Historie – Otázky – Problémy

The royal town of Pilsen during the Thirty Years’ War.  Contributions to the History of the Town in 1621–1630

Abstract: The royal town of Pilsen was one of the few towns in the Kingdom of Bohemia which provided continuous support to the kings of Bohemia, especially the Habsburgs. Also, in 1618 Pilsen refused to side with the uprising of provincial estates, resulting in estate directors sending Peter Ernst II, count of Mansfeld with an army against this Catholic town – they succeeded in capturing and occupying it.
This occupation lasted for more than two years and ended with a surrender agreement concluded on 26th March 1621. The town was subsequently passed into the hands of representative of General Tilly. The population had to expend considerable resources not only to defend the town, accommodate the Mansfeld entourage (and to simultaneously sustain a rural population who had taken shelter from the enemy behind the town walls), but also to support the troops of Emperor and of Catholic League. The town council did not have enough money, so it had to pawn the church jewellery and other valuables and borrow cash from the nobility and from the wealthy burghers of Prague. Ferdinand II appointed a board that had to devise a way Pilsen could be relieved of its debts which were still growing due to the cost of accommodating military forces and interests. The situation was critical because the town could not get money and as a result craft and trade in the towns lumped and also the number of burghers declined. It was necessary to resolve these protracted disputes with creditors, too.
The Emperor eventually freed the town from its obligation to pay all outstanding beer tax and from its contributions, but tax collectors did not respect this due to the lack of currency in circulation. Neither debt reduction nor deferral of payment helped and the forced financing of Mansfeld’s occupying troops resulted in Pilsen (however prosperous it may have been before the war) being on the verge of financial ruin in the early 1630’s – at the same time as the next phase of the Thirty Years’ War was starting. Municipal debts grew to more than eight times the pre-war level and the town continued to be burdened by the consequences of this war until the end of the 17th century; in fact, the royal town of Pilsen never recovered the standing it had among other towns in Bohemia before the Battle of White Mountain.

Key words: Pilsen, the Thirty Years’ War, the town, 1621, 1629, townspeople, the Town Council, Prague, occupation, debts, creditors

PhDr. Oldřich Kortus, PhD., externí spolupracovník Ústavu českých dějin Filozofické fakulty Univerzity Karlovy, zabývá se vojenskou problematikou, zvláště pak saským vpádem do Čech v letech 1631–1632 (o.kortus@post.cz)