The World Wide Web was
invented by Tim Berners-Lee when he launched the
first web site on 6 August 1991. That web site described a new protocol
that Berners-Lee had invented, called "HyperText Transfer Protocol," or
invention has become very popular in the eighteen years since that
course, the World Wide Web has encountered various problems and
"growing pains" in the past eighteen years. One of the biggest
problems, in my mind, is simply that of popularity. There are millions
of web sites available today. I like to check frequently with a rather
large number of web sites to see what has been added recently. However,
I find that checking each web site by using the 1991 technology that
uses http protocol is time-consuming. Going out to each site and
manually scanning to see what is new can consume quite a bit of time,
especially if you want to check several hundred web sites!
Luckily, there is a
simple solution: skip the http and use RSS instead.
of you going out, make the new info come to you. In effect, your
computer can retrieve all the new information and store that
information on your hard drive.
new RSS (Really Simple Syndication) protocol simply adds a method of
automation: instead of performing repetitive tasks yourself, let your
computer do them. After all, computers are really good at performing
old-fashioned http method, you (the user) open a web browser and go out
to various web sites of interest and retrieve information. That process
works well but is really slow. Checking a few hundred web sites might
In the newer method
of using RSS protocol, your computer (or web program) will go out to
the Web and retrieve any new information on web sites that you have
specified in a list. You manually create the list, but the computer
does the repetitive checking and retrieving of new information. The new
information is then stored on the computer's hard drive, waiting for
you to read it. Since the information is already stored for you, there
is no waiting for web pages to display. Reading new articles that have
been stored on a local hard drive is as fast or perhaps faster than
reading new e-mail messages in an e-mail program.
is the key here. In fact, if you connect to the Internet via a dial-up
connection, you need RSS! However, even users of the highest speed
fiber optic connections will find RSS to be pleasantly faster than
retrieving information in the old-fashioned way. You can now check
hundreds of web sites for newly-added information within a very few
minutes, not hours.
you need an RSS reader. There are many to choose from for Windows,
Macintosh, Linux, Palm, SmartPhone, and Apple iPhone operating systems.
Most of them are available free of charge; a few with advanced features
cost a few dollars. I'd suggest that you start with a free RSS reader
and use that until you become experienced enough to understand the
advantages of a commercial reader. I suspect that most users never
upgrade; they keep using their free RSS readers for years.
RSS reader might be a bit of software that you install on a local
computer or it might be software that runs on a distant web server in
the best "cloud computing" manner.
an RSS reader in your own computer usually results in faster operation,
especially for people who do not have high-speed internet service.
Hundreds of such newsreaders are available
You can easily switch
different RSS reader at a later date if you wish to. Your list of
monitored web sites can be exported as an OPML file and then imported
into any other modern RSS reader; you won't have to manually create
your list again.
Next, you need to
“subscribe” to the web sites you wish to monitor. In this step you find
web sites that offer information in RSS format. Luckily, millions of
web sites do just that today. Most major news services, stock market
information services, weather forecasts, sports reports, and much more
are available as RSS feeds. I even monitor my checkbook entries via an
online RSS feed!
In addition, almost
all blogs offer RSS
feeds. One estimate claims there are more than 50 million blogs, and
that the number is increasing rapidly.
means creating a list of sites you are interested in monitoring. The
exact process will vary from one RSS reader to another, so you will
need to read the program's documentation to find the exact steps for
creating that list in the RSS reader you selected. With most RSS
readers, you use a normal web browser to first find a web site of
interest, then switch to the RSS reader and give it a command to "check
this site often." In many cases, you can simply enter the URL for a
favorite web site in a subscription search box. If that site offers an
RSS feed, it will automatically be added to your list.
RSS readers check for updates at least daily; most can check even more
often than that. Should you wish to, most RSS readers will even check
of manually going out to find new information, you can make that info
come to you. In effect, your computer retrieves all the new information
and stores that information on your hard drive or on the hard drive of
a single web server. The end result is simpler, easier, and much faster
New articles will
start arriving in your RSS reader without any action on your part
you ever have a requirement to create HTML code for use in web
pages, you might be interested in a new HTML editor called BlueGriffon.
