Diviš Bořek of Miletínek

Jan Škvrňák
A lower nobleman originally from the Hradec Králové region became one of the most important Hussite politicians. By seizing the possessions of the Opatovice and Sezemice monasteries, he acquired extensive landed property, which enabled him to relocate to Kunětická Hora Castle. During his career he was hetman (governor) in Hradec Králové, Chrudim, Litomyšl and Vysoké Mýto cities. At the end of his life, he legalized most of his property gains, and for about two years he was also the purgrave of Prague Castle. As a military leader he had mixed successes. However, he was victorious in the most important battle at Lipany (1434) against radical hussites.

Diviš Bořek was a member of a lower noble knight family from Krkonoše region, which has been known since the middle of the 14th century. His father Diviš Mrzák, who named himself after the present-day part of Miletín called Miletínek, gave the family its name - Mrzákové of Miletínek. The members of the family used a coat of arms with a chequer in one half and on the basis of the same coat of arms they were related to other lower nobility in Hradec Králové region, such as the Dohalský of Dohalice or the Knights of Mokrovous. Diviš’s mother was Machna from an unknown family, he had several brothers - Jetřich, Vaněk and two others who disappear after 1412 - Petr and Ondřej. The sources do not say whether he had sisters.

Coat of arms according to Diadochos by Bartholomew Paprocki of Głogoł, early 17th century

Although it appears as the place of his birth Lázně Bělohrad, no sources say anything about it, nor about the time of his birth. Similarly, nothing is known about his youth. What is certain is that he was already an adult at the beginning of the 15th century. Even with the first mention of Diviš Bořek there are doubts. František Teplý thinks that in the years 1409 to 1411, Diviš Bořek was named after Kasalice.

Father Diviš Mrzák of Miletínek died on 26 February 1412 at the latest. To his salvation, the widow Machna, with her sons Bořek (incorrectly referred to as Boček) and Václav, i.e. Vaňek, establish the altar of St. Catherine in the church in Červená Třemešná.

The possession of the royal fief (inherited by father) associated with Vyšehrad Castle could have been an opportunity for the landowners of Miletínek to enter the environment of Wenceslas IV’s courtiers and to get acquainted with the reform ideas of Mister Jan Hus. However, Diviš Bořek did not seal a letter of protest against the execution of the Czech reformer in Konstanz.

The outbreak of the Hussite Revolution was a chance for a low-ranking nobleman to break into the country’s elite. Diviš Bořek made the most of it. With the Orebite commander Hynek Krušina of Lichtenburg, Diviš headed in April to Hussite Prague, besieged by the First Crusade. In the autumn, both men returned to Prague to take part in the Battle of Vyšehrad.

The real material and political rise for Diviš Bořek was achieved during the spring Hussite campaign in 1421. The East Bohemian nobleman marched out to meet the united Hussite armies and together with the Lords of Poděbrady and the Orebites of Hradec Králové conquered Český Brod. Since the successful campaign, Diviš breaks away in front of Kutná Hora to attack the fortified monastery in Opatovice. Monastery has been attempted twice in the past by warriors from Hradec Králové, but only Diviš succeeds. The Benedictine monastery in Podlažice and the Cistercian monastery in Sezemice are similarly destroyed. Diviš Bořek takes over (first as a governor appointed by the Prague) most of the monasteries in the Pardubice region. From a small landowner he soon becomes the possesor of several dozen villages and moves (no later than 1423) to Kunětická Hora Castle, which he rebuilds.

Kunětická Hora Castle in 1911; postcard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Within a few months, Diviš Bořek of Miletínek became one of the most important Hussites in East Bohemia. His position was further enhanced by the governorships in Chrudim, Vysoké Mýto and episcopal Litomyšl cities, which he acquired from the Prague Hussites. A year later, the landlord from Miletínek is also appointed governor of Hradec nad Labem (Hradec Králové) by Sigismund Korybut.

At the end of April 1423 Diviš together with Jan Žižka of Trocnov defeated the Catholic nobility led by Čeněk of Vartenberk in the Battle of Hořice. In June, the Union of Prague launched a campaign to Moravia, also with the participation of its East Bohemian ally Diviš Bořek of Miletínek. The expedition was successful, and the Hussites were victorious at the Battle of Kroměříž. But Diviš suffered a major setback at home. A revolt broke out against him in Hradec, the town was taken over by the partisans of Jan Žižka of Trocnov, and the blind Hussite hetman made Hradec nad Labem the Second Tábor and the base of his military brotherhood.

Diviš Bořek of Miletínek thus became a personal enemy of Žižka and the radical brotherhoods (the later Orphanes and the Táborites). Diviš leaved campaign in Moravia and attempts to recapture Hradec. The first clash and the first ever battle between the Hussite fractions occurred at Strauchův Dvůr. Here, on 8 August 1423, Diviš Bořek of Miletínek was defeated by Žižka and flees to Kunětická Hora from the lost battle.

But this was not the end of the split among the Hussites; in the autumn of 1423, an alliance of moderate Hussites and Catholics was formed in Prague, headed by a twelve-member provincial government, where both confessions had parity. One of the two members of the lower nobility in the government wa Diviš Bořek of Miletínek. The combined armies of the Utraquists and Catholics fight an unsuccessful battle with Žižka and his brotherhood at Malešov in June 1424. It is not clear whether Bořek of MIletínek takes part in it. After the defeat, the alliance breaks up.

