless monuments, on many of which we see the emblems of the tribes of Israel, and the quaint devices—such as a hare, stag or fish—which with the Jews did duty as armes parlantes. The somewhat gloomy outlook is enlivened in spring by the gleam of the numerous elder trees that have been planted here.

Immediately outside the precincts of the Jewish town, on the banks of the Vltava, stands the Rudolphinum, a modern institution named after the late Crown Prince. It contains a concert room and a small picture gallery, which is worthy of notice as containing{173} paintings by little-known Bohemian artists. Perhaps one of the most interesting pictures is a holy family by Master Detrich of Prague, a votive offering of Archbishop Ocko of Vlasim, who is represented as kneeling before his patron saint. In one of the rooms is an interesting collection of engravings by Wenceslas Hollar, a native of Prague, who principally worked in England. Turning to the left, and following the course of the Vltava, we reach the famed Charles Bridge (Karluv Most). At the eastern end is the monument of King Charles, erected in 1848 in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the University by that Sovereign. Quite close to the bridge—which I shall mention later—is the vast agglomeration of buildings known as the Clementinum, a Jesuit college founded in 1556 by Ferdinand I. The building was constantly enlarged up to 1715, and became one of the most important centres of the Jesuit order. The former Utraquist University of the Carolinum was in 1654 joined to the Jesuit college. The building is still used for the lectures of the philosophic faculty of the University, the valuable library of which is also housed here. It contains over 170,000 printed works, and many interesting MSS. of the period of the Hussite War. Of special interest is the ‘Malostransky Kancional’ (liturgy), dating from 1572. It contains on the page dealing with the martyrdom of Hus (July 6) three miniatures, in which we see superposed Wycliffe striking the fire, Hus lighting the coals, and Luther holding the already flaming torch. The Clementinum also contains two churches, an observatory, the archbishop’s printing office, and a seminary.

In one of the courtyards we see a statue (by J. Max) representing a student. It was erected in 1848 in commemoration of the second centenary of the siege of Prague. The students, then all Catholics, greatly{174} distinguished themselves in the defence of the bridge against the Swedes.

Continuing to follow the Vltava, we soon reach the equestrian statue of the Emperor Francis I., which stands in the middle of a small garden. Near here, in the Karolina Svetla Street, is the interesting Romanesque Chapel of the Holy Cross, one of the three earliest ecclesiastical edifices of Prague. It is one of the three Romanesque chapels which still exist at Prague. Its date can only be conjectured, as though it is first mentioned in the fourteenth century as a parish church, it is undoubtedly of much greater antiquity. In the seventeenth century it ceased to be an ecclesiastical building, and might have continued unknown if the ‘Umelecká Beseda’ (artistic society) had not acquired the building and (1863-1865) caused it to be very skilfully restored. It was re-consecrated by Archbishop Prince Schwarzenberg in 1879.

Continuing from the Karolina Svetla Street to the Bethlehem Street we soon reach the square of the same name. It is on this spot, for ever connected with the memory of Hus, that it is proposed to erect a monument to the great Church-reformer. Here once stood the Bethlehem Chapel, the cradle of Church reform, and the modest dwelling of Hus. A tablet on the door still reminds the traveller of the spot. On the Bethlehem Square also is the very ancient house known as ‘U Halanku,’ a fine specimen of the ancient civic architecture of Prague. It belonged for a considerable time to the family of Krocin Z Drahobejlu, whose arms can still be seen in the courtyard. Wenceslas Krocin was for some time ‘primator’ (i.e., burgomaster) of the old town of Prague. This house now contains an Industrial Museum, with reading-rooms erected by the late Mr. Naprstek. Mr. Naprstek resided for a considerable time in America,{175}


 

JEWISH TOWN HALL AND OLD SYNAGOGUE
JEWISH TOWN HALL AND OLD SYNAGOGUE

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and his library—access to which is liberally granted to visitors—is very rich in English books. Mrs. Naprstek still resides here, and is well-known for her charity, patriotism and kindness to foreign visitors to Prague. Returning to the quay, on the border of the river, we soon reach the Ferdinand Street, and see at its left angle the Bohemian National Theatre, an important memorial of the national revival. The building was begun in 1868 and completed in 1881. Almost immediately afterwards it was greatly injured by a fire that broke out, and it was only in 1883 that it was opened amidst great rejoicings of the Bohemian people. Travellers in Prague are strongly recommended to pay a visit, even if but a short one, to this fine building, particularly should a translation of an English play be given. I have seen the School for Scandal admirably given in Bohemian at the National Theatre. Immediately opposite is the new Francis Bridge, opened by the Emperor in the present year (1901). It connects one of the islands of the Vltava, and its left bank with the old and new towns. Near here too is the ‘Sophia’s Island.’ It contains a park and restaurant where concerts are frequently given. It is historically interesting as having been the meeting-place of the Slavic Congress of 1848 that ended so disastrously.

The Ferdinand Street with its continuations, the Ovocná Ulice (Fruit Street), and the Prikopy or Graben constitute the main thoroughfare of the modern town of Prague. At the angle of the Ferdinand Street and the Ovocná Ulice—in the Jungmann Square—stands the monument of Joseph Jungmann, one of the great leaders of the national movement, who lived in the Jungmann Street close by. Continuing on the left side of the Prikopy, we reach the Havirska Ulice (Miners Street). Turning to the left here, and{178} passing the German Theatre, we arrive in a few minutes at the Carolinum, which bears the name of Charles IV., the founder of the University of Prague. Though the building has been modernised, and only the Chapel of SS. Cosmas and Damianus and the Gothic projection retain the ancient character, it is one of the most historically interesting buildings at Prague, as—next to Bethlehem Chapel—it is the one most intimately connected with the career of Hus. It was here that he and his friends defended the teaching of Wycliffe (July 1410), and here, too, that the great disputatio took place (June 1412), in which he eloquently denounced the abuse of indulgences. In later days, too, the Carolinum was a stronghold of Utraquism. Many of the stormy meetings of the Bohemian nobles that preceded the defenestration of 1618 were held here. The place, indeed, became so noted as a meeting-place of heretics, that after the Battle of the White Mountain some Catholic generals suggested that it should be destroyed. The Carolinum now contains the lecture rooms of the juridical and medical faculties of both the Bohemian and the German Universities of Prague. From the Carolinum we can either take the Zelezna Ulice (Iron Street), which leads us back to the town hall, or through the Ovocni Trh (fruit market), reach the Celetná Ulice, or return to the Graben, at the end of which we reach the powder tower.

The new town and the Vysehrad are not equal in interest to the old town and its sub-division, the Jewish quarter, yet here, too, there are more objects of interest than limited space will allow me to mention. Starting again from the powder tower, we arrive, through the Josefské Námesti, at the angle of the Poric Street, the site of one of the oldest settlements of Prague. Walking through this street to its{179} end we find—opposite the North-Western Railway Station—the new civic museum that is far too little known to visitors. This building is quite a modern creation, and in its present state has only been opened to the public since 1898.

The first hall on the ground floor contains prehistoric remains, numerous objects in glass and majolica that belonged to old Prague. The second hall contains works in metal; particularly interesting are the Gothic doors of a house in the Václavské Námesti, with the arms of the old and the new towns. The third hall, devoted to ecclesiastical art, contains many objects of great interest from various churches; a Gothic predella, and a Gothic altar from the Castle Rabi deserve particular notice. In this hall also are many valuable memorials of Hus; in all these portraits, as, indeed, in all very ancient ones, he is represented as beardless. Hall four contains many memorials of old Prague. On the second floor we find in halls five and six a large collection of engravings that are of immense value to the student of history. Besides a large number of views of Prague at different periods, there is a valuable collection referring to the Thirty Years’ War. We see representations of the defenestration, the entry of Frederick of the Palatinate into Prague, the Battle of the White Mountain, and the executions on the market-place, as well as an almost complete collection of the portraits of the generals and statesmen of the Thirty Years’ War.

