Today in Mailbox we announce the 10th Radio Prague annual listeners’ contest. We also reveal the identity of last month’s mystery man and announce the lucky winner. Listeners quoted: Goutam Mandal, Mick Edwards, S. J. Agboola, Hans Verner Lollike, Lenfant Lee, David Eldridge, Colin Law, Charles Konecny, Gordon Martindale, Jayanta Chakrabarty.

Hello and welcome to Mailbox. Before we get to your answers to our regular mystery person quiz, as every year at around this time, it is my pleasure to announce the 10th annual listeners’ contest organized by Radio Prague. This year the competition question is:

Which Czech writer or literary work do you like best and why?

The person who sends the best answer, which will be chosen by a specially appointed jury, will win a weeklong stay for two in Prague. There will also be prizes and souvenir items for runners-up.

The best answers will be featured in our programme and published on our website on the last weekend of June.

Entries should reach us by June 15th 2010 at the following address:

Radio Prague

Vinohradská 12

12099 Prague 2

Czech Republic

or via email at: [email protected]

The main prize is being sponsored by PARKHOTEL Praha. Parkhotel Praha offers visitors a blend of comfort and history, quality and modern design, within easy reach of the city centre.

We will be looking forward to your inspiring entries.

Now let’s get to our monthly mystery person quiz. This is what Goutam Mandal from India wrote in his answer:

“Dr. Jan Jessenius is the name of the mystery person of your March quiz. He performed an autopsy in 1600. He was a professor of anatomy at Charles University in Prague.”

Mick Edwards writes from England:

“I think the answer to this month's competition is Jan Jesenský. He was born in Wroclaw, in 1566, and became professor and anatomical consultant for Rudolf II, King of Bohemia.”

S. J. Agboola listens to us in Nigeria:

“He is Dr. Jan Jesenius. He was a physician, a politician, a philosopher, an anatomist, a surgeon, a diplomat, and an orator. Though he lived a relatively short life of 55 years, he was able to make his lasting impression on the sand of time.”

Hans Verner Lollike follows Radio Prague in Denmark:

“The man you are looking for is Jan Jesenský (Jesenius), born in Wroclaw in 1566, studied and worked as scholar in Wittenberg (the cradle of the reformation), Leipzig and Padua and later he settled in Prague as a professor. In 1621 he was one of the bloody victims of the counterreformation.”

Lenfant Lee from China wrote:

“Jan Jesenius – rector of Charles University in Prague. In 1600 he performed the first public autopsy in Prague.”

David Eldridge writes from the United Kingdom:

“1600 was an eventful year for [Jessenius] as he moved to Prague, taking up a post as Professor and Anatomy consultant for Bohemian King Rudolf II. He performed the first public autopsy in the Czech Lands which received much interest at the time. Later, in 1617, he was elected Rector of Charles University. He was also a political man and paid a price for that.”

… a fact explained by Colin Law from New Zealand:

“After the dethroning of Ferdinand in Bohemia, Jesenský, who was an orator and a diplomat, became an ambassador for Frederick, a Calvinist and staunch Protestant elected king in 1619. However, Frederick’s army was defeated by the combined forces of the Holy Roman Emperor and the Catholic League on November 8th, 1620, in the Battle of the White Mountain (Bílá hora). That marked the end of the involvement of Bohemia in the Thirty Years War in Europe. Frederick was forced into exile and Jesenský, who took part in the anti-Habsburg uprising, was among the 27 Bohemian noblemen executed on June 21, 1621 in the Old Town Square in Prague. His tongue was cut out, and nailed to the scaffold, he was beheaded and his body quartered. His head was hung together with those of eleven noblemen outside the Old Town Tower in Prague and was displayed until 1631.”

The executions on the Old Town Square in 1621
Charles Konecny from the United States wrote:

“Jesenius was an accomplished physician and politician, and in his case, politics can be deadly. He was caught-up in the Catholic/Protestant turmoil of that time and was on the losing ‘Estate’ side after White Mountain, plus the fact that Emperor Ferdinand had no liking for him. He suffered a most gruesome execution evidently because of the ‘IMMM’ he carved in his prison cell which Ferdinand did not take kindly to. It seems Jesenius was a decent enough man who did not deserve his fate.”

Gordon Martindale from the UK wrote this in his answer:

“Jan Jesenius was the author of a number of publications on medical, philosophical items and a champion of religious & civil freedom in Bohemia. He travelled to Bratislava several times to speak against Ferdinand Habsburg being chosen as King of Hungary. Following the defeat of the Protestant Army, at the Battle of White Mountain, by the Bavarian Imperial Forces, the Bohemian Protestants’ fate was sealed. In 1621, Jan Jesenius was executed with 26 other estate leaders, on Prague Old Town Square.”

And Jayanta Chakrabarty from India concludes:

“When you are able to mould a top ranking physician, politician, philosopher, surgeon, diplomat and an orator into a single entity, it takes the shape of a versatile genius known as Dr Jan Jesenius. By sheer dent of hardwork, perseverance and intelligence, this outstanding personality rose to the highest echelons of society. His first public autopsy in Central Europe contributed towards furthering the development of the study of anatomy at Prague's Charles University. He is also remembered for his monumental work ‘Zoroaster’ – an insight into the lost wisdom of the ancients. However, being one of the leading firebrand figures of the Czech Protestant revolt against the Habsburgs, this brave soul was brutally extinguished at the age of 55.”

This time the prize goes to Goutam Mandal from India. My congratulations and many thanks to everyone for taking part. Of course, I won’t leave you without a new question and this time we are looking for the name of the world-renowned tenor, born in 1873 in the North Moravian town of Šumperk, who made it onto some of the world’s most famous stages, including the Royal Opera House in London, the Vienna State Opera or New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

We expect your answers by the end of April at [email protected] or Radio Prague, 12099 Prague. In the meantime please keep your comments and questions coming. Until next week, happy listening.