Jan Hus

* probably 1371 (Husinec), †1415 (Constance, Germany)

A Czech priest and religious reformer. He studied at the university in Prague and taught there as a master from 1403 and in 1409–10 was appointed rector. From 1402 he preached in the Bethlehem Chapel. He preached in Czech to enable the faithful to understand him. He joined the reform movement which aimed to improve the church and society as a whole and his opinions were influenced by writings be Jan Milíče of Kroměříž, Konrád Waldhauser, Matěj of Janov and, especially, the Englishman John Wycliffe. In 1410 the archbishop instructed that all writings by Wycliffe were to be burned and Hus was banned from preaching. However he refused to give up his preaching activities and was finally declared a heretic and the Pope issued an interdiction on him. When he appeared in public in 1412 and spoke out against the granting of indulgences, this so enraged King Wenceslaus IV that he turned against him and certain other university representatives. Hus then left Prague and preached in the countryside, where he also wrote much of his work. In 1414, under the protection of Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg he left for Constance to defend his teachings before the council, but he was arrested and imprisoned as a heretic; because he refused to recant he was burned at the stake on 6. 7. 1415 in Constance. His death lead to major resistance in the Czech lands and the country became increasingly radical until 1419, when an open revolution, called the Hussite wars, broke out. The personage and deeds of Hus as they impact European history are still of prime interest to historians today.


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