Peter Brock - The Political and Social Doctrines of the Unity of Czech Brethren in the 15th and...

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Political and Social Doctrines of the Unity of Czech Brethren in the 15th and Early 16th Centuries

Transcript of Peter Brock - The Political and Social Doctrines of the Unity of Czech Brethren in the 15th and...

  • S L A V I S T I S C H E D R U K K E N E N H E R D R U K K E N

    U I T G E G E V E N D O O R

    C . H . V A N S C H O O N E V E L D

    H O O G L E R A A R T E L E I D E N

    X I




    F I F T E E N T H A N D E A R L Y S I X T E E N T H

    C E N T U R I E S

    M O U T O N & C O 1 9 5 7 ' S - G R A V E N H A G E

    S L A V I S T I C P R I N T I N G S A N D R E P R I N T I N G S

    E D I T E D B Y

    C O R N E L I S H . V A N S C H O O N E V E L D

    L E I D E N U N I V E R S I T Y

    X I

    O F T H E

    B Y

    P E T E R B R O C K L O N D O N

  • C O N T E N T S

    In t r oduc t i on : The Hussite Century 11

    I . Petr ChelCicky, Forerunner o f the Un i ty . . . . 25

    I I . The O ld Brethren 70

    I I I . The Genesis o f the Schism 103

    I V . The Beginnings o f the M i n o r Party 133

    V. The Schism 153

    V I . The Brethren, the C iv i l Power, and the Oath . . 1 8 2

    V I I . The New U n i t y 206

    V I I I . The Decline o f the O ld Doctrines 241

    Conclusions 274

    Appendix : The O ld Doctrines i n U n i t y Histor iography . . . 2 7 7

    Note on Sources 285

    Bibl iography 293

    Index 299

  • A B B R E V I A T I O N S

    A . J . B . A k t a Jednoty Brat rske C. C. M. Casopis Ceskeho Musea C. C. H. Cesky Casopis Historicky

  • I N T R O D U C T I O N

    T H E H U S S I T E C E N T U R Y

    The Czech Reformation preceded the German and Swiss Reformat ion by over a century. I n the history o f the Czech lands the hundred years and more that elapsed between the death o f Hus at Constance i n 1415 and the composit ion by Luther i n 1517 o f his ninety-five theses against the sale o f papal indulgences may wel l be called the Hussite century. I n the 1520s the spread o f Lutheran doctrines and the accession o f the Habsburg dynasty marked the end o f an epoch i n the country 's history.

    I t was this period, too, that saw the active life o f the rustic philosopher, Petr Chelicky, and the adopt ion o f his radical po l i t ica l and social doctrines by the men who founded the U n i t y o f Brethren. But , after less than a century, these doctrines had already been rejected by a later generation o f Brethren. W i t h i n a hundred years o f Hus's death they were on the way to being forgotten, kept alive only by a t iny and expir ing group o f obscure artisans. By the t ime Luther and Zw ing l i had appeared on the scene the U n i t y o f Brethren had already made its peace w i t h the existing social order, just as the larger and more conservative Hussite body, the official Utraquist church, had done very much earlier.

    The Hussite century had been, indeed, a t ime o f revolutionary upheavals and o f pro found changes i n a l l spheres o f life, religious and cul tura l , economic, social and pol i t ical . I n the fourteenth century Bohemia under Charles I V was the administrative centre o f the H o l y Roman Empire and the seat o f the imperia l court . Its university, founded i n Prague i n 1348, had made that c i ty the intel lectual centre o f Centra l Europe. But both the deposition o f Charles's successor, Vclav, f r om the imper ia l throne i n 1400 and the decree o f Kutn Hora o f 1409, wh ich , by granting the Czechs a contro l l ing major i ty in the administrat ion o f the university, led to the migrat ion o f its German scholars and the trans-format ion o f the university f r om a predominant ly German in to an almost entirely Czech inst i tut ion, signified a shift i n the internat ional posi t ion o f the Czech lands. This process o f change culminated after 1415 i n the


    revolution carried out by Hus's party, whose leaders came mainly f r om the ranks o f former students o f the University o f Prague. The changes achieved i n the religious, pol i t ical and cu l tura l spheres completely transformed the Czech lands and, for more than a century, marked them off f rom the rest o f Europe.

    The mora l revolt which Hus and his followers raised against the abuses o f the medieval church had sprung f r om the theological arguments of the Englishman Wycl i f , as wel l as f r om a native source i n the teachings o f Hus's predecessors i n the Czech reform movement. I t was the chalice for the layman, communion i n two kinds, approved by Hus shortly before his death at the stake, that became the standard under which every religious reformer i n the Czech lands fought out the battle against Rome. This above a l l , combined as i t was w i t h the veneration o f Hus's memory, united a l l wings o f the Hussite movement and gave i t its name of Utraquism.

