the Fifth Week of Lent
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a general name for the followers of JOHN HUSS (See JOHN HUSS) (q.v.). The Council of Constance, in its dealings with Huss, seems to have forgotten that the adherents to his cause were not the handful of men who had gathered around their friend and teacher in his last hours, but were scattered throughout Bohemia and Moravia. No sooner had the news of the execution of Huss reached them than disturbances became the order of the day. Everywhere in the two kingdoms named the life of the priests was in danger. The archbishop of Albicus (q.v.) himself was obliged to flee for his life. King Wenceslas, of Bohemia, was indignant at the action of the council, and the queen hesitated not to espouse openly the cause of the Hussites. September 3, 1415, the Diet of Bohemia addressed a manifesto to the council, full of reproaches and threats; and September 5 it voted that every landowner should be free to have the doctrines of Huss preached on his estate. Fearful of the danger threatened, the priesthood, and, indeed, all strict adherents of the Romish Church, formed (October 1) a league (Herrenbund), vowing obedience to the council and fidelity to the Romish Church. Encouraged by these associations, deemed strong enough not only to oppose successfully any further attacks on Romanists, but even any further inroads of the heretics among the people, the council assumed a more authoritative position. Not satisfied with the mischief it had already done, it now threatened all adherents of Huss with ecclesiastical punishments. Jerome of Prague (q.v.), the friend and disciple of Huss, was the first to suffer. He was summoned before the council, summarily tried and condemned and, like his master, burned at the stake (May 30, 1416). The 452 signers of a protest against the execution of Huss were the next summoned before the bar of the council to answer for their heretical conduct. Indeed, had not the emperor Sigismund interfered, the king and queen of the Bohemians would have been added to this number. But the execution of Jerome, following that of Huss, was too great an outrage in the eyes of the Bohemians not to destroy the last vestige of respect for the body by whose order these atrocious deeds were committed.
The threats of the council became to them a mere brutum fulmen. They treated them with contempt. Meanwhile, the adherents of Huss had divided into two parties, the moderate and the extreme. The moderate party, led by the University of Prague, took the name of Calixtines (q.v.), who derived their name from the chalice (calix), holding that communion in both kinds was essential to the sacrament; the extreme party were called the Taborites, from the mountain Tabor (now Austin), which was originally their headquarters. Here, where Huss himself had formerly preached, they assembled in the open air, sometimes to the number of over 40,000, and partook of communion under both kinds on tables erected for the occasion. The Calixtines preserved the belief in purgatory, praying for the dead, images of the saints, holy water, etc.; but in March 1417; they declared openly for the right of all to receive communion in both kinds. In consequence of this declaration, all the privileges of the university were suspended by the council, and the forcible abolition of the heresy demanded by pope Martin V. In the early part of 1419 king Wenceslas, unwilling to lose the favor of either party, and fearing the wrath of Rome, decreed the restoration of Roman Catholic priests to their former offices. But no sooner had the Romanists learned of the enactments in their favor than they attacked the Hussites, and began all manner of persecutions against them.
February 22, 1418, Martin V issued a bull against the followers of Wickliffe and Huss. All who should be found "to think or teach otherwise than as the holy Roman Catholic Church thinks or teaches;" all who held the doctrines, or defended the characters of Huss or Wickliffe, were to be delivered over to the secular arm for punishment as heretics. The document is a model from which bigoted intolerance and persecution might copy and exhausts the odium of language in describing the character of the objects of its vengeance. They are schismatic, seditious, impelled by Luciferian pride and wolfish rage, duped by devilish tricks, tied together by the tail, however scattered over the world, and thus leagued in favor of Wickliffe, Huss, and Jerome. These pestilent persons had obstinately sown their perverse dogmas, while at first the prelates and ecclesiastical authority had shown themselves to be only dumb dogs, unwilling to bark, or to restrain, according to the canons, these deceitful and pestiferous heresiarchs." These intolerant measures added strength to the party whom it was their object to extirpate. The Bohemians, threatened at home by a feeble and vacillating king, and abroad by the official emissaries of the papal pontiff, felt themselves obliged to gather in numbers for self-defense, and chose Nicholas of Hussinecz (q.v.) and John Zisca (q.v.) as their leaders. They also prepared an answer to the bull, and circulated it far and wide. It was entitled "A faithful and Christian Exhortation of the Bohemians to Kings and Princes, to stir them up to the zeal of the Gospel," amid was signed by four of their leading captains. "It is honorable at once to their courage, their prudence, their Christian intelligence, and their regard for the supreme authority of the Word of God."
