The Hussite Movement in Bohemia; Second, Enlarged Edition by Josef Macek
Jan Hus was a Czech priest in Bohemia. He grew concerned with the direction the Church was taking. He became a believer in some of the writings of English reformer, John Wycliffe. Hus would continually come into conflict with the Church, “[t]hey well knew that in demanding complete poverty for the Church [Hus] was endangering their positions and their material interests.” (Macek p.22) Wycliffe’s teachings were banned and his writings burned. Hus still believed and defended the teachings.
In 1412 the Pope was at war with the King of Naples and was in need of revenues to pay for the war. The Pope decided to publicly sell indulgences. Hus was very critical of this practice even going as far as to demand that the vendors of these indulgences leave Prague. However this struggle eventually led to Hus leaving Prague and being excommunicated.
Finally in 1415 Hus was placed on trial and asked to recant his teachings. He replied: “The prime endeavour of all my preaching, teaching and writing and of all my deeds has been to turn people from their sins and this truth I have written, taught and preached in accordance with the word of God and the teaching of the holy doctors I willingly seal with my death today.” (Macek p.25)
The death of Jan Hus lead to a revolution in Bohemia. The peasants and low ranking nobility turned on the Church and the Emperor.
The Four Articles of Prague 1420:
1) Freedom to the Word of God
2) We all take the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty God, in awe, devotion, and reverence…
3) We direct the clergy toward the life of the Son of God and to the life of the Apostles, and stop and do away with their enrichment and simony.
4) We stop, suppress, and destroy all sins; first in ourselves, after that in the kings, the princes and lords, the townsmen, the craftsmen, the peasants, etc.
Multiple Crusades against the Hussites failed mainly due to a growing sense of nationalism amongst the Czech. The foreign mercenaries sent into Bohemia would quickly break against the determined natives who were fighting for their lives, land, and souls.
The Hussite Wars lasted from 1419 to 1434 and did much to shape the the region. Despite the ultimate failure of the uprising it was by far the most successful rebellion against the Church up to that point. The memory of it would inspire many people for centuries to come.
Overall this book had some good information in it. At times it was very pro-Hussite in its tone and everything was written from the point of view of Czechs, nothing from the Church’s or King’s point of view. Despite this lopsidedness it touches on a topic that isn’t as well explored by many other texts.
The book is also on the short side, a little over a hundred pages. I wish a little more time and detail was given on the wars, fifteen years is a long fight. Right now I’m searching Google Books for copies of the other books listed in the references to try to learn some more details of the wars and the Hussite movement in general.