Also on the second floor is the armoury, which well deserves the attention of the visitor. In hall nine on this floor are flags, shields and coats of arms that belonged to the ancient guilds of Prague. An underground part of the museum contains the mucirna or torture-chamber, which gives a vivid impression of the ways of mediæval justice. The Gothic vaulting of{180} this chamber is mediæval, and was transported here from a house on the market-place of the old town.

We are here at the extreme limit of the new town. Eastward lie the modern suburbs Karlin (or Karolmenthal) and Zizkov. The former contains a fine Romanesque cathedral, built between 1854 and 1863, which is dedicated to St. Cyrillus and St. Methodius, the apostles of the Slavs. Zizkov, which stands on the spot where Zizka won his famous victory, was entirely built in the nineteenth century. It has increased very rapidly, and with its population of 50,000 inhabitants is now, next to Prague, the most populous town in Bohemia.

Returning to the Poric, and then turning to the left, the traveller passes the State Railway Station, and after crossing the Hybernská Ulice and pursuing his way through the Senovazná Ulice (Hay-Balance Street), finds himself at the Church of St. Henry, at the corner of the street of that name, and of the Jerusalemská Ulice.

A parish church has existed here since very early times, but a new building in the Gothic style was erected here in 1348 by Charles IV. Since that day the church has again been rebuilt several times, so that it does not retain much of its ancient character. It contains pictures by Skreta, the Bohemian painter, and others. Close to the church is the Gothic campanile, which dates from the beginning of the reign of Vladislav II.

Following the Jerusalemská Ulice, we reach the extensive town park, which is built on the site of the old fortifications of the Nové Mesto, and divides it from the suburb of Vinohrady (vineyards). At its eastern extremity is the Bohemian Museum that has already been mentioned. From here the wide Václavské Námesti leads to the Graben. Turning{181} from the Václavské Námesti to the left by the Stephens Street we reach the church of that name, which was built by Charles IV., but has, like so many others at Prague, been greatly altered by restoration. It contains, however, some works of very ancient Bohemian painters that are very worthy of notice. Close to St. Stephen’s Church is the very ancient Romanesque Chapel of St. Longinus. Similar to the Chapel of the Holy Cross and that of St. Martin on the Vysehrad—which will be mentioned presently—it is, as Monsignor Lehner writes, ‘smaller and plainer and, therefore, probably even more ancient than the sister chapels.’

Retracing our steps as far as the angle of the Zitná Ulice, and proceeding down that street, we soon reach the extensive Karlovo Námesti, which has been laid out as a park, in which a monument to the Bohemian poet Halek has been erected. Opposite this monument, at the north-eastern extremity of this square, is a building, now the site of the law courts, which was once the town hall of the Nové Mesto. From the windows of this building the town councillors were thrown in 1419, an event to which reference has been already made.

This town hall, built under Charles IV., and a subsequent building in the Renaissance style that was afterwards erected here have long disappeared. The last-named building was demolished in 1806 by order of the Emperor Francis I., and the present uninteresting structure was erected. Of the old building a tower, formerly, probably, a campanile similar to that of the town hall of the old town, remains. It contains a chapel dedicated to St. Wenceslas, which is still in the same condition as it was in the fifteenth century.

From the Karlovo Námesti, following the Vysehrad{182}

CHAPEL OF ST. MARTIN
CHAPEL OF ST. MARTIN

Street, and passing near the Emaus Monastery, that has already been mentioned, we arrive at the Vysehrad. The Vysehrad, formerly an independent community, but now one of the districts of Prague, has at the present day little interest for the mere sightseer. But its mythical and historical associations render it very precious to those who have some knowledge of Bohemia’s past. The traditions connected with the spot have been the subject of many Bohemian poems. Recently Zeyer published his Vysehrad, which will interest those who wish to penetrate somewhat deeper into the past of Prague.[51] Of the old semi-mythical residence of Libussa no trace remains, and the mediæval citadel that played so important a part in the Hussite Wars has also disappeared. The existent fortifications are of modern date. Of the many former churches on the Vysehrad two only now require notice. One is the Romanesque Chapel of St. Martin,{183} said to have been founded by St. Adalbert on the site of a Pagan temple. It is one of the three round chapels that are the oldest religious edifices in Prague. It is, as Monsignor Lehner writes, ‘the only remaining relic of the splendour of the Vysehrad during the period of Romanesque architecture.’

Another interesting church is that of St. Peter and St. Paul, built originally as a Romanesque basilica, but altered considerably after the Hussite Wars. An interesting legend connected with the church is, or rather was, related to the visitors of St. Peter’s Church. Mr. Kohl, who visited Prague in 1841, writes:[52] ‘A memorable tale was told me by my conductress. “Once upon a time a poor man went into the forest. There he met a smart, jovial-looking huntsman, at least so he supposed, but in truth it was no huntsman, but the devil in disguise. Now the huntsman spoke to the sorrowful man and said, ‘Art poor, old boy?’ ‘Ay, miserably poor, sir, and full of care,’ replied the other. ‘How many children hast thou?’ ‘Six, noble sir,’ answered the poor man. ‘Give me for ever that child of thine that thou hast never seen and I’ll give thee thy fill of money.’ ‘Willingly, sir,’ was the silly father’s reply. ‘Then come, and we’ll sign and seal the bargain.’ The old man did so, and received countless heaps of money. When he got home, however, to his own house, to his surprise he found that he had seven children, for his wife had in the meantime brought the seventh into the world. Thereupon the father began to feel very uncomfortable, and to suspect that the devil had talked him out of his child. In his anxiety he called his new-born son Peter, and dedicated him to the Apostle, praying St. Peter to take the boy under his protection{184} and shield him against the devil’s arts. Peter, who appeared to the old man in a dream, promised to do what he was asked provided the boy was brought up to the Church; so, of course, the lad was given to God’s service, that he might be a priest when he grew up. Peter turned out a good, pious and learned young man. When he was twenty-four years old and had been installed as a priest at the Church of the Vysehrad, the devil came one day to put in his claim to his reverence, but the holy Apostle St. Peter interfered and declared that the deed which the devil produced was a forgery. The devil and the saint came to high words at this, while the poor priest, frightened out of his wits, ran into the church and betook himself to reading Mass. Now, as they could in no way come to an understanding, St. Peter, by way of a compromise, proposed a new bargain. ‘Do you fly to Rome!’ said he to the devil, ‘and bring me one of the columns of St. Peter’s Church, and if you’re back with it before my priest has read to the end of the Mass, he shall be yours; but else mine.’ The devil, who thought he should have plenty of time, accepted the proposal with pleasure, and in a few seconds Peter saw him flying up full speed with one of the columns. The devil would have won, there’s no doubt, if St. Peter had not quickly gone to meet him and begun to belabour him with a horsewhip. The devil in his fright dropped the huge pillar, which fell plump to the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. He lost but little time in diving for it and bringing it up again; but he lost quite enough, for when he arrived at the church the priest had just said his ‘Ite missa est,’ and so his Mass was at an end. St. Peter laughed heartily; and the devil was so vexed that in his rage he flung down the big column, which went through the roof of the church and fell upon the floor, where it was broken{185} into three pieces. Many attempts were made to repair the hole in the roof, but they could never make the work hold, for it always fell in, and so at last they gave it up; and there the hole remained for many hundred years, leaving a free way for rain and wind. The Emperor Joseph, however, insisted upon having the roof repaired, so they carved the two keys of St. Peter in the centre stone of the vault, and since then the work has held.” Besides some paintings by Skreta, it contains a curious Madonna of the thirteenth century, said to have been once the property of Charles IV. The church is surrounded by a cemetery, in which many of Bohemia’s patriots are buried. We find here the tombs of the writers Halek, Neruda, Benes Trebizky, Hanka, Mrs. Nemcova, those of the Ministers Iirecek and Kaizl, and many others. Quite recently a fine monument has been placed over the grave of Zeyer, the poet of the Vysehrad. When leaving the Vysehrad the traveller can either descend to the banks of the Vltava, follow the Podskal Street, and then the Palacky Quay—from which a bridge, also named after the great historian, leads to the suburb of Smichov—and finally reach the Bohemian theatre; or passing through the ‘Na Slupi’ Street he may, turning to the right into the Horská Ulice, reach the Karlov Church, which is at the corner of the Horská and Karlova Streets. This very fine Gothic edifice, one of the most interesting churches in Prague, was built by Charles IV. in 1350, and its octagon dome is said to be an imitation of the burial place of Charles the Great at Aachen. The church has some very fine stained-glass windows, which date from the time of Vladislav II., and some good pictures.

