John Huss


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Huss, John

(hŭs), Czech Jan Hus (yän ho͝os), 1369?–1415, Czech religious reformer.

Early Life

Of peasant origin, he was born in Husinec, Bohemia (from which his name is derived). He studied theology at the Univ. of Prague, was ordained a priest c.1400, and in 1402 was appointed preacher of the Bethlehem Chapel, a foundation dedicated to preaching in the Czech language. He early came under the influence of the writings of John WyclifWyclif, Wycliffe, Wickliffe, or Wiclif, John
, c.1328–1384, English religious reformer. A Yorkshireman by birth, Wyclif studied and taught theology and philosophy at Oxford.
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, and though he did not fully espouse Wyclif's doctrine, he opposed its condemnation (1403) by the Univ. of Prague and translated Wyclif's Triologus into Czech.

Attacks on the Church

In his sermons Huss attacked the abuses of the clergy, thus earning the hostility of many priests, who turned the archbishop of Prague against him. Huss, however, had the support of Wenceslaus IV (see WenceslausWenceslaus,
1361–1419, Holy Roman emperor (uncrowned) and German king (1378–1400), king of Bohemia (1378–1419) as Wenceslaus IV, elector of Brandenburg (1373–76), son and successor of Emperor Charles IV.
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, Holy Roman emperor). He furthermore represented the Czech national aspirations in conflict with the German elements in Bohemia. In 1408 the archbishop and the university opposed the king's scheme to have Bohemia observe neutrality between the rival popes Gregory XII and Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna). Only the Czech members of the university supported Wenceslaus, who as a result changed (1409) the university charter, giving the Czechs a predominant position; he made Huss rector of the university. The Bohemian clergy thus were split into two groups.

This situation was not helped when, in the same year, the Council of Pisa deposed both popes and chose Pietro Cardinal Philarghi as Alexander V, who was shortly succeeded by Baldassare Cardinal Cossa as John XXIII. With papal support, the archbishop forbade preaching in the Bethlehem Chapel, ordered the burning of Wyclif's books, and excommunicated (1410) Huss and his followers. Wenceslaus stood by Huss and in 1411 brought about a truce, but the fight flared up again in 1412, when Huss openly denounced the bulls of the antipope John XXIII against King Lancelot of Naples and preached against indulgences.

The pope excommunicated Huss, who—to save Prague from the papal interdict—retired to a castle near Tabor. During his two years of exile he wrote his chief works, including the De ecclesia, which increasingly reflected Wyclif's influence. He denied the infallibility of an immoral pope, asserted the ultimate authority of Scripture over the church, and accorded the state the right and duty to supervise the church. Because of these ideas he is generally considered a forerunner of the Protestant Reformation.

Martyrdom

At the invitation of Holy Roman Emperor SigismundSigismund
, 1368–1437, Holy Roman emperor (1433–37), German king (1410–37), king of Hungary (1387–1437) and of Bohemia (1419–37), elector of Brandenburg (1376–1415), son of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
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, who granted him a safe-conduct, Huss presented himself in 1414 at the Council of Constance to justify his views. The council refused to recognize his safe-conduct, and Huss was imprisoned and tried as a heretic. His friend Jerome of PragueJerome of Prague,
c.1370–1416, Bohemian religious reformer. During his studies at Prague and at Oxford, Jerome was influenced by the doctrinal views of John Wyclif. He continued to study and travel widely abroad, in constant conflict with the authorities.
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 was also seized and put on trial. Huss denied some of the beliefs attributed to him; others he refused to modify unless convinced of their error. The council condemned his writings and sentenced him to be burned at the stake, where he died heroically. By his death he became a national hero. He was declared a martyr by the Univ. of Prague, and the modern Czech Protestant church claims to continue his tradition.

Bibliography

See his De ecclesia (tr. by D. S. Schaff, 1915); letters (ed. by M. Spinka, 1973); biography by M. Spinka (1968, rev ed. 1978).

References in periodicals archive ?
They are joined by David Weyerhaeuser, chair of tpt 's Board of Trustees; Greg Page, chairman and CEO of Cargill; Stanley Hubbard, chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting; and well-known philanthropists Ruth and John Huss of the Huss Foundation.
The development of new antivirals is in line with our strategy to expand our product portfolio and continue to develop treatment options against life-threatening viruses," said John Huss, President and CEO of H&P Labs Inc.
1330-1384), who instituted the first English translation of the Bible; and John Huss (c.