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The splendid position which Bohemia had attained in the fourteenth century as the premier electorate of the Holy Roman Empire, as the seat of the imperial Court, and at the same time of the greatest—and for sixteen years the only—university in Central Europe, was lost in the fifteenth century. Wenceslas (Vaclav) IV, deposed from the imperial throne in 1400, ceased to be the head of the Empire; and Prague University, having already lost much of its original importance through the founding of other universities in the neighbouring countries, was deprived of its international character by the Decree of Kutuá Hora in 1409, and became an institution serving first and foremost the interests of the inhabitants of the Bohemian State, especially those of the Czech nation. It looked as if Bohemia had thus ceased to be an important factor in the history of Europe. It was not long, however, before it again became such a factor, though for reasons very different from before. The impulse came from the great religious movement which, starting in the preceding century, first acquired at the beginning of the fifteenth such force as caused it not merely to dominate the history of the Czech nation for several decades, but also to attract the anxious attention of practically the whole of Christian Europe. It was, above all, John Hus who lent this force to the religious movement in Bohemia. This movement, rightly known as the Hussite, did not end with the death of Hus; on the contrary, his death gave the impulse to an expansion of the struggle, with the introduction of a new element, for the cause of Hus had become that of the whole nation. With a determination and a perseverance little anticipated by those who had been responsible for the condemnation of Hus, the Czechs entered upon a struggle for his cause the like of which history has never seen before or since.

Early in May 1415, two months before the death of Hus, large gatherings of Bohemian and Moravian nobles met at Prague and at Brno (Brunn), and letters of intercession for him were sent from both to King Sigismund. Under the impression that, after the flight of Pope John XXIII from Constance, Sigismund had Hus in his power, the nobles and gentry of Bohemia and Moravia asked the king to bring about his release and to give him a free hearing, for they regarded accusa­tions against Hus as accusations against and an affront to the Czech nation and the Bohemian Crown. The Czech nobles, too, who were at Constance joined with a number of Polish nobles there in presenting to the Council a written protest against the inhuman treatment to which Hus was being subjected, at the same time emphatically refuting the  calumnies spread at the Council concerning the Czech nation by the enemies and ill-wishers of the kingdom of Bohemia.

Although it could thus have been no secret that Hus had not only numerous devoted followers but also powerful supporters in Bohemia and in Moravia, the Council apparently hoped that it would be able to stifle the movement he had kindled. Immediately after the burning of Hus, it decided to call upon the clergy and all ranks of the laity in Bohemia to oppose the further spread of the condemned errors. The letters dispatched by the Council to Bohemia at the end of July, however, contained not only this demand but also a threat that the Council would punish in accordance with Canon Law all who continued to adhere to the heresy or who gave help to heretics.

Appeals and threats proved equally ineffective in the storm of indig­nation which the tidings of the death of Hus aroused in Bohemia. Apart from occasional acts of violence the opposition to the Council was organised in a dignified manner by the Bohemian and Moravian nobility. At a general assembly, convened on their own initiative and not, as was usual, on the king’s summons, they resolved (on 2 September) to submit a joint protest to the Council at Constance. In this memorable document, to which five hundred nobles and gentry from all parts of Bohemia and Moravia attached their seals, a solemn tribute was paid to Hus, for it bore witness that he was a good and righteous Catholic who led men not into error but to Christian love and to the keeping of God’s commandments. It went on to reproach the Council that in condemning Hus on the perjured evidence of the mortal foes of the kingdom of Bohemia and the margravate of Moravia, it had calumniated these countries and their inhabitants. The protest denied most emphatically the accusation of heresy brought against the two lands, and declared that the wrong done them would be brought before the Pope as soon as a universally recognised Pope should be enthroned. Finally, it declared the determination of the signatories to defend to the last drop of their blood the doctrines of Christ and those who preached them, regardless of all laws that man might pass in conflict with those doctrines. At the same time the assembled nobles and gentry formed themselves (on 5 September) into a union, the members of which bound themselves as follows: not to acknow­ledge the decrees of the Council; to tender obedience to a new and regularly elected Pope only in such matters as should not be contrary to the will of God and His laws; in spiritual matters to obey the country’s bishops only in so far as those bishops acted in accord with the divine law; on their estates to permit every priest freely to preach the Word of God, in so far as such priest had not been convicted of error by Holy Writ, on which matter the final decision was to lie not with the bishops but with the University of Prague. Thus, the Bohemian and Moravian nobles entered upon the path of open revolt against the supreme ecclesiastical power. Some few Bohemian nobles only, by an agreement reached a few days later, declared that they persevered in full obedience to the Church.

The Council discussed the protest of the Bohemian and Moravian nobility in February 1416, and decided to summon before it all who had appended their seals to the document, to answer the charge of heresy. The summons was at once issued, but it was obvious that little faith was manifested in its efficacy, for the Council even then considered the declaration of a crusade against the Czechs in order to destroy heresy root and branch. Meanwhile its wrath descended upon the head of the one Czech heretic in their power—Master Jerome of Prague, who was burnt at the stake on 30 May 1416.

Soon after the burning of Jerome, the Council began to deal sternly with the University of Prague. In September 1415 the university had made a pronouncement in which Hus was referred to as a holy martyr and a tribute of praise was paid to Jerome. Towards the close of the year the Council issued a ban suspending indefinitely all the university’s activities. The majority of the masters at the university, however, paid no heed whatsoever to the prohibition. On its side the Council caused the Archbishop of Prague, Conrad of Vechta, a man of weak character, to begin a policy of refusing to ordain adherents of the Hussite party and to demand from all priests applying for benefices an abjuration of the errors of Wyclif and of communion in both kinds. In some cases, indeed, priests who declared themselves adherents of Hus and administered com­munion in both kinds were deprived of their cures. On the other hand, the clergy of those churches which were under the patronage of the Utraquist nobles or of Queen Sophia were dismissed if they refused to administer the chalice and declined to renounce obedience to the Council. The recognised leader of the Hussite nobility, Cenek of Vartenberk, took energetic measures to remedy the lack of priests who were willing to administer communion in both kinds. He compelled one of the suffragan bishops at Prague on several occasions to ordain candidates for holy orders without any regard to the conditions laid down by the Archbishop of Prague.

While this struggle between the adherents of Hus and his opponents was proceeding, it became increasingly clear that the former were beginning to show divergences among themselves in their views on faith and order. The dispute over communion, in both kinds had been decided by Hus’ declaration in favour of granting the chalice, and the last doubts on this point were dissipated by the decision of Prague University, delivered in the spring of 1417, in which the use of the Cup was approved of as the unalterable command of Christ. Communion in both kinds became the strongest bond among all who adhered to the cause of Hus and his memory, and the chalice was adopted as the universal emblem of Hussitism. Other innovations introduced or recommended by the more zealous failed to meet the approval of all the supporters of the chalice, not infrequently, indeed, meeting with strong opposition. Thus, some approved of children partaking of holy communion while others were against it. The attacks, too, of some of the more radical wing on the taking of an oath, on capital punishment, on the doctrine of purgatory, on prayers and masses for the dead, the veneration of the relics and images of the saints, on some of the sacraments and rites of the Church, aroused opposition among the more conciliatory. Possibly as early as the August Synod of 1417 a formal definition of principles common to all the followers of Hus was arrived at, principles which were solemnly promulgated in 1420 as the “Four Articles of Prague.”

The following were the main demands made in this document: the Word of God to be preached without let or hindrance; the sacrament to be administered in both kinds to all believers; the dominion exercised by priests and monks over large secular possessions to be abolished; all mortal sins and all evils contrary to the divine law, including the heresy of simony, deeply rooted in the Church of that day, to be duly punished. A year after the synod, at a general assembly of masters of the University of Prague and Utraquist clergy held at Prague in September 1418, an attempt was made to settle disputed points. The assembly ratified the administration of holy communion to children, but decisively rejected the principle that nothingwas to be believed that was not expressly contained in Holy Writ, as well as various innovations based in the main upon that principle. Needless to say, this did not check the spread of the innovations.

The resolutions of the synod of 1417 and the general assembly of the masters and priests in 1418, though attempting to raise a barrier against extreme radical views, provided little hope of a smooth and speedy settlement of the great conflict between the Czech nation and the Church of Rome. Nor did the trend of affairs at the Council offer much prospect in this direction. There had, it is true, been finally drafted in the Council and submitted to its full assembly a rigorous measure of ecclesiastical reform directed against every form of simony and such evils as had been attacked by Wyclif,Hus,and the latter’s predecessors and followers, but no jot of it had been carried into effect. The Council had merely elected a new Pope in the person of Martin V and had then, in April 1418, dispersed. Martin V ratified all the measures taken by the Council against the Czech heretics, and ordered the stern suppression of all who championed the errors of Wyclif, Hus, and Jerome. Yielding to the pressure of his brother Sigismund, King Wenceslas, till then very tolerant towards the adherents of the Hussite movement, also began to take sharper action against them. At the beginning of 1419 he ordered the expelled clergy to be restored. In July he caused all the seats on the council of the New Town at Prague to be filled by extreme opponents of the Hussite party, and the new council at once began to take punitive action. This only exacerbated the situation, and a tendency to acts of real violence showed itself among the masses. The first great outburst of violence occurred on 30 July 1419. On that day a monk, Jan of Zelivo, a preacher at one of the three churches where communion in both kinds was per­mitted, led a huge procession of Utraquists through the city. When the procession arrived at the New Town Hall and the councillors declined to accede to the crowd’s demand for the release of some persons lately imprisoned for religious disorder, the angry crowd forced its way into the building and threw the councillors and others whom they hated from the lofty windows into the square, where they were immediately slain. A general assembly of the townsfolk was at once summoned, and four hetmen (captains) were appointed to administer the city for the time being. The king, shocked and alarmed as he was, made no attempt to oppose the revolutionary act. Three days after the slaughter of the councillors he confirmed the election of their successors, chosen by the townsfolk of the New Town. The emotion caused by these events, however, so affected his health that he had a stroke and died on 16 August. With his death fell the last barrier that had hitherto held back the tide of the Hussite revolution. Its waves were now able to spread freely over the entire territory of the Bohemian lands.


Of fundamental importance for the fate of the Hussite movement after the death of King Wenceslas was the question whether the legal heir to the throne, his brother Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary, would be accepted as king. At first, not only the nobles—and particularly the high nobility—but also the burghers of Prague showed readiness to accept him, though practically all parties made it a condition that the new monarch should recognise the main points of the Hussite programme, the “Four Articles of Prague.” Sigismund, however, in view of his position in Christendom could not, nor did he desire to, accept such a condition, At the outset he cautiously concealed his real sentiments on the matter, but by the spring of 1420 he had plainly revealed them. During his sojourn at Breslau in Silesia, when a crusade was proclaimed against the Czech Hussites, Sigismund simultaneously issued strict orders that the Hussites should abandon “Wyclifism” and render obedience to the Church in all things. At Breslau he caused a Prague burgher who refused to re­nounce the Cup to be burnt at the stake. This attitude prompted the citizens of Prague and a portion of the Bohemian nobility to make a determined stand against him. Armed masses of Hussites hastened from all parts of Bohemia and Moravia to defend Prague, threatened as it was by the proposed crusade. An especially powerful military force was sent by the strongest Hussite organisation in the provinces—that which had been formed in South Bohemia in a newly founded town to which the Biblical name of Tábor had been given. At the head of the Tábor troops was their one-eyed general, Jan Zizka, who had begun to win a great reputation among the people. Towards the end of June Sigismund marched on Prague at the head of a large crusading army (said to be close on 100,000 men). Occupying Prague Castle, Sigismund had himself crowned there as King of Bohemia, but that was his only success. In an attempt to capture the Vitkov Height just outside the city, his army was shame­fully routed by Zizka (Vitkov was subsequently called Zizkov), and suffering from disease and lack of supplies it was soon compelled to retire. In the autumn of the same year (1 November) Sigismund marched with a new army against Prague, but again suffered a crushing defeat, this time under the heights of Vysehrad.

Sigismund’s two military disasters marred all attempts at a reconciliation and gave a powerful impulse to the Hussite resistance. At a general Bohemian Diet summoned in the summer of 1421 at Cáslav, the Bohemian Estates who had subscribed to the Four Articles of Prague resolved not to accept Sigismund as king, on the ground that he was a professed calumniator of the sacred truths embodied in those Articles and an enemy of the honour and life of all who spoke the Czech tongue. In place of Sigismund (who was, however, still recognised as king by the lesser pro­vinces of the Bohemian Crown, Silesia and Lusatia, and had also numerous supporters in Bohemia and Moravia among those who had not joined the Utraquists) the Czechs began at once to seek another king. They entered into negotiations with Vladyslav (Jagiello), King of Poland, proposing that either he himself or his cousin Vitold, Great Prince of Lithuania, should accept the Bohemian crown; but the condition that the future monarch must recognise the Hussite programme proved a stumbling-block here too. While refusing the Bohemian crown himself, the Polish king agreed to allow his nephew Zygmunt (Sigismund) Korybutovich, known usually as Korybut, to proceed to Bohemia. Korybut arrived in Bohemia in the spring of 1422, and was accepted by the Hussite nobility and the burghers of Prague as administrator, or regent, of the country. A year later (in the spring of 1423) he departed, but returned in the summer of 1424 as “the desired and elected king”; he was, however, acknowledged by only a section of the Hussite Czechs. His efforts to reconcile Bohemia with the Church were not only unsuccessful, but they also caused him to forfeit the confidence of the responsible elements among the Hussites. In the spring of 1427 they raised a revolt against him, took him prisoner, and finally drove him from the country.

Thus, from the death of Wenceslas IV in the year 1419 until 1436, when the country again turned to his brother Sigismund, Bohemia had no universally recognised king capable of actually exercising sovereign power. The place of a regular ruler was for some time taken by Prince Korybut. For the rest, the Czechs appointed special councils of administration which were equipped with a large measure of the prerogatives of a ruler. All these temporary governing bodies were appointed by the diets, the importance of which at that period vastly increased, while their composition and character underwent very substantial changes. Like the two great diets or assemblies of the Estates which took place in the closing years of the reign of Wenceslas IV they were not summoned by the king as had previously been the rule, but came together on the initiative of the Estates, which took into their own hands all right of deciding upon the fortunes of the country. In contradistinction to the diets of the pre-Hussite period in which the representatives of the royal towns had been of but little significance, the towns represented at the diets of the Hussite epoch, led partly by Prague and partly by Tábor, the new centre of radical Hussite tendencies in South Bohemia, advanced so greatly in power that more than once they proved the deciding factor. It was the Hussite movement itself that had raised Prague and Tábor to this position of importance.

