After the fateful White Mountain battle as the nobility was strictly and cruelly executed peasant people was brought into tough subjection. Therefore it was no wonder that the peasants considered the current state unbearable and thus resistance and revolts were taking place at many places. The revolt in 1775 was the biggest vassals´ action in Bohemia in the time of later feudalism and a considerable landmark on the journey of social-political changes not only in the rural areas but also in the entire society.
There was a firm trust in Marie Teresie among the peasants and the bigger the oppression was the more rumours arose that she had ordered some relieves and the nobility holds it back and does not want to admit it to the people.
The revolt started by a labour strike, which was being kindled by a wide agitation. Immediately in the first stage there was a manifestation performance at different paramount offices. However, it was not enough for the vassals group to demonstrate within the particular manors but they marched to Prague in order to achieve cancellation of corvée labour, to remove the vassalage system against which the rural people had fought for several generations. On the way they would hold up mansions smashing down the feudal despotism symbols – pillors- the instruments of torture, demanding of cancellation of corvée labour at the paramount offices.
Insufficient armour, non-uniform leadership and organisation of the hordes resulted in the end in defeat of the revolt by the troops. At the first attacks, the revolt’s organisation collapsed and the hordes were drawing apart quickly. The remaining part was scattered after a clash by Chlumec nad Cidlinou. Several rebels were sentenced to death by hanging, many others to prison or forced labour.
After the revolt was defeated in the spring months, a big anti- corvée labour resistance broke out at many manors in the summer of the same year. The revolt at the Konopiště manor was the biggest one, 7 rebels were shot. The summer storms speeded up the issue of a new corvée labour patent by the means of which the government limited the noble’s requirements. Due to its significance within the range of vassalage riots, storms and uprisings at the Podblanicko area, the Konopiště revolt from 1775 deserves to commemorate the brave struggle of Konopiště vassals and the hard situation of the rural people in the end of the 18th century.
Based on the today’s know sources we can refuse the opinion that the Konopiště revolt took place unexpectedly, unwittingly. Just in the spring, after the main riot centres in North-East Bohemia have flared up the public bodies in the centre of the country were well informed of an eventual danger. The reports were getting to the Benešov region mainly through regional couriers who would bring the circular notes from the regional office to the noble’s offices in the Benešov region and Benešov town-hall. From the regional marshal’s instructions the danger was obvious and therefore the noble has certainly acknowledged it. After the first attacks at Hradec and Bydžov regions the main thing was to avoid overflowing the revolt also to another regions. The local subjects were to be challenged to get calm and the ruler’s order was to be read to them. Apart of that the authorities secured themselves even more efficiently. In part there was an order to hide the weapons so that they do not get to the rebels´hands, in part the country military headquarters issued an order to all the troops to provide the help necessary immediately upon request of the patrimoniel offices if a concoction of rebellion was found out among the subjects. In such a case, the troops were to occupy the particular village, to arrest the leaders and to hand them over to the closest capital punishment hearing. The feudal offices were informed about this possibility for several times. At the same time they were earnestly asked to watch over the region whether there are no strangers or rebelling peasants hanging around.
If there was a certain religious aspect of the resistance against neither the Konopiště case can be excluded. The dean Hanousek from Sedlčany expressly referred to it in his chronicle records where he ascribed to the local rebels also participation in spreading the song focused strictly against the clergy and several institutions of the governing church and containing also memories to the at that time Utraquism1 and the fighting spirit of the Žižka´s time.
Tuesday July the 18th 1775
As far as the number of the rebels is concerned the reports differ, varying from 300 to 800 persons. Due to the total number of taxed people we can rather rely on the more conservative estimate – even a crowd of 300- 400 people must have raised fear. Apart of the subjects in the Konopiště area also some other from the Pyšely manor and the Bedrč farm, belonging to the town of Benešov took part in the revolt.
The crowd stopped in front of the chateau and a delegation of 12 members was sent out to negotiate with he director Schaller. Countess O´Kelly was not present- we know from the report of colonel Wulffen on the events in Konopiště from July 20 that she was at the chateau in Osečany on July 17 where he met her during his control of field2 units. He learned from her that she had gotten a report from someone from the regional office in the night from July 16 to July 17 referring about a mob of the Konopiště peasants (some of them also from the Kouřim region) – a few hundred were reported with the intention to get to the chateau declaring that they don’t want to do the corvée labour. We are not able today to decide what was the final goal of the countess whether only Osečeny where a high military officer (major-general) Frantšek Lanjus, the count from Wellenburg resided, where she could have probably get help against the rebels or a military commander’s site. It finally turned out that Lanjus must have asked for a military assistance for himself – Wulffen provided him with 20 soldiers from Sedlčany. At the same time the colonel accorded a request of countess O´Kelly, he arranged 26 soldiers with an officer to be sent from Sedlec.
