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Hussites

A religious sect which arose in Southern Bohemia in the early 15th century; the followers of Hus; also known as Wycliffites, as they professed the teaching of Wyclif and as Utraquists, as their distinctive dogma was Utraquism, i.e., the necessity of receiving Communion under both species. The followers of Hus, venerating him as a holy martyr of the old religion rather than as a founder of a new one, objected to the appellation "Hussites," which implied separation from the Universal Church, for they believed their creed to be truly Catholic; but during the Hussite Wars the name became commonly applied both to the original followers of Hus and to the subsequent smaller sects into which they divided. The dogma of Utraquism, introduced by Jacobellis von Mies, was never preached by Hus, who first thought it "wise not to introduce such an innovation without the approbation of the Church." Later, however, he maintained that the chalice should be given to the laity if Christ and the Apostle Paul were to be obeyed. The Council of Constance, realizing the danger of the heresy, ordered its extirpation by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of Bohemia, but the Bohemian and Moravian nobles considered the "unjust" martyrdom of Hus, and the assertion that a heresy existed in Bohemia, insults to their country, and therefore banded together in an offensive and defensive league. Dissensions soon arose among the Hussites; the Taborites, so called because they met at "Mount Tabor," completely set aside the authority of the Church and admitted no other rule than the Bible; the Calixtines only demanded Communion under both species for the laity, and free preaching of the Gospel; they were called Calixtines because of the chalice which they displayed on their flag, weapons, clothes, etc. Under the leadership of Ziska of Troznow, however, the two factions successfully resisted both the imperial armies and the papal crusaders sent to subdue them. Civil war and the destructive forces of the Hussites ravaged Bohemia for over fifteen years, but finally peace was obtained by the Compactata of Basle, 1433, which permitted Communion under both forms to those who had reached the age of discretion and were in the state of grace, under these conditions: that the Hussites confess that the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ was contained whole and entire both under the form of bread and under that of wine, and that they retract the statement that communion under both forms is necessary for salvation. Though the Compactata pleased the moderate Utraquists, the Calixtines, it found little favor with the Taborites (also, since the death of Ziska in 1424, called "Orphans"), but the Taborites were nearly exterminated at the Battle of Lippau, 1424, and the Compactata was finally accepted at the Diet of Iglau, 1436. Various troubles with Rokyzana, a leader of the Calixtines, eventually led to the nullification of the Compactata by Pius II, and his refusal to recognize the Utraquist rite, and other religious and civil wars followed, until in 1485 both parties were granted equal rights and liberty by King Wladislaw. By degrees the Utraquists conformed to the Roman rites so as to be hardly distinguishable from them, except through the chalice for the laity.

 

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