Before the death of Wenceslas IV Hussitism had ceased to be merely a spiritual and moral movement. Against the opponents of truth, as it was understood by the Hussites, violence was beginning to be used. At first it was only a matter of individual and isolated outbursts of wrath without any conscious aim, but soon after the death of Wenceslas elements gained the upper hand in the Hussite movement which made an armed struggle one of the express points of its programme. This was in large measure the result of a fanatic, chiliastic tendency which manifested itself particularly at great gatherings or camp meetings, held in the mountains even after the death of King Wenceslas. This chiliasm was at first merely a belief in the early Second Coming of Christ and of a paradise of love and peace which would be established without violence. Ere long, how­ever, when the date had passed for which the Coming of Christ had been prophesied, chiliasm took a predominantly bellicose tone. It was pro­claimed that the millennial kingdom of Christ, where mankind would live in primal innocence without sin and without suffering, must be founded upon the destruction of all evil. And when the fervidly longed-for miracle by which all the godless were to be destroyed was not forthcoming, relentless warfare for their extermination began to be preached. The belligerent enthusiasm of the masses, who began to come to the gatherings in the mountains with weapons in their hands, conflicted with the doubts of the more tolerant of the Hussite clergy, whether and to what extent it was permissible for a Christian to fight with physical weapons for divine truth, and whether in particular it was permissible to fight for that truth against those duly in authority. This conflict of opinion was submitted for solution to the masters of the University of Prague, who decided that a Christian community possessed such a right only as a last resort, when the superior authority was manifestly opposed to divine truth and thus forfeited all its rights. Thus, when King Sigismund and the Pope, as the representatives of secular and spiritual authority, declared war at the beginning of 1420 upon all defenders of the divine law, the Hussites were, according to the opinion of the university masters, justified in offering resistance. Among the opponents of the Hussites, both at home and abroad, the idea of a suppression of the Czech heretics by force of arms was generally accepted, and so the war became a war in defence of divine truth—a “Holy War” as it was termed in the Hussite watchword.


In the struggle that ensued, Prague and Tabor—in many matters, as we have seen, of divergent views—were the foremost representatives and deciding factors of the Hussite movement, indeed, we may say of all Hussite Bohemia. Prague owed its position not only to the fact that it was the capital of Bohemia and the whole Bohemian State, though its population hardly exceeded 40,000, and the main fortress in the country, but also to its significance for the rise and growth of the Hussite movement, which had germinated and reached its greatest expansion there. Tabor, an insignificant country-town of recent foundation, had won a leading place alongside Prague mainly because it had become the headquarters and citadel of the radical elements among the Hussites, anc because of the military talent and wide experience of Jan Zizka of Trocnov. This South Bohemian knight of no great position or wealth, who had possibly served for some years at the Court of King Wenceslas, and had certainly been in the service of various nobles, had taken active part in the numerous and not infrequently serious fights waged in those troublous days among the nobility, the towns, and the religious Orders, and had gained still further experience during a lengthy sojourn in Poland, where he had fought on behalf of the Poles against the Teutonic Knights, taking part in particular in the famous Battle of Tannenberg (1410). At the time of the outbreak of the Hussite troubles Zizka was already an elderly man—about sixty years of age—and blind of one eye, but he quickly revealed himself as a military organiser of splendid qualities. In arming his troops, artisans from the towns and peasants from the country, full of religious zeal and enthusiasm but utterly untrained for war, he made chief use of implements and equipment to which they had been accustomed. In addition to iron-tipped flails he utilised ordinary farm wagons. Barricades of these, ingeniously arranged, soon proved not only an excellent defence for Zizka’s simple foot-soldiers against the heavy cavalry of their knightly opponents but also a very effective means of attack. The efficacy of these wagon barricades, whether for defence or attack, was augmented by the use of light and easily transportable cannon of the howitzer type. Zizka’s troops, thus provided with a simple and gradually perfected equipment for battle, acquired their truly astonishing strength partly from the extraordinary military talent of their leader and partly from his conviction that he was an instrument chosen of God to execute the divine law.

Just as they had united in the struggle against the opponents of the Cup at home, over whom they soon won notable successes, so did Prague and Tábor join again and again at critical junctures, despite their steadily growing differences on religious matters, in defence of the country against Sigismund and his crusading armies. Here, too, their successes were re­markable. The second crusade against the Hussites, undertaken in the year 1421, ended with the same lamentable result as the one that had preceded it. The imperial forces penetrated, it is true, into Western Bohemia, and in the middle of September, after fiercely ravaging the country, laid siege to the town of Zatec (Saaz) which was held by the Hussites. At the beginning of October, when false reports arrived that the Czech army was approaching, Sigismund’s forces retired in complete disorder without a blow being struck. A similar fate soon afterwards befell the expedition, headed by the king himself, which, advancing through Moravia, compelled the nobles there to abjure the Articles of Prague, and entered Eastern Bohemia. The invaders succeeded in seizing Kutuá Hora (Kuttenberg) where the king had many partisans among the burghers, but within a few days he was driven out (January 1422) by Zizka, and in the precipitate flight that ensued his troops suffered heavy losses. After this defeat of Sigismund at Kutuá Hora the crusades against the Hussites ceased for a number of years.

The internal struggle, of course, continued, and to the fights of the Hussites against their common enemies, the opponents of the Cup, were added their conflicts among themselves, divided as they were not only by religious differences but also by divergent views on fundamental questions of policy. In the spring of 1423 Zizka betook himself with a small force to Eastern Bohemia, there to found a party more closely identified with his views on religious questions, on which he was not in accord with the majority of the Taborites. The nucleus of Zizka’s new party was the Horeb Brotherhood which had arisen in Bohemia almost simultaneously with the Tábor Brotherhood, and their religious views were nearer Zizka’s own in that they avoided the extreme radicalism of the Taborites. Zizka’s new “Union,” which took the place of the Horeb Brotherhood, secured the adherence of Hradec (Koniggratz) and three other towns of Eastern Bohemia, as well as that of several Hussite nobles. Zizka at once supplied the new body with a new military organisation—a standing army was also established at Tábor. Straightway in 1423 Zizka and his new body, which proclaimed inexorable warfare on all who opposed the Word of God, came into armed conflict not only with the Catholic foes of Hussitism but also with the moderate Hussite party at Prague. Desirous of restoring peace and order in the land, the moderate Hussites under the leadership of Prague were prepared to make various political and religious concessions of which the inflexible Zizka would not hear; now and then, indeed, they allied themselves with the Catholic opponents of the Cup. Thus it came about that in September 1424 Zizka and his army stood before the walls of Prague with the design of compelling it to support his policy. The threatened struggle, however, was averted by the conclusion of a six months’ armistice, to which immediately afterwards the Utraquists as well as the old Tábor party subscribed. The fruit of this truce was a joint expedition of the Hussite parties to Moravia, which was to be conquered from Albert of Austria. During this expedition, however, Zizka died suddenly at the castle of Pribyslav on 11 October 1424.

The party which he had lately formed did not disperse on his death. They took the name of “The Orphans” in token of the fact that they regarded the dead general as their father, and they pursued his policy of determined opposition to Sigismund whenever the other Hussite parties attempted to come to terms with him. The internal conflicts among these parties continued, and the allied forces of the Taborites and the Orphans inflicted grievous losses on those of Prague. None the less the main Hussite factions again and again came to agreements which for a time suspended their internecine warfare, and enabled them to join against their common foe. A new joint expedition was undertaken to Moravia in October 1425, and at the close of the same year the Orphans carried their arms into Silesia, which thenceforward suffered from similar inroads till the end of the war. In the following years the Hussite armies made more and more incursions to the neighbouring countries. Among their leaders the most distinguished, and a worthy heir of the military fame of Zizka, was the Tábor priest and captain Prokop Holy (Prokop the Bald), who in these years was more than once not merely the military but also the political chief of all the Hussites. He first distinguished himself in the great struggles between the allied Hussite forces and the armies of the princes of Saxony in the year 1426, struggles which culminated in a magnificent victory for the Hussites at Ustí (Aussig) over the more numerous German forces. The profound impression made by this victory confirmed German public opinion in its belief in the invincibility of the Hussites. This conviction, coupled with the chaotic political state of Germany, caused the repeated postponement of further crusades against the Hussites, and contributed largely to their lamentable failure when they were finally undertaken. Thus, for example, the crusade which was undertaken against the Hussites in the summer of 1427, after an interval of five years, and in which Cardinal Henry Beaufort took part, ended in a disorderly flight of the crusading army from Tachov before the fight with the Czechs could begin. No fresh crusade took place until the year 1431, while on the other hand Czech expeditions were continually being made into the surround­ing countries, where the Hussites captured numerous strategic points and occupied them with garrisons.

These expeditions, by which the Hussite leaders, particularly Prokop the Bald, obviously desired above all to constrain their hostile neighbours to submission and to acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Word of God, aroused among the troops a keen lust for booty which soon weakened and thrust into the background the original fanatic zeal of the “Warriors of God”—all the more so as they were joined by all manner of adventurers, largely of foreign origin. Apart from the booty, however, these expedi­tions brought here and there no small moral gain to the Hussites. Particularly in the minor territories of the Bohemian Crown—Silesia and Upper Lusatia—not only were truces and unions made with the invading Hussites, but also large sections of the population, especially the lower strata of the townspeople and the peasants, joined the Hussite movement. A particularly impressive inroad was that made into Germany in the winter of 1429-30, when the united forces of the Hussites (some 40,000 infantry and 3,500 cavalry) passed through Saxony, entered the territories of the Bishop of Bamberg and of Frederick of Brandenburg in Franconia, and constrained Frederick to make peace with them. Still farther than the expeditions of the Hussite armies penetrated the flaming manifestos by means of which the Hussite parties in the years 1430 and 1431 acquainted the world with their bold programme. These reached France, Spain, and England, where a theologian of the University of Cambridge wrote a polemic against one of them. It was not till a year later (1431) that a fresh crusade was undertaken against the Hussites. In August of that year a large crusading army marched to Domazlice (Taus) but, on the approach of the Hussites, fled in total disorder without a show of fight, leaving not only large numbers of prisoners but also a huge booty in the hands of the enemy. The victory of Domazlice caused the opponents of the Hussites to lose any desire to repeat a crusade against them. Even at the Council of Basle, the view, supported especially by Cardinal Julian Cesarini, who had been mainly responsible for the promotion and organisation of the latest inglorious crusade and who had taken personal part in the expedition, gained the upper hand—that it was advisable, in face of the impossibility of suppressing the Hussites by force, to secure their return to the bosom of the universal Church by conciliatory measures.

Meanwhile, readiness for a compromise with the Church had gained ground among the Hussites themselves. The exhausted state of the country and the chaos in public administration, resulting from the long years of warfare, were largely responsible for the growing spirit of conciliation. The more moderate Hussites were also impelled to compromise with the Church by the religious and social radicalism of several sections of the party and their fanatical rage not only against the opponents of the Cup but also against every relic of Christian culture dating from the pre­Hussite era, an iconoclasm that included the destruction and burning of churches, organs, statues, and other ecclesiastical ornaments. There had been divergences among the Hussites in these matters practically from the very beginning. The famous Four Articles of Prague had expressed in substance the views of Hus and his immediate followers. From various sources, however, there had penetrated into the ideas of the Hussite move­ment elements that were either entirely alien to Hus or of no significance in his eyes, and which led soon after his death to the division of the Hussites into parties widely at variance, and sometimes therefore very bitterly opposed to one another. Even the logical consideration of several of the principles proclaimed by Hus—notably the doctrine that the Word of God should be the supreme or indeed the only rule of life and faith—up of prayer and the reading and explanation of Scripture in the Czech tongue, they caused to he conducted by priests in ordinary lay garb. They did not, however, stop there, but went on relentlessly to destroy altars and their ornaments, statues and pictures of the saints, organs and all the splendour of Church decoration, and they demolished monasteries, which they regarded as dens of iniquity. They did not recognise, nor did they possess, any ecclesiastical Orders other than the offices of priest, deacon, and bishop. The bishop, who had no considerable powers, being merely primus inter pares, could, according to the Tabor doctrine which here followed the bold ideas of Marsilio of Padua, be elected merely by the priests without regard to the traditional apostolic succession. Already in September 1420 the Taborites had elected a bishop, the choice falling upon Nicholas of Pelhrimov, subsequently known as Biskupec, who was distinguished not only as an eminent theologian but also as the author of a great historical work in defence of the Tábor party. Thus the Taborites formally broke away from the universal Church, of which the other Hussites never ceased to regard themselves as members. The serious nature of this step was further accentuated by the fact that in their religious radicalism the Taborites were by no means isolated among the Hussites. In close affinity to them was the Horeb Brotherhood, at the head of which Zizka had placed himself towards the close of his life. But even in Prague itself religious radicalism closely allied to that of the Taborites was rampant, largely the work of Jan of Zelivo, the priest who had attracted attention on the occasion of the first outburst of revolt at the capital in 1419, and who from that moment had dominated the New Town quarter, where he won the allegiance of the masses by sermons and by his demagogic and political fervour. His career lasted til early in 1422, when he and several of his followers were beheaded. In time, of course, this original radicalism everywhere diminished very considerably, and even at Tábor itself there began to be manifested a readiness to settle political and religious conflicts by conciliatory means, a tendency which was supported in particular by Zizka’s successor, the priest Prokop the Bald.

On the other hand, there were many who were prepared to compromise in the matter of the Articles, so as to draw nearer to the views of the Church. These, the most moderate section of the Hussites, consisting mainly of the high nobility and numbers of the Masters of the University of Prague, were ready, in the interests of reconciliation with the Church, to sacrifice not only all those points in which the Articles went farther than Hus, and not only much that had been taken over from Wyclif, re­cognised even by them at an earlier date as their teacher, but also various teachings of Hus himself, and to content themselves practically with merely the Cup and the abolition of certain abuses. The leading advocate of these moderates was the learned and bellicose Master of Prague University, Jan of Pribram. His determined attacks upon Wyclifite teachings in the years 1426-27 met, however, with opposition from Wyclif’s compatriot, Peter Payne, who had become acclimatised among the Hussites under the name of Master English, and who later went over completely to the “Orphans.” The standpoint of the group of Jan of Pribram was far from being common to all the supporters of a moderate tendency among the Hussites, at the head of which, after the death of its leader, Jakoubek of Stribro, in 1429, stood not Pribram but Master Jan Rokycana, whose spiritual views were closely identified with those of Jakoubek and who was subsequently for many years the head of the Utraquists; yet it was none the less a significant expression of the atmosphere of conciliation which had spread among them. Despite, however, all this genuine desire for a restoration of unity with the Church, even the most moderate Hussites of the Pribram group declined to take the step which had long been in the eyes of the Church more or less an understood condition of reconciliation, that of simple submission to its decision without reserve and without compromise, and thus the acknowledgment of its unrestricted authority in matters of faith. As long as the Church insisted upon maintaining the attitude which it had adopted towards Hus at the Council of Constance, agreement between it and the Czech Hussites was impossible, however much the latter moderated their demands.

