Hussite

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The Hussites were a Christian movement following the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus (c. 1369–1415), who became one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. This predominantly religious movement was propelled by social issues and strengthened Czech national awareness.

After the Council of Constance lured Jan Hus in with a letter of indemnity, and then the state put him to death on 6 July 1415[1], the Hussites fought a series of wars (1420–1434) for their religious and political cause.

Among present-day Christians, Hussite traditions are represented in the Moravian, Unity of the Brethren, and the refounded Czechoslovak Hussite churches.[2]

Contents

Effect in Bohemia of the Death of Hus

The arrest of Hus in 1414 caused considerable resentment in Czech lands. The authorities of both countries appealed urgently and repeatedly to King Sigismund, to release Jan Hus (John Huss).

When news of his death at the Council of Constance in 1415 arrived, disturbances broke out, directed primarily against the clergy, and especially against the monks. Even the Archbishop narrowly escaped from the effects of this popular anger. The treatment of Huss was felt to be a disgrace inflicted upon the whole country, and his death was seen as a criminal act. King Wenceslaus, prompted by his grudge against Sigismund, at first gave free vent to his indignation at the course of events in Constance; and his wife openly favored the friends of Huss. Avowed Hussites stood at the head of the government.

A league was formed by certain lords, who pledged themselves to protect the free preaching of the Gospel upon all their possessions and estates, and to obey the power of the Bishops only where their orders accorded with the injunctions of the Bible, with the university as arbiter of any disputed points. The entire Hussite nobility joined the league. Other than verbally protest the council's treatment of Hus, there was little evidence of any actions taken by the nobility until 1417. At that point several of the lesser nobility and some barons, signatories of the 1415 protest letter, removed Romanist priests from their parishes, replacing them with priest willing to give communion in both wine and bread. The chalice of wine became the central identifying symbol of the Hussite movement [3] If the king had joined, its resolutions would have received the sanction of the law; but he refused, and approached the newly formed Roman Catholic League of lords, whose members pledged themselves to support the king, the Catholic Church, and the Council. The prospect of a civil war began to emerge.

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