Controversial Cartoons and the Conversion of Europe – Part 1

Jan Huss of Prague (1373-1415)

One of those powerfully influenced by the teachings and writings of Wycliffe was Jan Huss of Prague, Bohemia.  Huss was a student ‘of peasant stock’ (says Houghton in Church Sketches, BOT) and then later became Rector of the University of Prague. He was not only impacted by Wycliffe’s books but also by two cartoons which he saw.

One showed the Lord Jesus wearing a crown of thorns and the pope beside Him wearing a crown of gold.  The other showed the Lord Jesus saying to a poor woman, ‘Thy sins are forgiven thee’ and then the pope selling indulgences to the poor.

These satirical and comical visual images motivated him and he began preaching, teaching and writing after the style of Wycliffe.  The church authorities denounced him as a heretic and burnt both his and Wycliffe’s books.

He was excommunicated by the pope in 1410 and later arrested and summoned before a tribunal.  The trial was a terrible sham in which Huss was hardly allowed to speak.  He was accused of proclaiming himself the fourth person of the Trinity.  And he was then duly condemned as a heretic.

Apart from the outrage of the accusations, there is an irony here in that one of the aspects of reform that Huss had taught was that the church should not be permitted to execute someone on the basis of heresy. He, of course, didn’t imagine that he would be tried as one. (Tudor Jones, The Great Reformation, IVP, p.18)

To be continued…

© 2008 Lex Loizides