Last week's Get Some Victory newsletter laid out some ways to overview historical eras and nations for inspirational people to learn from - artists, statesmen, businessmen, inventors, or whatever else appeals to you.
At the end of it, I asked readers to send me a line if they knew a great story I should know about. Simon Payne wrote in from the Czech Republic to share some very impressive Czech historical figures who I hadn't heard about before. I enjoyed reading this a lot, and he kindly agreed to let me post this. Here's Simon -
This email has got me thinking and after while I came up with a name I'm sure you have not hear of and is actually pretty interesting persona.
His name is:
It was a Czech priest that has a great influence on Czech history and even the whole Europe. I'll try to keep it brief as there is plenty information about him on the internet.
So why was this guy so interesting?
Among other things he worked hard on himself, he studied a lot and was pretty smart and respected guy. He was not afraid to point that the church at his times (15th Century) was not serving the people in the right way and began to talk openly about the problems it has (and there were plenty). He actually started the reform movement in Bohemia. I'm not even sure if he wanted to be a hero but he was burned alive for heresy. For Church it took almost 600 years to apologize and recognize his death as unfortunate.
He was very good speaker and many people loved him, he was a blogger of his time. A very famous one because he has a lot of listeners. Therefore after his death Czech people went into fury and rage! And what followed was one of the most interesting times in our history!
The Hussite movement was formed lead by famous one eyed leader Jan Zizka and they wandered around the land and even around the Europe and drained and fought with the Crusaders and Teutons and others. They were actually pretty successful and used various amazing techniques to defeat much stronger opponents like mounted knights by using river mud as a trap and then beaten them with simple tools used to crush crops. They used wagons to form a effective barriers and turned many battles int their favor. I loved reading about Hussites as a small boy! They were just violent farmers and angry bandits but there is something about them. They stood for for what they believed and made the whole Europe wonder to what to do with them?
These time were called Hussite wars. It was really unprecedented in Europe because all the Crusade and Teuton raids were unsuccessful. And Hussites began to drain even other countries. I know that it was not all for a noble purpose. They lived in a misery and they had a chance to actually do about it. Well I still thing about it as the only time the Czech people really stood for themselves. Which certainly wasn't during the World War 2...
These were violent times and Hussites at the end turned at each other and pretty much beaten themselves... which was a shame but they left a lot for the nation. Did you know that we Czech people are the only nation in the world which can actually form one single real medieval army of knights! Yes it's true. Classical sword fighting is very popular in here and I don't mean with the sword but rather with the actually much heavier sword you see in movies like Robin Hood. It's very popular among young people and they form groups where they train and then make reconstructions of historical battles! A lot of movies are like Joan of Arc were shot in Czech Republic because you will find here a lot of skilled sword fighters and event blacksmiths and other professions. It's more a hobby nowadays but still pretty impressive. I myself trained fighting with the sword when I was younger and it was delightful experience.
I hope you enjoyed my little story about our little nation.
Simon, that was brilliant, thanks for sharing it. I'd recommend everyone check out the links - interesting people. Jan Zizka in particular is really impressive - amazing record as a commander and he made great use of very few resources against very tough opposition. I went to just skim the links you sent me, but I wound up reading them all in full - very compelling stories and some excellent lessons and insights.
You probably meant the Blanik Knights inside Blanik mountain: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blan%C3%ADk
But as you correctly point out that was just a broken legend because when Czechoslovakia was attacked by five armies of the Warsaw pact: "in Blanik not a single leg moved".
Hussites on the other hand were pretty real. Based on this discussion about them article my friend reminded me that there is one interesting fact that was not mentioned on Wikipedia...
Did you know that Jan Zizka was the second person in history who managed to win a battle against unbelievable predominance ratio (more attackers than defendants), when he was protecting some castle.
The first place occupies nothing else than the battle of Thermopyles which might not even be real ...
This is an interesting bit of history regarding the Hussites - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%A1bor - Tabor, an egalitarian city founded by notable Hussites.
I can't remember the name of one specific legend from CZ - the 12 knights who are "sleeping" in a mountain, who will rise up again when the country is threatened. That one always intrigued me, although now we know it's false, they would've risen when the Russian tanks rolled in, or when The Plastic People of the Universe first took to the studio...
Question from a reader -
I'm reading The Book of Five Rings, and I have a question.
There's a lot of good stuff about acting decisively and immediately so that you can win while your opponent is hesitating, but I don't get why he emphasizes swords so much in particular.
Masters of the long sword are traditionally known as heihosha [strategists]. As for the other military arts, those who master the bow are called archers, those who master the spear are called spearmen, those who master the gun are called marksmen, and those who master the halberd are called halberdiers. But we do not call masters of the long sword "long swordsmen", nor do we speak of "short swordsmen". Bows, guns, spears and halberds are all tools of the warriors and each should be a way to master strategy.
There is this weird commercial in my home country that teaches us how to talk bulgarian english...It says "do something new: remember za parspactiv, za parsijian iend za parsantagi." For exact sounds find me...To be honest for me, all people that speak a slavic language but as well some of my countrymen have the same stupid accent. I do as well when drunk/high/tired. But getting back to this bulgarian. He's sexy, he does not have a big head (local saying), and he is sleepy. Always. As any respectable expat he has a czech girlfriend. Went to some other countries before, for now he is stuck in the CZ. And also between the "should I go to my girlfriend's parents cottage and cut the grass or should I go to my friend's bday party and see the stripper?" Getting drunk is the valid option for both cases. Now to present him in the good corporate way: good contributor, fulfills his tasks in time. Then he sleeps...:) But nevertheless a very good going out partner as he is the dude with weird stories about people he knows. Example: drunk guys in Poland (visiting) steal the sword from a statue. They go to jail. Peace out!