Hussite Warfare

A history based exercise in taking a different route, faith in taking a chosen course

Based on an excerpt from the book Vojenské dějiny Československa (Military History of Czechoslovakia) and pictures from the book Jak válčili husité (The Hussites at War), the students gain an overview about the typical Hussite weapons. They figure out how they differed from the weapons used by the mounted knights and how efficient they were. The difference between a normal wagon and the fortified wagons of the Hussites. After reading the excerpt, they try to describe the Hussite wagon and draw the typical Hussite weapons to their workbooks.
The second part of the activity is devoted to the basic tactics used by the Hussites – using the wagons for transport and creating the wagon fort. The students should realise how the wagon fort, in combination with the terrain features, eliminated the advantages of the cavalry forces. It is, however, necessary to point out that weapons alone do not win a battle – the winning force are the people who wield them and believe they fight for a just cause. The students should realise that the nature of invincibility of the Hussite field forces consisted in their faith and courage.
The last part of the activity includes reading the account of the Battle of Malešov. It serves not only as an example of bravery of the Hussite warriors, but also shows the determination and strategical art of Jan Žižka of Trocnov. The students then try to consult each other and re-enact the battle. They should form an idea on the form of combat of the period and mutual irreconcilability of the Hussites and so-called feudal unity.

How this resource relates to Shaping Characters objectives

  • Attitudes and attributes
  • Education techniques

Actual outcomes

Educational objective: Showing the revolutionary Hussite tactics in fighting the cavalry forces

Qualities in focus: Courage, faith in the just cause, determination

Target group, age of the students: 7th grade

Suitable for: History

Resources required

Vojenské dějiny Československa, I. díl, Praha 1985, pp. 231–233, p. 265; Klučina, P.: Jak válčili husité, Praha 1982, p. 14, pp. 57–58; workbook

Time needed

1 unit (45 minutes)

What could have been done differently or is planned for future repeats?

The activity focused on acquainting the students with Hussite weapons, warfare tactics and course of the action with their enemies. The students were amazed by the simplicity of the weapons and, in particular, the ingenuity of their creation. A story of itself for the students were the firearms used. It was explained that the accuracy and efficiency of the firearms should not be overestimated. Almost all the children understood the wagon fort tactics, although at first, they had no idea what the wagons served for. They were intrigued by the bravery of common soldiers who ventured to fight the feared cavalry forces. They imagined how they’d behave in the battle, whether they’d be brave enough. I was glad they understood why the Hussites fought for their cause – that war was not an objective for them, but rather a means for change in their lives. The re-enactment of the Battle of Malešov proved to be too complicated for them, but they ultimately saw the point. Just the numbers of the battle casualties seemed to be ridiculously low in their opinion. They also could not understand how Žižka, completely blind at the time, could lead the battle.

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