There were several battles in the past that influenced the course of the history more than others. Some of them influenced the history of the world, the others “only” on a country or nation. It does not matter how great the consequences of each of these battles was: they should be remembered so as not to be dead and buried. And, fortunately, they are remembered.
The battle of the White Mountain is one of these battles that had a long-term influence “only” in the Central Europe but on the beginning of the 17th century it was an event almost all rulers of Europe that were watching. When the representatives of Bohemian protestant Estates broke into chambers of old royal palace at Prague castle on the 23th Mai 1618 and threw the representatives of the Holy Roman Emperor Matthias out of the windows it could have not occurred to anyone of them that they had raised the storm that would change the course of history not only of the Kingdom of Bohemian but also of the whole of Europe. The war spread over Germany, Silesia and Hungary, later also over Belgium, Spain and the Rhein and finished only after thirty years by the Peace of Westphalia. This is why this conflict has gone down in history as Thirty Years’ War.
The reason for the uprising against the emperor was the due to not keeping religious freedom, which had been promised in The Letter of Majesty by the emperor Rudolf II. 1609. The rebellion in Bohemian and Moravia was a serious threat to Habsburg and Catholic League that also Duke of Bavarian and king of Spain sent their troops to put down the revolt. The conflict had been going on for two years and culminated not far from Prague in the battle of White Mountain on 8th November 1620. The engagement lasted only an hour, the Bohemian army was destroyed, the uprising put down and the emperor could enforce the dominance of Catholicism and his own rule over the lands of the Kingdom of Bohemia. For the next 300 years the house of Habsburg enjoyed absolute hegemony over the Bohemian and Moravia until the end of the First World War in 1918 when the First Czechoslovak Republic was established.
The combat represented one of the most important moment of the history of Central Europe and especially of Bohemian kingdom. Therefore, it is not surprising that the engagement has already been reconstructed for 14th year running to preserve it in people’s memory. The reconstruction took place on the White Mountain in front of Star Game Reserve (obora Hvězda) from 22th to 23th September. Over 800 performers acted as soldiers in the battle and 200 other performers sold and played in period costumes on the historical market. The event visited over 3 000 guests.
The event started with a historical market at 12 O’clock. Thus, the guests could enjoy the historical atmosphere, buy historical items, visit the period encampment or take pictures with the soldiers of all kind. It was possible to see the troops from Hungary, Spain, Netherlands, Poland, England, Germany or Austria. A lot of stands were exhibited too, that explained, both Czech and English, the circumstances of the rebellion, the situation before the battle, the military doctrine of 17th century and other things connected to battle. It must not be forgotten to mention that the period music was playing for all time which added the atmosphere.
At 15 O’clock, the burgomaster of Prague commenced the battle. The reconstruction began with the description of situation briefly before the encounter and a personal story of one of the soldiers and his son that fought on the site of rebels. After the execution of deserters, the army of Catholic league approached and the battle could start. The reconstruction of the battle was truly huge. There was also a trench in the middle of battlefield where were given the dogged engagements and neither were cavalry charges missing. Some of the performers go into their role that they fought to the last breath and caused a bleeding of their “foes”. But no serious injury happened and after the encounter, all actors went for a beer together. The battle ended with a parade of all units and military clubs that participated in this reconstruction.
The reconstruction took about an hour and half and after the end of the combat, most of visitors started leaving the event. It could also have been caused by weather that had become colder than at the beginning. The market stayed opened until 6 p.m. and afterwards, also the most sustained visitors had to leave.
The all event was in all truly an amazing experience. Great atmosphere, awesome costumes, enchanting historical market and stirring reconstruction of the encounter. As every year, unfortunately for the Bohemian rebels, the Bohemian Estates lost the battle once again, so they did not succeed in turning back the clock and changing the course of history. But I believe they will be undeterred by the enemy’s host next year again and especially in two years, which will be a major anniversary of this combat: 400 years! I am truly looking forward to the event and I believe that the celebration will not be comparable to any other before.