The Karlov or Church of the Ascension of the Virgin Mary—to give it its correct designation—has,{186} however, like so many others, suffered severely from the restorer. Following the Karlova Ulice, and then turning to the left, at the corner of the St. Apolinar Street, we reach the interesting Gothic church of that name. From here we retrace our steps to the Na Slupi and then the Vysehrad Street, and soon arrive again at the Karlovo Námesti. Thence we soon reach through the Jungmann Street the Jungmann monument, in the Ovocná Ulice, and the limits of the new town.


 

KARLOV
KARLOV

For his wanderings through the parts of Prague that are on the left bank of the river the traveller will start{187} from the far-famed Bridge of Prague, for so it is still called, though its official designation is the Charles Bridge, and there are now many other bridges at Prague.

As already mentioned, there has been a bridge on or near the spot where the present edifice stands from very early times. Ancient chroniclers write that when, in 932, the body of St. Wenceslas was conveyed from Stará Boleslav, where he was murdered, to St. Vitus’s Church at Prague, those who carried the body, ‘hurrying to the river Vltava, found the bridge partly destroyed by the floods. They gave themselves up to prayer, and having raised the body on their arms they passed, as if they were carrying no burden, gladly and without hindrance over the half-ruined bridge.’ The fact that the body of St. Wenceslas was conveyed across the Vltava on March 4, at a time when the spring flood often damaged the Bridge of Prague, confirms, as Mr. Svátek writes, the correctness of this narrative, which contains the earliest mention of the Bridge of Prague. The account of the state in which the bridge was found also renders Mr. Svátek’s conjecture that it was then already very ancient very plausible. As the suburbium Praguese—as I have already mentioned—extended on both banks of the river, wooden bridges, such as the earliest ones undoubtedly were, soon became insufficient. When, in 1157, the floods had entirely destroyed the wooden Bridge of Prague, Queen Judith, consort of King Vladislav I., caused a new stone bridge to be erected at her own expense. It was said that she undertook this work because, being a German by birth, and having twice used her influence to place her German relations on the episcopal throne of Prague, she had incurred the hostility of the Bohemians. She hoped to regain the love of the Praguers by thus becoming a{188}


 

FROM THE BRIDGE LOOKING TOWARDS THE OLD TOWN
FROM THE BRIDGE LOOKING TOWARDS THE OLD TOWN

benefactress of their city. Judith’s Bridge was begun in 1169 and finished in three years, an almost inconceivably short space of time. The completion of the bridge was greeted with great rejoicement by the Bohemians, who said that, excepting the bridge over the Danube at Regensburg, no such bridge had been built since the days of the Romans. In the winter of 1342 the Bridge of Judith was destroyed by the floods, and for a time a temporary wooden bridge, partly founded on the remaining pillars of the stone bridge, alone connected the two parts of Prague. This bridge naturally proved insufficient, particularly after Charles IV. had founded the new town of Prague.{189} In 1357 that King undertook the building of the present bridge. The building was erected under the direction of Matthew of Arras, and afterwards of Peter Parler and his son John. The work was often interrupted by storms and inundations, to which the Vltava, the outlet of all the rivers of Central and Southern Bohemia, is particularly liable. It was, therefore, only completed in 1503.

We first pass under the bridge tower of the old town, which is decorated with statues of the Bohemian patron saints and with the coats of arms of the countries that were formerly connected with Bohemia as well as that of the old town itself.

The statues that now ornament the bridge formed no part of the original structure. As can be seen in ancient engravings, a crucifix only stood on the bridge at first. Rudolph erected statues of the Madonna and of St. John, and the others were gradually added, principally during the period of Catholic re-action in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. There are now thirty statues of unequal value, fifteen on each side of the bridge. It may be of interest to give a list of these statues, beginning with those that are to the right of the visitor who crosses the bridge from the old town into the Malá Strana:—

1. St. Bernard (1709), by Jäckel.

2. St. Dominicus and Thomas Aquinas (1708), by Jäckel.

3. A bronze-gilt statue of the Crucifixion, with statues of the Virgin Mary and St. John.

4. St. John the Baptist (1853), by J. Max.

5. St. Ignacius of Loyola (1711), by Ferdinand Prokov; a foundation of the Jesuit College of Prague.

6. The Holy Trinity (1706), also by Prokov. Between this group and the next one, a cross and{190} tablet mark the spot where St. Nepomuk was thrown into the river.

7. SS. Norbert, Wenceslas and Sigismund (1853), by J. Max.

8. St. John of Nepomuk, cast in bronze at Nüremberg in 1683, after a model of J. Prokov.

9. St. Anthony of Padua (1707), by Ulrich Mayer.

10. St. Judas Taddæus (1708), also by Ulrich Mayer.

11. St Augustine (1708), by Jerome Kohl.

12. St. Gactanus (1709), by Ferdinand Prokov.

13. St. Philip Binitius (1711), by Mendel of Salzburg.

14. St. Vitus (1714), by Ferdinand Prokov.

15. SS. Cosmas and Damianus (1707), by Ulrich Mayer.

On the left side of the bridge are the following statues:—

16. St. Ivo (1711), by Matthew Braun.

17. SS. Barbara, Margaret and Elizabeth (1702), by the brothers Prokov.

18. The Mater Dolorosa (1859), by Em. Max.

19. St. Joseph (1854), by Jos. Max; a gift of the Countess Prîchovská.

20. St. Francis Haverius (1711), by Ferdinand Prokov; a gift of the theological and philosophical ‘faculties’ of the University of Prague.

21. St. Christopher (1857), by Em. Max.

22. St. Francis Borgia (1710), by the brothers Prokov.

23. St. Ludmilla (1785), by an unknown artist.

24. St. Francis Seraphicus (1855), by Em. Max.

25. SS. Vincent and Prokov (1712), by Ferdinand Prokov.

26. St. Nicholas of Tolentino (1706), by J. Kohl.{191}


 

VIEW OF THE BRIDGE FROM THE MILLS OF THE OLD TOWN
VIEW OF THE BRIDGE FROM THE MILLS OF THE OLD TOWN

{192}

{193}

27. St. Ludgardis (1710), by M. Braun.

28. St. Adalbert (1710), by the brothers Prokov.

29. SS. John of Matha, Ivo and Philipp (1714), by Ferdinand Prokov.

30. St. Wenceslas (1857), by Camillas Böhn, after a sketch by the painter Führich.

In 1890 inundations again greatly injured the Bridge of Prague. A portion of the work was entirely destroyed, and the statues of St. Ignacius of Loyola and of St. Francis sank in the floods. These injuries have now been entirely repaired. The view of the Hradcany from the bridge is one of the most striking ones in Prague.

Passing by the second bridge tower we reach the Malá Strana, near which once stood the ancient residence of the bishops, and afterwards archbishops, of Prague, a building often mentioned in the records of the struggles of the Hussite Wars, or market-place of the ‘small quarter,’ on which is a statue of Radecky, erected in 1858. As materials, Piedmontese cannon captured in 1848 and 1849 were used.

