Edmund Alexander De Schweinitz.

The history of the church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Or, The unity of the Brethren, founded by the followers of John Hus, The Bohemian reformer amd martyr online

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'* Chronik von Bohmen, II. p. 102. The office of the Regents, including
its furniture, has been preserved intact to the present day. Sternberg, was
Martinic's father-in-law ; of the antecedents of Fabricius nothing is known.


this sentence, came a unanimous and vehement "Aye !" And
now the uproar commenced anew. " Into the Black Tower
with them !" cried some ; " Out of the window, according to
ancient Bohemian usage !" exclaimed Ruppa. This was the
mode of execution which the conspirators had agreed upon.
It was carried out on the instant. While several of them
pushed Sternberg and Diepold von Lobkowitz into an adjoin-
ing apartment, others, led by William von Lobkowitz, seized
Martinic and dragged him to a window. He made a desperate
resista,nce. But in a moment he was hurled into the moat
below. When the deed had been done, a painful silence
ensued and consternation was seen in every face. Thuru,
who had laid hold of Slawata, broke the spell. "Noble
lords," he cried, " here is the other one !" Immediately
Slawata was dragged to another window and thrown out;
Fabricius was tossed after him. They fell, a distance of fifty-
six feet, upon a heap of sweepings and paper cuttings.^"
Slawata's head struck against the wall and received a severe
wound ; Martinic was slightly bruised ; Fabricius remained
unhurt. The conspirators crowded to the windows. What
was their amazement when they saw that neither the nobles
nor the secretary had been killed by the fall ! They meant
to put them to death. Pistols were hastily drawn and many
shots fired. But the bullets fell wide of their mark.

Fabricius ran for his life, reached his house, and fled. On
a farm, near Prague, he lay concealed for a few days, and
then hastened to Vienna in order to inform the Emperor of
what had occurred.^^ Slawata and Martinic were rescued by

"" Upon the authority of Slawata, Gindely in his 30-jahr. Krieg, I. pp.
298 and 299, denies that the fall of the men was broken by sweepings and
cuttings ; but Skala distinctly asserts this, and as he lived at Prague, he
had the best opportunity of ascertaining the truth. Slawata was too seri-
ously hurt in order to know upon what he fell ; and his testimony is
furthermore worthless, because he and other Catholics endeavored to spread
the idea, that a miracle had been worked on behalf of the Regents. A
monument now marks the spot where they fell.

'1 Fabricius was raised by the Emperor to the ranks of the nobility,
receiving the expressive title of Baron von Hohenfall.


their servants, who procured a ladder up which they carried
them into the adjoining residence of the Chancellor von
Lobkowitz. At its portal appeared Thurn, with a body of
followers, and demanded that the two Regents should be
delivered into his hands. But Polixena, the Chancellor's
wife, spoke to him in so kind yet dignified a way that he
retired in confusion. In the evening Martinic, having cut
off his beard, blackened his face with gunpowder, and other-
wise disguised himself, fled from Prague. He reached
Munich in safety, where Maximilian of Bavaria welcomed
him with open arms. Slawata remained at the Chancellor's
house. He Avas too badly wounded to think of escaping ; but
his wife besought the Countess Thurn to help her in saving
his life. The Countess promised to do what she could,
adding, with a melancholy smile, that she had a presentiment
that the time would soon come when she would be the sup-
pliant. Her exertions were not in vain. Thurn and his
compeers consented to spare Slawata; but required him to
sign a paper acknowledging that he had been justly treated
and promising never to avenge himself on the Protestant
states.^^ After his restoration to health, he was allowed to
retire to Teplitz, whence he fled to Saxony. A golden
triangle, richly ornamented with rubies, and inclosing a
picture of the Virgin painted on enamel, formed the thank-
oflering which the three men conjointly dedicated to her
shrine in the church of Loretto, at Prao'ue.^^

The act of violence perpetrated in the ancient Castle of the
Bohemian kings was a grave error and an unjustifiable out-
rage; but the provocations which led to it were flagrant,
scandalous and inexcusable. Persistently had the Charter
been broken ; unceasing had been the insults, the annoyances,
the injuries, the persecutions, to which the Protestants were
exposed; in the most shameful manner had promises and
solemn pledges been disregarded; with arrogant willfulness
had all legal redress been denied. Was it astonishing that

^^ This paper is given in full by Pescheck, I. pp. 295 and 296.
=>' Schottsky's Prag., II. p. 241.


