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Jan Hus

1370 - 1415

Jan Hus, a Czech Reformer born around 1370 in Husinec, southern Bohemia, to peasants, instigated the Bohemian Reformation which stood fast against the Catholic church until the Protestant Reformation swept Europe a hundred years later. Hus spent his early years at a monastery and then at the University of Prague, where, after obtaining Bachelors and Masters degrees, he began teaching and went on to become rector. Influenced by the writings of John Wycliffe in England, Hus spoke out against the abusive practices of the Catholic church, particularly indulgences, and gathered an enthusiastic following throughout Bohemia. He was excommunicated in 1410, but continued preaching Scriptural doctrine both in Prague and in the countryside to which he subsequently moved to escape persecution. In 1414, the Catholic church convened the 16th ecumenical council at Konstanz in Germany, and with the promise of safe conduct, Hus travelled there to make a defence of his doctrine. There he was imprisoned, and the next year put on trial and required to recant his doctrines. He refused, and was condemned to death by burning at the stake on 6 July 1415. His martyrdom served only to strengthen the Bohemian Reformation, and the Hussites repelled Catholic crusades against them and eventually gained the freedom to practice Christianity in Bohemia according to Reformed doctrines.