You use HTML editors to create web pages. The pages might be for a
personal web site, your genealogy society's web site, or for most any
BlueGriffon is a WYSIWYG editor. That is, "what you see is what you
get." Unlike many other HTML editors, BlueGriffon is as easy to use as
a word processor. You create each page on your own Windows, Macintosh,
or Linux computer, and BlueGriffon automatically creates the underlying
HTML code. You can then copy that code to a web site you control, be it
a personal web page, a society web site, or most any other page on the
Internet. Best of all is the price tag: free.
NOTE: HTML is "hypertext
markup language." It is the code used to create many web pages. For a
full explanation of HTML, look on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Html.
Use of BlueGriffon or a similar WYSIWYG HTML editor shields you from
most of the HTML code, however. With BlueGriffon, you simply enter the
text you wish to place on a web page, add the graphics and formatting,
and let BlueGriffon do all the work of converting your keystrokes into
HTML code that can then be uploaded to a web page.
I create HTML pages for much of this newsletter's
web site at http://www.eogn.com.
Some of the pages are created by the (simplistic) HTML editor built
into the TypePad hosting service. However, that editor does not create
more sophisticated web pages, such as pages that contain tables. I also
create the weekly Plus Edition newsletter (found at http://www.eogn.com/wp/thisweek.htm)
as well as an HTML email message sent every week to announce the
availability of the latest Plus Edition newsletter.
Over the years, I have been through a number of HTML WYSIWYG editors.
Some years ago, when I was still using Windows as my primary computer,
I used Microsoft's FrontPage. Microsoft has now replaced FrontPage with
a newer product called Microsoft Expression Web. Both FrontPage and
Expression Web did a credible job but were expensive. Expression Web
now sells for a "street price" of $80 to $100.
Upon switching to a Mac, I decided to obtain the "heavy duty" product
that professional web developers recommend: Dreamweaver. It was very
expensive at about $300. I quickly learned why it is called "heavy
duty." It is awkward to use and has a long learning curve. In short,
Dreamweaver can do almost anything a web designer needs to do. It is
somewhat like an 18-wheeler: heavy duty, rugged, and able to carry most
anything. However, driving it isn't much fun, and it is very
uncomfortable. In 18-wheelers, you have to double-clutch. I sometimes
felt that Dreamweaver was the same. I used the program for about two
years, but I never did like it and never became comfortable with it. I
really needed a simpler product that was more in keeping with my needs:
an automatic transmission and a comfortable ride.
I found the product I wanted, called KompoZer. This WYSIWYG editor has
served me well for the past year or so. It isn't perfect, however. In
fact, I'd describe KompoZer as "a bit rough around the edges" and even
a bit buggy. To be sure, KompoZer is simple to use and it has met my
needs well. Best of all is its price tag: Free.
On May 10, 2011, BlueGriffon version 1.0 was released
and was quickly followed by newer versions. The current release is
BlueGriffon is much like KompoZer, only updated. It has an intuitive
application that provides Web authors (beginners or more advanced) with
a simple user interface, much like a word processor. It allows the user
to create attractive Web pages without requiring extensive technical
knowledge about web standards. In most cases, anyone can create a web
page using BlueGriffon and then either upload the result to a web
server or copy-and-paste the code into some other content management
In fact, BlueGriffon even looks a lot like KompoZer but with a new,
friendlier user interface. In addition, BlueGriffon contains a number
of features not found in the older KompoZer, such as the ability to
create and edit Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
Those who appreciate the technical details will want to know that
BlueGriffon can create and edit all HTML 4, XHTML 1 and HTML 5 (both
HTML and XML serializations) documents. Even if you did not use
BlueGriffon to create a Web page, you'll find that BlueGriffon can
easily deal with it, providing you with a nice, simple and intuitive
user interface to modify your data. BlueGriffon provides CSS support as
well as the popular SVG editor. Using the SVG editor, you can draw
vectorial graphics from within BlueGriffon to embed them into your
documents. BlueGriffon will automatically add the necessary chunk of
The producers of BlueGriffon also produce various (optional) add-on
products to extend the capabilities of the base program, and most of
those options do cost money. However, I have not yet found a need for
any of the add-ons. I am still using the free basic version of
BlueGriffon and, so far, it has easily accomplished everything I wished
to try. If you have more sophisticated requirements, you might have a
need for some of the optional add-ons.
