The landlords, who had hitherto given these groups willing harbourage, were now obliged to withdraw their protection and give notice to the "households" to leave their domains at once. Vainly did the innocent victims protest against this injustice; the utmost concession they could obtain was permission to take with them their movable property. The decree was executed by military force, pitilessly, and these unfortunate people were compelled to abandon the homes they had built, even the harvests they had sown, and find refuge where they might, in a region where every Government declared them outlaws. The dense forests of Moravia, the valleys in the mountains of Bohemia, gave them temporary hiding.
But, though scattered, they did not scatter in panic or disorder; there was a wise method in their flitting. They broke up into little groups, preserving their organisation, and wherever one of these groups settled, there was the nucleus of a new community. For a considerable time, therefore, though the persecution caused great personal distress and yet greater financial loss to the "households," it had little or no effect in diminishing their numbers.