Jan Mydlář

Jan Mydlář (1572–1664) was a 17th-century executioner from Bohemia. He is mostly known for his performance of the 1621 execution of 27 Bohemian Revolt leaders, and is remembered by his red hood-like mask he donned when performing his executions.

Execution of 27 Bohemian Rebellion leaders, Old Town Square, Prague, 21 June 1621.

The executed men were primarily Protestants, though one man was a Catholic. They had organized an uprising against the Habsburg Emperor Matthias and later Ferdinand II. On 21 June 1621, between 5AM and 9AM, 27 men were executed. With four sharpened swords ready, twelve were beheaded and fifteen were hanged. The beheaded ones had their heads displayed on the Prague Old Town Bridge Tower. The execution was unprecedented, not only in its magnitude, but because the condemned were men of high importance, representing various ranks of the Czech society and professions—noblemen, scholars, burghers, businessmen, etc. The execution was followed by reprisals against Protestants in Bohemia.

Mydlář is the central character of a 19th-century novel by Josef Svátek. According to this story, young Mydlář became an executioner because of a disappointment in love, just before graduating from medical school.

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