BlueGriffon is available for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux systems. It
is also available in English, Dutch, French, Czech, German, Hebrew,
Italian, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Spanish and Traditional
HTML 5 Pioneer, a web site devoted to tools
used by web designers, called BlueGriffon "the best HTML5 WYSIWYG out
on the market today." You can read the full review at http://goo.gl/ayL7P.
To be sure, BlueGriffon does not contain all the advanced features of
the $300 HTML editors. Expert web designers probably will still prefer
Dreamweaver or similar tools. However, for those of us who need
simpler, more user-friendly tools to create web pages or even parts of
a web page, such as a table, BlueGriffon may be the better choice. I
still have the $300 Dreamweaver installed on the computer I am using at
this moment, but I now build all my HTML documents in BlueGriffon. I
can build a web page faster and with less effort using BlueGriffon than
I can with Dreamweaver. A person who is an experienced Dreamweaver user
probably will have the opposite experience, however.
BlueGriffon may or may not meet your needs as well. If you are looking
for a simple-to-use HTML editor and you don't want to pay a high price,
I'd suggest you check out BlueGriffon at http://www.bluegriffon.org/
The September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center
towers left New Yorkers stunned and bloodied, but unbowed. It was not
the first attempt against the buildings; in 1993 terrorists exploded a
car bomb in the basement of one of the towers. At that time, Thomas
McLarty, then President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, said, 'To my
memory, we had never really experienced anything like this on American
soil.' In reality, terrorists had struck at Manhattan more than a
In 1864 New York was the nation's largest city and a
world unto itself. When the Southern states seceded from the Union in
1861, some even called for New York City to follow suit and set itself
up as a city-state, though it soon elected to stick with the North. At
the time more than 814,000 people were crammed onto Manhattan Island,
many of them living in near poverty around the slum of Five Points. A
few small communities sprinkled the wilderness above 42nd Street,
though far-sighted city fathers had purchased the land for Central Park
back in 1856, and construction began as a relief project during the
panic and depression of the following year. The water of the Hudson and
East Rivers was clean enough that people could still swim in it, and
Nevertheless, some things never change. 'The greatest
characteristic of New York is din and excitement,' said The
Stranger's Guide to New York, a contemporary travel book.
'Everything is done in a hurry, for all is intense anxiety. It is
especially noticeable in the leading thoroughfare of Broadway, where
the noise and confusion caused by the incessant passing and re-passing
of some 18,000 vehicles a day render it a Babel scene.' Broadway was
indeed the city's leading avenue. Large hotels stood on nearly every
corner, and it was the street where legendary showman Phineas T. Barnum
had purchased the old five-story Scudder's Museum and renamed it
Barnum's American Museum. Here the master showman operated a
spectacular place where people of all ages could marvel at his
collection of the weird and wonderful or attended entertainments in the
Lecture Room. 'Three Mammoth Fat Girls, Weighing One Ton!' Barnum's
notice in the New York Times for November 25, 1864, promised,
as well as 'Three Giants, Two Dwarfs, Indian Warriors, French
Automatons, &c. Dramatic Entertainments Morning, Afternoon, and
New York was also a city torn asunder by divergent
politics. For three days in July 1863 it had erupted in protest against
the draft, with lynch mobs running wild in the streets and rioters
burning houses and businesses. Although the initial reports of more
than 1,200 deaths proved exaggerated, as many as 118 people may have
been killed before exhausted Union troops, marching straight from their
victory at Gettysburg, put down the riot. In the aftermath, President
Abraham Lincoln appointed Major General John Dix to oversee the
military control of the city.
