Battle of Lipany – Hussite Wars 1419-1434 – European Wars of Religion DOCUMENTARY

Battle of Lipany – Hussite Wars 1419-1434 – European Wars of Religion DOCUMENTARY


This video was suggested and sponsored by our Patreon supporter Renae Malgrem. Supporting us on Patreon is the best way to propose and sponsor a new video. Although the Catholic Church dominated life in medieval Europe, its power was not unchallenged and was tested by different movements within Christianity. The Hussites were one of these movements. The military of the Hussites held Europe in fear for almost two decades and their movement not only entered the collective consciousness of the Czech people but was the first harbinger of the Reformation and the European wars of religion. In the late 14th century, dissent within the Church was on the rise especially on the edges of the Catholic world. In England, philosopher and theologian John Wycliffe was leading the charge against the Papacy. He attacked the luxury of the Church and advocated for the Bible’s translation into local languages, influencing many clergymen, among them Jan Hus of Bohemia. The Catholic world was split by the so-called Western Schism in 1378. Rival popes were elected in Rome and Avignon. This only decreased the prestige of the Church and helped Jan Hus to gain supporters with his anti-Church, anti-Papacy rhetoric. At that time, Bohemia was a kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire and it was ruled by Wenceslaus IV. He was attempting to keep his neutrality in the Schism to secure his election to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire but that only strengthened the position of Hus, who was quickly gaining supporters. The half-brother of Wenceslaus, the king of Hungary Sigismund, was also vying for the throne of the Empire so in 1414, he facilitated the Council of Constance to end the Schism. Jan Hus was invited to the Council to defend himself and was promised protection by Sigismund, but then was imprisoned and executed in July of 1415. His supporters, who collectively called themselves the Hussites, started attacking Catholic monasteries in Bohemia and Moravia. By 1419, the region was in open rebellion and in July citizens of the capital Prague attacked the representatives of the king. Some sources claim that Wenceslaus was so shocked by these events that they caused his death. Sigismund was the successor and he quickly sent an army. The moderate Hussites of Prague, the Utraquists, mostly consisting of nobility and members of the urban population were in favor of negotiating. But the more radical Taborites, made up of minor nobles and peasantry, led by the veteran of the Battle of Grunwald Jan Žižka, continued fighting. In early 1420, their small force managed to defeat the Catholic forces at Sudoměř. In the next few months, the Hussites took over many cities in Bohemia and in November, won another crucial battle at Vyšehrad. In January, the Taborites entered Moravia and Sigismund had to retreat to Hungary as his supply lines were in danger. In 1421, the Pope called for another crusade to take advantage of the dissent between the Taborites and the Utraquists. The pope called for a crusade against the Hussites and it was led by Sigismund himself, who soon besieged Prague from three sides. This forced the Hussites to unite their armies under Jan Žižka. The two armies met on July 14th, 1420 to the east of Prague at the Battle of Vítkov Hill. Initially, the Hussites had only a few hundred warriors against the knightly army that had between 5,000 and 10,000 warriors but their leader knew that Vítkov Hill was essential for the defense of the city as without taking it, Sigismund wouldn’t be able to surround Prague. Žižka built his defenses on the steepest part of the hill. The knights had to attack head-on. The Hussites used handguns, crossbows and light artillery extensively and their volleys did massive damage to the attacking forces. However, the crusaders almost succeeded in taking the hill but Žižka moved there himself and drove the enemy back. The knights attempted to retreat but they had their infantry directly behind them, so there was no space to turn. The Hussites then received reinforcements from the city. The crusaders were attacked from the flanks by these new units, while the Taborites of Žižka continued pushing the enemy downhill. The left side of the crusading army suffered many casualties and soon they were in full retreat. The losses sustained by the crusaders are still debated with sources claiming anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand. But regardless by the end of July, Sigismund retreated from Prague. It is important to mention the tactics employed by the Hussites. They used so-called Wagenburg, the wagon forts. Before a battle, their wagons formed a circle or square with artillery behind them. Each of the wagons had 10 handgunners and crossbowmen alongside 10 melee fighters. This formation was challenging to break for the knightly armies of the crusaders. Artillery and missiles were mainly used against the cavalry to weaken them and after defending their position, the Hussites would counterattack the weakened enemy. Sigismund was planning to take Kutná Hora. Žižka, who had by now completely lost his vision due to injuries, had his 15,000 troops intercept the 50,000-strong crusader army near the city in late December. As usual, Žižka troops entered the town and left a small garrison to prevent the crusaders from taking over. His remaining forces set a square of wagons in front of the city walls. The crusaders attacked on the 21st of December. The Taborites managed to defend well into the night, while inflicting heavy casualties on the attackers. Even so, they were still heavily outnumbered and didn’t have enough strength to counter-attack. At this point, citizens loyal to Sigismund attacked the Taborite garrison and soon the crusaders entered the city. Žižka was surrounded and needed something entirely new to save his army. All artillery was set on the wagons, which were ordered into a single column. This single column was sent charging into the enemy. Artillery and missile volleys from both sides of the wagons killed many crusaders. Sources claim that Sigismund lost more than 10,000 in this battle, while the Taborite losses were around 2,000. Žižka retreated but then pounced against Sigismund’s relatively undefended supply train at the Battle of Deutschbrod. The crusaders lost their provisions and had to withdraw yet again. The Hussites tried to offer the crown of Bohemia to the king of Poland, Jogaila, but he refused. However, his cousin the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Vytautas, accepted the offer. He never assumed the throne but sent his nephew Sigismund Korybut alongside a few thousand fighters. In 1424, Žižka passed away and the Taborites were now led by Prokop the Bold. The Fourth and Fifth Crusade sent against them were easily defeated. Their troops were so dominant during that time that they raided Germany and Hungary on a few occasions. The Hussites even assisted Poland in the Polish-Teutonic War of 1431 to 1435, reaching the Baltic Sea during their raid in 1433 and forcing the Teutonic Order to start negotiations with Jogaila. Defeating the Hussites became one of the central issues within the Church and the Empire in the first half of the 15th century. The Hussites were even invited to the Catholic Council at Basel in 1433 where the Church and the leaders of the Utraquists reconciled and the latter were allowed to practice their versions of rights. The Taborites protested this peace and a war between the former comrades became inevitable. In May of 1434, their two armies finally met near Český Brod at a hill called Lipany. Almost all of the Czech nobility was a part of the Utraquist army led by Diviš Bořek. He had 13,000 footmen and 2,000 cavalry under his command alongside 700 wagons. The Taborites commanded by Prokop the Bold had 10,000 infantry, 700 horsemen and 400 wagons. Prokop placed his wagons on the slopes of the hill. Trenches were dug in front of the Taborite positions and their left flank was covered by a small river. His artillery was in the second line, while his cavalry was in the rear. Being uphill allowed the artillery to aim better and negated their enemy’s numerical superiority. The two sides attempted to negotiate for a few days, but the talk soon fell through and the battle started on the 30th of May. Initially, the Utraquists stayed slightly beyond the range of the Taborite artillery and their volleys were ineffective. Diviš Bořek ordered his infantry into columns with the wagons in front and ordered them forward after an artillery volley, as he knew that the enemy would need time to reload. The Taborites still inflicted some damage on the attackers with their artillery. The Utraquist artillery was now in range but it was shooting uphill and failed to do much damage. Diviš Bořek ordered a retreat. As usual, the Taborites mounted a counterattack. Their wagons were moved out of the way and they charged downhill. However, as soon as their line caught up to the enemy, the Utraqust wagons stopped and opened fire. The Taborite cavalry, which was supposed to cover the flanks and joined the attack, left the battle and Diviš Bořek’s cavalry, hidden in a nearby forest, attacked them from the right side. The Taborites suffered massive losses and retreated. However, their attempt to set up the Wagenburg once again failed as the Utraquist cavalry was chasing them. Prokop was killed and his army soon ceased to exist. The Taborites lost more than 3,000 men and although they continued fighting for a few more years, the war was over. According to the Peace of Jihlava of 1436, Sigismund was restored to the throne, while the Utraquists were allowed to worship in their own fashion. The Taborite defeat delayed the Reformation for a century but the European wars of religion were just starting. Thank you for watching our documentary on the Hussite Wars. We would like to express our gratitude to our Patreon supporters, who make the creation of these videos possible. Patreon is the best way to suggest a new video, learn about our schedule and much more. Check out the merchandise store we recently created. The link is in the description. This is the Kings and Generals channel and we will catch you on the next one.

7 Replies to “Battle of Lipany – Hussite Wars 1419-1434 – European Wars of Religion DOCUMENTARY”

  1. You can give us your money, so we can make more videos about Sigismund. Support us on Patreon: http://www.patreon.com/KingsandGenerals or via Paypal: http://paypal.me/kingsandgenerals. Seriously, the guy was everywhere…

  2. I was at tábor visiting while there was a city festival, celebrating husites. Chills when hundreds of people sang the husite hymn, kdož sů boží bojovníci / who are the god´s warriors.

  3. Dumb question probably, Which one of this Wenceslaus is the "Good King Wenceslaus?" Because it seems like I've heard about at least 5 of them by this point

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