An obstacle to such agreement was, moreover, presented by the development of ecclesiastical organisation in the Utraquist party itself. The act of Conrad of Vechta, Archbishop of Prague, in going over to Hussitism had spared this party the necessity of providing themselves, as the Taborites had done, with a new bishop of their own without regard, if need be, to the principle of apostolic succession. The position and power of Archbishop Conrad were, however, afterwards substantially different from what they had been. Alongside him there were first appointed for a while four Masters of Prague University, elected at a synod of the Czech clergy in 1421, as Church Administrators with extensive powers. And when, after the fall of Korybut, a temporary conflict arose between the archbishop and the Utraquists, Master Jan Rokycana was elected by the Prague clergy as the “official” or “superior” whom all had to obey. Archbishop Conrad himself, after the Utraquist clergy in 1429 had again acknowledged allegiance to him, recognised Rokycana as his vicar in spiritualibus. So this Hussite Master, though formally only the archbishop’s official on the old lines, continued to be the real spiritual leader and head of the Utraquist party.

The internal development of the Hussite parties which has been broadly outlined was obviously little favourable to the efforts to reconcile the Hussites with the Church undertaken immediately in 1420 from different quarters and frequently renewed. It was repeatedly seen that on the one hand the internal conditions in Bohemia were not vet ripe for a concilia­tory settlement with the Church, and on the other hand that the supreme authorities in the Church were not prepared to facilitate such a settlement by concessions of any fundamental character, or indeed to negotiate about such concessions, for the Church persevered in the unequivocal demand that the Hussites must first of all render complete submission to it.

The military successes of the Hussites gradually brought about a change in this unyielding attitude. First of all the Hussites succeeded in moving, if not the Papacy itself, at any rate its devoted adherents in Bohemia and beyond the frontiers to enter into negotiations upon the questions in dispute. Prokop the Bald himself decided in the spring of 1429 to enter into direct negotiations with King Sigismund. In the course of an inroad into Austria, Prokop, accompanied by a Hussite delegation of which he was joint leader with Peter Payne, proceeded to Bratislava (Pressburg) to meet Sigismund. The negotiations centred chiefly round the method by which it would be possible to settle the Bohemian religious problem at the General Council to be convoked at Basle in 1431. The Czechs were in principle ready to send envoys to the Council, but they demanded to be heard as equals and not to be placed on trial. They declined, of course, to surrender their faith; on the contrary, they suggested that Sigismund should adopt and defend it. Under these conditions it was only natural that no agreement could be arrived at. It was not until the famous victory of the Hussites at Domazlice that Western Christendom became convinced of the need of entering into negotiations with the Czech heretics. The Council of Basle itself sent on 15 October 1431 an invitation to the Czechs to come to Basle on terms which they had previously put forward in vain, namely, to a hearing at which “The Holy Spirit itself would be in the midst as arbiter and judge.”

The invitation sent by the Council of Basle, though it was a great moral success for the Czechs, was not accepted unhesitatingly by all the Hussite sections. The Taborites, who would have wished a settlement of their conflict with the Church to be entrusted rather to laymen, were dissatisfied with the proposed hearing before the Council. The Orphans, too, were at first very reserved in their attitude to the invitation. At the beginning of 1432, however, Rokycana, who since the death of Archbishop Conrad (in December 1431) had been the spiritual head of the Utraquist party, agreed with Prokop to accept the invitation to Basle. In May 1432 representatives of the Council met the Czech delegates at Cheb (Eger) in order to settle the conditions under which the Czechs were to be heard at the Council. Here the Czechs won a fresh important success. According to the terms settled with the Council’s plenipotentiaries the decision in the Czech conflict with the Church was not to lie with the Council but with another, higher judge. This judge, as the Hussites had demanded, was to be in part the divine law, that is, the Scriptures, and in part the custom (that is, the practice) of Christ, His apostles, and the primitive Church, together with the Councils and the Fathers of the Church in so far as their teachings were rightly based upon Holy Scripture and the practice of the primitive Church. In all their subsequent dealings with the Council the Hussites again and again appealed to this criterion of judgment agreed upon at Cheb—or the “Cheb Judge” as it was called.

Shortly before the Council assembled, the Taborites and the Orphans, disregarding the principles of the agreement for the attendance at Basle, joined in a great military expedition to Lusatia, Silesia, and Brandenburg, in the course of which they penetrated about the middle of April to the neighbourhood of Berlin. Later still Prokop resolutely rejected the request of the Council that the Czechs should conclude a truce for the period of their negotiations with the Council. Indeed, early in 1433 when the negotiations with the Czechs at the Council were in active progress, the Orphan captain, Jan Capek of Sany, as an ally of the Poles against the Teutonic Knights, undertook a great expedition through Lusatia and Silesia to Neumark and Prussia, in the course of which the Hussite army advanced to the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the Vistula.

In the meantime, the negotiations at Basle, where the Czech delegation had arrived on 4 January 1433, made difficult progress. Whereas the Czechs were only disposed to accept such decisions as in their opinion were in harmony with the laws of God, the Council demanded that the Czechs should render absolute submission to it. While, too, the Czechs (in particular Rokycana, Nicholas of Pelhrimov, and Peter English) resolutely championed the Four Articles of Prague, albeit in their milder formulation as drafted in 1418 by the University of Prague, the Council rejected every article, except for the fact that privately the Czechs were offered a limited recognition of the Cup.

Being unable to move the Czech envoys to concessions the Council sent a delegation to Prague to negotiate there directly with the Bohemian diet. The Basle delegates, among whom the papal auditor, Juan Palomar, was an outstanding figure by reason of his diplomatic talents, remained at Prague two months (from May to July 1433), but even there the negotiations with the Czechs produced no result. On the other hand, confidential pourparlers with the most moderate section of the Hussites under Pribram prepared the way for an agreement at Prague touching all the Four Articles. This agreement, with some additions, was accepted by both sides on 30 November and sealed by the delegate priests and the Utraquist masters clasping hands; some formal changes, and the decision of the “Cheb Judge,” being reserved for final settlement when matters still outstanding should be discussed (general obligation of communion in both kinds, and participation of children in the Cup). By this agreement, to which the name of The Compacts was applied, assent was given to all the Four Articles of Prague, but in such style and with such clauses that their original meaning was almost completely obliterated. Apart from communion in both kinds, which was permitted with some reservations, the Hussites were conceded practically nothing. Further, the agreement was not ratified by the Bohemian Estates at a new diet in January 1434, but the Council insisted that it was binding, while it was acknowledged by the moderate Hussites who interpreted the Compacts in a sense much more favourable to themselves than the Council understood them. The Taborites and Orphans, however, were decisively opposed to it. Weight was given to their opposition by the military power of their armies in the field. These forces had formerly by their military successes forced both domestic and foreign opponents of Hussitism and even the Council itself to yield, thus indirectly preparing the way to conciliation, but now they had become the main obstacle to agreement. Since the summer of 1432 troops had vainly laid siege to the main bulwark of the Catholic power in West Bohemia, the town of Plzen (Pilsen), and by their hunt for booty had caused great damage in the whole country round. Resentment at their conduct aggravated by the growing desire for agreement with the Church and the restoration of normal conditions to the country led the Hussite nobles in the spring of 1434 to conclude an alliance with the governor of Bohemia, Ales Vrestovsky, who had recently been elected by the diet, and the troops were ordered to disband if they did not wish to be regarded as the enemies of their country. Determined to rid the land of the Taborite and Orphan troops the Hussite nobles now did not hesitate to join with the Catholic nobles. A decisive battle was fought at Lipany on 30 May 1434, in which the army of the Taborites and Orphans was defeated, and their eminent general, Prokop the Bald, perished on the field.

This defeat of the radical elements among the Hussites facilitated the subsequent negotiations of the Czechs both with Sigismund and with the Council of Basle. Those with Sigismund proceeded smoothly and rapidly. They concerned mainly the use of the Cup in communion and Church government. With regard to the Cup the Czechs were gradually compelled to surrender their demand that the Cup should be universally compulsory. They insisted, however, that the diet, jointly with the clergy, should elect the archbishop and two bishops, that the archbishop should be an adherent of communion in both kinds, and that all the clergy in the country should be subordinate to him. This demand, though it met with keen opposition from the Council envoys, who upheld the right of the chapter to elect the bishops, was readily enough conceded by Sigismund, who was convinced that this right pertained to him as king, and that he could thus pass it on to the Estates.

The agreement between the king and the Bohemian Estates was ratified by the diet in September 1435, and the election was at once made of Master Jan Rokycana as Archbishop of Prague, and of two bishops. The election, which was made by sixteen delegates—eight representing the secular Estates, and eight representingthe clergy—was immediately ratified by the diet, but it was not till July 1436 that it was confirmed by Sigismund in a royal charter in which he averred that till Rokycana’s death he did not desire to have any other as archbishop, and that he would do his utmost to get the election confirmed by the Church. This confirmation was forthcoming at a notable meeting of the Czechs with Sigis­mund and delegates of the Council which took place at Jihlava (Iglau) in July 1436. There, some few days prior to the issue of the charter relating to the episcopal elections, seals were affixed to the Compacts as agreed upon at the close of 1433, and on 5 July a ceremonial exchange of documents followed at Jihlava in the presence of Sigismund. In addition to the charter touching the election of Rokycana, Sigismund gave the Czechs another confirming several of their demands and thus supplementing the Compacts. At the end of August Sigismund entered Prague, and a month later was present at his first Bohemian diet as the accepted King of Bohemia.

The Compacts merely closed the first period of the great struggle; they were no final solution, the disputes breaking out again with new force. The first period, however, had profoundly affected the internal organism of the Czech State and nation, and brought about far-reaching changes.

First of all, the unity of the Czech State suffered seriously from the fact that its main territory, Bohemia, had definitively rejected Sigismund as lawful heir to the throne, and was thus for the whole period without a king, while the bulk of the minor provinces of the Bohemian Crown did not follow its example. The danger that this state of affairs presented for the unity of the Czech State was aggravated by the bitter hostility shown towards the mother country in those parts that had fallen away from her, hostility which developed on religious as well as on racial grounds. By the recognition of Sigismund as king throughout the whole territory of the Bohemian Crown which was effected simultaneously with the acceptance of the Compacts, the shattered unity of the Czech State was restored, though not completely, for the mutual hostility of the various territories was not permanently obliterated. Three years later, on the death of Sigismund’s successor, a long period of interregnum and religious conflict, aggravated by racial differences, again led to a temporary drifting asunder.

The absence of a duly recognised king in Bohemia had furthermore the result of forcing the Czechs to manage their own government. The Estates, represented by their diets, thus appeared as the actual source of all State power in Bohemia. This came to an end, it is true, on the acceptance of Sigismund as king in 1435, but it left deep traces on the relations between the king and the Estates. Sigismund was obliged not only to confirm the Estates in their old liberties and rights, but also to accept various religious and political conditions which they laid down. Moreover, although afterwards the actual influence of the Estates on all decisions in public affairs was far greater than it had been in the pre­Hussite era, even this augmented authority did not satisfy their increased consciousness of power. The disputes between king and Estates which threatened to arise were checked for the time being by the death of Sigismund. They remained, however, to be fought out at a later date.

Although Hussitism was in origin and substance a moral, religious, and ecclesiastical movement, there entered into it practically at the very outset certain endeavours to alter social and economic conditions, and these became an important element of the movement Both the higher and the lower nobility, inclining towards the religious movement inspired by Hus, longed to break down the intolerable economic predominance of the Church, to deprive the prelates and monasteries of their vast landed possessions and to get this property into their own hands. The artisans and working classes in the towns wished to overthrow the power of the wealthy patricians, to secure some influence on municipal administration, and to improve their own economic condition. The villeins on the land cherished the hope of escaping from their irksome duties and obligations. The lowest ranks of the clergy were desirous of ending the humiliating inequality of their social and economic position compared with that of the wealthy prelates, canons, and rectors of great parishes. All these aims and desires, often unconscious and ill-defined, merged not only into one another but also into the religious and nationalist aims and sentiments.

The Hussite movement, however, though arousing and giving support to these multifarious aims and desires, did not make their fulfilment a positive article of the Hussite programme. Only the demands that the priests should be deprived of undue enjoyment of great worldly possessions, and should live lives according to the Gospel and the example of Christ and His apostles, became important articles of that programme. Other far-reaching social demands were put forward only by the extreme sections of the Hussites, particularly the Taborites. At Tábor in 1420, at a time when the chiliastic heresy was prevalent, there was proclaimed not only the abolition of serfdom and of villein dues and services, but also the replacement of private property by ownership in common. Communistic principles were put into practice by the establishment of common treasuries to which the wealthier farmers on selling their produce handed over the proceeds. Very soon, however, this ceased. The serfs did not even acquire the promised exemption from the payment of interest and dues to the large landowners. The revolutionary ideas of the extreme Taborites took no hold whatsoever on the other Hussite parties, except here and there among the lower classes of the townsfolk, where they soon disappeared in the same manner as at Tábor itself. Some of these views find, it is true, an echo in the writings of the Southern Bohemian thinker, Peter Chelcicky, which appeared at the beginning of the Hussite wars, and in which the author, with impressive eloquence and fervid conviction, shows the absolute incompatibility of the relation of master and serf with the pure law of God; but Chelcicky’s doctrine that the true Christian must never resist the supreme secular power even when it does him wrong caused his views, at that time still little known, to lose all practical effect.

