Today in Catholic History – The First Defenestration of Prague

On 30 July 1419, a Hussite mob attacked the Prague town hall, throwing several town officials from the hall where they fell to their deaths or were killed by other members of the mob below.

The Hussite violence came in reaction to the execution of Jan Hus at the Council of Constance on 6 July 1415. A priest sympathetic to the ideas of Hus, Jan Želivský, led his congregation to the Prague town hall to protest the imprisonment of some fellow Hussites. Želivský was deeply influenced by the ideas of Jan Hus and John Wycliffe. He condemned what he believed was corruption within the Catholic Church.

During the demonstration, some townspeople opposed to the Hussites threw stones at at Želivský from the window of the town hall. This infuriated the mob, who stormed the town hall and threw the judge, the burgomaster, and some thirteen members of the town council out of the window and into the street to their deaths.

The violence in Prague will contribute to the outbreak of the Hussite Wars in 1420.

A second defenestration in Prague in 1618 will introduce the word defenestration into the lexicon meaning “the act of throwing something or someone out of a window”.

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