Ziska, Johann

Ziska, Johann, Hussite leader, born in Bohemia of a noble family; began life as a page at the court of King Wenceslas, but threw up a courtier's life in disgust for a career in arms; fought and distinguished himself by his valour against the Teutonic knights at Tannenberg in 1410, to their utter defeat; signalised himself afterwards against the Turks, and in 1413 fought on the English side at Agincourt; failing to rouse Wenceslas to avenge the death of Huss (q.v.) and of Jerome of Prague (q.v.), he joined the Hussites, organised their forces, assumed the chief command, and in 1420 gained, with a force of 4000 men, a victory over the Emperor Sigismund with an army of 40,000 mustered to crush him; captured next year the castle of Prague, erected fortresses over the country, one in particular called Tabor, whence the name Taborites given to his party; blind of one eye from his childhood, lost the other at the siege of Ratz, fought on blind notwithstanding, gaining victory after victory, but was seized with the plague and carried off by it at Czaslav, where his remains were buried and his big mace or battle-club, mostly iron, hung honourably on the wall close by; that his skin was tanned and made into the cover of a drum is a fable; he was a tough soldier, and is called once and again in Carlyle's “Frederick” “Rhinoceros Ziska” (1360-1424).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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