The demand—an upheaval in the social and economic conditions of the time—for the abolition or at least a great reduction in the vast possessions of the Church, especially landed property, was largely brought into effect, at least in Bohemia. During the Hussite tumults, the Church there was deprived of the major part of its secular property, the wealthy monasteries were either demolished or impoverished, the former economic predominance of the Church over the lay classes was broken once and for all, and the prelates were deprived of all political importance. The landed estates taken from the Church enriched, it is true, in the first place a number of the houses of the higher nobility, but the gains of the lower nobility also, the knights and gentry, were not inconsiderable. Thus, not only the nobility proper but also the knights and the gentry in Bohemia made an advance in economic and political power owing to the Hussite wars, the latter perhaps a relatively greater advance than the former. It was not indeed till the Hussite wars that the knights and gentry became factors of real consequence in public life, secured representation in the highest offices of State and the law courts, and won an influential voice in the deliberations of the diet. In like manner the Hussite movement increased the importance of the towns, which likewise frequently obtained a considerable portion of the property confiscated from the Church. The leading position which the burgher class, represented especially by the burghers of Prague, secured for them­selves during the Hussite wars was not indeed permanently maintained; nevertheless, even after these wars the measure of political rights still possessed by them was such that their voice could not be disregarded in public affairs. This fact had all the greater significance because in the towns themselves it was the Hussite movement that helped the more popular and nationalistic elements to victory.

While the Hussite movement thus brought on the whole more good than harm to the nobility, the knights, and the towns, the villeins on the land not only gained nothing of what the Taborite chiliasts had dreamed, but even suffered greatly in consequence of the prolonged fighting; and the injurious effect of war on tike general condition of the country contributed, as became apparent later, to a considerable deterioration in their position.      

Profound and significant were the effects of the Hussite movement on the development of Czech nationality and a national Czech consciousness. There culminated in it, first and foremost, the opposition of the native Czech population to the Germans who had migrated to the country during the preceding two centuries and were to a large extent in the enjoyment of a privileged position. The Hussite upheavals accelerated and completed a development tending to the gradual Czechisation of the towns in Bohemia. Many German burghers were driven from the country on account of their hostile attitude towards the Czech religious movement, and the lower classes, of Czech nationality and of Hussite sentiments, became the ruling powers in the towns. The majority of towns in Bohemia thus became wholly Czech. In Moravia, where the Hussite movement was not so strong as in Bohemia, the German element suffered less severe losses. In particular, the towns there remained in the hands of the Germans even throughout the Hussite wars.

The Hussite struggles did not, indeed, drive all the Germans out of Bohemia and Moravia, but the privileged position which they enjoyed out of proportion to their actual strength and numbers was utterly lost. In the chief territories of the Czech State, especially in Bohemia, they became an insignificant minority of practically no importance in politics. The Latin tongue, too, was displaced by the Czech language in official correspondence, in all dealings in the public offices, the courts of justice, and the diets.

The Hussite movement had a further effect on the national character. The struggle was carried on by the Czechs not merely in the effort to cleanse the Czech State and nation from the accusation of heresy but also in the conviction that, acknowledging the purity of the truth of God above all other races, they were under the obligation of assisting it to victory, of becoming champions of the divine Word and warriors of God. This naturally gave rise in their minds to the idea of some special sacred character attaching to the Czech nation, of its call to great deeds in the service of God and the divine law. The national consciousness of the Czechs thus acquired a special mystical tinge and impressive fervour, and the Czech national idea was enriched by the thought that the nation, apart from its defensive struggle against the German menace, had had a great positive task laid upon it—a fight for the pure truth of God.

The economic harm caused to the Czech territories by the Hussite wars was certainly great. These struggles not only directly destroyed much material wealth, but also in large measure paralysed all the economic life of the country and held up its trade with other countries, which had developed so satisfactorily, especially in the preceding century. Similarly, the Hussite wars put an end to the splendid progress of the plastic arts by virtue of which in the reigns of Charles IV and Wenceslas IV Bohemia had become the leading centre of art in the Europe of that day. Many works of art dating from earlier periods fell a sacrifice to the Hussite upheaval. The opposition of the radical parties among the Hussites to art, in the works of which they saw a sinful luxury, led to the demolition and burning of churches and monasteries, to the destruction of statues, pictures, and other works of art. During the Hussite era nothing, of course, was done to make good this loss by the production of new works. The Hussite, period severed, almost for good and all, the tradition of a native art, so that when at a later period the plastic arts in Bohemia were awakened to new life, they no longer stood in the forefront of European evolution, but were for long lacking in independence, and frequently a considerably belated imitation of foreign works.

In the sphere of intellectual culture, too, the Hussite wars substantially weakened, and for the most part entirely severed, the former intimate connexion with the rest of Europe. By retarding, and for some time entirely preventing, the influx of new currents of thought from the civilised West, Hussitism checked the development of the Czech nation in more than one branch of culture. On the other hand, of course, by the ideas and moral force it possessed it inspired in some directions an intellectual activity of truly astonishing power.

To the numerous Czech and Latin works which issued from the Bohemian reformation movement at its very beginnings, and whose authors included, beside Hus himself, several of his predecessors (Thomas of Stitny, Matthias of Janov) and of his followers, the time of the Hussite wars added a large number of works of similar character, written in either Czech or Latin by the spiritual leaders of the Hussite parties, such as Master Jakoubek of Stribro, Jan of Pribram, Peter Payne, and Nicholas of Pelhrimov. All these learned masters, however, were surpassed in ability, ideas, and power of presentation by Peter Chelcicky, a farmer of South Bohemia, who knew but little Latin and whose works, all written in Czech, were mostly composed during the Hussite upheavals. Inclining to the movement inspired by Hus, Chelcicky was especially attracted by the radical faction at Tábor. But he severed his connexion both with the Prague masters and with the Taborites as early as 1420, when he declared in opposition to both that war of any kind was forbidden to a Christian, even in defence of the Word of God. He thus stood aside from the great struggles within the Hussite movement itself, enshrining his thoughts in works which rank among the most precious treasures of Czech literature. In these works, along with views which are well-known from the writings of Wyclif and Hus and which are common to the entire Hussite movement, we find other views substantially different from them, obviously the effect of semi-Catharist influences. Like the Cathari, Chelcicky proclaimed that the taking of life in any form, and thus war, was a sin, that whoever killed a man in battle was guilty of “hideous murder”; like them he rejected all secular power, worldly offices, human laws and rights, despised worldly learning and especially the writings of the learned “doctors”, fiercely attacked the powerful and the rich, and with fervid sympathy championed the simple and the poor. Although Chelcicky took the individual elements of his teaching from various sources, he projected himself as it were so completely into them that he gave them an independent, personal impress. His writings, indeed, are among the few medieval literary works which can even today captivate our interest.

Alongside the theological writings that arose in Bohemia during the Hussite struggles there appeared also a number of by no means unimportant literary works of a different character. They consist partly of historical works, among which the so-called Old Annals of Bohemia, simple and vivid records made by anonymous plebeians, give a lively account of the great national revolution, and partly of numerous Czech and Latin compositions in verse of a satirical, bellicose, derisive, and not infrequently historical nature. Finally, popular hymns, which the leading Hussite parties made a large element of their divine service, reached a high level of development. The simple words of these hymns were adapted to effective tunes which have given the hymns a very prominent place in the evolution of the art of music.


The Compacts of Prague failed to bring about a complete and genuine reconciliation between the Hussites and the Church, for neither party was wholly satisfied with them. The Church saw in them only a temporary concession forced upon it by circumstances, and did not abandon the hope that in time it would be able to deprive them of all significance. The Czechs on the other hand looked upon the Compacts as merely the foundation for a final adjustment which should satisfy them with regard to the outstanding religious and Church questions. They hoped that such an adjustment would, in particular, be forthcoming in the important question of a universal obligation to accept the Cup in all the Czech territories. As early as the end of 1437, however, the Council of Basle issued a decree to the effect that communion in both kinds was not ordained by Christ, and that it was the prerogative of the Church to determine the manner in which the sacrament of the altar should be administered, in which, whatever its form, the whole body and blood of Christ were present. This was a complete denial of one of the fundamental articles of Hussitism, and a serious whittling down of the Compacts in the point that for the Czechs was the most important of all. Little wonder that the Czechs, apart from the most moderate section led by Jan of Pribram, refused to recognise the validity of this decision, so that the conflict between them and the Church in the matter of the Cup continued.

Further disappointments were inflicted upon the Utraquist Czechs by the Council and King Sigismund in matters of Church government. Not only was the election of Rokycana as Archbishop of Prague not ratified, but also the administration of the Bohemian Church, including the Utra­quist section, hitherto in Rokycana’s charge, was transferred for the time being to special plenipotentiary legates appointed by the Council, the first of whom was Bishop Philibert. These legates proved extremely zealous in ridding the Church of all special rites and customs introduced by the Utraquist party. They were also instrumental in restoring the ecclesiastical institutions of the party adhering to communion in one kind, especially monasteries, and they confirmed the appointments of new incumbents to churches at Prague and in the provinces in place of the old incumbents who, in the eyes of the Church, had been wrongfully instituted. In this manner Rokycana himself was deprived of the benefice of the Tyn church at Prague. He fled from Prague to Eastern Bohemia, choosing Hradec Kralove as his seat and remaining there till 1448. A large proportion of the Utraquist clergy still regarded him as their head, while the others were placed under an administrator elected for this purpose in 1437 with the consent of the king and the legates. A unification of Church administration in Bohemia, desired, though for different reasons, by the Utraquists and by the party adhering to communion in one kind, was thus not attained. At the same time dissatisfaction with the Church policy of Sigismund and with his rule generally increased among the more radical adherents of the Utraquist party. Seeing the growing opposition to himself, Sigismund left Prague early in November; and he died at Znojmo (Znaim) on his way to Hungary on 9 December 1437.

The brief period of Sigismund’s rule, during which Bohemia had at last possessed a generally acknowledged king, was soon exchanged for another interregnum. It is true that, in accord with Sigismund’s wishes, a portion of the Bohemian Estates acknowledged the hereditary claim of his son­-in-law Albert of Austria and chose him as king at the end of 1437. The majority of the Estates, however, unable to obtain from him an undertaking to fulfil various demands, especially those touching religious matters, offered the crown to Casimir, the brother of Vladyslav, King of Poland. Before the struggle for the throne could be decided, however, Albert died in October 1439 as he was returning from an unsuccessful expedition against the Turks. In the meantime the candidature of Casimir had been dropped, so that those who had supported Albert—mainly the nobles upholding communion in one kind and the moderate Utraquists—were able at the beginning of 1440 to conclude a general peace with the party of the more determined Hussites led by Hynce Ptacek of Pirkstejn. By the terms of this general peace there were constituted in the various counties (of which there were then twelve in Bohemia) companies for defence, a kind of militia, drawn from all parties without distinction. The counties elected hetmen and instructed them to settle in their courts the conflicts among the different classes, to maintain peace and security, and to uphold the agreed organisation in the land even by force of arms. At a time when there was no recognised royal power nor any uniform central government in the country these county militia companies became the actual organ of public administration. They won special importance, moreover, when Ptácek, the leader of the more extreme section of the Hussites, succeeded in the spring of 1440 in uniting four eastern counties into a single body of which he himself became the head. This union, which was voluntarily joined by a fifth county, that of Boleslav, where one of the two hetmen was the young George of Podébrady, then only twenty years of age, became ere long not only the nucleus of the Utraquist party now in process of reorganisation, but also the centre of a new political development in Bohemia. In ecclesiastical matters its main support and counsel was found in Rokycana. Its importance increased with the failure of attempts to fill the Bohemian throne, which was vacant till 1452 when Ladislas Posthumus, son of Albert of Austria, became king.

Meanwhile the organisation formed by Ptácek, which was gradually augmented by fresh elements, had become increasingly the moving force in Bohemian history. In it was concentrated the nucleus of the Utraquist party, which had never ceased to recognise Rokycana as its leader; he had been formally acknowledged in the summer of 1441 as the head (administrator) of the Hussite clergy in the united eastern counties. Rokycana’s party systematically fixed and unified the official doctrines of the Hussite ecclesiastical organisation, both as against the moderate Hussite tendency under Pribram and the more radical Taborites. While an agreement with the Pribram party was attained, a settlement with the Taborites, owing to the important differences in doctrine, was more difficult. The political and military pressure exerted by Ptácek, however, constrained even the Taborites to agree to their clergy attending a conference at Kutuá Hora in July 1443 to discuss disputed Church questions, and, should they not be settled there, to allow the Bohemian diet to decide upon them according to the “Cheb Judge”. As a reconciliation between the two parties was not reached at Kutuá Hora, it became necessary to submit the disputed points to the diet.

Thus it came about that the diet which met at Prague in January 1444, after hearing the report of a special committee chosen to study the dis­puted points, gave its approval to the teaching of the Rokycana party touching the real presence in the sacrament of the altar, and other matters, such as the maintenance of the seven sacraments, purgatory, invocation of the saints, fasting, penance, the use of vestments, and the preservation of the ancient ritual. The Taborite teachings were thus decisively condemned once and for all, and the Taborites were called upon to accept the teachings of the Rokycana party, for by the decision of the diet those teachings were given the force of law incumbent upon all adherents of the Hussite movement. As all previously existing differences between the Rokycana and Pribram sections had been settled, nothing more was lacking for the attainment of complete unity among the Hussites than that the Taborites should surrender their existing inde­pendence in accordance with the ruling of the diet. Although it was clear that this could not be attained at once or without difficulty, the decisions of the diet of January 1444 were adistinct step forward towards the attainment of unity among all the adherents of the Cup, and a great success for the Ptacek party. This party soon afterwards suffered a severe blow through the premature death of their leader, but they at once found a fitting successor to him in the youthful George of Podébrady, who had already at a congress in the preceding September been elected supreme hetman of the allied militia of the eastern counties, and from that time onwards became, both at home and abroad, the acknowledged leader of Hussite Bohemia.

George of Podebrady was a scion of the house of the Lords of Kunstat, which was of Moravian origin and formerly had had considerable estates there. In the middle of the fourteenth century one branch of this family migrated to Bohemia, where the town of Podebrady became its main seat. It was noted for its nationalist sentiments and its support of re­forming tendencies. While not quite fourteen years of age George took part with his guardian in the battle of Lipany. Prom the age of eighteen he was in the service of Ptácek of Pirknstejn, who was his teacher and master in practical politics. At the age of twenty he was elected hetman of Boleslav county, and on the death of Ptácek in the year 1444 was chosen to succeed him as supreme hetman of the eastern counties. In continuing the work of Ptácek, George of Podebrady found his main support in the eastern counties’ Union, which henceforward began to be known as the Podebrady Unity.

