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A look back at the defenestration of Prague

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Under this rather barbaric term lies an absolutely incredible historical fact. The episode of the defenestration of Prague took place against the backdrop of a religious quarrel and broken promises.

We were then at the beginning of the 17th century. This is an opportunity for us to look back at this little-known, but rather unusual episode.

When did the defenestration of Prague take place?

This episode of the defenestration of Prague took place on May 23, 1618. We are in the first quarter of the 17th century when Bohemian nobles and German representatives had to throw themselves out of windows in order to be left alone.

What is the Prague Defenestration?

In concrete terms, several dozen Protestant nobles left their Bohemia to visit the representatives of the German Emperor Matthias I of Habsburg, also King of Bohemia. Led by the Count of Thurn, the latter wished to discuss with them a point on which all had agreed: the practice of their religion.

The Bohemian nobles accused the sovereign and his subjects of having deliberately closed two Protestant temples, in Braunau and Klostergrab, thus preventing the local faithful from practicing their religion. A heresy for the latter, whereas Rodolphe II of Habsburg, the previous emperor had offered them the right to practice.

How did we arrive at the defenestration of Prague?

This request was not the only one, and perhaps that is the problem. In fact, the Bohemian nobles regretted the fact that Matthias I, who was in power at the time, had decided to bequeath power to his cousin Ferdinand, Archduke of Styria.

Since the former had no descendants, it was this fervent Catholic who was promised power. Unscrupulous, this one does not have that to make of the preceding treaties. The meeting that took place at Prague Castle turned into a drama…

Well, almost. Indeed, the Bohemian nobles, obviously very annoyed by the situation, attack everyone and make the governors and the clerk pass… Through the window! Don’t worry, the latter have fallen on dung.

What are the repercussions of the defenestration in Prague?

At the time: nothing, except the fear of being thrown out of a window. However, if we zoom out, we know that this episode precipitated the fall of Central Europe into the Thirty Years’ War, whose repercussions will be quite important for Germany. A war that will last from 1618 to 1848.

Note that another defenestration of Prague took place on March 10, 1948. At the time, Minister Masaryk, the only minister in the Czechoslovak government at the time who was neither socialist nor communist, was found dead under the windows of his ministry.

Although the police initially thought it was suicide, it was not until 2004 and the reopening of the investigation that it was revealed that it was more likely to be murder than anything else.