Had someone ever pissed you off so much that you literally just wanted to throw him out of the window? You’re not the first because apparently, the act was common in Prague between 1419 and 1618 and was called “defenestration.” We are not certain who started the idea or who ticked the person off so much that he decided to just throw the person out the window. What we know was that this act sparked a much, much bigger catastrophe that caused the death of more than eight million people, the Thirty Year’s War.

Thirty Years’ War

A Scene of the Thirty Years War (oil on canvas), Crofts, Ernest (1847–1911) (Эрнест Крофтс (Ernest Crofts) — британский художник, специализирующийся на батальных сценах и истории (british painter of historical and military scenes)., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Thirty Years’ War was a religious conflict that happened in the 17th century in central Europe. It was one of the longest and most brutal (and active) wars in history, not including the 335-year war that was basically forgotten. Eight million people died from the conflict and the famine and diseases that it brought about. The war began among the Catholic and Protestant states when Emperor Ferdinand II decided to force the citizens of the Holy Roman Empire to adhere to Roman Catholicism the moment he stepped in as the head of the state in 1619. He was supposed to honor the Peace of Augsburg Settlement, which allowed the princes of states to freely practice their Lutheranism or Calvinism and coexist with Catholicism.

All that went out the window with Ferdinand and he revoked the Peace of Augsburg.  The Bohemian nobility did not appreciate that one bit. As an outward act of displeasure, they grabbed three of his representatives and tossed them out of a window at the Prague Castle. Although the three survived, this act was the beginning of the Bohemian states’ open revolt, backed by Sweden and Denmark-Norway, thus beginning the Thirty Years’ War. Even as the war started as a religious conflict, as time went by, it became more of a geopolitical question about which group would lead and govern Europe.

Some Other Instances of Defenestration in Prague

Depending on who you ask, surviving after being thrown out the high window involved some divine intervention (if you ask the Catholics) or a good pile of dung. Here are some other instances of defenestration: