Zisca, John

, whose proper name was De Trocznow, was a native of Bohemia, and was educated at the Bohemian court, in the reign of Wenceslaus. He went into the army very young, signalized himself on several occasions, and lost an eye in battle; whence he was called Zisca, which signifies one-eyed. Almost all Bohemia retaining the sentiments, and being shocked at the death of John Huss, Zisca became their leader, and soon saw himself at the head of 40,000 men, determined to rescue their country from civil and ecclesiastical tyranny; and with these troops he gained several victories over the catholics. He built a town in an advantageous situation, and named it Tabor, from which circumstance the Hussites were also called Taborites. Zisca lost his other eye, by an arrow, at the siege of Rubi; but this did not prevent his continuing the war, and obtaining great victories, particularly that of Aussig, on the Elbe, when 9000 catholics were left dead on the spot. The emperor Sigismond^ alarmed by all this, privately offered Zisca very advantageous terms. Zisca accepted theD, and set out to meet Sigismond but died of the plague on his journey, in 1424, after having ordered, as is said, that his body should be left a prev to the birds and beasts, and that a drum should be made of his skin, at the sound of which, he assured his followers, the enemy would immediately fly. The Hussites, it is added, obeyed his command; and the newsof this injunction made so strong an impression on the German | catholies, who were not well disciplined, that they actually fled in several battles, on hearing the drum made of John Zisca’s skin. The whole, however, is justly considered as an absurd fiction. Zisca has been ranked among the reformers, and certainly may be considered as the successor of Huss in the propagation of his opinions, but he was more of a general than a divine, and makes a better figure in belligerent history than in that of the church. He was by no means animated with that true spirit of Christianity which his amiable master Huss had discovered on all occasions. His fierce temper, says Gilpin, seems to have been modelled rather upon the Old Testament than the New; and the genius of that religion in a great degree to have taken hold of him, which in its animosities called down fire from heaven. His military abilities were equal to what any age has produced; and as such they are acknowledged by all historians; nor was the end which he proposed unworthy of his great actions. Utterly devoid both of avarice and ambition, he had no aim but to establish, upon the ruins of ecclesiastical tyranny, the civil and religious liberties of his country. 1


Gilpin’s Lives. Univ. Hist. Mosheim.