However, all that was in the past, and November 25,
1864, promised to be a day of celebration. For more than 80 years the
date had been remembered as Evacuation Day, the day when the British
abandoned New York City during the Revolutionary War. And this year it
marked the first time the three famous acting brothers, Edwin Booth,
Junius Booth, Jr., and John Wilkes Booth, had performed together. They
were putting aside their own political differences to appear at the
Winter Garden Theatre in Shakespeare's play about an assassination, Julius
Caesar. The production was a benefit to raise funds for a fine
bronze statue of Shakespeare for Central Park.
Yet this Evacuation Day would be remembered for another
reason. That evening Confederate agents planned to set New York City
aflame. The plot had been concocted a few months earlier by Robert
Martin, a former colonel under Confederate cavalry commander John Hunt
Morgan (see 'The Great Escape,' February 2000). In 1864 Martin traveled
to Canada to take part in the Confederate espionage operations being
planned there. Like most acts of terrorism, the Confederacy hatched the
New York operation as an act of retribution, a way to seek revenge for
the Union's ravaging of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, the breadbasket
of the Confederacy. The plot was a simple one. Colonel Martin and seven
other agents, dressed as civilians, would cross the Canadian border to
aid in an uprising by Copperheads-Northerners who sympathized with the
South-on Election Day, November 8. At a predetermined time, the agents
would set fire to several of the hotels along Broadway, and the
Copperheads would begin an uprising similar to the Draft Riots. Once
they had captured General Dix and placed him in irons, they would raise
the Confederate flag over the city and declare it an independent entity.
This audacious plot quickly fell apart. Union forces,
tipped off by an informer, discovered the scheme, and troops under
General Benjamin Butler marched into the city to maintain order. The
quick action, plus the demoralizing news from Georgia that General
William T. Sherman had captured Atlanta, deflated the Copperheads'
Nevertheless, the eight Confederates assigned to torch
the city remained determined to complete their task. One by one, they
made their way into New York City and registered under assumed names at
various hotels, all of them along Broadway. John W. Headley, Martin's
second in command, contacted a local chemist from whom the Confederates
had arranged to obtain 12 dozen bottles of a mixture that contemporary
reports said was phosphorus. Other reports called it 'Greek Fire,' an
incendiary mixture of sulfur, naphtha, and quicklime that bursts into
flame when exposed to air. The mixture had a long history. The Ancient
Greeks had invented it, and the Byzantines used it to destroy a Saracen
fleet in the seventh century. For setting things ablaze, this was
clearly the right stuff to use.
Headley found the chemist 'in a basement on the west
side of Washington Place.' The old man handed him a heavy valise, and
Headley lugged it onto a street car and took it with him to a
rendezvous point. There he divided the bottles up among the other
would-be arsonists, who put them in cheap black satchels. 'We were now
ready to create a sensation in New York,' Headley declared.
The saboteurs struck on the evening of Friday, November
25. The first hotel they hit was the St. James on 26th and Broadway,
where around 8:45 a guest saw smoke coming from a room that had been
rented to a man calling himself John School. The locked door was broken
down and the fire was put out in seconds. The room was empty, save for
an empty bottle of Greek Fire in a black satchel.
The next hotel to report a blaze was the United States.
A young man with a carpetbag had arrived that afternoon and asked for a
room on a lower floor. The only one available was on the fifth floor,
however, and the man agreed to take it 'with great reluctance,'
reported the Times. The young man's odd behavior, as well as
his wig and fake whiskers, aroused the proprietor's suspicions, or so
he later said. But he rented the man a room anyway. At 8:45 someone
discovered flames coming from the room, and the occupant had
disappeared. Again, the fire was quickly extinguished.
