Jan Zizka

Žižka, Jan


Born circa 1360, in Trocnov, Southern Bohemia; died Oct. 11, 1424, in Přibyslav. Leader of the Hussite revolutionary movement. General and Czech national hero.

Žižka, a member of the lesser gentry, fought at the battle of Grunwald (Tannenberg) of 1410. He was active in the Hussite revolutionary movement from its very inception. Žižka’s talents as a military leader were first demonstrated at the victorious battle at Sandomierz on Mar. 25, 1420. After the creation of Tabor, Žižka became one of its four hejtmané (captains of the people). He successfully directed the defense of Vitková Hořa, which determined the outcome of the battle for Prague on July 14, 1420. The mountain was thereafter frequently called Žižkov Hořa. A monument to Žižka by the sculptor B. Kafka was unveiled there in 1950.

Žižka became the principal hejtman of the Taborites in December 1420, supporting the opponents of chiliasm in Tabor and promoting the reprisals by moderate Taborites against the Picards in 1421. In early January 1422, Žižka decisively defeated the crusaders near Nemecky Brod. In the autumn of 1422 he dispersed the forces of the Third Crusade. After the split between the right and left wings of the Hussites in 1422, Žižka led the forces of the left-wing Taborites. In 1423 he founded the so-called Horeb community of left-wing Hussites; its center was in Hradec Królové (Menši Tábor) in northeastern Bohemia. Žižka died from the plague during the siege of the city of Přibyslav near the Moravian border. The members of the community called themselves the Orphans.

Žižka created a well-organized and trained army distinguished by its military ability and iron discipline. He devised military regulations and created new kinds of armed units, transport and artillery troops, to supplement the infantry and cavalry. Žižka’s strategy was directed toward a decisive defeat of the enemy on the battlefield. His military tactics were characterized by daring maneuvers and precise coordination of various forces and units, as well as by special marching and battle formations. Žižka’s skillful use of battle techniques, particularly his introduction of lightweight guns on wagons and use of laagers, guaranteed victory over the knights.


Tomek, V. V. Jan Žižka. St. Petersburg, 1889. (Translated from Czech.)
Revzin, G. Jan Žižka. [Moscow] 1952.
Rubtsov, B. T. Gusitskie voiny. Moscow, 1955.


References in periodicals archive ?
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Under the able leadership of General Jan Zizka, the Hussite forces gradually gained control of much of the Czech territory.
Consequently the Hussites, in April 1420, elected four men as military captains: Mikulas of Hus, Zbynek of Buchov, Chval of Machovice, and Jan Zizka.
The posters with the huge silhouette of Jan Zizka on his horse were to be seen all over Prague and definitely helped to ensure that the two reprises of the Dekonstrukce [Deconstruction] project were not played to an empty hall.