Whether a True Christian May Wage War: Hussite Polemics About Just War

Whether a True Christian May Wage War: Hussite Polemics About Just War

By Paweł F. Nowakowski

Holy War in Late Medieval and Early Modern East-Central Europe, edited by J. Smołucha, J. Jefferson, A. Wadas (Kraków, 2017)

15th century image of Hussite warfare – illustration by Werkstatt von Diebold Lauber

Introduction: The problem of combining high moral standards and involvement in military actions has been discussed among Christian writers since antiquity. However, each epoch had to face the issue as it was not easy to explain and understand how to obey the commandment of love and yet use weapons against “thy neighbor.”

The problem became even greater for the zealous Bohemian reformers who had to deal with the alternative of either insubordination leading to bloodshed or a betrayal of their ideals. While they had to fight, they also had to encourage other Czechs to support their struggle. On the other hand, they needed to construct a theory, or at least prove that their actions were justified and necessary. And after the conflict they needed to describe them in a way that would leave the reader with a proper impression.

Hussite warfare and ideology have been the subject of detailed reflection for nearly two hundred years now. They have represented different nations, attitudes and methodologies.

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