Their first aim was to secure, if possible, the capital of the kingdom. July 30, Zisca entered the old city, or that part of the city in which resided the reformers, and prepared for an assault on the new city, joined by the inhabitants of the old. His aim, however, for the present, was only to intimidate the papal party. After Zisca had gained the city, some of his men sought entrance in churches to observe their religious rites. They were denied admission to some of them, and the consequence was a forcible entrance, and the summary execution of the fanatic priests. With the council of the city also they experienced trouble. While a number of the Hussites were in a procession from one of the churches, their minister, bearing the chalice, was struck by a stone which had been thrown from one of the windows of the state-house. The Hussites became enraged. Under the command of Zisca himself, the state house was stormed. Seven of the councilors, who had been unable to make their escape, were thrown from the upper windows and impaled on the pikes of the soldiers below. The king, when the news reached him, became so excited that he died of a fit of apoplexy. General anarchy now ensued. The Hussites, undisputed masters of Prague, restored the forms of civil government by the appointment of four magistrates to hold office until the next general election, and then withdrew, under Zisca, to Pilsen. The queen Sophia sought not only to secure the aid of the emperor Sigismund against these armed heretics, but even endeavored to influence the citizens-of Prague to admit Sigismund as the successor of Wenceslas. The people appealed to Zisca for aid against the probable invasion of the city by Sigismund. November 4, 1419, Zisca re-entered the city. The emperor, involved in a war with the Turks, neglected at first to attend to Bohemia. Finally, in 1420, he besieged Prague, but was driven from his positions.
Widely differing in their political and religious sentiments, the Hussites became daily more divided. Some favored the Calixtines, others the Taborites, and between these two parties strong jealousies were constantly springing up. In the old town of Prague the Calixtines prevailed, in the new the Taborites held sway, and, finding it thus difficult to satisfy and please all parties, and even fearing a union of the Calixtines with the Royalists, Zisca finally withdrew to the country. During the siege the Praguers had presented to the emperor, as conditions of submission and adherence to him as subjects, four articles (Articles of Prague). These were stipulations for,
1, the free and untrammeled preaching of the Word of God, throughout the kingdom of Bavaria, by evangelical preachers;
2, the free use of communion in both kinds by all true Christians who had not committed mortal sin;
3, the keeping of all priests and monks out of any temporal power, and obliging them to live according to the example of Christ and the apostles;
4, the punishment of all mortal sins, and of all disorders contrary to the law of God committed by the priests. The Taborites, however, presented no less than twelve articles, namely, the suppression of all unnecessary churches, altars, images, etc.; the application of capital punishment for other sins, such as drinking in taverns, luxury in clothes or in the style of living, etc. But the continued persecutions of the Hussites, and the unqualified approval of them by Sigismund, ever united the two parties for common defense. March 1, 1420, Martin V invited a regular crusade against them, incited thereto in a great measure, no doubt, by Sigismund, who felt himself too weak to gain the kingdom with his army. The Hussites were now to be dealt with as "rebels against the Roman Church, and as heretics;" and the emperor exerted himself for the publication of this bull throughout his dominions. Even more than the previous documents of like character, it shows the blind zeal and persecuting bigotry of Rome.
A Christian, not a heathen people, were now, however, to be the objects of its vengeance — a people whose great heresy was that they made the Word of God their supreme authority, and contended for the institutions of the Gospel in their primitive simplicity and integrity." To animate his followers with greater fervor in the execution of the bull, the pope, "by the mercy of Almighty God, and the authority of the holy apostles St. Peter and St. Paul, as well as by the power of binding and loosing bestowed by God upon himself, granted to those who should enter upon the crusade, or to such even as should die upon the road plenary pardon of their sins, ... and eternal salvation;" and to such as could not go in person, but contributed to it in any wise, full remission of their sins. Thus "all Christendom, with its generals and armies, was summoned to crush out the heresies of men whom the council chose to burn rather than refute." "But the result disappointed all human expectations. The forces of the empire dashed and shattered themselves against the-invincible resolution and desperate courage of a band of men sustained by religious enthusiasm, and conducted by able generals."
Measures for defense were at once taken by the Hussites. The citizens of Prague, who had frequently been divided, now united against the common foe. Calixtine and Taborite were ready to join hands in a league of mutual defense. Never was there a more signal defeat than the imperial forces now sustained, although their army was 140,000 to 150,000 strong. Prague was the first city freed from the beleaguering enemy; but the great battle which decided the fate of the Imperialists was fought at Galgenberg or Witkow, known thereafter as the Ziscaberg (Hill of Zisca). Yet the opposition of the Taborites to all hierarchical pomp, and the threatened ruin of some of the most splendid structures of Prague, inclined the Calixtines, as soon as the danger had passed, to accept the terms of peace which Sigismund seemed very anxious to grant, provided, however, they could induce the emperor at the same time to remove the stigma of heresy which rested on the four "Articles of Prague." This they failed to accomplish, and peace was further delayed. A second and third attempt of Sigismund at pacification met with no better success. An effort was now made to compromise the differences between the Calixtines and Taborites.