the patience of the leaders gave way ? How intolerable must
the grievances have been, when a grand old man like Budowa
countenanced the act ! Its perpetrators were guilty ; but the
Regents, and especially the Jesuits, no less guilty. For a
long time these latter had been trying to bring about, not the
outrage which actually occurred, but some deed of violence
that would put the Protestants in their power. Nor must it
be forgotten, that the states looked upon the proceeding as a
judicial execution. They believed that the time had come for
taking the law into their own hands; they formally con-
demned the two Regents to death, and then carried out the
sentence. It may be called an early instance of lynch-law.
No attempt was made to excuse what they had done ; on the
contrary, they defended it as the only way open to them in the
struggle for their cl.\artered rights. That Slawata and Mar-
tinic were enemies of the Bohemian commonwealth and, ac-
cording to its laws, deserved death, can not be gainsaid ; that,
on the other hand, the states were not the administrators of
the law, that they had no right to proceed against these
Regents, that their grievances, however great, did not warrant
so cruel and wicked a thing, by which the holy cause of reli-
gion was stained, all this is undeniable. Their crime can be
extenuated, but not justified.

The news of what had occurred spread like lightning
through the city and the populace became eager for further
acts of violence. But Thurn, at the head of a body of armed
men, rode through the streets everywhere proclaiming that the
Catholics were not to be molested, that the states were merely
defending the rights of the Protestants, that no disorder
would be permitted. In all churches, throughout the capital
and the country, the people were told the same thing.

A provisional government, consisting of thirty Directors,
was now instituted and an army raised, of which Count Thurn
took the command. On the thirtieth of May appeared the
first and, soon after, the second Apology of the states.^^ These

"* Apologia and Andere Apologia. Pescheck gives full extracts I. pp.

297, 304, 322, etc.


Apologies recited, and through numerous documents, proved
the injuries inflicted upon the Protestants. The act perpe-
trated by the states was set forth as follows :

" For the above mentioned reasons we have proceeded against
two of the Regents, namely, William Slawata von Chlum and
Kossumberg and Jaroslaw Barzita von Martinic, otherwise called
Smeczansky, as men who perverted justice and destroyed the
peace of the country, in that they did not fulfill the duties of
the office in which they were placed, but wickedly abused it, both
to the disparagement of the authority of his imperial majesty
our king and sovereign, and to the destruction of the peace of
this kingdom of Bohemia: we threw them both out of the window,
according to ancient usage, and after them a secretary, their flat-
terer, who, among others, had caused great distraction in the city
of Prague. But since their lives have been spared, it remains
for us to know how to deal with them ; either to forgive them
and those whom they protect, or to prosecute in whatever way we
may determine, not only them but others also who have violated
the Charter and the 'Agreement,' being their accomplices, in
particular Paul Michna, that wicked and treacherous man."

These Apologies which, in one sense, have the force of the
Declaration of Independence issued by our own country in 1776,
excited general interest and won for the cause no little favor.
They were sent to the Emperor together with a letter in which
the states respectfully but firmly justified their course. Other
letters were written to the Moravian, Silesian, Lusatian and
Hungarian Diets, also to tJie German Empire, asking for aid.

Several decrees, on the part of the Directors, now appeared.
The first explained that by the Charter religious liberty was
granted to all Bohemians, including residents on ecclesiastical
domains ; the second expelled the Jesuits from Prague (June
the first); the third, issued after the discovery of fifty tuns of
gunpowder stored in the cellars of their Clementinum, ban-
ished them from Bohemia forever ; the fourth sent into exile
Archbishop Lohelius and other dignitaries of the Roman
Catholic Church who had made themselves particularly ob-

The arrival of Fabricius at Vienna caused a profound
sensation. His tale was so startling that it almost transcended
belief. Cardinal Khlesel, contrary to his custom, advocated


mild measures ; Ferdinand urged the immediate crushing of
the rebellion by force of arms. The Emperor followed the
Cardinal's advice. In the beginning of June he commis-
sioned Eusebius Khan to visit Prague and negotiate with the
Protestant states. The old order of things should be restored.
This was the only demand which Matthias made. It was
sustained by Charles von Zerotin, who hastened to the capital
and strongly urged his Bohemian compatriots to yield. But
they would not.

