Battle of Habru and conquest of Nemecky Brod (09.01.1422)

Sigismund learned of the inglorious end of the crusade no later than 18 October in the Moravian town of Broumov, which he had captured shortly before. With the help of Albrecht, he first decided to conquer Hussite Moravia.

The light Hungarian cavalry was not a serious threat to the castles and fortresses, and therefore, on Sigismund’s orders, they drastically plundered the rural estates of the Kalisz lords of Kunštát and Kravař. Most probably on 22 October, the governor of the Moravian Hussite estate, Petr Strážnický, offered his surrender. Albrecht’s army defended Uherský Ostroh, as well as the fortress in Martínkov.

After a five-day siege Albrecht conquered Jevišovice on 26 October. In addition to Hašek of Wallenstein, the resistance was continued by Boček of Kunštát and Václav of Kravař (son of Petr Strážnický), who managed to break into Bohemia at the end of the year and join Žižek’s army in front of Kutná Hora.

The surrender of Peter the Warder drew back to Sigismund the vast majority of the Moravian nobility. A total of 56 seals were affixed to a parchment document dated 17 November 1421, in which the Moravian nobility entered into a five-year warrior association (landfryd) under the patronage of King Sigismund.

According to the plan, Sigismund’s troops were to reinforce the Upper Lusatian Corps, which in mid-October sacked the towns and villages around the castles of Litice and Žampach in the eastern part of the Chrudim region. However, due to the high cost, the Upper Lusatian bands returned home by Christmas, as did the Vratislavs. Thus, only smaller troops of Bishop Konrad of Wrocław and Prince Přemek of Opava took part in Sigismund’s campaign.

A hostile incursion into eastern Bohemia forced the Prague Council to send some cash to Čáslav. Before noon on October 31st, the Praguers stood in front of Kutná Hora. Although Jan Hvězda had promised the more secretive constables to avoid the town, some of his unruly warriors disobeyed the order. Jewish houses were plundered and some churches destroyed. The subsequent attitude of the townspeople of Kutná Hora had an unfortunate effect on further developments.

After three weeks of treading near Čáslav, the Praguers returned to Prague via Hradec Králové on 25 November. The star was undoubtedly forced to make this detour by the news of the conquest of Polička and the massacre of its inhabitants by the advancing hordes of Sigismund’s army. The Hungarian cavalry here and elsewhere throughout the campaign acted with its proverbial brutality. The failure of Governor Hvězda led to the rapid mobilisation of the Hradec Králové Council, but also of the Oreb nobility, who arrived in considerable numbers.

It is not entirely certain whether Žižka formally assumed supreme command of all the assembled Hussite troops, although the whole campaign bears traces of his authority and military genius. The blind governor marched out with the camps as early as 8 December to correct Hvězd’s gross error by occupying the area between Kutná Hora and Čáslav. A day later, the Praguers followed him with their people. The entrance to Kutná Hora was without incident, although the simple Tabor service in the Church of St. John offended the local settlers. Fears of treacherous ambushes by the miners were one of the reasons that led Žižka to fight a decisive battle in the open field. Viktorin Boček of Kunštát and the Moravians Hašek of Wallenstein, together with Václav of Strážnice, joined him in his manoeuvres and movements at Čáslav.

As Sigismund’s army was approaching from the west, the Hussites met it through the Kouřim Gate and after about four hundred metres took up a position on the upper slope of the hill. The flood of Hungarian horsemen, more than ten thousand in number, was frightening. In addition, Duke Albrecht, who did not take part in the campaign, sent a strong corps. This time the Hussites encouraged themselves not only with prayers, but also with the mass knighting of new knights before the battle. Sigismund’s commanders ordered a large herd of cattle to be herded against the Hussite chic in an attempt to increase the striking power of the attacking line-up. However, penetrating the city through the unprotected Cologne Gate proved far more effective. While the Hussites repelled one attack after another on the main battlefield, the miners completed their long-prepared work of treachery behind their backs. The spies from Kutná Hora had been supplying Sigismund with secret information as early as July, but it was not until early October that the plot became organised. The Prague administration was lulled into complacency by the apparent loyalty of the townspeople, among whom the German Catholics were overwhelmingly in the majority.

The position of the Hussite army suddenly lost its supposed advantages. Cutting off the supply base in advance ruled out a delaying battle in the siege from all sides, and therefore Žižka bet everything on one card. On Monday, 22 December, before dawn, he broke through one section with artillery and, in a masterly raid, penetrated to the northern foot of Kaňek, where he perhaps intended to wage the final battle. The enemy, confused and tired from night movements, had no desire to pursue the Hussites, so Žižka gave the order to march and then led the army out of the dangerous area without much harm.

In Kutná Hora, the satisfied conquerors interpreted the retreat as a defeat from which the Hussites would not recover for a long time. Sigismund therefore broke off the campaign before the Christmas holidays and allowed the Hungarian corps to seek shelter in the surrounding countryside before the frost. His carelessness went so far that he did not even care whether the Hussites were preparing to retaliate. His surprise was all the greater when, on 6 January 1422, a strong army of Prague men and camps appeared at Nebovidy, near Kutná Hora. Due to the scattered troops, the king could no longer think of an effective defence and therefore preferred to retreat immediately. On the night of 6-7 January, the fleeing mercenaries set fire to the town, while the Hussite fighters, against their custom, began to extinguish it. Sparing prudence towards the country’s silver treasury prevailed over vindictive retaliation.

As soon as the situation in the town permitted, Žižka set out after the enemy and after two days caught up with him at Haber halfway to the German Ford. Sigismund’s army was preparing to defend itself, but showed its back to the Hussites before they came within range. In a panicked retreat, hundreds of mercenaries perished crossing the Sázava River, and stragglers were slaughtered by the advancing camps and the Prague citizens. Everywhere along the road to German Brod the Hussites collected huge booty of all kinds. Some of the commanders volunteered to defend the town to cover the king’s retreat. On the ninth of January, after the morning services, Žižka attacked the town violently.

By a day of tenacious resistance the defenders accomplished their task. During the surrender negotiations that took place on the morning of 10 January, some of the invaders broke the conventions of war and penetrated the city through a broken section of the walls. This was against the will of the blind warlord. The accumulated resentment against Sigismund’s soldiers and the murderers of the Hussites in Kutná Hora was, among other things, taken out by the victorious army on the male population of Brod, which for many months remained a deserted burnt-out place. The main culprit, Sigismund, managed to escape again, but a series of heavy defeats took away his courage once and for all to take on the unruly country again on the field of war. The day after the victory, the Hussites gave thanks to God and knighted the bravest of their warriors under the conquered banners.


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