Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Defenestrations of Prague

There were two incidents in the history of Bohemia, and one in the history of Czechoslovakia, known as the Defenestrations of Prague, the first in 1419 and the second in 1618. Both helped to trigger prolonged conflict within Bohemia and beyond.

The First Defenestration of Prague involved the killing of seven members of the hostile city council by a crowd of radical Czech Hussites on July 30, 1419. The prolonged Hussite Wars broke out shortly afterward, lasting until 1436.

The Second Defenestration of Prague was an event central to the initiation of the Thirty Years' War in 1618. The Bohemian aristocracy was effectively in revolt following the election of Ferdinand, Duke of Styria and a Catholic zealot, to rule the Holy Roman Empire, which included Bohemia. At Hradčany castle on May 23, 1618, a number of them took two Imperial governors and a scribe and threw them out of the castle windows; they landed in some manure, and neither of them was severely injured.

A third "defenestration" occurred on March 10, 1948, when Czechoslovak foreign minister Jan Masaryk, the country's only remaining non-socialist minister, was found dead under a bathroom window of the foreign ministry in Prague following the establishment of a clearly Communist-dominated government in the Victorious February. Speculation over the cause of his death continues to this day, though no evidence has been found to incriminate or exculpate the regime.