The Defenestration of Prague was central to the start of the Thirty Years' War in 1618.

Some members of the Bohemian aristocracy rebelled following the 1617 election of Ferdinand (Duke of Styria and a Catholic) as King of Bohemia to succeed the aging Emperor Matthias. In 1617, Roman Catholic officials ordered the cessation of construction of some Protestant chapels on land of which the Catholic clergy claimed ownership. Protestants contended the land in question was royal, rather than owned by the Catholic Church, and was thus available for their own use. Protestants interpreted the cessation order as a violation of the right to freedom of religious expression granted in the Letter of Majesty issued by Emperor Rudolf II in 1609. They also feared that the fiercely Catholic Ferdinand would revoke the Protestant rights altogether once he came to the throne.

At Prague Castle on May 23, 1618, an assembly of Protestants, led by Count Thurn, tried two Imperial governors, Vilem Slavata of Chlum (15721652) and Jaroslav Borzita of Martinice (15821649), for violating the Letter of Majesty (Right of Freedom of Religion), found them guilty, and threw them, together with their scribe Philip Fabricius, out of the windows of the Bohemian Chancellery. They fell 30 metres[2] and landed on a large pile of manure in a dry moat and survived. Philip Fabricius was later ennobled by the emperor and granted the title von Hohenfall (lit. meaning "of Highfall").

Roman Catholic Imperial officials claimed that the three men survived due to the mercy of angels assisting the righteousness of the Catholic cause. Protestant pamphleteers asserted that their survival had more to do with the horse excrement in which they landed than the benevolent acts of the angels.