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Hussites

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HUSSITES, the name given to the followers of John Huss (1369-1415), the Bohemian reformer. They were at first often called Wycliffites, as the theological theories of Huss were largely founded on the teachings of Wycliffe. Huss indeed laid more stress on Church reform than on theological controversy. On such matters he always writes as a disciple of Wycliffe. The Hussite movement may be said to have sprung from three main sources. Bohemia was long but very loosely connected with the Church of Rome. The connection became closer at the time when the papacy was discredited by the great schism. The rapacity of its representatives in Bohemia, and the immorality of the clergy caused general indignation. The Hussite movement was also a democratic one, an uprising of the peasantry against the landowners at a period when a third of the soil belonged to the clergy. Finally, national enthusiasm for the Slavic race con tributed largely to its importance. The towns were mainly German ; and since by the regulations of the University of Prague Germans also held almost all the more important ecclesiastical offices—a condition of things greatly resented by the natives of Bohemia, which at this period had reached a high degree of in tellectual development. (See BOHEMIA.) Utraquism.—The Hussite movement assumed a revolutionary character as soon as the news of the death of Huss reached Prague. The knights and nobles of Bohemia and Moravia, who were in favour of Church reform, sent to the council at Con stance (Sept. 2, 1415) a protest which condemned the execution of Huss in the strongest language. The uncompromising attitude of Sigismund, king of the Romans, caused trouble in various parts of Bohemia, and many Romanist priests were driven from their parishes. Almost from the first the Hussites were divided into two principal sections. Shortly before his death Huss had accepted a doctrine preached during his absence by his adherents at Prague, namely, that of "utraquism," i.e., the obligation of the faithful to receive communion in both kinds. This doctrine became the watchword of the moderate Hussites, known as the Utraquists, while the more advanced Hussites known as the Taborites from the name of their stronghold, recognized only two sacraments, Baptism and Communion, and rejected most of the ceremonial of the Roman Church.

Anti-Hussite Movements.

Under the influence of his brother Sigismund, King Wenzel endeavoured to stem the Hussite move ment. A certain number of Hussites left Prague. They held meetings in various parts of Bohemia, particularly at Usti, near the spot where the town of Tabor was founded soon afterwards. At these meetings Sigismund was violently denounced, and the people everywhere prepared for war. The troubles at Prague continued, and on July 3o, 1419, when a Hussite procession marched through the streets, stones were thrown at the Hussites from the windows of the town hall of the "new town." The people, headed by John Mika (1376-1424), threw the burgo master and several town councillors from the windows and they were immediately killed by the crowd. On hearing this news King Wenzel was seized with an apoplectic fit and died a few days afterwards. The death of the king resulted in renewed troubles in Prague and in almost all parts of Bohemia. Many Romanists.

most of them Germans, were expelled from the Bohemian cities. In Prague, in Nov. 1419, severe fighting took place between the Hussites and the mercenaries whom Queen Sophia (widow of Wenzel) had hurriedly collected. After a considerable part of the city had been destroyed a truce was concluded on Nov. 13. The nobles, who, though favourable to the Hussite cause, yet supported Sophia, promised to act as mediators with Sigismund; while the citizens of Prague consented to restore to the royal forces the castle of Vysehrad, which had fallen into their hands. Giika, who disapproved of this compromise, left Prague and retired to Plzen (Pilsen), then into southern Bohemia, and after defeating the Romanists at Sudomer—the first pitched battle of the Hussite wars—he arrived at Usti, one of the earliest meeting places of the Hussites. Not considering its situation sufficiently strong, he moved to the neighbouring new settlement of the Hussites, to which the biblical name of Tabor was given. The ecclesiastical organization of Tabor had a somewhat puritanic character, and the Government was established on a thoroughly democratic basis. Four captains of the people were elected, one of whom was Giika ; and a strictly military discipline was in stituted.

The Articles of Prague.

On March 17, 1420, Martin V. proclaimed a crusade "for the destruction of the Wycliffites, Hussites and all other heretics in Bohemia." A vast army of crusaders arrived before Prague on June 3o (see GIZKA, JOHN). Negotiations took place for a settlement of the religious differ ences. The united Hussites formulated their demands in a state ment known as the "Articles of Prague." This document, the most important of the Hussite period, runs thus: "I. The word of God shall be preached and made known in the kingdom of Bohemia freely and in an orderly manner by the priests of the Lord. . . .

"II. The sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist shall be freely administered in the two kinds, that is bread and wine, to all the faithful in Christ who are not precluded by mortal sin—accord ing to the word and disposition of Our Saviour.

"III. The secular power over riches and worldly goods which the clergy possesses in contradiction to Christ's precept, to the prejudice of its office and to the detriment of the secular arm, shall be taken and withdrawn from it, and the clergy itself shall be brought back to the evangelical rule and an apostolic life such as that which Christ and his apostles led. . . .