But the greatest obstacle to this was found to be their political rather than religious views. The question who should wear the crown of Bohemia was a matter of no little importance, and each party seemed anxious to secure it for one of their number. A convention of the states was held at Czaslau, July 1421, to determine the matter. A regency was appointed of twenty members, taken from the different orders of the nation. Zisca appeared in it in the first rank of the nobles. It was resolved, with remarkable unanimity, that the four Articles of Prague should be universally received. Sigismund was declared incapable of reigning over Bohemia, and the crown was offered to the king of Poland. He refused, however, to accept it. Withold, grand duke of Lithuania, was next chosen; he also declined, but recommended Sigismund Corybut, his brother, to the Bohemian barons, and accompanied him to Prague, where they both, by partaking of the communion of the cup, sealed their adherence to the faith of the Calixtines, who held now the supremacy at Prague, and who had revived their old hostility against the Taborites.
The nation divided into two "fierce parties, embittered by prejudice and mutual aggressions," so that the opposition to Corybut became irreconcilable, even although Zisca himself espoused his cause, as the Taborites were unwilling to follow their leader blindly. A diet held at Prague in November, 1421, to determine the question, brought it no nearer to its solution, while it effected the estrangement of Zisca from the Calixtines, who now regarded him and his followers as their enemies. An army was gathered against them; but, as often before, the Taborites were victorious, and the Calixtines severely beaten. Another attempt proved even less favorable to them, and, thus driven to desperation, Zisca now attempted to crush the Calixtines, who were virtually leagued with the Imperialists. After various victories over his enemies, Zisca appeared before Prague September 11, 1423, and invested the city, suffering no one to issue forth from its gates. When everything was ready to storm the city, a deputation of the Calixtines appeared before him and offered terms of submission, which he readily accepted. Zisca entered Prague with great honors, and was entrusted with the exercise of paramount authority. The emperor's hopes of being king of Bohemia had of late been based upon the divisions of the nation, and, baffled by this new agreement between the Hussites, he now sought to win them over by liberal concessions. He offered to Zisca the government of the kingdom, and asked for himself only the wearing of the crown.
"But, at this culminating point of Zisca's fortunes, death over took him (October 11, 1424). He lived to foil the purposes of Sigismund, and died at the moment when his death was, in some respects, another defeat to his hopes." Zisca's death left the Taborites without any real leader. Their success they chiefly owed to him, and some of them, to indicate their deep sense of the loss they had suffered, took the name of Orphanites (q.v.). Others were absorbed by the Horebites (q.v.), while still others retained their old name, and chose St. Procopius "the Great" (q.v.) as their leader. The Orphanites, however, had relapsed to a belief in transubstantiation: they observed the fasts; honored the saints, and their priests performed worship in robes, all which the strict Taborites continued to reject. Among the Orphanite leaders, Procopius "the Lesser" was the most eminent. Vainly did the pope, assisted by the emperor, preach another crusade against the Hussites, who sallied out from Bohemia in troops to make invasions into neighboring countries, and, considering always Bohemia as their home, and other places as the land of the Philistines, treated the latter accordingly. Bands of robbers of all nations soon joined them. Frederick ‘ the Valiant" made war against them, and entered Bohemia in 1425, and again in 1426, with 20,000 men, but was repulsed, on the second occasion suffering a terrible defeat at the battle of Ausch, June 15. A panic now seized all Germany, which was increased by the storming of Miess and Tachow by the Hussites in 1427. Another crusade, instigated against them by the emperor Sigismund in the same year, met with no better success than before.
At the opening of 1428, a Convention was called at Beraun to bring about, if possible, a general pacification of the nation. But so varying were the views of the different sects, especially the doctrines of free will, justification, and predestination, that the Convention was broken up without accomplishing anything. In 1429, the Orphanites, assisted by a portion of the Taborites, made a great invasion into Saxony and Silesia. They took Dresden, marched along the Elbe to Magdeburg, then turned into the province of Brandenburg, and finally returned to Bohemia by way of Silesia, distributing themselves into different bands in various places, and adopting names according to their fancy. Some were known as Collectors, some as "Small Caps" (Petit Chapeaus, says L'Enfant), some as Little Cousins, others as Wolf-bands. In the spring of 1430 they were ready to undertake another invasion. With 20,000 cavalry, 30,000 infantry, and 3000 chariots, and with Procopius and other able generals at their head, they repeated the invasion of the countries that had been visited the previous year.