Here also is the Nicholas Church that has already been mentioned, and near here are the palace of the Governor of Bohemia and the palace where the Bohemian Diet assembles, since it no longer meets on the Hradcany. A steep path leads to the summit of the Hradcany Hill. The two most important buildings on this height, the Royal Palace and St. Vitus’s Cathedral, have already been mentioned. Between these buildings stands the very fine equestrian statue of St. George, cast in 1373 by order of Charles IV. This fine statue, a work of the brothers George and Martin of Clussenburk, is excessively interesting as giving a faithful representation of the armour worn by the knights of the fourteenth century.{194}

Behind the cathedral is the Church of St. George, occupying the spot where one of the earliest Christian churches in Bohemia, built by Prince Vratislav I. about the year 915, once stood. Princess Mlada, sister of Boleslav II., in 915 here built a Benedictine convent, of which she became abbess, and which became very famous in Bohemia. Charles IV. granted to the abbess of this convent the right of crowning the Queens of Bohemia. They retained this right up to the suppression of the convent by the Emperor Joseph II. It was then transferred to the superior of the Chapter of Noble Ladies, which the Empress Maria Theresa had founded.

The first Church of St. George was destroyed in 1142, during the troubles that followed the death of Sobeslav.[53] A Romanesque building was then erected, which is the finest building in that style of architecture in Bohemia. Though here also restorations have taken place, the church has, on the whole, retained its ancient character, and it is well worth the attention of the traveller. It contains the graves of several of the most ancient rulers of Bohemia and of their wives. The ancient frescoes in this church and the chapels of St. Ludmilla—where that saint and Princess Mlada, the first abbess of St. George’s convent, are buried—and of St. Anne require particular notice. During the recent restorations the stucco ornaments that concealed the old Romanesque doors and windows have been removed. Of great interest are the four very ancient towers on the Hradcany Hill, which date from the time of Ottokar II. and have already been mentioned. They overlook the Jeleni Prikop (Stag’s Ditch), and are reached by the Jiriska Ulice, passing through buildings that are used as Government offices. These towers were used as prisons, and the White Tower in{195} particular, which has been compared to the Bastille and the Tower of London, was the principal State prison of Prague. The leaders of the Protestant movement against Ferdinand I., Bishop Augusta, the head of the Bohemian brethren, the Bohemian leaders who were decapitated in 1621, the partisans of Charles of Bavaria (1743), and many others were imprisoned here.

The Daliborka Tower is very famous in popular legends. It is said to have received its present name from Dalibor of Kozojed, a knight who was imprisoned here during the reign of Vladislav II. The serfs of a neighbouring knight, Adam of Ploskov, had been driven to revolt by the cruelty of their lord, and Dalibor availed himself of this opportunity for seizing Ploskov’s estates. He was, therefore, imprisoned in the tower to which he has given his name, and afterwards decapitated. This somewhat sordid event became the nucleus of legends created by the imaginative Bohemian people. It was said that Dalibor, after spending some years in foreign lands, had returned to Bohemia, and there witnessed the cruelties from which the Bohemian peasants, formerly free men, suffered; for bondage, entirely alien to the ancient customs of Bohemia, was only established there in 1487. Under the influence of Rozvod, an old man who remembered the days of Zizka, Dalibor incited the peasants to rise against their lords. The revolt was rapidly suppressed, and Dalibor imprisoned in the tower on the Hradcany Hill. It was said that while imprisoned he learnt to play the violin to solace his solitude, and that his music attracted crowds to the tower. The great Bohemian musician Smetana has given the name of ‘Dalibor’ to one of his operas, and Dalibor is also the hero of one of the books of the talented Bohemian novelist Wenceslas Vlcek. Among the later prisoners in the Daliborka{196} were several alchemists whom Rudolph II. called to his court, but who failed to fulfil the promises they had made. The astronomer Francis Tennagel, an assistant of Tycho Brahe, was also a prisoner in the Daliborka during Rudolph’s reign.

We obtain the best view of the four towers, and indeed of the Hradcany generally, if we cross the Stag’s Ditch and proceed to the Royal gardens, in which is the Belvedere villa. Ferdinand I. caused it to be built for his wife Anna. It is a fine specimen of the Italian Renaissance, Ferdinand’s favourite form of architecture, and was built by the Italian, John de Spatio. In the interior of the building there are some frescoes of the earlier part of the nineteenth century representing scenes from Bohemian history. It is characteristic of the period that the Hussite Wars, the period of Bohemia’s greatness, are entirely excluded. As a proof that the present Emperor of Austria from his earliest youth possessed the sagacity and clearness of mind which is now recognised by the whole world, it may be mentioned that when, as a young Archduke, he visited these frescoes, he is reported to have said: ‘It is impossible even to conceive a history of Bohemia from which the Hussite Wars are excluded.’

Close to the Belvedere is a fountain, which has rightly been called ‘one of the finest Renaissance fountains north of the Alps.’ The design is by Tertio of Bergamo, and the work was carried out by Jarus, an artist of Prague.

From the Belvedere we descend the Hradcany Hill, and passing through the Chotek Park reach the Bruska Street and the suspension bridge. Crossing this bridge, we reach the old town and the Rudolphinum, and soon find our way back to the powder tower.{197}

CHAPTER VIII

Walks and Excursions near Prague

TO those visitors to Prague who have acquired some interest in the history of the country no excursion will appeal more than that to the White Mountain, ‘the Chacronaea of Bohemia,’ as it has been aptly called. Leaving the Malá Strana by the now-demolished Strahov gate (near the monastery of that name), we soon reach the White Mountain. Factories built in modern times have considerably altered the aspect of the ground. The plateau, which the Bohemian army occupied on the evening of November 7, 1620, and where earthworks were hastily thrown up, and the battle-field of the following day can, however, still be clearly distinguished. The Bohemian lines extended from the village of Repy to the ‘Star’ Park and the village of Liboc. The last and fiercest lighting took place immediately outside the park. Dr. Krebs[54] writes: ‘The south-eastern angle of the “Star” Park became the grave of the national independence of Bohemia. Every Bohemian who passes this spot should remember, “It is holy ground on which I tread.” ’ The Star Park is now a favourite summer resort of the citizens of Prague, who, perhaps wisely, appear to be intent rather on present pleasure than on gloomy memories of the past.

‘Little they think of those stout limbs
That moulder deep below.’

{198}

After the battle the Bohemian troops that still occupied the Royal hunting lodge at the ‘Star’ capitulated, and the victorious Duke of Bavaria spent there the night that followed the battle. Somewhat to the south of the ‘Star’ is the Church of St. Mary, built in 1706 in commemoration of the great defeat of the Bohemians. It is said that when the Emperor Joseph II. visited this church he expressed his displeasure, and he is said to have characteristically remarked ‘that he wished to reign over men, not over brutes,[55] who celebrated their own defeat.’ It must be added that the pilgrimages to this church on November 8 have now entirely ceased.

From the village of Liboc the traveller can by rail reach in half an hour the romantic valley of the Sarka.

Of the many walks in the immediate neighbourhood of Prague we may mention that to the Petrin Hill, which has already been referred to. An outlook tower has recently been built here. Favourite summer resorts of the citizens of Prague are the Crown Prince Rudolph Park and the adjoining Belvedere Gardens, and the Stromovka or Baumgarten.

Those who wish to visit the village of Sterbohol, where the Battle of Prague (in 1757) principally raged, should start from the Francis Joseph Station and leave the train at Hostivár, the second station. The spot where General Schwerin fell is marked by a monument erected in 1824; a second monument was erected in 1838 by King Frederick William III. of Prussia.