And now, for weeks, imperial rescripts came from Vienna
and answers were sent back by the Directory at Prague. This
correspondence served but to inflame the passions of both par-
ties. Day by day the hope of healing the rupture diminished.
War became imminent. It is true that Khlesel still en-
deavored to prevent so great a calamity. But in July, with
the connivance of Ferdinand, he was seized and removed to
Tyrol. Matthias, whom illness confined to his bed, although
deeply wounded by this indignity, was unable to prevent it.
War broke out in the following month. At first it was an
unimportant conflict; but it spread and grew into a thirty
years' bloody struggle between Romanism and Protestantism.
In March of 1619 the princes of the Empire tried to effect
a reconciliation. The attempt failed ; and ou the twentieth
of the same month Matthias died.

Ferdinand the Second was now King. He too began to
favor peace. He wrote to Bohemia, reappointed the Regents,
promised to govern in accordance with the pledges given at
his coronation, and added, that he would do everything in his
power to restore the tranquility of the kingdom. This would
have been the time for the Protestants to come to terms.
That they refused to do so, was unfortunate, and yet the
natural consequence of his past course. Who Avill blame them
for declaring their utter want of confidence in him, and their
solemn belief that even his oaths were untrustworthy ? As
long as Matthias lived, they remained loyal and hoped for an
eventual understanding. But Ferdinand's accession to the
throne undermined their loyalty and blighted such hopes. A


permanent breach between Bohemia and the House of Haps-
burg became inevitable.

The Directory took immediate steps to prosecute the war.
While Count Mansfeld/^ at the head of one army, occupied
the attention of the imperialists under Count Bouquoy, Thurn
led another into Moravia. Briinn gave him a cordial wel-
come. The Protestant states joined the Ee volution, organized
a provisional government, and banished the Jesuits. Charles
von Zerotin and other nobles protested ; but they were seized
and imprisoned. Leaving Briinn, Thurn directed his march
toward Vienna. On the sixth of June he appeared before its'
walls. Within was Ferdinand, empty-handed and defenceless.
He had neither money nor troops. His fate, the future of his
House, the weal of Germany, the destiny of Europe, lay within
Thurn's grasp An immediate attack would have resulted in
the fall of Vienna, the capture of the King, and the triumph of
Protestantism. Instead of recognizing these momentous issues,
Thurn began negotiations with the Austrian states, and the
states with Ferdinand. On the eleventh they sent a deputation
requiring him to sign a paper which would have rendered them
practically independent. He declined. The deputies became
urgent. He remained firm. At last one of their number, a
Baron von Obergassing, seized a button of his coat and, in a
menacing tone, exclaimed: "Ferdinand, are you going to sign
soon ?" Instead of an answer came a blast of trumpets from
the courtyard into which, at that moment, galloped a body or
five hundred horsemen. They had been sent by Buquoy in
order to protect the King, and had entered the city through a
gate which Thurn had inexcusably left unguarded. Their
arrival changed the whole aspect of affairs. Ferdinand was
saved. Soon after, news came of the defeat of Mansfeld. Thurn
immediately raised the siege and hurried back to Bohemia.

^* Ernst von Mansfeld, born in 1585, was one of the greatest generals
of his time. After serving the king of Spain and the emperor of Ger-
many, he joined the Protestants of Bohemia, fought many battles in their
interests, showed himself as formidable after defeat as before, and died, in
1626, near Zara, in Dalmatia.


As soon as he was gone Ferdinand proceeded to Frankfurt-
on-the-Main and began negotiations with the Electors.
When the Bohemian Directors saw that these negotiations
would prove successful, they prepared to shake off the Haps-
burg yoke. On the thirty-first of July a treaty was concluded
with Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia, and on the sixteenth of
August with Austria. A general Diet convened, which, after
publishing the reasons that rendered the deposition of Ferdi-
nand justifiable and the election of a new monarch necessary,
united, on the nineteenth of August, 1619, in choosing Freder-
ick the Fifth of the Palatinate. At Frankfurt, nine days later,
(August the twenty-eighth) Ferdinand was elected Emperor.

