Habsburg Rule

The Bohemian Lands in the 30 Years War

A.) The War in Bohemia

In 1618, protestant burghers of Prague went to the HRADSHIN, overpowered the guards, grasped the royal representatives and threw them out of the window - the DEFENESTRATION OF PRAGUE. This was a coup d'etat, symbolizing the deposition of the Habsburg King. The Estates of Bohemia elected ptotestant Frederick Count Palatinate their new king, and thought the matter to be over.
The king's representatives had survived the defenestration, for they had fallen into a stack of hay. They had reported the events in Vienna. Emperor Matthias could, under no circumstances, accept the loss of Bohemia, because it would mean, in addition to the loss of the rich Bohemian lands, the loss of the Imperial crown. He gladly accepted the offer of Duke Maximilian of Bavaria to supply an army, and in 1620 the Bohemians were defeated in the BATTLE AT THE WHITE MOUNTAIN. King Frederick, the WINTER KING, fled the country. Habsburg rule was reestablished. The protestant noblemen of Bohemia and consuls of Prague were convicted of treason, sentenced to death and executed, their estates auctioned off. In 1627 the RECATHOLICIZATION PATENT was published and the estates reestablished (where a chamber of the (Catholic) clergy was added and the influence of the burghers reduced). The Jesuits were given free hand in converting the population to Catholicism, the INQUISITION being a major tool. Many Czech noblemen and burghers chose emigration over conversion. Among the emigrants was Jan Amos Komensky, better known under his latinized name COMENIUS, regarded the father of educational science.
The rebellion had primarily happened in Bohemia proper, not in the Bohemian sidelands of Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia. Many of the executed noblemen had been Czechs. Their estates now were bought up by Germans, who, like Moravian knight ALBRECHT EUSEBIUS VON WALLENSTEIN, made a fortune - the mass sale of huge estates had caused the prices to drop dramatically. The power of the Bohemian estates was broken; they were to be ruled from Vienna until 1918.
The Jesuits were successful in converting the Bohemian population. When the Swedes laid siege to Prague, the citizens staunchly defended their city, regarding the Swedes invaders, not liberators. The Bohemian lands remained in Habsburg hands, although Silesia could only be held by accepting it's Lutheran faith. In 1635, the Emperor ceded LUSATIA to the Duke of Saxony, in order to reward him for switching from Swedish to Austrian alliance.

B.) The Legacy of the 30 Years War

The power of the Bohemian estates, the leader of the Bohemian lands, had been broken. Bohemia with it's sidelands was to be administrated from Vienna, in a form of early absolutism.
Bohemia in 1620 had virtually been given a new nobility, loyal to Habsburg and of Catholic faith. It was dominated by Germans.
Many Czechs were to remember the harsh treatment the Czech noblemen had received in the purge of 1620, and the Czech protestant had received by the hand of the Jesuits and the inquisition.
The Czech language was discontinued in print; only Latin and German were used as languages of printing, of education and administration. Until 1618, Germans and Czechs had peacefully lived together in the Bohemian lands. The 30 years war had spoiled German-Czech relations, the new administration distrusting the Czechs and the Czechs distrusting the administration, identified as German.

Czechoslovakia, from : Library of Congress, Country Studies
DOCUMENTS Defenestration of Prague (1618), copper engraving by Merian, from Theatrum Europaeum, posted by Univ. Augsburg
Siege of Pilsen (1618), copper engraving by Merian, from Theatrum Europaeum, posted by Univ. Augsburg
Portrait Frederick V. Count Palatinate, copper engraving 1619, from Theatrum Europaeum, posted by Univ. Augsburg
Assault on Prague 1648, from Theatrum Europaeum, posted by Krigsarkivet Stockholm
REFERENCE Derek Sayer, The Coasts of Bohemia, A Czech History, Princeton : Univ. Press 1998, pp.46-52

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on November 12th 2004

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