By David Papajík
International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, Vol. 2 No. 4 (2012)
Abstract: This study is aimed at presenting an interesting phenomenon of Medieval European history, the Hussites, who occupied the attention of Central and Eastern Europe for a significant period of time in the first half of the fifteenth century and who could not be defeated by a number of crusader campaigns. This was the first time, and for a major period of time, the last instance when Czech history had become a subject of interest for a major part of Europe.
Introduction: One should begin by clarifying several basic concepts. Undoubtedly, not every inhabitant of the Czech Kingdom viewed themselves as God’s warrior and not even all of those who lifted arms against foreign enemies considered themselves in these terms. Nevertheless, it can be argued that the majority of these warriors perceived themselves in the position of people fighting for the rights of God with an interest in establishing the order of God on earth. These included the most renowned commander of the time in Czech history, Jan Zizka of Trocnov, originally a minor nobleman, who viewed himself as the extended arm of God, as a man chosen by God to enforce divine law on earth. The fact that Zizka rode on a white horse can also be interpreted in light of the text of the Book of Revelation where the victorious army of Jesus Christ (God’s warriors) arrives on white horses. Ţiţka thus portrayed himself in the position of a knight of the Apocalypse, God’s knight leading an army of God’s warriors.
Their enemies, understandably, did not view the Czechs as God’s warriors, but as the exact opposite, as heretics. The word heretic (Latin haereticus, German Ketzer) was a term employed by the Roman-Catholic Church for a person who held beliefs which were inconsistent with the Bible; with the individual additionally publicly avowing these views and stubbornly defending them. He who stands in conflict against the teachings of the Church, based on the authority of the Pope, is a heretic. In addition, according to the teachings of Thomas Aquinas, heretics should be excommunicated from the Church and killed by right. The word heretic was additionally employed for those who found themselves in conflict with the teachings of the Church and the injunctions of the Pope. In accordance with generally established views, heretics should be punished by worldly powers thereby shifting the original religious content of the word to the sphere of government and politics. The word heretic also became an insult. An intense antagonism arose in Medieval society to all those labeled as heretics. Everything which originated from a heretic was abominable. Czechs were labeled as heretics by the Roman-Catholic Church thereby making the Czech Lands a heretical region.
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