JAN HUS AND THE HUSSITES
By Tim Lambert
Jan Hus was one of the great Christians of the Middle Ages. He was also a martyr. Hus was born in Bohemia (what is now the Czech Republic) in about 1374 and he was educated at the university of Prague. In 1401 he was ordained a priest.
Hus was heavily influenced by the English reformer John Wycliffe and he soon proved to be a popular preacher. Hus preached against forged miracles and avarice in the church. He also emphasised the importance of the Bible. However his strong preaching against abuses in the church alienated some of the clergy.
In 1414 Hus was ordered to attend the Council of Constance to defend his beliefs. As a result he was sentenced to death and burned in 1415. However his execution caused outrage in Bohemia and his followers carried on. (Although the Hussite movement was also a nationalist one. At that time many of the people who lived in Czech towns were Germans and nearly all the important posts in the Church were held by Germans).
In 1419 a long series of wars began when Czech Hussites refused to accept a man named Sigismund (who was an anti-Hussite) as king of Bohemia. In 1420 a crusade was launched against the Hussites but it was badly defeated in January 1422. The wars dragged on but the Catholic Church eventually gave up the attempt to destroy the Hussites by force. In 1436 the Hussites accepted a peace treaty with the Catholic powers.
Jan Hus had an influence on later reformers such as Martin Luther.
However in 1620 the Austrians conquered Bohemia (Czech Republic) and reimposed the Roman Catholic Church.
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