A permanent resident of the St. Nicholas, a
three-building hotel, noticed two men behaving suspiciously as they
left the hotel. 'It's all right,' one reassured the other before they
both disappeared into the night. At 8:55 fires broke out in Rooms 128,
129, 130, and 174, but the house fire department kept the blazes under
control and restricted damage to those four rooms. Then shortly after
9:00 an employee of Barnum's Museum noticed a flash of fire on the
fifth-floor staircase. His cry of fire 'ran through the Lecture Room,
startling everyone and causing the most intense excitement,' said the New
York Herald. 'Almost before any of those in the Lecture Room could
get out the fire had been extinguished, but this did not seem to allay
the excitement . . . . The giantess became so alarmed that she ran down
the main stairs into the street, and took refuge in Powers' Hotel.'
At 9:20 a blaze erupted in a third-floor room of the
Lafarge House, but guests and staff quickly extinguished it. The room's
occupant, one J.B. Richardson of Camden, New Jersey, was nowhere to be
found. 'When the alarm of fire was given at the Lafarge, the excitement
became very intense among the closely-packed mass of human beings in
the Winter Garden Theatre adjoining the Lafarge,' said the Times.
Edwin Booth, a police inspector, and a local judge helped calm the
The fires continued. A room at the Belmont Hotel was set
ablaze around 10:00, and a room at Tammany Hall around the same time.
The man who checked into the latter room, who gave his name as C.E.
Morse of Rochester, had disappeared, but his handwriting resembled that
of the man who had checked into one of the rooms of the St. Nicholas
Hotel that had been set alight. Both blazes were quickly extinguished.
Also at 10:00, residents of the Metropolitan discovered a fire on the
upper floor, but hotel workers put it out. Around 10:30 someone opened
the door to a fourth-floor bedroom on the northeast wing of Lovejoy's
Hotel and discovered a flaming mattress, but rapid action doused the
blaze. At 11:00 in the New-England House, a man calling himself George
Morse took a room on the second floor. 'In a few minutes he came down
stairs and went out, saying he would return,' reported the Times.
'Soon afterward the room which he occupied was found to be on fire.'
Here, too, the flames were doused quickly. Then at Lovejoy's Hotel
another room was discovered on fire, this time on the southeast wing.
It was rapidly extinguished.
Headley set one of his fires in the plush Astor House.
He put the bedclothes and furniture on the bed, added some newspapers,
poured turpentine on the pile, then took out his Greek Fire. 'I opened
a bottle carefully and quickly, and spilled it on the pile of rubbish.
It blazed up instantly and the whole bed seemed to be in flames before
I could get out,' he wrote in 1906. Headley locked the door, casually
made his way downstairs, and left his key with the clerk. He then set
blazes at the Everett and United States Hotels. Walking down the
street, Headley recognized another member of his gang, Captain Robert
Cobb Kennedy, in front of him. 'I closed up behind him and slapped him
on the shoulder,' Headley recalled. 'He squatted and began to draw his
pistol, but I laughed and he knew me. He laughed and said he ought to
shoot me for giving him such a scare.'
The fires continued. A room on one of the upper floors
of the Fifth Avenue Hotel burst into flames when a porter opened the
door. The arsonist had saturated the bedding with phosphorous, but it
didn't ignite until the open door supplied the draft it needed. The
porter extinguished the fire. At the five-story Hanford Hotel-which
neighbored a planing mill and a large lumberyard-one of the upper floor
rooms was found ablaze, but an employee put the flames out. Had the
blaze spread, the entire Lower East Side might have been threatened.
Meanwhile, the police discovered a couple of hay barges spitting fire,
but they put them out without much difficulty.
Somehow the city's luck continued to hold, despite the
fact that some people kept ignoring all warning of calamity.
