The Catholic Counter-Reformation In Bohemia -- By: Louis Francis Miskovsky

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 057:227 (Jul 1900)
Article: The Catholic Counter-Reformation In Bohemia
Author: Louis Francis Miskovsky

The Catholic Counter-Reformation In Bohemia1

Prof Louis Francis Miskovsky

By the battle of White Mountain, November 8, 1620, the political struggle between Protestantism and Catholicism which had rent Bohemia for over two centuries, was suddenly and effectually brought to a close. The Catholic reaction was at last triumphant, and Protestant Bohemia lay at the mercy of the victors. Her discarded king, Ferdinand II., who had lately attained the imperial dignity, was again her master. He had been brought up by the Jesuits in strict and intolerant Catholicism, and was but a mere tool in their hands to carry out their cherished designs. They could now proceed in the work of counter-reform as they pleased, and freely employ their chosen methods. What these were, and what they accomplished, it is our purpose briefly to relate.

Two days after the defeat of the Bohemian army, the imperial forces under Duke Maximilian of Bavaria took possession of Prague. The city had opened its gates to the enemy only upon the promise of the Duke, in the name of the Emperor, that the lives and property of its citizens and of the leaders in the late insurrection would be held inviolable. In spite of this promise, it was resolved in the imperial cabinet at Vienna that the Bohemian insurgents should be punished by death and the confiscation of their estates. An imperial mandate ordering the confiscations was issued as early as the 25th of November. It was followed, February 6, 1621, by another in the Emperor’s own handwriting, which commanded the imprisonment of the Directors of the late provisional government, and of all persons of high and low degree who had taken prominent part in the insurrection. The imperial will was adroitly car-

ried out by the royal governor, Prince Lichtenstein, who summoned the Directors and a number of knights and nobles to an audience in his palace, in order to “announce to them an important communication from the Emperor.” The unsuspecting victims who presented themselves in obedience to the summons were forthwith put under arrest and confined in the Castle of Prague. Under the same pretext a number of commoners were summoned before the city judges and put into custody. Those who had fled from the country with King Frederick were summoned to appear for trial within six weeks, at the expiration of which time they were put under the ban of the Empire, and their property was confiscated. Even those who had died in the interim suffered similar penalties.

A court was then formed under the presidency of Prince Lichtenstein, which proceeded to try the prisoners not only for treason and “horrible rebellion” but for a multitud...

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