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The Taborites (Czech Táborité, singular Táborita) were a Radical Hussite faction within the Hussite movement in medieval Lands of the Bohemian Crown.


The Taborites were centered on the Bohemian city of Tábor during the Hussite Wars in the 15th century. The religious reform movement in Bohemia splintered into various religious sects. Besides the Taborites, these included the Adamites, Orebites, Sirotci ("Orphans"), Utraquists and Praguers. Because the revolution's impetus came from the burning of John Hus, for the purpose of simplicity many writers have put most of these sects under the umbrella term of "Hussites".


Economically supported by Tábor's control of local gold mines, the citizens joined local peasants to develop a communal society. Taborites announced the Millennium of Christ and declared there would be no more servants and masters, all property would be held in common and there would be no more taxation.[1] They promised that people would return to a state of pristine innocence. Some historians have found parallels to modern nationalist revolutionary movements. [2] Murray Bookchin argues that this was an early example of anarcho-communism.[3]

Taborite theology represented one of the most radical departures from that of the medieval Catholic Church. They rejected what they called a veneer of corruption in the Church and insisted on the normativeness of biblical authority. Even though Taborite theologians were versed in scholastic theology, they were among the first intellectuals to break free from centuries-old scholastic methods.

Major figures

Prominent Taborite theologians included Mikuláš Biskupec of Pelhřimov and Prokop Veliký (who died in the Battle of Lipany of 1434). These were opposed by Taborite theologians such as Peter Kániš and Martin Húska, who manifested their more radical ideas by desecrating the Eucharistic host.[4] Followers of Kániš included Adamites,[5] and Kániš himself was burnt as a heretic in 1421 by order of Jan Žižka[6] (c. 1360-1424), the Taborite military leader.

Under Žižka

Jan Žižka commanded his rag-tag Bohemian army in defense against the crusading Imperial Army under Emperor Sigismund. Žižka did not believe that all prisoners should be slain and often showed clemency to those he defeated. After one battle, when his army disobeyed him and killed many prisoners, Žižka ordered the army to pray for forgiveness. That experience partly inspired him to write a famous military code of conduct, "Žižkův vojenský řád" – a document partly inspired by the biblical book of Deuteronomy. Žižka eventually left Tabor because that community became too radical for his beliefs and took over the leadership of the more moderate Orebites in Hradec Králové. In response to the numerous attacks launched against Bohemia, the Taborites and Orebites often set aside their religious differences and cooperated militarily.

Once the external threat was removed by Hussite victories, the various Hussite factions turned on each other. Finally, after twenty years, the power of the Taborites was broken with the Battle of Lipany on May 30, 1434, during which 13,000 of the 18,000-strong army were killed. In 1437, the Taborites signed a treaty with Sigismund. The Taborites lost control of Tabor in 1452.

Even though the Taborites ceased to play an important political role, their theological thinking strongly influenced the foundation and rise of the Unity of the Brethren (Unitas Fratrum) in 1457, now known in English as the Moravian Church.

See also

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