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Žižka, John


Hussite leader; b. Trocnov c. 1358; d. Pribyslav (Czech.), Oct. 11, 1424. A member of the landed gentry, Žižka learned the art of war in the expedition of Emperor wenceslaus against the teutonic knights. As a royal courtier (141119) he became interested in the religious issues of the day. At the outbreak of the Hussite revolution under John Želivský (1419), he took charge of its military action. Seeing himself as Zelator praecipuus of the law of Christ, he considered his enemies "those who did not take the Body and Blood of Christ in both kinds," including the Emperor sigismund, Germans, Catholics, compromising utraquists, and extremists such as the picards. In 1420 he assumed leadership of the radical hussites, the taborites, transforming their theocratic community of Tabor into a military unit. Numerous victories brought him recognition (1422) as commander-in-chief of all Hussite forces. Although he represented a practical and political, rather than a moral, power he insisted on the Four Articles of Prague as a unifying factor for preserving the strength of the Hussites. When extremists became too influential at Tabor, he turned to the Orebites, transferring his army to Hradec Kralové (1423), known since as Lesser Tabor. From there he continued his militant defense of the "cause of the chalice." Recent research pictures him not as a radical adventurer, but as a leader conscious of the religious, national, and social issues at stake.

Bibliography: j. pekaŘ, Žižka a jeho doba, 4 v. (Prague 192733). f. g. heymann, John Žižka and the Hussite Revolution (Princeton 1955).

[l. nemec]

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