PILSEN (Czech, PJzen), a town of Bohemia, Austria, 68 m. W.S.W. of Prague by rail. Pop. (1900), 68,292, of which 94% are Czech. It is the second town of Bohemia, and lies at the confluence of the Radbusa and the Mies. It consists of the town proper, which is regularly built and surrounded with promenades on the site of the old ramparts, and of three suburbs. The most prominent buildings are the Gothic church of St Bartholomew, said to date from 1292, whose tower (325 ft.) is the highest in Bohemia, and the fine Renaissance town hall dating from the 16th century. The staple article of manufacture and commerce is beer, which is exported to all parts of the world. Other industrial products are machinery, enamelled tinware, leather, alum, paper, earthenware, stoves and spirits, while a tolerably brisk trade is carried on in wool, feathers, cattle and horses. In the neighbourhood are several coal-pits, iron-works and glass-works, as well as large deposits of kaolin.
Pilsen first appears in history in 976, as the scene of a battle in the war between Prince Boleslaus and the emperor Otto II., and it became a town in 1272. During the Hussite wars it was the centre of Catholic resistance to the Hussites; it was three times unsuccessfully besieged by Prokop the Great, and it took part in the league v of the Romanist lords against King George of Podebrad. During the Thirty Years' War the town was taken by Mansfield in 1618 and not recaptured by the Imperialists till 1621. Wallenstein made it his winter-quarters in 1633, and it was in the great hall of the Rathaus that his generals took the oath of fidelity to him (January 1634). The town was unsuccessfully besieged by the Swedes in 1637 and 1648. The first Bohemian printing press was established here in 1468.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)