I am going to change the name of my blog. Because I write not only about Prague. It’s time to name it «From the Czech Republic with Borjomi» or “Walking around the Czech Republic with Borjomi”. Something like that. If I tell you fresh Prague gossip or political news or about problems in health care: “As a result of the protest — 30% of Czech doctors resigned, and another 30% have written a statement… blah-blah blah”, would it be interesting for you? I think that it is not interesting. My main purpose is to tell interesting things to you, so we continue to journey through the ancient Czech towns and villages. Even under a slightly outdated name «From Prague with Borjomi”.
Today I am going to begin my story about the city of Tabor. There are no analogues to him in the world. I do not know another city that grew from the military camp of rebellious peasants. Yes, yes. It is about the Hussites. I will not delve deeply into the stories of Jan Gus, because there is an article about him in my blog. I can only mention that after the death of Jan Hus peasants rebelled, joined and became a formidable force (almost army). So Tabor was founded and was built in order to be the centre and the base of this army.
Now I am going to tell you few words about the Hussite wars.
Hussite Wars lasted for 15 years and involved not only the whole Czech Republic, but also neighbouring Germany and Hungary. Churches and monasteries were destroyed — the rebels looted and burned buildings and books, icons and sculptures. It is terrible to imagine the amount of priceless works of art, which were destroyed. Probably, the revolt would have remained a mass of peasants, stupidly crushing everything in their path, unless Jan Zizka has led them. He was a talented leader who has managed to direct actions of the peasants in the right direction and formed them into a formidable force. That is why he had become a national hero.
And now the story of the city begins.
In the spring of 1420 (a year after the beginning of the Hussite Wars) on the place of an ancient fortress Hradiste near the river Lusatia Tabor was founded. The name of the town is twice symbolic. On the one hand, it is believed that preachers called thousands of peasants on this mountain to carry the ideas of the Reformation, and that is why the mountain was named Tabor. But why? Because Transfiguration of Our Lord happened on the Israeli Mount Tabor (also called the Tavor). The priests-reformers talked about the transformation of the church on Mount Tabor. Some say they expected the appearance of Christ and the beginning of Last Judgement. You cannot blame them. In medieval culture was so many «signs» predicting the Day of Judgement, so the sensitive people could have mistaken.
The second meaning is that the word “tabor” is translated from the Czech as «camp». According to legend, Jan Zizka ordered to build the city as a military camp. According to the chronicles, commander chose the place for building near the river — the main fortifying of the city was its natural location. Jan also ordered to make the fortress wall around the city and to build a house like they people used to put in a military tent camp.
Military character of the Gothic city-bastion is seen by the system of narrow streets. It was made to confuse and disorient the enemy. Houses still resemble tents.
Hussite wars continued for long 14 years. In the summer of 1420 the Crusaders entered in the Czech Republic and approached to Prague. Then the people of Prague called for help the inhabitants of Tabor. In one of the battles Jan Zizka was wounded by an arrow in the face and lost his eyesight, but a gray-haired general remained in service and for three years headed the army. His warriors led by the bridle his horse and told him about the situation on the battlefield. The Crusaders lost one battle after another, and soon the Hussites raided Germany and Hungary. Then the Pope organized another five Crusades, but all of them were defeated by the Hussites. Only in the 30 of May, 1434 Hussites were defeated in Lipan village near Prague. So the Hussites made concessions to the king and the Pope.
The main outcome of the Hussite Wars was the abolition of church tithes and tributes decrease. The service in churches was held in Czech; and everyone could read the Bible, translated into the native language by Ian Gus. But the main monument of the era was the small town of Tabor. Despite the fact that the town was a stronghold of resistance to the authorities, King Sigmund in 1437 turned it into a royal castle and gave considerable privileges to the town. Here the estimation was unmistakable: fearsome warriors were willing to engage in commerce and trade, the city grew rich, tent- buildings in the Gothic style were rebuilt in baroque style according to the latest architectural fashion. And in 1440 people began to build City Hall. Perhaps if this king has ruled twenty years earlier, , the Hussite wars could have been avoided … But history does not know the subjunctive mood … In 1452 Tabor was captured by King George of Podebrady, and since then the town has become an ordinary small town.
That was the whole history of the town Tabor. Well, not the whole of course, but the most interesting part of it. To retell the future life of the city is not interesting, because the following history of the town was quite. Actually like all the other cities with impetuous medieval history. There are certainly a couple of amusing moments, but they relate to the architecture of the city. I’m going to tell you about it next time.