8th November 1620
…it was Sunday. The troops of Frederick, King of Bohemia and Elector Palatine, lined up on a low hill near Prague. The hill gave them a great tactical advantage, the right wing was protected by a high wall of a game reserve, the left wing by a steep slope of the break over Motol. The only disadvantage was the expansion of the troops to almost two kilometers, which in the numerical state of 21,000 men meant to line up the troops in three runs, especially when the enemy could attack anywhere. But reinforcements are to come soon, and there are solid walls of Prague where the army can retreat.
Two armies stood against them – the troops of the Catholique League stood against the hill, at Motol wing were the Imperial troops. These troops were more numerous than the enemy, but 28,000 men were considerably exhausted after the march, moreover, they would have to attack uphill, against the bastions of cannons. The troops on the hill have a different problem. They are not tired, rather the opposite. The well-supplied army which had so far experienced only a few skirmishes, has a significant problem with discipline. It is composed of mercenaries almost from all over Europe and they are dissatisfied with irregular pay. Particularly indomitable Hungarians and Czech regiments are the biggest difficulties. The commanders of some regiments even spent time before the upcoming battle in Prague taverns.
No one wants to start the battle, so Count Buquoy and General Tilly, the commanders of the combined Imperial and the Catholic League troops, decide to get the feel of the enemy – to attack the enemy with less force in one place causing a small collision that would be a probe into its ranks. Then it would turn out what to do next. The soldiers are preparing for the battle. Priests are walking among them showing the image of the Virgin Mary with her eyes poked out – that’s the work of the heretical Czechs that must be destroyed. That’s the weeds that must be plucked out with roots! Beat them, do not feed anybody! The battleword is “Sancta Maria”.
Shortly after noon, an attack began that caught the Czech troops completely unawares, lulled by a half-day inactivity. At Motol wing, two Walloon regiments with the force of three thousand men launched the attack. Against them stands a part of Thurn’s infantry regiment of 1,200 men, which are among the most experienced and best soldiers of Frederick, King of Bohemia and Elector Palatine. Before the clash, Wallenstein’s regiment of cuirassiers intervenes in the fight, but it is repulsed by the Czech cavalry under the command of General Thurn. The cuirassiers flee and sweep along the first lines of the Walloon regiment. The cavalry of Earl von Meggau goes to help the cuirassiers from the second echelon.
Now it is the Royal army’s turn. 1,300 Czech infantrymen of Thurn’s infantry regiment stepped forward. They stop about 300 metres ahead of the enemy, a part turns to escape, a part fires into the air, others even to the rear. They throw away their weapons and take to flight. The second echelon led by Thurn’s son tries to keep the position, but the whole wing begins to fall apart in confusion. There are 1,500 Hungarian cavalrymen missing, they did not arrive. Prince Anhalt, commander in chief of the Royal army sends his own cavalry regiment into combat. However, they fire their weapons and take to flight as well. In vain, Anhalt tries to stop his regiment’s cavalrymen with a cord in his hand. Earl von Meggau’s cavalry is attacked by Bubna’s cavalry regiment. The Earl was overpowered, but Bubna’s regiment retreats and sweeps along the neighbouring Frederick’s company and three corvettes of the Czech Estates’ cavalry, which have not even come into contact with the enemy. At the left wing of Motol there is only part of Thurn’s cavalry regiment left under the command of his son… Now it is up to the centre. It consists of two regiments of Hohenlohe with the force of 1,000 infantrymen and 500 cavalrymen. They made only a poor attempt to hold back the enemy and after the first shots they flee in panic. By now, the command of the Royal army collapsed and the regiments attack on their own. The infantry regiment of Kaplíř resists the attacks of Marradas’s regiment of cuirassiers, but their ranks are broken and the fleeing soldiers pursued.
Half an hour had passed since the beginning of the battle… Christian of Anhalt, the son of the commander in chief, set off with his 700 cavalrymen against Marradas’s regiment. He drove the cuirassiers back, and scattered also two cavalry regiments that came to their help. Then he turned against the cannons and dispersed their crews. Another target was the Imperial infantry of 1,300 men. He managed to disperse them as well. It seems the tables are turned, especially when the Hungarian cavalry finally appears. Some Imperial soldiers are beginning to flee.
Against the Hungarians, the Polish Cossacks are deployed who pounce on the Hungarians with a sabre in each hand and a bridle in their teeth. Those turn their horses and run away. The Poles pursue them and kill everyone who they meet on the way. The Hungarians flee across Motol and Košíře to the Vltava River where hundreds of them get drowned while crossing the ford. The Poles celebrate a great victory, they seized a lot of horses and banners, including the banner of Frederick of Palatine with the inscription “Divertinescio” – I cannot escape. Kratz von Scharfenstein’s cavalry regiment from the Catholic League troops joined the fight, and caught Anhalt’s cavalrymen unawares. The cuirassiers of Marradas’s regiment who had retreated, returned to the battle, Christian of Anhalt was wounded and captured and his cavalrymen defeated. The left wing of the royal troops ceased to exist.
The Catholic League troops on the right wing are moving slowly against the steep slope below Star. Their movement is still slowed down by effective shooting from cannons. Moravian and Upper Austrian cavalry even attempt a sortie, but they must retreat from the infantry regiments’ superior force. Soldiers begin to flee on a large scale. 300 Hungarian cavalrymen leave the field, having observed the battle so far. Shortly after that, also the commander in chief Anhalt and his companions flee. The Waloon infantry occupies the Czech artillery battery and turns left to the rest of the Royal army, concentrated near the game reserve. By the wall stand remnants of Thurn’s infantry regiment from the left wing, Upper Austrian infantry under Colonel Pechmann and part of Schlick’s Moravian infantry regiment. They have no chance to fight off the enemy. First, Upper Austrians are killed, after them Thurn’s troops. There are 1,800 infantrymen left, under the guidance of Jindřich Schlick. Encircled by a superior force, having nowhere to retreat, they defended themselves fiercely. Dead bodies were piled up to ten above each other. Eventually, Count Schlick surrendered with a banner in his hand. Behind the wall of the game reserve there is a standby Weimar regiment. Because they did not make escape holes in the wall, they are trapped now, and have to take up the last struggle. The Imperial and the Catholic League soldiers rush in the game reserve and kill everybody.
Two hours had passed since the beginning of the battle…Estimates of the dead vary, according to some up to 5,000 soldiers perished, the minimum number is 1,600. On the battlefield there were probably about 2,000 dead King’s soldiers, 1,000 Imperial soldiers, the number of victims from the ranks of the Catholic League was minimal. King Frederick of the Palatinate flees, Prague opens its gates and is left at the mercy of the winners.