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Matthäus Merian: Count Jindrich Matyas Thurn-Valsassina, copperengraving, 1662

Jindřich Matyáš Thurn-Valsassina (German: Heinrich Matthias Graf von Thurn und Valsassina; Italian: Enrico Matteo Conte della Torre di Valsassina) (24 February 1567 – 26 January 1640), was a leading Bohemian nobleman, one of leaders against Ferdinand II of Bohemia and in events that led to the Thirty Years War, and in the end a military and diplomat in Swedish service, residing in Swedish Estonia.


He was the son of geheimrat of Ferdinand II, Archduke of Austria, Franz Napus von Thurn-Valsassina (František Thurn), count of Linz (1508–1586) and his second wife countess Barbora of Schlick (1547–1581), daughter of Hieronymus Schlick count of Bassano and Weißkirchen and countess Katharina von Gleichen-Tonna.[1]

Both of his parents were Protestants. Count Jindrich Matyas was born on in Lipnice nad Sázavou castle in the Crown of Bohemia. After the death of his father, he was fostered to his Catholic uncle John Ambrose.

Young count Thurn served in the Imperial Habsburg embassy, and visited Istanbul, Syria, Egypt and Jerusalem. Since 1592 he served in the imperial army against Turks. He rose to the ranks of colonel and War Councillor. By marriage, he came into remarkable landholdings, in Croatian Krajina among other places. The Emperor granted him the burgraviate of Karlštejn Castle in central Bohemia as reward for his accomplishments in the battles against the Turks in Hungary. In northeast Bohemia he purchased 1605 the lordship of Veliš manor (near town Jičín), which brought him to the membership of the Bohemian estate of nobles (páni, "lords"). He joined politically the Protestants of Bohemia. He served as marshal of the nobility.

In 1617, the devout Catholic archduke Ferdinand of Styria was put forward as Habsburg successor to the aged, childless emperor Matthias, and also to be elected to the Bohemian throne. Bohemian nobles required him to commit to honor their freedom of religion, enshrined in the Decree (Letter of Majesty) of the late emperor Rudolph II. Thurn was one of signatories of Bohemians' critical reply to Ferdinand.

Leader of the Bohemian Rebellion

Ferdinand was not willing to do that. However, his election was pushed forward. In 1618, in a stormy event at the Hradčany Castle (i.e. royal palace) of Prague, count Thurn lead the Bohemian nobles who defenestrated two of Ferdinand's representatives, Bořita of Martinice and Slavata of Chlum together with scribe Philip Fabricius.

Thurn was elected as one of the thirty Defenders of the Protestant Faith elected by the Estates of Bohemia. The revolt of the Protestant population of Bohemia began on 23 May 1618 and Thurn took command of the national army which deployed before Vienna on 6 June 1619 and again on 26 November. He participated in deposing Ferdinand of Bohemian throne and in the election of Frederick V, Elector Palatine as new king. Count Thurn was commander of a regiment at inauspicious Battle of White Mountain in 1620. After the Bohemians' defeat there, Ferdinand exiled him, like all the other Protestant nobility (including leaders of the uprising) and townspeople. Thurn so lost his estates in Bohemia.

In exile

Afterwards Thurn continued to take part in the fighting and political negotiations of the Thirty Years' War against the Habsburgs, as diplomat and as soldier. In 1626 he took command of some troops in Silesia. Then he served as lieutenant general in the army of King Gustav Adolf of Sweden. His only son, count Frantisek Bernard, who rose to the rank of colonel in Swedish service, fell ill during the Polish campaign and died in 1628.

On 11 October 1633 Thurn and his force of 8000 soldiers were confronted by Wallenstein's army near Steinau an der Oder in Saxony, where he was captured. He was ransomed soon from the captivity, and retired to the family's new holdings in Pärnu (Pernau), Estonia. Count Thurn died there, and was buried in the St Mary's Cathedral of Tallinn.

His heir was his underage grandson, count Heinrich von Thurn-Valsassina of Pärnu (1628–1656), son of František Bernard (1592–1628) and Magdalena von Thurn-Valsassina (born von Hardeck).

Count Thurn wrote a booklet in German, titled Defensionsschrift ("Writing about Defenestration"), where justifying his role in the events of 1618 as a deliberate, conscious defence of his religious beliefs. The booklet was published in Sweden.


  1. (Swedish) (1754) Matrikel öfwer Swea rikes ridderskap och adel .. pp. 4-5

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