From the State Railway Station the traveller can in half an hour reach the station of Roztok, a place much frequented by the Praguers in summer because of the beautiful scenery. Close to here is Levy Hradec, historically interesting as the site of the most ancient{199} Christian church in Bohemia; it was built by Borivoj in 871. No traces of the original building now remain.[56]

THE ‘STAR’ HUNTING LODGE
THE ‘STAR’ HUNTING LODGE

A somewhat more distant excursion, but perhaps the most interesting, is that to the Karlstyn Castle. It is reached in little more than an hour from the Smichov Station of the western railway. The Karlstyn was built by Charles IV. as a refuge for the Royal Family in time of war, and also as a safe spot where the crown jewels and the treasury could be deposited. It was built in a manner that rendered it for the time almost impregnable, and it successfully resisted the attacks of Sigismund Korybut during the Hussite Wars. In consequence of the importance of the treasures the castle contained, the custodian (burgrave) of the Karlstyn became one of the great dignitaries of Bohemia. Among the last to hold this office was Count Thurn, afterwards celebrated as{200} the originator of the defenestration. His immediate successor, Martinic, one of the victims of the defenestration, was the last to hold the office of burgrave of the Karlstyn. With the autonomy of Bohemia the title was naturally in abeyance after the Battle of the White Mountain. The castle was built with great splendour, but many of the treasures it contained were either dispersed or transported to Vienna. The present Emperor of Austria—always a true friend of Bohemia—has lately (1901) given the order that several of the pictures that formerly were in the Karlstyn should be sent back there. The most valuable part of the building is the Chapel of the Cross, that contains some interesting early Bohemian paintings. Quite recently the Karlstyn has to a great extent been restored in a manner that has not on the whole pleased the critics.


 

THE OLDEST GREAT SEAL OF THE MALÁ STRANA, THIRTEENTH
CENTURY
THE OLDEST GREAT SEAL OF THE MALÁ STRANA,
THIRTEENTH CENTURY

{201}

NOTE

AS the names of the streets, squares, etc., at Prague are now only written in the national language, I have thought that a short list of the most necessary Bohemian words would be welcome. It will be very useful when using the plan of Prague that accompanies this book. It is scarcely necessary to say that English is spoken in the principal hotels of Prague. Those who feel inclined to learn the Bohemian language which, though difficult, is philologically of the highest interest, will find an able guide in Professor Morfill’s Grammar of the Bohemian or Cech Language.

  • Divadlo = theatre.
  • Hora = mountain; thus Bilá Hora, the White Mountain.
  • Chram or Kostel = church.
  • Na levo = to the left.
  • Na pravo = to the right.
  • Nábrezi = quay.
  • Nádrazi = railway station.
  • Námesti = square, market-place (the French ‘place’).
  • Nové Mesto = the new town.
  • Malá Strana = the small ‘side’ or quarter of Prague.
  • Most = bridge.
  • Ostrov = island; thus Zofinsky Ostrov, Sophia’s Island.
  • Radnice—town hall.{202}
  • Staré Mesto = the old town.
  • Trh = market.
  • Trida = street.
  • Ulice = street.

It may be useful to the traveller to know that the different districts of Prague are numbered, and that since Vysehrad in 1883, Holesovic-Bubna in 1884, and Liben in 1901 have become parts of Prague the numbers run thus—

I. Staré Mesto. II. Nové Mesto. III. Malá Strana. IV. Hradcany. V. Josefské Mesto (Joseph’s, formerly the Jews’ town). VI. Vysehrad. VII. Holesovic-Bubna. VIII. Liben.

The suburbs Karlin, Smichov and Vinohrady (‘the vineyards’) do not as yet form part of the city of Prague.{203}

APPENDIX

THE history of Prague is to so great an extent that of Bohemia, that if I attempted to give a full list of my authorities, I should be obliged to enumerate the works of the principal modern Bohemian historians, as well as those of many older chroniclers and writers of history. In a work where compression has been necessary on every page I could attempt no such bibliographic study. Of historical writings, I mention only Dr. Tomek’s monumental work. I give the names only of a few books that deal with the city of Prague and its architectural monuments. I have left unnoticed the numerous monographs referring to Prague and the publications of the Bohemian Museum, the Bohemian Scientific Society and the Bohemian Academy. It is hardly necessary to state that I have also used my own previous works on Bohemia.

AUTHORITIES

Branis Dejing umeni stredovekcho v Cechách (History of Mediæval Art in Bohemia). 2 vols. 1892-1893.

Dolensky’s Praha. I have only been able to use the first parts of this publication, which has just begun to appear.

Herold and Oliva Malebné cesty po Praze (Picturesque Walks through Prague). 4 vols. 1866-1896.

Lebner, Monsignor. Dejini umeni naroda ceského (History of the Art of the Bohemian Nation); begun 1900, not yet completed.{204}

Neuwirth, Dr. Geschichte der christlichen Kunst in Böhmen. 1 vol. 1888.

Redel, Dr. Das Sehenswürdige Prag. 1 vol. 1710.

Svátek. Culturhistorische Bilder aus Böhmen. 1 vol. 1879.

Svátek. Ze staré Prahy (of ancient Prague), 1 vol.

Tomek, Dr. Dejepis Mesta Prahy (History of the Town of Prague) 1855-1901. The twelve volumes that have already appeared contain the history of Prague up to 1608.

PRINCES OF BOHEMIA.

Krok.  
Premysl and Libusa.  
Nezamysl.  
Mnata.  
Vojen.  
Unislav.  
Kresomysl.  
Neklan.  
Hostivit.  
Borivoj I.  
Spitihnev I.  
Vratislav I.  
Wenceslas I. 926-935
Boleslav I. 935-967
Boleslav II. 967-999
Boleslav III. 990-1002
Vladivoj 1002-1003
Jaromir 1003-1012
Ulrich 1012-1037
Bretislav I. 1037-1055
Spytihnev II. 1055-1061
Vratislav II. (King) 1061-1092{205}
Bretislav II. 1092-1110
Borivoj II. 1110-1120
Vladislav I. 1120-1125
Sobeslav I. 1125-1140
Vladislav II. (as King I.) 1140-1173
Sobeslav II. 1173-1180
Frederick 1180-1189
Conrad Otho 1189-1191
Wenceslas II. 1191-1192
Premysl Ottokar 1192-1230

KINGS OF BOHEMIA

Wenceslas I. 1230-1253
Premysl Ottokar II. 1253-1278
Wenceslas II. 1278-1305
Wenceslas III. 1305-1306
Rudolph of Habsburg 1306-1307
Henry of Carinthia 1307-1310
John 1310-1346
Charles I. (IV.) 1346-1378
Wenceslas IV. 1378-1419
Sigismund 1436-1437
Albert of Habsburg 1437-1439
Ladislas Posthumus 1439-1457
George of Podebrad 1458-1471
Vladislav II. 1471-1516
Louis I. 1516-1526
Ferdinand I. 1526-1564
Maximilian 1564-1576
Rudolph II. 1576-1612
Matthias 1612-1619
Frederick of the Palatinate 1619-1620
Ferdinand II. 1619-1637
Ferdinand III. 1637-1657{206}
Leopold I. 1657-1705
Joseph I. 1705-1711
Charles II. (VI.) 1711-1740
Maria Theresa 1740-1780
Charles of Bavaria 1741-1745
Joseph II. 1780-1790
Leopold II. 1790-1792
Francis 1792-1835
Ferdinand IV. (I.) 1835-1843
Francis Joseph 1848

I have continued the list of the rulers of Bohemia (many of whom were Roman, and more recently Austrian Emperors) up to the present day, as the title of King of Bohemia has always been retained by these princes.{207}

PRAGUE.

 

PRAGUE.

Section I.

 

View of Prague during the Reign of Rudolph II. (In 3 Sections).
After Sadeler’s Famous Engraving,
The Inscription on it states that in 1606, Ag. Sadeler, Engraver to His Sacred Majesty, dedicated it to the noble, most worthy, and most prudent Primators, Consuls and Senators of the Metropolitan Threefold Town of Prague.

Section II.

 

Section II.

View of Prague.

The Bridge contains as yet only a Crucifix but no Statues.

View of Prague.
The Bridge contains as yet only a Crucifix but no Statues.

Section III.

 

Section III.

View of Prague.

View of Prague.


