One-Eyed Žižka, Hero Of The Czech People: 25 Korun (Czechoslovakia, 1958)-Article

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

This well illustrated Czechoslovak banknote represents the 4th denomination of the Third Koruna (Series 1958). The Third Koruna was implemented 1 June 1953, after a drastic reform by Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The banknotes were printed in the Soviet Union by the Leningrad Paper Mill ("Goznak"). The Third Koruna served as the currency of Czechoslovakia, until its partition in 1993.


The Third Koruna can be broken down into 3 separate series, issued in 1953, 1958, and 1985. With additional 20 Koruna and 500 Koruna commemorative notes issued in 1970 and 1973, respectively. These two commemorative notes contrast the struggles of Jan Žižka's Hussite army. To those of the Jan Žižka partisans of WWII.


Observe

The observe features an illustration of legendry Czech General Jan Žižka (1360-1424), backed by an array of arms. He is depicted with his iconic eyepatch and large mustache. The background weapons includes a number of spears and pole maces, which his Hussite army was renowned for.


To the upper left of the illustration is the Czechoslovak Coat of Arms. Overprinted by double text, in both Slovak and Czech, respectively. The first text translates to "Banknote of the State Bank of Czechoslovakia". Followed by "Twenty Five Czechoslovak Korun (crowns) and the note's issued date (1958).


Below the illustration is listed as produced by the "State Printing House, Prague" (bottom center). The artist are Karel Svolinský (1896-1986) and Jindra Schmidt (1897-1984). Note that only the note's art was summited by Czechoslovakia. As the actual printing of the banknotes themselves, was completed by the Soviet Union (1922-1991).


The note's far left is a nearly unrecognizable watermark area. The watermark is overlapping "star and leaf" pattern, extending throughout the note (SEE:Watermark). This watermark practice was continued by early post-Soviet banknotes. Such as the First Belorussian Ruble (1994) and Georgian Kuponi (1993) notes.


On the watermark area is the note's batch and serial number, in red ink. The batch number (S22) is located on the top and the serial number (626607) at the bottom. There is also a large "25" and bilingual warning, in Slovak and Czech. Both text and value are arranged vertically, at the left. (SEE: "Translation" below)


Translation

Banknote counterfeiting is punishable by law
(Czech Translation)
Banknote counterfeiting is punishable by law
(Slovak Translation)

Reverse

The reverse features an illustration of Jan Žižka Square, in Tábor. Which is located in the historical center Tábor. In it's original form, it was noted for narrow streets used to enter the town square. Done so that attacking enemy, would be forced limit their approach. Which would then be ambushed, by soldiers using a series of interconnected cellars, that joining the neighboring houses.


The illustration's sky features a stylized golden sun, representing the "kolovrat". An ancient Slavic sun symbol related to the Eurasian swastika and Georgian borjgali. Prior to becoming co-opted by modern nationalist organizations. The "kolovrat" was a symbol of good luck and the eternal passage of time, much like related symbols.


The reverse features fine text in and around the illustration. The first being the illustration's title on the upper right, it's simply named "Tábor". Just as the observe the listed artist are Karel Svolinský and Jindra Schmidt. To the right is a large "25" and a bilingual value reassurance, in Slovak and Czech (SEE: "Translation" below). Both text and value are arranged vertically, as the observe.


Translation

The banknotes are covered with gold and other assets of the state bank of Czechoslovakia
(Slovak Translation)
The banknotes are covered with gold and other assets of the state bank of Czechoslovakia
(Czech Translation)

Watermark

Watermark Example

One-Eyed Žižka

Jan Žižka was born to an aristocratic family in the small village of Trocnov, Kindom of Bohemia. In his youth he served the royal court, holding the position of Chamberlain under Queen Sophia of Bavaria (1376-1428). He first gained notoriety for role in the Battle of Grunwald (15 July 1410). Defending the town of Radzyń, against the knights of the Teutonic Order.


The Battle of Grunwald is where Žižka famously lost his eye. Forever marking him with a legendary mystique. The battle was amongst the largest seen in medieval Europe, changed the balance of power in Eastern Europe. With the majority of the Teutonic Order's leadership falling in battle. Preventing the order from recovering to their former power. Instead relying on future crusades, carried out by their Germanic allies for vengeance. Done so with the backing of the Papal States, rule by the Catholic Pope.


Experience from the battle helped create the vozová hradba (wagon wall) tactics. Later utilized in the Hussite Wars (1419-1434), in which Žižka commanded the Hussite army. These "wagon walls" were made from special fortification wagons. When the Hussite army encountered a larger enemy groups. The wagons were chained together into squares/circles, and surrounded by a ditch. Which then purposefully coxed the larger enemy force into an attack.


The typical fortification wagon was defended by a group of 16-22 soldiers. Which included 4-8 crossbowmen, 2 hand cannoneers, 6-8 soldiers armed with pikes/flails, 2 shield bearers, and finally 2 wagon drivers. During counterattacks, single wagons could be used as mobile forts, moving throughout battles. Representing one of the earliest form of European maneuver warfare and successful gunpowder tactics.


The Hussite Wars began with the death of Wenceslaus IV (1361-1419), creating power vacuum. Which made worst by the civil conflict caused by the heated debate. Of whether or not to recognize the Hussite faith. During the civil unrest, King Sigismund of Luxembourg (1368-1437) acquired a claim for the Bohemian crown.


