Hussitism covers more than one century in Czech history. This epoch can be framed between 1371–1485. Most likely, John Hus who was born in 1371 (exact year of his birth is unknown) became the head of the university masters trying to radically reform the church being in deep crisis. For that on July 6, 1415 he was burned at the stake as a heretic in Constance. It is considered that the culmination of a Hussite epoch was the year 1485 when at the Seim in Kutna Hora was declared the so-called Religious Peace of Kutna Hora that finished the Czech reformation.
Hussite revolution is an obvious phenomenon of not only Czech, but also the European history of late middle ages. The modern historiography calls the Hussite revolution “revolution before revolutions”. As a matter of fact, it was the first large revolution in history in the course of which in 1419 happened the first Defenestration in Prague. The same year, on July 30, an armed crowd under the guidance of John Zizka and John Zelivski, a preacher from the Church of Virgin Mary Snezhnaia, stayed near a town hall in the New Place of Prague and demanded a release of hussites staying in prison. When their resolute demand was rejected, the hussite rebels walked up the town hall and threw out of a window members of the Town Council headed by Burgomaster. This was the signal for the outbreak of a revolution comparable with the fall of the Bastille that marked the beginning of the French Revolution. Revolutions without a program have no much hope for success. That’s why a little less than a year after the Defenestration in Prague hussites declared their program consisting of the so-called Four Prague Articles. The first article concerned adoption of the blood of Christ in the form of wine by the laity, the second article required the freedom of preaching “the word of God”, the third article forbade the church to have temporal power, and the fourth one provided punishment for public and “mortal sins”. This program runs all through the entire Hussite epoch. The Hussite program was also discussed at the Council in Basel (1433), the result of those negotiations was adoption of “Jihlava compactates” (1436), agreements in which the Hussite program was formulated in the form of a compromise acceptable to both parties.
One can say that the revolutionary process came to an end in 1434 after a crucial battle at Lipan, where the most revolutionary units of hussitism (radical hussites, namely Taborites and “Orphans”) were defeated by coalition troops consisting of catholics and moderate hussites. Though after the battle at Lipan the Hussite revolution came to an end, it does not mean the completion of the Hussite epoch as many think up till now. It was continued by the government of the Hussite King George of Podebrady (1458-1471) with its culmination in the already mentioned Religious Peace of Kutna Hora.
A long process of the medieval church reformation we call the Czech reformation. This process was launched by a group of masters from the University of Prague led by John Hus who was inspired by the teaching of English reformer John Wyclif. After long peripeteia the Czech reformation reached its culmination with the announcement of the Religious Peace of Kutna Hora. It was a document in which achievements of the Hussite revolution were clearly proclaimed, achievements that had been redeemed by the blood of hussite God’s warriors. The adoption of the Religious Peace of Kutna Hora was truly an epoch-making and timeless event. For the next thirty one year it certified agreements with the Council of Basel (compactates) and, first of all, guaranteed freedom of religion, or, if to speak differently, freedom of conscience. Everybody could independently choose hussite or catholic faith, and nobody could prevent it. The Czech reformation brought the freedom of religion into a new epoch also, and like the Hussite revolution it is called now “Reformation before the Reformation”, another reason for such definition is that the Czech reformation was launched a century before the European Reformation with its two most famous representatives Martin Luther and John Calvin. The Czech reformation the consequence of which was the emergence of Brotherly Unity, the first church of Reformation type, can be regarded as an important contribution of the Czech people to the European spiritual legacy that gives them a right to rank among such great nations as the English or the French.