'Immediately after the first alarm was given [Police Chief of
Detectives John Young] went to the Metropolitan Hotel, told the
proprietors what was anticipated, and urged them to set double watches
through all the halls,' reported the Herald. 'He also sent
similar messages to the other hotels, and had his advice been heeded,
many of the fires would doubtless have been prevented.' All in all, the
saboteurs set more than a dozen buildings ablaze that night, but none
of them burned long. That was mainly because the raiders, in their
desire to remain undetected, made one major mistake: 'It was noticed
that in every room where the phosphorus was found the windows and all
apertures for the admission of air and ventilation were tightly
closed,' the Herald reported. Without a draft, the fires didn't
have the oxygen they needed to reach dangerous levels.
New York City responded to the attack with fear and
outrage. Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper called it 'The
most diabolical attempt at arson and murder of which there is any
record in the history of our country.' The Times called the
plot 'one of the most fiendish and inhuman acts known to modern times.'
P.T. Barnum quickly assured patrons with a statement that detailed his
safeguards against future fires and said his museum was 'as safe a
place of amusement as can be found in the world.'
The following day, the police began rounding up
suspects-nearly 200 people in all. Among them was a women from
Baltimore whom police had taken into custody after she was 'noticed
going from one hotel to another, leaving each hotel just previous to
the breaking out of the fire.' She was later released after explaining
she had merely been trying to track down a store clerk who was living
at one of the hotels. While the Times called for stricter
control of Southerners in the city, and the Hotel Keepers' Association
offered $20,000 in reward money for the apprehension of the arsonists,
somehow all the Confederates managed to take trains out of town. They
crossed back into Canada just two days later.
Robert Cobb Kennedy was not content to lie low in
Canada. He was a man of action. A former West Pointer from Louisiana,
Kennedy had maintained Southern sympathies and joined the Confederate
army. Although captured and sent to the notorious Johnson's Island
Prison on Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie, Kennedy had escaped only six weeks
before the New York attack. A contemporary at the prison remembered him
as 'a perfect dare-devil, and no situation, however perilous, seemed to
daunt his courage.' It was Kennedy who set the fire in the Barnum
Museum, when he ducked into the building to hide after setting fire to
his assigned hotels. Kennedy decided to burn the museum on a whim,
feeling 'there would be fun to start a scare,' as Headley recounted.
'He broke a bottle of Greek fire, he said, on the edge of a step like
he would crack an egg. It blazed up and he got out to witness the
Just two weeks after trying to set Broadway ablaze and
crossing into Canada and safety, Kennedy involved himself in another
covert operation-this time a plot to rescue seven Confederate generals
being transferred between prisons by rail. This plot also failed, and
soon after Kennedy returned to Canada he decided to make a break for
his home state. This time his luck ran out. Detectives arrested Kennedy
in Detroit and placed him on a train bound for New York City. There, in
a military trial, judgment was swift and furious. 'The attempt to set
fire to the city of New York,' said General Dix, 'is one of the great
atrocities of the age. There is nothing in the annals of barbarism
which evinces greater vindictiveness. It was not a mere attempt to
destroy the city, but to set fire to crowded hotels and places of
public resort, in order to secure the greatest possible destruction of
human life.' And then the punishment was read: 'Robert C. Kennedy will
be hanged from the neck till he is dead at Fort Lafayette, New York
Harbor, on Saturday, the twenty-fifth day of March.'
On that day Kennedy stood on the gallows, and a hood was
placed over his head. He began singing: 'Trust to luck/trust to
luck/stare Fate in the face/for your heart will be easy/if it's in the
right place . . . ' Then the platform dropped. He was the last
Confederate soldier executed by the Union.
'Though the damage was minor, as it turned out,' Civil
War historian Shelby Foote wrote, 'the possibilities were frightening
enough. Federal authorities could see in the conspiracy a forecast of
what might be expected in the months ahead, when the rebels grew still
more desperate over increasing signs that their war could not be won on
the field of battle.' Life in New York quickly returned to normal, so
much so that an editorial writer for the New York Times
believed that the city had not learned its lesson. 'The effective
measures taken by the authorities will cause a temporary suspension of
incendiary operations, no doubt,' he wrote, 'but it becomes us to see
to it that we are not put off our guard by relapsing into a somnolent
indifference. It is when we have got to fancy ourselves perfectly
secure, that the pestilence will break out with new and accumulated
This article was written by Phil Scott and originally
published in the January 2002 issue of American History
Magazine. For more great articles, subscribe to American
History magazine today!