Since the countess was not present, the responsibility for the negotiation with the rebels remained on the director. As we know, the new corvée labour reform which was being prepared on the highest positions already for a longer period of time was not declared yet. Thus, Schaller could not comply with the rebels´ requests word for word. However, he could have backed off in one direction. The Prague Gubernium 3 issued an instruction for the regional marshals saying that on the manors where a resistance or complaints against corvée labour would occur, the corvée labour should be reduced to 3 days with animal transport and 3 days on foot in a week. This instruction was not to be known generally therefore the Gubernium did not published it. Besides the regional officers advised the manors that the paramount office reduces corvée labour for 3 days itself so that an official force does not have to be applied. However, the director of Konopiště did not take advantage of this opportunity.
The director did not have a very strong position during the negotiation. The chateau crew was composed only of few manor hunters and forest wardens and a four-members military enforcement, called at the last moment from Benešov. Not wanting to content the rebels neither partially, he had to make an effort only to get time before another military enforcement arrived for which he had already sent to Vlašim before the noon. He may have also already known that a military help for which the countess had asked should be coming. As the delegates requested moderation of the paramount burdens without success Schaller started referring to the countess that they should be patient – her decision is to be the final one. The delegates left without achieving anything.
However, the crowds in front of the chateau did not quiet down. The enraging rebels started to call up the director to come among them and to held himself accountable for his inhumanity. There were also insults and threats if the requirements are not met. Since the director did not come out to the crowd (he had the doors of his house closed according to the chronicler) it is no wonder that an intention arouse to get to him by force and to pick up the denied patent (they knew where it was located). The main goal of the entire action was to get the assumed patent that was to contain complete cancellation of subjection and all corvée labour, according to the rebels´ imagination. The crowd fussy by the unwillingness was going to demolish the gate and the window, they even wanted to get to the windows using ladders.
At that time the guards enforcement arrived. It was not big, just only 3 soldiers therefore the rebels were not afraid to prevent them from accessing the chateau. They attacked them, beating them with sticks and trying to get weapons from them. The military guards came up to the windows and shoot only blind in order to discourage the attackers. The troops were commanded not to start by force. This trial failed, the situation was so acute that the crowd responded to it by laughing. Now the manor hunters intervened. They shot with live ammunition to the crowd. The effect was obvious immediately- 5 rebels were dead and 12 seriously wounded. But the surprised crowd did not scatter, they only got out of range.
The rebels apparently discussed what to do next. The screw in the sealed chateau, although having prevalence in weapons was not so strong in number compared to the rebels in order to try to attack and scatter the crowd completely. So they decided to encamp in a safe distance from the chateau and to stay overnight here. Some advised that a smaller group (about 80 men) should try attack the Tloskov chateau, however this proposal was refused. The Tloskov attack was postponed to the other day, in the noon or in the evening if the Konopiště attack is not successful. In the meantime they sent for some supplies to be picked up in the town. The supplies were provided by Volák of Ouštice who informed the local subjects about the prepared attack on Tloskov. The intention to attack the neighbouring manor is even more strange as we realise that there were no subjects from Tloskov in the ranks of Konopiště rebels. Thus, it was really a fighting mood which was not decreased neither by the bloodshed but rather increased.
However, the Tloskov attack did not take place. Another enforcement arrived already on Wednesday July 19 in the morning or before the noon. It was a unit from a Callenbury regiment from Sedlec – without a doubt a result of the colonel Wulffen´s provision. These soldiers scattered the rebels. On the next day, July the 20est, another military enforcement was sent from Prague to this manor, 60 infantrymen and 20 cavalrymen. Thereby piece on the manor was to be assured.
Revolt’s liquidation started. The victims – the number increased to 7 when 2 of the seriously wounded died – were buried along the walls of the Chvojeny cemetery. These were: Vojtěch Chobotský of Černíkovice /51 years/, Jakub Hanibal of Kozmice /45 years/, Jakub Starosta of Přibyšice /48 years/, Pavel Vnouček of Pecerad /53 years/, Matěj Forman – Kubát of Chářovice /34 years/, Tomáš Přeučil of Mrače /40 years/ and Václav Platil z Řemenic /37 years/.
1. Utraquism – direction of the Czech religious reformation, maintaining that the Eucharist should be administered “ in both kinds”. 2. field- separated 3. Gubernium – district of administration
Konopišťská rebelie roku 1775, Jiří Tywoniak Památník selské rebelie na Konopišťsku roku 1775, redakce profesora Karla Nigrína – L. V. Trmal
Source: Konopišťská rebelie roku 1775 (Konopiště rebellion in 1775) Jiří Tywoniak Memory of peasants´ rebellion at Konopiště area in 1975, professor Karel Nigrín´s editor’s office – L.V. Trmal