Family tree of knights of Miletínek accord August Sedláček, Hrady, zámky a tvrze království Českého, Part I. Chrudimsko, Prague 1882, p. 55

The death of Jan Žižka of Trocnov at Přibyslav in October 1424 united the Hussites only for a short time. After the death of the great warlord, Diviš Bořek joined the campaign to Moravia at Velký Meziříčí. The following year, the moderate Hussites and the Orphan Brotherhood fought together again. It was in 1425 that the Orphans occupied Litomyšl and Vysoké Mýto, Diviš Bořek remained only the governor of Chrudim.

In addition to Chrudim, Diviš Bořek administered Kolín, then belonging to Hynek of Kolštejn. It was in the town on the Elbe that an attempted coup in Prague was arranged, which would establish the rule of Sigismund Korybut. The coup was betrayed, its authors captured and condemned. In September 1427, Prokop Holý approached Kolín and began to besiege the town. After three months of siege, peace was made, Diviš Bořek surrendered in exchange for a promise to leave the town freely and handed Kolín over to the Táborites.

After these defeats, Diviš withdraws from big politics. At the end of the 20s he is documented as a witness to the dispute over the village of Bořice and the debt of Unka of Přestavlky. In 1431, Diviš Bořek was one of the recipients of a letter from the Lithuanian Grand Duke Švidrigelė. During the domestic war, Lithuanian was looking for mercenaries especially among the former allies of Sigismund Korybut.

Miletínek’s triumph was dated 30 May 1434, when he led the battle as commander-in-chief of the Lord’s Unity - a united army of Catholics and moderate Hussites. The East Bohemian landowner seems to have been behind the successful tactic of using a wagon wall and a deceptive escape. After the victory at Lipany, Diviš was appointed as the purgrave of Prague Castle.

Even though Diviš was a member of the lower nobility, he remains one of the most important leaders of the Hussite nobility, as such he participated in several Hussite delegations that dealt with the acceptance of Sigismund of Luxembourg as King of Bohemia. In June 1435, together with the land governor Aleš Vřešt’ovský of Rýzmburk, he travelled to Brno, and in November to Bratislava. A month earlier, at the beginning of October 1435, Diviš Bořek is one of the electors of the Hussite Archbishop of Prague, Jan Rokycana.

Sometime around this time (František Šebek mentions the years 1434-1436) the Hussite warlord rounded up his dominion. In the only known purchase of his life, he acquired from Jan Hlaváč of Ronov the estate of Pardubice - a castle and a town, plus three villages and part of another hamlet. He entrusts the estate to his brother Vaňek.

The fictional look of Diviš Bořek from Diadochus, tj. posloupnost knížat a králů českých, biskupů a arcibiskupů pražských a všech třech stavů slavného království českého, to jest panského, rytířského a městského, Prague, 1602, O stavu rytířském, p. 48. Online here.

In September 1436, the Czech King Sigismund of Luxembourg enters the capital of the country. On 21 September 1436, King Sigismund pledged the Kunětická Hora estate (the castle, the town of Bohdaneč and 42 villages) to Bořek for a sum of 4500 kopas of Prague groschen. On the same day, the Czech king pledged the town of Týnec nad Labem and seven surrounding villages to his brother Vaněk for 1,000 kopas. Probably on the same day, Diviš Bořek acquires the stronghold of Velim and its smaller properties for a pledge of 600 kopecks. Among his losses is the office of Prague’s purgrave, which Menhart of Hradec has held since 5 October.

In addition to diplomatic activity, Diviš Bořek faces the problem of liquidating the radical field brotherhoods. The knight from Miletínek participates in the conquest of Kolín on Bedřich of Strážnice, and one of the manuscripts also mentions him before Sion. The priority, however, was Hradec Králove. In November 1436, Diviš of Miletinek began the blockade of Hradec, setting up his camp at Plačice village and awaiting reinforcements. The full siege was prevented by an unexpected night raid of radicals, which scattered the moderate hussite army - for example, Vilém Kostka of Postupice was killed. Diviš Bořek of Miletínek was supposedly saved again by escaping to Kunětická Hora. Minor clashes and skirmishes continued after the New Year. First, the soldiers of Hradec managed to capture the horses, on 30 January they were defeated in a clash near Libčany. At the beginning of March a coup took place in Hradec, which overthrew the government of the radical priest Ambrose.

Diviš did not fight in front of Hradec for ideological reasons only. In May, the Emperor Sigismund pledged another 13 villages in four charters to him at a value of 1,300 kopas. These came from various owners (Benedictines in Opatovice, Dominican Sisters in Hradec Králové, Cistercians in Zbraslav), and one charter directly mentions 100 kopas for Diviš Bořek’s services and damages. Two more villages were acquired by the Hussite governor a month later from the Cistercians of Skalice and the canons of St. Apollinarius in Prague.

During the year 1437, a new opposition against Sigismund began to form, and Diviš Bořek of Miletínek joined it. First he takes Archbishop Jan Rokycana away from Prague and gives him refuge on his estates. After the execution of Jan Roháč of Dubé, Diviš of Miletínek goes to Prague with a resolution of the Hradec, Chrudim and Mýto regions, according to which emperor Sigismund violates the Compacts of Basel. The situation does not escalate, Sigismund leaves Prague in a hurry and dies in Znojmo in December 1437.

Diviš Bořek of Miletínek, a selfmademan of Hussite age, died on 8 January 1438, as the Old Prague Collegiate records, in the night. He had three sons, Soběslav, Jan and Petr. Part of his estates were first acquired by his brother Jetřich, who passed them on to his nephews in the early 40s. Gradually the knight family loses its large estates and dies out in the 15th century.


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