The followers of Jan Hus did not of themselves assume the name of Hussites. Like Hus, they believed their creed to be truly Catholic ; in papal and conciliar documents they appear as Wycliffites, although Hus and even Jerome of Prague are also named as their leaders. They wisely objected to the appellation of Hussites, which implied separation from the Universal Church ; willing to venerate Hus as a holy martyr of the old religion, they refused to see in him the founder of a new one. Only about 1420, with the beginning of the Hussite Wars does the new name occur, first in the neighbouring lands; then it gradually imposes itself as connoting both the original followers of Hus and the subsequent smaller sects into which they divided. The distinctive tenet of the Hussites is the necessity, alike for priest and layman of Communion under both kinds, sub utraque specie whence the term Utraquists . Hus himself never preached Utraquism. During his presence at the Council of Constance , his successor in influence at the university of Prague Jacobellus von Mies, taking His stand on the Bible as the supreme rule of faith and practice in the Church, persuaded the people that partaking of the chalice was of absolute necessity for salvation, this being expressly taught by Christ: "Amen amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." ( John 6:54 )
Three parishes at once adopted the innovation. Former unauthorized sermons by Jacobellus, and trespasses on episcopal rights by the parish clergy ) had prepared the ground in these particular places. The introduction of the lay chalice was regarded by many well-intentioned men as the outward sign of a nascent schism. These withdrew from the movement, but the people at large eagerly joined it as if the chalice were a panacea for all the evils of the time. Their eagerness is partly accounted for by a kind of crusade in favour of frequent and even daily Communion, and by a huge mass of eucharistic literature in Bohemia during the fourteenth century. As far back as 1380 a priest in Prague (Altstadt) is said to have preached to his parishioners the necessity of Communion under both kinds. Jacobellus was excommunicated. and Andreas von Brod confuted his teaching in a treatise but he continued preaching and answered Andreas's tract by one of his own. Hus, then in Constance, was consulted. In a letter to the Knight von Chlum, he said: "it would be wise not to introduce such an innovation without the approbation of the Church." Soon, however, seeing how the council upheld the existing practice, he inveighed against it and maintained that Christ and the Apostle Paul should be obeyed by giving the chalice to the laity ; he also entreated the Bohemian nobles to protect the lay chalice against the council. These last words of Hus, written in sight of his funeral pyre, aroused Bohemia. In Prague the priests faithful to the Church were driven out of their parishes and replaced by Utraquists ; in the country the nobles likewise filled all the parishes in their gift with men of the new discipline.
The change caused many excesses. Bishop Johann of Leitomischl had all his possessions devastated by the neighbouring nobles because of his strenuous opposition to Hus at Constance. King Wenceslaus (Wenzel) did not interfere. He had a grudge against the Emperor Sigismund for the role he played at the council, and he regarded the execution of Hus as an infringement of his royal rights. Meanwhile the fathers assembled in council at Constance sent earnest letters to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities in Bohemia, insisting on complete extirpation of the dangerous heresy (July, 1415); and gave ample powers to the Bishop of Leitomischl as legate for the same purpose. The Bohemian and Moravian nobles took up the gauntlets. Four hundred and fifty-two of them appended their seals to a joint answer to the council, setting forth their conviction that the sentence on Hus was unjust and insulting to their country, that there were no heretics in Bohemia, that any assertion to the contrary was itself a heresy of the worst kind. This document bears date 2 September 1415. Three days later they formed an offensive and defensive league by which they bound themselves for six years to grant on their estates to all priests applying for it freedom to preach the word of God, and protection against episcopal prosecutions for heresy, and against excommunication except from the local bishops. The clergy, however, should obey a lawfully elected pope in all things not contrary to God and God's law. The authority of the council was thereby set at naught the Wycliffite principle that the laity should restrict and restrain the power of the clergy was fully applied.
The Catholics did not remain idle; episcopal ordinances of 5 September enjoined the publication in all churches of the prohibition of the lay chalice, a decree of 18 September inhibited vagrant, i.e. Utraquist, preachers; a league of Catholic lords was formed on 1 October; it consisted mostly of the southern and northern gentry accessible to German influence. King Wenceslaus was on their side in word, if not in deed. Before this favourable turn of events became known to it, the council in its ordinary proceedings against Wycliffism, took a step of the gravest consequences -- the laying of the interdict on Prague for sheltering Johann of Jesenic, already excommunicated in 1412. Armed crowds of citizens invaded every church and monastery where Divine service had been suspended in obedience to the interdict, drove out all priests and monks unwilling to submit to the popular will, robbed them of their possessions and put Utraquist clergy in their places. The whole country followed the example of the capital, the king and the magistrates looked on without concern. The council's legate, Bishop Johann of Leitomischl, was powerless to stem the evil tide. Probably on his denunciation, the four hundred and fifty-two signatories of the Utraquist covenant -- together with Archbishop Conrad of Prague and Wenceslaus, Bishop of Olmutz -- were summoned to appear before the council as suspected of heresy. Archbishop Conrad had been remiss in carrying out the conciliary measures; in the beginning of 1416 he had, in concert with the king, suspended the interdict on the far-off chance of thus conciliating the dissidents. The council was even then (1416) determined to use the secular arm against the King of Bohemia and his unruly land, but Sigismund, with whom lay the execution, refused his aid, hoping, as he said, to come to an understanding with King Wenceslaus.
The University of Prague was heavily Utraquist ; the council, therefore, towards the end of 1416, suspended all its privileges and forbade, under excommunication, all further academical proceedings. The lecturers, however, continued to lecture as before; but since the chancellor, Archbishop Conrad, refused his co-operation, no new degrees could be conferred. Notwithstanding the turbulent spirit of many masters the influence of the university as a whole was moderating. For example, on 25 January, 1417, when some fanatical country parsons had destroyed the images and profaned the relics of their churches, the university, in virtue of the teaching authority it claimed, sent to all the faithful an exhortation to abstain from innovations and to hold fast to old customs. The noblemen of the Hussite league ordered the clergy dependent on them to conform to their teaching. This act in the right direction was followed on 10 March, 1416, by another which gave Utraquism the sanction of the only teaching authority then recognized in the country. The rector, Johann von Reinstein (surnamed Cardinalis), declared, with the consent of all the Magistri , that Communion under both kinds is an ordination of Christ Himself and a practice of the ancient Church, against which no human ordinances of later date could prevail. The declaration had been given in answer to questions by members of the Hussite league, and it was acted upon, wherever they ruled, with such thoroughness that the Utraquist clergy was insufficient to fill the places of the ejected Catholic priests. The head of the league, Vincenz von Wartenberg, found a way out of the difficulty. He waylaid the Auxiliary Bishop of Prague, confined him in a stronghold, and forced him to ordain as many Utraquist candidates for the priesthood as were needed.
The archbishop henceforth withheld ordination and benefices from all who did not abjure Wycliffism and Utraquism. The Council of Constance meanwhile gave continued attention to Bohemian affairs. Martin V who, in 1411, as Cardinal Colonna, had terminated the trial of Jan Hus with the sentence of excommunication, now, as pope, confirmed all the council's enactments regarding him and his followers; he wrote to all whom it might concern to return to the Church or to lend their aid in suppressing the new heresies. Before the close of the council he addressed to King Wenceslaus a rule containing twenty-four articles, designed to bring back the religious status of the country to what it was before the Hussite upheaval. The task was heavy, and perhaps uncongenial to King Wenceslaus. Could he force all Wycliffites and Hussites to abjure or to die, reinstate all ejected priests in their benefices, maintain Catholic ascendency? He made no attempt. In June, 1418 he forbade the exercise of foreign jurisdiction over his subjects, a measure which put a stop to the work of the cardinal legate, Giovanni Domenici. The same year saw the arrival of foreign sectarians, Beghards -- called Pickarts -- attracted by Bohemia's fame for religious liberty, and of the Oxford Wycliffite Peter Payne, admitted to the faculty of arts at the university. The university, apprehensive of doctrinal excesses, assembled (September, 1418) the whole party, the Communitas fratrum , in order to come to an agreement on doubtful points. The assembly granted Communion to newborn infants but forbade all deviation from tradition except where it was evidently opposed to Scripture, as in the case of Utraquism.
In 1419 Utraquism received an accession of strength from the repressive measures against it. King Wenceslaus at last giving way to the pope, and the emperor threatening a "crusade" against Bohemia banished Johann of Jesenic from Prague and commanded that all ejected Catholic beneficiaries should be reinstated in their offices and revenues. The people, accustomed by this time to Utraquist ministrations, resented the change they fought for their churches and schools, blood was shed, but the king's ordinance was executed wherever his authority was strong enough to enforce it. The success was however, far from complete. The Utraquist clergy, followed by their numerous adherents, now assembled on the hills, to which they gave Scriptural names, such as Tabor, Horeb, and Mount Olivet . In July, 1419 "Mount Tabor" was the scene of an epoch-making assembly. Nicolaus of Husinec, banished by Wenceslaus as a dangerous agitator, had brought together 42,000 Utraquists ; they listened to Utraquist preachers, received the chalice, and spent the day in organizing resistance to any interference with their religion; they sent a message to the king that they, one and all, were ready to die for the chalice. In Prague itself matters had gone even further. Ziska of Troznow, like Nicolaus of Husinec, a former favourite of the king, had taken the lead of the malcontents and familiarized them with the thought of armed resistance.
Ziska belonged to the inferior nobility of southern Bohemia, he had distinguished himself both as an undaunted fighter and as an excellent leader of men. Johann, formerly a Premonstratensian monk of Selau now a zealot for Utraquism, on 30 July, 1419, carried the Blessed Sacrament in procession through the streets of Prague (Neustadt); the processionists, excited by a fiery sermon of their leader, first penetrated into St. Stephen's church which had been closed to them; then they assembled in front of the town hall, where Johann, still holding up the Blessed Sacrament , demanded from the magistrates the release of several Utraquists imprisoned for previous disturbances. The magistrates refused and prepared for resistance. Ziska ordered the storming of the town hall; all persons found therein were thrown out of the windows on to the spears and swords of the processionists, and hacked to pieces, whilst Johann called on God in His Sacrament to inflame their murderous fury. The mob there and then elected four captains, called all men to arms and fortified the Neustadt. King Wenceslaus swore death to all the rebels, but a stroke of apoplexy, caused by excitement, carried him off, 16 August, 1419. The next months were marked by deeds of violence against the faithful clergy, by wanton destruction of church furniture, and by the burning of monastic houses. Many citizens, especially Germans and the higher clergy, had to flee.
Wenceslaus's successor on the Bohemian throne was his brother Sigismund, German Emperor and King of Hungary. He had been the very soul of the Council of Constance ; but the Bohemians, holding him responsible for the death of their beloved Hus, disliked and distrusted him. Nor was Sigismund eager to assume the ruling of this troubled kingdom. He tarried in Hungary, leaving Bohemia to be governed by the queen-widow and Vincenz von Wartenberg , the chief of the Utraquist league. The popular masses led by the lesser nobility and fanatical priests, now began to multiply their meetings on "holy" mountains -- Tabors -- and to move towards Prague in armed bands. The queen regent, with the assent of the higher nobility, forbade them to meet or even to come near to Prague. In various encounters Ziska and Nicolaus of Husinec successfully resisted the royal troops (4-9 November, 1419), an armistice was, however concluded and Ziska withdrew to Pilsen. Sigismund now gave up his plans of a campaign against the Turks and resolved to restore his new kingdom to Roman unity. On his side were the Catholic nobles, the higher clergy, the Germans settled in the land, and all who had suffered persecution and losses at the hands of the sectarians; against him stood Ziska and Nicolaus of Husinec at the head of the peasantry. Sigismund took up the government in December, then went to Silesia to collect more troops. The Catholics regained courage. They were hard on the Utraquists wherever they were the stronger: in Kuttenberg, for instance, hundreds of captured Utraquists were thrown by the miners into the shafts of disused silver mines. The leaders of the people meanwhile, built the impregnable stronghold of Tabor whither the country people betook themselves with all their movable possessions, in order to await in the "community of the brethren" the things that were to come.
Here Utraquism entered upon a new development. The priests of Austi, starting from the principle that the Bible contained the whole teaching of Christ, abolished every traditional rite and liturgy. There were to be no more churches, altars, vestments, sacred vessels, chants, or ceremonies. The Lord's Prayer was the only liturgical prayer ; the communion table was a common table with common bread and common appointments, the celebrant wore his everyday clothes and was untonsured. Children were baptized with the first water at hand and without any further ceremony they received Communion in both kinds immediately after Baptism. Extreme unction and auricular confession were abolished; mortal sins were to be confessed in public. Purgatory and the worship of saints were suppressed, likewise all feasts and fasts. Such a creed accounts for the fury of destruction which possessed the Hussites. Ziska spent his time in drilling his peasants and artisans into an army capable to withstand the dreaded knights in armour of the king's army. Clever tactics, apt choice of the battlefield, and confidence in their chief and in their cause, made up for their defective armament. Straightened scythes, flails forks and iron-shod cudgels were their weapons. Their religious fanaticism was heightened by a young Moravian priest, Martin Houska, surnamed Loquis, who taught them to read in the Bible that the last days had come, that salvation was only to be found in the mountains -- their Tabors -- that after the great battle the millennium would reign on earth.
Sigismund's army had been strengthened by contingents from Hungary and other adjoining lands; everyone was ready for the fray. On 1 March, 1420, Pope Martin V issued a Bull inviting all Christians to unite in a crusade for the extermination of Wycliffites, Hussites, and other heretics. This Bull was read to the imperial diet assembled at Breslau on 17 March. Its effect was terror on the Catholic side, holy enthusiasm and closest union for deadly warfare on the side of the Taborites. Many Catholics fled; the Utraquist nobles renounced their allegiance and declared war on Sigismund "who had brought the slander of heresy on the land"; a secret embassy offered the Bohemian crown to King Wladislaw II of Poland. The energetic Ziska at once began operations in southern Bohemia. Royal towns, fortresses, and monasteries fell into his hands. These latter were plundered and destroyed. Königgrätz submitted, as did also some nobles disgusted with the excesses of the Taborites. While the king was waiting for the "crusaders" from Germany, he had seventeen Utraquists drowned in the Elbe at Leitmeritz and two burnt at Echlau. The rebels retaliated by setting fire to several monasteries near Prague and by burning the monks. The "crusading" army arrived in July; with the king's troops they were 100,000 strong. Before engaging in battle, the papal legate, Ferdinand of Lucca, examined the "Four Prague Articles", i.e. four points on the granting of which the rebels would submit.
These articles emanated from the university. In substance they are:
The Utraquist magistrates imposed their whole will on the town and the university ; riots and deeds of violence occurred everywhere the wealthy monasteries were the first and greatest sufferers. Many of the best citizens proclaimed their horror at the destruction of the fairest buildings and their disgust with the Taborite forms of worship. In Prague, however, they were kept down by Johann of Selau, who had assumed a kind of dictatorship, in the country the Taborite leaders themselves thought it better to give another direction to the destructive mania of their followers. Ziska in the southern borderlands and the Prague army added victory to victory; the strong town of Wysehrad surrendered, 1 November, 1420, after a crushing defeat of Sigismund's troops. The rebels, now sure of their power, offered the Bohemian throne to King Wladislaw II of Poland. In March, 1421 King Wenceslaus returned to Hungary, leaving his country almost defenseless. By June of the same year the Hussites had established their dominion over the whole kingdom, with the exception of a few northern and western border districts. The inhabitants were asked to accept the Four Prague articles or to emigrate within a stated time, captains and sheriffs were appointed to rule the towns with royal powers. Thus Utraquism and home rule supplanted Catholicism and German rule. The nobility accepted the new order; Archbishop Conrad of Prague adapted the four articles (21 April, 1421), ordained Utraquist clergy, and invited the older clergy likewise to conform. The metropolitan chapter, however, who had fled to Zittau and Olmütz, remained faithful, and appointed the "iron" Johann of Leitomischl, later of Olmütz, administrator of the archdiocese. The Hussites never had a sterner enemy.
Among the Taborites, a new sect arose about this time. The priest Martin Loquis taught these rabid levellers of monasteries and murderers of priests that Christ was not really present in the Eucharist; consequently, that worshipping the sacrament was idolatry. Sacrilegious profanations became the order of the day. Proceedings were taken by the Utraquist authorities, advised by the university, against the innovators. Loquis and another were taken prisoners, dragged through the country, cruelly tortured and finally burnt in a barrel. His four hundred followers were expelled from Tabor. For some time they roamed through the country "as avenging angels ", robbing, burning, and killing. Ziska, in disgust, had twenty-four (some say fifty) of the worst put to death by fire. The remainder, reinforced by some fanatical Chiliasts, formed a sect of Adamites subject to no law and possessing their women in common. Ziska surrounded them on their island in the River Nezárka and exterminated them to the last man (October, 1421). The summer of 1421 was employed by the Hussites in consolidating their new power. Successful expeditions penetrated to the northwestern border, burned more monasteries, killed more monks, priests, and inoffensive citizens; but here also they suffered their first serious defeat at the hands of Catholic knights and the troops of Meissen (5 August, 1421). As early as April a second army of crusaders, twice as strong as the first, had been forming at Nuremberg, while Sigismund was expected to bring up his Hungarian army. The crusaders laid siege to Saaz.
On 2 October, the news spread that Ziska was coming to the rescue of the besieged. This perhaps false information sufficed to disperse the crusaders and their five leaders in all directions in disorderly flight. Not a blow was struck. Sigismund entered Moravia, which he reduced to submission, and met Ziska in battle at Kuttenberg. The stronger battalions were on the emperor's side, but Ziska fought his way through them and shortly afterwards, at Deutsch-Brod, almost annihilated them (8 January, 1422). This victory kept the Hussites' foreign foes in wholesome fear for many years; new crusades were indeed preached year after year, but not carried out. The field was left free for internal dissensions to undo what had so far been done. Prague began by shaking off the tyrannical dictatorship of Johann of Selau. With twelve of his partisans he was beheaded, 9 March, 1422. The mob avenged his death by ravaging the university, colleges, and libraries. Next, civil war broke out between, on the one hand the Taborites under Ziska a few southern towns and Saaz with Laun in the northwest, and on the other, Prague with the whole nobility and the other towns. Its cause was the proposal to unite all parties under the administration of Sigismund Korybut, a nephew of the Grand Duke Witold of Lithuania, who had accepted the Bohemian crown refused by the King of Poland, and appointed Korybut as governor. The first victory again was Ziska's (end of April, 1423). Some futile negotiations followed. From January to September 1424 the Taborites waged a most successful war, which led their victorious army up to the gates of the capital. Korybut and Prague now sent to Ziska the eloquent priest Rokyzana, who succeeded in bringing about a complete understanding between the parties. They then joined in an expedition against Moravia. Close to the Moravian frontier, at Pribislau, Ziska fell ill and died (14 October, 1424).
His death was followed by new groupings of the parties. The closer partisans of Ziska, who represented the moderates, now took the name of "Orphans." Their priests still said Mass in liturgical vestments and followed the old rite. The more extreme Taborites chose new chiefs, of whom the most prominent was Andrew Procopius, a married priest surnamed "the Great" or "the Shaven", to distinguish him from Little Procopius (Prokupek) who in time became the spiritual leader of the Orphans. Orphans and Taborites fought together against any common foe; when there was no common foe they fought or quarrelled with one another. Their united forces, under Procopius the Shaven, won the battle of Aussig on the Elbe (16 June, 1426), in which 15,000 Germans and many Saxon and Thuringian nobles lost their lives, but they were beaten in their turn by Albert of Austria, at Zwettel, 12 March, 1427. While these horrible wars were laying waste the country, the Magistri of Prague, pro tem . the supreme judges in matters of Faith, divided into two parties. Rokyzana, Jacobellus, and Peter Payne favoured a nearer approach to the Taborite innovations; others had gained the conviction that peace and union were only to be found in returning to the Roman allegiance. The chalice for the laity was the only point they wished to retain. Korybut, the governor, favoured the latter view. He engaged in secret negotiations with Pope Martin V, but the secret having leaked out Rokyzana, at the head of the populace of Prague seized him and confined him to a fortress (17 April 1427). The Hussites under Procopius the Shaven now raided Lusatia and Silesia. In July, 1427, a third army of crusaders, some 150,000 strong, entered Bohemia from the west. Procopius met and defeated them at Mies (4 August). Another army coming from Silesia had a similar fate.
Being complete masters of the situation at home, the Hussites set out for further raids abroad. Their own country was lying waste after so many years of war ; the people had become a huge horde of brigands bent on bloodshed and plunder. In the years 1428-1431 the combined Orphans, Taborites, and the townsmen of Prague invaded Hungary, laid waste Silesia as far as Breslau, plundered Lusatia, Meissen, Saxony, and advanced to Nuremberg, leaving in their track the remains of flourishing towns and villages, and devastated lands. Negotiations for an armistice came to naught. When the raiders returned in 1430 they had with them 3,000 wagons of booty, each drawn by from six to fourteen horses; a hundred towns and more than a thousand villages had been destroyed. In 1431 a fourth crusade, sent by the unbending Martin V, entered Bohemia. The crusaders numbered 90,000 foot and 40,000 horse; they were accompanied by the papal legate and commanded by the Electoral Prince Frederick of Brandenburg. They met a strong army of Hussites at Taus. The wild war-songs of the enemy filled the soldiers of the Cross with uncontrollable fear ; once more they fled in disorder, losing many men and 300 wagons of stores (14 August, 1431). After so many reverses the Catholics realized that peace was only to be attained by concessions to the Hussites. Advances were made by Emperor Sigismund and by the Council of Basle, which was then sitting. A meeting of the contending parties' delegates took place at Eger, where preliminaries for further discussion at Basle were agreed upon. Meanwhile the excommunicated Archbishop Conrad of Prague and the "iron" Bishop Johann of Olmutz died, and the Utraquist Rokyzana had an eye on the See of Prague: it was therefore his interest to make further peace negotiations with Rome. The Taborites, on the contrary, continued the war, heedless of the Eger arrangements. They raided Silesia and Brandenburg, advancing as far as Berlin, and fought Albert of Austria in Moravia and in his own Austrian dominions.
At length, 4 January, 1433, a deputation of fifteen members, provided with safe-conducts and accompanied by a numerous train, arrived at Basle. Discussion on the Four Articles of Prague lasted till April without any result. The deputies left Basle on 14 April, but with them went a deputation from the council to continue negotiations with the diet assembled at Prague. Here some progress was made, notwithstanding the opposition of Procopius and the extreme Taborites who were loath to lay down their arms and return to peaceful pursuits. The conferences dragged on till 26 November, 1433. The council, chiefly bent on safeguarding the dogma, consented to the following disciplinary articles, known as the Compactata of Basle:
The tedious negotiations, in which religious, political, and personal interests had to be satisfied, went on with various vicissitudes until 5 July, 1436, when the Bohemian representatives at the Diet of Iglau, solemnly accepted the Compactata and promised obedience to the council. The representatives of the council, on their side, removed the ban from the Bohemians and acknowledged them as true sons of the Church. The diet accepted Sigismund as King of Bohemia : on 23 August he entered Prague, and took possession of his kingdom. Henceforth the Utraquists or Calixtines and the Subunists ( sub una specie ) had separate churches and lived together in comparative peace. Priests were ordained for the Utraquist rite. New difficulties were created by Rokyzana's failing to obtain the bishopric for which he had so long agitated and which he had been promised by Sigismund. His partisans went back to former aberrations, e.g. they re-established the feast of the "Holy Martyr Hus" on 6 July.
In 1448 Cardinal Carvajal came to Prague to settle the ever open question of Rokyzana's claims. Having demanded restitution of confiscated church property as the first step, he was threatened with murder and fled. In December of the same year Rokyzana returned to Prague as president of the Utraquist consistory. The governor, George Podiebrad, supported him in his disobedience to Rome and nullified all Roman attempts at a final settlement; he opposed St. John Capistran, who was then converting thousands of Utraquists in Moravia. As things were going from bad to worse, Pope Pius II, who had had long experience of the sectarians at Basle and as legate to Prague, refused to acknowledge the Utraquist rite, and declared the Compactata null and void, 31 March, 1462. Podiebrad retaliated by persecuting the Catholics in 1466 he was excommunicated by Paul II ; there followed other religious and civil wars. In 1485 King Wladislaw granted equal liberty and rights to both parties. Judging by its results this was a step in the right direction. By degrees the Utraquists conformed to the Roman rites so as to be hardly distinguishable from them, except through the chalice for the laity. In the sixteenth century they resisted Lutheran inroads even better than the Subunists. Their further history is told in the article BOHEMIAN BRETHREN.
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