John Huss was born a peasant
. He was ordained in 1400
and was appointed a preacher of the Bethlehem Chapel
where he taught the gospel in the Czech
language. He soon found himself agreeing with many of the writings of John Wycliffe
, who railed against the abuses of the church, most notably the doctrine of transubstantiation
While he became increasingly unpopular within the church, Huss gained support from the uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor Wenceslaus IV, as well as the growing Czech nationalist movement. After the Council of Pisa desposed the rival popes Gregory XII and Benedict XIII, the archbishop of Prague attempted to excommunicate Huss and his followers. Wenceslaus would intervene, and a truce was arranged until Huss denounced the bulls of the antipope John XXIII and spoke out against indulgences.
The pope finally excommunicated Huss who retired to a castle near Tabor to concentrate on writing. In his works he emphasized the ultimate authority of the Scripture over the church, the duty of the state to supervise the church, and denounced the infallibility of an immoral pope. His ideas fell very much in line with those of Wycliffe, and he is considered a forefather of the Protestant Reformation.
His retirement was interrupted when he was invited to defend his views at the Council of Constance. Then Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund assured his safety, but the council had other ideas, and Huss was tried as a heretic. Huss would be burned at the stakein 1415, an act would would lead to the Hussite Wars. Huss was declared a martyr by the University of Prague, and is still fondly remembered by the Czech Protestant church.