So, the First Defenestration of Prague.
Okay, so we’re all more or less familiar with Protestantism and Catholicism as things, right? We didn’t need to go into too much detail to explain what was up with the Second Defenestration of Prague, and why those two groups were maybe a little sick of each other at that point in history.
Well, Martin Luther wasn’t the only dude running around protesting the papacy. There were many other dudes running around protesting the papacy. One of those dudes was Jan Hus/John Huss, whose adherents were raising a ruckus in Prague like a century before Luther came up with his List o’ Bullshit.
Just so we’re clear here, if you think of “the Crusades” as like this thing that involved Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson, those are just the most famous crusades. You know that Eddie Izzard joke about how white people think Muslims go around declaring jihad on everybody who mildly annoys them?
Well, that is actually more or less how medieval popes declared crusades. In the aftermath of the First Defenestration of Prague, the Hussite “rebellion” (I mean, it was at the time but they pretty much eventually won the argument) successfully defended against five papal crusades in eleven years. Joan of Arc threatened to come and sort them out for the pope, guys. (Spoiler alert: The English sorted her out first.) While Hus was still alive, there were like three popes running around Europe, all excommunicating each other and declaring crusades on each other and generally disrespecting each other.
I mean, we are talking about a guy (Alexander V) being elected pope by one council, declared an antipope by another council, dying and being succeeded by another guy (John XXIII, also declared an antipope), who then goes on to declare a fucking crusade on Naples because Naples is supporting another pope (Gregory XII), and starts selling indulgences to pay for his antipope uncrusade. Who’s the real pope? Depends on where you live, motherfucker.
Anyway, so Hus got declared a heretic and burned at the stake for it in 1415. Bonus round: The Imperial marshal who tried him was named Von Pappenheim. I think this means he was actually a time-traveler subbing in for an incapacitated historical figure, and that the time-traveler in question is not good under pressure.
Anyway, by the time he was killed, he was so well-established that everybody completely lost their shit. And by “completely lost their shit,” I mean it was so bad that a year or so later, Martin V (the real pope, one of which they finally had) issued a general order that Hussites were to be slaughtered, presumably “like the dogs they are hon hon hon (just imagine a French laugh there for no reason, he probably also twirled a mustache)”. This didn’t really help the general state of affairs.
So basically you had a bunch of Hussites pushing Catholics around and Catholics trying to push Hussites around and that maybe not going as well as it could have. In 1419, a Hussite priest led a procession through the streets of Prague. Catholics threw rocks at their heads, a near-universal sign of vehement disagreement. The demonstration was initially about the council’s refusal to exchange Hussite prisoners taken during earlier hostilities but quickly became about the rocks getting thrown at their faces, because fuck everybody. It continued to be about fucking everything up by the time the priest and his fucking-shit-up followers gained the building, leading directly to everybody who didn’t hang onto something really, really hard getting thrown out a window.
Unlike the Second Defenestration of Prague, which occurred in a more or less official setting, this defenestration involved a really pretty infuriated mob waiting outside the building, so there were no survivors. Given what we now know of angry mobs, this was probably not the result of any sort of planning on the mob’s part, and most likely just the upshot of a bottleneck around the staircase.
Because nobody can get thrown out a window in Prague without it turning into a fucking federal case or something, Real Pope Martin V decided that no, really, everybody in the whole damn country needed to go. (Popes were fond of saying shit like that back in the day, as opposed to now when they just quietly grumble it to themselves every time they get delayed by airport security.) The king dying of shock at the I guess somehow completely unexpected bullshit his civil-war-starting subjects were engaging in made everything worse by dumping it right in the unhappy lap of his poor wife, who hired mercenaries (protip: mercenaries are usually not a good move) to try to regain some semblance of control over
Defenestration Junction Prague. Eventually control of the huge pile of fucking rubble that Prague had been turned into was re-established. Hooray!
For-Reals-We-Swear Superpope Martin V issued a proper bull the next year declaring that God hates everybody who’s not Catholic, but most especially the Hussites, and they all needed the be ground into dust and spat on repeatedly. Because this is more or less what a crusade is, this was considered a crusade. Which Martin V proceeded to lose. Repeatedly. Whoops!