See What Happened Was...
fun stories from history
noun de·fen·es·tra·tion: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window.
Just hold on to that for later, it’ll come in handy.
Some wars are started by greed, others by miscommunication, family squabbles, or religion. Sometimes a mixture of all of these. The Thirty Years War, one of the first major conflicts involving many major powers in Europe, was one of the religious ones.
The year was 1618. The place was Bohemia (roughly modern day Czech Republic). At this time, due to the Reformation that was sweeping through Europe, there was great unrest and an upsetting of the political status quo. States began dividing along Protestant and Catholic lines.
Bohemia had been absorbed into the Holy Roman Empire in 1526 and was somewhat unusual in the amount of religious freedom the people there experienced. Bohemians were pretty happy with this and were naturally not super stoked when the Roman Catholic Church began to restrict this freedom. In 1617 Catholic officials began to halt the construction of Protestant churches that they claimed were on land belonging to Catholic clergy.
The Protestants, staying true to their name, protested. Strongly. They saw this as a violation of the Letter of Majesty (a declaration signed by the Holy Roman Emperor granting religious tolerance to both Catholics and Protestants living in Bohemia). The leaders of this disgruntled movement met to discuss ways they could get rid of the local governors who had been less than civil to the Protestants. After a second meeting the leaders joined with other angry Protestants and the whole angry crowd marched over to the Bohemian Chancellery. There they found and tried the two offending governors (Vilem Slavata of Chlum and Jaroslav Borzita of Martinique), and found them guilty. At 3 pm they threw them (along their secretary Filip) out of the tower window.
Lucky for them, waiting at the end of their fall was a sizable pile of manure. After landing in it, they escaped unharmed. Twas a defenestration to be sure (told you that definition would come in handy). Because they threw them out of Prague Castle which is in Prague this came to be known as the Defenestration of Prague. After surviving, Filip fled to Vienna to tell the emperor what happened. The Catholics there declared his survival as a miraculous sign of heaven’s favor. The Protestants naturally disagreed…emphasizing the fact that they fell in poop.
Besides being just an amazing story, why are we talking about people getting thrown out of a window?
Weeeeeeeeell you may remember my mention of the Thirty Years War a paragraph or two ago. This defenestration increased the division and animosity between the Catholics and Protestants in Bohemia and marked the beginning of an uprising.
The Protestants in Bohemia called out to their Protestant friends elsewhere in the Holy Roman Empire and Europe. Ferdinand (heir to the throne), not wanting to be left without allies, reached out to his Catholic friends in Germany, Spain, and the Catholic Church itself. With the help of his allies Ferdinand scored a major defeat of these rebels in 1620. With leftover confidence he went after their Protestant allies in Germany, thus dragging them and their friends, the likes of Great Britain and Denmark into the fray. This initially religious conflict continued to be worked out with military strength until 1648 (hence the name…cause math) when the Thirty Years War was ended with a series of treaties called the Peace of Westphalia.
By the end of course they were no longer fighting over the spiritual significance of a manure pile…but a load of crap was at least partially responsible for thirty years of intense conflict. Which, you know…I find interesting.