Jan Žižka and the Taborites

posted May 2, 2012, 2:45 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated May 2, 2012, 10:40 AM ]
As you will remember, poor Jan Hus was burned at the stake on 6 July 1415 ... which sparked a rebellion back home in Bohemia, what is now the Czech Republic.

The most radical group holed up in south Bohemia at a place they called
Tábor, led by the blind general Jan Žižka (d.1424).  The so-called Taborites rejected everything not supported by biblical evidence, and were very keen on apocalypticism.  Some people have argued that the Taborites provide us with the first example of the use of the apocalyptic tradition for political, social, and economic revolution.

Even the more moderate followers of Hus thought that the Taborites had gone too far, and defeated them in 1434 at the Battle of Lipany.  Tabor itself was conquered in 1452.  This is what it looked like in the fifteenth century:

The Hussites, however, managed to hold on despite constant military intervention by the Emperor, and the end of Bohemian independence at the Battle of White Mountain (1620).  The Hussites in effect became a separate heretical church, long before the Reformation, and their doctrines were well known to Luther.

If you go to
Tábor today, in the south part of the Czech Republic close to the Austrian border, you will find that General Žižka is the biggest local hero.  You can see a part of Žižka's skull in the museum:

Using what's left of his head, they managed to reconstruct what
Žižka looked like (which is amazingly like my Uncle Meyer, who had no military experience at all):

This is what Tábor looks like now (it's a beautiful town):

A statue of the great man dominates the main square.  Here I am doing my Žižka imitation.  He does not look amused.

By the way, try not to confuse
Slavoj Žižek....

... with Jan Žižka, because if you do, you'll never be able to sit in the Gilman cafeteria again:

...although, truth be told, they do look amazingly similar....