Battle of Bilá Hora being re-enacted

Crucial moment in history will be staged at the original location

The Battle of Bilá Hora in 1620 was one of the turning points in Czech history, determining the fate of the nation for the next three centuries. The battle will be re-enacted Sept. 17 and 18 at part of the original battlefield the field in front of the Hvězda summer palace in Prague 6.

Events begin at noon each day and the battle is at 2 pm. The program is the same each day. Some 700 participants in authentic uniforms and dozens of horses will participate. Groups of history enthusiasts come from across the country and also from other countries including Germany and Slovakia. This year will have the most foreign troops ever. The main organizer is the Czech group Rytíři Koruny České, and the event is put on with financial support of Prague 6.

The outcome of the battle and the broad outline of troop movements is determined by history, but the choreography is different each year, with new bits of interaction between characters added to create some drama.

The battle is tied to another famous event in Prague history, the Second Defenestration, when a meeting at Prague Castle ended with representatives of Emperor Ferdinand II being thrown out of a window in 1618. This was followed by the election of Frederick V, a Protestant, as king of Bohemia in 1619. The move further antagonized the Catholic emperor, who decided to put down the rebellious faction in Prague by sending an army consisting of his imperial troops and soldiers from the German Catholic League.

The battle was so short that by the time King Frederick V arrived, it was already over.

Historically, the battle was the beginning of the end for Czech nobility. The loss at White Mountain was followed a year later by the execution of 27 Protestant rebellion leaders at the hands of the Catholic Hapsburgs. Protestants were forced to either convert or leave the country. Czechs would not be free of foreign rule again until 1918 when the First Republic was established.

The organizers say that from the distance of almost 400 years, this historical episode, although primarily disastrous, should not be seen in black and white. For instance, the specific form of Czech Radical Baroque would have never developed without the subsequent re-Catholicization of the Czech lands. The re-enactment also celebrates the courage of the Czechs and the fact that despite of all the adversities the Czech nation is still here.

There are things to see before the battle such as a market with Renaissance items and toy weapons, the battle camp and weapons demonstrations. There is also fencing and music.

The actual battle took place Nov. 8, 1620, but the re-enactment is in September because the weather is better.

For more about the event, see www.facebook.com/bitvaBilaHora

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