Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Goose is Cooked / Jan Hus


Big Idea: Bohemian priest Jan Hus was burned at the stake because of criticism of Catholic church leader lifestyle and a push for Bible teaching in local languages.

Brave Scripture Spy Burned at the Stake

Jan Hus (~1372-1415) was a Bohemian priest in Medieval times.

Born in poverty, he became a priest seeking a better life. At the University of Prague he was a sharp minded student.

Studying the Bible, the discrepancy between the Bible and the practice of church leaders accumulating property and lavish living bothered him.

The princess mail-order bride

King Richard II of England, just 15 years old, was encouraged to marry. He heard about Princess Anne of Bohemia’s kindness and love of reading. He sent a messenger requesting her hand.

They were both 15 when they married (1382) . They were inseparable. She died 12 years later of the Black Plague. The king was inconsolable.

The Queen Anne connection brought Czech students to study at Oxford where they met John Wycliffe and read his writings. His works were brought back to Prague.

Jan Hus read Wycliffe’s writings which resonated with his beliefs about the lavishness of the church and the need for the common man to hear the Bible. It emboldened him.

Bethlehem Chapel

Bethlehem Chapel in Prague became Jan’s first position as a priest where all preaching and teaching was done in Czech, which was unusual in that day.

The sale of indulgences where the church made money forgiving sins vexed him.

Writing and speaking against these outrageous practices brought him under fire from the church. He was excommunicated numerous times.

The End

At the Council of Constance (1414-1418) he was promised safe passage but got thrown into prison. Jan hope to defend himself using Scripture among Biblical scholars.

Seen as a threat to the church, they demanded he take back his beliefs. He would not.

He was brought out of town and burned at the stake (July 1315), singing Psalms, and forgiving his captors.


Shocked, the Bohemian church separated from the Roman Church. That lead a period called the Hussite wars (~1419-1478) killing those who followed Jan Hus and John Wycliffe and burning their works.

Almost a century later, Martin Luther read Jan Hus’ works and resonated with it. The call for church reform and a Bible to be understood by the people was as a chain of events from Wycliffe to Hus,  Luther and others.

The name Hus means “goose” in Czech. Luther’s family crest includes a swan. Martin Luther noted that near Hus’death, he stated,  “You may kill a goose today but 100 years from now will come a swan you cannot burn.”

Luther considered this to be prophetic of him. Today Lutheran churches in Europe have a swan upon the steeple.

Movie: John Huss: A Journey of No Return
More information: Got Questions? Who is Jan Hus?

Up next: How the Bible Went Viral in the 1500s
Previous post: First Prize Goes to the Oxford Man


1. What do you see in common between John Wycliffe and Jan Hus?

2. How might Jan Hus inspire you?


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