The Battle of Bílá Hora, 399 Years Ago

The battle at the White Hill was on 8 November 1620.

An army of 15,000 Bohemians and mercenaries under Christian of Anhalt was defeated by 27,000 men of the combined armies of Ferdinand II, Holy Roman emperor led by Charles Bonaventure de Longueval, Count of Bucquoy and the German Catholic League under Johann Tsercleas, Count of Tilly at Bílá Hora near Prague.

In the space of an hour, the Catholic Habsburg army routed the Czech Protestants on this hillock, deciding the fate of Bohemia for the next 300 years.

The new king, Ferdinand II, punished the Protestant leaders and took it upon himself to bring his country back to Catholicism. In 1627 he canceled religious tolerance and ordered that children be taught in Catholic schools only. German was put on the same level as the Czech language, and traces of Czech culture could only be found in provincial areas.

Twenty-seven noble leaders of the insurrection were executed at Prague’s Old Town Square, along with an untold number of common people.

The dark era began, and over thirty thousand people, mostly the intellectual elite, left the country and never returned.

Catholics all over Europe celebrated the victory. In Rome, Pope Paul V died while leading a victory parade, and his successor, Gregory XV, gave a new basilica by Italian architect Carlo Maderno the name Santa Maria della Vittoria (Saint Mary of Victory) in honor of the battle.

In Prague, Ferdinand laid the foundations of the monastery that still stands on the battleground, and he erected a victory column in the heart of the city, which Czech patriots saw as a symbol of Habsburg tyranny and tore down after 1918.

Today the only reminder of the battle is a small memorial cairn located on a mound in the middle of a field, and the Church of Our Lady of Victories (1704-14).



Leave a Reply
Related Posts
Best Rooftops in Prague
Read More

The 12 Best Rooftops in Prague

Share via: Prague has one of the most beautiful skylines in Europe. Getting above the rooftops as often as…
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap