The Hussite wars By killing Hus, the church authorities provided the Czech reformers with a martyr. From then on, the movement, hitherto known as Wycliffite, took the name Hussite, and it grew rapidly. The Hussites reacted emotionally against the Council of Constance , the German king Sigismund, and the conservative clergy. A letter of protest, signed by members of the nobility, was dispatched to Constance in September Hus had not developed a system of doctrine, nor had he designated his successor. Ideological differentiation set in and resulted in divisions and polemics.
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Edit Starting around , priest and scholar Jan Hus denounced the corruption of the Church and the Papacy, and promoted the reformist ideas of English theologian John Wycliffe. His preaching was widely heeded in Bohemia, and provoked repression by the Church, which had declared Wycliffe a heretic. To raise money for this, he authorized the sales of indulgences in Bohemia.
Hus bitterly denounced this practice, and explicitly quoted Wycliffe against it, provoking further complaints of heresy, but winning much support in Bohemia. In , Sigismund of Hungary convened the Council of Constance to end the Schism and resolve other religious controversies. Hus went to the Council, under a safe-conduct from Sigismund, but was imprisoned, tried, and executed on 6 July The knights and nobles of Bohemia and Moravia, who were in favour of church reform, sent the protestatio Bohemorum to the Council of Constance on 2 September , which condemned the execution of Hus in the strongest language.
He had been persuaded by the Council that Hus was a heretic. He sent threatening letters to Bohemia declaring that he would shortly drown all Wycliffites and Hussites, greatly incensed the people. Disorder broke out in various parts of Bohemia, and drove many Catholic priests from their parishes.
Almost from the beginning the Hussites divided into two main groups, though many minor divisions also arose among them. Shortly before his death Hus had accepted the doctrine of Utraquism preached during his absence by his adherents at Prague: the obligation of the faithful to receive communion in both kinds, bread and wine sub utraque specie.
Under the influence of his brother Sigismund, Wenceslaus endeavoured to stem the Hussite movement. At these meetings they violently denounced Sigismund, and the people everywhere prepared for war. In spite of the departure of many prominent Hussites, the troubles at Prague continued.
Many Catholics, mostly Germans — mostly still faithful to the Pope — were expelled from the Bohemian cities. After a considerable part of the city had been damaged or destroyed, the parties declared a truce on 13 November. Unable to maintain himself there he marched to southern Bohemia. The ecclesiastical organization of Tabor had a somewhat puritanical character, and the government was established on a thoroughly democratic basis.
Wagenburg tactics Main article: Wagenburg Depending on the terrain, Hussites prepared carts for the battle, forming them into squares or circles.
The carts were joined wheel to wheel by chains and positioned aslant, with their corners attached to each other, so that horses could be harnessed to them quickly, if necessary. In front of this wall of carts a ditch was dug by camp followers.
The crew of each cart consisted of soldiers: crossbowmen , 2 handgunners , soldiers equipped with pikes or flails the flail was the Hussite "national weapon" , 2 shield carriers and 2 drivers. In the first stage the army placed the carts near the enemy army and by means of artillery fire provoked the enemy into battle.
The artillery would usually inflict heavy casualties at close range. The Hussite Wagenburg In order to avoid more losses, the enemy knights finally attacked. Then the infantry hidden behind the carts used firearms and crossbows to ward off the attack, weakening the enemy.
The shooters aimed first at the horses, depriving the cavalry of its main advantage. Many of the knights died as their horses were shot and they fell.
The infantry and the cavalry burst out from behind the carts striking violently at the enemy - mostly from the flanks. While fighting on the flanks and being shot at from the carts the enemy was not able to put up much resistance.
They were forced to withdraw, leaving behind dismounted knights in heavy armor who were unable to escape the battlefield. The enemy armies suffered heavy losses and the Hussites soon had the reputation of not taking captives. The first anti-Hussite crusade Edit After the death of his childless brother Wenceslaus, Sigismund inherited a claim on the Bohemian crown, though it was then, and remained till much later, in question whether Bohemia was an hereditary or an elective monarchy.
Sigismund and many German princes arrived before Prague on 30 June at the head of a vast army of crusaders from all parts of Europe, largely consisting of adventurers attracted by the hope of pillage. They immediately began a siege of the city, which had, however, soon to be abandoned. Negotiations took place for a settlement of the religious differences.
This document, the most important of the Hussite period, ran, in the wording of the contemporary chronicler, Laurence of Brezova , as follows: "1. 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.
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 - according to the word and disposition of Our Saviour. Hostilities therefore continued. The second anti-Hussite crusade Edit Internal troubles prevented the followers of Hus from fully capitalizing on their victory.