Many advisers warned Frederick against accepting the
Bohemian throne. His own father-in-law, James the First
of England, refused all aid. But Abraham Scultetus, his
court-preacher, represented the appointment as a call from
God which duty to the Evangelical faith required him to
follow ; and Elizabeth, his ambitious wife, told him, that if
he had had courage to marry a king's daughter, he ought to
have courage to take a kingdom for her portion. To such
persuasions he yielded. On the thirty-first of October, 1619,
he entered Prague, and on the fourth of November was
crowned King of Bohemia. George DikastuSj the Adminis-
trator of the Protestant Consistory, and his associate. Bishop
John Cyrill, the representative of the Unitas Fratrum, con-
jointly performed the ceremony. The coronation sermon was
delivered by the former, on the first seven verses of the second
chapter of St. Paul's first Epistle to Timothy. Three days
later, November the seventh, Elizabeth was crowned Queen
of Bohemia, John Corvin, a priest of the Unity and member
of the Consistory, preaching on the same text. Soon after
the new monarch issued a proclamation in Bohemian, Ger-
man, and Latin, setting forth the reasons which induced him
to accept the crown. ^^

26 Original of the German version of this proclamation in Malin Library,
No. 331. "OHen ausschreiben, warumb wir die Cron Bohmen auf uns ge-
nommen," etc.


Frederick was aifable and good-natured, but careless, weak,
and unfit to rule amidst the intricacies and conflicts of a Rev-
olution. He put slights upon his Bohemian generals and
councilors, and alienated the affections of the people by giving
undue prominence to the Reformed ritual and by the scan-
dalous vandalism which he encouraged in the Cathedral and
otlier churches.

The measures of Ferdinand, on the contrary, were prompt
and energetic. He assured himself of the support of Max-
imilian of Bavaria; won, through Maximilian's influence,
the entire Catholic League ; and gained from Sigismund of
Poland and Philip the Third of Spain the promise of
auxiliary troops.

Over against so formidable a coalition, Frederick en-
deavored to rouse the Protestant Union; but jealousy and
bickerings stood in his way. In March, 1620, John George,
Elector of Saxony, the most powerful adherent of the Evan-
gelical faith, espoused the Emperor's cause; and in Julv,
through the intervention of France, a pacification was brought
about between the Union and the League. And now, on
every side, a storm began to gather. Maximilian took com-
mand of the army of the League and effected a junction with
Count Buquoy; the Elector of Saxony conquered Lusatia;
Sigismund sent eight thousand Cossacks ; two Spanish generals
advanced from the Netherlands with thirty thousand men.

Before these auxiliaries could be of any assistance the fate
of Frederick, of Bohemia and Moravia, of the Unitas Fratrum,
of Protestantism in the Hapsburg dominions for generations to
come, was decided. On the eighth of November, 1620, the
imperialists and the troops of the League, under Buquoy and
Maximilian, attacked, at the White Mountain, three miles to
the west of Prague, the Bohemian army, which scarcely counted
half the number of their combined forces. It was commanded
by Prince Christian of Anhalt and, on the seventh, had made a
forced march in order to reach the capital. In this march
Frederick had taken ])art, but had left the camp and gone
into the city where he had spent the night. In the morning


Anhalt sent him word that an attack was Imminent, begging
him to rejoin the troops and encourage them by his presence.
Instead of complying Frederick attended service in the Cathe-
dral, and then engaged two English ambassadors in a lengthy
conversation, assuring them that Anhalt was mistaken. At
noon he invited them to sit down with him to dinner. The
meal had just been finished when a messenger arrived, with
the startling report that a battle was in progress. Putting
himself at the head of five hundred horsemen, detailed to
guard the Hradschin, he hastened to the Reichs Gate. There
he met his generals fleeing from the field. For one short hour
only did the conflict last. The Bohemian army suffered a
crushing defeat.

Frederick's cause was not yet lost. Many of his troops
found their way into Prague ; the citizens offered to defend
its walls; eight thousand Hungarians were within twenty
miles of the city; Mansfeld had twelve thousand men at
Pilsen ; winter, which was close at hand, would render a
protracted siege impossible. But the King's heart failed him.
He fled, with his family, his generals, and a number of prom-
inent nobles. At Breslau he made a brief stand. On hearing,
however, of the defection of Moravia, he continued his flight
until he reached Holland. There he lived in retirement, at
the expense of his father-in-law. In the beginning of 1621,
he was put under the ban of the empire.

Thus ended the Bohemian Revolution. The entire king-
dom with its afiiliated countries lay helpless at the Emperor's



AND A HIDDEN SEED. A. D. 1621-1722.


The Day of Blood at Prague. ^. Z>. 1621.