"IV. All mortal sins, and in particular all public and other disorders, which are contrary to God's law, shall in every rank of life be duly and judiciously prohibited and destroyed by those whose office it is." These articles, which contain the essence of the Hussite doc trine, were rejected by Sigismund. Hostilities therefore continued, and nearly all Bohemia fell into the hands of the Hussites. In ternal troubles prevented them from availing themselves com pletely of their victory. At Prague a demagogue, the priest John of Lelivo, for a time obtained almost unlimited authority over the lower classes of the townsmen; and at Tabor a communistic movement (that of the so-called Adamites) was sternly sup pressed by Giika. Sigismund only arrived in Bohemia at the end of 1421. He took possession of the town of Kutna Hora (Kuttenberg), but was decisively defeated by Giika at Nemecky Brod (Deutschbrod) on Jan. 6, 1422. Bohemia was now again for a time free from foreign intervention, but internal discord again broke out caused partly by theological strife, partly by the ambition of agitators. There were troubles at Tabor itself, where a more advanced party opposed Giika's authority. Bohemia ob tained a temporary respite when, in 1422, Prince Sigismund Kory butovic of Poland became for a short time ruler of the country. His authority was recognized by the Utraquist nobles, the citi zens of Prague, and the more moderate Taborites, including 2IZKA. Korybutovic, however, remained but a short time in Bohemia; after his departure civil war broke out, the Taborites opposing in arms the more moderate Utraquists, whose principal strong hold was Prague. On April 27, 1423, Mika now again leading, the Taborites defeated at Horic the Utraquist army under Cenek of Wartemberg; shortly afterwards an armistice was concluded at Konopoist.

Further Anti-Hussite Attacks.

Papal influence had mean while succeeded in calling forth a new crusade against Bohemia, but it resulted in complete failure. In spite of the endeavours of their rulers, the Slays of Poland and Lithuania did not wish to attack the kindred Bohemians; the Germans were prevented by internal discord from taking joint action against the Hussites ; and the king of Denmark, who had landed in Germany with a large force, soon returned to his own country. Free for a time from foreign aggression, the Hussites invaded Moravia, where a large part of the population favoured their creed ; but, again paralyzed by dissensions, soon returned to Bohemia. The city of Koniggratz (Kralove Hradec), which had been under Utraquist rule, espoused the doctrine of Tabor, and called Ziika to its aid. After several military successes gained by 2 iika (q.v.) in 1423 and 1424, a treaty of peace between the Hussites was concluded on Sept. 13, 1424 at Liben, now part of Prague.

In 1426 the Hussites were again attacked by foreign enemies. In June their forces, led by Prokop the Great—who took the command of the Taborites shortly after Giika's death in Oct. 1424—and Sigismund Korybutovic, who had returned to Bo hemia, signally defeated the Germans at Aussig (Usti nad Labem). After this great victory, and another at Tachau in 1427, the Hussites repeatedly invaded Germany.

The almost uninterrupted victories of the Hussites now ren dered vain all hope of subduing them by force of arms. Moreover, the conspicuously democratic character of the Hussite movement caused the German princes, who were afraid that such views might extend to their own countries, to desire peace. Many Hussites, particularly the Utraquist clergy, were also in favour of peace. Negotiations for this purpose were to take place at the council which had been summoned to meet at Basel on March 3, The Roman see reluctantly consented to the presence of heretics at this council, but indignantly rejected the suggestion of the Hussites that members of the Greek Church and repre sentatives of all Christian creeds should also be present. Before definitely giving its consent to peace negotiations, the Roman Church determined on making a last effort to reduce the Hussites to subjection. On Aug. 1, 1431, a large army of crusaders, under Frederick, margrave of Brandenburg, crossed the Bohemian fron tier; but on the arrival of the Hussite army under Prokop the crusaders immediately took to flight, almost without offering re sistance.

Settlement of Disputes.

On Oct. 15, the members of the council, who had already assembled at Basel, issued a formal invitation to the Hussites to take part in its deliberations. Pro longed negotiations ensued ; but finally a Hussite embassy ar rived at Basel on Jan. 4, It was found impossible to arrive at an agreement. Negotiations were not, however, broken off ; and a change in the political situation of Bohemia finally resulted in a settlement. In 1434 war again broke out between the Utra quists and the Taborites. On May 3o the Taborite army, led by Prokop the Great and Prokop the Less, who both fell in the battle, was totally defeated and almost annihilated at Lipan. The moderate party thus obtained the upper hand ; and it for mulated its demands in a document known as the Cornpactata, which incorporated the principles laid down in the Articles of Prague.

On July 5, 1436, the compacts were formally accepted at Iglau, in Moravia, by King Sigismund, by the Hussite delegates, and by the representatives of the Roman Church. The Utraquist creed, frequently varying in its details, continued to be that of the established Church of Bohemia till all non-Roman religious ser vices were prohibited shortly after the battle of the White Moun tain in 162o. The Taborite party never recovered from its defeat at Lipan, and after the town of Tabor had been captured by George of Podebrad in 1452 Utraquist religious worship was established there. The Bohemian brethren, whose intellectual originator was Peter CheRicky, to a certain extent continued the Taborite traditions, and in the 15th and 16th centuries in cluded most of the strongest opponents of Rome in Bohemia. After the beginning of the German Reformation many Utraquists adopted to a large extent the doctrines of Luther and Calvin ; and in 1567 obtained the repeal of the compacts, which no longer seemed sufficiently far-reaching.

See

F. Palacky, Geschichte von Bohmen (1836-67) ; L. Krummel, Geschichte der bohmischen Reformation (Gotha, i866) and Utra quisten and Taboriten (Gotha, 1871) ; E. Denis, Huss et la guerre des Hussites (1878) ; Count Liitzow, Bohemia; an Historical Sketch (1896) ; H. Toman, Husitske Valectnictvi (Prague, 18g8). (Lz.)

bohemia, prague, hussite, sigismund, church, tabor and huss