Although George had from the outset enjoyed no little esteem even among the party of communion in one kind, his political activities met with the opposition of the leading noble of that party, the powerful and wealthy Oldrich of Rozmberk (Rosenberg) who, with his supporters, placed obstacles in the way of the young Hussite statesman. They were unable, however, to frustrate his plans. George sought in particular a solution for the outstanding ecclesiastical questions, among which a foremost place was occupied by the problem of the confirmation of the election of Rokycana as Archbishop of Prague. The Papacy, however, which at this period had already secured predominance over the Council of Basle, turned an absolutely deaf ear to the Czech demands. When the papal legate, Cardinal Carvajal, who was specially sent to Bohemia in the spring of 1448, attempted, like Bishop Philibert before him, to re­introduce the old order and customs into the government of the Czech Church, he met with determined resistance from the entire Utraquist party, who unanimously demanded the confirmation of Rokycana’s election as archbishop. The negotiations with the papal legate showed that the uncompromisingly negative attitude of the Holy See towards the Czech demands in the matter of the Compacts and the confirmation of Rokycana had caused even the most moderate of the Hussites to abandon the idea of complete unity with the universal Church. Carvajal was compelled by disorders which broke out in Prague to hasten his departure from the country, and immediately afterwards not only the Estates assembled in the diet but also the entire population of Prague proclaimed their determination to stand faithfully by the Compacts. The anti-Roman reaction in the Utraquist party culminated at the beginning of September 1448, when George of Podebrady and his Unity troops occupied Prague, which, since the year 1436, had been under the joint administration of the party of communion in one kind and the most moderate wing of the Utraquists who were in close affinity with them. As George’s troops entered Prague, the priests who had been accused of breaking the Compacts fled, and the canons departed for Plzen, which thenceforward became the seat of the administration of the party of communion in one kind. Rokycana, once more installed in his old charge of the Tyn church, was again acknowledged as the supreme head of all the Utraquist clergy.

The occupation of Prague, accompanied as it was by an internal uni­fication of the Utraquists (apart from the Taborites) under the leadership of Rokycana, augmented George’s power, which, though he formally looked for support only to the Podebrady Unity, acquired a more general character. George began both at home and abroad to appear as the real political power in the land, though in name he had not yet become so. He was opposed, it is true, by the nobles of the party adhering to communion in one kind, who, at the beginning of 1449, met at Strakonice and formed a compact union; but George succeeded in keeping them in check. While his opponents hoped that by the accession of the young Ladislas to the throne of Bohemia they would be able to deprive George of his post in the administration of the kingdom, the German king, Frederick of Austria, the guardian of Ladislas, preferred to come to terms with George. Frederick was moved to this partly by Aeneas Sylvius, Bishop of Siena, the famous humanist who subsequently became Pope under the title of Pius II. He had acted as Frederick’s representative at the Bohemian diet held at Benesov in June 1451, had made the personal acquaintance of the young Lord of Podebrady, and saw that he was not only the best man for the post of governor but also that his political circumspection and his conciliatory outlook on religion made him competent above all others to undertake a peaceful solution of the Church problem in Bohemia. Not long after the Benesov diet, in October 1451, Frederick gave his approval to the appointment of George as governor, but with the reservation that it was “on sufferance”, thus leaving himself a free hand for the future. In the spring of 1452 the Bohemian diet passed a vote making George of Podebrady governor of the land for a term of two years.

At the end of August he betook himself with a considerable force south­wards to Tábor, which declined to recognise the new order of things. He succeeded without a struggle in obtaining the surrender of Tábor, which accepted the diet’s decision to make him governor of the kingdom, and undertook to submit in all disputed religious matters to the verdict of six arbiters. The diet’s decision was then quickly acknowledged by George’s other opponents. At the October diet at Prague the Tábor question likewise was settled in such a manner that the movement really came to an end. A majority of the Taborites accepted an arbitration judgment which was nothing but a revival of the unfavourable decision of 1444. Some few unyielding priests, among them the Tábor bishop, Nicholas of Pelhrimov, were imprisoned in George’s castles, which they never left alive.

The unity of the Utraquist party, completed by the subjection of Tábor in 1453, proved no small obstacle to the efforts of the Church of Rome. It was now no longer possible to exploit the one section of the Utraquist party which was ready for entire reconciliation with the Church against the more determined group which held steadfastly to the Compacts. A general and genuine return of the Czechs to the bosom of the Church would now have called for a public agreement between the supreme authority of the Church and the official representatives of Hussitism. Most depended, of course, on Rokycana. The archbishop was by no means, in principle, opposed to an honourable settlement with the Church of Rome, and even as the acknowledged spiritual head of the Utraquist party he never ceased to endeavour to bring about reunion with the Church. In this he was inspired not merely by a genuine desire for a restoration of Church unity but also by practical needs. Among the Utraquists Rokycana had almost the same powers as the bishops in the rest of the Church, and he exercised them jointly with a consistory composed of twenty members, priests and masters. But he was lacking in that important right of Catholic bishops, the power of ordaining priests. As long as the Utraquist party insisted upon the principle of apostolic succession Rokycana could only acquire this right with the assent of the Holy See, and as long as he was not confirmed by the Holy See and consecrated bishop with its consent the party of communion in both kinds possessed no one who was able to ordain priests. It was thus with great difficulty that the ranks of the Utraquist priesthood could be replenished. The neighbouring bishops and the Bishop of Olomouc, though placed by the Compacts under the obligation of ordaining them, denied ordination to the Hussite theological students, who were thus compelled to resort to Italy, where several bishops were more easily prevailed upon to be accommodating, though in a manner not wholly above suspicion. This was not enough, however, and the scarcity of priests among the Utraquists continued to increase, a condition of affairs which militated against the building up of a normal Church organisation and the maintenance of moral discipline among the clergy and among the lay masses. The only way out of this impasse was for the Hussites either to submit unconditionally to Rome or to secure a bishop and priesthood without reference to the Papal See, just as the Taborites had done already in 1420, and thus cut themselves off completely from the Church.

There is little doubt that the Czech Utraquists, aroused to indignation by the unflinching obstinacy of the Papacy in the matter of the confirmation of Rokycana as Archbishop of Prague, frequently inclined towards the second of these alternatives. An idea was cherished among them in part­icular that they might secure a bishop from Constantinople from the Eastern Church. In that Church the Hussites had long displayed considerable interest, having learnt, probably from Wyclif, that it had preserved intact many of the doctrines and rites of the primitive Church. In their religious disputations the Hussite theologians had more than once appealed to the example of the Eastern Church, calling it the daughter and disciple of the apostles, and the teacher of the Church of Rome, and they took particular pleasure in pointing out that it had preserved the administration of communion in both kinds. It was not till 1452, how­ever, that the Hussites got into direct touch with the Eastern Church and opened actual negotiations. The intermediary in these negotiations was a mysterious doctor of theology, who had gone from Bohemia to Constantinople, had adopted the Orthodox faith, and went by the name of Constantine Anglicus. It is not impossible that under this name was concealed the well-known English Hussite, Peter Payne, who had left Bohemia for Constantinople some time after 1448. Certain it is that this Constantine Anglicus arrived early in 1452 in Bohemia, bringing with him a letter from the leading dignitaries of the Greek Church inviting the Czechs to join that Church and promising to provide them with clergy and bishops. The Hussite consistory accepted in principle this invitation, but when Constantine Anglicus returned to Constantinople with their reply, he found a changed situation there, unfavourable to union with the Hussite Czechs owing to the effort made by the Greek Emperor Constantine XI for union with Rome. The fall of Constantinople in May 1453 put an end once and for all to the attempt to bring about an entente or union between the Hussites and the Eastern Church, the success of which would in any case have been extremely problematical.

On the other hand, failure also attended the second effort, made at this time, to secure the return of the Czechs to the fold of the Church of Rome. The noisy and ostentatious tour of the bellicose Italian monk and preacher, Giovanni Capistrano, through Moravia and Bohemia in the years 1451-52 aroused a storm of resentment among the Utraquists, while it enhanced the anti-Hussite sentiments of the Czech Catholics, but it had no great effect otherwise. Failure likewise attended the diplomatic negotiations of the learned papal legate, Nicholas of Cusa, with the official delegates of the Hussite Czechs at Ratisbon and Vienna in June and November 1452.

Soon afterwards a change occurred in the question of the throne. A revolt of the Austrian Estates under Ulrich of Cilli had compelled the Emperor Frederick to hand over the youthful Ladislas to the Estates. Ulrich opened negotiations with the Czechs for the acknowledgment of Ladislas as king. George of Podebrady offered no objection, but with the approval of the majority of the Estates demanded that Ladislas should ascend the throne not on the basis of hereditary right but on that of election by the Bohemian Estates, and that he should undertake to fulfil certain Czech demands. After lengthy negotiations Ladislas, at a personal meeting with George at Vienna in the spring of 1453, accepted these terms. He promised in particular to respect the Compacts and the additions to them signed by Sigismund, and to secure confirmation of Rokycana’s appointment as archbishop from the Pope. At the same time he appointed George as governor of the kingdom for a further period of six years after the expiry of the two years for which he had originally been appointed by the Bohemian diet. In conformity with this agreement Ladislas took the oath as elected king in the presence of the Bohemian Estates on a frontier meadow at Jihlava on 19 October, and was crowned at Prague on 28 October. A minority recognised Ladislas’ hereditary right, as did also all the minor provinces of the Bohemian Crown. The Moravian nobles, indeed, did not hesitate to do homage to Ladislas as their king by hereditary right even prior to his coronation in Bohemia (6 July 1453).

King Ladislas Posthumus stayed for more than a year after his corona­tion in Prague (until November 1454), continuing on friendly terms with George of Podebrady. George, as governor, did not cease to direct the fortunes of the State during the king’s residence at Prague and during his subsequent absence which lasted till the autumn of 1457. Supported by the legal powers of a properly recognised king, George was able to display very considerable activity. Although he devoted attention—and not without success—to a restoration and strengthening of the Czech influence in the minor provinces of the Bohemian Crown (especially in Silesia, whose ties with Bohemia had become very loose during the Hussite wars), it was to Bohemia itself that he gave most of his care. There, by energetic and systematic measures, he restored peace and order, and undid the evil effects of the Hussite upheavals on the legal, social, and economic conditions of the country.

The accession of Ladislas to the throne encouraged the party of communion in one kind to adopt a bolder attitude towards the official Hussite Church and its spiritual head, Archbishop Rokycana. In these conflicts George of Podebrady observed an admirable moderation, and never ceased to make efforts for reconciliation with the universal Church. He was supported by Rokycana himself. When, in 1457, Calixtus III became Pope, it seemed as if this reconciliation would really be accomplished. The Pope was desirous of peace with the Czechs, and entered into direct correspondence with Rokycana, inviting him to go to Rome to discuss the matter. But before any substantial rapprochement could be attained, the young king died. He had arrived at the close of September 1457 in Prague, where his marriage with the French princess Magdalene was to take place; two months later (23 November) he fell a victim to the plague.

The death of Ladislas without an heir left the Bohemian throne vacant, for the hereditary claims of other members of the House of Habsburg, based on the old succession treaties made between the Czech Luxemburgs and the Austrian Habsburgs, were not recognised by the majority of the Bohemian Estates. Such claims, moreover, could hardly have been properly prosecuted in view of the family quarrels then rampant among the agnates of the house of Habsburg, to which the Emperor Frederick belonged. Serious hereditary claims were, however, advanced by William, Duke of Saxony, and by Casimir, King of Poland, as husbands of the sisters of Ladislas. A number of aspirants to the Bohemian crown with no hereditary claim whatsoever also came forward.

Of these latter the most serious was the native candidate, George of Podebrady, who had the support not only of the Bohemian nobles of the Utraquist party but also of several influential members of the party of communion in one kind. George, who had immediately on the death of Ladislas been confirmed by the Bohemian diet in his office as governor, himself took steps towards his election, believing that it would give him an opportunity of completing the work he had begun of a general rehabilitation of his native land. The campaign for his election was conducted largely from the angle of Hussite ideas, but there was also a strong national sentiment behind it. When on 2 March 1458 the Bohemian diet, assembled in the great hall of the Old Town Hall at Prague, elected George, the Roman Catholic nobles being also among those who voted for him, the Czechs at last had a monarch who was united with them both in national consciousness and in religious beliefs—a king who was a Czech by birth and a Hussite.

The new king, who had thus mounted the Bohemian throne against so many other claimants, and who as a Hussite, even after the signing of the Compacts, could hardly expect his election to be unreservedly accepted by the leading authorities of Western Christendom, was naturally eager speedily to secure as wide a recognition as possible. He therefore took immediate steps for his coronation. Having no bishops in his own country able and willing to crown him according to the ancient ceremonial, he asked Matthias, King of Hungary, to lend him Hungarian bishops for the purpose. Matthias was under considerable obligations to George, to whose daughter Catherine he was betrothed, for George had released Matthias from prison where he had been flung by the late King Ladislas on the death of his father and elder brother, and had effectively supported his election as King of Hungary. Matthias could hardly therefore refuse the request, but an agreement with the Hungarian bishops as to the form of the coronation ceremonial proved no easy matter. The bishops demanded that the coronation oath should contain an abjuration of the Compacts, but to this George could not, of course, consent, unless he were to disavow the whole of his policy hitherto in ecclesiastical matters, which had been based primarily on the Compacts, and indeed his entire past. A way out of the dilemma was found by George and his consort taking a secret oath on the day before the coronation, to the effect that they would uphold obedience to the Papal See and in agreement with Rome lead their subjects away from all error. From a strict Catholic point of view it was possible to interpret this indefinite formula as a condemnation of the Compacts, but King George, who could not doubt their binding nature on both Bohemia and the Church and regarded them as truly Catholic, certainly did not understand his oath in that sense. And when on the day following the secret oath (7 May) he publicly pledged himself to preserve all the liberties of the land, this pledge applied also to the Compacts, which in the eyes of a majority of the Estates were the chief privilege of all. Later on (in 1461) the Bohemian Estates obtained from King George a written confirmation of the liberties of the land containing an express reference to the Compacts.

