1. Effect in Bohemia of the Death of Huss
The arrest of Hus had excited considerable resentment in Bohemia and Moravia. In both countries the estates appealed repeatedly and urgently to Sigismund to deliver Hus. On the arrival of the news of his death disturbances broke out which were directed at first against the clergy, especially against the monks. Even the archbishop saved himself with difficulty from the rage of the populace. In the country places conditions were not much better. Everywhere the treatment of Hus was felt as a disgrace inflicted upon the whole country, and his death was looked upon 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 Hus. Pronounced 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 in case their orders accorded with the injunctions of the Bible. In disputed points the decision of the university should be resorted to. The entire Hussite nobility joined the league, and if the king had entered it, its resolutions would have received the sanction of the law; but he refused, and approached the Roman Catholic league of lords, which was now formed, the members pledging themselves to cling to the king, the Roman Church, and the Council. Signs of the outbreak of a civil war began to show them selves. Pope Martin V, who, while still Cardinal Otto of Colonna, had attacked Huss with relentless severity, energetically resumed the battle against Hus's teaching after the enactments of the Council of Constance. He intended to eradicate completely the doctrine of Hus. For this purpose the cooperation of King Wenceslaus had to be obtained. In 1418 Sigismund succeeded in winning his brother over to the standpoint of the council by pointing out the inevitableness of a religious war if the heretics in Bohemia found further protection. Hussite statesmen and army leaders had to leave the country, and Roman priests were reinstituted. These measures caused a general commotion which hastened the death of Wenceslaus by a paralytic stroke in 1419. His heir was Sigismund.
2. Two Parties in Bohemia.
Hussism had organized itself during the years 1415-1419. From the beginning two parties were found: the closer adherents of Huss clung to his standpoint, leaving the whole hierarchical and liturgical order of the Church untouched; the radical party identified itself more boldly with the doctrines of John Wyclif, shared his passionate hatred of the monastic clergy, and, like him, attempted to lead the Church back to its condition during the time of the apostles, which necessitated the removal of the existing hierarchy and the secularization of ecclesiastical possessions. The radicals among the Hussites sought to translate their theories into reality; they preached the sufcientia legis Christi-- only the divine law (i.e., the Bible) is the rule and canon for man, and that not only in ecclesiastical matters, but also in political and civil matters. They rejected therefore, as early as 1416, everything that has no basis in the Bible, as the adoration of saints and pictures, fasts, superfluous holidays, the oath, intercession for the dead, auricular confession, indulgences, the sacraments of confirmation and extreme unction, admitted laymen and women to the preacher's office, chose their own priests. But before everything they clung to Wyclif's doctrine of the Lord's Supper, denying transubstantiation, and this is the principal point by which they are distinguished from the moderate party.
3. The Four Articles of Prague.
The program of the more conservative Hussites is contained in the four articles of Prague, which were agreed upon in July, 1420, and promulgated in the Latin, Czech, and German languages:
- (1) Freedom in preaching;
- (2) communion in both kinds;
- (3) reduction of the clergy to apostolic poverty;
- (4) severe punishment of all open sins.
4. Calixtines or Ultraquists, and Taborites
The views of the moderate Hussites were represented at the university and among the citizens of Prague; therefore they were called the Prague party; they were also called Calixtines or Utraquists, because they emphasized the second article, and the chalice became their emblem. The radicals had their gathering-place in the small town of Austie, on the Luschnitz, south of Prague. But as the place was not defensible, they founded a city upon a neighboring hill, which they called Tabor; hence they were called Taborites. They comprised the essential force of Hussism. Their aim was to destroy the enemies of the law of God, and to extend his kingdom by the sword. For the former purpose they waged bloody wars, for the second purpose they established a strict jurisdiction, inflicting the severest punishment not only upon heinous crimes like murder and adultery, but also upon faults like perjury and usury, and tried to apply the conditions required in the law of God to the social relations of the world.
5. The Hussite Wars.
The news of the death of King Wenceslaus produced the greatest commotion among the people of Prague. A revolution swept over the country; churches and monasteries were destroyed, and the ecclesiastical possessions were seized by the Hussite nobility. Sigismund could get possession of his kingdom only by the power of arms. Martin V called upon all Christians of the Occident to take up arms against the Hussites, and there followed a twelve-years' war which was carried on by the Hussites at first defensively, but after 1427 they assumed the offensive. Apart from their religious aims, they fought for the national interests of the Czechs. The moderate and radical parties were united and they not only repelled the attacks of the army of crusaders, but entered the neighboring countries.
6. The Council of Basel and Compacta of Prague.
At last their opponents were forced to think of an amicable settlement. A Bohemian embassy was invited to appear at the Council of Basel. The discussions began on January 10, 1432, centering chiefly in the four articles of Prague. No agreement was arrived at. After repeated negotiations between Basel and Bohemia, a Bohemian-Moravian state assembly in Prague accepted the Compacta of Prague on Nov. 30, 1433. Communion in both kinds was granted to all who desired it, but with the
understanding that Christ was entirely present in each kind. Free preaching was granted conditionally; priests must be approved and sent by their superiors, and the power of the bishop must be considered. The article which prohibits the secular power of the clergy was almost reversed. The Taborites refused to conform, and the Calixtines united with the Roman Catholics and destroyed the Taborites in a battle near Lipan (May 30, 1434). From that time the Taborites lose their importance. The Compactata were confirmed at the state assembly of Iglau in 1436 and received the sanction of law. Thus the reconciliation of Bohemia with Rome and the Western Church was accomplished, and now Sigismund first obtained possession of the Bohemian crown. His reactionary measures caused a ferment in the whole country, but he died in 1437. Wyclif's doctrine of the Lord's Supper, which was obnoxious to the Utraquists, was rejected as heresy at the state assembly in Prague in 1444. Most of the Taborites now went over to the party of the Utraquists; the rest joined the "Brothers of the Law of Christ" (see UNITY OF THE BRETHREN; also BOHEMIAN BRETHREN).
7. Final Disappearance of the Hussites
The Utraquists had retained hardly anything of the doctrines of Huss except communion in both kinds. In 1462 Pius II. declared the Compactata null and void, prohibited communion in both kinds, and acknowledged George of Podiebrad as king under the condition that he would promise an unconditional harmony with the Roman Church. This he refused, but his successor, King Vladislaus II., favored the Roman Catholics and proceeded against some zealous clergymen of the Calixtines. The troubles of the Utraquists increased from year to year. In 1485, at the diet of Kuttenberg, an agreement between the Roman Catholics and Utraquists was obtained which lasted for thirty-one years. But it was considerably later, at the diet of 1512, that the equal rights of both religions were permanently established. Luther's appearance was hailed by the Utraquist clergy, and Martin Luther himself was astonished to find so many points of agreement between the doctrines of Hus and his own. But not all Utraquists approved of the German Reformation; a schism arose among them, and many returned to the Roman doctrine, while the better elements had long before joined the Unitas Fratrum. Under Maximilian II., the Bohemian state assembly established the Confessio Bohemica, upon which Lutherans, Reformed, and Bohemian Brethren agreed. From that time Hussism began to die out; but it was completely eradicated only after the battle at the White Mountain (Nov. 8, 1620) and the Roman Catholic reaction which fundamentally changed the ecclesiastical conditions of Bohemia and Moravia.