 

Map of Prague

INDEX

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, W, Z

A
Albert, Archduke of Austria, crowned king, 77;
short reign and death, 77.
Albik, Archbishop of Prague, 38.
Albrecht Dürer, his ‘Madonna,’ 103, 156-159.
“            ‘Madonna and Child,’ attributed to, 160.
Ales of Riesenburg, Regent of Bohemia, 69.
Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, succession of, to throne opposed by Protestants, 108.
Archduke Leopold, Bishop of Passau, invades Bohemia, 107.
Archiepiscopal Palace destroyed by Praguers, 44.
Articles of Prague, the, 56, 64.
Artists, confraternity or guild of, founded by Charles, 18.
Austrian War of Succession, 132.

B
Bartos, ‘the Writer,’ quoted, 88-89.
Belvedere, erected by Ferdinand I., 90.
Benatky, ill-famed buildings known as, destroyed by Milic, 22.
Benes of Weitmil, old chronicler, quoted, 15-16, 17.
Bethlehem Chapel, 31, 174.
Bezalel, Rabbi Löwi, mysterious interview with Rudolph II., 11.
Bishopric of Prague, foundation of, 5.
“          countries forming part of, 5-6.
Bohemia, national language of, temporary extinction of, 123;
its revival, 135-136.
Bohemia, national songs of, 136, 137.
“    ancient constitution of, negotiations with Austria for restitution of, 138.
“    Queens of, right of crowning, 194.
Bohemian Brethren, 99.
“    Museum, 134, 164-166.
“    nation, permanent supremacy of, at University secured by decree of Wenceslas IV., 35.
Bohemians resent favour shown to Germans, 11-12.
Boleslav I., Prince of Bohemia, 5.
Boleslav II., Prince of Bohemia, 5-6.
Borivoj, first Christian ruler of Bohemia, 5;
dedicates church to Virgin, 5.
Broumov, Protestant church of, closed, 108.

C
Campanile, 180.
Carolinum, becomes centre of University, 18.
“      meeting at, beginning of Hussite struggle, 32.
“      disputatio at, concerning crusade against King of Naples, 37.
“      Synod of Bohemian clergy at, 64.
“      truce meeting at, 67;
its connection with career of Hus, and present condition of, 178.
Chapel of St. Martin, romanesque, 182-183.
Chapel of the Holy Cross, romanesque, 174.{208}
Charles IV. (I. as King), 15 ff.;
founds new city of Prague, 15;
speech concerning the founding of the University, 17;
rebuilds St. Vitus’s Cathedral, 18.
Charles Bridge, or Bridge of Prague, 12, 173, 187-193;
statues on, 189-193.
Christianity, introduction of into Bohemia, 4.
Churches—St. George, 194.
“    St. Nicholas, 156.
“    St. Peter and St. Paul, legend in connection with, 183-185.
“    St. Vitus, 149-155.
“    Tyn Church, the, 155-156.
“    Karlov, or Church of the Ascension, 185-186.
Cities, the three, 22, 70;
united into one municipal corporation, 132-133.
Civic Museum, 179-180.
Clock, ancient, at Town Hall, 168.
Clementinum, Jesuit College, 173.
Compacts, the, 70;
sanction of, brought to Prague, 74;
stolen and recovered, 78.
Confederacy of Strakonic, the, 80.
Confessio Bohemia, 100, 106.
Conrad of Vechta, Archbishop of Prague, joins national Church, 64.
Conrad Waldhauser, forerunner of Hus, effect of preaching of, 19-20.
Cosmas of Prague, quoted, 1, 3.
Council of Basel, 65, 68, 70.
Council of Constance, 41.
Count Thurn, leader of Protestant Estates, 108 ff.
Crusaders, 49, 51, 55, 57.
Crusade, the New, failure of, 66.

D
Dalibor, 195.
Daliborka and Mikulka (white and black towers), 8, 195.
Dalimil, old chronicler, quoted, 11-12.
Dee, Dr. John, at Prague, 104
Defenestration (traditional death for traitors), 43, 110-113.

E
Ebendorf of Haselbach, quoted, 55.
Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia, 117;
her unpopularity, 117-118.
Ernest of Pardubic, first Archbishop of Prague, and first Chancellor of the University, 16.
Eschenloer, chronicler, quoted, 81.
Estates, meeting of, at Prague, 17, 81, 82, 85, 89,93;
meeting of, summoned without consent of King, 95;
bloody Diet convoked, 99;
Diets under Maximilian, 99, 100;
under Rudolph, 105;
presided over by Budova, 106.
“    accept Archduke Ferdinand of Styria as heir to the throne, 108.
“    Protestant, meeting of, 108, 109.
“    summoned to Hradcany Palace, 109.
“    secret meeting of, at Smiricky Palace, 109.
“    decide to throw Royal councillors from windows of Hradcany Palace, 109-110.
“    carry out resolution, 110-113.
“    institute provisional Government, 113.
“    meeting of general Diet, 113;
crown offered to Count Palatine, 113.
“    assembly of Bohemian Diet, 138.
Excursions round Prague, 197-200.

F
Ferdinand of Austria, Archduke, elected King, 90;
coronation and festivities, 90;
strengthens Royal prerogative, 93;
his Bohemian subjects refuse to arm, 93-95;
his punishment of town, 96-99;
death, 99.{209}
Ferdinand Street, Fruit Street, and Graben, main thoroughfare of Prague, 177.
Foges, Mr., quoted, 8, 11.
Fountain, designed by Tertio of Bergamo, 196.
Francis Joseph, King of Bohemia, his descent from Premysl, 3.
Frederick, Count Palatine, accepts crown of Bohemia, 117;
reception and coronation, 117;
his short-lived popularity, 117;
deserts his army, 118;
his behaviour on receiving news of Battle of White Mountain, 123.
Frederick the Great storms Prague, 133;
encamps on White Mountain, 133;
Battle of Prague, 134.

G
Gallus Cahera, preacher of the Tyn Church, 90.
German character of old town of Prague, 6-7.
German immigrants in Prague favoured by the Sovereigns, 6, 11-12.
German masters and students leave Prague, 35.
Graben, the, origin of name, 7.

H
Hajek of Libocan, chronicler, quoted, 4, 26-27.
Harnack, Dr., quoted, 32.
Henry of Plumlov, Captain of Moravia, 58-59.
Hollar, Wenceslas, engravings by, 173.
Hradcany Castle, held by Royal troops, 44 ff;
truce meeting at, 67;
stormed by Wallenstein, 128;
seized by General Königsmark, 131.
Hradcany Hill, site of old foundation of Prague, 3;
old castle on, 4, 142;
later buildings, 142;
early Christian church built on, 4, 5;
fortifications of, 8.
Hrob, Protestant church at, destroyed, 108.
Hus, John, 30 ff.;
forerunners of, 19;
sermon as a young preacher, 25-26;
begins preaching at Bethlehem Chapel, 31;
his teaching, 32;
protest against his preaching, 32-33;
his letter to the Archbishop, 35;
excommunicated, 36;
attacks the use of indulgences, 37;
flees from Prague, 37;
attempts made during his absence to assuage religious differences, 38;
proceeds to Council of Constance, 41;
imprisonment and death, 41;
indignation among Bohemian nobles caused by, 41-42.
Hus and Hieronymus, bells known as, 155-156.
Hynek Krusina, Utraquist nobleman, 51, 57, 59.

J
Jerusalem, building erected on site of Benatky, 22.
Jewish Colony of Prague, 8-9.
Jewish quarter, Joseph’s Town, 172.
John Augusta, head of Bohemian Brethren, arrest and torture of, 99.
John Kolda of Zampach, rises against Sigismund, 74.
John of Carvajal, Papal envoy, 77-78;
carries off the Compacts, 78.
John of Luxemburg, becomes king, 15;
his campaigns, invitation to knights of Europe, and death at Crecy, 15.
John of Pomuk, or Nepomuk, conflict of, with Wenceslas, 26-29;
death, 29.
John of Sadlo, Utraquist noble, 65.
John Rohác of Duba, cruelty of Sigismund to, 73-74.
Joseph Tyl, composer, 136.