Shortly afterwards a new crusade against the Hussites was undertaken. After an unsuccessful attempt of storming the city, the crusaders retreated somewhat ingloriously on hearing that the Hussite troops were approaching. Sigismund only arrived in Bohemia at the end of Civil war Edit Bohemia was for a time free from foreign intervention, but internal discord again broke out, caused partly by theological strife and partly by the ambition of agitators. Vytautas accepted it, with the condition that the Hussites reunite with the Catholic Church.
His authority was recognized by the Utraquist nobles, the citizens of Prague, and the more moderate Taborites, but he failed to bring the Hussites back into the Church. On a few occasions, he even fought against both the Taborites and the Orebites to try to force them into reuniting. On his departure, civil war broke out, the Taborites opposing in arms the more moderate Utraquists, who at this period are also called by the chroniclers the "Praguers", as Prague was their principal stronghold.
The third anti-Hussite crusade Edit Papal influence had meanwhile succeeded in calling forth a new crusade against Bohemia, but it resulted in complete failure. In spite of the endeavours of their rulers, Poles and Lithuanians did not wish to attack the kindred Czechs; 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 intending to take part in the crusade, soon returned to his own country.
Free for a time from foreign threat, the Hussites invaded Moravia, where a large part of the population favored their creed; but, paralysed again by dissensions, they soon returned to Bohemia.
Sigismund Korybut, who had returned to Bohemia in with 1, troops, helped broker this peace. Campaigns of and fourth anti-Hussite Crusade Edit In the Hussites were again attacked by foreign enemies.
Martin proclaimed yet another crusade in The crusaders were defeated at the Battle of Tachov. The Hussites subsequently invaded Germany several times, though they made no attempt to occupy permanently any part of the country. Korybut was imprisoned in for allegedly conspiring to surrender the Hussite forces to Sigismund of Hungary.
He was released in , and participated in the Hussite invasion of Silesia. But after a few years, Korybut returned to Poland with his men. Korybut and his Poles, however, did not really want to leave; but the Pope threatened to call a crusade against Poland if they did not. These raids were against countries that had supplied the Germans with men during the anti-Hussite crusades, to deter further participation.
However, the raids did not have the desired effect; these countries kept supplying soldiers for the crusades against the Hussites. They eventually reached the mouth of the Vistula where it enters the Baltic Sea near Danzig. There, they performed a great victory celebration to show that nothing but the ocean could stop the Hussites.
Moreover, the conspicuously democratic character of the Hussite movement caused the German princes, who were afraid that such ideas might spread 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 ecumenical Council of Basel which had been summoned to meet on 3 March 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 Eastern Orthodox Church, and representatives 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; this resulted in the fifth Crusade against the Hussites.
New negotiations and the defeat of radical Hussites Edit On 15 October , the Council of Basel issued a formal invitation to the Hussites to take part in its deliberations. No agreement could be reached, though. Negotiations were not, however, broken off, and a change in the political situation of Bohemia finally resulted in a settlement. In war again broke out between the Utraquists and the Taborites.
On 30 May , the Taborite army, led by Prokop the Great and Prokop the Lesser , who both fell in the battle, was totally defeated and almost annihilated at the Battle of Lipany. The Polish Hussite movement also came to an end.
The Holy Sacrament is to be given freely in both kinds to all Christians in Bohemia and Moravia, and to those elsewhere who adhere to the faith of these two countries. All mortal sins shall be punished and extirpated by those whose office it is so to do. The word of God is to be freely and truthfully preached by the priests of the Lord, and by worthy deacons. The priests in the time of the law of grace shall claim no ownership of worldly possessions. On 5 July the compacts were formally accepted and signed at Jihlava Iglau , in Moravia, by King Sigismund, by the Hussite delegates, and by the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.
The last-named, however, refused to recognize as archbishop of Prague John of Rokycan , who had been elected to that dignity by the estates of Bohemia. Aftermath Edit The Utraquist creed, frequently varying in its details, continued to be that of the established church of Bohemia until all non-Catholic religious services were prohibited shortly after the Battle of the White Mountain in After the beginning of the German Reformation, many Utraquists adopted to a large extent the doctrines of Martin Luther and of John Calvin and, in , obtained the repeal of the Compacts which no longer seemed sufficiently far-reaching.
From the end of the 16th century the inheritors of the Hussite tradition in Bohemia were included in the more general name of "Protestants" borne by the adherents of the Reformation. At the end of the Hussite Wars in , the lands of Bohemia had been totally ravaged.
Learn how and when to remove this template message Eventually, the opponents of the Hussites found themselves forced to consider an amicable settlement. They invited a Bohemian embassy to appear at the Council of Basel. The discussions began on 10 January , centering chiefly on the four articles of Prague. No agreement emerged. The agreement granted communion in both kinds to all who desired it, but with the understanding that Christ was entirely present in each kind. Free preaching was granted conditionally: the Church hierarchy had to approve and place priests, and the power of the bishop must be considered.