29 June 2019

Word of the Day: Hussites

HUSSITES. Followers of John Hus (1369-1415), who formed a religious sect in southern Bohemia in the early fifteenth century. They professed Utraquism, i.e., the necessity of receiving Communion under both species. This was preached by Hus, who told his followers that the true followers of Christ and St. Paul must receive the chalice. The Council of Constance ordered the extirpation of this heresy. The Bohemian and Moravian nobles thought the insinuation of heresy offensive and insulting, and they formed a dissenting league. With divergent views the Hussites divided into Taborites and Calixtines. Under Jan Ziška they united to fight the imperial armies, and the papal crusaders were sent to subdue them. For fifteen years they ravaged Bohemia. Finally in 1433 peace was obtained by the Compactata, which permitted Communion under both species provided the recipient declared that the whole Christ was present both under the form of bread and under the form of wine. This was to be a retraction of the basic Hussite thesis that Communion under both forms was necessary for salvation. Some were satisfied but not the Taborites, who finally disappeared from the scene after their defeat at the Battle of Lipany in 1434. The Compactata was adopted in 1436. Trouble continued, however, with armed conflict, so that Pope Pius II had to nullify the Utraquist rite. In 1485 King Wladislau granted equal civil rights to all parties. But the seeds of discord had been sown, to be reaped in the next century with the rise of the Reformation.

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