Monday, March 14, 2011

You Are There! 1618

Let's step back in history a little.  Whoa, watch your step, lest you find yourself defenestrated!

Defenestrate sounds a lot more horrible than it is - the very texture of the word on the ears sounds like something is being forcibly removed from one's body.  Its roots are Latin - "de" as in down, or away and "fenestra," meaning window.  To be defenestrated is to be tossed out of a window.  Come to think of it, that's not such a pleasant thing either.
There was a story about a man who invented some sort of shatter-proof glass, and in order to get investors to put money into his deal, he installed some of the glass in his office window in New York, and with a room full of potential investors gazing first in awe and then in horror, he flung himself against the window and plummeted to his death.  

Turned out, the glass did not break, but whoever installed the window didn't do enough to secure it to the frame and sill.


Well, back in 1618, the Defenestration of Prague took place in that Czechoslovakian city.  It seemed only fitting to have it there. The tower at Hradčany (Prague Castle), the site of the Defenestration of Prague.
[Credit: DigitalExtropy]The picture at left is of Prague Castle, where the ruling Hapsburgs were dealing with a Bohemian uprising.  Roman Catholic officials had begun closing Protestant chapels in the towns of Broumov and Hrob, which the Bohemians felt was a violation of the religious liberty that they had been guaranteed in a Letter of Majesty signed by Emperor Rudolf II in 1609. I mean, a deal's a deal, right?   So, on May 23, 1618, while humming a certain Bohemian rhapsody, they called a trial to safeguard their rights.  Two imperial regents, William Slavata and Jaroslav Martinic, were found guilty, along with their secretary, a man named Fabricius.  The angry Bohemians threw the three men out of the window of Prague Castle, but they weren't seriously hurt, unless you call landing in a pile of manure serious.  That's what saved them, but this incident, the Defenestration of Prague, led to more Bohemian uprisings, and then came the Thirty Year's War, which ran from 1618 - 1648.

From this, people learned not to name their wars after periods of duration, because evidence exists that by 1623, everyone was sick and tired of the Thirty Years' War, but what could they do?  They had 25 years left to go!

All of the above is true, stuff I read years ago, and I always suspected that Fabricius, after climbing out of the big pile of what saved him, submitted his dry-cleaning bills to Slavata and Martinic, although history cannot find the receipts for it.

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