21.06.

1621: Bloody Execution of Czech Noblemen in Prague

1621: Bloody Execution of Czech Noblemen in Prague
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ Contemporary woodcut depicting the execution

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 21 June 1621
  • This event is very well known in Czech history. Indeed, 27 crosses were placed at the place of the execution - the Old Town Square in Prague - to commemorate those deaths.

On this day, the bloody mass execution of 27 Czech noblemen and citizens happened in Prague as a punishment for the uprising they led against the Habsburg authorities in these areas.

This event is very well known in Czech history. Indeed, 27 crosses were placed at the place of the execution – the Old Town Square in Prague – to commemorate those deaths.

Why were those Czech nobles and citizens executed? Specifically, an uprising of the Bohemian estates against the rule of the Habsburg dynasty broke out back in 1618. The start of the uprising was marked by the so-called “Defenestration of Prague” i.e. throwing Habsburg officials out through the window by the disgruntled Czechs. It was also the beginning of the so-called “Thirty Years’ War” – an extremely bloody conflict which, during many years, devastated Czech and German lands.

The Habsburgs managed to inflict a heavy blow to Czech rebels defeating them at the famous Battle of White Mountain (Bílá hora) in 1620. That battle was the turning point, after which the Habsburg forces conducted a strong repression of local Bohemian nobles. Much of the country that was once in the hands of local nobles came under the rule of foreign families.

One form of retaliation was the mass execution in Prague on this day. Some of the Czech nobles executed were:

Jáchym Ondřej hrabě Šlik (known in German as Joachim Andreas von Schlick, Count of Passaun and Weißkirchen)

Václav Budovec z Budova (known in German as Wenzel Wilhelm Baron Budowecz of Budowa)

Kryštof Harant z Polžic a Bezdružic (known in German as Baron Christoph Harant of Polschitza and Weseritza)

Another seven members of lower nobility and as many as 17 burghers were executed as well.

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