The Hussite Wars
Wenceslaus (Václav IV) was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire until 1400AD.
In this fatal year he was disentitled by the electors and Prague lost
its unique position as the empire’s capital city. A year afterwards
allied German forces invaded Bohemia and if it wasn’t for Moravian
Margrave Jošta the invasion could have ended in disaster because
Wenceslaus didn’t attempt resistance. Part of the Czech nobility began
colluding with Wenceslaus’ brother Sigismund (Zikmund), who was a ruler
of Hungary. In 1403 he interned Wenceslaus in Vienna and almost became
a king. However, his heartless policy didn’t win him many supporters
and the political situation in Hungary postponed Sigismund’s Czech
enthronement for many years.
The reformists were
gradually prevailing and in 1408 Wenceslaus succumbed to their pressure
and nominated new Old Town aldermen. For the first time Czech townsfolk
dominated. The king discussed the nomination with eminent
noblemen who were in favour of reforms and also with preachers and
scholars such as Jeroným Pražský and Jan Hus. Wenceslaus’ sympathy to
reform froze when the second Charles IV’s son Sigismund Luxemburg, the
Hungarian king, was elected as the Holy Roman emperor. It was even more
painful because Sigismund promised to Wenceslaus to support his
candidacy for the emperor’s crown.
The University was definitely occupied by those in favour of reform.
Students provoked the king by burning imitations of papal documents so
he eventually changed his decision regarding the Old Town council and
nominated a new one, where the Germans had majority again. The Germans
also got ten years remission of tax and on top of that the king gave up
on his privilege to nominate alderman. Another apparent advantage was a
very strange privilege according which a person was not allowed to
appeal from the Old Town court to the royal court. The Germans executed
two of Czech alderman which was an obvious revenge for their activities
in the council since 1408 and also for the issue of the Decree of Kutna
Hora which gave priority to the Czechs in the Prague University. These
doings once again changed Wenceslaus’ opinion; he nominated a new
council which ruled till 1420 even after the king’s death. The Czech
Old Town council was instrumental in spreading the Hussite ideas to
other royal towns.
Jan Hus decided in
1414 to make a journey to the council in Constance to vindicate his
reform council ideas. He was there declared as a heretic, put in prison
and on 6th July 1415, burned to death. A year later also Jeroným
pražský was burned. This caused significant indignation and Czech
nobility sent the council in Constance a protest which carried 452
Czech nobleman’s seals. In Prague, churches began the Celebration of
the Lord's Supper in both kinds (bread and wine to priests and laity
alike). Those priests who refused communion in both kinds were driven
out of the churches.
In 1417 Prague
University issued a declaration approving communion in both kinds as
correct and corresponding with Christ commandments. The Faculty of
Theology was subsequently abolished, Medical Faculty activities were
discontinued and only the Faculty of Arts remained.
succumbed to the pressure of his brother (who threatened with military
attack) and of the Pope, in 1419 he agreed to the return of catholic
priests. On the other hand he allowed for three churches to stay in the
hands of Hussites. Freshly nominated New Town aldermen, who were
catholic supporters, imprisoned a few Hussite radicals. Subsequently a
preacher Jan Želivský and his followers broke into the Town Hall and
threw the alderman out of the window. Prague, with exception of
Vyšehrad, became a Hussite city. Afterwards new aldermen were elected
and shortly afterwards the king Wenceslaus died at his castle Novy
Hradek near Kunratic.
