This is part 3 in the continuing series summarizing The Moravian Church Through the Ages by John Weinlick.
The Crusades introduce so much to The Middle Ages – including a desire to expand. John Wiclif examines the structure of the church in light of Scripture and finds it lacking, and while he is able to escape persecution during his lifetime, he stirs the embers for others to follow. There is the Papal Schism and countries like Bohemia and Moravia are ready to throw off their Germanic and church related bonds. Men like John Hus are spurred on by desires to preach, write, teach in the language of the people. His challenges toward the church mean his death.
Chapter 3 – The Aftermath
- The Holy Roman Church
- The Utraquists (also called Calixtinates)
- The Taborites
- King Wenzel
- Emperor Sigismund
- Queen Sophia (passing role)
- John Ziska von Troconow (Ziska)
- Prokop the Great
- Primarily Bohemia
- To lesser degrees: Wenzel’s castle, Rome
- Early to mid 1400s
The Plot Summary
John Hus’s murder unites the Bohemians who rebelled against not only the church but the German empire. Hidden followers come out into the open. Violence erupts. The church issues orders of execution against the Hussites which only serves to unite them farther – and make them angrier. Unrestricted preaching of the Gospel is encouraged on the estates of Hussite nobles. AND people are listening. They gather in great crowds to hear the Gospel message. At one point 40,000 people gathered to take communion in protest against King Wenzel’s decree to return parishes to Roman priests.
A land divided between Hussites and Catholics.
The Church had previously taken away the right of the laity to partake of the cup in communion. The cup became a badge of the Hussites and during Hus’s imprisonment, rebellious priests returned the sacrament to the people.
Two groups emerge: The Utraquists and the Taborites. Utraquists are the conservative majority. They only want the cup returned to the people and can justify continuance with The Church. They are the theological voice of the University of Prague.
The Taborites are radicals. They recognize the Bible as the ultimate authority. Their sacraments are baptism and communion which they served in regular earthen ware. They rejected teachings on Purgatory and iconic images and masses for the dead.
Open warfare is amazingly avoided.
Four Articles of Prague are issued:
- Unrestricted preaching throughout Bohemia
- Communion includes both bread and wine
- Return of the clergy to poverty
- Punishment of mortal sins without favoritism
During a riot at the city hall of Prague, seven councilors are thrown to their deaths. Wenzel suffers a series of strokes and dies two weeks later. Emperor Sigismund becomes king and sends Queen Sofia as regent to Bohemia. Sigismund persuades the Pope to crusade against the Hussites. For 15 years, the Bohemians resist invasion under the leadership of Ziska and Prokop.
Eventually, Sigismund and the Pope realize they will never defeat Bohemia and the Hussites decide to negotiate. Negotiations alternate from Basel to Prague. The Compactata of Basel is reached. The devastated Taborites think too much is conceded and continue to fight. Thirteen thousand Taborite soldiers were killed by the Utraquists and Roman crusaders in the Battle of Lipan.
The Utraquists are now the established church, but they must work beside the many remaining Roman parishes. Neither group carried the torch of reform strongly for the Bohemians.
Next: Chapter 4 – The Founding of the Unitas Fratrum