K
Karlov, the, built by Charles, 18.
Kelley, Edward, at Prague, 104.
Keppler, astronomer, guest of King Rudolph, 103.{210}
Konopist, treaty of, 66.
Korybut, Prince Sigismund, chosen as ruler by Utraquist nobles, 66;
his downfall, 67;
returns to his own country, 68.
Kraluv Dvor, King’s Court, 167.
Krok, or Crocus, Sovereign of Bohemia, 1.
Kunstat Hr, war-cry, 79.
Kutna Hora, decrees of, 35.

L
Ladislas, King of Naples, crusade against, 36-37.
Ladislas Posthumus, crowned king, 81;
premature death, 81.
League of the Lords, 24.
Lechler, Dr., quoted, 35.
Letter of Majesty, 106.
Levy Hradec, earliest building devoted to Christian worship, 5.
Libussa, youngest daughter of Krok, description of by Cosmas of Prague, 1;
her powers as a soothsayer, 2, 3;
her choice of husband, 2;
foundation of town ascribed to, 3.
Lipan, great battle of, 69-70.
Louis, succeeds Vladislav as King, 88;
killed in battle, 89.

M
Magister Pribram, leader of moderate party, 67.
Malá Strana, 4, 22;
fortified, 8;
attacked by Hussites, 44;
town hall of, destroyed by Royalists, 44;
stormed by Wallenstein, 128;
seized by General Königsmark, 131.
Manifesto of Praguers after battle of Vysehrad, 60.
Maria Theresa crowned at Prague, 132.
Market-place, 168.
Martini, Royal councillor, thrown from window, 110-113.
Matthias, his perfidy towards King Rudolph, 104-105;
succeeds Rudolph, 107;
death, 113.
Maximilian, succeeds Ferdinand I. as King, 99;
his concessions to the Protestants, 100;
death, 103.
Milic, forerunner of Hus, his preaching, etc., 20-22.
Mlada, Princess, convent built by, 194.
Monasteries—Mount Sion or Strahov, 156-157.
“      Capuchin, 159-160.
“      Emaus, 160-161.
Monstrelet, quoted, 52.
Morley, Mr. John, quoted, 53.
Mühlberg, defeat of Protestants at, 96.

N
Nicholas of Pelhrimov, Bohemian envoy, 68.

O
Orebites, 57.
Ottokar II., King, 7-8;
his departure on last campaign, 11-12;
news of his death, 12.

P
Palaces—Nostic, 140.
“    Kinsky, 140.
“    Count Clam Gallas, 140-141.
“    Royal Castle of Hradcany Hill, history of, 142-144;
description of, as it stands, 144-147.
“    Waldstem, 148.
“    Morzin, 148.
“    Schwarzenberg, 148.
“    Counts Oswald and Francis Thurn, 148.
Palacky, quoted, 5, 6, 18, 23, 26, 55, 70, 87.
Papal Schism, reform movement brought to a crisis by, 36-37.
Pappenheim, General, tomb of, 156.
Pasek and Hlavsa dispute supremacy at Prague, 86-87, 88.
Peter Payne, leader of advanced party, 67-68.
Podebrad, George, head of national party, 75, 76;
takes possession of town, 77;
governor of Prague, 78;
crowned King, 82;
reign and death, 83.{211}
Poric Street, houses formerly on site of, 4.
Prague, origin of name, 3;
ancient record of foundation, 3;
uncertain date of same, 4;
Bishopric of, 5;
becomes an Archbishopric, 6, 16;
elements composing population of, 6, 7;
new town founded, 6;
old town enclosed, 7;
fortifications, 8;
new city founded, 15;
special privileges enjoyed by, 16;
University founded, 16;
division of town in time of Charles I., 22;
besieged, 25;
constitution of after the battle of Vysehrad, 63;
besieged during war of Austrian Succession, 132;
stormed by Frederick the Great, 133;
battle of Prague, 134;
occupied by Prussians, 138.
Praguers, as distinguished from Romanists and Taborites, 63;
civil war with Taborites, 66.
Prasná Brana (Powder Tower), 7, 167.
Premysl, husband of Lubissa, 2, 3.
Premyslide dynasty, extinction of, 12-15.
Prokop the Great, leader of Taborites, 69.
Protestatio Bohemorum, 41-42.
Ptacek, head of national party, 77.

R
Rokycan, afterward Utraquist Archbishop of Prague, preaches at the Tyn Church, 66;
leader of advanced party, 67;
at Council of Basel, 68;
elected Archbishop, 73;
dispute with Bishop Philibert of Constance, 73;
leaves Prague, 74;
returns, 80;
hostility of Ladislas to, 81;
death, 85.
Rubes, composer, 136.
Rudolph, son of Maximilian, coronation of, 100-101;
his embellishment of Prague and collection of art treasures, 103, 131, 143-144;
perfidy of his brother Matthias, 104-105;
signs Letter of Majesty, 106;
forced to abdicate, 107;
death, 107.
Rudolphinum, 172.
Ruppa, head of provisional government, 113.

S
Sadeler, engravings of Prague by, 103.
St. George, statue of, 193.
St. Nicholas, monastery of, destroyed by Royal troops, 44.
St. Vitus, arm of, sent to Wenceslas, 5.
“      cathedral of, first buildings on site of, 5.
“      style of early church, 5.
“      remains of Wenceslas conveyed to, 5;
rebuilt and enlarged, 18;
altar and paintings of, removed by Frederick, 117;
history of, 149-152;
description of, as it stands, 152-155.
Sigismund, King of Hungary, arrives in Bohemia, 47;
his reception of Praguers, 47;
incites Pope to issue bull calling to arms against the heretics, 48;
nation rises against him, 48;
his reception of envoys, 50-51;
marches on Prague, 51-52;
attack on town and defeat, 54-55;
crowned King of Bohemia, 56;
breaks up camp and retires, 57;
returns to Prague, 57;
is defeated and flees, 59;
recognised as King by the Bohemians, 70;
entry into Prague, 70;
dies on return journey to Hungary, 74.
Sixt of Ottersdorf, historian, 96.
Skála ze Zhore, his description of the defenestration, 110-113;
of last moments of prisoners, executed after battle of White Mountain, 125-126.
Slavata, royal councillor, thrown from window, 110-113.
Slavic Congress, 137-138, 177.
Slavic balls at Prague, 136.
Smiricky Palace, 109.
Sophia, Queen, as Regent, 43-44.
Sophia’s Island, 177.
Spitalské Pole (hospital field), meeting at, 66-67.{212}
Staré Mesto (old town), and Nové Mesto (new town), 4, 22;
antagonism between, 69.
Star Palace, arrival of Frederick at, 117.
Star Park, 119.
Suburbium Pragense, 4.

T
Taborites, 47.
Tauss, defeat of Royal troops at, 68.
Thietmas, first Bishop of Prague, 6.
Tomek, Professor, quoted, 4, 11, 18, 24, 41, 64, 73.
Towers, ancient, on Hradcany Hill, 194-196.
Town Hall, 168-172.
Treaty of Westphalia, 131.
Tycho Brahe and Tennagel, King Rudolph’s guests, 103;
latter a prisoner, 196.
Tyn Church, the, rectors of, 21, 22.

U
U Halanko, ancient house known as, 174-175.
University of Prague, founded, 16, 17;
modelled on that of Paris, 17;
lectures at, 17-18;
recognised as supreme authority in matters of doctrine, 42.
Utraquists, 2-43, 49;
truce of, with Praguers, 47.

V
Velica Obec, great assembly of Prague, 63.
Victor of Podebrad, 57.
Vladislav II., elected King, 86;
riots at Prague during his absence, 87;
death, 88.
Vojtech, Bishop of Prague, 6.
Vratislav II., Prince, 6.
Vysehrad, earliest inhabited spot, 1, 3;
church built on, 5;
fortress of, carried by assault by Hussites, 44;
siege of, by citizens, 57-59;
porm of, by Zeyer, 182.

