University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries

XVII: The Crusades Against the Hussites,   pp. 586-646 ff. PDF (24.0 MB)

Page 588

 But the Hussite wars were not only among the first of the great European
revolutions, and as such a step across the threshold of the modern period;
they can also be considered an important late medi eval event: almost the
last of the great crusades in the traditional form of a war proclaimed by
the papacy and meant to save Christen dom from the dangers of eastern invaders
or European heretics. There were, it is true, some still later crusading
attempts, such as the catastrophic campaign of Varna of 1444,1 the successful
defense of Belgrade in 1456, and the abortive crusade planned for 1464 by
pope Pius II. But the Hungarian and Roman king Sigismund, the official "sword-bearer"
in the crusades against the Hussites, had seldom paraded as a crusader in
his many collisions with the Turks after his early and disastrous defeat
at Nicopolis in 1396. Similarly, the "second Hussite wars" of 1468 and later,
fought against the Czech king George of Podëbrady by several of his
neighbors, did not, though strongly supported by the papacy, take the official
form of a sequence of crusades, characteristic of the campaigns directed
against Bohemia in the years 1420, 1421, 1422, 1427, and 1431. 
 It is impossible, within the framework of this chapter, to discuss in any
detail the origins of the Hussite revolution.2 Elements of Czech nationalism
directed against the strong position of the Germans, especially in the cities
and monasteries of Bohemia and Moravia; mass dissatisfaction with the dominating
and wealthy representatives of the church; and the movement for a far-reaching
religious reform— these three motive forces, often combined with one
another, occa sionally colliding, can probably be considered the main causes
lead ing to the revolution.3 This ideological and political development had
already gone quite far by July 6, 1415, when John Hus, for some years the
most influential and most popular leader of the reform movement, was burned
at the stake in Constance. 
 Hus had already, in 1412, come out against an enterprise officially termed
a crusade: the campaign of pope John XXIII against king Ladislas of Naples.
The financing of this "crusade" was partly based on the sale of indulgences,
and against this Hus had inveighed even more strongly, thus antagonizing
the Roman papacy.4 Pope John, 
 1. A chapter on the crusade of Varna is planned for volume V of this work,
in preparation. 
 2. The history of these origins is presented most thoroughly in Howard Kaminsky's
A History of the Hussite Revolution (cited as Revolution). 
 3. But see Seibt's questioning of these three motive elements in his Hussitica,
pp. 5—6, 
183 ff. 
 4. M. Spinka, John Hus, a Biography, (Princeton, 1968), pp. 132 ff. 

Go up to Top of Page