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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

Witold sent his nephew Koribut


In

September, 1421, a second Crusade of 200,000 men, commanded by five German Electors, entered Bohemia from the west. It had been planned that the Emperor Sigismund, assisted by Duke Albert of Austria, to whom he had given his daughter in marriage, and who was now also supported by many of the Bohemian nobles, should invade the country from the east at exactly the same time. The Hussites were thus to be crushed between the upper and the nether millstones. But the blind Ziska, nothing daunted, led his wagons, his flail-men and mace-wielders against the Electors, whose troops began to fly before them. No battle was fought; the 200,000 Crusaders were scattered in all directions, and lost heavily during their retreat. Then Ziska wheeled about and marched against Sigismund, who was late in making his appearance. The two armies met on the 8th of January, 1422, and the Hussite victory was so complete that the Emperor narrowly escaped falling into their hands. It is hardly to be wondered that they should consider themselves to be the chosen people of God, after such astonishing successes.

[Sidenote: 1422. DEFEAT OF THE SECOND CRUSADE.]

At this juncture, Prince Witold of Lithuania, supported by king Jagello of Poland, offered to accept the four articles of the Hussites, provided they would give him the crown of Bohemia. The Moderates were all in his favor, and even Ziska left the Taborites when, true to their republican

principles, they refused to accept Witold's proposition. The separation between the two parties of the Hussites was now complete. Witold sent his nephew Koribut, who swore to maintain the four articles, and was installed at Prague, as "Vicegerent of Bohemia." Thereupon Sigismund made such representations to king Jagello of Poland, that Koribut was soon recalled by his uncle. About the same time a third Crusade was arranged, and Frederick of Brandenburg (the Hohenzollern) selected to command it, but the plan failed from lack of support. The dissensions among the Hussites became fiercer than ever; Ziska was at one time on the point of attacking Prague, but the leaders of the moderate party succeeded in coming to an understanding with him, and he entered the city in triumph. In October, 1424, while marching against Duke Albert of Austria, who had invaded Moravia, he fell a victim to the plague. Even after death he continued to terrify the German soldiers, who believed that his skin had been made into a drum, and still called the Hussites to battle.

[Sidenote: 1426.]

A majority of the Taborites elected a priest, called Procopius the Great, as their commander in Ziska's stead; the others, who thenceforth styled themselves "Orphans," united under another priest, Procopius the Little. The approach of another Imperial army, in 1426, compelled them to forget their differences, and the result was a splendid victory over their enemies. Procopius the Great then invaded Austria and Silesia, which he laid waste without mercy. The Pope called a _fourth_ Crusade, which met the same fate as the former ones: the united armies of the Archbishop of Treves, the Elector Frederick of Brandenburg and the Duke of Saxony, 200,000 strong, were utterly defeated, and fled in disorder, leaving an enormous quantity of stores and munitions of war in the hands of the Bohemians.


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