A Thousand Year Old Tree, a Boy, and a Hero

A Thousand Year Old Tree, a Boy, and a Hero

In 1938, ten year old Charles was fascinated by this monumental tree on the edge of his town’s renaissance castle garden. Locals in Náměšť nad Oslavou, Charles’ home during World War II era Czechoslovakia, claimed the Pedunculate oak was nearly a thousand years old.

Today the tree, aka Žižka’s Oak, stands about 79 feet high with a 34 foot’ circumference protected by a fence near the bend of road 399.

According to legend, Jan Žižka (1360-1424), renowned Czech general and national hero, slept at the foot of this tree during the Hussite campaign on Moravia and conquest of the Náměšť castle. This was an uprising by Protestant dissenters against the Catholic Church. The Hussites, who were mostly Czechs, followed the teachings of Jan Hus, a Czech priest who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1415.

Interestingly, during World War II some military units were named after Jan Žižka. One of them, the 1st Czechoslovak Partisan Brigade of Jan Žižka (československá partizánská brigáda Jana Žižky), initially known as the Ušiak-Murzin Unit, was the largest partisan unit in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (today’s Czech Republic) during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia.

I have visited the tree many times – with Charles and on my own. It’s spectacular and I fear for its future. . . I’ve read reports Pedunculate oaks are declining in many regions throughout Europe and extreme climatic events like summer drought and winter frost are considered to be key factors.

Thankfully, Žižka’s Oak is off the roadway, protected from vandals with little risk of its breaking branches harming anyone.






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