Dividing into several bands, they desolated or reduced to ashes more than a hundred towns and villages, beat a Saxon army at Grimma, then wept to Franconia, and returned home through Lower Bavaria. Meanwhile the pope had been busy with his bigots crying a new crusade against the Hussites. November 1, 1429, a diet had been summoned to meet at Vienna, but the delay of Sigismund in reaching the place had caused its transfer to Presburg. Here the deliberations were protracted for eight months, and at length nearly all the prelates and princes of the empire were brought together, either in person or by ambassadors. "It was finally resolved to make still another invasion of Bohemia. The papal legate came provided for the emergency. He had brought with him a bull of Martin V, ordaining a crusade, which was now opportunely to be published. Indulgences were profusely promised to those who should engage in the enterprise, or contribute to its promotion. Those who should fast and pray for its success should have a remission of penance for sixty days. From other vows interfering with enlistments in the holy war, a dispensation should be freely bestowed." Great efforts were made to insure the successful issue of this, the sixth invasion of Bohemia by the Imperialists (or the third papal crusade urged by Martin V). June 24,1431, was the time appointed for it. But, before it was undertaken, the emperor, to test the spirit of the Bohemians, made again propositions for the crown. The Orphanites were the only Hussites that opposed him. The Calixtines and Taborites returned a deputation of four to confer with Sigismund. But, even before this deputation had returned to Prague, the Hussites became distrustful, and the most cautious and moderate among them felt satisfied that the emperor only intended to mislead them into a state of security, and then surprise and conquer them. "The old leagues and confederations were revived. Old feuds were forgotten.
The barons of Bohemia and Moravia, the Calixtines of Prague, and the indomitable Taborites and Orphanites, again united to repel the invader. In a few weeks 50,000 infantry, 7000 cavalry, and 3600 chariots were gathered." The crusading force also had been collecting, and now numbered 80,000 (some say 130,000) men, under the command of the elector of Brandenburg. This army, immense as it was, and powerful and invincible as it seemed, was, like its predecessors, completely routed at Tausch, August 14, 1431, and the hopes of the Imperialists of subjecting the Bohemians by force of arms effectually crushed. Sigismund now most earnestly endeavored to make peace, and entrusted the negotiations to the Council of Basle (which met December, 1431). The Bohemians were invited, promised a safe-conduct, and freedom to remain at Basle, to act, decide, treat, and enter into arrangements with the council; also "perfect liberty to celebrate in their houses their peculiar forms of worship; that in public and in private they should be allowed from Scripture and the holy doctors to advance proof of their four Articles, against which no preaching of the Catholics should be allowed while they remained within the city." But even with these proffered favorable conditions the Bohemians at first kept aloof, mistrusting the sincerity of the offers made them; yet in 1432 they consented to send envoys to the council. It was in the beginning of the next year (January 4,1433) that the Bohemian deputation, numbering 300, was chosen from the most noble in the land, and with Procopius "the Great," the colleague of Zisca, the hero of many battles, the leader of many invasions, at its head. On the 16th of January the Bohemian deputation appeared before the council, and presented the four Articles of Prague as the basis of negotiations.
After discussing them for fifty days, the parties had been brought no nearer together, and the Bohemians, growing impatient, prepared for their return to Prague. Towards the close of the same year, however, the council sent envoys to Prague, and finally the Treaty of Prague was concluded, November 30, 1433, known in history as the Compactata, stipulating first for the restoration of peace and the abolition of ecclesiastical censorship, then for the admission of the four Articles of Prague, modified as follows: 1, the Eucharist to be administered equally under one or both kinds; 2, that preaching should be free, but only permitted to regularly ordained ministers; 3, that priests should have no possessions, but should be permitted to administer upon them.; 4, that sin should be punished, but only by the regularly constituted authorities. The Taborites disapproved the proceedings; a diet, held at Prague in 1434, in which the Calixtines acknowledged the authority of the pope, brought the difficulty to a crisis, and the Calixtines, joined by the Roman Catholics, defeated the Taborites near Bö hmischbrod, May 30,1434. The two Procopiuses were killed. The Taborites were now driven to their strongholds, which they were obliged to surrender one by one. In another diet, held at Prague in 1435, all Bohemians acknowledged Sigismund for their king, he granting them, on his part, very advantageous conditions for their country and sect. The Romish Church, in accepting the four Articles, having conceded to them the use of the cup in the Eucharist, and many other privileges, they were finally absolved from ecclesiastical interdict, and the emperor came to Prague August 23,1436. The Taborites submitted gradually, and the thus united Hussites took the name of Utraquists (q.v.).
