Johannes Hus - Konstanz, BW, D
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member André de Montbard
N 47° 39.535 E 009° 10.259
32T E 512838 N 5278405
Hostel of the reformer Johannes Hus, who lived here during the Council of Constance before he was sentenced and executed.
Waymark Code: WM16AFN
Location: Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Date Posted: 06/14/2022
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member scrambler390
Views: 1

Jan Hus (/h?s/; Czech: ['jan '?us] (listen); c. 1372 – 6 July 1415), sometimes anglicized as John Hus or John Huss, and referred to in historical texts as Iohannes Hus or Johannes Huss, was a Czech theologian and philosopher who became a Church reformer and the inspiration of Hussitism, a key predecessor to Protestantism, and a seminal figure in the Bohemian Reformation. Hus is considered by some to be the first Church reformer, even though some designate this honour to the theorist John Wycliffe or Marcion of Sinope. His teachings had a strong influence, most immediately in the approval of a reformed Bohemian religious denomination and, over a century later, on Martin Luther. Hus was a master, dean and rector at the Charles University in Prague 1409–1410.

Jan Hus was born in Husinec, Bohemia, to poor parents. In order to escape poverty, Hus trained for the priesthood. At an early age he traveled to Prague, where he supported himself by singing and serving in churches. His conduct was positive and, reportedly, his commitment to his studies was remarkable. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree and being ordained as a priest, Hus began to preach in Prague. He opposed many aspects of the Catholic Church in Bohemia, such as their views on ecclesiology, simony, the Eucharist, and other theological topics.

When Alexander V was elected as a pope, he was persuaded to side with Bohemian Church authorities against Hus and his disciples. He issued a Papal bull that excommunicated Hus; however, it was not enforced, and Hus continued to preach. Hus then spoke out against Alexander V's successor, Antipope John XXIII, for his selling of indulgences. Hus's excommunication was then enforced, and he spent the next two years living in exile. When the Council of Constance assembled, Hus was asked to be there and present his views on the dissension within the Church. When he arrived, he was immediately arrested and put in prison. He was eventually taken in front of the council and asked to recant his views. He replied, "I would not for a chapel of gold retreat from the truth!". When he refused, he was put back in prison. On 6 July 1415, he was burned at the stake for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church. He could be heard singing Psalms as he was burning. Among his dying words, Hus predicted that God would raise others whose calls for reform would not be suppressed; this was later taken as a prophecy about Martin Luther (born 68 years after Hus's death).

After Hus was executed, the followers of his religious teachings (known as Hussites) refused to elect another Catholic monarch and defeated five consecutive papal crusades between 1420 and 1431 in what became known as the Hussite Wars. Both the Bohemian and the Moravian populations remained majority Hussite until the 1620s, when a Protestant defeat in the Battle of the White Mountain resulted in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown coming under Habsburg dominion for the next 300 years and being subject to immediate and forced conversion in an intense campaign of return to Catholicism.

Early life

The exact date of Hus's birth is disputed. Some claim he was born around 1369, while others claim he was born between 1373 and 1375. Though older sources state the latter, more contemporary research states that 1372 is more likely. The belief that he was born on 6 July, also his death day, has no factual basis. Hus was born in Husinec, southern Bohemia, to peasant parents. It is well known that Hus took his name from the village where he lived (Husinec). The reason behind him taking his name from his village rather than from his father is up to speculation; some believe that it was because Hus did not know of his father, while others say it was simply a custom at that time. Nearly all other information we have about Hus's very early life is unsubstantiated. Similarly, we know little of Hus's family. His father's name was Michael; his mother's name is unknown. It is known that Hus had a brother due to him expressing concerns for his nephew while awaiting execution at Constance. Whether or not Hus had any other family is unknown.

At the age of roughly 10, Hus was sent away to a monastery. The exact reason is not known; some claim that his father had died, others say he went there due to his devotion to God. He impressed the teachers with his studies, and they recommended him to move to Prague, one of the largest cities in Bohemia at that time. Hus apparently supported himself by securing employment in Prague, which allowed him to fulfill his basic necessities, and access to the Prague Library.

