Unity of Brethren

Unity of Brethren

 

(Unitas Fratrum), a religious sect that arose in Bohemia and Moravia in the mid-15th century after the defeat of the Taborites and formed itself into a church organization independent of papal Rome.

The first communities of the Unity of Brethren were established in 1457 in Kunvald in Bohemia by the followers of P. Chelčický. The sect was originally composed primarily of people from the peasant and artisan classes. It preached poverty, rejection of worldly concerns, humility, and passive resistance to evil. Later, the community accepted prosperous city dwellers and even members of the knightly and noble classes. In the late 15th century, the sect concentrated on education, and it founded schools and printing shops. From this milieu came many scholars, including Jan Blahoslav and J. A. Comenius. The sect was persecuted by the authorities; after the defeat of the Czech uprising of 1618–20, the community was broken up and was banished from Bohemia and Moravia. In the 18th century, successors to the Unity of Brethren founded the Herrnhut communal movement in Germany, the Baltic region, and North America.

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The short, yet characteristic, text revealed that Blahoslav did not only stress the importance of being musically proficient, he also bore in mind that music and its availability were of significance for a broad humanist education, a principle peculiar to the mature Unity of Brethren, which would be given an ingenious programme form by Blahoslav's successor Jan Amos Komensky.
Shifting her focus to the Moravians, members of the Renewed Unity of Brethren in eighteenth-century Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Engel finds such dichotomies less interesting than what she sees as a continual dialectic between religion and economic life.
In addition to the memoirs themselves, this book contains Faull's excellent comprehensive introduction containing background on The Ancient Unity of Brethren (the origin of the Moravian Church), the founder Count Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), the establishment of Herrnhut, Zinzendorf's theology, the "choir" system, the establishment of Bethlehem, Zinzendorf and women, the shape and history of the Moravian memoir, and the place of the Moravian memoir.

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