Sigismund, however, did not keep the promises he had made on ascending the throne of Bohemia, but rather used every means to restore the Roman Catholic faith in that country. The chief of the Hussites, John Rokyzan, whom the emperor himself had at first confirmed in the office of archbishop, came to be in danger of his life. This created new disturbances, which continued until the death of Sigismund in 1437. The Roman Catholic party now elected Albrecht of Austria king, but the Hussites chose Casimir of Poland. The former finally prevailed; but at his death, in October, 1439, during the minority of his son Ladislaus, two governors were appointed (in 1441), the one a Roman Catholic, the other a Hussite, to govern the kingdom. In 1444, George de Podiebrad was the Hussite governor chosen, and in 1450 he assumed the sole control. This change created no disorder, as the Roman Catholics, who were busily engaged undermining the Hussite doctrine and gaining over its adherents, were anxious to avoid an open conflict with them. At the death of Ladislaus in 1457, George himself was elected king. In order to conciliate the pope, he caused himself to be crowned by Roman Catholic bishops, and swore obedience to the Church and to the pope. During his reign the Calixtines enjoyed full religious liberty; and when Pope Pius II declared the treaty abolished in 1462, George sent the papal legates to prison without further forms. For this he was put under the ban, and finally deposed by the pope in 1463.
"Meanwhile the warlike Taborites had disappeared from the scene. They no longer formed a national party. But the feeble remnants of that multitude which had once followed the standards of Zisca and Procopius still clung to their cherished faith, and, with the Word of God as their only supreme authority, the United Brethren (q.v.) appear as their lineal representatives. How, from such an origin, should have sprung a people whose peaceful virtues and missionary zeal have been acknowledged by the world, is a problem only to be solved by admitting that, in the faith of the old Taborites, however they may have been guilty of fanatical excesses, there was to be found that fundamental principle of reverence for the authority of Scripture alone which they bequeathed as a cherished legacy to those who could apply and act upon it in more favorable circumstances and in more peaceful times." The successor of George, Ladislaus of Poland, who came to the government in 1471, held fast to the conditions of the treaty though himself a Roman Catholic.
In 1485 he concluded the peace of Kuttenberg, according to which the Utraquists and Subunists (Roman Catholics who communed but in one kind) were promised equal toleration; and in 1497 he gave the Utraquists the right to appoint an administrator of the archbishopric of Prague as their ecclesiastical chief. When the Reformation began in Germany, it was gladly hailed by both the Calixtines and the Bohemian Brethren, and in 1524 they decided to continue, under the guidance of Luther, the reform begun by Huss. A large part of them now divided themselves into Lutherans and Calvinists, and in 1575 both these united with the Bohemian Brethren in a joint confession, and became a strictly Protestant denomination. They were permitted to enjoy religious liberty until 1612, when they were subjected to many restrictions by the emperor Matthias, and to still more by the emperor Rudolph in 1617. This was the first cause of the Thirty-years' War, and it was only under Joseph II that the Calixtines recovered their religious liberty. See Cochlaus, Hist. Hussitarum (Mayence, 1549, fol.); Theobald, Hussitenkrieg (Wittenberg, 1609; Nuremb. 1623; Bresl. 1750, 3 vols.); Geschichte d. Hussiten (Lpz. 1784); Schubert, Geschichte d. Hussitenkriegs (Neustadt, 1825); Pierer, Universal Lexikon, 8:636; Koppen, Der alt. Huss. Brü derkirche (Lpz. 1845); The Reformation and Anti-Reformation in Bohemia (London, 1849, 2 vols. 8vo); Palacky, Geschichte v. Behmen (1845, 3 vols.), vol. iii; Beziehungen u. Verhaltniss do Waldenser z. d. ehemaligen Sekten in Bohmen (Prag. 1869); Vorlaufer d. Hussitenthums in Bohmen (new edit. 1869); Jean Gochlee and Theobaldus, Hist. de la Guerre des Hussites; Neander, Church Hist. 5, 172; Gindely, Gesch. d. Bohnmisohen Brider (Prague, 1857, 2 vols. 8vo); and especially Gillett, Life and Times of John Huss (Boston, 1863, 2 vols. 8vo), from which extracts have frequently been made in this article. Roman Catholic-Aschbach, Kirchen-Lexikon, 3:348 sq.; Gesch. Kaiser Sigmunds (Hamb. 1838-45, 4 vols. 8vo). See Huss. (J. H.W.)
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Hussites'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​h/hussites.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.