Czech Republic · Political · Religion

During religious tensions, several council members are thrown from a window

July 30, 1419
Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic)
Hussite leaders throw town council members from a window

The Hussites were a pre-Protestant Christian denomination following the teachings of Jan Hus. The Hussites and Catholics disagreed on some key tenets of faith; in particular, the Hussites believed everyone, not just the clergy, should be allowed access to the Bible, and priests should not permitted positions of power within the secular government. For these beliefs, Hus was executed in 1415.

On July 30, 1419, a group of Hussites lead by priest Jan Želivský arrived in Prague to demand the release of Hussite prisoners. One of the council members threw a rock at Želivský from a window. The group immediately countered by forcing their way into the town hall, grabbing several high-ranking officials, and throwing them from the window. Any not killed by the fall were dispatched by the mob outside. The attack, referred to as the First Defenestration of Prague and initiated the Hussite Wars which ran from July 30, 1419 to May 30, 1434.

A second Defenestration of Prague occurred in 1618. After a meeting between Protestant and Catholic leaders ended poorly, the Catholic officials were thrown from a third story window. All survived. The Catholics proclaimed God had sent angels to save them while the Protestants claimed they landed in a conveniently-placed pile of manure. The event lead to the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).

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