Even after the coronation ceremony George was not acknowledged king throughout the entire territory of the Bohemian State, for the unity which had been shaken by the Hussite upheavals had not yet been completely restored. In Bohemia itself there was no serious opposition to him, but in Moravia the four leading German and Catholic towns—Brno (Brunn), Olomouc (Olmutz), Jihlava (Iglau), and Znojmo (Znaim)—rose against him, and were encouraged by the more extensive and resolute opposition against George that was fomented in Silesia by the people of Breslau, the sworn enemies of the Czech Hussites and the former governor of Bohemia. It took George several months to break down the opposition of the German and Catholic elements in the territories of the Bohemian Crown, an opposition born of religious and national distaste for Czech Hussitism. By the close of 1458 the whole of Moravia had submitted to him, and in the year 1459 he received the homage of the entire population of Upper Lusatia and Silesia with the exception of Breslau, which only after the energetic intervention of the Papacy in 1460 submitted to George, with the reservation that not until the lapse of another three years should it do homage to him as “lawful and undoubted Catholic and Christian King of Bohemia.”

Previous to this George had been formally recognised as King of Bohemia by the Emperor Frederick III, who, needing George’s help both in Austria and in Hungary, invested him personally at Brno on 31 July 1459 with the regalia. The recognition of King George by the Papacy proved a more difficult matter. Pope Calixtus III, who expected much of him both in respect of peace with the Czechs and of the struggle against the Turks, had shown a readiness to recognise George without making difficulties, but he died before he could do so. His successor was Cardinal Aeneas Sylvius, who as legate had become well acquainted at first hand with conditions in Hussite Bohemia, and who had then re­commended the Papacy to come to terms with George and Rokycana, but who now, as Pius II, was very reserved in granting recognition. He supported George, it is true, in his conflict with Breslau, but he did so in the belief that George would not only help the Papacy to carry out its great plans against the Turks but would also settle the dispute with the Czechs to the satisfaction of the Church. Like his predecessors, Pius II deceived himself in imagining that King George could or would abjure the Compacts in order to make complete reconciliation with the Church possible. George himself realised the danger of a conflict with the Papacy on this point. He therefore endeavoured to consolidate his international position. This was also the object of a plan put forward on the initiative of the famous German jurist and diplomat, Martin Mair, to make George King of the Romans as a partner of the Emperor Frederick, and to enable him as the actual ruler of the Empire to carry out the urgent reforms needed in its administration. Although for this plan, which was broached in the year 1459, George succeeded in 1461 in gaining the support of several of the leading German princes, the scheme was finally frustrated by the opposition of others besides that of the Emperor himself. George’s power and the esteem in which he was held in the Empire were, however, soon afterwards demonstrated when his military and diplomatic intervention compelled the quarrelling German princes to make a truce (November 1461).

It was doubtless in order to convince both the Papacy and his German allies of his determination not to suffer within his territories any heresies inconsistent with the Compacts that as early as 1461 George took decisive steps against a new religious body that had arisen—the Unity of the Brotherhood. But he did not escape conflict with the Papacy. At the beginning of 1462, and with the approval of the Estates, George finally dispatched an embassy to Rome to tender to Pope Pius II the customary pledge of obedience, and to urge a final confirmation of the Compacts. At the end of several days, during which eloquent but vain appeals had been made to the Czech envoys to abandon the Compacts and to come to terms unconditionally with the Church, the Pope, in solemn consistory, gave the Czech envoys a flat refusal. He declared that he could not accept the obedience of King George until the king had eradicated all error from his kingdom, that he forbade the common people to receive communion in both kinds, and that he revoked the Compacts. If the Pope imagined that he would succeed in getting his decision obeyed in Bohemia, he deceived himself most completely. At an assembly of all the Estates held in August at Prague, King George replied to the Pope’s challenge with the firm declaration that he and his whole family would stake not only their worldly possessions but also their lives for the Cup. And when the papal envoy, Fantino della Valle, began to accuse all those who partook of communion in both kinds of heresy, and to reproach the king with violating his coronation oath, George had him thrown into prison.

At this time considerable importance attached to a bold plan which had previously been broached to the king by the French diplomat, Antoine Marini, who had been some years in his service, representing him, among other things, at the papal Court. This scheme envisaged a union of Christian States or princes, the main object of which was to be the defence of Christendom against the Turks, and the members of which were to undertake to settle all disputes among themselves by a special court of their own, a so-called “parliament.” George now endeavoured to realise this scheme without regard to the Papacy. He wished the French king as the head of this union to become, as it were, the political head of the Christian world, and it was his intention that the question of the Bohemian Church should be brought before the “parliament.” That question, in view of the defensive struggle against the Turks which was the main purpose of the union, was of no small political importance. All efforts to put this plan into effect, opposed as it was in multifarious ways by the papal diplomacy, proved vain. George merely succeeded in negotiating friendly treaties with a number of rulers, particularly with Casimir of Poland, with the French king, Louis XI, and with several of the German princes. He even secured the adherence of the Emperor Frederick by military aid in October 1462, which freed him from a difficult situation in Austria into which he had been forced by his enemies.

The favourable international position of the King of Bohemia restrained, it is true, the Papacy from decided action against him, but the Pope succeeded in causing a number of his subjects to revolt by absolving them from their allegiance to the king. In 1462 he declared George’s compact with the people of Breslau, made in 1460, to be invalid, and in the spring of 1463 took Breslau under his own protection. In June 1464 he even summoned King George to appear before his Court on a charge of heresy, but he himself died two months later.

Even after the death of Pius II, the Papacy secured increasing support from the king’s own subjects. These were mainly the Czech nobles of the party of communion in one kind, who were dissatisfied with the government of King George not only for religious reasons but also because the monarch, unduly disregarding, as they imagined, their own voice in the country’s affairs, looked for support more particularly to the lower orders, the knights and the towns. In the autumn of 1465 these nobles formed a league, that of Zelená Hora (Grünberg), with the object, they said, of defending the liberties of the country; and, influenced by conditions beyond the frontier, open hostilities broke out between the league and the king.

In the meantime the Papacy continued its hostility, and in August 1465 George was again summoned to appear before the papal Court. He defended himself by a diplomatic manoeuvre, directed at first by the well-known Martin Mair and later by the famous German jurist, politician, and humanist, Gregory of Heimburg. The aim was to call together a congress at which the Emperor and other princes should, with the object of maintaining order in their own lands, endeavour to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Czech dispute. At the same time it was designed to win over the individual princes to the Czech point of view. This plan was not, it is true, successful, but it at any rate resulted in public opinion, especially in the Empire, not allowing itself to be drawn into sharp hostility to the Bohemian king, nor did a single German prince let him­self become an instrument of the Papacy for his punishment. When the Church of Rome in December 1466 declared George guilty of confirmed heresy, deprived him of his royal dignity, and freed his subjects from their oaths of allegiance, it did not yet know who would assist it in the execution of this fateful judgment. King George, of course, did not submit. In April 1467 he announced that he would appeal to the Papacy, and, should the Pope not receive the appeal, to a General Council. At the same time he dealt with the hostile League of Zelená Hora. Although the Catholic nobles of Moravia and the other lands of the Bohemian Crown had joined this league en masse, King George kept the upper hand over them. He would doubtless ere long have entirely crushed their re­sistance had they not succeeded in finding in the spring of 1468 a powerful foreign ally in the person of the Hungarian king, Matthias, whose friendly relations with King George had much cooled, particularly since the death of Matthias’ first wife, George’s daughter, in February 1464. Matthias allowed ambition to seduce him into becoming the agent to execute the judgment of the papal Court upon the Bohemian king. In the wars against Matthias and his Bohemian allies King George suffered severe losses in the very first year in Moravia. When, however, Matthias invaded Bohemia at the beginning of 1469, hoping not only to seize the Bohemian crown but also, with the aid of the Emperor Frederick, the Roman crown, he and all his army were entrapped. From this inglorious position he was liberated on terms negotiated at a personal meeting with King George (27 February 1469). Matthias solemnly promised to bring about a reconciliation with the Pope on the basis of the Compacts, if only the Czechs would render obedience to the Apostolic See on that footing. George, on the other hand, agreed to support Matthias’ candidature for the Roman crown. This compact, however, failed to produce the expected reconciliation. While he was negotiating with George, who believed in the uprightness of Matthias’ efforts to bring about a reconciliation between the Czechs and the Church, Matthias exerted secret pressure upon the Zelená Hora league of nobles to cause them to offer the crown of Bohemia to himself. Thus, less than three months after the compact with George, Matthias was elected King of Bohemia by George's enemies (3 May 1469). War, of course, broke out anew, and clashes occurred without any decisive success being achieved by either side.

King George and his supporters met Matthias’ efforts by diplomatic moves among the neighbouring princes. Of these the most important were their negotiations with King Casimir of Poland with a view to his son Vladislav succeeding George on the throne of Bohemia. In earlier years George had entertained the idea of preserving the succession to the throne in his own family, and had endeavoured to get the Bohemian Estates to accept or elect his elder son Victorin as king during his own lifetime. The external and internal difficulties, however, which he encountered in his great conflict with the Papacy compelled him to abandon this design. In the course of his wars with Matthias of Hungary he decided to offer the crown of Bohemia to the son of the Polish king. This offer, made by a vote of the Bohemian diet in June 1469, was conveyed by a special Czech embassy sent to Poland to wait upon Casimir with the request that both he and his son should endeavour to bring about a reconciliation between all the Utraquists and the Pope, and that the Crown Prince Vladislav should take the youngest daughter of King George to wife. The fulfilment of this latter request encountered great opposition, since the Polish queen and her advisers were horrified at the thought that her son should take to wife the daughter of heretic parents. The negotiations were therefore prolonged, but Casimir showed his agreement in principle with the Czech offer by supporting the Czechs against Matthias.

The position of King George was improved also by the circumstance that opposition to Matthias arose not only in Hungary, where much resentment was felt that the monarch neglected the defence of the country against the Turks while finding time for military enterprises in the West, but also among his allies and supporters in the West, who abandoned him because of his lack of success in the long and costly struggle. In Bohemia the league of nobles supporting Matthias had been weakened by the secession of several of its members and the vacillation of its leaders. In Silesia, which had suffered not only from Czech inroads but also from the harshness of Matthias’ government, a distaste for further fighting had likewise gained ground. Again, among the German neighbours of the Bohemian king there was a distinct desire for a settlement of the Bohemian question. In these circumstances Matthias himself attempted in the winter of 1470-71 to arrive at a direct understanding with George: George was to remain King of Bohemia as long as he lived and then be succeeded by Matthias who, in the meantime, was to rule over the subsidiary territories of the Bohemian Crown and, of course, to endeavour to secure the favour of the Pope for the Utraquists and a confirmation of the Compacts of Basle. As at the same time sentiment at the imperial Court as well as at Rome itself had taken a turn in favour of the Bohemian king, hopes rose high that a happy conclusion of the great struggle was at hand. But the king, who had been ailing for some years past, died suddenly on 21 March 1471 at the age of fifty-one, and his death put an end to all these hopes.

In George of Podébrady Bohemia lost one of her greatest rulers. Since the extinction of the Premyslid dynasty he was the first and last king of native birth, sprung from Czech soil and brought up in intimate touch with the life of the Czech nation. In learning he was not to be compared with his great predecessor, Charles IV, or with many princes, especially in Italy, of his own day. He knew no Latin, and but little German. But in natural gifts, in his talents as a ruler and in his skill as a diplomatist, he surpassed most of the crowned heads who were his contemporaries. The period during which he was at the head of his country, first as governor and afterwards as king, was for Bohemia a breathing space after the stormy years of the Hussite upheavals. His strength and energy as a ruler restored peace and order to the land, softening the passions of the political and religious parties,and suppressing the seditious intrigues of individuals and social groups. He succeeded in reviving the respect for the royal power in the minor provinces of the Bohemian Crown and thus consolidating the shattered unity of the Czech State. The serious religious struggles in the Czech lands did not, it is true, cease even under his rule, but George over­came countless difficulties arising therefrom by his resolute defence of existing legal order. The firm basis of that order he saw in the Compacts of Basle, which by ratification in the diet had become part of the law of the land, and he was therefore inflexible in their defence. He preserved a strict impartiality towards both the great religious parties recognised by the Compacts, but he mercilessly suppressed all divergences from the Compacts, whether on the part of the Taborites or the Unity of the Brotherhood. Although there was within him none of that sacred passion for the Hussite cause which had inspired the Czech warriors of God in the preceding era, he had nevertheless been reared in so Hussite an atmosphere that it proved impossible to induce him to purchase the religious unity of the Czech State and its reconciliation with the Church by any surrender of the fundamental principles of Hussitism or a denial of the great Hussite past. On the contrary, he assisted his nation to defend, in face of practically the whole world, the spiritual and moral heritage of the Hussite movement—a movement which, though it had not made the life of the nation more comfortable or easy, was certainly richer in content and more character­istic than the life of the majority of nations of that day.

In his championship of this heritage, moreover, King George served the common weal. Proceeding in the direction indicated by Hus, he made a path for the moral and intellectual liberation of humanity from the heavy fetters of medieval Church authority, he accustomed the world of his day to toleration in matters ecclesiastical, and he taught his contemporaries to distinguish between religion and politics. From this point of view, the friendly relations existing between numerous princes who were good Catholics and the heretic King of Bohemia, subject as he was to papal excommunication, have almost revolutionary significance. The same may be affirmed of the faithful devotion of many Catholic subjects to King George, whom they refused to abandon even at the direct command of the Papacy, for they desired, as one of them put it, “that spiritual and secular matters should not be confused with one another,” that they should not be compelled to abandon their king under the pretext of owing obedience to the Pope “in matters touching secular government and administration.” The reign of King George thus paved the way, possibly involuntarily rather than consciously, for the modern view of the relations between Church and State. Far ahead of his own day also were his efforts to bring about a union of Christian States not unlike the present-day League of Nations. The idea of this union did not originate in George’s own brain, but it acquired historical significance through the fact that he took it up and placed his diplomatic talents and his international prestige at its service. In this he displayed more than ordinary intellectual and moral courage, rare political foresight, and true statesmanship. To carry this bold scheme into effect was not vouchsafed him,and in the end not all the statesmanship which had won him so many triumphs was able to save his country from fresh struggles calculated to menace once again the integrity of the Czech State.