Three years later, he was admitted to the University of Prague. Though not an exceptional student, he pursued his studies with ferocity. In 1393, Hus earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Prague, and he earned his master's degree in 1396. The strongly anti-papal views that were held by many of the professors there likely influenced Hus's future works. During his studies, he served as a choir boy, to supplement his earnings.

Hus began teaching at the university of Prague in 1398 and in 1399, he first publicly defended propositions of Wycliffe. In 1401, his students and faculty promoted him to dean of the philosophical department, and a year later, he became a rector of the University of Prague. He was appointed a preacher at the Bethlehem Chapel in 1402. Hus was a strong advocate for the Czechs and the Realists, and he was influenced by the writings of John Wycliffe. Although church authorities banned many works of Wycliffe in 1403, Hus translated Trialogus into Czech and helped to distribute it.

Hus denounced the moral failings of clergy, bishops, and even the papacy from his pulpit. Archbishop Zbynek Zajíc tolerated this, and even appointed Hus a preacher at the clergy's biennial synod. On 24 June 1405, Pope Innocent VII directed the Archbishop to counter Wycliffe's teachings, especially the doctrine of impanation in the Eucharist. The archbishop complied by issuing a synod decree against Wycliffe, as well as forbidding any further attacks on the clergy.

In 1406, two Bohemian students brought to Prague a document bearing the seal of the University of Oxford and praising Wycliffe. Hus proudly read the document from his pulpit. Then, in 1408, Pope Gregory XII warned Archbishop Zajic that the Church in Rome had been informed of Wycliffe's heresies and of the sympathies of King Wenceslaus IV of Bohemia for non-conformists. In response, the king and university ordered all of Wycliffe's writings surrendered to the archdiocesan chancery for correction. Hus obeyed, declaring that he condemned the errors in those writings.

Council of Constance
King Wenceslaus's brother Sigismund of Hungary, who was "King of the Romans" (that is, head of the Holy Roman Empire though not then Emperor) and heir to the Bohemian crown was anxious to put an end to religious dissension within the Church. To put an end to the papal schism and to take up the long desired reform of the Church, he arranged for a general council to convene on 1 November 1414, at Konstanz (Constance). The Council of Constance (1414–1418) became the 16th ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church. Hus, willing to make an end of all dissensions, agreed to go to Constance, under Sigismund's promise of safe conduct.

It is not known whether Hus knew what his fate would be but he made his will before setting out. He started on his journey on 11 October 1414, arriving in Constance on 3 November 1414. The following day, the bulletins on the church doors announced that Michal z Nemeckého Brodu (Michal de Causis) would be opposing Hus. In the beginning, Hus was at liberty under his safe conduct from Sigismund and lived at the house of a widow. But he continued celebrating Mass and preaching to the people, in violation of restrictions decreed by the Church. After a few weeks on 28 November 1414, his opponents succeeded in imprisoning him on the strength of a rumor that he intended to flee. He was first brought into the residence of a canon and then on 6 December 1414 into the prison of the Dominican monastery. Sigismund, as the guarantor of Hus's safety, was greatly angered and threatened the prelates with dismissal. The prelates convinced him that he could not be bound by promises to a heretic.

On 4 December 1414, John XXIII entrusted a committee of three bishops with a preliminary investigation against Hus. As was common practice, witnesses for the prosecution were heard but Hus was not allowed an advocate for his defense. His situation became worse after the downfall of John XXIII, who had left Constance to avoid abdicating. Hus had been the captive of John XXIII and in constant communication with his friends but now he was delivered to the bishop of Constance and brought to his castle, Gottlieben on the Rhine. Here he remained for 73 days, separated from his friends, chained day and night, poorly fed, and ill.


