Hussite Wars, The: The History and Legacy of the Conflicts Between the Catholics and Protestants in Central Europe

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The 15th century was a pivotal era for Europe, during which it transitioned from a social and religious union under Christendom into a disparate collection of nation-states, and it was during this period that the Middle Ages came to an end and the Modern Period began.

Less than a century earlier, in the mid-14th century, the Vatican called upon England and sought financial aid in the hopes of boosting papal defenses against French forces. It was then that John Wycliffe boldly stepped forth and appealed to the John of Gaunt, urging the Duke of Lancaster and Parliament to repudiate Rome's demands and citing what he believed to be the Church's abundance in wealth. According to Wycliffe, Christ's disciples, particularly clergymen, must aspire to live modestly and shun all material pleasures. Such was the word of the Lord.

If Wycliffe was the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” Jan Hus was the Guiding Star of the movement. Hus started as a Czech priest, but he quickly became notorious for debating several Church doctrines such as the Eucharist, Church ecclesiology, and many more topics. Today, he is viewed as a predecessor of the Lutherans, but the Church viewed him as a threat, and the Catholics eventually engaged Hus’ followers (known as Hussites) in several battles in the early 15th century. Hus himself was burned at the stake in 1415, but his followers fought on in a series of battles known as the Hussite Wars, and Czechoslovakia’s inhabitants by and large remained Hussite afterward. About 100 years later, Martin Luther would spark the Reformation across the continents.