The New Student's Reference Work/Ziska, John

Zis'ka, John, the famous leader of the Hussites, was born at Trocsznow, Bohemia, about 1360. While a mere boy he became a page to King Wenceslaus of Bohemia, but soon after embraced the career of arms and distinguished himself in the war against the Teutonic Knights. Returning to Bohemia after the murder of John Huss, Ziska soon became prominent among those who sought to resist the decisions of the Council of Constance. After the outbreak at Prague in 1419 Ziska was unanimously chosen leader of the Hussites, and the first great religious conflict in Germany began in earnest. When Emperor Sigismund—who had allowed his safe-conduct to Huss to be violated—advanced an army of 40,000 men into Bohemia to obtain possession of the throne, his project was frustrated for a time by the Hussites, who defeated his army with a hastily levied force. The war against Sigismund was continued with the utmost vigor by Ziska, even after he became blind, until Sigismund became convinced that the conquest of Bohemia was impossible. He therefore proposed an arrangement with the Hussites, by which full religious liberty was allowed to them and Ziska was to be their governor, King Wenceslaus having died soon after the war broke out. But the war-worn chief did not live to complete the treaty. While besieging the castle of Przibislaw he was seized with the plague and died on Oct. 11, 1424. He was buried in a church at Czaslav, and his iron war-club was hung over his tomb.