W
Wenceslas I., Prince of Bohemia, 4;
receives tonsure, 5;
churches built by, 5;
murdered, 5.
Wenceslas I., King of Bohemia, 7.
Wenceslas IV., King of Bohemia, successor to Charles I., 23 ff.;
his favour towards Hus, and foreign policy, 23-24;
his popularity with the citizens, 24;
animosity to, of Bohemian nobles, 24;
made prisoner and released, 25;
again imprisoned and escapes, 26;
his conflict with John of Pomuk, 26-27;
his decrees of Kutna Hora, 35;
his support of reform party, 38;
his decree reinstating priests deprived of their livings, 42;
death, 43.
Wenceslas of Budova, 105, 106.
Wenceslas Chapel, 90.
White Mountain, battle of, 31, 42, 43;
leaders on either side, 114;
account of, 118-120;
complete change in condition of Bohemia caused by, 123;
arrest and executions after defeat of Protestants at, 124-126.
Wycliffe, works of, burnt, 36.

Z
Zbynek Zajic of Hasenburg, Archbishop of Prague, 32;
letter of Hus to, 35.
Zelivo, John of, leader of Utraquists, 43;
denounces Sigismund, 48;
suggests meeting of defenders of Utraquist cause, 49;
his popularity and influence, 63;
heads democratic party, 64, 65;
sudden arrest of, and decapitation, 65.
Zeyer, poet, 182; monument to, 185.
Zizka, 43, 47; arrives with his men at Prague, 51;
his heroism, 54.
Zizka’s Hill, victory of, 54, 55.
Zizkov, 180.

Colston & Coy. Limited, Printers, Edinburgh.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The hill near Prague still known as the Petrin, or in German ‘Laurenziberg.’

[2] In Bohemian ‘prah.’

[3] These will be found at the end of this volume.

[5] It may not be unnecessary to caution English readers against confusing the name of this prince with that of the town of Stará Boleslav; in German, Alt Bunzlau.

[6] In his Alterthümer der Prager Josefstadt (i.e., Jewish town). This very curious little book, dedicated to the late Sir Moses Montefiore, who visited Prague on his way to Palestine, contains a great deal of little-known information concerning the Jewish colony at Prague.

[7] See note, p. 3. The Petrin was the place where the executions generally took place.

[8] The yet more ancient author of the Alexandreis also expressed fear that ‘soon no Bohemian would any longer be seen on the bridge of Prague.’ Hus also refers to the bridge when he states ‘that it would be easier to find a stag with golden antlers on the bridge of Prague than a worthy priest.’

[9] His disciple, Matthew of Janov, writes: ‘Ipse Milicius, filius et imago domini Jesu Christi, apostolorumque ipsius similitudo prope expressa et ostensa.’

[10] Dogmengeschichte, Vol. III., pp. 434-435.

[11] Dubravius, Historia Bohemiæ.

[12] Laurence of Brezov.

[13] The German names are Schlan and Leitmeritz.

[14] i.e., Heretic.

[15] Their contents will be found in my Bohemia: An Historical Sketch, p. 164.

[17] The Orebites were a military community similar to that of Tabor. Their centre was a hill near Kralové Hradec (Koniggratz), to which they had given the Biblical name of Oreb.

[18] Contrary to what has often been written, he was no relation of John Hus.

[19] In Bohemian, ‘cep.’ Specimens of this formidable weapon can be seen in the Bohemian Museum.

[20] Printed in Palacky’s History of Bohemia.

[21] Laurence of Brezov writes of him that ‘veritatem communionis Utriusque specici fideliter promovendo omnes deordinationes in lege Domini non fundatas quantum valuit persequebatur.’

[22] O Zajeti Sigmunda Korybuta.—Vybor z Literatury Ceské, I.

[23] In German ‘Brünn’ and ‘Jglau.’

[24] i.e., The old town, new town, and ‘small quarter.’

[25] The Corpus Christi Chapel was destroyed in 1798. The tablets are now preserved in the Bohemian Museum.

[26] George was Lord of Kunstat as well as of Podebrad.

[27] A painting by the great Bohemian artist Brozik, representing this event, can be seen in the town hall.

[28] It is of interest to quote in the original the bishop’s words: ‘Recogitate providi viri qualis vestra Praga fuit olim inclita civitas quando sub hoc pontificatu fideliter stetit; quales habuit cives et incolas ditissimos Utriusque status ditissimos; nec fuit Pragae similis urbs in multis nationibus non Norberga, non Vienna, non Wratislawia neque inclita Colonia illi aliquando poterant comparari; nescimus an Roma, Venetia aut Florentia aut alia quaecunque sub coelo civitas Pragae tunc similis fuit.’

[29] I have referred to Bartos in my History of Bohemian Literature, pp. 299-303. Mr. Denis has given a good account of the antagonism between Pasek and Hlavsa in his brilliant Fin de l’Indépendance Bohême.

[30] For Sixt of Ottersdorf see my History of Bohemian Literature, pp. 303-304.

[31] It appears that the conduct of Charles V., Ferdinand’s brother, who had in 1539 deprived the city of Ghent of all its ancient privileges, contributed largely to rendering the citizens of Prague suspicious.

[32] The adventures of these two English alchemists in Bohemia are fully described in Mr. Svátek’s (German) Culturhistorische Bilder aus Böhmen.

[33] A village on the outskirts of Prague that has in the present year—1901—been incorporated with the town.

[35] The size of this book obviously excludes all controversial matter. I have entered fully into the question in my Bohemia: A Historical Sketch, pp. 301-308.

[36] This palace is traditionally identified with the house known as ‘U Montagu,’ between the Malostranské Námesti and the Nerudova Ulice. A tablet stating that the defenestration had been planned here was placed on this house, but almost immediately removed.

[37] Dr Krebs, Die Schlacht am Weissen Berge.

[40] ‘Clamore mulierum horrendo rex perterritus arcem repetebat.’—Andreas ab Habernfeld Bellum Bohemicum.

[41] I have translated a small portion of this account in my History of Bohemian Literature, pp. 342-344. The account above is also abridged from Skála.

[42] Not 100, as stated in Murray’s Guide Book.

[43] ‘Ecclesiam Sancti Viti quam Sanctus Wenceslaus construxerat ad similitudinem Romanae ecclesiae rotundam.’—Cosmas Pragensis.

[44] The old chronicler Cosmas always calls it ‘Sanctorum Martyrum Viti, Wenceslai atque Adalberti ecclesia.’

[45] This legend forms the subject of a very fine poem by the gifted Bohemian poet, Svatopluk Cech. It has been admirably translated into German by the late Professor Albrecht.

[46] Dr. Podlaha and Mr. Sittler have in the present year (1901) published a beautifully illustrated notice of the Loretto Treasury.

[47] Rudolph was a great collector of Albrecht Dürer’s pictures; this perhaps accounts for this picture being—undoubtedly wrongly—attributed to Dürer.

[48] See my History of Bohemian Literature, p. 93.

[49] See Professor Léger’s L’Evangile de Rheims.

[50] There are two churches of St. Nicholas at Prague; the one mentioned above, and another in the Malá Strana.

[51] As a writer on Prague must almost assume ignorance of the national language on the part of his readers, I may mention that an excellent German translation of this poem by Mrs. Malybrok-Stieler has recently been published by Mr. Rivnác at Prague.

[52] In his Hundert Tage in Oesterreich. I quote from the English translation, published by Messrs. Chapman & Hall in 1844.

[53] See my Bohemia: A Historical Sketch.

[54] In his Die Schlacht am Weissen Berge.

[55] In German ‘Bestien.’

[56] Some remains of the ancient structure appear to have existed in comparatively recent times. In his Phosphorus Septicornus Pesina (1629-1680) writes of the ‘castellum Hradec uno atque medio infra Pragam milieri’ that ‘castelli hujus rudera hodique spectantur in quorum medio templum ... adhuc integrum.’







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