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George of Podebrad

George of Podebrad (pôdˈyĕbrät) [key], 1420–71, king of Bohemia (1458–71). A Bohemian nobleman, he became leader of the Utraquists, or the moderate Hussites, in the wars between Hussites and Catholics. He seized Prague (1448) during the minority of King Ladislaus V, was elected (1452) governor by the Bohemian diet, and continued to rule the country after the formal accession (1453) of Ladislaus. His relations with Ladislaus were friendly. In Ladislaus's reign, George ended the anarchy of the interregnum that had preceded Ladislaus's accession, restored the power of the courts, recovered lost crownlands, and secured the recognition of the central government at Prague in the Bohemian dependencies of Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia. Ladislaus died in 1457, and George was elected king in 1458. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III invested him with the kingdom in 1459. When in 1462, Pope Pius II abolished the Compactata, by which the Utraquists had been reconciled with the Roman Catholic Church, George promptly declared his loyalty to the Utraquists. An immediate break with Rome was averted through his alliance with France and Poland, and the emperor's intervention delayed papal action. In 1466, however, Pope Paul II excommunicated George, declared him deposed, and enlisted the aid of the emperor and of Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, against him. Matthias won Moravia and most of Silesia and Lusatia; in 1469 the Catholic party in Bohemia proclaimed Matthias king. George, at the head of the Utraquists, expelled Matthias. To strengthen his position George had signed a treaty with Casimir IV of Poland, naming Casimir's son as his successor. As a result, Ladislaus II (later, as Uladislaus II, also king of Hungary) became king on George's death. George of Podebrad unsuccessfully proposed a European alliance against the Turks. Bohemia recovered peace and prosperity in his reign, which, however, was marked by the persecution of the Bohemian and the Moravian Brethren, descendants of the more radical Hussites.

See studies by F. G. Heymann (1965) and O. Odlozilik (1965).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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