Meanwhile internal, and especially ecclesiastical, conditions in the lands of the Bohemian Crown had undergone many changes. Even after the signing of the Compacts the Hussite Czechs failed to unite with the Church of Rome, and all subsequent efforts on the part of Rome to bring them once more within the bosom of the Church proved in vain. On the death of King George and of Archbishop Rokycana, the Hussites, the majority of the Czech nation, were as remote from the universal Church as they had been in 1436, possibly even more remote, especially as the moderate Hussite party had become practically extinct. The Taborites, who from the beginning had broken completely with Rome, had been exterminated in the year 1452, but shortly afterwards a new religious body, not less radical in its attitude towards the universal Church, began to appear—the Unity of the Brotherhood, whose spiritual father was the original thinker and philosopher, Peter Chelcicky. At the very outset of its career the Unity met with sharp opposition from King George. He saw in it a serious obstacle to his Church policy, which was based on the Compacts, and he caused its adherents to be persecuted. Despite this the Unity instituted in the year 1467 its own order of priesthood without reference to the Church of Rome, and constituted itself as a wholly independent Church. It thus became the first reformed Church which consciously and expressly renounced the Catholic principle of the apostolic succession and created its own priesthood by independent election. At the outset it was a comparatively small association of simple people faithfully embodying the ideal which Chelcicky had outlined in his writings, conducting themselves in his spirit strictly according to the pure Word of Christ, disdaining the world, and patiently suffering every kind of enmity. By the institution of its own order of priesthood the Brotherhood broke away not merely from the Church of Rome but also from the Utraquists, and the Brethren were suppressed as disturbers of Utraquist unity by Rokycana as well. It was not until later, however, that the Unity of the Brotherhood became an important factor not merely in the religious life But also in the political and intellectual development of the nation.

In these circumstances, even after the signing of the Compacts, it was impossible for new vital currents to mark the life of the party of communion in one kind. The ecclesiastical government of this party was in the hands of the Prague Chapter and of administrators elected by it or nominated by the Pope from the ranks of the Chapter. In the year 1448 the Chapter had fled to Plzen, but five years later, when the young Ladislas was accepted as future king, it returned to Prague. Having its seat on the Castle Hill, it was known as the upper consistory in contradistinction to the nether consistory, that of the Hussites, which had its seat in the town below. The upper consistory, during the closing years of the reign of King George, when the bellicose Hilarius of Litomerice was at its head as administrator, took a very active and important part in the religious disputes in Bohemia. Hilarius, who had been brought up in a Utraquist atmosphere, had spent a considerable time in Italy, whither he had been sent by Rokycana to secure ordination and a higher university training, and there he had cast off the Hussite faith of his youth and become one of its bitterest foes.

The Hussite wars exercised, as we have already seen, a profound influence upon the relations between the royal power and the power of the Bohemian Estates. The great authority which during these wars the Estates had secured for themselves at the expense of the kingship could not indeed be maintained when the land once more possessed its properly recognised rulers, but as these rulers rapidly changed and as more than one inter­regnum intervened, the monarchy could not be restored to its former status. It was again a drawback to the most distinguished monarch of this period, George of Podebrady, that as one of the native nobility he could not appeal to the prestige of his race, and that a considerable and powerful section of the Bohemian nobles, who were opposed to him on religious grounds, could ally themselves against him with strong foreign powers, in particular with the Roman Curia. In 1467 the legal relations between the king and the Estates were indeed fixed by a royal rescript on more or less the lines obtaining at the close of the pre-Hussite period, but before long open conflict between the king and the nobles adhering to communion in one kind broke out once more, culminating in 1469 in the election of Matthias of Hungary.

On the social organism of the Czech nation the Hussite wars left a deep impress, since bands of soldiers to whom warfare had become a profession were to be found throughout the country. These bands, which included not only natives of the country but also numerous soldiers of fortune who had come from abroad, never ceased to be a menace to the peaceful in­habitants. Sigismund, after his recognition as King of Bohemia, recruited Czech companies for the wars against the Turks, and his example was followed by his successor Albert. Thus there arose in Hungary, and particularly in Slovakia, where Hussite troops had already made frequent and lengthy inroads, permanent garrisons composed of Czechs which there became the main support of the Habsburg power. Soon after 1440 the famous Czech general, Jan Jiskra of Brandes, who had been appointed the supreme hetman of the Habsburgs in Upper Hungary—the present-day Slovakia—founded a small realm of his own, and defended it against all comers. With a mercenary army, composed for the most part of Hussite warriors, Jiskra, who was probably himself a Catholic, occupied the major part of Slovakia, and, in alliance with him, other Czech leaders with their troops fought in Slovakia in the service of King Ladislas. Jiskra’s dominion in Slovakia did not come to an end even when John Hunyadi, whom he refused to acknowledge, became Regent of Hungary. His power, however, gradually declined, and in 1462 he was persuaded by King Matthias to disband his armies. Many Czech mercenaries continued long afterwards to fight in the service of Matthias, whose famous “Black Brigade” was composed almost exclusively of Czechs from Bohemia and Moravia and of Serbs. Czech veterans, noted for their valour, were sought also by gther countries, notably Germany, Poland, and Prussia. There was scarcely a war in Central or Eastern Europe in which Czechs did not take part, often on both sides, as officers and private soldiers.

In other ways, too, the Hussite wars affected the social structure of the Czech nation. The complete overthrow of the secular dominion of the clergy, the advance in the economic position not only of the higher nobility but also of the knights, gentry, and burgesses, and the increased import­ance of these latter classes in public affairs—these were long-lasting results of the wars. In the royal towns, which never ceased to be important factors in public life and, especially in the reign of King George, a powerful support for the royal power, there was a definite growth of municipal self-government. The position of the villeins and unfree peasants on the land, who had suffered severely from the Hussite wars, deteriorated still further on their conclusion. Although here and there a reduction of dues and labour services had been secured, in the great majority of cases these services were increased after the Hussite wars in multifarious ways. The Hussite wars likewise paved the way for an increased dependence of the serfs upon their masters and a further limitation of their personal freedom. They not only caused a decline in population but they turned large numbers of the peasantry away from work on the land to take up arms as a profession. In order to remedy this state of affairs, which was certainly having a disastrous effect upon the economic life of the country, measures were adopted with the object of preventing the migration of peasants from place to place, to check their flight from estates which were lying fallow, and to bind them to the soil so that they should cultivate it properly and regularly and, of course, render the appropriate dues from it to the landlords. Thus, already in the Podebrady era the foundation was laid for a legal restriction of the personal liberty of the peasants, and this process was later continued.

From a national and racial point of view the Podebrady era saw the triumph of the Czech element in the public life of Bohemia, when the governor, and later the king, was a man of Czech birth. The Czech language was used in all the proceedings of the diets, the departments of government, and the courts of justice, in the provincial, municipal, and district offices; and all public documents were issued in that tongue. At the same time there was a purity and strength, a conciseness and clarity about the language which it had never before attained and which it never afterwards possessed.

The great expansion of the Czech language was accompanied by an immense growth of a Czech national consciousness, which sometimes took a deeply passionate form. It was tinged with sharp opposition to the Germans, whom the Hussite Czechs regarded as dangerous enemies not merely of the Word of God but also of their native tongue. Remembering the periods previous to the Hussite wars, when the Germans in Bohemia predominated and held sway in practically all the royal towns, frequently enjoying a privileged position there, the Czechs rejected German candidates for the Bohemian crown and opposed all tendencies to increase the German element in Bohemia. At the same time there was observable among them a strong consciousness of close affinity with the neighbouring Slav nations, especially with the Poles. Despite the di­vergence of religious belief, the political and cultural relations between the Czechs and Poles were close. Again, King George, surrendering for his sons all hereditary rights to the Bohemian throne in favour of the royal house of Poland, was instrumental in causing the Bohemian throne to be occupied, after his own death, by one of its members.

Now, just as in the preceding period, the religious interest continued to be the most powerful element in the intellectual life of the Czech nation, an element permeating and dominating the nation, so that only slightly, and by degrees, did other elements find a place there. The direction and the nature of this interest, as determined by the religious struggles of the past, underwent but little change during this period, except for the fact that just at the close a current wholly hostile to the Hussite past was more plainly observable in contrast to the absolute predominance of Hussite sentiment heretofore. In the early years following the Hussite wars there is to be seen a continuation, and not infrequently a culmination, of the literary activity of a number of Czech Hussite writers which had its beginnings in the first epoch of the Hussite movement. The outstanding figure among these writers is Peter Chelcicky, who in the early forties wrote his maturest and best known work, The Shield of Faith; this gives a most complete and systematic synthesis of his views and is justly esteemed as one of the most beautiful and memorable outpourings of the Czech mind and spirit. Master Jan Rokycana, for almost the whole of this period the supreme head of the Utraquist Church, left some notable works including in particular an excellent collection of Czech sermons. Besides these adherents of Hussitism there appears in Czech theological literature at the close of the Podébrady period a firm opponent of the Hussite tradition, the bellicose defender of the doctrines of Rome, the priest Hilarius of Litomérice (ob.1468), who wrote slashing attacks in Latin and Czech on his Hussite opponents.

Humanism, early indications of which appeared in Bohemia in the reign of Charles IV, was completely suppressed by the Hussite wars but began to show itself once more in Bohemia in the reign of King George, finding adherents especially among the nobility and the higher ranks of the clergy of the party of communion in one kind. A powerful impulse came to it from the fact that the Italian humanist, Aeneas Sylvius, was moved by the striking story of the Hussite movement to write his Historia Bohemia, in which he gave a magnificent, albeit biased and classically draped, picture of the Bohemian past and especially the stirring struggle of the Czech nation against the Church of Rome. This work, which appeared in 1458 and was only at a later date translated into Czech, had, even at a time when the majority of the people were Hussite in sentiment, a strong influence upon the nation’s conception of its own past. At the same time the work displayed, despite its dislike of Hussitism, a vivid sense of its historical significance, and spread a know­ledge of the Czechs in the civilised world of the time.

Taken as a whole, the Czech literature of this period, rich and varied in no small measure, bears witness, like other features of Czech national culture of the day, to a growing endeavour to renew the broken links with the West, without however sacrificing the great ideals of the first Hussite epoch. The first fruits of this endeavour appear in the reign of King George, and as the effort grew subsequently more intense it achieved, at least in several departments, no mean success.


It was clear on King George’s death that the choice of a successor would lie between two candidates only—Matthias of Hungary, and the Polish crown prince. Of these two, Matthias had even in the lifetime of George been chosen as king by George’s opponents, and held the sub­sidiary territories of the Bohemian Crown already in his power. An obstacle to his universal acceptance as Bohemian king, to which even some of the former supporters of George were ready to assent, existed on the one hand in the fact that he insisted upon the validity of his previous election and declined to submit to a new one, and on the other hand in the negotiations which had begun while King George was alive for the candidature of Crown Prince Vladislav. At a diet, convoked in May 1471 at Kutn4 Hora, Vladislav II, then just fifteen years of age, was unanimously elected king (27 May). Although the close kinship of the Polish and Czech nations was not lost sight of, and there was even broached a scheme of a great Slavonic tjagiellonid empire to include Czechs, Poles, Lithuanians, and Russians, the main aim of the Bohemian Estates—a vain one as it turned out—was to ensure Polish aid in obtaining a satis­factory solution for the great conflict between the Czechs and the Church.

Matthias insisted on the validity of his previous election, which was finally confirmed by the Pope on the day following the election of Vladislav, so that there were now two rival Kings of Bohemia. Poland joined the struggle not only because one of the combatants was a Pole, but also because a strong Hungarian party opposed to Matthias had offered the Hungarian crown to the Jagiellonids, who were inclined to accept it. But Polish assistance failed to supply Vladislav with the reinforcements necessary for a speedy and successful settlement. In the spring of 1472 a truce for one year, which was subsequently prolonged, was concluded at Buda between the Czechs, Poles, and Hungarians.

Matthia’ position was at this juncture strengthened by the fact that the Papacy was definitely on his side. The new Pope, Sixtus IV, not only renewed the recognition of Matthias as King of Bohemia, but also empowered his legate to pronounce excommunication against Casimir, Vladislav, and their adherents. This did not decide the struggle, nor did various conferences between the contending parties convoked in hope of a settlement lead at first to the desired goal.

As, at the same time, little success attended the Czecho-Polish military operations against Matthias, the belief gained ground in Bohemia that the conflict could be settled by a temporary division of the territories of the Bohemian Crown between the two rivals. Negotiations were opened at the Bohemian diet as early as 1475, but it was not until 1478 that an agreement was secured. Matthias received not only Moravia but also the whole of Silesia and the two Lusatias, so that Vladislav had to content himself with Bohemia only for the term of his life. It was agreed that, should Matthias die first, all these territories were to go to Vladislav on payment of a sum of 400,000 florins as compensation for Matthias’ heirs. Should Vladislav predecease Matthias leaving no heir and Matthias or his successor be chosen King of Bohemia, the minor provinces were to be united with the Bohemian Crown without any payment. Vladislav subscribed to this arrangement without hesitation, but Matthias accepted it only after some delay and with the important addition that he should retain the title of King of Bohemia. The peace of Olomouc on 7 December 1478 divided the lands of the Bohemian Crown between two rulers, each of whom ruled over his own territories as King of Bohemia, a great menace to the unity of the Czech State and nation, although the treaty ensured the reunion of all the Bohemian lands under the rule of a single monarch.

The efficacy of these provisions was, it is true, not a little dubious. The sum which Vladislav was to pay to recover the whole on Matthias’ death was so huge that it was doubtful whether it could be fully paid. Moreover, it soon became apparent that Matthias was designing to secure the suc­cession to his vast dominions for his illegitimate son John Corvinus. The premature death of Matthias, however, who died on 6 April 1490, changed the situation at a stroke. Vladislav obtained his ambition, without paying any indemnity,by being elected at Buda on 11 July 1490 to succeed Matthias on the throne of Hungary. The Hungarian Estates, it is true, thought that the minor provinces of the Bohemian Crown should remain attached to the Hungarian Crown until payment of the indemnity, and as that was never paid, the dispute concerning it continued to the close of the rule of the Jagiellonid dynasty in Bohemia. This, however, did not seriously affect the actual unity which the tradition of their historical evolution hitherto had created among the Bohemian lands, and which, in the case of Bohemia and Moravia, was based on the common racial and religious consciousness of the great majority of their inhabitants. The year 1490 thus saw the removal of all danger of a dissolution of the Czech State.

The religious danger, however, still continued. Immediately on his election Vladislav gave an undertaking to the Bohemian Estates that he would defend Bohemia in preserving the Compacts according to the rescripts of his predecessors, and would enter into negotiations with the Pope for their confirmation, and for the appointment of an archbishop who would observe the Compacts in their original form and according to the rescripts of the kings from Sigismund to George. As he had not been recognised as King of Bohemia by the Papacy, in whose eyes Matthias was the rightful king, Vladislav could not at the outset show hostility to the Utraquist party, though his religious convictions made him by no means well disposed to them. None the less it would seem that even in the early years of his reign the party of communion in one kind adopted a bolder front against the Hussites.