Which quickly came into question, on the grounds whether Bohemia was a hereditary or elective monarchy. As the family line (through which Sigismund claimed the throne) had previously accepted, that the Kingdom of Bohemia was an elective monarchy.


In response, King Sigismund successfully acquired aid from Pope Martin V (1369-1431). In the form of a crusade against the Hussites, leading to a well-funded anti-Hussite army. With soldiers and mercenaries from throughout Europe joining, to "fight the Bohemian heretics".


Due to a lack of funds, shortages of weapons and experienced soldiers. General Žižka formed an army of peasants, to help diminish the numerical advantage of the crusade. Instead focusing on the strength of his peasant army. Using their experience with familiar farming tools, to rapidly train his army. While using his much fewer experience soldiers, to served as highly disciplined crossbowmen and cannoneers.


Žižka's new army first saw major action, during the Battle of Vítkov Hill (July 1420). Which broke the crusader siege on Prague. By successfully building fortifications on the hill, which over looked the crusader supply lines. Forcing the crusaders to attack the well-defended hill, costing the attacking crusaders an estimated 400 knights.

The taking of Vitkov Hill was followed by successful Hussite sieges, on Vyšehrad and Hradčany castles. After the lost of Vyšehrad and Hradčany, King Sigismund was forced to resorted to partisan (irregular) warfare. Not too dissimilar to the tactics successfully employed by General Žižka.


During this phase of the war, Žižka captured and rebuilt Leitmeritz Castle (Litoměřice). This castle was the only reward he claimed throughout the war. Which was considered highly unusual for the period and seen as a mark of modesty. He lost remaining eye during the siege of Rabí Castle (1421).


Despite now blind, Žižka continued to command the Hussite army. King Sigismund attempted a second crusade, gaining control of Kuttenberg (Kutná Hora). While camped outside the city, Sigismund's army surrounded the Hussites. Which broke through the encirclement by forming a column of fortification wagons. Which endlessly fired all their guns, while retreating to Kolín.

A reinforced Hussite army defeated Sigismund, at the Battle of Nebovidy (1422). Sigismund narrowly avoided capture by fleeing the battle, making a final stand at Deutschbrod (Německý Brod). The Battle of Deutschbrod (10 January 1422) was a rapid Hussite victory, ending the Second Hussite War. The victorious Hussite army was said to have captured 500 wagons, the largest of the war.


The peace was brief, by 1423 the Bohemian Civil War was underway. On April 20, Žižka (now leader of the Taborites) defeated a force of rival Hussites (Praguers) and Utraquist nobles, at Hořice. After the battle, news of new anti-Hussites crusade was reported. In preparation for the coming crusade, a armistice was signed on 24 June 1423, Konopiště Castle.


The armistice was broken, when Lord Bořek of Miletínek was appointed Governor of Hradec Králové. Bořek was appointed by Sigismund Korybut (1395-1435), then regent of Bohemia. Bořek was a member of the moderate Utraquist faction. Žižka appointed to removed him, once Korybut left the city. On 4 August 1423, the Utraquist were defeated outside Hradec Králové.


Žižka then preemptively attacked Kingdom of Hungary, under the rule of his rival King Sigismund. The invasion was a failure, due to the crusades superior numbers. Forcing Žižka to fight back in a series of controlled retreats. In 1424, civil returned to Bohemia in Žižka absence.

The Jan Žižka Stature, in Tábor.

Upon returning to Bohemia, Žižka defeated a force of Praguers and Utraquist. At the Battle of Skalice (6 January 1424) and Malešov (7 January 1424), respectively. Peace resumed between the Hussite factions, after negotiations between Jan of Rokycany (1396-1471) and the Utraquist Archbishop of Prague. It was agreed Žižka should lead a force to neighboring Moravia. To defeat forces loyal to King Sigismund.


While journeying to Moravia Žižka contracted plague, dying on 1 October 1424, at Přibyslav village. The Catholic chronicler Piccolomini (1405-1464), claimed Žižka's dying wish was to have his skin made into a drum. So that he could continue to lead and inspire his troops, even after death. He was succeeded as commander, by Prokop the Great (1380-1434).


The Hussite Wars outlived Žižka by nearly a decade, ending on 30 May 1434. Prokop the Great died the same day, falling in the Battle of Lipany. In which a force of moderate Hussite and Bohemian Catholics, decisively defeated the Taborist. Thus ending the decades long conflict between the Catholic and Hussite factions.

 

Additional Notes

  • This note's dimensions are 140 x 70 mm or 5.51 x 2.76 in, slightly smaller than a US Dollar.

  • Standard size protective sleeves are well suited to preserving this banknote.

  • The transition from the from the Second to Third Koruna, was politically motivated.

  • Separate dates were provided for converting to the Third Koruna, based on pollical reliability.

  • Communist party allies were given a earlier/more favorable conversion rate, in advance.

  • Known and potential Communist enemies, were given a far lower conversion rate.

  • The Battle of Vítkov Hill was commemorated by "The Equestrian Statue of Jan Žižka".

  • The Equestrian Statue of Jan Žižka is the 3rd largest horseman statue, in the world.

  • The Equestrian statue was commissioned by Czech sculptor Bohumil Kafka (1878-1942).

  • Bohumil Kafka was trained by master sculptor Josef Václav Myslbek (1848-1922).

  • Karel Svolinský was a painter, whose work was inspired by folklore and nature.

  • Jindra Schmidt was a renown stamp engraver, specialized in interpretive art.

  • Schmidt and Svolinský were graduates of Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, Prague.

Photo Credits


41 views0 comments