    I n 1415 Hus had been supported by a powerful section o f the Czech nobil i ty and gentry as wel l as by the townsmen and university o f Prague. Two years later the Hussite programme was first formulated that i n 1420 was given definitive f o rm i n the Four Articles o f Prague. These called for the free preaching o f the W o r d o f God , communion i n two kinds, the confiscation o f the secular possessions o f monks and priests and for the punishment o f publ ic sin. But the same five years that saw the attempt to formulate the basic common principles o f the movement were marked, too, by its break up in to several confl ict ing groups differing bo th as to theology and social out look.

    On the extreme r ight were the conservative Utraquists under their leader, Jan o f Pr ibram, whose disagreement w i th Rome extended to l i t t l e beyond the demand for communion i n two kinds. He and his followers rejected Wycl i f 's views on the sacraments and consistently sought recognition f rom Rome for their special standpoint. Occupying a central position between the two wings o f the movement, and themselves probably the closest i n spirit to Hus himself, there came next the party led first by Jakoubek o f Stf ibro and then, after his death i n 1429, by Jan Rokycana. Their programme was represented i n large measure by the Four Articles o f Prague.

    On the left were the Taborites sprung f rom the chiliast enthusiasts who, inspired by an immediate expectation o f the second coming o f Christ and the establishment o f the K ingdom o f God on earth, had gathered i n the years immediately after Hus's death i n the south-east districts o f Bohemia, where they founded the t own o f Tabor f r om which they were to derive


    their name. L ike Wyc l i f they rejected purgatory and maintained the doctr ine o f consubstantation; they simplified the church r i tua l and d id away w i th clerical vestments as inconsistent w i t h the practice o f apostolic t imes; f r om among the seven Cathol ic sacraments they recognized only baptism and communion . I n 1420 they took the epoch-making step o f breaking w i t h the t rad i t i on o f apostolic succession by electing their own bishop, who acted indeed only as primus inter pares. I n social matters they stood for a far-going radicalism, even after the disappearance i n the early 1420s o f the Utopian communism o f their first phase. Largely composed o f peasants and lesser gentry, the Taborites had their equiva-lent i n Prague i n the party o f the poorer t ownsmen led, u n t i l his execution i n 1422, by the revolutionary Utraquist priest, Jan Zelivsky. O n the extreme left came the so-called Adamites, a small group w i t h rationalistic and even pantheistic tendencies, which regarded the communion as a purely commemorative act and completely denied the doctrine o f the real presence. I n 1421, however, they were savagely suppressed by the Taborite leader, Jan Zi ka.

    The appearance o f divisions w i th in the Hussite movement was accompanied by increasing danger o f intervention f r om wi thout . D u r i n g 1418 K i n g Vclav, who part ly under the influence o f his wife Zofie had previously been favourably inclined towards the new movement, now began to take sterner measures against the Hussites. For this new pol icy his brother, the Emperor Sigismund, who had set himself up as the champion o f the Church, was largely responsible. Vaclav's death i n the summer o f 1419, shortly after the riots which broke out i n Prague under 2elivsky's leadership and i n which the Cathol ic munic ipa l counci l o f the New T o w n were murdered, meant the opening o f the succession question. The Hussites were only ready to recognize Sigismund as k ing i f he wou ld accept the Hussite programme. This he was clearly unprepared to do. I n the spring o f 1420, therefore, a crusade was proclaimed against the heretical Czechs; and i n June Sigismund invaded the country w i t h a large army and la id siege to Prague. He was successful i n capturing the roya l castle where he was crowned k ing i n the Cathedral o f St. V i t . The danger f r o m wi thout , however, succeeded i n temporar i ly healing a l l the divisions among the Hussites. The Taborites under their leader, Jan 2izka, rall ied to Prague's rescue; Sigismund was defeated at the battle o f V i t kov Heights and compelled to wi thdraw. Return ing i n the au tumn o f the same year at the head o f a new crusade he was once again defeated by 2iika at the battle o f Vysehrad. These two disasters, due largely to the mi l i tary genius o f 2izka, combined w i t h the repulse o f a second


    crusade i n 1421, stiffened the Hussites' determination not to compromise on their fai th and spelled the end o f Sigismund's chances o f acceptance as king by the Hussite major i ty i n Bohemia for more than a decade. I n the summer o f 1421 the Bohemian diet meeting at Caslav formal ly accepted the Four Articles o f Prague and rejected Sigismund's c la im to the th