The Olomouc settlement of 1478 also gave them a further advantage. Having been acknowledged under the terms of that settlement as king by the party of communion in one kind which had previously supported Matthias, Vladislav henceforth showed greater indulgence and favour to that party, and began to display hostility to the Utraquists. The Prague Chapter returned from its exile at Plzen, which had lasted since 1467, and in conjunction with the monastic Orders set about turning the people from allegiance to the Cup. Still more high-handed was the conduct of some of the nobles of the party. Although, according to previous agreements, the churches throughout the country had been permanently distributed between the two parties without regard to the religious per­suasions of the nobles who held the patronage, many nobles of the party of communion in one kind began to deprive the Utraquist party of churches in their patronage, drove out the Utraquist priests, and replaced them by priests of their own persuasion.

All this aroused a storm of indignation among those who stood faith­fully by the Cup, and at Prague in particular the tension between the two parties increased to such a pitch that riots and affrays again occurred. The opponents of the Cup also multiplied the difficulties which the Utraquists encountered in getting their clergy ordained. In 1482, however, the Utraquists succeeded in persuading an Italian bishop, Augustine Sanctorius, to settle in Bohemia, and to perform for them the episcopal functions for which their own Hussite “administrator” was not qualified. Thus the Utraquist party was, at least for the time being, relieved of the irksome lack of priests, and of the humiliating necessity of sending Hussite scholars to Italy, there to beg for ordination from one of the local bishops. Bishop Augustine’s sojourn in Bohemia minimised the menace of a complete split between the Hussites and the Church of Rome, but it in no way encouraged their union with the Church. Since it was done without the knowledge of the papal Curia and against its wishes, it was rather a fresh manifestation of Hussite defiance of Rome. The fact, moreover, that a foreign bishop had not hesitated to come to Bohemia, to enter into the service of the Utraquist party and recognise them as of the true faith, filled the Czech adherents of the Cup with exultation and strengthened their resolve to abide inflexibly by the Cup and the Compacts, and to defend themselves not only against the party of communion in one kind but also against the king himself.

For a complete reconciliation with the Church of Rome, which it would have been necessary to purchase at the price of abandoning the Cup and the Compacts, there existed at this time scarcely any more readiness than there had been formerly in the reigns of Sigismund and George. In fact, the aggressive conduct of the party of communion in one kind had provoked increased opposition among the Hussite masses. How great the tension was, especially at Prague, between the adherents of the two parties was shewn by the great disorders which broke out in the year 1483. The result of these disorders was that all the three municipal bodies of Prague formed a league in 1483, in which they undertook to maintain the partaking of communion in both kinds by both adults and children, the singing of hymns in the Czech tongue, and other rights based on the Scriptures, and at the same time to insist that all who desired to dwell among them should be of their belief. Appealing to the rescript of King Sigismund and to earlier documents, they forbade anyone openly or secretly within the precincts of Prague to administer communion in one kind, or to preach that there was the same measure of grace and benefit in communion in one kind as in both, or to accuse those who adhered to the Cup of heresy. All the monks and priests who were opposed to com­munion in both kinds, as well as those inhabitants who had of recent times seceded from the Cup, or gone over to the “Picards,” that is, the Brotherhood, were at once expelled from the city. Only foreign merchants, traders, and artisans were left full liberty, provided they did not calumniate those who communicated in both kinds.

The disorders of the year 1483 and this document, which was designed to be a kind of fundamental law of the Prague communities for all time, swept away at one stroke all the advantages which Catholicism had gained in the capital by royal favour since the death of King George. Prague became once more—not merely owing to the sentiments of the vast majority of its inhabitants but also in its administration—radically a Hussite city in which the Catholic element was thrust completely into the background. In vain did the king attempt to constrain the authorities at Prague to go back on their agreement. All he could accomplish was to secure a free return to Prague for the monks and priests who had been expelled, but otherwise he was compelled to acknowledge the document of 1483. In this dispute with the king Prague was effectively supported by the Utraquist nobles. Their firm stand in defence of the Cup and the Compacts finally compelled the party of communion in one kind to yield ground. This enabled the two parties to come to an agreement in the memorable Treaty of Kutna Hora, concluded early in 1485 at a diet held there. Under the terms of this treaty the two parties under­took for a period of thirty-two years to observe the Compacts and the agreements with Sigismund regarding them, as well as the recent decision of the diet concerning parish churches, which provided that each party’s rites should be maintained in their respective parishes, and that all persons should be able freely to receive communion in one kind, or in both kinds, as they wished. The party of communion in one kind thus abandoned, at least for the time being, their opposition to the Compacts as well as their standpoint that no decision on these points could be made without the sanction of the Pope. It was only because the Bohemian Estates adhering to communion in one kind, constrained by the actual strength of the Utraquists, ceased to consider themselves bound by the unyielding attitude of the Papacy and acted without its assent, that the Treaty of Kutuá Hora was possible. The revolution produced in Prague by the events of 1483 long checked all attempts to undermine the predominance of the Utraquists in the capital—attempts which, had they succeeded, would have dealt a grievous blow at Hussitism throughout the whole country—and now, by the Treaty of Kutuá, Hora, peace was maintained for three decades between the two religious parties, each of which was guaranteed its existing position. The adherents of both parties, moreover, the villeins not excepted, were secured the right to be subject only to their own Church organisation and customs. At Prague, however, the liberties of the party of communion in one kind were seriously restricted by the agreement of the three Prague communities of the year 1483, which refused burgess rights to its adherents. Nevertheless, soon after 1483, the number of burgesses adhering to the party of communion in one kind shewed an increase, and a few years later the first monks again appeared in Prague. In 1496 an agreement between the king and the Prague authorities enabled the monks to return to their monasteries on condition that they did noj accuse the Utraquists of heresy or carry the host from house to house.

Thus, although the Treaty of Kutuá Hora was followed by a greater measure of toleration on the part of the Utraquists towards the adherents of communion in one kind, they showed no willingness to surrender the Compacts or any of the points in their ecclesiastical organisation or customs which were an obstacle to unity between the Czech Hussites and the universal Church. Nor were the Hussites able to avoid friction with their Italian bishop, Augustine. The stern Hussite masters found him lacking in industry as a preacher of the Word of God, and censured his somewhat lax morals, his mendacity and profanity, and the avarice which they saw in the “simony” he had introduced into the Utraquist party, the unaccustomed fees, fines, and the like which he had taken. The tension between the bishop and the Hussite consistory increased so much that the bishop left Prague and went to Kutuá Hora, where he died in 1493, almost completely alienated from the consistory. Left once more without a bishop to ordain their clergy, the Utraquists attempted several times in the following years to obtain a confirmation of the Compacts from the Papacy, but never with success. The Czech Hussites remained cut off from the universal Church until such time as Bohemia, under the influence of Luther's revolt against Rome, entered upon a path that led to a complete break with the Church.

In the meantime there was a steady increase in the religious society which had split off from the Utraquist party and had also severed itself from the universal Church, the Unity of the Brotherhood. After the deaths of King George and Rokycana, the Unity continued to be persecuted by the Utraquists, who naturally wished to check the spread of a new sect within their ranks. Nevertheless, the Unity early won powerful patrons, not only among the nobles but also among the clergy and the masters of the Utraquists. The rapid growth of the Unity in Bohemia and Moravia was facilitated by a notable revolution which had taken place within the body itself. Abandoning the strict principles of its founder, which involved an absolute rejection of all secular things, the Unity accommodated itself to the requirements of actual life, and permitted its members to participate in worldly affairs by occupying all kinds of offices. This made it much easier for adherents to join it from among the wealthier and more intelligent classes of the nation, and the number of its members taken from the nobility and the ranks of the more cultured increased. Before the century closed, the leadership of the Unity, whose congregations in Bohemia alone were then estimated at between 300 and 400, had passed into the hands of these “learned” members.

The entire era of the Jagiellonid sway over the lands of the Bohemian Crown was filled not only with religious conflicts but also with a continuous struggle for power between the king and the Estates on the one hand, and among the Estates themselves on the other. The long struggle for the Bohemian crown between King Vladislav and Matthias of Hungary, and the subsequent division of the Bohemian lands until Matthias’ death in 1490, were not calculated to augment the royal power, nor was the weak and undecided character of Vladislav. While the two upper Estates consolidated and increased their power as against that of the monarch, they attempted to limit the rights of the burgesses. The latter, though not represented in any of the supreme offices or courts of the land or in the king’s council, yet had a third voice in the diets, and the right to participate as an Estate in public affairs. As early as 1479, however, the suggestion was made to deprive the burgesses of this right, and in 1485 King Vladislav himself declared that the burgesses as an Estate had no right to vote at the diet on matters which did not directly concern them.

Among the rights of the Estates, that of passing legislation acquired great significance in the Jagiellonid period. This right, which had never been conceded to the Estates by express enactment, was exercised in practice partly by the collaboration of the Estates in the proclamation of laws and the activities of the High Court, and partly, in a negative fashion, by the opposition shown by the Estates to the promulgation of a written code. This opposition was based partly on the unwillingness of the Estates to be limited in their powers at the High Court by any written prescriptions. After the restoration of normal conditions in the country, however, under King Vladislav, the Estates themselves acknowledged that the rules by which the Court was accustomed to give judgment and the important decisions of the Court should be formed into a written code, as a guide for the Court. The two upper Estates urged the issue of a code, because they desired to assure and extend their own rights at the expense of the royal power and the rights of the burgesses. The compilation of the code was entrusted to commissions of the Estates successively appointed for this purpose by the diet. The work was printed and published in 1500, and after being ratified by the king under the title of the Land Ordinance or Bohemian Constitution became the first Bohemian code of universal application.

The rivalry between the two upper Estates and the burgesses showed itself also in the economic sphere. The new prosperity of the towns, which had begun under George Podebrady, had for a time been checked by the war with Matthias of Hungary, but it proceeded apace again when that war was over. Economic relations with other countries were rapidly renewed, and commerce and trade made a considerable advance. As early as the reign of George of Podebrady the towns had succeeded in obtaining the prohibition of trading in the rural districts outside the markets of the towns, and of the brewing and sale of beer in the neighbourhood of the towns. This was directed mainly against the unfree peasantry but partly also against their masters, the nobles, and became a fruitful source of disputes between the towns and the two upper Estates, who devoted themselves more and more to the systematic cultivation and economic exploitation of their domains.

Economic causes likewise prompted the higher category of nobles to aim at a further limitation of the liberties of their unfree dependents. This movement culminated in the decision of King Vladislav in 1497 that villeins should for ever be unable, without special permission from their masters, to migrate to the towns or to the estate of another landlord. The decision of 1497 was entered in the land records and also incorporated in Vladislav’s Ordinance, so that it became the law of the land. Although it introduced nothing substantially new, it is nevertheless a significant expression of the steadily growing personal dependence of the villein element on their masters, which began even prior to the Hussite wars and continued after them, drawing the villeins gradually into a condition of serfdom.

Parallel with the increase in the personal dependence of the villeins on their masters there proceeded an increase in their duties. The landowners were constrained to this by the declining value of money, which greatly reduced the value of the ordinary dues paid by the villeins. To make good the losses arising from this, the landowners turned more and more to the cultivation of the land themselves. Owing to lack of labour they introduced pisciculture, and frequently caused great harm to their villeins, from whom they forcibly took land that was suitable for the location of fishponds and placed it under water. Thus were increased, in many cases at the cost of the villeins, the economic resources of the noble landlords, who augmented the returns of their estates by establishing upon them industries previously pursued only by the burgesses (the brewing and sale of beer, etc.). The political power of the upper Estates, especially that of the nobles, thus gained a firm economic foundation.

The triumph of the Czech element in the public life of the country was maintained. Soon after the conclusion of the war with Matthias it was provided, first in Moravia (1480) and subsequently in Bohemia (1495), that all entries in the public records of the realm, except the royal charters and rescripts, which could be also couched in Latin and German, must be in Czech alone. Similarly in the towns, which mostly preserved their German character, Czech was the language in which the municipal records were kept.

Intellectual life during the early years of the reign of Vladislav was marked by a gradual change from the old religious absorption to prac­tical and secular interests. The religious disputes within the Utraquist party still gave rise in this period to a considerable number of, often lengthy, polemical works, but it was writings of another character that came most to the fore. The need for the introduction of order into con­stitutional and judicial conditions in the lands of the Bohemian Crown gave rise to other legal works besides Vladislav’s Ordinance. Even prior to the close of the fifteenth century the learned master Victorin Kornel of Vysehrad, son of a Utraquist burgher of Chrudim and a friend of the Unity of the Brotherhood, had completed his famous work on Bohemian law, a splendid example of practical experience, legal perspicacity, profound humanistic culture, and devoted affection for the author’s native tongue. Humanism in Victorin Kornel finds expression in refinement of thought, polished form, and heightened cultivation of the Czech language. In others, however, it produced contempt for the native language and native ideas, as in the case of the famous Czech humanist of the Jagiellonid era, Bohuslav Hasistejnsky of Lobkovicz, in whom a patriotism of an antique stamp mingled with humanistic cosmopolitanism and manifested itself largely in a sharp criticism, touched with satire, of conditions in his native country.

In the sphere of the plastic arts the slight revival that had set in during the reign of George of Podebrady made further progress. At Prague and at Kutnuá Hora in particular, the last quarter of the fifteenth century saw the rise of some notable Gothic buildings. The leading figures in Czech architecture of this period were Matthias Rejsek, a Czech of Prostéjov, and Benedikt Rejt (or Ried), obviously a German and probably of Austrian origin, both of whom were born about the middle of the fifteenth century. Thanks mainly to these two men Czech archi­tecture—by its own resources and without foreign aid—once more attained a European level. Czech sculpture and painting likewise flourished considerably. Following the isolated attempts in King George’s reign to enter into contact with the world of art in the rest of Europe, the reign of his successor saw a powerful influx of foreign, especially German, art into Bohemia, which was obviously endeavouring to catch up with the rest of Europe. Before the end of the fifteenth century Czech plastic art attained a really high level, so that in this department Bohemia had already made good the setback caused by the Hussite wars, even if she could not lead the developments in European art as she had done at the close of the pre-Hussite era.

The Czech nation as a whole, although in its religious life it was sharply contrasted with its neighbours, was again coming into closer contact with the intellectual and material culture around it, and was once more winning a very honourable place even in those departments from the cultivation of which it had been distracted by the purely religious interests of the Hussite era. How it was influenced by the Reformation and the accession of the Habsburg dynasty (1526) belongs to modern history.