Prague and the Protestant States surrender. — Outrages in the City and
throughout the Country. — Charles von Liechtenstein Governor. — The
Jesuits recalled and the Ministers of the Brethren and the Reformed
banished. — The Directors and Leaders of the Revolution imprisoned.
— Their Trial and Condemnation. — Twenty-seven of them to suffer
Death. — Ferdinand approves of the Sentence. — The Condemned pre-
pare for their End. — The Scaffold on the Grosse Ring. — The Execu-
tion. — The Victims. — Other Punishments. — Confiscations.

The defeat of the Bohemian army at the White Mountain
struck terror to the hearts of the Protestants. Their cause
was lost. No hope remained except in God. The terms
which the states attempted to make with the conquerors were
coldly rejected. An unconditional surrender formed the only
proposition which Maximilian would entertain ; and the sole
promise, on behalf of the Emperor, which he believed him-
self justified to give, was, that their lives should be spared.
Even against this Bouquoy protested. The states, he said,
had deserved death. Eonally unsuccessful were the efforts


of the City Councils to open negotiations.^ On the tenth of
November the victorious army entered Prague.

This army immediately gave itself up to a licentiousness
that beggars description. Houses were pillaged; women
violated ; men tortured in order to extort confessions as to
where they had hidden their treasures. The very clothes
were torn, in the public streets, from the persons of the
passers by. No one was safe. In as much as valuables of
every kind had been brought into the capital, under the
supposition that within its walls they could best be protected,
the booty that fell into the hands of the army proved to be
immense. Similar spoliations took place throughout the
country. The Spanish mercenaries made themselves particu-
larly notorious. Nor were the outrages perpetrated by
common soldiers alone. " It is an undeniable fact," says
Gindely, " that the bearers of the most exalted names, who
filled the highest military offices under Buquoy, personally
took part in such robberies."^ Maximilian, in the time of
his short stay at Prague, vainly tried to put a stop to them ;
and on returning to his own dominions (November the
eighteenth), charged the Prince von Liechtenstein, whom he
appointed Governor, to curb the disorders by all the means
within his power. ^

In this Prince Bohemia soon learned to recognize a scourge
of God. His efforts in the direction pointed out by the Duke
were as lame as his measures on behalf of the Romish Church
were energetic. The Jesuits, the Archbishop, and the other
exiled ecclesiastics were recalled ; the priests of the Unity, as
well as the Calvinist ministers, professors and teachers, were
ordered to leave Prague in three days, and Bohemia in eight;

' Sources for this chapter are : Gindely's SO-jiihr. Krieg, III. chap. 10
and IV. chap. 2 ; Pescheck I. chap. 9 and 10 ; Daums' Verfolgungcn in B.;
Ein Tag aus d. Bohm. Gesch.; Priigerisclie Execution ; Hist. Persecu-
tionum, Cap. LIX-LXXXIV ; Kekatholisirung des Bohm. Niederlandes.

2 Gindely's 30-jahr. Krieg, III. p. 375.

'Liechtenstein's title was " Subdelegirter Commissarius ;" Ferdinand
sanctioned botli the appointment and this title.


the Jesuit Church was taken from the Brethren ;^ the Cath-
edral rededicated with many ceremonies. Other reactionary
measures, all pointing to a radical change in Church and
State, followed in quick succession. No one knew what a day
would bring forth. Dark forebodings filled every mind.
And yet with such finesse were things managed that men
allowed themselves, in spite of their better knowledge, to be
rocked in a cradle of security. For three months no open
steps were taken against the Directors and other leaders of
the Revolution. In secret they were watched. But of this
they knew nothing. They imagined the danger to be past ;
came out of their hiding places; and showed themselves in
the streets of Prague.

This pleasing dream was suddenly interrupted. On the
twentieth of February, 1621, the nobles were summoned to
an audience with Liechtenstein, in order to hear, so ran the
message, a communication from the Emperor. Count Tilly,
struck with pity at their impending fate, gave them a hint to
flee.^ But, unsuspicious still, they neglected this warning.
At the appointed hour of the afternoon they appeared before
the Governor, and were arrested. Under the same pretence
those not of noble birth were induced to present themselves
to the City Judges, who forthwith gave them in custody. In
this manner forty-three prominent representatives of the
Revolution fell into Ferdinand's power. They were all
incarcerated ; some in the towers of the Hradschin, others in
the Council Houses of the Alt- and Neustadt. On the follow-
ing day heralds passed through the streets and cited those

Online LibraryEdmund Alexander De SchweinitzThe history of the church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Or, The unity of the Brethren, founded by the followers of John Hus, The Bohemian reformer amd martyr → online text (page 45 of 64)