It was a cold winter day, November 8 in the year of the Lord 1620. At the foot of the White Mountain, just outside the gates of the Golden City of Prague, the Catholic army of the Emperor faced the Protestant troops of the King of Bohemia.
Already in the morning fog the men of Johann T´Serclaes of Tilly had surprised and slaughtered a Hungarian contingent of troops in their sleep.
But it was not until a large part of the Catholic army began to move that the Bohemian soldiers threw away their weapons and began to flee. There were many men who bravely held their positions, but they had no chance against the superiority of the imperial army.
After a few hours it was clear that the Emperor had won this battle, which was so important for his house, and had thus completely broken the power of the insurgents.
In the morning the imperial commanders were still convinced that this was one of their most difficult hours. Although they had a crushing superiority of soldiers, the favourable position of the Bohemian army, strategically placed on the slopes of the White Mountain, seemed to more than outweigh this advantage.
Even the Bavarian general Tilly dropped the remark that without the help of Our Lady the White Mountain would remain impregnable.
According to legend, the victory was really due to her intervention. Only when the Carmelite monk Dominicus a Jesu Maria entered the imperial camp at noon, in his hands a painting of the Holy Family desecrated by the Protestants, did the soldiers forget all their scruples and stormed the back of the white mountain, with the battle cry “Santa Maria!”
For the Bohemian King Frederick V, the defeat was a bitter surprise. In youthful frivolity he had left his army the evening before to devote himself to important affairs of state. Not suspecting that these were the last hours of his reign and that he would spend the rest of his life in exile.
For the further history of Central Europe this battle, and the complete victory of the emperor, was of great importance. It was not only the prelude to one of the greatest catastrophes in European history, the Thirty Years’ War, but it also gave the Habsburg Ferdinand II the opportunity to carry out a complete recatholization in the Austrian and Bohemian lands and to assert his absolutist claim to power.