By Frantisek Oslansky
Human Affairs, Vol.6:1 (1996)
Abstract: From the 1440s, John Jiskra of Brandýs, who originated from the Moravian branch of the Czech nobility, became the main support in the Kingdom of Hungary of Albrecht Habsburgs widow, Elizabeth, and her six months old son Ladislas born after his fathers death. Jiskra was bound for years to the Habsburg struggles for the Hungarian crown which took place chiefly in Slovakia. He was a skilful commander, diplomat, and politician. He reached the rank of a Hungarian magnate and was also able to defend his own rights. He remained true to his military service duties which had been predetermined from his youth till his death.
Introduction: Contemplations on unique personalities in the history of humankind are usually influenced by the particular atmosphere of the period in which they originated. John Jiskra from Brandýs was not an exception. He was able to maintain control for many years in the 15th century over almost all of what is today Slovakia, although with brief interruptions.
The surviving sources tell us little about the birth of John Jiskra, his youth and life up to his arrival in Slovakia. Jiskras ancestors were members of the gentry. The brothers Henry and Vintíø from Prostiboø in the Plzeò district came to the wooded north-east Bohemia with a wave of colonization in the second half of the 13th century. They founded a new lordship on the hill above the river of Tichá Orlice with the castle of Brandýs. The shield of John Jiskra, from which his seal used for sealing documents was developed, with crossed four pointed antlers of a stag, quite clearly points to derivation from the coat of arms of Henry of Brandýs, which had two stags antlers with four points on the shield.