Execution Place from 1621 Execution Place from 1621 

Execution Place from 1621 - Old Town Square, Old Town

Execution Place from 1621

Old Town Square, Old Town

The rebellion of Czech (mostly Protestant) estates against the Catholic Habsburg monarchy was sparked off by the third Prague defenestration on 23rd 1618 and ended up as a total failure: in the Battle at the White Mountain on 8th November 1620 the estates army was completely crushed and Prague towns gave in two days later. The winners were the defenders of the absolutist rule of the ruler and the universal rule of one (Catholic) religion, the defeated camp wanted a state made of estates with religious freedom and tolerance.

The main leaders of the uprising faced a special tribunal whose decision was confirmed in Vienna by the emperor Ferdinand II. On 21st July 1621 27 representatives of the rebellious Czech estates – three lords, seven knights and 17 townsmen, 22 Czechs and five Germans by nationality – were executed on the Old Town Square, to warn any others who would try to follow them. In front of the Old Town Hall a stage was set up, 20 steps wide and long, covered in black cloth. The execution started off at 5 a.m. by a shot from a cannon and lasted four hours. The city gates were closed and the army came to the square, filled with thousands of spectators. The execution of ten aristocrats and two townsmen was carried out by executioner Jan Mydlář who used four swords, others were hanged. Heads of the twelve biggest culprits were displayed at the gallery of the Old Town Bridge Tower according to king’s order. Bodies of few of them were quartered and then hanged around the gallows and pillories on today’s Wenceslas, Charles, Old Town and Lesser Town Squares as a warning.

This horrendous demonstration of royal power fulfilled its aim: in the following years many Czech and Moravian Protestants accepted the Catholic religion after being granted the General Pardon, the most radical and guilty ones left the country. Almost half of mansions and estates in Bohemia and Moravia was confiscated and redistributed among the domestic Catholic nobility and the officers of the winning army. This change in property ownership was the biggest one ever in terms of size until the nationalization of all real estate by communists in 1948.

The place where the execution stage stood has been marked out by white crosses in the paving in front of the Old Town Hall tower during a general reconstruction of the Old Town Hall after World War II. A memorial tablet lists the names of the executed men:

Joachim Ondřej Šlik free lord of Holejč
Václav Budovec free lord of Budov
Kryštof Harant free lord of Polžice and Bezdružice
Knight Kašpar Kaplíř of Sulevice
Knight Prokop Dvořecký of Olbramovice
Knight Fridrich of Bílá
Knight Jindřich Otta of Los
Knight Diviš Černín of Chudenice
Knight Vilém Sr. Konecchlumský of Konecchlumí
Knight Bohuslav Sr. of Michalovice
Valentin Kochan of Prachová
Tobiáš Štefek of Koloděje
Jan Jesenský of Jesené
Kryštof Sr. Kober of Koberšperk
Jan Sr. Šultys of Felsdorf
Maxmilián Hošťálek of Javořice
Leander Ryppel of Ruppach
Jiří Haunšild of Fürstenfeld
Jan Kutnauer of Sonnenštejn
Šimon Sušický of Sonnenštejn
Natanael Vodňanský of Uračov
Václav Maštěřovský of Jizbice
Jindřich Kozel of Peclinovec
Ondřej Kocour of Votín
Jiří Řečický
Michael Witman
Šimon Vokáč of Chýš and Špicberk

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