1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Poděbrad, George of< 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
PODĚBRAD, GEORGE OF (1420–1471), king of Bohemia, was the son of Victoria of Kunstat and Poděbrad, a Bohemian nobleman, who was one of the leaders of the “Orphans” or modern Taborites during the Hussite wars. George himself as a boy of fourteen took part in the great battle of Lipan, which marks the downfall of the more advanced Taborites. Early in life, as one of the leaders of the Calixtine party, he defeated the Austrian troops of the German King Albert II., son-in-law and successor of King Sigismund. He soon became a prominent member of the national or Calixtine party, and after the death of Ptacek of Pirkstein its leader. During the minority of Ladislas, son of Albert, who was born after his father's death, Bohemia was divided into two parties-the Romanist or Austrian one, led by Ulrich von Rosenberg (1403–1462), and the national one, led by Podébrad. After various attempts at reconciliation, Poděbrad decided to appeal to the force of arms. He gradually raised an armed force in north-eastern Bohemia, where the Calixtine cause had most adherents and where his ancestral castle was situated. With this army, consisting of about 9000 men, he marched in 1448 from Kutna Hora to Prague, and obtained possession of the capital almost without resistance. Civil war, however, broke out, but Poděbrad succeeded in defeating the Romanist nobles. In 1451 the emperor Frederick III., as guardian of the young king Ladislas, entrusted Poděbrad with the administration of Bohemia. In the same year a diet assembled at Prague also conferred on Poděbrad the regency. The struggle of the Bohemians against Rome continued uninterruptedly, and the position of Poděbrad became a very difficult one when the young king Ladislas, who was crowned in 1453, expressed his sympathies for the Roman Church, though he had recognized the compacts and the ancient privileges of Bohemia. In 1457 King Ladislas died suddenly, and public opinion from an early period accused Poděbrad of having poisoned him. The Bohemian historian, Palacky, fifty years ago thoroughly disproved this accusation, and, though it has recently been revived by German historians, it must undoubtedly be considered as a calumny. On the 27th of February 1458 the estates of Bohemia unanimously chose Poděbrad as king; even the adherents of the Austrian party voted for him, not wishing at that moment to oppose the popular feeling, which demanded the election of a national sovereign. A year after the accession of Poděbrad Pius II. (Aeneas Sylvius) became pope, and his incessant hostility proved one of the most serious obstacles to Poděbrad's rule. Though he rejected the demand of the pope, who wished him to consent to the abolition of the compacts, he endeavoured to curry favour with the Roman see by punishing severely all the more advanced opponents of papacy in Bohemia. Poděbrad's persecution of the newly-founded community of the Bohemian brethren is certainly a blemish on his career. All Poděbrad's endeavours to establish peace with Rome proved ineffectual, and though the death of Pius II. prevented him from carrying out his planned crusade against Bohemia, his successor was a scarcely less bitter enemy of the country. Though the rule of Poděbrad had proved very successful and Bohemia had under it obtained a degree of prosperity which had been unknown since the time of Charles IV., the Calixtine king had many enemies among the Romanist members of the powerful Bohemian nobility. The malcontent nobles met at Zelena Hora (Gruneberg) on the 28th of November 1465, and concluded an alliance against the king, bringing forward many—mostly untrue—accusations against him. The confederacy was from its beginning supported by the Roman see, though Poděbrad after the death of his implacable enemy, Pius II., attempted to negotiate with the new pope, Paul II. These negotiations ended when the pontiff grossly insulted the envoys of the king of Bohemia. On the 23rd of December 1466 Paul II. excommunicated Poděbrad and pronounced his deposition as king of Bohemia, forbidding all Romanists to continue in his allegiance. The emperor Frederick III., and King Matthias of Hungary, Poděbrad's former ally, joined the insurgent Bohemian nobles. King Matthias conquered a large part of Moravia, and was crowned in the capital of that country, Brno (Brünn), as king of Bohemia on the 3rd of May 1469. In the following year Poděbrad was more successful in his resistance to his many enemies, but his death on the 22nd of March 1471 put a stop to the war. In spite of the misfortunes of the last years of his reign, Poděbrad's memory has always been cherished by the Bohemians. He was the only king of Bohemia who belonged to that nation, and the only one who was not a Roman Catholic.