Today in history: Jan Hus burned at the stake 600 years ago

Posted at People's World:

"God is my witness that the things charged against me I never preached," Hus said. "In the same truth of the Gospel which I have written, taught, and preached, drawing upon the sayings and positions of the holy doctors, I am ready to die today."

On this date in 1415, the Czech religious reformer Jan Hus (in English, John Hus or Huss), condemned as a heretic against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, was burned at the stake. This date has long been a Czech national holiday in his honor.

The story of Jan Hus (born ca. 1369) is more than a question of internal church disputes. As a priest, philosopher, and Master at Charles University in Prague, he is considered, after John Wycliffe, the English theorist of ecclesiastical Reformation, the first church reformer, living before Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli.

Hus was a key predecessor to the Protestant movement of the 16th century. His teachings had a strong influence on the establishment of a reformist Bohemian religious denomination and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself.

A century after his death, as many as 90 percent of inhabitants of the Czech lands were non-Catholic; to this day some still follow the teachings of Hus. In asserting their independence from Rome, the Hussites represented an early expression of Czech nationalism.

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