On 5 June 1415, he was tried for the first time and was transferred to a Franciscan monastery, where he spent the last weeks of his life. Extracts from his works were read and witnesses were heard. He refused all formulae of submission but declared himself willing to recant if his errors should be proven to him from the Bible. Hus conceded his veneration of Wycliffe and said that he could only wish his soul might some time attain unto that place where Wycliffe's was. On the other hand, he denied having defended Wycliffe's doctrine of The Lord's Supper or the forty-five articles; he had only opposed their summary condemnation. King Sigismund admonished him to deliver himself up to the mercy of the council, as he did not desire to protect a heretic.

At the last trial, on 8 June 1415, thirty-nine sentences were read to him. Of these, twenty-six had been excerpted from his book on the Church (De ecclesia), seven from his treatise against Pálec (Contra Palecz), and six from that against Stanislav ze Znojma (Contra Stanislaum). The danger of some of these doctrines to worldly power was explained to Sigismund to incite him against Hus. Hus again declared himself willing to submit if he could be convinced of errors. This declaration was considered an unconditional surrender, and he was asked to confess: 1. That he had erred in the theses which he had hitherto maintained; 2. That he renounced them for the future; 3. That he recanted them; and 4. That he declared the opposite of these sentences.

He asked to be exempted from recanting doctrines which he had never taught. Other doctrines, which the assembly considered erroneous, he was not willing to revoke and to act differently would be against his conscience. These words found no favorable reception. After the trial on 8 June, several other attempts were purportedly made to induce him to recant, which he resisted.

The condemnation of Jan Hus took place on 6 July 1415 in the presence of the assembly of the council in the cathedral. After the High Mass and Liturgy, Hus was led into the church. The Bishop of Lodi (then Giacomo Balardi Arrigoni) delivered an oration on the duty of eradicating heresy; various theses of Hus and Wycliffe and a report of his trial were then read.

An Italian prelate pronounced the sentence of condemnation upon Hus and his writings. Hus protested, saying that even at this hour he did not wish anything but to be convinced from Scripture. He fell upon his knees and asked God with a soft voice to forgive all his enemies. Then followed his degradation. He was dressed in priestly vestments and again asked to recant and again he refused. With curses, Hus's ornaments were taken from him, his priestly tonsure was destroyed. The sentence of the Church was pronounced, stripping him of all rights, and he was delivered to secular authorities. A tall paper hat was then put upon his head with the inscription "Haeresiarcha" (i.e., the leader of a heretical movement). Hus was led away to the stake under a strong guard of armed men.

Before his execution, Hus is said to have declared: "you may kill a weak goose (in Czech Hus means goose), but more powerful birds, eagles and falcons, will come after me". Luther modified the statement and reported that Hus had said that they might have roasted a goose but in a hundred years a swan would have sung to whom they would have been forced to listen. In 1546 Johannes Bugenhagen gave a further twist to Hus's saying in his funeral sermon for Luther: "You may burn a goose, but in a hundred years will come a swan you will not be able to burn", and in 1566 Johannes Mathesius, Luther's first biographer, found in Hus's prophecy a proof of Luther's divine inspiration.

At the place of execution, he knelt down, spread out his hands and prayed aloud. The executioner undressed Hus and tied his hands behind his back with ropes. His neck was bound with a chain to a stake around which wood and straw had been piled up so that it covered him to the neck. At the last moment, the imperial marshal, von Pappenheim, in the presence of the Count Palatine, asked Hus to recant and thus save his own life. Hus declined, stating:

God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached. In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today.

Anecdotally, it has been claimed that the executioners had trouble intensifying the fire. An old woman then came to the stake and threw a relatively small amount of brushwood on it. Upon seeing her act, a suffering Hus then exclaimed, "O Sancta Simplicitas!". It is said that when he was about to expire, he cried out, "Christ, son of the Living God, have mercy on us!" (a variant of the Jesus Prayer). Hus's ashes were later thrown into the Rhine river as a means of preventing the veneration of his remains.

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