According to the tradition it was Wenceslaus’ brother the emperor
Sigismund who was supposed to succeed him on the throne. However, he
didn’t take power until the fratricidal battle of Czechs at Lipany in
1620. Hussites together with the nobility and Prague council demanded
the emperor to allow for communion in both kinds and the annexation of
Church property. Furthermore they asked for priests to be excluded from
secular authorities, foreigners not to be allowed to carry state
functions and the University privileges to be restored. They also
insisted on legal proceedings to be carried out in the Czech language
and towns with a Czech majority should have councils with a majority of
Czech alderman. Sigismund refused to submit to these demands and
attacked Prague, as he was well aware of the fact that those who held
Prague can rule the whole of Bohemia. In 1420 he struck two battles and
lost. Firstly he came with a huge army, which (according to some
historical source books) amounted to 145 thousand soldiers. Against him
stood the Praguers and the Taborites, who were lead by Jan Žižka.
Sigismund let himself be crowned as a Czech king and shortly after the
lost battle left the city. He came back in autumn (together with him
came Moravian noblemen) when he wanted to help Vyšehrad, which was the
only place remaining faithful to the king. He was defeated at Pankrácka
plan, where some of the noblemen also died
moderate Hussites were searching for new king but the radical ones
didn’t desire foreign rule. Europe sent many crusades against the
Hussites but these were always defeated. However, there had been
dissents between the Hussites for many years which ended up in uniting
of conservative Utraquists or Calixtines (the chalice was their symbol)
with Catholics. These were defeated by Jan Žižka at the U Malešova
battle. Žižka’s desire was to unite Bohemia but he didn’t succeed
as he died in 1424. Ten years later the disputes between different
Hussite fractions ended up in the Battle U Lipan where the moderate
Hussite faction, the Utraquists (in alliance with Catholics), defeated
the more radical faction, the Taborites. After their victory the
conservative Hussites negotiated with the emperor Sigismund. The
agreement granted the communion in both kinds and Sigismund agreed to
support the Czech language and to ban foreigners working in official
posts. On top of that the Prague townsfolk extorted an issue of a
document, stating that they don’t have to receive back those who
emigrated during the revolution. Sigismund entered Prague on 23rd
August 1436, half year later his wife Barbora was crowned empresses in
St. Vitus Cathedral and on 12th April 1437 reconciliation with Roman
Church was declared. Sigismund died in December 1437.
his death anarchy sat in and this was interrupted only by a few
efforts from the Czech nobility to restore royal power. Prague didn’t
benefit form this state of affairs at all. The conservative Utraquist
took power and Prague was ruled by Pešík of Kunvald and Pavel
Detřichovice, who didn’t meddle in the city life affairs and minded
their own business. In 1448 George of Podiebrad (Jiří z Poděbrad)
entered the stage. This wealthy Utraquist nobleman acted as the Czech
bailiff for ten years. When the Czech king Ladislaus the Postumous died
(Ladislav Pohrobek in Czech, he ruled for only three years), George of
Podiebrad was elected as the Czech king. He was elected by the
assembly, which took place at the Old Town Hall. This election was
uniquely democratic if we take into consideration that at these times
the royal titles were mostly hereditary.
of Podiebrad ruled in Bohemia until his death in 1471AD and his
governance stabilised the situation. The Hussite’s motto “Truth wins”
became also Gorge of Podiebrad’s motto and found its way onto the
president standard after the Czechoslovakia Republic’s creation in
1918. Hussite Prague loved its king and built him two memorials during
his lifetime. The first one, an equestrian statue with motto “Truth
wins” was installed by the Prague archbishop Jan Rokycana in Tynsky
church. Another statue, possibly also equestrian, wasn’t preserved. It
may have used to stand on Charles Bridge, where today a Piet? is
located. Prague suffered from the Hussite Wars as did the University.
The Pope confirmed the University a Christian status in 1447. However,
as all the teachers had to swear communion in both kinds in 1458, the
University became second-rate as many teachers couldn’t work in Prague
for religious reasons. The Hussite movement was distant and didn’t
manage to establish contacts with Europe. That’s why it has been argued
that Bohemian fell behind the rest of Europe. We can’t, however, deny
that Hussites brought an unknown phenomenon - a profound national
awakening which was to come in the rest of Europe only later.