Saturday, September 19, 2009


Those who have seen the movie Braveheart will remember when Edward Longshanks threw his son's councilor out the window. Throughout history, even church history, such acts have been common, notably in Prague (site of four notable defenestrations). There is even a children's song about throwing people out the window. The act itself is known as defenestration. Some notable examples include:

  • Jezebel was thrown out the window by her servants at the direction of Jehu (2 Kings 9.33).
  • The First Defenestration of Prague occurred on July 30, 1419, when a crowd of Hussites, protesting the treatment of Hussite prisoners, became enraged after being assaulted, and threw several council members out the window. These events led to the Hussite Wars.
  • On August 22, 1572, Admiral Gaspard de Coligny was shot by a would-be assassin. Coligny was recovering at his house in Paris when, on the night of August 23-24, soldiers entered his house at the direction of Catherine de Medici and her son, King Charles X, and seized him, ran him threw with a sword, and threw him out the window. This act triggered the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.
  • The Second Defenestration of Prague occurred on May 23, 1618, at the Prague Castle. Roman Catholic officials had banned construction of certain Protestant chapels on land claimed by the Catholic Church. Protestants viewed this as a violation of the 1609 Letter of Majesty which declared religious freedom for Protestants and feared the threat posed by this precedent. A Protestant assembly declared the land in question was not church-owned but but royal property, and that two Imperial governors and their scribe were found guilty of violating the religious freedom of Protestants, and sentenced to be thrown out the window. When the sentence was carried out, providentially, the three men landed in a pile of manure and survived. Catholic propagandists attributed their amazing survival to the care of angels who floated them to safety. Protestant pamphleteers attributed their survival to landing in a pile of manure. This event was a trigger for the Thirty Years' War, one of Europe's bloodiest conflicts.

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