The Hussite Wars/Žižka's regulations of war
ŽIŽKA’S REGULATIONS OF WAR, 1423
We, brother John Žižka of the Chalice, John Roháč of Duba, of Riesenburg and Vřestov, John Potštain of Žampach, of Kunštat and Jevišovic, Bartholomew and Bernard, brothers of Valečov Bartholomew, John and Martin, brothers of Vysoká, we, the burgomasters, aldermen, and citizens of the towns of Králové Hradec and Časlav, we, Benedict of Mokrovous, Jaroslav of the Chalice, Venceslas Horina of Honbic, Christian of Žernosek, Francis of Litožnic, George of , John of Studená, we, burgomasters, aldermen, and citizens of the town of Jaroměř; we, Zdislav Zeman, Lawrence Polák of Paňov, Blasius of Kralupy, Jacob of Březová, Peter Kralovec of Přibram, John of Domážlice, John of , Martin of Borovnice, Gallus Orebský, and we, burgomaster, aldermen and all the citizens of the town of Dvůr; and we, Chůstník of Košov, Andrew of Studená, Šarka of Slavné, Křiž the captain, Beneš the captain, Michael Breda Odraný, Aleš of Hostačov, Polévka of Hoštka, Michael Orebský, Veta of Chlumčany, Litobor of Trubeč, Linhart of Sleza, Beneš of Hořovic, John Baštin, Mařik Velek Šeňk, George Roh, Nicholas Brada, the captains, lords, knights, squires and citizens without exception, and no one being excluded: We all, whose names are written above, rightly request, order and demand of you that there should be orderly obedience; for through disobedience and riotous disturbances we have suffered great losses, both as regards our brethren and our estates, and we have been shamed before the enemies of God. Now, however, with the help of God and of all the faithful, we hope to avoid this, and therefore lay down these regulations:
I. When we march out of some place and move to new quarters, no one shall ride or walk or drive in advance of the army to secure quarters or lodgings for himself; neither shall any one encamp without the permission or order of the older captains or before the said older captains appointed for this purpose have assigned him a place; and should any man encamp or march or place himself anywhere without order from these elders we wish to have revenge on him and punish him in goods and person, whoever he be, and of whatever rank, without exception in favour of any man.
II. When they move on from the place where they have encamped with permission and by order of the appointed elders, they shall march to an appropriate spot and wait there till the whole army has moved from its encampment.
III. No one shall on the march or when we encamp light a fire or burn anything; only those [shall do so] who are ordered to do so and appointed for this purpose, and this under severe penalty that no others may do so afterwards.
IV. Before we leave a town or begin a march or orders are given, all shall first pray to the Lord God, and falling on their knees before the Sacrament shall pray that the Almighty God God may deign to grant us His aid, that we may carry on His holy fight to His holy glory, for the increase of all that is good, for the salvation and aid of the faithful.
V. Then, when the men have formed in order, each troop under its standard, then the watchword shall be given and then all shall proceed on the march in that order that whichever troop is on that day ordered to march on first, shall start first ; and others shall not mingle with them nor impede their march; all shall, when they have been placed in a troop and under a standard, march together in that troop in an orderly fashion, no troop mingling with another; all shall march carefully, guarding the van, the rear and the flanks of the army according to the orders they will receive from the elders.
VI. And should God ordain that we incur losses through some incautiousness or neglect on the part of the captains, either in the field or at the outposts or at the entrenchments, or at any other post that may have been entrusted to them by the elders or by the community, then [the captains] shall without exception be punished by death and loss of their goods, be he [the guilty person] a prince, a lord or any one else, without excepting or excluding any one.
VII. But if the Lord God grants to us to overcome and defeat the enemies, to capture towns, strongholds, or castles, and, either on the march or while encamped, to obtain booty, then shall these spoils and this booty be collected and brought together to a spot appointed and chosen by the elders, be it much or little; and for this purpose elders shall be chosen among all communities, the lords, knights, townsmen, and peasants, who will faithfully see that these things are justly distributed and divided among the rich and the poor as is befitting, so that no one may himself carry anything away or keep it. But if some one carries away anything or keeps it and he is conscientiously convicted of this, then such a man shall be executed, and lose his life and goods, as one who has robbed God and the commonwealth, whoever he may be, without exception in favour of any one; for thus was treated Achan because of the cap and the cloak of the king’s daughter, or [such a man] shall die by some other death, be he a prince, noble, knight, squire, citizen, craftsman or peasant, without exception for any man or regard to his person; thus with God’s help will we take vengeance on such a man.
VIII. There shall be in our armies and amidst ourselves no quarrels, riots, or noisy disputes.
IX. If some man should strike, wound, maim or kill another, he shall be punished according to God’s law and as God permits, without exception of any man and regard for any person.
X. Be it further known to you that, should any one steal away, walk, ride, or drive away from the army while we are on the march or encamped, without the knowledge of the elders who are mentioned above and without having the right watchword, then he, whether he be a prince, or a noble, or knight, or squire, or citizen, or craftsman, or peasant, or of whatever other condition, shall, when arrested, be, as a faithless thief who slinks away from God’s battle and the army of the faithful, punished publicly by loss of his life and goods.
XI. Also will we not suffer among us infidels, disobedient men, liars, thieves, gamblers, robbers, plunderers, drunkards, revilers, lewd men, adulterers, prostitutes, adulteresses, or any other sinners, male or female; all these will we banish and drive away, or execute them with the help of the Holy Trinity and in accordance with God’s law.
XII. Brother Žižka and the other nobles, captains, knights, squires, citizens, craftsmen, and peasants named above, and all the communities will, with the help of God and of the commonwealth, punish all disorders by banishment, by flogging, slaying, decapitating, hanging, whipping, burning, drowning and by all other punishments which are befitting according to God’s law, with exceptions of no one, whether of male or female sex. And if we observe and fulfill the salutiferous articles written above the Lord God will be with us with His holy grace and help; for it befits the warriors of God to live in a truly Christian fashion, loving discipline and fearing God, and to place all wishes, desires and hopes in the hand of the Lord God without hesitation, expecting from Him eternal reward. And we beg you, dear comrades, of all districts, princes, lords, knights, squires, townsmen, craftsmen, peasants, villeins, men of all estates and generally all faithful Bohemians to agree to this good work and be skilful and helpful for this purpose. And we again will keep, fulfil and maintain [our promises] because of our dear Lord God and His holy martyrdom, for the sake of the freedom of the truth of God’s law, for the glory of the saints, for the help of those who are faithful to the holy Church, and particularly for those of the Bohemian and Slavic race [“jazyk”] and all Christianity, that the faithful may be glorified and all open or secret heretics and miscreants be shamed. Thus may Almighty God deign to grant us and you His aid and lead us to victory against His enemies and ours, and fight for us and with you with His might, and not withdraw from us His holy grace. Amen.
May the Lord God be with us and with you wherever you are and wherever it pleases the Holy Trinity (that you should be). And for better knowledge, confirmation, and certainty we who are named above, together with the clergy, have deliberately given our consent to this writing or letter, and we agree to hold, preserve, and defend it with the help of the uncreated and eternally blessed Holy Trinity. Amen. May God grant this.
- Žižka’s brother.
- That is of the Orebite community.
- See n. 2.
- I. e. the first detachments of the Army.
- I. e. justly.
- Joshua, Chap. VII. vv. 19–26.
- The articles of Prague, which were published with Žižka’s Regulations as a sort of Preface.
- Or language; the Bohemian word “jazyk” has both significations.
- I. e. the Regulations of War.