- Battle of Vítkov Hill
Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Vítkov Hill
caption=A painting by
Alphonse Muchadetailing the carnage after the battle
date=June 12-July 14, 1420
Vítkov Hill(outside Prague, Czech Republic)
result=Decisive Hussite victory
Holy Roman Empire Kingdom of Hungary[Attila and Balázs Weiszhár: Lexicon of Wars (Háborúk lexikona) Atheneaum Budapest, 2004. ISBN 9789639471252]
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
The Battle of Vítkov Hill was a part of the
Hussite Wars. The battle pitted the forces of Emperor Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperoragainst Hussiteforces under command of Jan Žižka(in English, John Zizka). Vítkov Hill was located on the edge of the city of Pragueand the battle occurred in a vineyard established by Sigismund's father, Charles IV.
Preliminaries to the battle
On the 1st of March 1420,
Pope Martin Vpublished a papal bullin which he ordered that Sigismund and all Eastern princes had to organize a crusadeagainst the Hussite followers of John Hus, John Wycliffeand other heretics. On the 15th of March in Wrocław, Emperor Sigismund ordered the execution of Jan Krásawho was a Hussite and leader of the Wrocław Uprisingin 1418. On the 17th of March the papal legate Ferdinand de Palaciospublished the bull in Wrocław. After that the Utraquistfaction of Hussites understood that they would not reach agreement with him. They united with Taborite Hussites and decided to defend against the emperor.
The crusaders assembled their army in
Świdnica. On the 4th of April 1420, Taborite forces destroyed Catholic forces in Mladá Vožice. On the 7th of April Taborites under command of Nicholas of Huscaptured Sedlice after which they captured Písek, the castle Rábí, Strakonice, and Prachatice. At the end of April, the crusading army crossed the Bohemian border. At the beginning of May they captured Hradec Králové. On the 7th May, Čeněk of Wartenbergsurrounded Hradčany.
Fights on Benešov and near Kutná Hora
The Crusader force of 400 infantry and knights under the command of
Peter of Sternbergattempted to defend Benešovagainst the Taborites. After the battle, the crusader forces were destroyed and the town was burned. Near Kutná Horathe crusader forces under the command of Janek z Chtěnicand Pippo Spano (Filippo Scolari) attacked the formations of the Taborites without success.
On 22 May Taborite forces entered Prague. Jan Žižka destroyed the crusader's relief column which had to secure supplies which were sent to
Hradčanyand Vyšehrad. Meanwhile the crusading army captured Slaný, Lounyand Mělník.
Defence of Prague
*The siege began on the 12th of June. The crusaders' forces, in the opinions of the chroniclers, consisted of 100-200 thousand soldiers. In the opinions of modern historians they probably had 50-100 thousand soldiers. One of the most important points in the fortifications of Prague was Vítkov Hill. The fortifications on this hill secured roads on the crusaders' supply lines. The fortifications themselves were made from trees but they were consolidated with a stone and clay wall and with
moats. On the southern part of the hill there was a standing tower, the northern part was secured by a steepy cliff. Fortifications were said to be defended by 26 men and 3 women. In the opinion of J. Durdik, the fortifications were probably actually defended by about 60 soldiers.
*On the 13th of July, The Crusader's cavalry crossed the river
Vltava(German name: "Moldau") and began their attack.
*On the 14th of July, Hussite relief troops surprise attacked Knights through the vineyards on the southern side of the hill on which the battle was fought. The violent attack forced the crusaders down the steep northern cliff. Panic spread among the crusaders, which made them route the field. During the retreat, many knights drowned in the Vltava river. Most of Žižka's forces were soldiers armed with flails and guns. After the battle, the Hussites had won. Crusaders lost about 300 knights. In honour of this battle, Vítkov Hill was renamed Žižkov after Jan Žižka. This battle was more on a political success than a military success. As a consequence of the Hussite victory on Vitkov, crusaders lost any hope in starving the city and their army disintegrated. Afterward the crusaders withdrew to Kutná Hora and began local warfare.
A monument exists today on the hill and in 2003 local officials were attempting to replant the vineyard.
*Piotr Marczak "Wojny Husyckie" (English, "Hussites Wars") pages 61-67 published 2003 by "Egros" Warsaw
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